October 16, 2013
Credit: Lockheed Martin
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps are in no hurry to rebuild their ground fleets following the accelerated acquisition of vehicles capable of protecting troops from improvised explosive devices (IED) and related threats in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Such is the case as the services develop the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), a program the Army shares with the Marine Corps, to replace the Humvee, which has been in service since 1985.
“They are being very deliberate,” says John Bryant, senior vice president of Defense Programs for Oshkosh Defense, which along with AM General and Lockheed Martin received JLTV Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contracts in August 2012, worth a total of $185 million for the program. The JLTV Technology Development contracts were awarded in October 2008 and the planned single, low-rate initial production contract is not scheduled until 2015.
Congress and defense analysts took the Pentagon to task for spending large sums of money to quickly ramp up production and deployment of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles for Iraq, as well as other specially built vehicles for Afghanistan. But now the services are throttling back a little with JLTV, Bryant says, to make sure requirements and capabilities match up at a reasonable cost.
Right now government estimates put the research and development costs for a program to develop and buy 54,599 vehicles at about $497.1 million, while the procurement cost is estimated at about $22.2 billion, for a total funding package of about $22.7 billion.
Bryant says the JLTV program should fare well as it comes under scrutiny—like other major acquisition efforts—from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and Government Accountability Office (GAO). CRS notes there could be some congressional concerns over “reported possible JLTV budget shortfalls starting in fiscal 2015.”
Bryant also acknowledges there could be some funding issues later in the program associated with sequestration. And, as GAO points out, JLTV will have to battle it out with other major ground-related Army programs.
“The Army plans to move ahead with the procurement of JLTV at about the same time that it plans to start the procurement of other new and costly programs like the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) and the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV),” GAO says. “The procurement of all three programs is expected to continue for a decade or more.”
The AMPV fleet is the proposed replacement for the M113 family of vehicles in the heavy brigade combat team, focusing on five missions: general purpose; medical evacuation; medical treatment; mortar carrier; and mission command. The proposed Army AMPV buy runs higher than 3,100 vehicles.