Ultra APV demonstrator
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In an age of non-linear warfare, where front lines are nebulous at best and non-existent at worst, one of the biggest casualties is… the concept of unprotected rear echelon vehicles, designed with the idea that they’d never see serious combat. That imperative is being driven home on 2 fronts. One front is operational. The other front is buying trends.

These trends, and their design imperatives, found their way into the USA’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, which aims to replace many of the US military’s 120,000 or so Humvees. The US military’s goal is a 7-10 ton vehicle that’s lighter than its MRAPs and easier to transport aboard ship, while offering substantially better protection ad durability than existing up-armored Humvees. They’d also like a vehicle that can address front-line issues like power generation, in order to recharge all of the batteries troops require for electronic gadgets like night sights, GPS devices, etc.

DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. JLTV certainly qualifies, and recent budget planning endorsements have solidifed a future that was looking shaky. Now, can the Army’s program deliver?

JLTV: Program & Risks

ONR’s testbed
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The JLTV program began in 2005, with the Army’s recognition that its HMMWV contract would expire in a couple of years, and that a better vehicle was needed to face current threats. The US Army bears overall JLTV responsibility through a Joint Program Office within its Tank, Automotive, and Armament Command (TACOM) in Warren, MI. US Marine Corps participation is centered on a program office under the supervision of the Program Executive Officer Land Systems (PEO LS) Marine Corps at Quantico, VA.

JLTV has benefited from a number of military research programs. They include the Army’s Future Tactical Truck System (FTTS), as well as prototyping efforts on the Ford F350-based Ultra Armored Patrol. Ultra AP was an Office of Naval Research program, involving Badenoch LLC and engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Georgia Tech Research Institute. JLTV has its own requirements set, and was originally envisaged as having a $160 million Technology Development Phase (TDP) with 2 winners; a higher-level review increased the maximum to 3 winners, but did not increase funding.

Those TDP contracts were supposed to be placed in the 3rd quarter of FY 2008, but weren’t issued until Q1 FY 2009. Winners were subject to armor and ballistic testing, system tests, and live fire testing.

At the end of the TD phase, initial plans called for 2 System Design and Development (SDD) contract awards in Q2 FY 2011, in order to finish the base design and develop the remaining variants. That phase is now called EMD (Engineering & Manufacturing Development), and 3 contracts were issued in August 2012. Col. John Myers, Project Manager for the Army’s Joint Combat Support Services, has always said that that this will be another full and open competition – which means that losers in the TD Phase could conceivably invest, adapt, and win the SDD contract. That’s exactly what happened.

The EMD phase will be followed by a final competition, and the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Source Selection Authority plans to award a production contract to one winning team around 2014. Final numbers haven’t been determined yet, but the current projected quantity is about 50,000 JLTVs over an 8-year span. The ultimate value could rise to $30-40 billion over more than a decade, giving JLTV the potential to become the world’s largest single land system contract.

The JLTV Family of Vehicles

JLTV family comcept
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JLTV is designed to be very modular, which could eventually lead to a dizzying array of variants if the US military wishes. At present, however, JLTV falls into 3 payload categories, with individual variants in each. Vehicles must show better performance than the current HMMWV fleet in protection, mobility in dry conditions, and other RFP areas such as power generation; and each category must also be able to tow a trailer with similar capacity. They must be externally transportable in sling mode by CH-47 Chinook or CH-53 Stalion family heavy-lift helicopters, and 2 must be transportable in a C-130 Hercules medium transport aircraft.

JLTV Category A. General 4-seat utility vehicle, payload 3,500 pounds. May be thought of as the base vehicle, to be built during the Technology Development (TD) phase.

JLTV Category B. Will be used as the base for most variants. Payload must be 4,000 pounds, desired objective is 4,500. The TD phase will build the 6-seat Infantry Carrier and the C2OTM Command on the move variants. Category B Reconnaissance, Heavy Guns Carrier, TOW ITAS missile carrier, Medium utility, and Ambulance (3 seat + 2 litter) variants will be developed during the SDD phase.

JLTV Category C. The “small truck” class. Payload must be 5,100 pounds. The general shelter carrier and utility variant will be developed during the TD phase; its Hummer M1097 and M1152 analogues are used as mounts for semi-mobile command posts, as equipment carriers, and as light trucks. A larger (3 seat + 4 litter) JLTV ambulance variant will be developed during the SDD phase.

JLTV: Goals and Constraints

(click to view full)

IED land mines have been the #1 killer of American troops in Iraq, and up-armoring flat-bottomed Humvees proved to be an inadequate response. This finally led to the MRAP program at the end of 2006, which will have ordered and produced nearly 16,000 blast-resistant vehicles in less than 3 years. British experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has been similar, with 1/8 of all its casualties inflicted on troops riding in poorly-protected Land Rover Snatch jeeps. Those conditions have prompted several senior officer resignations in protest, including highly placed SAS commanders.

While some countries like Australia and Germany were foresighted enough to develop and field mine-resistant vehicles before 2001, a collective realization is sinking in across the board that up-armoring flat-bottomed vehicles with inadequate carrying capacity, in order to provide a level of protection that is better but still poor, simply will not do. Future patrol vehicles will need to be designed from the outset for blast-resistance against land mines and even car bombs.

