While all of the press focus has been on the performance of the MRAP in theater, and the shipment this week of the first MATVs to Afghanistan, the Army and Marine Corps longer-term solution to the light tactical vehicle needs of the military—the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle—continues apace.The program is on track to hit all of its milestones, according to program managers who spoke with reporters today at the AUSA convention in Washington.
The trucks are “about a third of the way through the 27 month TD phase, and we’ve been through the preliminary design reviews,” according to Kevin Fahey, Program Executive Officer, Combat Support & Combat Service Support.. “Over the next couple months we’re going to do the Critical Design Reviews,” with more the first week of October, and two more in November. Fahey said that between now and the end of the year the plan is for the three remaining contractors in the competition to submit their armor coupons and ballistics, “and early next year in April / May is when they’ll get the prototype vehicles with about a year of testing on them.”
Despite earlier plans calling for everyone from the Canadians to the Brits to the Australians to the Israelis to participate in JLTV development, only the Australians remain, and India has also started to show interest. The Australians have “given us notice that they want to participate in the next phase of the program,” according to Fahey, while “we just found out that India also wants to participate in the next phase of the program.” But for the moment, the Australians are the only full participant in the next phase of the program. India has only entered into discussions about participating in the JLTV program.
When it comes to the rumblings about the MATV muscling in on the territory already carved out for the JLTV in future plans, Bill Taylor, Deputy PEO, says not so fast. “I think there’s room for both programs, in fact I think there’s a need for both programs. MATV, like MRAP, was driven by urgency and the need to satisfy that urgency.” The MATV, he said, focuses almost exclusively, like MRAP, on crew survivability, but “JLTV is taking the long view.” Both programs share 320 mission requirements, but JLTV is going after an additional unique set of 580 requirements that MATV is not required to satisfy, he said. Fahey added that modularity is also a key when looking at the JLTV. “People forget that there are 30 some variants of the Humvee,” he contends, and the JLTV program is going after the family of light tactical vehicles, while the MRAP and MATV are focusing primarily on protecting soldiers in the fight.