Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified a contract conclusion date. That has been updated.
LONDON – Britain has moved a step closer to completing a deal for purchasing Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) following the award of a contract allowing platform builder Oshkosh Defense to trial proposed UK sub-systems on the vehicle.
The British Ministry of Defence signed a demonstration phase deal with the US government in June to investigate the integration of UK equipment on the JLTV as part of a proposed foreign military sales agreement.
Program officials here said the work being undertaken by Oshkosh is to help them better understand the choices to be made and reduce risk during manufacturing.
The US vehicle has been selected by the British Army as the preferred option for the first phase of its Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected program aimed at replacing command, liaison and light logistics vehicles.
A second MRV-P package, unrelated to JLTV, involving purchase of larger vehicles for ambulance and general purpose duties is still in competition.
The demonstration deal has not been officially announced but radios, electronic countermeasures and other equipment are among the items specified by the British for trialing on a modified JLTV.
Mike Ivy, the senior vice president for international programs at Oshkosh Defense, confirmed the work is underway.
“The MRV-P program has funded a series of technical work packages that take the UK requirements and ensure proper fit and integration into JLTV,” Ivy said.
The Oshkosh Defense executive said the work is being undertaken at the company’s headquarters in Wisconsin. “The contract will conclude by December 2022,” said Ivy.
Nobody is saying yet when a production contract might finally get signed, or for how many vehicles.
Talks between the British and US governments on a proposed JLTV purchase have been underway for more than four years.
Cost has been cited by some media reports as one of the reasons the two sides have failed so far to finalize a deal.
Ivy said talks to conclude the deal were still underway.
“The timing for the purchase of JLTV, the quantity of vehicles and subsequent delivery is the subject of ongoing discussions between the UK MoD and US DoD,” he said.
British armed forces minister James Heappey told Parliament in January the intention was to decide on the JLTV procurement this year.
That, though, was before Covid-19 struck, causing the delay of a defense review until around the end of the year and chronically damaging the financial prospects of military equipment spending.
Equipment programs are regularly being delayed as the MoD seeks to balance its books.
Most recently officials cited the defense review as one of the reasons for delaying a major 155mm howitzer program by more than two years.
Analysts and the media here have said the Army may be a big loser if its budget takes a hit as the government defense review pivots towards sectors like space and cyber and away from conventional weapons like armored vehicles and artillery.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in 2017 the British had been approved to purchase 2,747 JLTV vehicles at a cost of $1 billion.
The Parliamentary Defence Committee , also in 2017, said the expectation was that 750 vehicles would likely be procured.
Whatever number the British settle for Ivy said that Oshkosh is mindful of the importance of UK content for its contracts with the UK MoD.
“The MRV-P program is no exception. Once the work packages have been completed by Oshkosh and the configuration has been determined by the UK MoD, Oshkosh will present options on shared work content that can be completed in collaboration with UK partners,” said the executive.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.