By now, you’ve all likely heard that three companies have been awarded the mythic JLTV contract for the 27-month technology demonstration phase of the program: Lockheed nets a $36 million, General Tactical Vehicles (the AM General and General Dynamics joint venture) gets $45 million, and BAE Systems is awarded $40 million to develop the vehicles.
With press offices at both the winners and losers working overtime, it’s a little hard to get through, but we can look to October’s DTI for some clues as to what is going on. I spoke to the folks at General Dynamics and AM General for my piece on the JLTV program, and this is what they had to tell me:
Don Howe, JLTV program director at General Dynamics, says that the two companies, (who produce the Stryker and the Humvee, respectively), are “blending both cultures” in their design, and points out that combined, General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General have produced “over 1 million combat and tactical wheeled vehicles” for military use. If the companies win the contract, they plan on doing the manufacturing at the American General factory in Mishawaka, Indiana, but say that many of the components will be fed in from other areas of General Dynamics and AM General, wherever they are best suited to be made. “American General has an engine plant that might build up the power packs and ship them in Mishawaka. We might build the structures at a GD facility that is familiar with building structures.
The “blending” theme was also evident in a conference call with reporters that BAE and Navistar set up this morning. Kevin Thomas, Navistar’s director, product creation, added that Navistar brings “manufacturing expertise…we also bring an engine manufacturer as part of our core team,” since Navistar builds 100,000 engines a year, and “over 400 trucks a day.”
Matt Riddle, BAE’s VP, wheeled combat vehicles said that “you look at MRAP. That program was an urgent request, and at the end of the day the two teams that were able to build the best products are the two teams we’re talking about today … one of the things Navistar brings is their large commercial truck building capability. We bring those two key ingredients together.”
As to the question of Australian participation—and possibly sharing in some of the manufacturing duties—which was reported yesterday, BAE’s Riddle said that details are still sketchy, “but of all the teams we’re the best positioned to support it,” since “BAE is the largest defense contractor in Australia.”