By Ann Roosevelt

Lockheed Martin [LMT] said it has completed, ahead of schedule, production of its first two Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV), both new six- passenger Infantry Carrier variants.

JLTV is a joint Army-Marine Corps program to replace the existing Humvee fleet of some 170,000 globally.

The vehicles will be delivered to the Army and Marines for a year-long testing period as part of the Technology Development (TD) phase of the JLTV program.

BAE Systems General Tactical Vehicles, a joint venture of General Dynamics [GD] and AM General,and Lockheed Martin all won TD contracts.

As part of its 27-month TD contract awarded in October 2008, Lockheed Martin will deliver multiple JLTV variants and trailers to the Army and Marine Corps for the testing program, scheduled to begin in April. The testing for performance and reliability will be conducted primarily at Aberdeen Test Center, Md., and Yuma Test Center in Yuma, Ariz.

“Successfully completing production of our first two TD vehicles ahead of schedule is a major achievement for our program,” Steve Ramsey, vice president of Ground Vehicles at Lockheed Martin, said. “The team’s tireless efforts to design, assemble and test our previous six operational prototypes culminated in the production of technology development vehicles that are mature, low-risk and thoroughly tested.”

In addition to the TD vehicles, the Lockheed Martin JLTV team has produced multiple test vehicles. The team’s current JLTV family of vehicles includes five prototypes, all of which are in system test and have accumulated more than 70,000 combined miles: The original Infantry Carrier JLTV Category B model, designed for troop transportation; the Utility Vehicle Light Category C model, designed with a focus on payload; the General Purpose Mobility Category A model, designed for logistical support; the second variant of the Utility Vehicle Light Category C model; and the Command and Control on the Move Category B model. This vehicle will debut at the Association of the United States Army Winter Symposium next week in Florida.

“We are confident that we’ll continue to remain on schedule and deliver a high-quality family of vehicles that meet all transportability requirements by air, land and sea,” Ramsey said. “We look forward to final delivery to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps this spring and having our vehicles rigorously tested.”

Lockheed Martin heads its team as the prime contractor and design agent, leading the JLTV team that includes BAE Systems Global Tactical Systems and Security & Survivability Systems businesses; Alcoa Defense [AA], and JWF-Defense Systems.

In September 2009, the three JLTV teams’ contracts were modified to accommodate an Australian JLTV effort. The modification included such things as right-handed operation, trailers and testing.

Once the TD phase is complete, the Army and Marines expect to hold another competition and narrow the current three competing teams to two for further development and demonstration.