APG be­gins road-test­ing re­place­ment for Humvee

JLTVs are de­signed to be faster, safer for troops

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Ian Dun­can idun­can@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/idun­can

The cab of the mil­i­tary truck still had that new-car smell.

The Army, work­ing on the suc­ces­sor to the long-serv­ing Humvee to carry troops to fight around the world, is test­ing the new Joint Light Tac­ti­cal Ve­hi­cle at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground.

Col. Mor­ris Bo­drick, com­man­der of the Aberdeen Test Cen­ter, said Mon­day the JLTV will be tested for per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity over the next year on the 50-odd miles of test track that wind around the Army in­stal­la­tion in Har­ford County.

The Humvee be­came an icon of the 1991 Per­sian Gulf War, but it proved vul­ner­a­ble in Afghanistan and Iraq to road­side bombs.

Ef­forts to im­r­pove the ve­hi­cle’s ar­mor — ad­ding metal plates to pro­tect the troops in­side — left it over­bur­dened. So in the midst of the con­flicts, the Army rushed to field a heav­ier bomb-re­sis­tant truck while also plan­ning for the Humvee’s ul­ti­mate re­place­ment.

Sev­eral com­pa­nies com­peted to build the trucks; the dif­fer­ent ver­sions were also tested at Aberdeen. Wis­con­sin-based Oshkosh beat Lock­heed Martin and AM Gen­eral, which makes the Humvee, for the $6.7 bil­lion con­tract to build the first group.

A for­mal protest by Lock­heed set the pro­gram back, but Oshkosh turned over seven JLTVs to the Army and Ma­rine Corps in late Septem­ber and de­liv­ered an­other 10 in Oc­to­ber. The team at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground has five of the ve­hi­cles; oth­ers are go­ing to be put through their paces at The JLTV is man­u­fac­tured by Wis­con­sin­based Oshkosh un­der a $6.7 bil­lion con­tract with the mil­i­tary. fa­cil­i­ties in Ari­zona and Alaska.

The Army and Marines plan to buy some 55,000 JLTVs over the next two decades. The test­ing data gath­ered at Aberdeen and the other fa­cil­i­ties will help the mil­i­tary make de­ci­sions about the fu­ture of the pro­gram.

The name Humvee is a kind of ab­bre­vi­a­tion of the cum­ber­some High Mo­bil­ity Mul­tipur­pose Wheeled Ve­hi­cle. No sim­i­larly catchy moniker has emerged for the JLTV.

Sev­eral ver­sions of the new truck are planned. The one on show at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground on Mon­day was a twodoor model that will likely serve as a trans­port ve­hi­cle. Oth­ers will carry weapons sys­tems, in­clud­ing mis­siles that could be used to take on tanks or de­stroy bunkers.

The JLTV’s top speed of about 70 mph will let troops quickly close on en­e­mies, and its ad­vanced sus­pen­sion sys­tem means it can travel across very rough ter­rain.

Maj. Ja­son McPhee, an of­fi­cial with the of­fice that is de­vel­op­ing the JLTV, said the ride across one par­tic­u­larly bumpy test track was so smooth he could have drunk a cup of cof­fee.

The JLTV is large by the stan­dards of a civil­ian car, with tires that reached up to Bo­drick’s waist as he stood next to it. It’s big­ger even than a Humvee. But it is much smaller than the Army’s most heav­ily ar­mored trucks while still af­ford­ing its pas­sen­gers as much pro­tec­tion, of­fi­cials say.

McPhee said the de­sign­ers of the new truck aimed to take lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Oshkosh had al­ready tested out some of the con­cepts on the ar­mored Mine Re­sis­tant Am­bush Pro­tected All Ter­rain Ve­hi­cle.

Those large trucks pro­vided troops with good pro­tec­tion from bomb blasts, McPhee said, but couldn’t be eas­ily trans­ported by he­li­copter or on am­phibi­ous land­ing ships.

Humvees, mean­while, strug­gled un­der the weight of the ex­tra ar­mor.

“We started to up-ar­mor that Humvee, but once we started to up-ar­mor that ve­hi­cle we started to trade away its pay­load and its mo­bil­ity,” McPhee said.

The MATV and other mine-re­sis­tant ve­hi­cles were quickly de­vel­oped as an an­swer — some of the work took place at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground — but they brought their own prob­lems.

“That pro­gram rapidly re­sponded and pro­vided pro­tec­tion im­me­di­ately to the sol­diers and Marines on the bat­tle­field, saved a lot of lives along the way,” McPhee said. “But when we made that in­vest­ment we traded away trans­porta­bil­ity and mo­bil­ity. We’re talk­ing about very heavy ve­hi­cles.”

The JLTV is de­signed to find the sweet spot.

“It’s go­ing to try to find the per­fect bal­ance of per­for­mance, pro­tec­tion and pay­load,” McPhee said.

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHO­TOS

Col. Mor­ris L. Bo­drick, com­man­der of the Army’s Aberdeen Test Cen­ter, talks about the ad­van­tages of the new Joint Light Tac­ti­cal Ve­hi­cle be­hind him. The ve­hi­cle is de­signed to be faster, more se­cure and smoother-rid­ing than the Humvee.

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