Oshkosh Defense [OSK] on Tuesday unveiled a new hybrid-electric version of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, called eJLTV, which offers silent drive capabilities and operates with a battery that recharges while in use.

While the Army and Marine Corps don’t have a current requirement for a hybrid-powered JLTV, company officials noted the eJLTV technology can be adapted to the current conventionally-powered fleet and was designed to meet the military’s growing interest in exploring ground vehicle electrification opportunities.

Oshkosh Defense’s hybrid-electric eJLTV. Photo: Oshkosh Defense.

 “We developed the eJLTV to offer our military customers an affordable way to electrify the light tactical wheeled vehicle fleet without compromising performance or protection,” John Bryant, president of Oshkosh Defense, told reporters during a briefing. “It features exportable power, improved fuel economy and technologies that enable silent drive and extended silent watch, eliminating the noise and heat signatures associated with diesel engines.”

Bryant said eJLTV addresses the military’s concern over battlefield charging limitations, which he called “the most significant barrier to electrification of the ground vehicle fleet,” by using a 30-kilowatt-hours lithium battery that recharges while the platform is in diesel mode.  

“The eJLTV does not require charging stations. The lithium ion battery charges while the diesel engine is in use and it has a capacity of 30 kilowatt hours. The batteries, which are exceptionally durable, are designed to be used for a minimum of 10 years. Additionally, the warfighter has the option to seamlessly transition from silent mode to conventional mode and vice versa with just a flip of a switch,” Bryant said.

Nader Nasr, Oshkosh’s vice president of engineering, told reporters the battery can be fully recharged in about 30 minutes and the eJLTV is also capable of operating in “silent mode” for up to half an hour.

Bryant noted Oshkosh Defense has manufactured over 15,000 JLTVs to date, with the eJLTV technology capable of being applied to current vehicle fleet due to JLTV’s existing modular architecture.

“You wouldn’t have to start with a new vehicle if you wanted an eJLTV,” Bryant said.

Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff, told lawmakers last June the service “is not there yet” on going after full electrification for its JLTV fleet but may look into “hybrid [solutions] that cuts fuel by 25 percent” (Defense Daily, June 22 2021). 

Army officials have previously cited the benefits in moving to electrification as a means of reducing logistics burden and lessening vehicles’ acoustic signatures, with the service currently working on developing an Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle concept platform to further assess the space. 

Oshkosh Defense officials reiterated during the briefing that hybrid-electric drive capability is not a current requirement of the Army’s upcoming JLTV follow-on production contract, which is set to be awarded this September.

“The main reason we did it is because we listened to our customers. I’ve been listening to senior leaders in the Army for a few years and we talked at great length about what electrification brings to the table, what silent drive can bring to the table, what that extended silent watch can do, what the needs for increased export power can do,” Bryant said. “[eJLTV] does display to our Army and Marine Corps customers that we’re not just sitting back waiting to see what’s going to appear in a Request For Proposal. We’re listening to the customer, thinking about what the customer wants, what the future battlefield will call for and we’re investing independent research and development money to provide the customer what he needs, whether it’s in the recompete or not.”

The next JLTV production may be worth up to $6.5 billion over 10 years and is expected to cover approximately 17,000 JLTVs and 10,000 trailers (Defense Daily, Nov. 18). 

George Mansfield, Oshkosh Defense’s vice president and general manager of joint programs, noted JLTV orders under the original production contract can still be placed until November 2023 and those vehicles would be produced through summer of 2025.

Mansfield previously told Defense Daily in October the company is “very confident” in its pursuit to secure the next production contract (Defense Daily, Nov. 1).

The JLTV re-compete effort has drawn at least one other public competitor, with GM Defense [GM] detailing plans to line up partners and ensure it has the full supply chain of parts necessary to go after the production contract (Defense Daily, May 4).

Bryant said Oshkosh Defense is not currently disclosing who is providing the eJLTV battery technology “for competitive purposes,” while Nasr added the company has filed several patents related to the capability design.

“We did file for multiple patents for the technology that we use for the eJLTV. And we’ve secured a lot of [intellectual property] in that area,” Nasr said.