Lockheed Martin [LMT] has abandoned its protracted battle to convince the Army its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is superior to the Oshkosh [OSK] truck chosen to replace the Humvee.

Attorneys for Lockheed Martin on Wednesday filed notice the company would voluntarily withdraw its bid protest with the Court of Federal Claims on Feb. 17, a move which surprised many program watchers. For its part, Lockheed Martin simply said the decision to terminate its five-month protest of the contract award was made “after careful deliberation.”

Oshkosh was chosen in late August from three companies for the $6.7 billion contract to build the first batch of about 55,000 vehicles that will replace portions of the Army and Marine Corps Humvee fleets. AM General, which builds the legacy Humvee, was the third competitor and decided not to protest the decision.

JLTV is a program that has modular, open-systems architectures standards. Photo: Oshkosh.
JLTV is a program that has modular, open-systems architectures standards. Photo: Oshkosh.

Lockheed Martin immediately protested the decision to the Government Accountability Office. The company then escalated its contention to federal claims court by suing the Army when it perceived GAO would not rule in its favor.

Spokesmen for the Army and the JLTV joint program office declined to weigh in on the termination of the lawsuit, but said the government “remains in compliance with all processes as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program moves into production. JLTV remains a priority modernization effort for the United States Army and Marine Corps. The Army is confident that the program is well postured to fill a critical capability gap for American Warfighters.”

The now-aborted endeavor into the tactical vehicle market was an expensive proposition for Lockheed Martin. It offered a clean-sheet design where other competitors modified and upgraded existing platforms to meet Army requirements for a truck with Humvee mobility and mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle-level protection from roadside bombs.

AM General’s JLTV was largely based on the legacy vehicle but beefed up to provide the level of force protection the Army was looking for, among other improvements. Oshkosh’s winning JLTV likewise is based on the legacy MRAP all-terrain vehicle (M-ATV) in service with the Army and Marine Corps.

The 22 JLTV prototype vehicles Lockheed Martin submitted for the engineering and manufacturing development phase were actually built at partner BAE Systems‘ plant in Sealy, Texas, which is now shuttered.

Lacking its own manufacturing facility, Lockheed Martin in 2013 purchased a 300,000-square-foot plant in Camden, Ark., where it planned to build the JLTV if it secured the contract. Before the contract award, site director Colin Sterling said the company invested $30 million in the plant with another $125 million budgeted over the next six to seven years. About 650 employees were slated to support JLTV fabrication.

Lockheed Martin then fired up the Camden line to prove out its manufacturing capacity and built eight production JLTV examples that the Army did not require or ask for. The vehicles were internally funded. Lockheed Martin never let on how much was invested in the plan, though per-vehicle cost was supposed to be at or below $250,000 per Army requirements.  

Lockheed Martin similarly bet on and lost a solo bid for the $225 million Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle contracts that went to BAE and Science Applications International Corp. [SAIC] in November. In awarding the two contracts, totaling $225 million for 13 ACVs from each company with options for three more apiece, the Marine Corps passed on offerings from Lockheed Martin [LMT], General Dynamics [GD] and private company Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS).

Oshkosh now is on the hook to deliver the first seven JLTVs to the Army by June. It was allowed to continue production while Lockheed Martin’s case progressed through the court system. Production was initially halted between Lockheed Martin’s initial September protest to the GAO and mid-December when the company decided to air its grievances instead in federal claims court.

Filing suit effectively canceled the bid protest before GAO, which Lockheed Martin contended was not in possession of crucial performance data that came to light late in the 100-day period the agency has to rule on bid protests. Oshkosh immediately resumed production.

Lockheed Martin sought to have production stopped while and until the case was finalized. Last week the presiding judge rejected its motion for preliminary injunction, freeing Oshkosh to continue building vehicles without the specter of another stop-work order.

For the initial low-rate initial production contract, Oshkosh will begin delivering vehicles within the next 10 months, reaching an expected total volume of nearly 17,000 vehicles, as well as kits and sustainment services over an eight-year period. The company focused squarely on producing vehicles to meet its contractual requirements throughout the protest process, Oshkosh chief executive Wilson Jones said in a prepared statement.

“Throughout this protest process, we have remained confident that Oshkosh provided the most capable vehicle and best overall value in the JLTV competition,” Jones said. “Because the U.S. Army and Marine Corps’ JLTV testing and evaluation process was extremely thorough, our nation’s Soldiers and Marines can rest assured they will be receiving the most advanced light tactical vehicle ever built.”