Excess Weight in New Light Trucks Causing Growing Tension Between Army and Marine Corps

4/22/2011
By Grace Jean
The next-generation military truck, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, may not be so "joint" anymore.
A rift between the Army and the Marine Corps over JLTV is growing. Corps officials are unhappy with current JLTV designs and continue to seek ways to reduce vehicle weight and costs.
The Army is leading the JLTV effort to design a replacement for up to 50,000 aging Humvees.Three industry teams are developing prototypes. The Marine Corps plans to buy 5,500 of the vehicles, but early cost and weight estimates are unsatisfactory, officials said. Vehicle weight is a significant sticking point for the Marine Corps, which is trying to lighten all its equipment to make it more easily transportable by air or sea.
“There’s no doubt of the tension there between the ‘big Army’ requirement and the Marine Corps’ expeditionary overlap,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue, director of the capabilities development directorate at Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “We have a mission profile for vehicles that are not complementary,” he told the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s tactical vehicles summit this week.
Marines expect their trucks to operate 30 percent of the time on paved roads and 70 percent of the time off road — the exact opposite of what the Army intends for its vehicles, he explained. Marines also place transportability of those vehicles at a premium. “We will sacrifice protection for transportability and mobility,” he said. Vehicle designers have struggled to balance the “iron triangle” of protection, payload and performance in military tactical vehicles. Meeting the requirements of one of those three characteristics often disrupts the technologies’ ability to adequately satisfy the other two areas, he explained.
Marines would like JLTV to weight about 14,500 pounds, but they acknowledge that it is a tough target. “You start getting at the ragged edge of what’s possible. That’s understood,” said O’Donohue. “What we can do is have acquisition processes that are flexible enough to maximize that kind of ragged edge.”
The Corps might be willing to accept 80 percent of the solution at 60 percent of the cost, he added. “This is the era when the Marine Corps needs to be informed by the art of the possible,” he said.
The Marine Corps Combat Development Command is now exploring armor alternatives for a Humvee recapitalization program, which will refurbish 4,000 vehicles. One of the options is a “capsule” technology that would replace existing cabins with a new enclosure. Another system under consideration is a chimney-like device to mitigate the impact of roadside bomb blasts. “The Marine Corps is encouraging all of them,” in an effort to get the best bang for the buck, said O’Donohue.
The humvee recap program could help to inform JLTV as that program develops, he added. A request for proposals will be released this summer and officials could commence testing prototypes as soon as October.
Concerns about the weight of JLTV also were expressed by the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations CommandLt. Gen. John Mulholland, who told the IDGA conference that current designs are too heavy and don't meet special operators' needs.

Topics: Land Forces

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