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By Scott R. Gourley

18 May 11. The US Army’s recently-released Tactical Wheeled Vehicle (TWV) Strategy is designed to chart “the way ahead” to manage the modernization and sustainment of the Army’s TWV fleets. Army planners point to the current fleet inventory as representing “an investment of over $70 Billion” that is “worthy of our best efforts at intensive management and planning.”

The new Strategy covers the timeframe of current through FY 2025 and supercedes the previously-released Army 2009 TWV Investment Strategy, which had focused largely on the financial implications of fleet management. In contrast, the new strategy has been developed “to inform the requirements process, TWV Acquisition Strategy, Fleet Management Plan (to be published), and the development of the Army Program Objective Memorandum (POM). “

Strategy developers are quick to highlight the evolution in “the Army truck” over the past few decades, from its origins as a simple transport vehicle to its current array of increasingly complex tactical roles and missions.

“The Light Tactical Vehicle (LTV) fleet provides a good example of this evolution,” it states. “[T]he High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) was initially fielded to serve as a light, highly mobile and unarmored vehicle at a procurement cost of roughly $70 thousand when adjusted for inflation. In its efforts to adapt the HMMWV to modern requirements, the Army has increased the performance and protection of the HMMWV, increasing the cost of an up-armored variant to over $160 thousand (over $220 thousand with Fragmentation Kits). This modern Up-Armored HMMWV (UAH), however, still does not fully meet the evolving mobility or protection requirements of our Soldiers. The Army is therefore developing the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) to fill this capability gap. The cost to provide this capability is high – it is estimated that each JLTV will cost in excess of $300 thousand before equipping with essential combat systems – but not as high as the cost of the MRAP Family of Vehicles (FoV) which cost $430 – $900 thousand apiece to procure.”

Keeping with the financial theme, the strategy points to the “substantial increase in funding” that has accompanied that TWV evolution, with the Army spending approximately $6 billion per year on its TWVs (not including MRAPS) since FY’03, versus approximately $1 billion per year in the six preceding years.

“As a result, the Army now possesses greater TWV capability than at any time in recent history,” it notes. “However, capability gaps remain, and the adaptable nature of our enemies continues to stress and challenge these capabilities, necessitating further investment. Without Overseas Contingency Operations funding, the Army budget for TWVs will initially average just over $1 billion/year, slowly rising to back to approximately $2.5 billion/year in the near term. This level of funding will not support the continuation of the current pace of TWV modernization and replacement or recapitalization of the existing vehicles once they reach the end of their Economic Useful Life (EUL). The annualized cost to replace each of our current vehicles every 40 years, with a recapitalization performed mid-way, is over $2 billion/year and over $2.5 billion/year if MRAPs are included. If the Army were to replace all HMMWVs with JLTVs, this would add over $2 – $5 billion/year to these estimates, depending on the procurement rate.”

The cross challenges of capability gaps and funding issues presents what strategy planners have dubbed a “strategic crossroads,” where it “must provide Soldiers with the appropriate platforms to meet the threats of today and tomorrow,” but at the same time “cannot afford to sustain and modernize a fleet of the current size given future budget expectations.”

“The Army must therefore examine its budget, capabilities required, fleet size, and allocation processes to determine a strategy

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