Fleet planners now look to an “ECV2” design as “the final chance to buy back the 3Ps.” With improvements to power train, suspension, and armor capabilities, the ECV2 (2010 to ?) could offer payloads up to 4,550 pounds with gross vehicle weights at 18,000 pounds.
Other recent and ongoing HMMWV fleet modernization activities include: recapitalization of early model vehicles (M998/A1, M1025/A1, M1026/A1, M1037, M1038/A1, M1097/A1) to modern (M1097R1 and M1025R1) fleet capabilities while extending the economic useful life for 15 years; recapitalization of up-armored HMMWVs; introduction of new models (like the M1167 TOW variant); production of light tactical trailers; installation of “Frag[mentation] Kits” 6 and 7, along with new fire-suppression upgrades; and the development of new notional variants like an armored ambulance.
In addition to a newly tailored armor design, one critical element of the HMMWV Frag Kit 7 upgrade involves the BAE Systems Vehicle Emergency Escape (VEE) window kits. The patent-pending VEE window technology enables soldiers to quickly exit the vehicle in the event of an emergency, such as a rollover or accident, by releasing and pushing out the front window.
“Simple, life-saving technology is essential in the unpredictable working environment of a soldier,” explained Mark Signorelli, vice president of Army Programs at BAE Systems. “The VEE window’s simplicity helps ensure the FRAG 7 Kit requires no additional training from soldiers in theater. It enables soldiers to evacuate from a vehicle emergency in seconds and is a proven, valuable safeguard for our troops.”
On Feb. 26, 2009, BAE Systems announced that it had received an order from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) to provide 5,685 VEE window kits to be included with the Frag 7 kits now being fielded to enhance the safety and performance of the up-armored M1151 HMMWV.
Regardless of the outcome of future programs, it is certain that the HMMWV fleet will continue to provide critical capabilities to U.S. land forces for decades to come.
It is also certain that other currently fielded fleets will also be incorporated into any land force modernization planning.
As one example, the wheeled Stryker vehicle fleet, manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, has begun the identification process for a potential Stryker Product Improvement Program (S-PIP), which kicked off in the middle of 2008. Although some of the early rhetoric called for “synchronizing [the] Current Force with FCS,” just one year later that current fleet modernization has become even more critical in light of FCS manned ground vehicle cancellation.
Emphasizing the “pre-decisional” nature of the event, the June 2008 gathering, hosted by General Dynamics Land Systems, was called “to open a channel of communications with which to provide information on Stryker modernization to industry and other government organizations and collect information from them on technical approaches.”
Modernization will likely be applied as well to what many view as “specialized” fleets like MRAPs. Although hastily acquired to meet the urgent needs of specific current operations, senior service leadership has recently characterized and quantified the mixed fleet as “the $23 billion investment,” a likely sign that those vehicles will feature prominently in future modernization planning.
Highlighting their expeditionary nature, Marine Corps land forces were also enhanced with new platform capabilities over the past year, with the Marine Corps marking initial operational capability for both its Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) and Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS). The Marine Corps points to both systems as “designed to be carried to the frontlines aboard fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.”
The General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems’ Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV), also called Light Strike Vehicle by some, achieved initial operational capability on June 25 in the 2nd Marine Division, when 15 ITVs were delivered to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, in preparation for their deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).