The Army has approved moving the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle into full-rate production after a series of program delays and a proposal to slow down the planned vehicle buy over the next five years.

The Oshkosh [OSK]-built JLTV is built to provide the Army with a lighter mine-resistant vehicle with increased firepower capacity, but officials have cited the vehicle as a potentially lower priority for future fights against competitors such as Russia or China.

Oshkosh JLTV at the Bushmaster Users Conference in Arizona in Jan. sporting a remote weapon station and 30 mm cannon. (Oshkosh photo)

Bruce Jette, the service’s top acquisition executive, signed off on the full-rate production decision on Thursday, a move that was originally expected in December and then pushed back to late spring, while officials noted that the program remains on-schedule and on-budget.

“Thanks to tremendous teamwork across two services on requirements, resources, program management, testing, and other areas, this is a great modernization success story. JLTV shows how teams focused on stable requirements, mature technologies and the right incentives can deliver meaningful capability advancements in a cost-conscious way,” Jeffrey White, Jette’s principal deputy, said in a statement.

Oshkosh beat out AM General, the maker of the Army’s Humvees, to win the JLTV competition in 2015 with a $6.7 billion low-rate production contract for 17,000 vehicles.

“The full rate production decision is a key milestone for the JLTV program, closing out the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase, which began in 2015. Important insights from manufacturing and rigorous developmental and operational test during LRIP contributed to shaping the vehicle’s current configuration,” George Mansfield, Oshkosh’s vice president of joint programs, told Defense Daily. The JLTV is the only light tactical vehicle being fielded today that can maneuver within combat formations.

Army officials included JLTV as one of 186 programs receiving cuts or reductions in the service’s FY ’20 budget request to find $33 billion to shift toward modernization priorities.

Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy has said the reduction will occur as a “slowing the buy” over the FYDP through FY ’24, and that the overall acquisition objective of 49,099 vehicles by 2042 remained intact (Defense Daily, March 28).

The decision arrives after the Army began rolling out 300 of the vehicles to the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart in Georgia in April.

Army officials said fielding to the Ordnance School at Fort Lee in Virginia, the 84th Training Command at Fort McCory in Wisconsin, as well as the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry-West at Camp Pendleton in California is also completed.

Oshkosh has also worked with the Army on a series of tweaks to the vehicle over the last several months, including doubling maintenance training to address earlier user issues (Defense Daily, Feb. 4).

“We are also grateful for Soldier feedback on new features and enhancements,” Michael Sprang, project manager for the JLTV joint program office, said in a statement. “The Soldiers of the 1st ABCT, 3rd Infantry Division provided valuable input on enhancements such as increased situational awareness, reduction of system noise, a troop seat kit, and a companion JLTV trailer. Their assessments helped bring us all to a successful Full-Rate Production decision.”