With JLTV on Track, Army Officials Hope to Start New Programs
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In the next few years, the Army may be ramping up new-start programs for a medium truck as well as a boat designed to transport supplies on inland waterways.
The currently unnamed medium truck, which would be created jointly with the Marine Corps, could be fielded in the mid-2020s, said Kevin Fahey, the Army’s program executive officer for combat support and combat service support.
“We're already working with the Sustainment Center of Excellence and the [research and development] centers, both Army and Marine Corps, because we need to right now start structuring a [medium truck] program like” the joint light tactical vehicle, he told reporters during a Feb. 19 media roundtable at the Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium and Exposition.
The new truck could take the place of the family of medium tactical vehicles, the palletized load system and the heavy expanded mobility tactical truck, he said.
A technology development phase could begin as early as 2018, he said.
"Let's work with the Marine Corps and start a science and technology program now. ... The next three or four years, think out of the box. Don't try to think about what I know about a truck. [Think about] what are the capabilities I can put into it,” Fahey said. The service can focus a little more on requirements during engineering, manufacturing and development, "but still stretch them like we did on JLTV."
Fahey envisions that the truck will have the same survivability as a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle while maintaining the same weight as one of the Army’s current medium trucks. Like the JLTV, it could be outfitted with armor kits, allowing the service to add more when needed and to upgrade to lighter, more protective armor when it becomes commercially available.
Fahey and Army Col. John Cavedo, joint project manager for the joint light tactical vehicle, indicated the JLTV program was on track to make a Milestone C decision in 2015. The services this month released draft source selection and evaluation criteria for low rate initial production.
Lockheed Martin, Oshkosh Defense and AM General are in the running to build the vehicle, which will replace the Humvee. The companies were awarded engineering and manufacturing development contracts in 2012 and have delivered prototypes for field testing, which will end in June.
The goal is to get the most capable vehicle — with the biggest payload, best performance and most protection available — for $250,000 or less per vehicle, Cavedo said.
"Meticulous work was done on finding out the right capabilities that were achievable at $250,000,” he said. The services don’t want industry “coming in with a $180,000 truck when you've traded away all of this capability."
The Marine Corps and Army also considered lifecycle costs, including fuel efficiency and reliability, as part of its source selection strategy, he said.
The Army plans to buy 49,000 vehicles, while the Marine Corps plans to order 5,500.
Meanwhile, the proposed maneuver support vessel (light) would replace the aging Landing Craft Mechanized Mark-8, also known as LCM-8 Mike boats, that carry cargo and vehicles.
The service is currently doing an analysis of alternatives to see whether it can support a requirement for the new vessel, Fahley said. That study will wrap up as early as this spring.
"It is getting a lot of support from the Army because of the changes to the Pacific,” he said.