The darling of the infantry, the 25-year-old humvee, increasingly is being relegated to sitting in motor pools inside forward operating bases because its flat-bottom crew compartment is vulnerable to roadside bombs.

But with a replacement truck still years away, Army and Marine Corps officials are planning to upgrade the humvee fleet — particularly its armor protection — so it can stay in service for another 20 years.

The ground services have tens of thousands of humvees that do not meet new survivability standards. The joint light tactical vehicle is intended to replace those trucks. But the JLTV development is still in its infancy.

“It will take quite a bit of time to replace all of the humvees, so you’re going to have humvees around for 20 years,” says Dennis Haag, product manager for light tactical vehicles in the Army’s combat support and combat service support program executive office. “What you have to do is take care of that fleet through the sustainment side to make sure it remains a viable piece of equipment for soldiers.”

One option is to upgrade the humvee with the latest blast-resistant technologies. Officials have been unhappy with bolt-on armor kits because they weigh down the trucks. Alternatives to bolt-on armor have been developed. The Marine Corps has honed in on a V-shaped hull capsule concept that is being evaluated at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

The Army owns 150,000 humvees made by AM General, headquartered in South Bend, Ind. About a third are newer up-armored trucks. Another third are unarmored utility vehicles that already have been through a recapitalization program at the Army’s depots. The final third are vehicles that have surpassed the 15-year “economic useful life” threshold.

The service by 2011 will cease to buy new humvees, says Haag. The Army instead is gearing up for a competitive recapitalization program to fix 60,000 war-torn vehicles.

Source: Grace V. Jean for National Defense Magazine.

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