There’s no getting around it: JLTV’s requirements will drive up the cost of Army vehicles in combat zones. Smart designs like v-hulls, composite blast pans, crushable composite structures, and improved armors do help – but they come at a cost. They cost money, and they cost weight.

Iraq: US Cougar MRAP,
Polish M1114 HMMWV,
Iraqi police van
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The current roster of MRAP vehicles cost around $450,000-$650,000 each, with additional costs for “government furnished equipment” like remote-control turrets, electronics and radios, IED jammers, and other ancillaries. These items can drive an MRAP’s cost to nearly $1 million each, compared to a HMMWV’s $250,000 or so. Given military death benefits of about $500,000 per soldier, however, a full Hummer with all hands lost actually costs $3.25 million – and that’s just the money. There is more to cost than just procurement cost. The question is, will there be more in the budgets to cover that?

JLTV vehicles will be smaller and lighter than MRAPs, which tends to lower relative cost. On the other hand, they will need to use more innovative design approaches and materials, in order to deliver quality protection. Their “government furnished equipment” costs can be expected to rise in cost over time, because that has been the consistent trend over the last several decades. Final average cost for every fully equipped JLTV could conceivably reach over $700,000, and containing costs under $500,000 is likely to prove very challenging.

The laws of physics also have their say, requiring mass in order to withstand certain levels of explosive power. A military Hummer maxes out at about 12,000 pounds fully loaded. Blast resistant vehicles with MRAP protection levels begin at around 30,000 pounds when empty, and the Cougar 6×6 MRAP depicted in the photo at left has a fully loaded Gross Vehicle Weight of 52,000 pounds. On the other hand, Force Protection’s Cougar 6×6 has been hit by huge IED land mine blasts involving several hundred pounds of explosives – and had every single crew member walk away from the resulting wreck.

That outcome was partly the result of design that avoids killers like flat bottoms, which often take several hits from a single mine blast as the explosion is reflected directly back at the ground before returns to the vehicle, over and over again. Blast-resistant vehicles are also careful about the placement of items that can be blown up into the cabin, and their bottoms avoid nooks and crannies that would act as “blast traps,” catching the force of land mine explosions like a ship’s sail catches wind. Even design has its limits, however; more weight allows heavier construction, more vehicle stability against even a deflected blast’s awesome punch, and a better ratio of protection to usable interior space.

Design a 14,000 – 20,000 pound vehicle with the same mine protection as a Cougar 6×6 is close to a “mission impossible,” though the Army seems to be asking for exactly that outcome. FY 2011 testing has begun to reveal the weaknesses inherent in that approach, as weight is already proving to be an issue for the off-road mobility that the US Marines prize so highly.

Instead, a successful and survivable JLTV program needs to be built around an inevitable set of tradeoffs. Requirements like lower height for shipboard transportability mean reduced v-hull angles, and less room between the hull and the ground when a mine goes off. Those decisions may be more compatible with off-road capability, which benefits from a lower center of gravity – up to a point. On the other hand, a complex suspension might deliver improved off-road mobility, with great clearance underneath, at the cost of extra weight and possibly reliability. In this weight class, interlinked engineering problems make it very difficult to make just one decision.

JLTV: To Be, or Not to Be?

Oshkosh M-ATV
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JLTV’s biggest challenge will be to survive as a program. The US Army and Marine Corps both face huge maintenance budget “overhangs” as a result of long and hard equipment use required on the front-lines. Even the current rate of wartime supplemental funding has left both services short of the annual funds required for full maintenance and replacement. To make matters worse, both services have large, high-profile procurement programs (Ground Combat Vehicle, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, USMC armored vehicle replacements) that are set to suck up massive development and/or procurement funds. Meanwhile, urgent MRAP and M-ATV “JLTV bridge buy” contracts are filling a similar niche for protected patrol vehicles, and creating a small explosion of related design ideas and in-production technologies. All the while employing a set of companies and workers with powerful local lobbying leverage, amidst an overall budgetary environment in which US military spending is expected to decline.

When seen in that light, the US military’s strategy shift away from initial visions involving large JLTV System Design and Development contracts makes a lot of sense. Instead, a set of relatively small design and development contracts, coupled with options for self-financed projects that have demonstrated success in following rounds, will give the US military its pick of 6-7 different and fully developed JLTV vehicles, all for under $300 million.

Buying the vehicles in quantity will be a different ball game, and planned JLTV numbers have declined steadily. The program’s next challenge will be to get a significant number of JLTV vehicles bought and delivered, amidst a budget environment that has moved from “tightening” to “crisis imminent”.

M-ATV’s off-road mobility, and orders to date for over 8,000 vehicles, give Oshkosh an especially strong fallback position. If JLTV falters for budgetary and technical reasons, the Army’s “bridge buy” M-ATV vehicles could easily become the base for an alternative way forward.

