Army officials this week clarified that a reduction to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program will result in slowing down the planned buy over the next five years while keeping the current acquisition objective, a number that could potentially change as leadership conducts an assessment of its tactical vehicle fleet through 2020.
Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Gen. Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command, told reporters at the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, the previously announced plan to reduce JLTV by 1,900 vehicles and $800 million will occur over the course of the Future Years Defense Program as the service looks to truncate large programs to shift funds toward development of future weapon systems.
“If you look at this FYDP there will be a reduction,” McCarthy said. “The truncation of the buy across the FYDP is ultimately going to change the program of record. We have not totally communicated that, the bureaucratic means to do that, but the signal is clear that we are looking at this weapon system.”
Following the release of the FY ’20 budget request, McCarthy confirmed JLTV was among 186 programs the Army either cut or truncated to find $33 billion to shift toward modernization priorities (Defense Daily, March 14).
McCarthy clarified that the JLTV 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.
Oshkosh Defense [OSK] is the current contractor for JLTV after receiving a $6.7 billion JLTV production contract in 2015 for 17,000 vehicles.
Murray added the Army is planning to conduct an analysis of its tactical vehicle fleet, including JLTV, over the next year and said that the effort could “maybe” lead to a change in the acquisition objective.
“The [acquisition objective] is out to 2042. I mean, really, we’ve got a lot of time to figure that out. But industry’s counting on a more firm answer than definitely maybe,” Murray told reporters.
John Bryant, president of Oshkosh Defense, told Defense Daily on Thursday he was not specifically told JLTV would be included among the program cuts to fund modernization, while noting there were conversations with Army leadership following the release of budget request to discuss adjustments to the program.
“After the president’s budget request rolled out, then the Army had a couple more discussions with us providing directional guidance on what we would see in the detailed budget books that were going to roll out a week later,” he said.
Bryant said the earlier conversations with senior Army leadership focused more on where the service would be prioritizing funds.
“They never actually told us there would be an adjustment. I deduced that from the conversations where they told us about the big six and the fact those programs would be consuming dollars across the FYDP,” Bryant said. “I had a sense that they were foreshadowing the fact that since we’re a big program that we could see some kind of a slow down. They never specifically said that ahead of the budget request, but you could connect the dots pretty easily.”
George Mansfield, Oshkosh’s vice president for joint programs, told Defense Daily JLTV remains on track for a full-rate production decision in May.
Oshkosh has also worked through several adjustments to the final version of the vehicle to address feedback soldiers provided during Multi-service Operational Test and Evaluation in 2018.
“There were three big items that came out of that. They wanted to improve the situational awareness, so we’re increasing the size of the rear windows on the rear doors and we’re putting a forward-facing camera on the front of the vehicle. That allows them more visibility. We’re also putting a muffler on the vehicle, because they wanted to reduce the noise,” Mansfield said. “Once those are evaluated, that’s when we believe they’ll make the full-rate production decision.”
Oshkosh during the show also unveiled a new ambulance vehicle, the L-ATV Ambulance, that is based off the JLTV.
“We saw that there was a capability gap for an ambulance to be protected and have extreme off-road mobility,” he said.
Mansfield said the L-ATV Ambulance has the same engine, drive line and TAK-4 Independent Suspension System as the JLTV.
“It is the only ambulance that can keep up with the JLTVs that keep up with combat forces,” he said. “We have talked to some of the senior leadership and they are interested in a protected extreme off-road ambulance, and that’s what we’ve got here.”