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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Marine Brass Fully Supports Procurement of New Light Tactical Vehicle
Marine Brass Fully Supports Procurement of New Light Tactical Vehicle

By Dan Parsons

NORFOLK, Va. — Despite budget challenges and speculation about the Marine Corps' commitment to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, senior leaders are fully behind the program, officials told an industry conference. 

“We are all in,” said Lt. Col. Michael S. Burks, JLTV program manager. “That has been doubted in the [Pentagon]. That has been doubted on Capitol Hill. That has been doubted by the public. But we are all in.”

The Corps intends to buy 5,500 JLTVs, whereas the Army will buy around 50,000. The program is scheduled to enter its engineering and manufacturing phase in late June, but could be pushed to July. EMD will be “aggressive and robust,” Burks said during a briefing to industry hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.

JLTV is one of the Marine Corps' top modernization efforts, officials said. The vehicle will replace aging Humvee trucks, although thousadns of Humvees still will remain in service through 2030.

The problem with Humvees is that they have been overloaded with more armor weight than the vehicles were designed to tolerate, said Burks. “We’ve crushed it with armor … to the point that it’s not reliable, it’s not safe and it’s largely road-bound. ... We owe it to Marines to do something about it. This is not rocket science, these are trucks.”

The Marine Corps plans to reduce its Humvee fleet from 24,600 to 12,900. Most of the decommissioned vehicles have been damaged or worn out from combat. The service still has 4,000 mine resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs. That fleet eventually will shrink to 2,666, said Steve Costa, program manager for the MRAP joint program office.

The strain of weight is not limited to trucks. Even the Marine Corps’ heaviest vehicle, the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, has suffered from continual armor upgrades, said Col. Joseph Schrader, program manager for armor and fire support systems. “When you slap all this armor on a tank, you decrease its mobility,” Shrader said. Suspension upgrades to the 72-ton tank will increase its carrying capacity to 77 tons, he said.

The Corps also is procuring a lighter truck, called internally transportable vehicle, or ITV, which at less than 7,000 pounds can be flown into combat aboard an MV-22 Osprey. 

“If anything embodies lightening the [Marine Air Ground Task Force], you’re looking at it,” Burks said of ITV. “The proliferation of ITV lightens the MAGTF dramatically.”

Officials at the conference also assured contractors that the Corps intends to move forward with the procurement of a new amphibious personnel carrier to replace the recently terminated Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Keith Moore, program manager for Marine Corps advanced amphibious assault, said the new ACV (amphibious combat vehicle) is key to moving Marines from ship to shore. It will need to carry 17 Marines plus a crew of three. The 70,000-pound vehicle should have a range of at least 200 miles. Cost estimates are still too high, said Moore. The currently projected unit cost of $10 million to $12 million “isn’t going to fly,” he said.

The ACV design should congeal within the next calendar year, he said. In the meantime, the Corps plans to upgrade about 400 of its current amphibious assault vehicles so they can remain in service for at least another decade.

Also on the wish list is a new armored personnel carrier. Officials said that, most likely, the Marine Corps will buy an existing vehicle rather than design a new one. It will have to be large enough to transport nine Marines and a crew of three, with a 300-mile range at a unit cost of around $4 million. Plans are to eventually purchase 579 MPCs.

Comments

Re: Marine Brass Fully Supports Procurement of New Light Tactical Vehicle

Despite what the USMC says in this article, I think the article speaks for itself...the new JLTV should be 100% fully armored on the hull skin at least again 7.62mm ball rounds.  The up-armored HMMWV proves this---that a vehicle with kit armor cannot carry the added weight.  So why then accept and build a new JLTV that isn't 100% fully armored?  Why go back to the thin-skin HMMWV days?  Somalia in 1993 proved what the U.S. land forces lacked, a fully-armored 4X4 light tactical truck, hence the M1114.

