Well, this should make the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Army modernization this afternoon a bit more interesting. This morning we learned that Navistar Defense has left the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) team headed up by BAE Systems to strike out on its own, and that BAE is turning to an engine made by commercial manufacturer Ford Motor Company for its family of JLTVs.
Navistar said that it has submitted its Saratoga light tactical vehicle—which it debuted in October at the AUSA convention in Washington—to the Army in consideration for the JLTV, with company spokesperson Elissa Koc telling Aviation Week that by the time of its unveiling, the company had already achieved “an 85 percent solution” for the JLTV, “and we just needed to go that extra 15 percent.” The plan at the time was to submit the vehicle to the Army’s now-scuttled Modernized Expanded Capacity Vehicle (MECV) program—otherwise known as the Humvee recap—while shooting for a “middle ground” approach between the MECV specs and JLTV specs. “We really did go after the gap between those two [programs]” Koc said, adding that “it was ready for production in October.”
That extra 15 percent included reducing the weight of the vehicle, Koc says, while looking for “potential suppliers to integrate a digital backbone” into the vehicle and adding new power generation capabilities. She also points to a high level of commonality between the Saratoga and the thousands of MRAPs that the company has fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the company quoted a $250,000 per unit cost last fall, the Army has subsequently said that it is looking for submissions in the $225,000 range, before armor packages are added. Koc said that the company has met all EMD requirements and that the pricing “is not far off from where we were before.”BAE Systems, while parting ways with Navistar today also continued its work on the JLTV program, entering a submission for the EMD phase while making its own big announcement that it has selected Ford Motor Company’s Power Stroke 6.7 liter turbocharged diesel engine for its vehicle. Since Navistar was handling the engine integration and was to provide the manufacturing capability for the team’s JLTVs, a BAE spokesperson said that no decision has yet been made on a new production location.
Lockheed Martin, who has also been in the competition from the beginning, also announced today that it was moving forward with an EMD submission. During a call with reporters, Kathryn Hasse, Lockheed Martin’s JLTV program director said that the company has already driven its vehicle a 160,000 combined test miles, while “taking significant cost out of the design, as well as weight.” Pointedly, Hasse was sure to mention that Lockheed has had a “stable team” for seven years working on the program.
The deadline for submissions for the JLTVs EMD phase is today, and the Army is generally expected to award up to three contracts this summer as part of the 33-month EMD process.