The Army and Marine Corps Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program is on track to deliver a low-rate-initial product award to a single vendor in fiscal 2015, despite sequestration and ongoing budget uncertainty, service officials said.
“Over the next 14 months we’ve got things called knowledge points – and those knowledge points will happen every couple of months. That is where the requirements community and the acquisition team will come back together with the test community and say this is what we’ve tested to date. Our requirements document will be validated by late 2014, early 2015. That would be the document that would drive the final RFP,” Cavedo added. “Our requirements are solid. This is a mature program.”
In fact, many senior Army and Pentagon leaders have cited JLTV as evidence of an acquisition success story due to the way in which the Technology Development phase helped refine and mature requirements for the program and lower per-unit costs to $250,000 per vehicle. The unit price was lowered through an Army-Marine Corps partnership with industry; the JLTV program conducted several industry days during which government officials and industry partners analyzed technologies and costs for the platform. All throughout the TD phase, certain requirements were traded off in order to lower the unit price, all the while ensuring that the platform can deliver the sought-after next-generation capabilities.
Overall, the JLTV program is surging into what’s called the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase designed to refine the designs, further solidify the requirements and put three vendors’ vehicles through a series of extensive and rigorous testing procedures, service officials said.
The vendors competing in the EMD phase are Oshkosh Defense, Lockheed Martin and AM General. Each of the vendors is slated to deliver 22 prototype vehicles to the Army-Marine Corps program in August of this year.
The testing includes reliability assessments, soft soil mobility and off-road testing, ship to shore evaluations and extensive survivability testing wherein the vehicles are subjected to live-fire blast conditions, Cavedo explained.
The JLTV is engineered to withstand IEDs and roadside bombs to the same degree as their much heavier counterparts, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.
“The JLTVs are all going to have 1X protection level – which is MRAP level protection. There will be actual explosive devices that will be put underbody, under wheel as well as side IEDs. There will be direct prior exploitation shots looking for seams — all in an effort to make sure we get it right the first time so we don’t have to redesign,” Cavedo added.
Live fire testing of armor coupons and blast testing of ballistic hulls have already taken place last November and March, respectively, he said. Full-up prototype live fire testing of the vendors’ vehicles is slated to take place this Fall.
If sequestration continues into next year, however, it is unclear if there will be an impact to the program’s development or production schedule.
“If sequestration continues, all the services are going to have to make tough choices,” said Col. David Bassett, Deputy Program Executive Officer, Combat Support & Combat Service Support.
The Army plans to acquire as many as 49,000 JLTVs and the Corps plans to buy 5,500. The Marine Corps expects to have its initial procurement of the vehicles completed by 2022, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael Burks, JLTV program manager.
The idea with the program is to build a next-generation light tactical vehicle that is as survivable as a heavier Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle – yet still light enough to achieve off-road mobility and sling load beneath CH-47 or CH-53 helicopter. Also, the JLTV seeks to incorporate a stronger, more fuel efficient engine compared to current force vehicles as well as the latest in electronics and C4ISR gear.