Future Light Truck in Peril?
By Sandra I. Erwin
It was conceived as the perfect combat truck: light, fuel efficient but also able to survive roadside bomb attacks. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is supposed to eventually replace Army and Marine Corps humvees. But recent comments by Marine Corps officials suggest that JLTV may not be able to deliver on its promise of survivability and low weight. “It's my belief at this point that industry has not stayed apace of the vision of a joint light tactical vehicle that equals the protection of a joint heavy-protection or tactical vehicle,” Commandant Gen. James Conway said. “We are taking a look at that program. If it comes in at the weight where it is right now, the Marine Corps simply cannot get involved, will not buy a joint light tactical vehicle that's 20,000 pounds… We can't carry it in our helicopters or even sling it. And so we've got to have something lighter than that.”
The Army is participating the program and so far has spent more than $150 million on JLTV development.
Marine Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, suggested that the newest version of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored truck may serve as an adequate substitute for JLTV for some applications. The so-called MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) is “kind of like the JLTV that’s out there,” Hejlik told reporters recently.
But he said the Marine Corps needs a mix of vehicles “You shouldn’t have all JLTV, all MRAP, all M-ATV … you should be able to pick and choose.”
Earlier this year, Roger Smith, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for expeditionary warfare programs, said the Marine Corps originally planned to buy 5,500 JLTV trucks but that much discussion has been taking place at the Pentagon about how the procurement of M-ATV would affect future purchases of JLTV. Marine officials said JLTV is important because of the “expeditionary capability,” Smith said at a Washingon D.C., conference. “M-ATV will not be that small. Marines need vehicles that can fit in ship storage compartments,” he said. “There has been a lot of discussion at very senior levels … to see what makes sense.
The Marine Corps is acquiring 2,000 M-ATV trucks, and there’s room in the contract to increase orders for up to 10,000 vehicles.