The U.S. land forces still kind of lack a fully-armored 4X4 light vehicle.  The MRAP and M-ATV are the answers to this, but they're not fully tactical vehicles; they are vehicles to be driven from Point A to Point B.  They’re often too tall to fight effectively on road and too heavy to maneuver off road. The M1117 "Guardian" ASV is a fighting vehicle, but it cannot carry passengers nor is the turret stabilized.  The M1114 is an up-armored tactical vehicle, but unlike the JLTV, it has no V-Hull against IEDs.  On the other hand, foreign nations such as NATO, Israel, South Africa, China, Japan, and Russia have had fully-armored 4X4 tactical fighting vehicles for decades and they don't complain about weight issues.

Why doesn't the USMC look at the Bearcat or the Oshkosh SWAT Tactical vehicle?  Some of those are armored up to 14.5mm AP and are fully bulletproof.

If the USMC wants a light-armored 4X4 cargo vehicle, then no way should it cost close to $300,000 when a jacked-up F-350 to F-550 or SUV painted green would do just as well.  Even up-armoring a civilian pickup would only be about $50K to $100,000 so the USMC would have an armored cargo pickup truck or SUV costing $140,000 total.  There are several armoring companies that specialize in up-armoring civilian vehicles and adding new engines, transmissions, and suspensions.

The USMC really needs to think hard and fast about their armor requirements on the JLTV.  I think in this case the U.S. Army has gotten it correct---the new JLTV needs full armor all around the body and underside.  Why?  Because it is an armored 4X4 V-Hull tactical fighting vehicle that the United States military never really had, period.  It may cost more, yes, but the United States makes lighter armored tactical vehicles already on market.  If the USMC wants to go and buy lighter armored vehicles, it could do so tomorrow.
P at 5/2/2012 2:23 PM

Re: Marine Brass Fully Supports Procurement of New Light Tactical Vehicle

In response to Dan's comments and the article in general:

Like many blogs that proliferate half truths, this comment lacks the depth and understanding required to be credible. Having worked LTVs since 1988, and having been in the TCM-Trans shop during the evolution of the JLTV, I can speak at the level required to set the record straight on this discussion thread.

Regarding the first paragraph, JLTV armor (protection level) is required to be scalable and tailorable, and it will be structurally designed to accept the weight of that scalable armor kits or other solution, unlike the HMMWV. The choice will be based on mission and threat. If the threat demands 100% armor, the vehicle will be "kitted-up." If it is operating in peacetime, it will be spared the wear and tear of the added weight, saving fuel, increasing RAM, and lowering lifecycle cost.

In other words, the JLTV is being designed from the ground-up to accept armor; the HMMWV was not.

Next, regarding "V-hulls," these designs are great for large vehicles with heights above ground that facilitate clearance and stand-off against blast threats. And yes, they have utility - but not necessarily for lighter, smaller, TWVs such as JLTV. The smaller tactical vehicles, in order to meet the noted height restrictions for maneuver and tactical air and sealift, do not have the luxury of underbody clearance and virtually unlimited height constraints. V-hull designs simply put the hull too close to the ground, taking away ground clearance required for mobility, and ironically, stand-off distance for mitigating blast. So, dictating a V-hull is really NOT appropriate, in fact, it constrains Industry unacceptably from innovating the solutions we see today, to include (in no particular order of effectiveness) different applications of geometry, venting technology, and blast absorption technology (design features as well as materials).

Bottom Line: V-Hull has its place, but assuming that place is on a light tactical vehicle with off-road mobility requirements lacks credibility and does not address the full requirements spectrum.

Also interesting is the respondent's apparent assimilation of blast and ballistic protection into a single muddled discussion. While both are under the “Protection” leg of the Iron Triangle, they offer completely different challenges.

To be clear, the V-hull design is a geometric advantage that is still dependent on some level of stand-off, and its utility is for mitigation of blast force. Obliquity and other issues that govern the ballistic element of the blast threat (i.e., frags and FSPs), are entirely different, and their respective ability to penetrate the hull has much more to do with the armor recipe vice hull geometry.

