The Army wants to consolidate its various lines of tactical trucks into a single
family of vehicles. The next-generation trucks would be modular—so they
can be reconfigured for an assortment of combat missions—and would incorporate
the latest commercial technology.
With at least seven different types of trucks in the fleet today, the Army
increasingly is burdened by the cost of operating, maintaining and modernizing
those vehicles, officials said. Further, the fleet is aging, and the Army does
not expect it will have the funds to replace every truck under the existing
Under a program called the Future Tactical Truck System, the Army will develop
a multi-mode modular cargo vehicle, which will have two variants: a larger “maneuver
sustainment” truck that will replace the current heavy and medium fleets,
and a “utility” version that is the equivalent of a light truck.
The FTTS final requirements still are being written, but a draft document already
was circulating among contractors who attended an industry conference in Michigan
last month. “We are asking industry for input, so we can fine-tune the
ORD [operational requirements document],” said an Army source.
If the Army can muster enough high-level support for the program, FTTS will
enter a four-year advanced concept technology demonstration, known as ACTD,
in fiscal year 2004.
The four-year research and development program would cost about $68 million.
If the project is successful, the Army would begin production of FTTS in fiscal
year 2008. Between 2008 and 2016, more than 5,600 trucks could be built, at
a cost of more than $3 billion.
The timing is important in this program, officials said, because the Army wants
the FTTS to be fielded alongside the Future Combat System, a new high-tech combat
vehicle slated to enter service in 2008 or 2010. Unlike existing trucks, the
FTTS will have to keep up with the front-line combat vehicles.
As a first step toward the consolidation of its truck fleet, the Army Tank-Automotive
and Armaments Command is merging three program offices—for light, medium
and heavy trucks—into a single program manager for tactical wheeled vehicles.
The current tactical wheeled vehicles “consume too many resources, which
increase the logistics tail,” according to FTTS briefing charts prepared
by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. Another drawback in existing
vehicles is that they lack “efficiency and agility” to meet the
Army’s goals of “timely, rapid and pulsed delivery of supplies.”
The FTTS utility vehicle, called FTTS-UV, will replace the Humvee, said the
briefing charts. The heavier version of FTTS, called FTTS-MSV, will replace
the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles and the heavy fleet that currently includes
the M-915, the PLS, HET and HEMTT cargo trucks.
The ACTD will compare the performance of a transportation squad of seven FTTS-MSV
trucks against a HEMTT (heavy expanded mobility tactical truck) squad. The goal
is for the FTTS trucks to achieve a 60 percent reduction in resupply time, 50
percent more fuel efficiency, 25 percent greater mobility, 15 percent more survivability,
as well as significant improvements in sensors and networked communications
The Army views FTTS as the “next logical step in modernizing tactical
wheeled vehicles in support of Army transformation,” said the briefing.
The transformation the Army seeks is about making the force easier to deploy,
regardless of the mode of transportation. Despite improvements in recent years,
“the pipeline is too slow, and the Army’s logistics footprint is
Not only does the Army operate multiple truck variants but also a diverse array
of pallets, containers, materials handling equipment and interface devices.
To create a “seamless intermodal system,” the briefing said, the
Army needs to simplify the logistics apparatus—consolidating the manifold
pieces of hardware down to a single load-handling system, a single FTTS chassis
and a single intermodal flat-rack to move containers on and off airplanes and
Much of the technology needed for FTTS already is moving closer to fruition
under the Future Combat System program at the Army’s Tank-Automotive Armaments
Research, Development and Engineering Center. Thomas Bagwell, the acting executive
director for research at TARDEC, said the Army wants “commonality of components”
across FTTS and FCS platforms.
Several key technologies sought for FTTS include:
- Advanced crew stations: networked command and control, reconnaissance and
surveillance systems, and high-speed databus.
- Embedded diagnostics and prognostics technologies that can predict equipment
failures, thus drastically reducing the maintenance and repair workload in the
- Mobility and fuel-savings features, such as active suspension, hybrid propulsion
and high-endurance batteries.
- Survivability enhancements, including modular armor, nuclear-chemical-biological
defense, mine-blast protection, on-board power generation and new crew-served
- Devices that help reduce the re-supply cycle, such as flat-racks that can
be used on ships, airplanes, trains and trucks; robotic trailers, and pre-configured
packaging and smart vehicle alignment systems.
- Embedded simulators.
- Movement tracking systems, such as GPS navigation and radio-frequency tags.
Experts pointed out that much of the technology for FTTS already is in development
or in operation in commercial truck fleets. The National Automotive Center—an
Army-funded organization that serves as a liaison to the auto industry—demonstrated
several FTTS-type technologies in a prototype vehicle called the Smart Truck.
The more compelling challenge in FTTS may not be the technology but the complexity
of trying to consolidate today’s diverse fleet into a single family of
only two truck variants. According to one industry expert, “that may not
be realistic.” Eventually, said the source, the Army may be able to neck
down the fleet to a single heavy truck and a single medium truck, but it still
will need an assortment of specialty trucks and commercial tractors to meet