The Pentagon is asking Congress for approval to shift $182 million away from buying new Humvees toward upgrading the U.S. Army's existing fleet of trucks, according to a new reprogramming request.
The Army needs to improve the survivability of the vehicle because the current Humvee cannot withstand the blast from improvised explosive devices, according to the document signed June 10 by Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale.
During a review of its tactical wheeled vehicle portfolio, the Army determined it had already bought enough Humvees and decided the money would be better spent upgrading the trucks in its inventory.
"Rather than procure additional vehicles, the Army plans to recapitalize portions of its existing fleet with survivability and mobility enhancements," the reprogramming request says.
The $182 million will go toward these improvements, including an enhanced power train and improved suspension "to increase the weight-carrying capability, support for enhanced crew protection, and safety upgrades," according to the reprogramming request.
The power train upgrades should reduce sustainment costs by reducing fuel consumption.
"Survivability and safety enhancements include relocating the batteries away from the crew compartment and moving the fuel tank to provide additional ballistic protection," the request says.
The funds will be used to upgrade an estimated 1,200 of the Army's 154,000 Humvees.
"In a separate action, DoD has requested funds to pursue the 'chimney' upgrade to the [Humvee]," the reprogramming request says.
The Marine Corps and the Army have been working with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to finish testing on the structural blast channel - colloquially called the "chimney" - and other new vehicle features expected to protect against roadside bombs. Humvee maker AM General teamed up with Hardwire LLC to install the chimneys into the vehicles.
The chimney is designed to vent explosive blast energy through the center of the vehicle, protecting the crew inside and keeping the vehicle on the ground. The results of the testing remain classified, but the goal is to give the Humvee the protection of a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle at a significantly lower weight.
The Corps evaluated the mobility and operability of vehicles outfitted with the chimney, while the Army oversaw survivability testing.
Not the First Time
The service first asked Congress more than a year ago if it could shift procurement funds toward the Humvee upgrade effort.
In March, Defense Secretary Robert Gates chastised the House Appropriations Committee for holding up a $1.2 billion reprogramming request because it included transferring money away from buying new Humvees to purchasing gear to protect forward operating bases in Afghanistan.
Since that public dispute, the House panel has thrown its support behind the effort, particularly the new chimney technology.