$5 Billion Competition on to Replace Humvee
By Chad Halcon, Automotive News
Competition is heating up to win a contract for a vehicle that will replace nearly 18,500 aging military Humvees for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps starting in 2015.
Six proposals are in play, with little time left before federal contracting officials decide on development of the $5 billion-plus program. Suppliers are lining up for an opportunity to be part of the production teams with various contractors.
Up to three winners in the current round could receive up to $65 million for the preproduction engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
Last month, AM General LLC unveiled its Blast-Resistant Vehicle-Off Road, or BRV-O, in suburban Detroit.
Here are the other competitors vying for a maximum of three awards that the contractors expect by early July from the U.S. Army Tacom Life Cycle Command:
• Eagle: General Tactical Vehicles, a joint venture of AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems.
• L-ATV: Oshkosh Defense.
• Lockheed JLTV: Lockheed Martin Corp.
• Saratoga: Navistar Defense, with a separate division of BAE Systems.
• Valanx: BAE Systems Inc., with Northrop Grumman Corp. and Meritor Defense.
"The companies are putting a lot of money into the JLTV now, even though the money they have available is a bit tighter. There's less funding available overall for r&d and new vehicle development," said Bruce Barron, CEO of precision cast-maker Barron Industries Inc., of Oxford Township, Mich.
Barron said Barron Industries has been involved in development work on both the BRV-O for AM General and the Eagle for General Tactical Vehicles.
But he said the company is preparing or has submitted bids to all six project teams on the JLTV and hopes to secure production work on components of the chassis, suspension systems, engine and the internal housing chassis for the electronic systems.
The next phase of contract awards calls for vendors to submit prototypes for military testing. Here's a summary of the six competitors:
AM General showed the BRV-O -- a latecomer to the competition -- publicly for the first time in the Detroit area last month. Its six-cylinder, 3.2-liter turbocharged engine is rated at 300 hp and 500 pounds-feet of torque.
AM General has produced the original Humvee for the military since the mid-1980s.
GKN Land Systems, a British company with offices in suburban Detroit, has been a drivetrain components supplier to the Humvee, and some of its components are also included on the BRV-O.
General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General together are offering a repurposed version of the Eagle IV, which General Dynamics European Land Systems has supplied to the German military since at least 2008, said Don Howe, senior director of the joint venture General Tactical Vehicles.
The move is in part a response to the Army's recent request to review vehicles with more "mature" technologies that will take less time to bring to market, Howe said.
"We had to canvass our inventory of vehicles in the AM General and General Dynamics family and decide if between them we had a dog in the hunt. In fact, we did, and when we ran all the calculations, we could even adapt it and beat the $260,000 unit" price, Howe said.
A vehicle that Oshkosh Defense developed on its own, the Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle will use Oshkosh's Tak-4i intelligent suspension system that is already in use on more than 20,000 vehicles.
The company is also offering an optional Oshkosh ProPulse diesel-electric hybrid powertrain to help improve fuel economy on its version of the JLTV.
The Bethesda, Md., company is leading a team that includes Meritor Defense in suburban Detroit; L-3 Combat Propulsion Systems of Muskegon, Mich.; and Vehma International of America Inc. in suburban Detroit.
Lockheed, a winning bidder on the first phase of JLTV development, had to make several modifications after the Pentagon's requirements changed for the second phase. Lockheed said it incorporated less expensive materials and fewer exotic metals such as titanium.
Navistar Defense felt its Saratoga was a natural fit for the JLTV after the Army reopened the competition to all bidders at the second phase.
"It was something we developed on our own, to be optimized to serve as an adaptable light tactical vehicle design of any sort," said company communications manager Elissa Koc.
Navistar Defense, a business unit of Navistar International Corp. of Warrenville, Ill., has more than 250 employees in suburban Detroit who are expected to handle engineering and preproduction work on the Saratoga, and also handle system technical support contract work on existing military vehicles.
The BAE Systems vehicle has evolved since the initial round of predevelopment contracts on the vehicle that lapsed last May, said Deepak Bazaz, BAE's program manager on the vehicle.
The BAE team has abandoned a previous Navi- star engine in favor of a proposed PowerStroke 6.7- liter turbocharged diesel engine from Ford Motor Co. The company also has brought in Roush Enterprises Inc. of suburban Detroit to handle some engine system integration work, and has retooled the vehicle design to meet reduced weight limits that the military has imposed to allow for various equipment additions, Bazaz said.
A separate division of BAE also is collaborating on Lockheed Martin Corp.'s proposal for the vehicle, but Bazaz said the company has procedures in place to ensure engineers and specialists on each project do not overlap or share information.
Content provided by Autoweek.
Just prior to the US's entry into WWII, the army held a competition among several bidders for a light 4-wheel drive general purpose military vehicle. The end result was the venerable jeep. The main players in the competition were Ford, Bantam, and Willy's. Each company submitted a prototype for testing in hopes of winning a huge government contract.
The army discovered that each of the three had distinct strengths and weaknesses and found it difficult to chose any single design over the other two. So they decided to have their cake and eat it too. The three companies' designers were told to collaborate on a unified design that kept the best aspects of each. In the end, the jeep became an amalgam of all three designs, though based primarily on the Bantam and Willy's entries, and all three companies were awarded large contracts for production. The unstoppable jeep was born, loved by our soldiers and occasionally stolen by a jealous enemy.
If it worked then, it could work now. Take the best aspects of each of the six designs (or fewer, if any of them turn out to be dogs) and combine them into one unified design - then give each of the six (or fewer) companies a share of the production contract.
None of the vehicles above are worth a damn, they're all to frigging heavy. This is a over reaction to the last war we fought, a guerilla war. Another thing wrong with the "tanks" shown above, is none has a V bottom and sides. Which comes in mighty handy in a explosion.
And why does none of the prototypes have the new RPG webbing ? I made over 100 trips inside Iraq in a white GMC PU Truck during 2003/04. So I have a pretty good idea what is needed to protect a convoy.
Speed is more important than armor, the more up armor you go, the slower you will travel. Plus the ememy will just use larger explosives, remember there are already tank mines that can destroy a M1A1 tank. So putting that amount of armor on a "Humvee" is a joke.
As a veteran, I would recommend they think of the soldier's ability to shoot outside of the vehicle. It was so hard trying to sit in the traditional seated position with my M-16 sticking out this tiny window.
I would like to see a captain type of bucket seat that swivels for all the passengers. That way the soldiers can patrol their side of the vehicle easier and be more alert. Also, if they installed the port holes like on the armored bank trucks, those would be really helpful for protecting the soldier while still being able to respond to threats.
There is no perfect vehicle for today's troops. The duties and tasks we ask of our personnel in uniform vary so much. I would like to see all of these implemented into the motor pool.
First and foremost, steel plating to protect from IED's and mines. The price for tires is small compared to VA care for 50 years when the troops return home.
They are all weak in design. IEDs, RPGs & other armor piercing ammo love a nice flat and square target. Common guys find some real engineers!!! At least steal a page from the M1-A1. Angles are where it at. Go back to sleep.
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