U.S. TAKES FAST RIDES ON MRAP AND JLTV
By Scott R. Gourley
Whether it is the coincident timing, the critical tactical need, or the enormous program scope, it’s a safe bet that a good percentage of the discussions at this year’s Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD 2007) will involve two emerging U.S. joint service tactical wheeled vehicle programs: Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) vehicle and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).
Taken together, the two vehicles play a critical role in future force protection, tactical mobility, and operational planning.
Force Protection Need
In their joint statement before the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on 18 January 2007, Army Lieutenant General Stephen M. Speakes, Deputy Chief of Staff, G8; and Major General Jeffrey A. Sorenson, Deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, provided a status overview of a wide range of U.S. force protection programs, highlighting the importance of both MRAP and JLTV
“…Since our last update in June 2006, we have initiated joint programs with the Marines to develop an interim solution for the tactical wheeled vehicle challenge via the Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicle (MRAP),” the Army statement read. “We are partnering with industry to move forward faster on these initiatives so that we can field MRAP starting this summer and the long-range solution, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) as soon as possible…”
Expanding on the programmatic relationships between the parallel efforts, the statement reiterated, “Jointly with the Marine Corps, we are in the process of rapidly acquiring Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. MRAP fills a near-term, urgent joint service requirement for enhanced crew protection. The MRAP program will rapidly field highly survivable, mobile, multi-mission vehicles to the Joint Force to meet urgent operational requirements. MRAP vehicles are commercial, off-the-shelf solutions. The MRAP has a V-shaped hull that provides an immediate and dramatic increase in underbody protection for Soldiers. MRAP vehicles are inherently offensive in character, built from the ground up to survive a combination of mines, rocket propelled grenades, and small arms fire and would enhance our Soldiers’ ability to conduct independent operations in a survivable vehicle. The services have documented a requirement for 6,465 MRAP vehicles. On November 9, 2006, the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps released a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP). In late January 2007, the services will award contracts to those with the greatest likelihood of meeting requirements. Testing is expected to take place from February through May 2007. The Army and Marines will place production orders with those contractors whose MRAP vehicles best meet survivability and other performance requirements in testing and have the capability to meet an aggressive production and delivery schedule. Delivery is projected to begin in fourth quarter FY2007. Concurrently, the Army will continue to work with the Marines to develop a long-term solution through the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program.”
MRAP is a joint service acquisition program, between the United States Marine Corps and the United States Army. Under the Rapid Deployment Capability authority, the goal of MRAP is to field protected vehicles to forces in theater in large quantities much more rapidly than a standard new equipment acquisition program would allow.
Along with its speed of implementation, the MRAP urgent response effort was also expanded into something of an “umbrella” initiative encompassing three different program categories. So-called “Category I” vehicles, also known as Mine Resistant Utility Vehicle (MRUV), are the lightest and smallest category of MRAP platforms, and designed for use in urban combat operatio