As heavy combat vehicle programs are idling, modernization of the tactical vehicles is in progress, as the Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command plan to replace and reset their fleet of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (jltv_oshkosh_phatch). Two vehicles classes are currently underway – the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), equipping the Army and US Marine Corps, and the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1 – replacing the HMMWVs operated by the Special Operations Command.

JLTV is currently underway, as the services await the delivery of 22 vehicles from three competitors. Following the scheduled testing the Army will select a single vendor to produce 55,000 vehicles or more, replacing HMMWVs currently in service. Since the Army has stressed cost limitations as its highest consideration, all three competitors are offering conventional, diesel powered vehicles, leaving more exotic hybrid electric drives for future upgrades. To reduce cost while meeting weight and size restrictions, manufacturers are employing advanced engineering and manufacturing techniques to minimize weight, while adhering to conventional materials over advanced, high performance composites (reducing material and production costs). For example, in the prototypes Lockheed Martin plans to deliver in about 10 months, the company is using thinner but stronger steel, rather than the lighter but expensive and hard to process aluminum alloys previously used, saving cost and also enabling easier repair in the field. The weight gain resulting from the use of heavier materials was balanced by optimizing design, engineering and manufacturing, therefore limiting the weight increase. The JLTV has already demonstrated helicopter sling-load carriage.

Read the rest of Tamir Eshel’s report at Defense Update.

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