Oshkosh Defense Wins Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Contract

By Allyson Versprille

By Yasmin Tadjdeh and Allyson Versprille
A hotly contested contract to replace the U.S. military’s fleets of aging Humvees was awarded to truck builder Oshkosh Corp. of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Army announced Aug. 25.

Oshkosh beat out competitors Lockheed Martin and incumbent AM General — maker of the Humvee — to build the joint light tactical vehicle for an initial contract worth some $6.7 billion. Oshkosh expects to deliver approximately 17,000 vehicles and sustainment services over the course of the initial contract. Over the program’s lifetime, the Army is planning to purchase more than 49,000 vehicles and the Marine Corps is slated for 5,500 units. It is estimated the entire program is worth $30 billion.

The JLTV is one of the few remaining new-build vehicle contracts in the U.S. military market, making it an extremely important win and major boon for Oshkosh.

Scott Davis, Army program executive officer for combat support and combat service support in a briefing with reporters said the selection was based on “key performance parameters” and “key system attributes." He declined to give further details on the selection process.

John Bryant, senior vice president of defense programs at Oshkosh Defense, told National Defense: “While we never counted our chickens before they were hatched, we were confident that there was no better vehicle out there. … It’s absolutely the best light vehicle on the planet. It offers unprecedented protection and superb off-road mobility.”

He said the company is ready to deliver vehicles in 10 months. “We have been in execution mode really since we delivered our proposal.”

John M. Urias, executive vice president of Oshkosh Corp. and president of Oshkosh Defense, touted the winning vehicle's attributes. “Our JLTV has been extensively tested and is proven to provide the ballistic protection of a light tank, the underbody protection of an MRAP-class vehicle, and the off-road mobility of a Baja racer. The Oshkosh JLTV allows troops to travel over rugged terrain at speeds 70 percent faster than today’s gold standard, which is our Oshkosh M-ATV.”

Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology said: “I am tremendously proud of the JLTV program team. Working with industry, they are delivering major improvements in protected mobility for soldiers and have succeeded in executing a program that remains on-budget and on-schedule."

The program is meant to replace a portion of aging Humvees with new vehicles that balance mobility and protection. The Marine Corps and Army will finish fielding the vehicles between fiscal years 2022 and 2040. Each vendor delivered 22 prototype vehicles as part of JLTV development, which were utilized as part of a 14-month competitive test.

Low rate initial production is slated to begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, according an Army statement. The two services will procure approximately 17,000 vehicles under this initial contract, with a decision on full rate production by the department expected in fiscal year 2018. 

Procurement of 5,500 Marine Corps vehicles are front-loaded into the JLTV production plan. Initial operating capability for the Corps is expected in Fiscal Year 2018 with fielding complete by 2022, the statement said.

The Army anticipates having its first unit equipped in 2018. Army procurement will last until approximately 2040 and replace a significant portion of its legacy light tactical vehicle fleet with 49,099 new vehicles, the statement said.

Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition said: "With America's soldiers and Marines in mind, the program team successfully met both services’ requirements for affordable, achievable capability advancements that will make a true difference. Today's award brings us a step closer to delivering a flexible vehicle that balances the payload, performance, and protection critical in the operating environments of today and tomorrow."

During the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual tactical wheeled vehicle conference in Reston, Virginia — where Army leaders earlier gave briefings on a variety of truck-related topics — members of industry reacted to Oshkosh winning the lucrative award.

Tim Foerster, director of strategic planning and marketing at BCF Solutions, an Arlington, Virginia-based business consultancy, said: “Oshkosh is a proven leader in the development to tactical vehicles and the success of their current product lines indicts that. I think that this is great for the Army, for the Marine Corps and then of course for Oshkosh but also the small businesses that make up their partners and supply chain as well.”

Army Col. John Cavedo, former JLTV project manager, told reporters that the new vehicle will restore the so-called “iron triangle” of payload, protection and performance. "This is going to allow us to operate the way we had envisioned our light tactical vehicles being able to operate with greater flexibility and gaining back an expeditionary capability that we lost when we had to provide additional” armor, he said.

In addition, Cavedo said the per-unit cost of the vehicles was below the reported amount of $399,000 in fiscal year 2012 dollars. That includes the various kits, fielding and other costs. He declined to say how much lower the price tag would be.   

John Kent, senior manager of media relations at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in statement brought up the possibility of a protest. “The Lockheed Martin JLTV Team was disappointed to learn that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps did not select our JLTV. We believe we presented a very strong solution and await the customers’ debrief to hear more detail regarding the reasons behind this selection before making a decision about a potential protest.”

AM General spokesman Jeff Adams said the company was proud of its offering and disappointed in the announcement. “At this time, we are reviewing the government’s decision and are considering all available options,” he said in a statement.

Brad Curran, an aerospace and defense analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said he believed that AM General was the front-runner for the contract. “There are still plenty of hummers in the fleet, and there are still plenty of foreign military sales as well, so between foreign military sales and parts and maintenance from the current fleet, which isn’t going to go away for many, many years [AM General] will still have work to do.”

Oshkosh’s Bryant said: “I would be surprised if there were no protests considering the stakes. ... Usually on a very large program like this when you consider the fact that there are not a large number of big tactical wheeled vehicle programs on the horizon, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were protests.”

Foerster said: “I think Lockheed has a lot going for it right now, with missile systems and air systems and naval systems so probably more than the other three they probably had the least to lose. AM

General: this is going to be a tough one, having been the provider of the Humvee. … It will be interesting to see how they rebound from this.” 

Bryant added: “The JLTV contract is one of the most valuable wins in the history of Oshkosh, particularly in Oshkosh Defense. What it really means to us is it offers stability over the long term.”

Topics: Combat Vehicles, Land Forces

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