With that in mind, the reference to "souping-up" commercial trucks is a poor one that ignores the composite threat of ballistic (which is what this argument locked-in on), blast, and thermal (i.e., fire/flame) elements of protection and survivability.

JLTV addresses each of these and much more across the realm of occupant-centric survivability.

The respondent also neglects the other complex variables that make these commercial solutions absurdly incapable, to include the other legs of the Iron Triangle - Payload and Performance. That discussion requires another thread and is far beyond the limited scope of the respondent's apparent grasp of the overall requirement.

Suffice to say that the oversimplification by the respondent falls woefully short on credibility and substantiation, and on a critical issue such as this, is irresponsible without further qualification.

The cost references and comparisons are equally uninformed and incorrect. Clearly, the respondent has not digested the JLTV solicitation and P-Spec as per above. The referenced vehicles would not come anywhere near meeting the JLTV requirements, and the cost required to get these vehicles there would far exceed the off-hand WAG presented. A modest amount of research would reveal that the ACTUAL cost of "special" armored SUVs is orders of magnitude above the respondent's claim. That is fact.

That is why Ford did NOT enter the JLTV competition, and the Oshkosh submission was a new L-ATV, NOT the “SWAT Tactical Vehicle” referenced (which I suspect the respondent actually meant the SandCat).  Both understand the complex requirements, and neither could achieve them with those respective platforms.  If Oshkosh, Ford, or any other OEM could have submitted a $140,000 offer, they certainly would have!

As for the USMC - and by association the US Army - the insinuation that they have not thought hard about JLTV armor requirements is misguided and further demonstrates the lack of depth and credibility of the respondent. 

The Services have done extensive analysis of the protection requirements (if I recall, there was something called the "TD Phase"?) both doctrinally and based on lessons learned during TD and in OIF/OEF.

What the respondent consistently fails to comprehend is the full spectrum of requirements that the JLTV must achieve. To consider and comment haphazardly on a muddled mess of partial blast and ballistic arguments fails to address the full spectrum of survivability/protection, and it is completely divorced from performance and payload.

Opinions and free speech are great, as is keeping an open mind.  But, let's opine based on substantiated facts, and deliberate research and comprehension of the whole problem.
John Germaos at 5/3/2012 10:12 AM

Re: Marine Brass Fully Supports Procurement of New Light Tactical Vehicle

The respondent to my post made some very good points about the JLTV program and thank you for correcting me.  However, the JLTV debate that the National Defense blogs and articles showcase continues.

There are articles written citing that the USMC needs to “up-armor” its ground fleet because there has been an “armor deficiency” with the Marines for many years.  The other National Defense blogs are saying the opposite now, citing that the USMC doesn’t want the heavy armored tactical wheeled vehicles (such as MRAPs) which were “kind of forced upon them” from the GWOT IED protection requirements.  The USMC wants a new 4X4 TWV, citing that their M1151s with Frag-5 armor are worn out from over a decade of fighting and don’t quite fit well with their QRF warfighting style.

There are articles past stating that the “joint” in JLTV should not be because the differences between the Army and USMC JLTV desires vary so greatly to be “joint” for one program.  This is kind of why the JLTV program has taken so long because the two sides don’t quite see “eye-to-eye” before when it came to the level of protection.   The Army wants a new 4X4 fighting TWV; the Marines still want a new cargo hauler.  Some believe there should be a USMC new 4X4 LTWV program and an Army new 4X4 LTWV program.  That way, with two programs, the two branches could buy off each other’s vehicle design (Army’s heavily armored and survivable LTWV and the Marines fast, mobile, and lightly armored LTWV).  But due to cost constraints, there’s only one JLTV program that the DoD lumped together.

