Oshkosh Awaits Protests After JLTV Win

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Check out the military’s next totally badass off-road vehicle.

That’s because the US Army chose Oshkosh Defense to manufacture about 55,000 joint light tactical vehicles (JLTVs) that will become the successors to Humvees and mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs). The new offering provides underbody and side-armor protection similar to a tank’s, but retains the on-ground and in-theater mobility of an all-terrain vehicle. This next-generation light vehicle is designed to move and protect American troops against the threats that have proliferated in today’s theatres of war like IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).

Oshkosh won a $6.7 billion low rate initial contract, a base contract with options to procure the first 16,901 vehicles for the Army and Marine Corps. The vehicle’s reduced weight allows it to be transported by Chinook helicopters and amphibious vessels, a feat that was largely impossible with MRAPs. It has been described as the ideal combination of light tank ballistic protection, an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected)-level underbody bomb protection with the agility and flexibility of an off-road race vehicle.

Given the casualties caused by roadside bombs (improvised explosive devises or IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has been fiending for a more robust, faster vehicle, such as Oshkosh’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle. Thousands of MRAPs were purchased in response to the traditional Humvees’ failures to sufficiently protect troops from the widespread use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by Iraqi insurgents in the mid-2000s. This new massively capable combat vehicle will be replacing the US military’s iconic Humvees to provide troops with even more advanced protection and off-road mobility. It was not unusual for soldiers to stack sandbags on the floors of the vehicles for added protection — and still have to contend with canvas for doors. The Marines plan to operate and sustain its 13,000 Humvees after replacing 5,500 with the JLTV, and the Army plans to study in the next six months how many of its 120,000 Humvees will be replaced, sustained or modernized, as it decides the vehicle mix in its fleet.

The introduction of the MRAP solved the protection problem, though it came at the expense of battlefield mobility. “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,” John M. While the Army’s lead acquisitions official for the JLTV, Scott Davis, has said publicly he does not expect a protest, spokespeople for Lockheed and AM General each say the option remains open. The new vehicle reflects the military’s various needs in modern warfare — protecting troops from roadside bombs, traversing mixed terrain quickly, transporting vehicles within and between combat theaters.

The Humvee, which has been the military’s go-to vehicle for decades, was born in 1979, when AM General began early design work on the M998 Series high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle — or HMMWV, pronounced “Humvee” — to replace the legendary Army Jeep. Equipped with state-of-the-art tech, it also provides soldiers and Marines with electronic warfare devices and on-the-move battlefield situational awareness tech. In the wake of the Army’s colossal, ambitious and ultimately failed Future Combat Systems program, “I think what they’re thinking is the civilian world can help us reach our goals, and we can leverage their research and successful technologies,” Curran said. “That’s definitely an Army goal.” Meanwhile, the specter of a protest will hang over the program into September. The competitors have a 10-day window from the award date to protest to the Government Accountability Office, or they may request a detailed briefing from the government within three days.

That sets off an alternate timeline that gives the government five more days to hold the debrief, and the companies would have a seven-day window after that to file a protest. Bryant said the company plans to fine-tune its production line and supply chain, and is making other preparations with the government to start building JLTVs. “If there was a protest that was filed in time to cause a suspension of performance, then Oshkosh would obey the suspension,” Bryant said. “We would continue to lean forward in those key areas that would allow us to hit the ground running as soon as the protest is done.” JLTV will be manufactured in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with deliveries beginning 10 months after award. These were then tested over a 14-month period. “I am tremendously proud of the JLTV program team,” Heidi Shyu, the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, said in the announcement. “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.”

In addition to the JLTV, they have created a wide range of vehicles including the remarkable TerraMax — a Transformer-like truck that can perform supply missions by itself. Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. If the Army chooses to upgrade its Humvees, it would do well to set the cost at an affordable $100,000 per vehicle and put it out to competitive bid, Fahey said. It could be carried by a CH-47 Chinook, CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter and by amphibious vessels — a near impossible proposition for an MRAP. “Really, the program has always been focused on restoring a baseline level of performance, protection, mobility and transportability,” said Army Col.

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