With competitions for the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle development programs well under way—such as they are—the next box to be ticked off for the U.S. Army’s reset of its combat vehicle fleet is the HMMWV Recap program. While no request for proposals has been issued, Col. David Bassett, the U.S. Army’s project manager for tactical vehicles, told Aviation Week that a draft RFP will come out “within the next few weeks,” followed by an industry day.
While a recap of the iconic Humvee will give the vehicles better armor protection, an upgraded suspension system and other upgrades, it’ll also extend the life of the vehicle into the 2030s—a long haul from its birth in the 1980s. The Recap of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 Army Humvees as well as at least 3,400 Marine Corps trucks has created some tension with the JLTV program, with some wondering if the Pentagon can afford both programs at a time when budgets are due to start getting a little tighter. Bassett, who as of this month manages both programs, insists that they’re complementary rather than in competition. He is quick to say that “we’ve structured these as two mutually supportive programs, where Humvee Recap is intended to demonstrate for the Army exactly how much improvement they can gain in their light fleet though an upgrade of the truck they have, at a cost that the Army would be willing to invest.”
Bassett also stressed that the Recap must “be cheap enough where there’s no confusion in the strategy between the role of a Humvee Recap and the role of a JLTV. At the same time we want to make sure that the JLTV remains a significant leap ahead in capability both over the upgraded Humvee and the existing Humvee fleet … There is clearly going to be a difference between the Humvee and JLTV.” In other words, while the Army is looking for the Recap program to use existing, mature technologies to refit the fleet, it is looking to the JLTV for new communications and armor solutions that make it a leap-ahead truck. Still, while the Army has established a base price of $180,000 for each recapped Humvee, after five years of development there’s still no hard cost projection for the JLTV, something Bassett chalks up to changing requirements, threats and evolving technology.
But since we now know that requirements documents are coming out for both trucks at some point this fall—while the Ground Combat Vehicle languishes under a stop-work order—we’ll see how the upcoming “Super Congress” tasked with finding another $1.2 billion in government savings treats these multiple, expensive Army truck programs.