The USMC learned the “joint program issues” through the F-35 program.  The X-32 and X-35 programs were in fact a replacement for the USMC AV-8B, before the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force decided to jump on the bandwagon to replace their aircraft with a stealthy jet.  Both the Navy and Air Force had separate future fighter aircraft programs, so three different future ATF aircraft programs from three different air service branches got rolled into one---the F-35 program---as a cost-saving measure.  As the F-35 program is showing, one compromised plane design has run into a lot of problems serving all three service branches.  Anyone who followed the JTLV program has learned that the USMC has issues with the “combination” of the JLTV program with the Army requirements.

My post shows my frustration at the deficiency shown by the lack of an armored 4X4 vehicle since the 1993 Somalia raid.  There’s the M1114, but not made in sufficient numbers before the GWOT.  Furthermore, the U.S. DoD has not had good success with ground vehicle programs reaching fruition: Crusader SPH, Future Combat System, FMBT, Future Scout Calvary Vehicle, M8 AGS, CLAWS, NLOS-C, (now MEADS may be in jeopardy), AAAV which became EFV and is now ACV.  The USMC Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) is a very good idea as it’ll surely “up-armor” the USMC ground fleet where the AAV7 and LAV (for scouts) lack in armor protection where it not for their add-on armor kits with EEAK for the AAV7P and SLEP2 upgrade for the LAV.  But again, that is if the USMC MPC is built. For now, the USMC still lacks vehicle protective armor to protect its core fighting force, its infantry, as the AAV7Ps are just seen as amphibious transports, not IFVs. Given the past performances of ground vehicle programs, I sure hope the DoD gets this JLTV selection correct because it seems kind of hard to replace the Legacy Systems!

And there was an article saying that the USMC wants to get back to its roots, its amphibious forte.  I can understand the need for a lighter TWV for amphibious operations as the Marines do not want to see themselves as another armor-heavy land force like the Army.  However, the IED and Explosive Formed Projectile threat has shown the (forced) requirement for the need for vehicle armor.

The other two posts on National Defense around this article states that: first, the USMC says that the new JLTV needs to be affordable.  Second, the USMC says that the new JLTV should have kit-up armor.  Other articles state that the new JTLV should be maneuverable and fast whereas the Army wants a vehicle survivable and armored.  Those two requirements somewhat contradict.  Sure one could have both requirements for a vehicle that is armored, fast, and light, but at a cost. 

I still stand by my claim that the USMC should consider the Army JLTV “armor heavy” LTWV requirements as the Marines have already been through the add-on kit armor process with the HMMWV.  If not, then perhaps the USMC needs to split and have their own LTWV program…have the Army buy the heavy armor body version and the USMC buy the lighter version of the same vehicle with mountings for add-on armor.  After all, when it comes to medium trucks, the Marines have the MTVR and the Army has the FMTV, both made by different truck manufacturers.
P at 5/3/2012 2:36 PM

Re: Marine Brass Fully Supports Procurement of New Light Tactical Vehicle

Great discussion.  I would just like to chime in and mention that the MTVR and FMTV are both built by Oshkosh.
AZ at 5/4/2012 10:53 AM

Re: Marine Brass Fully Supports Procurement of New Light Tactical Vehicle

The debate about the applicability of a V-hull/belly plate on a light tactical vehicle is interesting.

The problem with current V designs is that the angle required  to achieve the best effect is sufficiently sharp and deep that it significantly raises the C of G causing instability, and/or decreases ground clearance, thus impairing cross-country performance.

Advanced Blast & Ballistic Systems Ltd. in the UK is developing active mine blast protection systems which can be used to support the belly plate against the mine blast. One effect of this is that the belly plate can be made with a much shallower V, hence improving both the C of G and ground clearance issues, whilst still getting some of the benefits of the V shape.

We have clearly demonstrated the potential to provide significant levels of under-belly mine blast protection to light vehicles such as SUV's and VIP vehicles, and the same technology applied to light tactical vehicles is a practical solution to the conflicting points raised in the comments above.

Anyone interested look at www.advanced-blast.com or call me in the UK on 07989 381057.
Roger Sloman at 5/5/2012 6:46 AM

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