Recent operations in Afghanistan have tested the performance of the Marine
Corps’ fleet of light trucks and also have triggered possible changes
in future buys, said Brig. Gen. James M. Feigley, chief of the Marine Corps
Among the “lessons learned” from these operations is the need for
high-performance, high-endurance vehicles that can survive in an “extreme
expeditionary environment,” such as Afghanistan, Feigley said in an interview.
Light trucks got heavy use in Afghanistan, he said. The Humvees continue to
be favored by the Marine Corps, particularly the newer version, the A2, said
Feigley. The A2 has a “special anti-corrosion package that is of great
interest to us.” The Corps plans to buy 15,000 Humvees by 2007.
Another popular truck in Afghanistan was the so-called fast attack vehicle,
which is a Mercedes-Benz G-Class rugged SUV, distributed in the United States
by Advanced Vehicle Systems. The Corps has bought 92 trucks, for about $50,000
each. According to AVS President Mark Stanley, these vehicles have participated
in 15 deployments.
The Marines started a program for a new ultra-light truck, called the Internally
Transportable Vehicle. The ITV was supposed to fit inside a V-22 tilt-rotor
or a CH-53E cargo bay, and the vehicle also was to be used by U.S. Special Operations
Forces. The Marines budgeted $6 million for the ITV in 2002-2003.
Two companies—AVS and Flyer Corp.—received contracts two years
ago to make four vehicles. After a downselect scheduled for last fall, the winner
would have produced hundreds of trucks.
The two competitors, however, were told in December that the program was on
hold, pending a review by the Marine Corps Requirements Oversight Council. According
to Feigley, the issues of most concern for the MROC were the ITV payload and
aircraft interface. “The requirements we originally set a year ago are
being reevaluated, based on the experience in Afghanistan,” said Feigley.
“The MROC scrubbed the requirements and will be making a decision in February
.” At press time, however, Marine officials declined to comment
on the outcome of the review.
Feigley explained that the ITV requirements may have to change, so it can be
more useful in operations from ships and “extremely austere environments,
across many different types of terrain, with little physical infrastructure.”
Initially, he said, “the ITV was conceived for more conventional operations.”
It is not clear when, or whether, the ITV program will resume.