Less than two weeks after the Army and Marine Corps awarded Oshkosh Defense [OSK] a $6.7 billion low-rate initial production contract for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Lockheed Martin [LMT] said it has filed a protest of the award.

Oshkosh's JLTV offering, the Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV). Photo: Oshkosh Corporation.
Oshkosh’s JLTV offering, the Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV). Photo: Oshkosh Corporation.

“After evaluating the data provided at our debrief, Lockheed Martin has filed a protest of the award decision on the JLTV program,” a statement from the company said. “We firmly believe we offered the most capable and affordable solution for the program. Lockheed Martin does not take protests lightly, but we are protesting to address our concerns regarding the evaluation of Lockheed Martin’s offer.”

A spokesman declined to comment further on the decision.

The JLTV program is one of the few new-start vehicle programs remaining  after budget constraints killed others such as the Ground Combat Vehicle, making it a critical contract for tactical vehicle manufacturers in a stagnate U.S. market.

After a protest is filed to the Government Accountability Office, the agency has 100 days to issue a decision. Although it may not overturn the award to Oshkosh, the deliberations could delay the start of low rate initial production in the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2016.

AM General—the third JLTV competitor and original manufacturer of the Humvee—announced that it would not file a protest and would instead focus on maintaining and modernizing the Army and Marine Corps’ remaining Humvees, which number more than 160,000.

“AM General continues to believe that the BRV-O was the right choice for JLTV,” the company said in a statement. “However, we believe a protest would ultimately result in a distraction from our current growth business areas, including meeting the significant current and future needs of our customers in the United States and around the globe.”

After the award was announced, John Bryant, senior vice president for defense programs at Oshkosh, indicated that while a protest was possible, “we achieved a manufacturing cost significantly below the government target” (Defense Daily, Aug. 26).

Jennifer Christiansen, Oshkosh’s vice president of business development, restated executives’ belief that it will be able to withstand a protest and retain the JLTV contract.

“The U.S. Army conducted a thorough and highly-disciplined evaluation for the JLTV production program to reach a clear conclusion: the Oshkosh JLTV is the most capable vehicle for our troops, and the best value for the American taxpayer,” she said in an emailed statement made after Lockheed’s announcement. “Following the U.S. Army’s debrief to Oshkosh regarding the results of the evaluation, we are more confident than ever that the Department of Defense’s decision to award the JLTV contract to Oshkosh will be upheld if a protest is filed.”

The Army intends to buy about 49,909 JLTVs, while the Marine Corps will purchase 5,500 units. Approximately 17,000 vehicles will be procured under the initial LRIP contract, and the Defense Department is expected to make a decision on full-rate production in fiscal year 2018.

The department requested $457 million in fiscal year 2016 to buy 559 LRIP vehicles, including 445 for the Army and 109 for the Marine Corps.