Northrop Offers Back-to-the-Future Upgrade to Humvee Fleet

HMMWV Humvee

Although there is no funding in the Army budget for a Humvee upgrade, Northrop Grumman officials on Tuesday presented an upgrade to the military workhorse that would lighten the truck and extend its life in the fleet.

Northrop Grumman officials said they had come up with a back-to-the-future fix that would return the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee) to its original performance and payload designs of the 1980s while keeping the armor that was added to counter improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

"It's not a program of record," said Frank P. Simpkins, director for Land Forces Programs at Northrop Grumman, but "the Army has a 25-year plan for this system. They have to pull the money from somewhere. What we're showing them is a solution." Simpkins presented the upgrade at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C.

The Army is proceeding with the program to build the Humvee-replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which is scheduled to come on line by 2019-2021. However, the Army does not have the budget to completely replace the Humvee fleet with JLTV and Northrop Grumman officials said the Humvee will need to be upgraded.

"This vehicle (the Humvee) is still going to be in the inventory" through 2040, said Jeff Wood, a Northrop Grumman official. He also emphasized that the potential upgrade would not be in competition with the JLTV.

The proposed Northrop Grumman refits would involve upgrades to the Humvee's power train, suspension, dashboard, hydraulics and central tire inflation systems.

"This solution has been engineered to handle the weight of the armor. It's a bumper-to-bumper modernization," Simpkins said.

The fixes would cost about $145,000 per vehicle but would produce significant savings over the life cycles of the Humvee fleet, the Northrop Grumman officials said.

The upgrades would come in a kit and the installation could be performed while the Humvees are forward deployed, Simpkins said.

"I can turn it in a week," he said of the installation. "We've kitted it in a way that I can deliver this forward."

Several Humvees with the upgrades have been delivered to the Army for testing and training, Wood said. "I'm very confident that he have a good solution" to the degraded performance of the Humvees under the added weight of the armor, Wood said.

However, the Army has yet to render a verdict.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at

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