US TACTICAL TRUCK REVIEW
By Scott R. Gourley
In a convoluted acquisition environment that one general officer attempted to describe as “an era of increasing decreases in resources,” US Army planners are working to achieve an optimum balance across the 270,000 platforms that comprise that service’s light, medium, and heavy tactical wheeled vehicle fleets. Senior representatives for each of these fleet categories provided updates on their specific activities during the recent Tactical Wheeled Vehicles conference, sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association and held in Monterey, California.
Light Tactical Vehicles
As an example of that convoluted environment, Mr. Dennis Haag, US Army Product Manager, Light Tactical Vehicles, noted that he had been in that office “for about six months and I haven’t done anything that I really wanted to do from the start. Everything has changed in the last six months, which has made it very interesting.”
The HMMWV (“Humvee”) family provides a case in point. As of 30 December 2009, the fielded fleet included 162,589 trucks and 34,845 trailers.
Emphasizing that the HMMWV “is a program of record” that “will be around 20 – 30 years,” Haag stated, “We have money. And that’s good. A lot of other people just have promises. But we’re here. We have dollars. We’re relevant. We are the standard in the tactical fleet that was used for mobility on the light side.”
Cautioning that many of the upcoming activities within the HMMWV arena were still “pre-decisional” as of his conference presentation, Haag acknowledged, “We have a lot of things up at ‘the head shed,’ up at DA [Department of the Army]. We have an ASARC pending and we have a lot of other decisions where I don’t know what will come out of them, including budget decisions.”
One major program emerging for HMMWV involves the planned recapitalization of up to 60,000 up-armored variants. In announcing its request for information at the end of last year, the service stated that the recap requirement “exists to address needed repair and rework of existing HMMWVs used in tactical operations while at the same time modernizing through upgrade existing HMMWVs to improve their operational capability.”
“We’re going to go out; we’re going to take the up-armored Humvee; we’re going to recap it; and it’s going to be competitive,” Haag said. “There you go…Somebody is going to win that. And it’s a billion dollar plus program. We’re been putting RFIs [requests for information] out but they’ve been staggered, because I’ve been told that I’ve got three months to get this done. Normally it takes two years. But I’ve got three months. So, putting RFIs out really fast, with information to help you, so that you can be prepared for those who want to bid on it, and also to get your comments back when we put the initial RFP out. I think it’s very important that I prep you and I know it takes time for industry to stand up your teams to come in and compete on that.”
“[Another one of the other initiatives that we have in our office is that I don’t want to have anything ‘sole source’ on a Humvee,” he continued. “I’d like to have everything with at least 2 – 3 suppliers for parts. What I’m running into in this tough economic environment is that we have people who are going bankrupt. And if I have a sole source supplier who goes bankrupt I’m stuck; I’m scrambling to get a part made.”
Haag then identified four areas where he needs industry support for the HMMWV.
Beginning with “Armor Weight Reduction,” he noted, “I need to get the weight off it…We started off at 7,500 lbs. [gross vehicle weight] and now we’re up to 17,400 lbs. You’ve heard all the things about our need to be lighter, quicker, and mobile. Well, we’ve killed this poor system by ‘overweighting’ it with all of the additions that we’ve had to put on – required additions because it had to be more survivable. But anybody who has got anything – even ‘unobtainium’ – in light armor t