The House Appropriations Committee’s markup for the fiscal year 2012 defense budget calls for a $50 million cut in funding for research, development and testing of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, the Army/Marine Corps joint project to replace up to 50,000 HMMWVs staring in 2016.
Thanks to the planned refit and recapitalization of over 50,000 Army and about 3,400 Marine HMMWvs, the Committee writes that “the operational niche to be filled by the JLTV appears to be shrinking,” even though it supports the services’ continued work on the vehicle. There is a caveat to its support, however. The markup notes that while the services should continue their JLTV work, their ambitions should be curtailed “until such a time as it becomes clear that there is a threat to be countered for which the JLTV is better suited than HMMWVs, MRAPs, or MATVs, or the current fleets of HMMWVs and MRAPs are judged to be not economically repairable.” At the same time to Committee wants to take $50 million away from the JLTV program, it wants to invest an extra $50 million in to the nascent HMMWV recapitalization program, which is still waiting on Requests for Proposal from the Army and the Corps to get moving. The Marines have been expressing reservations about the JLTV for some time, due to weight and cost issues, but the latest markup does little to bolster the program’s stature, saying that the HMMWV recap could produce “survivability equal to or better than the MRAP, weight considerably less than predicted for the JLTV, and at a cost significantly less than either.” To reach the $50 million in cuts, the Army’s JLTV budget of $172 million, and the Corps’ budget of $39 million, would each be sliced by $25 million, according to the Committee’s recommendations.