U.S. Humvees are shown at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in February 2011, awaiting transit back to the U.S. Six bids have been made for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, an effort by the U.S. military to develop a Humvee replacement. (Staff file photo)
AM General has announced that it has submitted its own bid for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), an effort by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to develop a replacement for its Humvees, adding a new team to an already very competitive field.
AM General, the longtime Humvee maker, is already supporting a bid submitted by General Tactical Vehicles, a joint venture formed in 2007 with General Dynamics Land Systems.
The General Tactical Vehicles team received one of three JLTV technology development contracts in 2008, under which it designed and built a number of prototypes for the Army and Marine Corps to test and evaluate.
Now, AM General is offering the Blast-Resistant Vehicle-Off Road (BRV-O), which the company says builds on more than a decade of independent research and development investment.
Companies wanting to compete in the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the program had to submit bids by March 27.
“BRV-O features a crew capsule and modular armor already proven effective in government-supervised blast testing,” an AM General news release said.
Oshkosh announced March 27 that it is also joining the race, while Navistar and BAE Systems, which paired for the technology development phase, are now competing separately.
The Defense Department has said it plans to award up to three contracts for the 27-month EMD phase. There are two planned JLTV variants: a Combat Tactical Vehicle that can transport four passengers and carry 3,500 pounds. and a Combat Support Vehicle that can transport two passengers and carry 5,100 pounds.
The Army plans to buy at least 50,000 vehicles with the option to buy more, while the Marines could buy 5,500 vehicles. The new target price per vehicle is $250,000.
In October 2008, the Army awarded three contracts for the technology development phase of the program. Winning teams were Lockheed Martin, a BAE Systems/Navistar team and General Tactical Vehicles. Those teams built and delivered several prototypes, which the Army and Marine Corps evaluated in an effort to refine vehicle requirements.
The Army said all along that it would reopen the competition for the EMD phase of the program, but many predicted the companies that participated in the technology development would have an advantage.
That advantage may not be as firm since the Army and Marine Corps overhauled the requirements to bring down weight and cost, and win back congressional support.
Here are the other teams who have confirmed their bids for the EMD phase:
Formed in 2005, the core Lockheed Martin-led JLTV team includes the tactical wheeled vehicles team at BAE Systems in Sealy, Texas. It also includes Cummins Engine, Allison Transmission, Bosch, Meritor Defense, Lotus Engineering, L3 Combat Propulsion Systems and Vehma International of America.
It was one of three teams that won a contract for the JLTV technology development phase.
“Our improvements removed hundreds of pounds of weight from our [technology development] design, which was already proven in helicopter lift tests,” Scott Greene, vice president of ground vehicles at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control business, said in a statement.
By relying on more affordable materials and reducing the use of exotic metals, like titanium, the industry team was able to bring down cost, according to Kathryn Hasse, Lockheed’s JLTV program director.
General Tactical Vehicles (GTV)
As expected, the joint venture between General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General is also competing for a contract. The team’s vehicle, the Eagle, makes use of a Double-V hull design, which has proved effective against roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“With the GTV JLTV Eagle, we offer a modified non-developmental, low-risk vehicle with inherent manufacturing readiness that is built for program success and an accelerated path to production,” Mark Roualet, president of General Dynamics Land Systems, said in a statement.
BAE Systems teamed up with Navistar Defense in the last round of JLTV, but this time around the companies are submitting separate bids.
The BAE Systems-led team still includes Northrop Grumman and Meritor Defense. With its submission, BAE announced that it had also selected an engine designed and built by Ford. They are calling their vehicle the Valanx.
“We are excited about this significant enhancement to our team and vehicle, and look forward to the possibilities it could offer in the future,” BAE spokeswoman Stephanie Serkhoshian said in an email.
Ford designed and built the 6.7 Power Stroke engine for its F-Series Super Duty trucks.
Navistar will bid with a variant of its Saratoga light tactical vehicle, which Navistar launched in October after conducting its own automotive and blast testing, the company said.
“We made a significant investment in developing the Saratoga on our own nickel because that’s what we do commercially — it is part of our DNA,” Archie Massicotte, Navistar Defense president, said in a news release. “The Saratoga is a solid design and now that we have seen the requirements of the JLTV migrate toward our vehicle capabilities, we are in a position to modify the Saratoga to fit those requirements.”
Oshkosh is offering a variant of its Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV).
The company says it has committed significant resources for light vehicle research and development to produce the L-ATV.
“Since 2006, we have aggressively and continuously worked to design, develop and test the L-ATV to deliver a robust, mature solution for the JLTV EMD phase,” John Bryant, vice president and general manager of Joint and Marine Corps Programs for Oshkosh Defense, said in a statement.
Oshkosh also builds the MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle, designed to meet an urgent need in Afghanistan for a lighter MRAP.