NEWS FROM AUSA GLOBAL: Army About to Evaluate JLTV Changes
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Soldiers are about to test out new modifications to the joint light tactical vehicle, an industry executive told National Defense March 28.
The modified platforms are scheduled to go to Fort Stewart, Georgia, this week, where users will evaluate the changes, said George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh Defense, the prime contractor on the JTLV. Afterward, the vehicles will go to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, for official testing. The process is expected to take about one month, he said during an interview at the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium and Exhibition in Huntsville, Alabama.
Oshkosh is hoping the soldier feedback will encourage Army acquisition officials to move forward with the program.
“We feel that right after that evaluation will be another decision point for full-rate production,” he noted.
The service previously planned to make a full-rate production decision in December of last year, but it was delayed until later this year.
The imminent evaluation of the modified JLTV follows the January release of Pentagon Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Robert Behler’s 2018 annual report, which identified shortcomings with the platform. The document identified the vehicle as “not operationally suitable because of deficiencies in reliability, maintainability, training, manuals, crew situational awareness and safety.”
Following the document’s release, Oshkosh said the vehicle “meets or exceeds all contractual requirements for protection, mobility, reliability, availability, and maintainability and fuel economy.”
To address concerns that have been raised, Mansfield said the company made three major modifications to the JLTV. These include increasing the size of the rear-door windows on the four-door variant of the vehicle; adding a front forward-facing camera to provide drivers with better visibility as they roll over hills and obstacles; and a muffler to reduce the exterior noise of the vehicle.
“That [DOT&E] evaluation was done about this time last year,” Mansfield noted. “The report came out significantly afterwards, but during the testing and right after the testing, we did do a lot of modifications to the vehicles that the user was suggesting. We had met all of our requirements, but these were just suggestions.”
Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters March 26 at the conference that the service is “slowing the buy” of the JLTV, but the acquisition objective of 49,000 platforms remains the same.
“We're looking at the analysis of this capability and how it fits to support our objectives under the National Defense Strategy,” he said.
The service’s plans for fiscal years 2020 to 2024 include cutting JLTV procurement by $800 million, he noted. The funding decrease could result in 1,500 to 1,900 fewer vehicles purchased, McCarthy said. The cut is part of an Army initiative to reduce, delay or cancel some of its current programs to put more money towards its top modernization priorities.
Meanwhile, Oshkosh Defense rolled out its new L-ATV ambulance at the conference which utilizes the JLTV design. The vehicle was built with the company’s internal research-and-development dollars, Mansfield noted.
“We used the JLTV utility vehicle ... and we took off the back — the flatbed on the back — and we put on an ambulance module," he said. "It has the same drive line, the same suspension as what a JLTV has."