JLTV: Participants and Platforms

BAE/ Navistar’s Valanx
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Unsurprisingly, the JLTV field has displayed a certain degree of design convergence, within a very different set of core approaches to the problem. Since the competition will remain fully open at every step, it’s worth tracking all submissions. Even if a design loses a round, private development work could still make it a winner in the next round.

Government releases initially said that the JLTV program received 7 qualifying submissions in response to its initial Request for Proposal. Phase 1 saw Technology Development contract awards to 3 winners: AM General and General Dynamics’ General Tactical Vehicles joint venture (GTV Eagle), BAE and Navistar (Valanx), and a Lockheed Martin team that features heavy participation from BAE Systems’ Tactical Vehicle Systems division in Sealy, TX.

Phase 2 awarded Engineering & Manufacturing Development contracts to 3 winners: The team of Lockheed and BAE TVS from round 1, AM General for its solo BRV-O entry, and Oshkosh for its privately developed L-ATV.

BAE Systems: Valanx (won TDP, lost EMD)

Valanx & trailer
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At one time, the firms that are now part of BAE Systems had owned the world market for blast-resistant vehicles. BAE’s early lack of success in the MRAP competition was a rude shock, but a combination of acquisitions and execution brought them back to the #2 position by competition’s end. BAE firms also have a substantial combat vehicle heritage designing Bradley and CV90 infantry fighting vehicles, M113 tracked armored personnel carriers, Bv family armored all-terrain carriers, and other widely-used combat platforms. The US Army’s FMTV medium trucks offered an outstanding wheeled vehicle production background – except for one small problem. That group within BAE was already working with Lockheed Martin. BAE U.S. Combat Systems drew heavily on its combat vehicle heritage for the JLTV’s “Valanx” design, therefore, and covered its production gap with a strong alliance: Navistar, a huge commercial and military trucking firm who had finished #1 in the USA’s MRAP program. Navistar eventually split from the partnership, toward the end of the TD phase.

The Valanx reflects BAE’s combat vehicle heritage and design approaches. “Chicken tests” were performed for length of operation without oil, as were some other tests not done on normal trucks. MRAP lessons learned re: v-hull angle and materials, spacing between the “v” and ground, and aspects like fireproof spall liners were incorporated. Hull shaping and internal layout were designed to maximize sightlines, including the ability to survey the rear quadrant while sitting in the vehicle, as well as offering improved stowage. With respect to armaments, BAE’s RG-33 is reportedly the only MRAP vehicle in theater that has been equipped with a fully stabilized turret for accurate fire on the move. Their JLTV design’s body rigidity would build on that heritage, allowing the cupola hole to mount and fire substantially larger weapons than a HMMWV could safely carry.

Sightlines and stowage were only some of the user-centric design aspects incorporated into the vehicle. Close examination shows windows that are all the same, which means just one spare type to stock. The hydraulic suspension system will raise and lower the vehicle for off-roading or ship transport, but it can also pick up just one corner to make tire changes easier. The spare tire carrier is an integrated jack, and BAE claims that a “5% female” (female in lowest 5% of Army physical requirements) can change their JLTV’s tire, quickly, if required. Observers may also note the extra space from the tire to the wheel well rims; this allows units to bolt up different size wheel and tire assemblies in order to change the vehicle’s characteristics, lowering ground pressure with MRAP-size tires for off-road activities or heavier loads, or using smaller tires for less weight and more efficient on-road use.

The BAE team chose not to create a hybrid drive vehicle, on the grounds that a conventional drive train would let them meet all requirements at less weight and less cost. Instead, the Valanx’s lightweight independent suspension and drivetrain are made by Arvin Meritor, the US Army’s largest axle supplier. With that said, their Valanx does leverage BAE HybriDrive technologies used in thousands of Orion passenger buses, in order to exceed the military’s electrical power production requirements. A full set of embedded diagnostic and prognostic systems, leveraging several classified and non-classified databuses, will be used to help keep these vehicles running reliably. Navistar JLTV product page | BAE/ Navistar partnership announcement | Feb 2008 JLTV unveiling: BAE | Aviation Week article.

BAE also competed for the M-ATV interim buy, using 2 designs. One design is a lighter, improved version of their Caiman MRAP, which is derived in turn from the Army’s standard FMTV medium trucks. The second submission was a modified Valanx. Both lost to Oshkosh.

GDLS & AM General’s GTV EAGLE (won TDP, lost EMD)

GTV’s design
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AM General are the builders of the current Hummer fleet. General Dynamics Land Systems builds M1 Abrams tanks, was a partner with Force Protection to deliver Cougar MRAPs via the Force Dynamics joint venture, and finally bought Force Protection in December 2011. The firm also has very strong systems integration capabilities, and is involved in key radio and electronics programs that will equip America’s future soldiers. GTV is the AM General/ GDLS joint venture for the JLTV, and Eagle is the name for their design.

In 2006, both AM General and General Dynamics were awarded JLTV “Best Technical Approach” trade studies by the Office of Naval Research. Their joint design stresses design maturity and proven components, and includes a “unique modular and scalable trailer that has mobility equal to the JLTV vehicle itself.” GDLS and AM General reportedly invested over $10 million for risk reduction development and maturation of this vehicle and its In-Hub Hybrid Electric Drive system. Their AGMV used a hexagon shaped armored capsule for its uses in mine protection, side blast deflection, and small-arms protection. GTV site | Defense Update Nov 2007 article.

