MONTEREY, Calif. –The Army is readying to shift its tactical vehicle strategy from sustainment efforts and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) procurement to building out new technology concepts, with a focus on aligning priorities with Futures Command and finalizing fleet recapitalization decisions in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.
Officials at an NDIA conference here this week told attendees the service will continue evaluate its Humvee and heavy tactical vehicle portfolios and look to maximize capabilities on new platforms such as the JLTV while working towards the next phase of its vehicle strategy.
“The Transportation Force 2.0 strategy, it’s focused on new warfighting concepts to provide overmarch. You’ll notice, In the transportation portfolio we don’t have a single platform that’s within that,” Col. Charlie Fisher, chief of the Army G-8’s transportation branch, said during his remarks on Monday.
Fisher said the Army is still currently in phase 1.1 of its Transportation Force strategy, which includes JLTV deliveries, developing an Enhanced Heavy Equipment Transporter System and modernizing its Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.
The current effort also includes making a recapitalization decisions in FY ’21 for Humvees, by FY ’22 for its Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) and Palletized Load System (PLS).
Fisher added the Army G-8’s transportation branch is working with Future Command’s Cross Functional Teams to ensure the vehicle strategy is aligned with each of the Army’s modernization priorities. He specifically cited linking together long-range precision fires and HEMTT and PLS modernization decisions, enhancing soldier lethality and JLTV and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle with Enhanced HETS.
Tim Goddette, program executive officer for combat support & combat service support, during his remarks Tuesday noted funds that were previously tied up in procurement will now likely be used to develop new truck technologies needed to support Future Command’s efforts.
“I look at the opportunity that if we don’t necessarily have production dollars in this particular point, that means this is the time we ought to be putting research, development, technology and engineering dollars in,” Goddette said.
Potential opportunities include replacing current fuel tankers’ 5,000 gallon systems with 8,500 gallons systems while retaining the same number of trucks and manpower, as well as modifying HETS from 70-ton to 85-ton capacity to move new, heavier platforms the Army is going after.
Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins who oversees Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command, formerly known as Research, Development and Engineering Command, noted there’s a growing role for industry to provide capabilities that will assist tactical vehicles with accomplishing the Army’s modernization goals.
“There’s certainly the belief that a lot of the tactical wheeled vehicle capability that we get will come from our industry partners. It certainly won’t be developed to a great extent with any center that I own,” Wins said. “We will probably develop technologies that will enhance what is coming from industry. Because industry, by far, leads in the area of wheeled vehicles, when you talk about engines, transmissions, putting systems together.”
Wins told Defense Daily his organization has particular focus on developing capabilities for the Leader-Follower vehicle autonomy program.
“The Leader Follower technology is a very unique space that our ground vehicle center is working on that will complement the larger effort of what’s going on in the tactical vehicle community,” Wins said.
Jeff White, principal deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, said the Army remains on track to build out its new capability with JLTV while meeting a range of benchmarks for the transportation strategy.
“The JLTV will provide our troops with improved reliability, fuel efficiency, maintainability and transport capabilities,” White said. “[It’s] designed to grow with the force, and is purpose-built for modern battlefield networks.”
The Army envisions light tactical vehicle fleet of 100,000 vehicles, made up of 51 percent Humvees and 49 percent JLTVs by 2036, according to White.
Fisher, during his remarks, added the Humvee fleet will likely go down to 50,000 by 2036, with officials reading a recapitalization decision to ensure remaining vehicles are modernized and fleet age remains low
JLTV fielding began last week with the first delivery to an armor brigade combat team in Ft. Stewart in Georgia, and the new vehicle is set to reach initial operational capability in early FY ’20.
Goddette said the Army is meeting its benchmark vehicle strategy requirements including having an average fleet age of nine years, below the topline of 15 years, and ensuring over 50 percent of its fleet is armor-capable.
For HEMTT and PLS, the Army will make a recapitalization decision in FY ’22 to ensure the service meets necessary modernization requirements, according to White.
“They have to provide modernized, armor-ready systems with enhanced payload and safety feature. They need to be better than they are now,” White said.