Oshkosh's offering for JLTV

Two weeks after the Army awarded the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract to Oshkosh, losing bidder Lockheed Martin filed a protest. With the potentially 55,000-vehicle JLTV program on hold until late December, when the Government Accountability Office makes its ruling, Oshkosh is doing everything it legally can to get ready to resume. The protest “is… Keep reading →

Lockheed Martin's prototype JLTV

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is protesting the Army’s award of the 55,000-truck Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program to rival Oshkosh. The other losing bidder, Humvee-maker AM General, announced today that it will not protest. Lockheed provided me the following statement after I asked them about the AM General announcement: “After evaluating the data provided at… Keep reading →

AM General's JLTV offering.

WASHINGTON: “Go drive it, Sydney,” Heidi Shyu called out across a room. “I want you to go drive it. It’s awesome.” “It” is the JLTV, the Army and Marine Corps’ future Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a $30 billion program for 55,000 vehicles. As the Army’s top acquisition official, Shyu will choose the winning contractor — –… Keep reading →

AM General's JLTV design

The race to replace the iconic Humvee has entered its final stretch. Today, the Army gave competing contractors AM General, Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin the final Request For Proposal for production of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. The competitors have until February 5 to ask the government questions and must submit their proposals by Feb.… Keep reading →

Oshkosh's offering for JLTV

[UPDATED with Pentagon confirmation] The better-protected, more-mobile replacement for the Humvee took a big step forward this month, when all three competitors’ vehicles completed a crucial series of military tests. All three have also completed a government Production Readiness Review to certify their ability to mass-produce their vehicle. Next comes the final Request For Proposals (RFP) for… Keep reading →

Lockheed Martin's prototype JLTV

[CORRECTED data on competitor Oshkosh] LOCKHEED MARTIN “LIGHTHOUSE,” SUFFOLK, VA: “We’re in a really tough competition…a knife fight in [a] phone booth,” said Tom Kelly, who runs Lockheed Martin’s government relations for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program. In the defense contracting world writ large, Lockheed is the 800-pound gorilla. In the three-way competition to replace… Keep reading →

An unmanned TerraMax mine-clearing vehicle, followed by equally unmanned TerraMax cargo trucks.

The future of military robotics may not look much like a robot. It may just be a truck that drives itself. That’s the simple, pragmatic approach pursued by Oshkosh — a company better known for trucks than Terminators — with its TerraMax Unmanned Ground Vehicle. But after eight years of experiments for three different military… Keep reading →

Lockheed Martin's prototype JLTV

AUSA: A recently retired general officer summed up the mood among many Army officers and defense industry officials here yesterday: “This is the worst, most depressing situation I’ve seen in 34 years of service.” The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program is just one indicator in that depressing scenario facing the Army. The service still plans… Keep reading →

Half the US forces in Afghanistan may be coming home, but K-MAX, the little unmanned helicopter, will stay until the end. A pair of the remote-controlled cargo choppers arrived in Afghanistan in late 2011 for what was billed as a short-term experiment, but the Marines liked it so much that the trial deployment was repeatedly extended, and now the military has confirmed it will keep them on “indefinitely.” (The extension was first reported yesterday by Reuters). Three love letters to the remote-controlled cargo chopper from military officers, obtained exclusively by Breaking Defense, show why.

Technologically, K-MAX is just plain neat. It’s a small one-man chopper built by Kaman Aerospace Corp. – originally for logging operations, where it airlifted tree trunks out of tight areas . It was converted to a remotely piloted vehicle by Lockheed Martin. Tactically, K-MAX allows delivery of supplies to forward outposts by air, without risking human pilots or, worse yet, sending ground convoys through the gauntlet of Taliban ambushes and roadside bombs.

“What stood out most in my mind … was the permanent scorch marks burnt into the earth up and down ‘ambush alley,'” recalled Marine Corps Maj. Kyle O’Connor, who served in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2011. So many improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had gone off in one narrow mountain pass, an unavoidable chokepoint for US supply convoys, that “that stretch of road continually had scars marking where explosions had scorched the earth,” O’Connor wrote in a letter endorsing the K-MAX for the prestigious Collier Trophy. “Those memories,” he went on, “are what drove me to be part of a program meant to save lives by limiting the amount of exposure our ground convoys had to danger”: the unmanned K-MAX, whose first six-month deployment had O’Connor in command. Keep reading →

AM General’s corporate ancestors built jeeps in World War II. The company designed and still builds the military’s iconic Humvee. But in the battle to build the Humvee’s replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, AM General is ironically not the incumbent but the scrappy underdog.

[Follow these links to read more and see video about AM General’s competitors, Lockheed Martin and Oshkosh, and read about the JLTV competition overall]. Keep reading →

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