Lockheed Martin & BAE TVS (TD & EMD Winner)

LM/ BAE’s UVL Class C
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Lockheed Martin’s 2006 purchase of small British specialist vehicle designer HMT was an interesting shift for the firm, which has not been a major contender for military ground vehicle design. The firm has put a serious effort behind that push, however, leveraging wins for research programs like Future Tactical Truck System, and using their own private development funds. These resources were invested to build, evaluate, and refine its JLTV designs over several prototypes, and thousands of miles of testing – choices that ended up giving this team the best maturity and technical risk rating available: “Excellent/ Very Low Risk”.

Even so, Lockheed Martin knew from the outset that it would need a very serious production partner in order to field a credible design, and a credible bid. It found one early in Armor Holdings, who designed and built the US Army’s FMTV medium truck fleet. This may be the Army’s second largest vehicle fleet, with well over 40,000 trucks delivered to date plus another 2,000 or so derivative Caiman MRAPs. In 2007, a multi-billion dollar deal made Armor Holdings part of BAE “General Tactical Systems” – and created a “firewall” within BAE Systems between its 2 JLTV teams. All FMTV-related expertise remains exclusively at Team Lockheed’s disposal, and has been used to create a fully joint design and volume production plan. Other team members include Alcoa Defense (aluminum materials technology, design), JWF (machining and fabrication), plus Cummins Engine, Allison Transmission, Bosch, Meritor Defense, Lotus Engineering, L3 Combat Propulsion Systems, and Vehma International of America.

Lockheed Martin is a systems design firm at heart, and that approach became a big focus for the JLTV. Within that approach, survivability uses a wide array of techniques, including diverting energy via a v-hull; absorbing energy; visual, noise and infrared signature reduction; and ergonomics and individual reaction analysis. Team spokespeople stressed that a number of these elements are proprietary, and are not obvious from external viewing.

Producibility can easily be set aside in the rush to solve hard engineering problems. As expected given the team’s FMTV background, this was also a focus. The 3rd focus was maintainability and readiness, which is a particular strength of the FMTV truck fleet. Armor Holdings had the FMTV’s proven electronic diagnostic and troubleshooting systems, while Lockheed brought higher-level prognostic approaches derived from projects like its F-35 fighter and its accompanying fleet-wide ALIS system. In the end, their joint commitment and effort was rewarded with a TDP contract. 2006 teaming announcement | Alcoa joins the team | LM Team unveils Category C prototype | LM team Category B testing release.

Phase 2 Engineering & Manufacturing Development: Outside Entries

Ocelot unveiled
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As intended, the EMD Phase bids also attracted bids that hadn’t been part of the earlier TD phase.

AM General: BRV-O (Won EMD). The day after the RFP was due, AM General announced that in addition to the GTV Eagle, it had also submitting its own privately-developed BRV-O (Blast Resistant Vehicle – Off road) as an independent bid. The firm has a set of partners, but wouldn’t discuss them, or offer specifics about their vehicle beyond boilerplate like “self-leveling suspension,” “crew capsule and modular armor”, and “C4ISR backbone”.

General Dynamics: Ocelot (?) Force Protection’s Cheetah lost the JLTV TD phase competition, then the M-ATV interim bridge vehicle competition, then faded into oblivion. The firm still has an offering in this weight class, however, thanks to Britain’s Light Protected Patrol Vehicle competition. Instead of entering the Cheetah, Force Protection worked in conjunction with its British partners to invent a modular, 7.5 ton Ocelot vehicle that could give the firm another crack at JLTV.

Orders for 300 British “Foxhounds” have the vehicle in production, and JLTV is a tempting target, but General Dynamics bought Force Protection in December 2011. The company could enter the Ocelot as a stand-alone JLTV EMD contender, and compete against its GTV partnership with AM General. The question is whether it will choose to do so – as its partner AM General did. The EMD phase had 7 bidders, which leaves 1 unaccounted for. If Ocelot was that missing contender, it didn’t win, but it has enough of a production base to finance improvements and enter again.

International Saratoga
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Navistar: Saratoga (Lost EMD). Navistar wound up splitting from its Valanx partner BAE Systems to offer its Saratoga design. It looks a lot like some of the v-hulled HMMWV upgrades on the market, but early reports indicate that it doesn’t use a v-hull for underbody blast protection. Navistar launched the Saratoga in October 2011, after conducting its own automotive and blast testing. Their funding as the #1 producer of standard MRAP vehicles would have helped back Saratoga’s development.

Saratoga was reportedly aimed at the HMMWV Recapitalization/ MECV competition, but that went away. As JLTV’s requirements and cost targets have shrunk, however, Navistar apparently decided that a “less is more” solution was smart positioning. An emailed release said that the decision makers at Navistar “believe it is appealing to nations facing uncertain futures and limited budgets… Down the road, there may be an opportunity for Navistar to bid for a JLTV production contract after the EMD phase is complete. We will seriously consider that option.”

