Navistar bidding in Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programme


Navistar Defense has submitted a bid to compete for the US military’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programme, submitting its Saratoga vehicle, the company announced yesterday.

The JLTV programme is a joint services effort to replace and complement the ageing High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee) fleet. The JLTV programme creates a common family of vehicles consisting of the Combat Tactical Vehicle and Combat Support Vehicle, both with multiple variants and associated companion trailers.

A number of companies are bidding in the joint US Army, Special Operations Command and Marine Corps programme, with the three competitors being BAE Systems/Navistar, General Tactical Vehicles and Lockheed Martin.

Navistar’s Saratoga light tactical vehicle was launched by Navistar in October, after the company had conducted its own automotive and blast testing. The Saratoga was originally designed to target a gap in the light tactical vehicle market.
“We made a significant investment in developing the Saratoga on our own nickel because that’s what we do commercially – it is part of our DNA,” said Archie Massicotte, president, Navistar Defense. “The Saratoga is a solid design and now that we have seen the requirements of the JLTV migrate toward our vehicle capabilities, we are in a position to modify the Saratoga to fit those requirements.”

In 2008 the US Army, lead agent for the JLTV programme, announced that it had awarded three contracts valued at about US$166 million for the program’s 27-month technology development phase. The three contractors were BAE Systems/Navistar; General Tactical Vehicles, a joint venture between General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General; and Lockheed Martin.

The three competing contractors were tasked with developing prototype vehicles in three different payloads configured for specific operational missions. Category A is intended for general-purpose mobility and carries the lightest payload, about 3 500 pounds.

Category B models are designed to transport infantry troops or weapons, serve as platforms for command-and-control and reconnaissance missions and carry payloads in the 4 000 to 4 500 pound range.

Category C models will serve as shelter carriers, prime movers and ambulances, and will carry payloads just over 5 000 pounds.

The vehicles are being designed with an “open architecture” concept to accommodate extra armour, sensors, radios or other equipment, as required, without sacrificing power or payload. In addition, the vehicles will have a digital architecture incorporated into their design to support current networking requirements, as well as on-board diagnostics so they’re easier to maintain.

As a unique twist to past development programmes, the contractors are developing prototype companion trailers along with the tactical vehicles, with both meeting the same standards.

A production decision is expected by the end of 2014, with full-rate fielding to begin around 2016. The Army will buy around 60 000 vehicles and the Marine Corps getting 5 500.

The programme has entered the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase. The Army released the JLTV EMD phase request for proposal on January 26, giving industry until March 13 to respond.

The US military’s fleet of Humvees, estimated at about 160 000, was developed in the 1970s and delivered in the early 1980s with a focus on Cold War threats rather than on today’s needs. When the vehicles proved vulnerable to roadside bombs in Iraq and, increasingly, in Afghanistan, the military responded by adding heavy armour plating. The typical Humvee was designed to weigh a maximum of about 12 000 pounds, but now weighs closer to 18 000 pounds, affecting mobility.

Mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, in contrast, were purchased essentially as quickly as they were built to meet a wartime requirement quickly.