Defense Media Network


Building the Perfect Beast

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration- Owego, serves as the lead/prime contractor for the third JLTV TD team, with responsibilities including design agent, providing systems engineering, platform integration, design expertise, and program and supply chain management. Other team members include: BAE Systems Mobility & Protection Systems, providing advanced armor solutions and production facilities for high volume assembly; Alcoa Defense, supplying materials experience, design services, and aluminum components that give the vehicle its structural strength at reduced weight; and JWF Defense Systems, offering state-of-the-art machining and cost-effective fabrication.

The Lockheed Martin team began to develop and unveil selected variant operational prototypes as early as 2007.

Commenting on the team’s receipt of the TD award, Louis DeSantis, vice president and general manager of Ground Vehicle Systems at Lockheed Martin, said, “We are honored that trust has been placed in Lockheed Martin and our JLTV team to continue development of this vital program. We are committed to meeting the demanding program requirements and providing the lowest risk, most technically innovative vehicle that serves our soldiers and Marines.”

While the industry teams seemed anxious to move forward on their 27-month TD programs, the process was delayed by the filing of protests with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) by two of the offerors who challenged the evaluation of the JLTV proposals. In February 2009, the protests were ruled to be “without merit” by the GAO, with work then able to continue under the JLTV awards.

Upon the completion of the TD phase, the services currently anticipate conducting another full and open competition with award of two contracts for a System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, leading to an eventual JLTV production activity.

Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps (Combat Development and Integration), reflected on the Marine Corps’ participation in the JLTV program during mid-March 2009 testimony before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense.

Acknowledging that “the JLTV family of vehicles will be designed to replace multiple configurations of the current family of HMMWVs,” Flynn explained, “the Marine Corps’ initial acquisition objective is 5,500 vehicles, but the final objective could be 25,000 or more to facilitate replacement of all HMMWVs in our inventory. As the Marine Corps’ light utility vehicle it will be required to support multiple mission roles from command and control, to cargo and troop carrying, to specialized ambulance and shelter carriers. Several variants of the JLTV will be required to be externally transportable by Marine Corps heavy lift CH-53 helicopters, and that requirement will define maximum allowable weights. The JLTV family of vehicles will have scalable levels of protection consisting of a base armor capability and several designed safety and protection capabilities as well as kitted, add-on armor. The basic vehicle design will account for the heaviest anticipated payloads, including armor kits, to permit the vehicle to retain its all-terrain mobility capabilities even when fully loaded.”

In other words, JLTV will be “the perfect beast” to meet the needs of tomorrow’s warfighters.

Meanwhile, government and industry teams scramble to satisfy today’s soldier and Marine requirements.

Marking the June 30, 2009, M-ATV contract award, Andy Hove, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president of defense said, “Much has already been done to ensure we can meet the government’s delivery schedule. In recognition of the urgent need, we began daily production of Oshkosh M-ATVs on our flexible manufacturing line a few weeks ago. We and our suppliers have already made significant investments in materials and are well positioned to accelerate our manufacturing capabilities.”

It’s a balancing act – but it’s an act in which that critical balance is being achieved.

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