Oshkosh: L-ATV (Won EMD). They may have lost the initial JLTV Technology Development competition, but their immediate fallback was a huge success. A reworked M-ATV version of their vehicle won the planned bridge buys to JLTV, using a less high-tech approach. The M-ATV’s 8,000+ orders could easily finance further JLTV research to improve their team’s perceived technical maturity, while providing a potential commonality angle.

Which is exactly what happened, leading to the smaller, privately-developed L-ATV. It includes an updated TAK-4i version of the firm’s widely-used TAK-4 independent suspension system, and can add an optional ProPulse hybrid diesel-electric drive train for power storage and export.

JLTV: Contracts and Key Events

FY 2013

Program update; Test vehicles produced.

AM General BRV-O
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June 18/13: Program update. Despite sequestration, JLTV program officials tell military.com that they’re on track to deliver a low-rate-initial production JLTV award to a single vendor in FY 2015. AM General, Lockheed Martin, and Oshkosh are scheduled to deliver 22 vehicles each for testing in August 2013. They’ll go through off-road and soft soil testing, shipboard and ship to shore tests, and blast testing. Testing will help create a requirements document that will be validated by late FY 2014 – early FY 2015, which in turn paves the way for an RFP. The final step is an open competition, followed by final award.

The official per-unit limit remains at to $250,000 per vehicle, thanks to on-going trade-offs throughout the Technology Development process. On the other hand, by the time the services finish adding communications, manned weapons stations or RWS, and other gear, it’s reasonable to expect a final price around $400,000 – 500,000+.

The wild card? Program managers acknowledge that another year of sequestration cuts would force new choices on the military, which could change the program. That’s very likely to happen, which could turn programs like the USMC’s HMMWV improvement (q.v. Sept 27/12) from complements to competitors. Military.com.

June 10-22/13: Test vehicles. The EMD phase vendors have manufactured their initial testing vehicles for the US government, with formal deliveries scheduled to run through August. The JLTV prototypes will receive additional “mission packages” from their manufacturers or from the government, in order to convert them to specific testing configurations like Heavy Guns Carrier. AM General | Lockheed Martin | Oshkosh Defense.

FY 2012

RFP & responses lead to EMD awards; BAE/Navistar team splits; AM General submits its own bid; USMC’s HMMWV improvement complement.

Lockheed/BAE’s lineup
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Sept 27/12: USMC HMMWVs. Military.com reports on the USMC’s internal math, which says they won’t be able to replace 24,000 HMMWVs with 5,500 JLTVs bought around 2017 – 2022.

The rest will need to come from a HMMWV improvement program, without getting into the same “costs as much as buying new” swamp as HMMMWV RECAP. Solution? Start with a clear price limit, and try to figure out what you can afford for that. The interesting thing is that instead of focusing on blast protection, the program seems to aim at restoring vehicle performance, payload, and reliability to the level it was at before before conventional up-armoring. Military.com.

Sept 4/12: Thou Shalt not Protest. Navistar withdraws a GAO protest that it had filed just a few days earlier. According to the company they first filed their protest because of regulatory timing constraints, but after reviewing their debriefing, they decided not to proceed. BAE Systems will not challenge the award, either. Marine Corps Times.

Meanwhile Hardwire LLC announced that it was behind the mystery 7th (failed) bid. The company made blast chimney demonstrations on Humvees a couple of years ago. Defense News.

Aug 24/12: EMD triple award. 3 awards are made for the 27-month Engineering & Manufacturing Development phase, with an estimated completion date of Nov 8/14. The winners will deliver 22 vehicles within 12 to 14 months for further testing and evaluation. TACOM in Warren, MI received 7 bids, and the winners were:

Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX wins a $65 million firm-fixed-price contract. Work will be performed in Lockheed Martin’s Grand Prairie, TX facility, and BAE TVS’ Sealy, TX plant (W56HZV-12-C-0262).

AM General LLC in South Bend, IN wins a $63.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for their BRV-O. Work will be performed in Livonia, MI, and Mishawaka, IN (W56HZV-12-C-0258).

Oshkosh Corp. in Oshkosh, WI wins a $55.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for their L-ATV. Work will be performed in Oshkosh, WI (W56HZV-12-C-0264).

The awards vindicate AM General and Oshkosh’s choice to submit their own bids, while TD phase winners BAE (Valanx) and General Dynamics (Eagle) are on their own if they want to continue. Navistar (Saratoga) could also elect to continue with private development, and enter the production competition. The 7th bidder isn’t clear, but General Dynamics may have also bid its Ocelot/Foxhound.

BAE has the most interesting decision, as they remain involved in EMD through their participation in the Lockheed Martin-led team. A win with Lockheed would keep their Texas plant alive and in position to contest the next FMTV medium truck contract, which Oshkosh is now known to have bid at a significant loss. Shareholder dissatisfaction makes a repeat of that strategy unlikely for Oshkosh, which must give BAE hope to recapture the Sealy factory’s cornerstone. Their Valanx is associated with other facilities. Is it better for BAE to hedge its bets with Valanx development, or keep the development money for other things and go all in with Lockheed Martin? See also US Army, belatedly | FBO.gov | AM General | Lockheed Martin | Oshkosh | James Hasik sees industrial considerations in the award, and explains further.


