The DoD Pick Three

It might not be as hip as a Toyota Hilux tooling across Afghanistan or the African continent, but the HUMVEE has been a reliable mainstay in the U.S.-military-vehicle arsenal for decades.

Now it’s time to phase her out.

The Army has announced the “kun-ten-duhs” for the next phase of “Pimp My Ride.” Industry behemoths Lockheed Martin Corps., General Dynamics, and BAE Systems are moving into the lucrative build-and-test phase for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The JLTV is slated to replace the HUMVEE sometime down the road.

The chosen few each will receive between $35 million and $45 million for this 27-month stage to bring their vision of the JLTV to life (and hopefully to profitability). The JLTV is a family affair, and there are a reported 10 vehicle models that run the gamut from on-the-go command post to ambulance to troop carrier and tip the scales between 3,500 and 5,100 pounds.

The Army and Marine Corps are looking for added maneuverability and more protection. (Hey, but who isn’t these days?) The JLTV might give them what the HUMVEE — and dare we say the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle — don’t. Limited production is planned to begin during 2011. While that might seem optimistic, a sobering reality is cost, which has skyrocketed 70 percent, pushing the per-unit estimate from $250,000 to nearly $420,000. HUMVEEs cost a reported $150,000.

The Army delayed the announcement of its Pick Three to reduce the chance of protest. Jilted contractors already have slowed the Air Force CSAR-X helo and tanked the Boys’ quest for an aerial refueler. And speaking of Boeing, that defense giant was one of the competitors not chosen for JLTV. Blackwater USA did not make the cut either. Yes, the Boys from Moyock infamous for private security goon squads and runs at world domination lost out. “Poach our Special Ops guys?” Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olson was heard muttering. (OK, we made that up.)

You might recall Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics still are vying for top honors in the Navy’s nearly DIW littoral combat ship (LCS). Both companies smashed through LCS budget barriers. Will they stage a repeat with JLTV?

One thing might be possible: Look for MRAPs on HGTV in the not-too-distant future.

Recent Posts