The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is currently on track to replace the US military’s HMMWV (high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle) with a set of more survivable vehicles boasting a greater payload capacity. Roadside bombs or IEDs (improvised explosive device), which can take place anywhere and anytime, have proven to be the number one contributor to US troops’ causalities. During roadside bomb encounters, the HMMWV has shown structural inferiorities, unable to withstand these types of attacks and, in effect, unable to protect US military personnel. JLTV is expected to become the next generation of light armored tactical wheeled vehicles for the US military. The need for something like the JLTV came about because the HMMWV was never designed to be an armored combat or scout vehicle, even though it has been forced into use as one.
Because of the increasing and lifesaving necessity to produce a better up-armored vehicle, the US Army and USMC launched a nationwide industry challenge to design and build a completely brand-new tactical wheeled vehicle that will provide increased protection, survivability and improved capabilities to triumph on today’s battlefield. In October 2008, Lockheed Martin was one of three teams awarded a technology development contract for the JLTV program. Lockheed Martin serves as the prime contractor and design agent for its team, providing systems engineering, platform integration, design expertise, and program and supply chain management.
Teamed with Lockheed Martin are BAE Systems Mobility & Protection Systems, who provide advanced armor solutions and production facilities for high volume assembly; Alcoa Defense, who supplies materials experience, design services and aluminum components that give the vehicle its structural strength at reduced weight; and JWF—Defense Systems, which offer state-of-the-art machining and cost-effective fabrication.
The future tactical vehicle family will comprise five “Mission Role” variants: the Combat Tactical Variant, the Command and Control Variant, the Utility Variant, the Light Infantry Squad Carrier Variant and the Reconnaissance Variant. The vehicle family will also include compatible trailers. Currently JLTV production has been expanded to include three payload categories, all of which are expected to exceed the existing HMMWV’s performance. Payload Category A for Battlespace Awareness Mission Area will have a payload requirement of 3,500 pounds, Category B built for Force Application Mission Area, a payload requirement of 4,000 to 4,500 pounds and Category C built for Focused Logistics Mission Area, a payload requirement of 5,100 pounds. And within each payload category, there are a total of 10 sub-configurations (i.e., Payload A with the General Purpose Mobility vehicle, Payload C with Shelter Carrier vehicle and Ambulance).
Specifications defined by the services for the JLTV family of vehicles address current capability gaps and strive to increase force protection, survivability, fuel-efficiency, capacity, maneuverability and automotive safety balanced with the total cost of ownership and production. Vehicles must also meet current weight and dimension requirements for transportability aboard ships and aircraft.
The JLTV’s design includes a basic armor protection package as well as provisions to accommodate an additional add-on armor kit. The vehicle’s onboard power plant will supply power, derived from the engine, for all on-board electronic components to enable continuous network-enabled operation. The power plant will also be required to provide external power for dismounted users, during extended silent watch.
As of December 2008, Lockheed Martin’s first two JLTV prototypes successfully surpassed a combined total of 30,000 miles of testing, where more than half of those screenings were conducted off-road to replicate existing mission/military conditions. The first prototype, the Category B model, was introduced in October 2007, while the second prototype, Utility Vehicle Light Category C model (with an emphasis on payload) was introduced in February 2008, the third, the General Purpose Mobility Vehicle Payload Category A model made its debut at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exhibition on the weekend of October 6, 2008. In January 2009 Lockheed Martin completed production on its fourth prototype, an additional variant of the Infantry Carrier.
The Lockheed Martin-led JLTV team is expected to produce, build and create the lowest risk, most technically innovative vehicle during the program’s 27-month technology development phase. The first 15 months mandate the competitors to develop and deliver seven JLTV variants, four trailers, four blast hulls and ballistic panels to be used during testing. The remaining 12 months are allocated for government testing. After this technology development phase, the engineering manufacturing and Development phase is to follow and, later, a production contract.
The race to protect our troops is receiving more attention than ever. Built from the ground up, the JLTV represents a breakthrough in technological advancement and promises to be a significant contribution to our success in the War on Terror.