March 27/12: RFP bids in. BAE, Lockheed Martin, and Oshkosh announce their JLTV submissions. The due date had originally been March 13/12, but it was extended. The government plans to award up to 3 JLTV EMD contracts in June 2012, for delivery of 22 prototype vehicles and other equipment for testing.

AM General announces the next day that in addition to its joint GTV submission with General Dynamics Land Systems, it will be submitting a design of its own called the BRV-O (Blast Resistant Vehicle – Off road). AM General developed the vehicle itself, and says it has put BRV-O through 300,000 miles of road testing. It also says that it has a number of industrial partners for system integration, etc., but won’t name them.

BAE US Combat Systems’ JLTV team includes Northrop Grumman for systems integration, Arvin Meritor for the suspension, and now Ford for the engine. Their Valanx will use the same Power Stroke 6.7 liter turbocharged diesel that powers Ford’s commercial F-series trucks. BAE describes it as having “class-leading fuel economy and the best horsepower and torque of any engine in its class,” and told DoD Buzz that when Navistar and BAE Systems split, and BAE Systems needed a company to build them an engine, Ford was the obvious answer.

The partnership between General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General has confirmed that they’re bidding a design called the EAGLE. This double-v hull design is not the same as GD MOWAG’s light patrol vehicle offering that used to be based on the HMMWV, and now (EAGLE IV) uses the Duro truck as its base.

Lockheed Martin’s JLTV team includes BAE Tactical Vehicle Systems in Sealy, TX, plus Cummins Engine, Allison Transmission, Bosch, Meritor Defense, Lotus Engineering, L3 Combat Propulsion Systems, and Vehma International of America. Their release touted the weight and cost savings in their revised designs, using a combination of digital engineering analysis, virtual design builds, component tests and physical stress testing. BAE-TVS appears to be positioned as the manufacturing centerpiece, and has capacity after Oshkosh bid below cost to take their FMTV truck contract away.

Navistar has split from BAE Systems, and is offering its Saratoga design, which looks a lot like some of the V-hulled HMMWV upgrades on the market. Navistar launched the vehicle in October 2011, after conducting its own automotive and blast testing. Navistar Defense President Archie Massicotte said that: “The Saratoga is a solid design and now that we have seen the requirements of the JLTV migrate toward our vehicle capabilities, we are in a position to modify the Saratoga to fit those requirements.”

Oshkosh, as predicted, is entering its L-ATV derivative of the popular M-ATV, which has become the US military’s most widely ordered blast-resistant vehicle. Their bid includes their new and improved TAK-4i independent suspension, and an optional Oshkosh ProPulse diesel-electric hybrid powertrain.

Force Protection, which has been absorbed into GD Land Systems, was silent on whether or not it bid its Ocelot.

Bid surprises for some

March 4/12: Not that people doubt the Army’s ability to deliver a JLTV vehicle with HMMWV size and MRAP-level protection for $250,000… but they do. The Army is responding. Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology:

“In July [2011], the Army released the “Decker-Wagner” review of its acquisition processes… Phillips said the Army has already implemented 29 of the 76 recommendations in the report, and will implement a total of 63 of those recommendations total — with the majority complete by the summer… Now, he said, the service is looking at what capabilities a requirement provides, is it feasible in terms of execution on the timeline, and is it affordable.

One beneficiary of the Army’s new acquisition processes is the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Phillips said the JLTV might have cost the Army close to $500,000 per vehicle if the Army had gone forward with the strategy it had during the technology development phase of the vehicle. Today, he said, as a result of how the Army changed the way it does requirements “we are confident we can bring this vehicle in for less than $250,000.”

Acquisition processes don’t change the laws of physics. Phillips cites the successful MRAP program as a reason for faith, but those vehicles cost over $500,000 each, and were far heavier than JLTV’s goal. The proof will be in the delivery.

Feb 28/12: Col. Dave Bassett, the project manager for Army tactical vehicles, tells the AUSA conference that he has confidence in the coming responses to JLTV. In his opinion:

“Industry, they don’t need another two years to design this vehicle… They are ready now to respond with mature designs to our solicitation.”

Jan 30/12: JLTV EMD RFP. FBO.gov solicitation #W56HZV11R0329:

“The solicitation for the JLTV EMD phase… shall be conducted on a source selection basis utilizing a “tradeoff” process to obtain the best value to the Government. The full and open competitive source selection process will result in an award to up to three firm-fixed price contracts for the EMD(Engineering & Manufacturing Development) phase focusing on fabrication, assembly, integration, testing and test support, and related requirements in accordance with the contract and the JLTV Purchase Description. Each JLTV Contractor shall deliver prototype vehicles, ballistic structures, armor coupons, additional test assets, and contractor furnished kits, trailers and data requirements. Contract award is currently planned for June of 2012. “

The response date in March 13/12. Per the program’s original plan, vendors that were not picked for the initial JLTV development phase can enter vehicles in this competition.

