Army trucks will be overhauled to “like-new” condition at Red River Army Depot in Texas for roughly half the cost of buying new models.
The Army awarded a $20.5 million contract to BAE Systems in September to refurbish — or “reset” in Army-speak — 200 of its family of medium tactical vehicles 2.5-ton trucks. The FMTV has been in production since 1991 and comes in 21 variants, including troop carriers, cargo carriers, vans, dump trucks and recovery vehicles.
Trucks are deemed candidates for refurbishment if Army engineers determine that they are more economical to repair than to replace with a new vehicle. They have accumulated anywhere from 500 miles to more than 50,000 miles.
Some of the trucks with lower mileage may have been badly damaged in training exercises or in actual combat by roadside bombs.
Before the trucks move down the production line, 70 to 90 parts, such as hoses and filters, are removed and replaced. Once on the line, reconditioned engines, transmissions and axles are installed and a technical inspection determines other parts to be repaired or replaced, says Daryl Gore, director for logistics programs at BAE Systems’ mobility and protection systems division.
Each truck is to be refurbished in 90 to 100 days. The goal is to reset about 30 trucks per month to meet the Army’s completion deadline in September.
“We’ve been doing this for two and a half years. We know what the hard-to-get parts are,” Gore says.
Threats of roadside bombs and other explosives have prompted manufacturers to evolve cabs with better protection in recent years. Newer FMTV models have incorporated armor and other materials to boost survivability. But the first-run FMTVs, such as those going through the overhaul, were built with soft-skin cabs that are no longer manufactured. Rather than construct such cabs from scratch for the reset, older cabs previously provided to the government are being rebuilt in Sealy, Texas, before being sent to the depot for reassembly on the chassis.
BAE was awarded a $107 million contract in January to incorporate engineering changes that add additional armor (B Kits) to 5,108 FMTV cabs. The work is expected to be completed by August 2010.
To complete 30 trucks per month, workers perform on eight-hour to nine-hour shifts. BAE Systems is in negotiations with the Army to determine whether to move to 24-hour operations to stay on task, says Gore.
Trucks coming through the production line so far have displayed average wear and tear, he adds.
“It’s used every single day. It’s the workhorse,” says Gore, a retired soldier who served as a logistics officer during its Iraq deployment in 2005 to 2006 with the 4th Infantry Division. “I was responsible for the readiness of all the vehicles within our division. That was the one I never had to focus on.”
The contract includes options to reset an additional 400 FMTVs in the next two years.
BAE also is competing for a possible future acquisition by the Army of 22,000 FMTV trucks between 2009 and 2013.