Rough Road

By Marjorie Censer / February 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Facing tighter budgets and a greater emphasis on fuel efficiency, the military vehicle industry has a challenging year ahead, according to industry panelists at last week's tactical wheeled vehicles conference in Monterey, CA.

“We're going to be all together facing an uncertain future with unpredictability as the main theme,” Pat MacArevey, Navistar's director of government business and government affairs, said during the Feb. 2 panel. “I think the challenge is for our industry to behave like our customer and be on our toes in an era of persistent conflict.”

In particular, the panelists -- including retired Gen. Paul Kern, president and chief operating officer of AM General; John Stoddart, executive vice president and president for defense at Oshkosh; Dennis Dellinger, president for mobility and protection systems at BAE Systems; and MacArevey -- said the industry needs to look toward lightweight materials that provide vehicle protection and increased fuel efficiency.

Additionally, Kern touched on the need to constantly improve vehicles -- in his company's case, the humvee -- to meet threats in theater, while Dellinger looked toward the need to repair damaged vehicles. He favored recap, which allows new technology insertions, instead of reset, which simply returns vehicles to their original configurations.

Stoddart suggested the companies may consider future collaborations.

“We know that collectively we can do what our national strategy calls for us to do, and don't be surprised if you see the four of us working more closely together in the future,” he said.

For more coverage of the Monterey conference, check out this week's Inside the Army.