EMD phase RFP

Jan 26/12: Saved by the budget? Preliminary FY 2013 budget materials discuss coming shifts in Pentagon priorities, as the defense department moves to make future cuts. The JLTV ids an exception, however: “HMMWVs – terminated upgrades and focused modernization resources on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle,” in line with recent US Army declarations. Pentagon release | “Defense Budget Priorities and Choices” [PDF]

The US Army declares that it will not pursue offerings of upgraded HMMWVs, and intends to stick with the JLTV program, following an agreement with the Marine Corps. The question, of course, is whether Congress will go along with this decision. Lexington Institute.

Jan 17/12: Testing warnings. The Pentagon releases the FY2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The JLTV is included, and tests indicate a couple of warning signs. To sum up: they need roads, reliability has been poor, MRAPs are uncomfortable, and the laws of physics haven’t been repealed.

“During TD testing, all vendor vehicles experienced difficulty with mobility in soft soil due to vehicle weight and other vehicle design factors. In the TD, the reliability of vendor vehicles demonstrated between 71 to 902 Mean Miles Between Operational Mission Failure (MMBOMF) versus the required 3,600 MMBOMF. The Army increased the underbody threat requirement during TD to be equivalent to the protection provided by the [heavier M-ATV] vehicle. The ability to achieve the increased level of protection while also satisfying other JLTV requirements [DID: like, say, mobility in soft soil] is not known.”

Mobility will be an especial issue for the US Marines. The testers also complained about communications integration, and the same visibility and internal layout issues that have bedeviled other blast-resistant designs. BAE’s Valanx was supposedly designed to offset that, but:

“All three JLTV vendor vehicles had problems demonstrating functionality of government furnished command, control, and communication equipment in vehicles… Lack of adequate storage space for ammunition, restricted visibility due to small windows, positioning of window panels, and uncomfortable seats with poor seating arrangements were common problems between vendor prototypes and variants.”

Oct 10/11: NAV Saratoga. Navistar Defense introduces its Saratoga light patrol vehicle at AUSA. It’s initially aimed at the HMMWV Recapitalization/ MECV program, but ends up becoming Navistar’s JLTV offering. Navistar | Aviation Week Ares | Defense Update.

Oct 3/11: JLTV EMD RFP Draft. The latest Army-Marine Corps JLTV solicitation favors existing designs over new, and may lead to the program’s demise in favor of recapitalized and modified HMMWVs.

The $250,000 target cost will be a challenge all by itself, but the new solicitation may actually kill JLTV altogether, by driving both new and existing designs out of the competition. By reducing expected production to just 20,000 vehicles over 8 years (3 LRIP, 5 full-rate), it becomes more difficult for firms to recover costs for new designs. On the other hand, demands to hand over technical data rights, and a plan to re-compete the production contract for the winning vehicle after several years, make it unattractive for firms to place a valuable existing design at risk. US Army TACOM Page | FBO.gov | Defense News | Lexington Institute.

FY 2011

Oshkosh debuts L-ATV; JLTV cut rumors prod Plan Bs.

(click to view full)

Sept 13/11: OSK L-ATV. Oshkosh unveils its smaller “L-ATV” protected patrol vehicle, which it describes as fully compliant with all JLTV program specifications. The firm was eliminated from the technical demonstrator contract phase, but the next phase will be re-opened to outside bidders. Oshkosh did the expected thing, and leveraged its M-ATV win to fund development.

The L-ATV will feature the improved TAK-4i independent suspension, which “uses a proprietary technology to deliver 20 inches of independent wheel travel – 25 percent more wheel travel than any vehicle in the U.S. military’s fleets.” It can also raise or lower the vehicle, ensuring transportability in ships and aircraft, while still offering enough height for all-terrain mobility and mine blast protection.

Sept 13/11: JLTV future. The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee moves to cancel JLTV in their version of the FY 2012 defense bill, which would shift the MECV upgraded HMMWV effort into JLTV’s place. If the curt remains final, which is a long way from happening. AOL Defense.

April 28/11: As the teams prepare for the JTLV Engineering & Manufacturing Development contract awards in early 2012, BAE and Navistar’s Team Valanx adds Northrop Grumman to their consortium.

Northrop Grumman will serve as the C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) lead, responsible for the integration of command and control hardware and software, computers and communications equipment, and sensors and sensor suites for intelligence gathering and force protection. BAE Systems.

Oct 25/10: JLTV future. BAE’s Plan B: v-hulled HMMWVs. At AUSA 2010, BAE Systems announces its “Integrated Smart V,” a lightweight monocoque V-hull HMMWV that reuses a large percentage of existing HMMWV components, including the power train and wheel assemblies. It adds a layered monocoque hull with a V-shaped underbody that totally encapsulates the crew, and BAE line lead Chris Chambers adds that “…using clips attached to the monocoque V-hull, the ISV provides a rigid, uncompromising protection solution at an affordable price.”

