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21 Jan 15. Pentagon testers: JLTV hinders marine amphibious assault operations. Key Points:
* The size and deployability of JLTVs is questioned by the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation
* Testers found that USMC amphibious assaults would suffer from the added time needed to deploy JLTVs
Pentagon testers have found that Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) prototypes are slow to deploy from ship to shore and, therefore, leaves US Marine Corps (USMC) units “vulnerable to threats”. The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation annual report on the previous year’s testing, released on 20 January, found that during developmental test/operational test (DT/OT) events, USMC units with JLTVs were able to execute amphibious assault missions, but were hampered by the new trucks’ lack of deployability. “The JLTVs have large visual signature and their slow manoeuvre time from ship to shore prevents a Marine Expeditionary Unit from executing assault missions with tactical surprise, increases the time to close combat power ashore, and renders the unit vulnerable to threats,” the report said. “Testing showed that JLTVs are slower to load, prepare for fording, and transition to manoeuvre ashore than HMMWV [Humvees]” that they are meant to replace, the document said. Testers explained that the issues were caused by the JLTV’s overall larger size (vehicle suspensions are dropped so they can better fit in amphibious ships) and “delays that occur while awaiting suspension mode, and other vehicle adjustments” such as adjusting tyre pressure. A spokesman for the Army Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support declined to comment on whether the office has developed a plan to address deficiencies outlined in the report. The DT/OT events occurred in April 2014, with US Army and USMC units using CH-47F Chinook and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters for an air assault mission, and a USMC unit using Landing Craft Utility vessels for amphibious assault missions. Testers found that units with JLTVs – and organic armour assets – can execute air assault missions. However, “the three JLTV contractor vehicles were more difficult to rig, de-rig, and load weapons due to vehicle height and lack of vehicle handholds and footholds than HMMWV,” the report said. “They had limited space to carry crew, mission essential equipment, weapons, and their sustainment load because of the small interior compartment.” The DT/OT revealed that JLTVs have better manoeuvrability in soft soil and better fording capability than legacy Humvees, but crew visibility is lower “because of smaller windows, placement of mission equipment, and positioning of window panels”.
It is no surprise that JLTVs have a larger ‘visual signature’ than the smaller Humvee; they are indeed bigger vehicles and ride higher from the ground to protect against underbelly mine blasts. However, it is notable that this larger size affects the speed at which marines can prepare the vehicles for battle (due to time spent raising the suspension, inflating tyres, and climbing to load equipment). The USMC has at times appeared a reluctant customer for the JLTV as the corps is trying to get lighter and more mobile after years spent fighting land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with heavier platforms. Marine planners had accepted the size and weight trade-off to gain more protection, but it will be interesting to see if the deployability issue can be resolved or be justified. Either way, the question must be answered soon because the USMC’s planned 5,500 JLTVs are to be bought early in the production run and an initial operating capability is scheduled for fiscal year 2018. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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