With the Defense Department poised to award Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contracts this week, let's take a moment to review the competitors. Some have revealed more than others about their proposals, but we'll walk through the teams.
AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems announced their partnership early, but their participation in the competition came as no surprise as AM General manufactures the current fleet of humvees. In a August 2007 interview with Inside the Army, AM General President and CEO James Armour, who has since stepped down, said he didn't see the team as the incumbent. “The JLTV is not a humvee,” he said last year. “It has to represent a quantum leap forward in the capability of the humvee.”
Textron Systems, Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation serve as an example of the wide span of companies pursuing the contract. The team's submission proposes a center driver, parallel hybrid drive and an innovative suspension, company representatives announced at a May 19 briefing. Placing the driver in the center of the vehicle “enhances not only the driver's situational awareness . . . but by having a crew member on either side of the driver, it increases the situational awareness of all the people in the vehicle,” said Robert Polutchko, director of Textron's advanced solutions centers, at the event.
The team of Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh have proposed a diesel-electric drive that company representatives say will provide more power while reducing weight and allowing for improved modularity. At a May 16 briefing, John Stoddart, president of Oshkosh's defense group, said the vehicle would be able to generate enough power to support a deployed tactical operations center or tactical communications node. The design also eliminates the need for a transmission and conventional drive-train, freeing up space in the crew compartment.
Lockheed Martin has partnered with the former Armor Holdings -- now part of BAE Systems -- on the JLTV program. At this month's Association of the U.S. Army convention, the team announced that its first two operational prototypes had exceeded 25,000 combined miles of testing. The partners also introduced the latest prototype, a general purpose mobility vehicle.
BAE Systems of York, PA, announced about a year ago that it would be working with Navistar on the JLTV program. Both builders provided significant numbers of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles as part of the effort designated as the Defense Department's number-one priority.
Force Protection has said it is working with DRS Technologies on the JLTV initiative. In a February press release, the team announced that DRS would serve as prime contractor while Force Protection would design and produce the JLTV base vehicle. Force Protection too was a builder in the MRAP program.
Raytheon and Blackwater USA have also said they are participating in the program.
John Young, the Pentagon's acquisition chief, told ITA yesterday that technology development awards for the JLTV effort are expected this week. DOD is anticipated to provide awards to three industry teams. -- Marjorie Censer