[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 →
AUSA: It may sound ambitious, even hubristic, that the Army wants to fold all its modernization programs into a single 30-year plan. But the long-range look is all about living within limits.
The service wants to keep researching and developing 21st century weapons like the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) truck and the tank-like Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV), but it is also knows it must keep 1980s designs like the Humvee and the M1 Abrams tank for years to come. This sets up a nasty cycle. The more the new stuff gets cut, the longer the old stuff has to last, which requires careful investment in maintenance and upgrades. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos laid out today the Corps’ tricky balancing act, simultaneously cutting personnel, spreading out weapons programs, and shifting from counterinsurgency on land in Afghanistan to seaborne crisis response in the Pacific.
The big Marine Corps news of the last 24 hours was the award of development contracts to three firms, Lockheed Martin, AM General, and Oshkosh, to work on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace Army and Marine Humvees. The Marines nearly backed out of the program in 2011 over cost concerns. While the Marines are committed to the JLTV today, they are buying far fewer than once hoped. Keep reading →
[updated 4:00 pm with AM General comment] The Army and Marines took a big step towards replacing their vulnerable Humvees and lumbering MRAPs yesterday evening when they awarded contracts to defense giant Lockheed Martin, truck maker Oshkosh, and Humvee manufacturer AM General to develop alternatives for a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).
The military wants the JLTV to combine the offroad mobility of an unarmored Humvee with the protection against mines and roadside bombs of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks. It’s hard to demonstrate protection to reporters without trying to blow them up, but on Wednesday — just hours before the award announcement — Oshkosh Corp. demonstrated the mobility of its JLTV candidate, which the company calls the L-ATV, by giving reporters a ride. Keep reading →
After years of ups and downs and threats of cancellation, the Army and Marines are about to award contracts to develop a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace the venerable and vulnerable Humvee. In an exclusive interview with Breaking Defense, retired Vice Chief of Army Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli — the man who did more than anyone to save the JLTV from cancellation — argued that the new armored truck is critical not just to protect US troops but to carry the fight to the enemy in future wars.
“When I was vice [chief of staff], we were about ready to lose JLTV because of the cost; the Marine corps and the Army were heading in two different directions; and it was really [Marine Corps Assistant Commandant] Joe Dunford and I who said wait a second, we really need this vehicle, we can’t afford this service parochialism,” Chiarelli recalled. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The military Reserves and National Guard have spent a decade operating with unprecedented intensity alongside the regular active-duty force in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, as budget cuts loom, their leaders are fighting hard to keep the funding needed to keep their edge in both training and equipment. Going back to the sleepy days of “weekend warriors” rehearsing with hand-me-down hardware is not an option, they argued: The nation needs them ready, and a new generation of Guard and Reserve troops accustomed to real-world operations won’t accept anything less. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Defense firms working on the Humvee upgrade effort are setting their sights on the Marines after Pentagon officials killed the Army-led program, industry sources say.
Marine Corps officials who observed testing on some early industry designs for the Modernized Expanded Capability Vehicle — the official moniker of the Humvee recapitalization program — were more enthusiastic than their Army counterparts about the program, according to an industry source. Marine observers were asking questions and making suggestions on how to improve the MECV design, whereas Army observers simply “stood in the back taking notes,” the source said. Humvee builder AM General, a Textron-Granite Tactical team, along with Navistar — which builds a version of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle — were seen as the top contenders for the MECV program. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Lighter, faster and more lethal.
That’s where he U.S. military is headed as a result of looming budget cuts slated to begin in fiscal 2013. And that’s where the Army wants to take their fleet of light combat vehicles, to help ease that budget blow. But to get there, service leaders plan to radically change the way the Army deploys its fighting vehicles.
The Army’s Training and Doctrine Command is looking at ways to draw down the light combat fleet while still keeping it viable. One way is to change how the Army assigns its tactical vehicles to individual units. TRADOC is looking at abandoning certain vehicle assignments to specific brigade combat teams and moving to a pool system, service spokesman Maj. Christopher Kasker said. The idea is part of an ongoing review of the Army’s light tactical fleet that began late last year.
So instead of each BCT having its own organic fleet of combat vehicles when it deploys, it will have to share a pool of vehicles with other Army units. These vehicle pools will be limited to “common use and general purpose task trucks,” Kasker said. Assignments of up-armored Humvees, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles or the Joint Light Tactical Vehicles to Army BCTs will likely not be affected. “This strategy will account for the possible requirement to realign some number of [tactical wheeled vehicles] currently in [the] Brigade Combat Teams to echelons above brigade,” he explained in an e-mail to Breaking Defense. The current TRADOC effort is focused at the BCT level, but will be pushed across the all the “multi-functional and functional” support brigades, Kasker added.
The Army could stand to save millions through this plan, since it will not have to equip each BCT with its a full compliment of vehicles. It will also be able to cut critical personnel costs since BCTs won’t have as many vehicles to maintain. But it’s also a bold break from the Army’s long-standing practice of having combat units deploy with everything they may need. Army units in Afghanistan have pooled weapons and vehicles before, but in much smaller quantities compared to what TRADOC is proposing. The vehicle and weapon pools in Afghanistan were designed to allow mission flexibility, not cost savings, for Army troops.
But moving the light vehicle fleet to a pool system is just one instance of the Army trying better manage its increasingly dwindling resources. “Pooling is based on the fact that the Army does not use 100 percent of its trucks all the time,” Kasker said. “Pooling will provide an alternative to [Army Forces Generation] equipping, yet still support [service] readiness objectives.” In the case where an Army unit could be left shorthanded vehicle-wise, service leaders plan will use private contractors to close that gap.
Currently TRADOC is trying to find the sweet spot between how many Army vehicles can be pooled and how many vehicles to cut from the light combat fleet. The next step will be to figure out which vehicles will be pooled and how to execute the plan across the BCTs for “training, deployment or surge operations,” Kasker said. “Further analysis will be conducted to determine the differences between installation pooling vs. regional pooling in terms of operational effectiveness and cost benefit, he added. Keep reading →
UPDATED WASHINGTON: The Army will cancel a multimillion dollar effort to upgrade its Humvee fleet and funnel those funds into the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, according to sources with knowledge of the program.
Pentagon acquisition officials spearheaded Army’s decision to terminate the Modernized Expanded Capability Vehicle program — the official moniker of the Humvee recapitalization program, sources say. The MECV cancellation will likely be part of the Army’s upcoming fiscal 2013 budget plan. An Army spokesman could not confirm or deny the program’s cancellation, noting internal budget deliberations are still ongoing. Keep reading →