MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Requirements for the U.S. Army’s Light Reconnaissance Vehicle are expected soon, according to Col. Shane Fullmer, the program manager for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle joint program office.
Once requirements are ironed out, then an acquisition strategy can be put in place, Fullmer said at Quantico during a media briefing on the Army and Marine Corps' humvee replacement, the JLTV, Wednesday.
The Army announced last year that it would use JLTV as an interim LRV solution.
Oshkosh is in the process of building low-rate production JLTVs and has delivered roughly 250 vehicles to the joint program office since the start of the contract. First fielding of JLTVs in four different configurations will happen in 2019.
The Army’s combat vehicle modernization strategy released in late 2015 lays out the urgent need for new LRVs, particularly for cavalry squadrons and infantry battalion scout platoons.
The service said it made the most sense to quickly adapt a vehicle that will be in the Army’s inventory as an interim LRV solution rather than to hold a lengthier competition. But since the service announced the plan, not much has come to the surface on what that LRV configuration will look like and how much would need to be altered.
One issue might be how to configure the JLTV to fit a sixth soldier. Five soldiers can be carried in a JLTV with four seats and another spot for a gunner.
"Right now the Army as an enterprise is examining what it wants both in the short-term and long-term for the ... light reconnaissance vehicle and there are a lot of different opinions out there which I’m not prepared to speculate on," Fullmer said. "I think right now the most important thing is increased lethality and it’s been complicated to define what increased lethality means, but we are currently involved in the process with the Army, the user community, the resource community to identify what increased lethality means to us."
The requirements and acquisition strategy would need to be lined up in short order if the service sticks to the plans it has in fiscal 2018 to test a prototype, according to the FY18 Army budget request.
The LRV interim solution "includes increased precision lethality through improved optics and a larger caliber weapon system to provide overmatch and counter threats as forces perform reconnaissance, surveillance and security operations," the budget request states.
A total of $6 million is requested in 2018 for JLTV-RV test assets, according to the request.
An effort to design and develop the integration kit for the improved optics and weapon system for JLTV would be awarded to Oshkosh through a work directive on the current JLTV contract and the service would buy mission equipment package vehicles to go through various testing including a Limited User Test.
It has yet to be revealed or decided whether the Army plans to compete for a new LRV down the road. When the Army’s combat vehicle modernization strategy was unveiled, several companies came forward with vehicles believed to be a good fit.
General Dynamics offered up a variant of the Flyer 72, a 10,000-pound truck used by U.S. Special Operations Command, the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1, at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual show in Washington in the fall of 2015. And Northrop Grumman also unveiled its six-passenger Hellhound LRV prototype.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.