U.S. ARMY TACTICAL WHEELED VEHICLE UPDATE
By Scott R. Gourley
One increasingly frequent observation reflects on the complexity and occasional confusion within the U.S. tactical wheeled vehicle arena over the past year. As an example, companies awarded contracts for the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) had some of that early work halted by multiple contract protests at the same time that some of those same companies were scrambling to satisfy the mandates of a new government requirement for an MRAP – All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV). Although spring witnessed an apparent resolution in these issues, more consternation emerged at the beginning of April, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates seemed to infer that the theater-specific and urgently-acquired basic MRAPs might play a role in some sort of revised Future Combat Systems program.
Even members of the military acknowledged some of the confusion.
For example, during his presentation to the 2009 Tactical Wheeled Vehicles conference, sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association and held in Monterey, California, Major General James E. Chambers, Commanding General, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, acknowledged some confusion stemming from basic ‘terms of reference.’
“When we talk ‘tactical wheeled vehicles’ – for this community, most of us are talking the same thing,” he explained. “But when you say ‘tactical wheeled vehicle’ [outside this community], that includes a whole lot of platforms within the Army that, for the most part, this community does not talk about.”
Noting the need for “good terms of reference when we talk different fleets,” he added, “That’s one of the things that we’re doing with the Chief of Staff of the Army now: coming out with some solid terms of reference so when we all say a term we’re all thinking the same thing.”
This article will follow the traditional U.S. Army definitions and designations for its Light, Medium, and Heavy Tactical Wheeled Vehicle (TWV) fleets, providing an update for some of the rebuild, recapitalization, and new acquisition activities taking place within each of those arenas.
Light Tactical Vehicles
Using the traditional designations, current efforts within the U.S. Army’s Light Tactical Vehicle (LTV) product segment of the TWV arena include: ‘Humvee’ production and recapitalization; M1151/M1152/M1165A1 armoring activities; light tactical trailers; and other related activities.
Current Humvee activities are built on the strong foundation of a vehicle family beginning with the A0 (1984-1993), A1 (1991-1995) and A2 (1994-present) series vehicles. That evolution continued with the ECV [Expanded Capacity Vehicle] (1993-present) and has now set the stage for ECV2 (2010-???). Seen by many as ‘a bridge’ to the eventual fielding of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the ECV2, with a projected gross vehicle weight of approximately 18,000 lbs., is characterized by military representatives as ‘the final chance to buy-back’ the ‘iron triangle’ balance between payload, performance, and protection.
In an effort to extend the useful life of the current fleet at a fraction of new vehicle production costs, FY04 saw the start of a Humvee Recapitalization program which has been converting early model vehicles (M998/A1, M1025/A1, M1026/A1, M1037, M1038/A1, and M1097/A1) to M1097R1 and M1025R1 models, providing the converted vehicles with greater payload through drivetrain and suspension upgrades while extending the useful economic life for 15 years. The program has been executed at Red River Army Depot, Letterkenny Army Depot, and Maine Military Authority, with more than 30,000 vehicle handoffs completed as of early this year.
Although program funding on the early model recaps runs only until July 2009, the Army has also conducted an Up Armored Humvee (UAH) ‘Recap Pilot Program,’ designed to convert UAHs to current production configuration models with enhanced reliability components,