DALLAS — Due to funding cuts, program managers for the next-generation light infantry vehicle being designed for the US Army and Marine Corps are preparing to take a calculated gamble with the program’s testing schedule, an Army official said today.
With the cuts mandated by sequestration biting into the planned testing and evaluation budget of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), joint program manager Col. John Cavedo said that instead of pushing back the start of testing in order to save money, the services are going to proceed as planned until next summer.
If sequestration remains in place and the program doesn’t receive a new infusion of cash by next July, then the services will have to begin curtailing planned testing and evaluation activities, which would push the program’s schedule back.
“We decided to start the program at full pace, and we’re going to fix those things that need fixing” next summer if sequestration remains in place, Cavedo told a small group of reporters. “We lost money due to sequester and we have to figure out how to do testing without that money” he said.
Speaking after an event at a Lockheed Martin facility here that marked the company’s official handoff of 22 JLTVs about to undergo 14 months of testing and evaluation by the services, Cavedo also sought to squash talk that the Marines are growing disillusioned with the program.
He said that despite comments by USMC Commandant Gen. James Amos earlier this year that the Corps was reconsidering participation in the program, “as I know it today, the Army and the Marine Corps are absolutely still committed” to the program.
Since Aug. 1, Lockheed Martin, Oshkosh and AM General have delivered 22 vehicles each to the services for assessment. A production award is then expected in late fiscal 2015 for approximately 50,000 JLTVs for the Army, with their Marine Corps partners purchasing another 5,500 vehicles.
Cavedo confirmed that the per-unit cost for the JLTV remains at about $250,000.
Some of the planned tests later this year and early next include a series of company-sized operational assessments of the JLTV. Platoons of soldiers and Marines will “deploy” to training ranges in the United States for several weeks of real-world drills where they’ll put the vehicles though their paces.
In May, a spokesman for the program told Defense News that sequestration could delay the program by three to four months, pushing the production decision into fiscal 2016.
As it stands now, congressional committees have approved the Army’s $84 million request for the JLTV in fiscal 2014, while the Marines asked for $50 million.