Washington: There is growing concern within the Army that industry won’t be able to give the service what it wants for its improved Humvee fleet.
“We have tested some of the [upgraded Humvees] already and they did not prove out,” said an Army official with knowledge of the program. “We don’t know if they can do it,” the official said of ongoing industry efforts. The Army will continue to entertain industry offers for the Modernized Expanded Capability Vehicle program, according to the official. But the proposals already on the table have been less than stellar, the official said Friday.
The Army is capping the number of Humvees it plans to upgrade in the coming years in order to get its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle into the field faster. The official made clear the decision was not tied to the lackluster performance of the modified Humvees. The Army plans to modernize between 5,000 to 6,000 Humvees, and they are meant only for its air assault units, the official said. The Army initially wanted to upgrade between 60,000 to 100,000 Humvees under the MECV program, industry sources told me. Now the Army plans to build roughly 50,000 JLTVs to flesh out its light tactical vehicle fleet. “The JLTV is the modernization piece for the light [combat vehicle] fleet. The MECV [only] goes after a piece of it,” the official said.”We are hoping the [Humvee] will get us there for our airborne and air assault forces.”
Targeting the upgraded Humvee for the air assault mission should make it easier and cheaper for the Army to purchase the JLTV, the official said. The new trucks can be fielded faster since the Army doesn’t have to worry about making JLTV light enough for air transport. They will also be cheaper since the expensive metals needed to make the JLTV light enough for air assault are no longer required.
It looks as if reducing the number of MECV trucks should quash any chance of the Army has of later trying to use Humvees to replace the JLTV. The Humvee cannot handle the additional armor and communications equipment it would need for it to be on par with the JLTV, the official said. Lt. Gen Robert Lennox, chief of the Army office in charge of funding service programs, told me last week the Army “has hit max capacity” with what it can do with the iconic battle truck. Army Secretary John McHugh put the proverbial nail in the coffin on the Humvee-for-JLTV argument last week, telling reporters “we are done with the Humvee.”
Army leaders wanted to use the JLTV for air assault missions but Army and Marine Corps leaders decided last month to drop the mission to cut costs. That change helped bring the JLTV’s price down from $350,000 each to $270,000. That move also forced the Army to look at the upgraded Humvee for the air assault mission, according to the official.