JLTV Remains on Track for Fielding in 2019
By OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Correspondent
QUANTICO, Va. — The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), a major ground combat program for the Army and Marine Corps, is moving smoothly into the initial low-rate production phase and expected to stay on schedule for the first operational fielding for both services early in 2019, program officials said June. 14.
Although on-going testing of early models of the JLTV revealed some minor issues that will need to be corrected in production, “we see nothing that is expected to affect the schedule or cost,” Army Col. Shane Fuller, program manager for the joint project, said at a briefing at the Marines’ Transportation Demonstration Support Area.
The new vehicles are being produced by Oshkosh Defense, which after extensive testing, won a three-way competition against AM General, which produces the Humvees, and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. Activating the August 2015 contract, however, was delayed by a protest filed by Lockheed, which was rejected by the Government Accountability Office.
The Marines currently plan to buy 5,500 JLTVs to replace about one-third of their 1980s-vintage Humvees, which were found to provide inadequate protection form the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used extensively in Afghanistan. The new multimission vehicles also will enable the Marines to retire or put into storage the much heavier Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) tactical troop transports that were rushed into service to counter the IEDs.
Andrew Rogers, the JLTV program manager for the Corps, said Marines leaders are considering increasing the buy to 9,400 vehicles, which would replace half of the current Humvee fleet.
Fuller and other officials said the JLTV would provide MRAP-level protection for its occupants at one-third the weight, half the price and with 70 percent more speed.
Unlike some multiservice programs, the JLTVs will meet the requirements for the Marines and the Army and cost less than the target price of $250,000, Fuller said.
He and other officials attributed the success of the joint program to the testing of prototypes and the close coordination and cooperation by the two services and Oshkosh.
A program official, speaking on background, said a key factor in the success was a decision by Pentagon acquisition officials to give the Marines the lead on setting joint requirements, despite the fact that the Army will buy nearly 10 times as many vehicles and normally leads ground combat vehicle development. He said the Marines have a much better combat development process than the Army.
The JLTVs come in two basic models, a two-person utility vehicle that can perform a variety of missions depending on how they are equipped, and a four-seat version that can serve as a heavy weapons carrier or close-combat vehicle.
Rogers said the Marines currently plan to buy 1,758 two-door JLTVs, with the rest of the 5,500 initial buy being the four-seat model.
The first unit to receive JLTVs will be an infantry battalion in the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C., which will receive 69 JLTVs to replace its 74 Humvees, Rogers said.
The vehicles come with a communications technology “backbone” that allows the services to install whatever type of radios and information systems they choose. The vehicles also are designed to allow the protection levels to be adjusted by installation of additional under-body armor.
To meet the Marines’ requirement to put the vehicles on amphibious ships, the JLTV’s suspension can be lowered 10 inches to reduce the height.
Oshkosh officials gave reporters rides on the JLTVs over the Marines’ extreme terrain course at the demonstration area. In the ride, which rivaled a rollercoaster experience, the vehicles showed amazing power and stability going up and down steep slopes and over torturous beds of boulders and washboard earthen roads.