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Future HMMWV Options

In anticipation of a major “recapitalization” of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) fleet, many industry participants highlighted their related programs and capabilities during the recent Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Institute of Land Warfare Winter Symposium and Exposition, held in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Feb. 24-26, 2010.

Known by participants as “AUSA Winter,” the event occurred less than two months prior to the expected release of a Request For Proposals (RFP) on a massive “HMMWV Recap” [recapitalization] program, which many see as covering approximately 60,000 vehicle platforms at a value in excess of $1 billion.

Unveiling the effort at the end of 2009, U.S. Army representatives noted, “The HMMWV 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.”

As service planners moved from the Dec. 29, 2009 Request For Information toward the anticipated RFP, industry teams continue to form and refine aspects of their likely bidding strategies.

One approach highlighted during the AUSA gathering was presented by Textron Marine & Land Systems (New Orleans, La.), an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, and Granite Tactical Vehicles Inc. (Mount Airy, N.C.). On Feb. 23, 2010, the two companies announced receipt of a contract “to deliver three upgraded High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) to the United State Marine Corps Warfighting Lab for testing.”

The upgraded HMMWVs are based on the companies’ shared Small Combat Tactical Vehicle Capsule (SCTVC) approach.

According to Stephen Greene, Vice President for Communications at Textron Systems Corporation, the SCTVC approach was the brainchild of Chris Berman, a former Navy SEAL and the founder and president of Granite Tactical Vehicles.

“As a Navy SEAL he had some personal experience with IEDs taking out small tactical vehicles, in particular seeing the damage that could be done to HMMWVs,” Greene explained. “And he came up with a new design, because he felt there had to be a better way than just up-armoring the HMMWV and the challenges that that approach presents.”

The first prototype of Berman’s design emerged in 2004, with the prototype rolled forward in 2007.

“So predating any of these discussions about Army [HMMWV] Recap or any other potential programs like that, he was working this concept in the background,” Greene said. “It’s a monocoque capsule, a single system integrated that is put on an existing HMMWV chassis. So what you can do is take the body of an existing HMMWV off, drop the capsule on, and integrate it with the existing subsystems of the HMMWV. So most of the parts that are on a HMMWV are re-used in this set-up.”

“So the capsule affords you the level of protection given the up-armored HMMWV, but because of ‘improvements’ in weight, you get back payload and mobility,” he added. “So it’s much safer in terms of the actual protection levels. It’s much safer because of improvements to the design – both internally and externally. And you also get the benefit of lighter weight than a fully up-armored HMMWV…and you get it all at ‘a better cost.’ I can’t give you details of the specs on weight and things like that, or the price points, but it is significantly less in comparison to a fully up-armored HMMWV.”

In addition to independent corporate ballistic and blast testing of the capsule design in October of last year, the Marine Corps also did ballistic/blast testing on three SCTVC vehicles in the November 2009 timeframe. The recent February announcement reflects a contract received in late January to provide three additional vehicles that the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab will take possession of in March in order to conduct durability, mobility, and thermal testing.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...