Sequestration Could Hamper Joint Light Tactical Vehicle
“The impact will more than likely … be a slowdown of production, which equals a stretch out of production,” said Army Col. John Cavedo. “If you buy less, the cost will move up.”
Nonetheless, Cavedo expressed confidence that the program would be able to weather mandatory budget cuts, as it had in fiscal year 2013.
“We were able to work through both furlough and government shut down, the impacts of sequestration … by being incredibly efficient,” he said. “The folks on my team worked day in and day out … [looking at] every cell on the Excel spreadsheet, looking for every little block they could shave a little bit of money from.”
Cavedo said in October he expected to release the final request for proposals in early November. The services plan to downselect to a single vendor by the end of fiscal year 2015 for low-rate initial production.
Three companies are still vying for the contract: truck manufacturer Oshkosh Corp.; AM General, which produces the Humvees slated to be partially replaced by JLTVs; and Lockheed Martin, a relative newcomer to the tactical vehicle industry.
If sequestration is reinstated, a combination of factors will help protect the program, said John Urias, president of Oshkosh Defense. Because it’s a joint program, there is added incentive to keep it alive. “The other thing is we have congressional support.”
“Timing, I think, is also to our advantage” because sequestration would occur in 2016 “and this program will, we hope, be on contract by then,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is start cutting into programs that you’ve just put on contract.”
The JLTV program has implications for the future of other vehicles.
The Army plans on buying 49,099 JLTVs, which will not be enough to replace its current fleet of Humvees. Even as the force downsizes, the service will likely need additional light armored vehicles, said Scott Davis, Army program executive officer for combat support and combat service support.
“The assessment is, obviously you could buy more JLTVs” or invest in upgrading existing up-armored Humvees, he said. “We’re really at the very early stage of that analysis.”
Although the Army has not yet settled the question of whether it will recapitalize a portion of its Humvee fleet, that has not stopped companies from putting forward upgrade options.
Northrop Grumman, for one, is pitching a brand new chassis that would increase the mobility and ride quality of an up-armored Humvee as well as doubling its fuel efficiency, said Jeff Wood, the company’s director of vehicle modernization in the mission solutions and readiness division.