There are no definite plans, yet. But the Army and the Marines are slowly getting ready to replace the Humvee. National Defense magazine profiles the "truck manufacturers large and small, foreign and domestic, [which] are gearing up to take on the only maker of the 20-year-old vehicle, AM General."
Archie Massicotte, president of military and government business at International Truck and Engine said, the Humvee has served a great life for the military for 20 some years. I think what theyre finding is that were fighting battles now in Iraq, and theyre using it as a tactical wheeled vehicle. And it was never intended to be a tactical wheeled vehicle, he said...The question of armorhow much is needed, when to use it and the trade-offs in engine power, weight and carrying capacity it entailswill be a technological challenge for any proposed follow-on vehicle, experts said...[Jim] Mills, who worked on the Humvee program while in the Army... said there will also be a need for windshields that can better accommodate night-vision technology. Lead content in the glass can reduce its effectiveness. Soldiers want to be able to drive at night with headlights turned off. And in special operations when stealth is necessary, its mandatory to go in with night-vision technology. Longer-range infrared headlights, which would allow drivers to go 45 to 60 miles per hour, will be needed for any follow-on vehicle used in such operations, he said.Other improvements Mills recommended include a spare tire, air conditioning and electronic stability control. The latter is necessary to prevent rollovers, another leading cause of death and injury in Iraq. Soldiers want to push the Humvee faster to avoid insurgent attacks. Such a system could prevent drivers from having accidents, Mills said, noting that the driver is often the youngest and most inexperienced of the three-soldier crews...A spare tire, sturdier armor and the perpetual demand for increased cargo space all lead to one thing: a larger, heavier vehicle, Mills said. The term light tactical vehicle is becoming a misnomer, he added.A soldier in the military will always find more things to carry inside a vehicle, Mills said. The next question is how much bigger will the new truck be?One vehicle not mentioned explicitly in the story -- but getting a ton of props from marines in the field -- is this Cougar mine-protected vehicle. This Georgia Tech prototype is turning heads, too.Next week, the National Automotive Test Center will hold its annual "rodeo" for tactical vehicles. It follows a big conference on the subject, featuring the major players from the Army and Marines. I assume those two potential Humvee replacements will be there, ready to ride.UPDATE 10:10 AM: As Inside Defense notes, the Army and Marines are going to start pursuing next-gen light tactical vehicles together, after years of separate research.