An infantry brigade combat team of the 10th Mountain Division will be the first unit to get the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, or JLTVs, around January 2019 once full-rate production kicks in, said Colonel Shane Fullmer.
Fullmer, the joint program manager for the JLTV program, spoke at a JLTV demonstration and media roundtable here on June 14.
The brigade will receive 500 JLTVs on a one-for-one replacement of the unit’s current fleet of Humvees, he said.
Officials said that a total of about 100 JLTVs are being provided this year by Oshkosh Defense, the maker of the vehicle, at a low-rate initial production of about 10 per month to the Army and Marine Corps for testing.
The full suite of testing includes command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; reliability qualification; and live-fire, according to a chart provided at the media roundtable.
The Army plans to purchase at least 50,000 JLTVs and the Marine Corps so far plans to buy about 5,500 for a total cost to both services of about $24 billion, with production extending over the course of 20 years, according to Army officials.
Andrew Rogers, program manager, Light Tactical Vehicles at Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems Marine Corps, said the Marine Corps is re-evaluating its order and may order upwards of 10,000. The first JLTVs for the Marine Corps, he said, will go to a battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in late 2019.
Fullmer said there are four variants of the JLTV that will be produced: general purpose, close-combat weapons carrier, heavy gun carrier and utility. Of those four variants, each comes in two door or four door options.
The two-seaters have an extended bed and are built to carry up to 5,100 pounds/2,313 kg of supplies, he said. The four-seaters carry about 3,500 pounds/1,588 kg, including four Soldiers seated and a fifth manning the weapons turret.
Weapons that can be carried in the JLTV include .50-caliber/.5 inches/12.7-mm machine guns, Mk-19 grenade launchers and TOW missiles, he noted.
Requirements for the JLTV production included the ability to be airlifted by Boeing CH-47 Chinook or Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters and to have a similar footprint as the Humvee so they’d fit inside the decks of amphibious ships, Fullmer said.
Learning to drive the JLTV is a breeze, Fullmer said. The first item that a driver will notice is the floating suspension, which can be adjusted. So, for example, if the vehicle is in a 30-degree incline, the driver can flatten out the suspension to level the vehicle.
Also, the operator has a display that shows the condition of the vehicle, including the engine, transmission and suspension.
The venerable Humvee had great maneuverability and payload but very little protection, particularly in the underbody, Fullmer said, while the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle had high protection levels but poor maneuverability, particularly in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. JLTV has all the advantages of payload, protection and performance, he concluded.
David Diersen, vice president and general manager of Joint Programs for Oshkosh Defense, said the JLTV has one-third the weight and half the price tag of the MRAP, and the JLTV is about 70 percent faster than the MRAP and much more maneuverable.
Diersen added that the JLTV’s Banks Engineering 866T Turbo diesel engine consumes diesel as well as JP8 and DF2 at fuel-efficient levels.
There have been discussions with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center as well as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for future autonomous operations, he noted.
Finally, Diersen explained that Oshkosh was able to keep the cost per vehicle down because the company also builds civilian vehicles and therefore has an economy of scale advantage. «So, you might see a JLTV rolling down the assembly line followed by a snowplow and garbage truck».
Fullmer said the JLTV was kept on schedule and within budget because of cooperation and close dialog between the Army, Marine Corps, Oshkosh and the requirements and acquisition communities.
The JLTV in action during a media showing at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia