Delays in the development of the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft have
prompted the cancellation of the Marine Corps’ light truck
program known as the internally-transportable vehicle.
The ITV program began two years ago, with a goal of purchasing
up to 2,700 light trucks for Marines and Special Operations Forces.
The vehicle would be small enough to fit inside the cargo bay of
the V-22 Osprey aircraft and heavy-lift helicopters. At that time,
the Osprey was scheduled to enter the fleet in fiscal year 2003.
Given the short time available to develop a new vehicle from scratch,
the Corps selected, in 2000, two commercial vehicles as candidates
for ITV—the DaimlerChrysler four-wheel drive Gelandeswagen
and the Flyer II, made by the Flyer Corp., in Los Angeles. As an
interim vehicle to fill the gap until the ITV was chosen, the Marines
purchased about 90 Gelandeswagen.
A series of V-22 crashes, meanwhile, led to a major redesign of
the aircraft and delays in the test program. The deployment schedule
of the Osprey remains open-ended, pending its performance in upcoming
tests. Under the circumstances, the Corps decided that there was
no point in hurrying to buy an ITV.
“The delay in the V-22 program has elimi-nated the need to
field an ITV in the near term, and gives us the opportunity to reassess
our acquisition strategy for such a vehicle,” said a Marine
Corps Systems Command spokesman. “Our initial strategy ...
left little flexibility for us to look beyond what was then available
in the commercial marketplace. We now have the opportunity to focus
beyond those limits and actively pursue a vehicle that incorporates
During the summer of 2001, the Marines tested the two ITV candidates.
“Our testing showed that although the vehicles generally met
the operational requi-rements, they were marginally suitable due
to width, weight and operational restrictions that the vehicles
would place on aircraft operations,” the Marine spokesman
Rushing to buy a vehicle now, the Marines reasoned, would deny
them the opportunity to take advantage of next-generation vehicle
technology in areas such as suspension, power train, signature and
sensors. The availability of these technologies, said the spokesman,
would help the Corps “meet all critical operational requirements
without the tactical compromises that present ITV candidates impose.”
A military vehicle expert who spoke on background said that the
ITV cancellation was a “smart move” by the Marines,
because it buys them time for technology to mature—especially
now that the Army is investing a significant amount of research
dollars into new vehicle technology for tactical trucks. Of particular
interest to the Marines will be hybrid-electric technology, with
its promise of fuel savings. “Knowing the Marine Corps, they’ll
let the Army spend all the R&D money on trying to make it work,
and then they will buy it—if it works,” the expert said.
“The Marines rarely put their R&D money into something
they know the Army will do anyway.”
At the time when the ITV program began, the Marines, along with
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, were testing a hybrid-electric
platform called reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting vehicles
(RSTV), made by General Dynamics Land Systems, in Muskegon, Mich.
GDLP built four prototypes for the Marine Corps, which funded 40
percent of the work. DARPA covered the remaining 60 percent.
The RSTV is V-22 compatible and can fit inside a helicopter, but
it did not compete in the ITV program, because the technology was
not mature enough to meet the ITV schedule. The RSTV is a combat
vehicle, rather than a tactical truck.
Nonetheless, the cancellation of the light truck program may now
revive the Marines’ interest in the RSTV, said Raymond Shaw,
director of business development at General Dynamics.
The Special Operations Command, he said, is considering buying
up to 150 vehicles, at about $125,000 each. “They are trying
to get funding for the fiscal 2004-2007 budget,” he said.
The four RSTV prototypes continue to be tested at the company’s
Michigan facility, said Shaw. “We co-own the vehicles with
DARPA.” General Dynamics, additionally, is funding additional
work on the hybrid-electric drive, in partnership with the German
firm Magnet Motors.
“It’s fair to say that the Marines did not believe
that the hybrid-electric technology would be mature enough when
they fielded the V-22 in 2004 or 2005. But that has changed now,”
The Army is a potential customer for the RSTV, he said. There are
many technologies in this vehicle applicable to the Future Combat
The industry expert said that, in his opinion, the Marines “are
becoming enamored by hybrid-electric technology like the RSTV, and
the lure of possible fuel savings.”