WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is trying to balance its vehicle fleet between Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and Humvees, according to service leadership in charge of acquisition and force development.
The JLTV was meant to replace the Humvee fleet, but not one-for-one, and it’s unclear how many Humvees the Army may keep or buy in addition to the JLTV fleet, which is a more expensive vehicle.
Oshkosh beat out Humvee-maker AM General and Lockheed Martin in 2015 to build the replacement for the Humvee for both the Army and the Marine Corps. The low-rate initial production contract was worth $6.7 billion, and the entire program is estimated to be worth $30 billion through 2024.
Since a production contract was awarded in 2015, Oshkosh said in July, it has delivered 7,500 total vehicles to the U.S. and partners abroad.
“There’s still going to be 50,000 Humvees in the Army after we field that last JLTV out there way to the right,” Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, the Army G-8, told Defense News in an Oct. 8 interview.
The JLTV is a “significant improvement over the Humvee when it comes to transportability, speed and agility as well as protection,” Bruce Jette, the Army acquisition chief, told Defense News in an Oct. 6 interview.
“However, I have an objective of 50,000 Humvees still in place or alternative, light, less expensive vehicles to be able to perform mission requirements in the future,” he said. “So how do we maintain the existing fleet effectively as we modernize with the JLTVs, and part of that, as we buy JLTV, we are essentially divesting of an armored Humvee and we will continue to do that.”
The Army is procuring 49,099 JLTVs by fiscal 2041, which will leave about 50,000 Humvees that will need to be in the fleet.
The service reduced its planned JLTV procurement numbers over the past two budget cycles. In FY20, the Army cut its JLTV request by 863 vehicles. The service procured 3,393 vehicles in FY19 in low-rate initial production, but only planned to buy 2,530 vehicles in FY20. The Army originally planned in its FY19 request to buy 3,035 vehicles in FY20.
In FY21, the Army again reduced its buy. While that cut would not affect the Army’s overall top line requirement for the JLTV, it would extend the process to buy the vehicles out by additional years.
The Army has requested $140 million in its FY21 budget request, currently being debated on Capitol Hill, for Humvee recapitalization, retrofitting anti-lock brake systems and some newly built vehicles.
The military will continue to need the uparmored Humvee fleet, Jette said, “in part because of unit price and in part because of overall funding,” as the vehicle fulfills requirements through a less expensive avenue.
The Army conducted an analysis based upon the target objective requirements to identify how to balance the budget to meet those requirements, Jette said.
The service has also closed on its FY22 budget, Pasquarette said, adding: “I will tell you a lot of our legacy wheeled fleets, we took a look, a good hard look at them and looking at viability of the fleet over time and how much money do you need to put into them to keep them viable and operational knowing that there’s not a plan to replace them.”
The Army “did tee up options on how much you have to put in, how much do you have to procure every year on the front end to keep the fleet at a certain age so that it’s viable,” Pasquarette said. “You’ll see where it landed when the FY22 [budget] opens up.”
Beyond that, the Army Requirements Oversight Council is conducting a study, which will conclude in FY22, to determine the correct numbers of required light tactical vehicles, including the Infantry Squad Vehicle.
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.