BAE’s ISV solution comes as budget cuts make JLTV an attractive target, and the USMC looks for an option that will meet its height requirements for stowage aboard ship. They’re not the only firm to be thinking along those lines – Textron has a “capsulized” HMMWV of its own, and have teamed with another firm that has done work along similar lines: Granite Tactical Vehicles. HMMWV ISV could also offer an emergency HMMWV fleet recapitalization option that would bring new work to BAE’s land systems business, which has been hurt by its loss of FMTV truck production, and by the end of MRAP main production orders. BAE Systems.

FY 2010

Australia contracts; Army strategy leaves JLTV in question; Interest from India.

Ocelot modularity
(click to view full)

Aug 17/10: JLTV future. DoD Buzz reports that the US Army’s latest Tactical Vehicle Strategy looks like bad news for the JLTV, with small buys spaced over time to equip deployed units. Bottom line?

“Here’s the basic plan. Overall, the Army will shrink its fleet of HUMVEEs, MRAPs and medium trucks to 244,000 by 2025 from its current 260,000. How? The service will rid itself of 4,000 of the hardest to maintain and most beat up MRAPS by 2025. It will scrap the 28,000-strong M35 fleet and replace it with new FMTVs for a fleet total of 76,000. That will mean a total reduction of 4,000 trucks. The HUMVEE fleet will shrink the most, going from 101,000 to 35,000 by 2025. But there appears to be one big hole in the Army plan. It does not project how many Joint Light Tactical Wheeled Vehicles it will be. The strategy’s answer: TBD.”

See the full Army Tactical Vehicle Strategy [PDF].

Aug 9/10: Australia. The General Tactical Vehicles JV between General Dynamics and AM General in Sterling Heights, MI receives a $9 million cost-share contract for the design and development of 3 JLTV subconfigurations for Australia, and the delivery of 2 JLTV subconfiguration vehicles and 1 companion trailer for government testing.

Work is to be performed in Livonia, MI (47%); Sterling Heights, MI (41%); Muskegon, MI (9%); and South Bend, IN (3%), with an estimated completion date of May 19/11. JLTV bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 7 bids received by the US Army TACOM Contracting Center in Warren, MI (W56HZV-09-C-0108).

June 23/10: Australia. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Owego, NY receives an $8.5 million cost-plus- fixed-fee contract. They will design and develop 3 JLTV sub-configurations for Australia with right-hand drive, and deliver 2 JLTV sub configurations vehicles and 1 companion trailer for Australian government testing.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and the contracted is expected to run until May 19/11. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web, with 7 bids received by the US Army’s TACOM Contracting Center in Warren, MI (W56HZV-09-C-0109).

June 17/10: Australia. The BAE Land Systems – Navistar – ArvinMeritor team hands over 3 Australian JLTVs in a ceremony at West Point, MS. All 3 types are represented: a Category A General Purpose vehicle, a Category B Command and Control on the Move vehicle and a Category C Utility/cargo variant. The prototypes are very similar to American JLTV models, but include requested Australian modifications and a right-side driver. They will undergo tropical environment, reliability testing, and blast testing in Australia.

BAE Systems is Australia’s largest defense company, employing more than 6,000 people at 100 locations across Australia. BAE Systems.

May 26/10: Australia. Australia’s Overlander Phase 4 will have 3 new competitors. Australia’s Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, Greg Combet, announces that Thales Australia, Force Protection Europe, and General Dynamics Land Systems will each receive 6-month contracts worth up to A$ 9 million each, in order to develop “Protected Mobility Vehicle” prototypes. Those prototypes would compete against any winners from the American/Australian JLTV competition, for a roughly A$ 1 billion, 1,300 vehicle contract.

Force Protection is partnered with England’s Ricardo to develop the modular Ocelot, which is also competing for a similar contract in Britain. Bushmaster MPV manufacturers Thales Australia have designed a smaller vehicle called the Hawkei, named after one of Australia’s Death Adders. Their partners include Boeing Defence Australia, PAC Group, and Israeli armor manufacturer and designer Plasan Sasa. GDLS has several options, including a lighter variant of their RG-31 with Oshkosh’s TAK-4 suspension upgrade, currently serving with the US military in Afghanistan. As noted above, they are also partnered with Humvee manufacturer AMC General for the JLTV competition. Australian DoD | Force Protection | Thales Australia.

Made in Australia option

May 3/10: BAE. The BAE Systems/ Navistar/ ArvinMeritor team announces the handover of 7 JLTV prototypes and 4 companion trailers to the U.S. Army. The mix of vehicles included 2 JLTV Category A General Purpose vehicles, 4 JLTV Category B Infantry Carriers, and 1 Category C Utility Carrier. The team is now focused on completing the build of 3 additional variants and a companion trailer, to be delivered to Australia in June 2010.

Sites participating in this team’s JLTV development include: York, PA; Ontario, San Diego and Santa Clara, CA; Dearborn Heights, Sterling Heights and Troy, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Johnson City, NY; Austin, TX; Nashua, NH; Reston, VA; Melrose Park and Warrenville, IL; Fort Wayne, IN; West Point, MS; Huntsville, AL; and Laurinberg and Aiken, SC. Navistar.

April 28/10: GTV. The General Tactical Vehicles (GTV) team of General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General delivers 7 JLTV prototypes, plus 4

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