Washington: The Army may have to retool its plans to upgrade its Humvee fleet, if the proposed cancellation of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is finalized.
Companies vying for the Army’s Modernized Expanded Capacity Vehicle program had expected a draft proposals request from the Army to come out today. Last month, the service released an early list of requirements for the revamped combat truck.
But Wednesday’s decision by the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee to cancel the Army and Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in their version of the fiscal year 2012 defense bill could force the Army back to the drawing board for MECV.
The upgraded Humvees were expected pave the way for the JLTV’s introduction into the fleet, while also providing U.S. soldiers with a bigger and tougher Humvee, Granite Tactical Vehicles President Chris Berman explained.
Granite has teamed up with Textron to compete for the MECV program.
But when members of the SAC-D killed the JLTV this week, due to cost growth and delays in the program, they also shifted the MECV effort from “a stopgap to a [full] solution,” Bill Kisiah, vice president for advanced military vehicles at Textron, said.
“The services were looking to field a high-low capability mix with JLTV and recapped Humvees. If the high part of that mix goes away, Humvees may need to fill some of that capability gap,” Eric Lindsey, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, added.
To fill that gap, Army leaders may switch up the MECV program to squeeze more power and performance out of its new Humvees, Lindsey suggested, but noted there will be limits.
“There are constraints to what can be done with any vehicle, and a 30-year-old Humvee is certainly no exception,” he said.
But Berman pointed out their Humvee already meets or exceeds most of what the services were looking for in JLTV, adding the Army and the Marines “should not accept anything less than that.”
While it remains to be seen if JLTV cut will make it into the final FY12 defense bill — House appropriators did not cancel the truck in their bill — the Senate move “puts a lot more focus” on getting the MECV program going “sooner rather than later,” Kisiah added.
But given the rising financial crunch DoD is now under, if House appropriators want to keep the JLTV alive, they will have to kill or dramatically reduce other programs to make it work, Lindsey said.
That said, “there’s a decent chance that this is it for JLTV as we know it,” he added.
While service leaders will want to see how much they can get out of the old Army warhorse, Berman suggested that factions inside DoD were pushing to ramp down requirements for the new Humvee.
According to Berman, some military officials want the Army to reduce the weight of the new Humvee, so it can be used easier during air assault operations. However, dropping the weight would mean trading off the vehicle’s armor and other protective measures.
Decisions on where to go with the MECV, now that JLTV is more than likely out of the picture, could mean another slate of delays for the Humvee program.
When asked what those delays could mean for Granite and other MECV competitors, Kisiah pointed out the Army had planned to issue the draft RFP around this time last year. “We’ll just keep going,” he said.