The United Kingdom is set to become the first export customer of the Oshkosh [OSK] Joint Light Tactical Vehicle being built to replace portions of the Army and Marine Corps Humvee fleets.
Maj. Gen. Robert Talbot-Rice, land equipment director at the U.K. defense ministry, told a conference in London that a letter of request has been filed to purchase several hundred JLTVs to satisfy its multirole vehicle-protected, or MRV-P, program. Instead of building its own tactical trucks, the U.K. decided to purchase the Oshkosh vehicle through a foreign military sale (FMS) “based on price and value for the money,” Talbot-Rice is quoted as saying.
Army Col. Shane Fullmer, JLTV project manager for the U.S. JLTV Joint Program Office (JPO) confirmed to Defense Daily that the U.K. military has shown interest in the vehicle, but declined to comment on the formal request.
“As with any Foreign Military Sales case, we would defer to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency for details on formal requests,” Fullmer wrote in an email. “However, we can confirm that we have received interest from the United Kingdom into the JLTV program, and our contract certainly allows for FMS opportunities. The Joint Program Office has engaged with our UK counterparts as they consider pursuing JLTV, just as we would with other interested allies and partners.”
If an FMS case is approved by the State Department for JLTV, the U.S. JPO would conduct the program and serve as the interface between the vendor and international partner, Fullmer said.
Oshkosh currently holds a $6.7 billion contract awarded in Aug. 2015 to build 50,000 JLTVs for the Army and another 4,500 or so for the Marine Corps. The U.K. is expected to buy about 750 trucks for MRV-P Group 1. They will be augmented by a larger, armored personnel carrier-type vehicle in Group 2, according to reports.
During a Jan. 26 fourth-quarter earnings call, Oshkosh Chief Executive Wilson Jones said the company plans to build 750 JLTVs in 2017. The end of 2016 was an active few months for the program, he said.
“We experienced another very active quarter for the JLTV program,” Jones said. “We are still in the early portion of the low rate initial production phase of this program with a lot of attention focused on supporting government testing of the initial production units. As many of you know this program is ramping up over the next several years and we expect it to become a significant revenue generating program in our Defense segment.”
Jones also said the program holds “strong potential for international JLTV sales” and the company “is busy promoting JLTV during international tradeshows and conducting customer demonstrations to create demand.”
An Oshkosh spokesperson deferred comment on the specific FMS case to the U.S. and U.K. governments but did say the vehicle is a good opportunity for the allied Army if they proceed with the purchase.
“The JLTV programme presents an opportunity for the UK MoD to provide their troops with the world’s most capable light tactical vehicle – at an affordable cost,” spokesperson Alex Hittle told Defense Daily in an email. “During the US JLTV competition, Oshkosh presented a solution for vehicles, C4ISR integration, kits and trailers that achieved the highest ratings for performance and value throughout an exhaustive, multi-year testing and evaluation effort. From a technical performance, cost and operational capability standpoint, JLTV is the overall best value on the market for light tactical vehicles.”
Since the 2015 contract award, the Army has placed four JLTV orders, the latest of which was in January for 409 vehicles and an assortment of kits worth $176 million. The vehicles are still in low-rate initial production with a decision on full-rate production expected in 2018.
Fullmer said JLTV was designed from the beginning as an international program. He has faith in Oshkosh that it can support full U.S. production and build them for allies at the same time.
“We are confident in the vendor’s ability to deliver the quantities of JLTV’s our Soldiers and Marines need on time, which is our main priority, while also accommodating interest from our allies and partners,”Fullmer said.
“We absolutely expect international interest,” he added. “Using common systems across our allies and partners is beneficial in terms of affordability and interoperability, and JLTV should be no exception. We continue to look forward to sharing the program’s success as we deliver an affordable, networked, protected mobility solution to our Soldiers and Marines.”
Increased orders and higher production rates typically result in lower unit costs for military vehicles, but Fullmer said JLTV is so lean already that selling several hundred to an ally likely will not drop the cost of the U.S. program appreciably.
“Thanks to the tremendous work of our acquisition professionals, JLTV leveraged stable requirements, mature technologies, and incentives in competition to deliver both major capability advancements and substantial savings,” he said. “Because we have already delivered considerable savings, we don’t expect FMS quantities to significantly impact unit costs.”