UPDATED: Army Seeks Next Round of Bids for JLTV
The request for proposals comes on the same day that Defense Department officials revealed details about budget reductions and announced their decision to terminate the Humvee recapitalization program and shift those resources to JLTV.
“Both the Army and the U.S. Marine Corps have identified critical capability gaps in their respective light tactical vehicle fleets,” said Kevin M. Fahey, program executive officer for combat support and combat service support (PEO CS&CSS). “JLTV is the most cost-effective program to meet capability gaps for the light tactical vehicles with the most demanding missions.”
Industry executives had been gearing up for both JLTV and a Humvee recap program. But critics have been pointing out the overlap between the two efforts, as well as similarities with the all-terrain variant of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle. Some experts said that it would be unlikely that both JLTV and the Humvee recap program could survive the current budget situation.
Concerns about JLTV were raised after Army and Marine Corps officials seemed divided on the approach to the vehicle. The Army was pushing for more protection to guard against roadside bombs while the Marine Corps wanted a vehicle light enough to transport via helicopters and on the back of ships. During a technology development phase, officials said that all of the vehicle prototypes delivered by the contractors were overweight.
The teams during that phase – led by Lockheed Martin Corp., BAE Systems and an AM General-General Dynamics consortium called General Tactical Vehicles – have been tweaking their vehicle designs in anticipation of the RFP and the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program. The focus, industry executives told National Defense, has been on weight and shaving costs. Initial estimates put a single vehicle at more than $300,000, a price the Marine Corps said it could not afford. The goal now is for each vehicle to cost between $230,000 and $270,000.
The new RFP calls for vehicles to have curb weights no greater than 14,000 pounds and says that they should be transportable by CH-47 and CH-53 helicopters.
The Army intends to award up to three contracts during the summer for the EMD phase. Each contract will call for 22 prototypes to be delivered. The service has reduced the allotted time that was anticipated for this next phase as part of an effort to refine the acquisition strategy and get the vehicles to troops sooner, officials said.
The service plans to award a single contract for production in 2015. Officials have said the Army would like to buy 20,000 vehicles and the Marine Corps as many as 5,500.