US Army’s $30 billion Humvee deal creates tension in the defense firms

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

The U.S. 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). Army has just awarded a contract to Oshkosh for a $30 billion Humvee replacement deal, and the agreement is creating serious waves throughout the defense industry.

According to a report from Defense News, defense giant Lockheed Martin and Humvee producer AM General are actively considering formally protesting the decision. 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). 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. It’s easy to see why the major defense companies would expect to see a bigger piece of this market, and a formal protest would initiate a 100-day suspension of the contract even if it fails to overturn the decision. 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 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. 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. There are currently no plans for the Army National Guard to begin replacing Humvees with JLTVs, but in that event AM General would step in to fill the demand. 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. The Pentagon dismissed the Humvee’s original manufacture’s design concept for the JLTV, along with an offering by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor. “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,” the statement said. If the defense goliath chooses to protest the Pentagon’s decision, the Government Accountability Office, which has a forum to resolve disputes over awards of federal contracts, will review the military’s decision.

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.

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