Reports have surfaced that the Department of Defense has decided to cancel its Medium Expanded Capacity Vehicle (MECV, or Humvee recap) program, despite Congressional support for the refit that would keep the infantry workhorse rolling for another few decades. It's been a rocky road for the MECV, which has significantly complicated the Army's efforts to build brand new Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV), but it looks like the end has finally come for the program in the latest round of budget slashing.
But losing a program that lots of people in the Army and Marines didn't even really want isn't the end of the world. The real hit comes with the revelation that the Army isn’t going to be able to keep the money it would save by losing the Recap program: the cash will instead go to the Navy and Air Force. If that’s true, it would be another sign that money and influence are markedly moving away from the Army and shifting to the services that are seen as having more of a role to play in the “pivot” the Obama administration is making toward the vast blue expanses of the Asia Pacific region. It would also, of course, be a blow to the companies that were planning on bidding on the Recap program, specifically Humvee maker AM General; Textron; Oshkosh; Navistar; and BAE Systems, all of whom were looking to win the business.
Original plans called for about 60,000 Army and Marine Corps HMMWVs to receive new armor and suspension kits, among other upgrades, but that number was trimmed down to about 6,000 last fall, around the same time that the Marines said that they wouldn’t buy the rehabbed trucks, preferring instead the JLTV. The Corps’ Dan Pierson, deputy program executive officer for land systems, told reporters in October that “the business case analysis for the Marine Corps for the Recap was just not there,” since the requirements that the Marines had for the Recap “was much more robust than what the Army is trying to get out of Recap because we were trying to install a lot more mobility” with more payload capacity. According to Marine Corps studies, these requirements pushed the Recap price tag “up in the $240,000 -- $250,000 [per truck] range,” which is the same price as a brand-new JLTV which has both more payload and more capacity than the refurbished Humvees.
Just weeks before that however, the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee recommended the cancellation of the JLTV program, and transferred money out of its account and into the Humvee Recap fund. Col. David Bassett, Army program manager for tactical vehicles said at the time that cancelling the JLTV in favor of Recap would mean the Pentagon will not be able to meet all of its light vehicle needs, since Recap wouldn’t be able to meet the payload and protection thresholds that JLTV has demonstrated.
A request for proposals for an engineering and design manufacturing phase for the JLTV was due on January 20, and while it has yet to be issued, an Army spokesperson confirmed today to ARES that it is coming “soon.”