Over the past 18 months, Blackwater has been discretely building a very credible manufacturing capability. They now have two manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. The time line on the JLTV contract is tight. There are just 27 months to complete the design, production and testing of three models of the JLTV. Blackwater has just completed designing, testing and producing five models of its MRAP in less than 18 months.
Blackwater’s Grizzly is currently in the Source Selection process for the MRAP II contract. Having viewed the vehicles that were subjected to the full system destructive test at Aberdeen, the vehicle withstood every test with only minor repairs required. The MRAP II threat requirements far exceeded the MRAP I threat requirements that were required of these vehicles in previous years.
Blackwater is situated to do rapid prototyping and low rate production. The manufacturing facility is co-located with both an on-road and off-road test track. Their explosive and ballistic test ranges are a few hundred yards from manufacturing facilities. By locating their production facility in the middle of a “tactical laboratory,” the feedback cycle is shortened during the test and evaluation phase. Blackwater can build a prototype in the morning, and test it 10 times in the afternoon.
The Raytheon/Blackwater vehicle has undergone extensive performance testing and this JLTV has all the protection of Blackwater’s MRAP II vehicle, but features superior mobility when compared to a Humvee. In designing their vehicle, Blackwater collaborated with a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racing team, a champion Rock Racing Team and a Monster Truck Team. The challenge is finding a way to get championship performance out of commercially-available components. Blackwater and Raytheon have succeeded in doing that by tapping the experience of seasoned, experienced racing professionals. As the only truck manufacturing company who actually has its own people in the field, Blackwater has a unique insight into the tactical requirements.
Click the thumbnails below to see larger images of the new JLTV: