While all troops should have the opportunity to benefit from the protection the JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) provides, key issues need to be resolved before this can happen.
In a June 24 report to Congress, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) identified several areas that need to be addressed:
* Deficiencies in reliability, ease of maintenance, training, manuals, situational awareness for crews and safety essentially have hindered operational suitability for all versions of the JTLV.
* The JTLV’s Close Combat Weapons Carrier (CCWC) version is not ready for combat and tactical missions, because it does not provide the same capability to “engage threats” as comparable versions of the
Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV) it is replacing.
The services identified the need for the JTLV more than a decade ago, because the Humvee were highly vulnerable to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Increasing armor and other protection on the Humvee proved to have limited effectiveness at best.
Besides the CCWC version, plans include acquisition of General Purpose (GP), Heavy Guns Carrier (HGC), Combat Support Vehicle, and Utility Prime Mover (UTL) variants. Payload capacities would vary accordingly.
Oshkosh Corporation ultimately prevailed in a three-company competition to build the JTLV, receiving a $6.7 billion initial-production contract to build 16,901 of the vehicles for the Army and Marine Corps in August 2015. A lawsuit filed by the losing contractors stopped production temporarily, with the disruption ending in early 2016 when one of the contractors, Lockheed Martin Corp., withdrew its protest.
Meanwhile, the Air Force also announced plans to replace its Humvees with 3,270 JLTVs, with acquisition taking place through 2022.
The first Army and Marine Corps units took delivery of JTLVs early this year. Based on soldiers’ and Marines’ testing of the new vehicles, the Army — the lead agency in the procurement process — decided to delay full-rate production until they can review findings of those tests. The service resumed full production late last month.
The Marines said some of the problems could be resolved “through improved tactics, techniques and procedures.” Some of the issues could be traced to decisions based on budget constraints, the Marines believe.
Both the House and Senate versions of the 2020 defense-spending bill contain provisions to fund the JTLV.
As of late last month, the Army was in the midst of a seven-month delay in full production. The ramifications of the delay are significant, CRS believes. It could have adverse effects on program schedule and costs, service allocation, overall fielding of the vehicles, training and readiness, as well as foreign military sales.