This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps' long-term solution to their light tactical vehicle needs -- the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle -- is on track to hit all of its milestones, according to program managers who spoke with reporters Oct. 6 at the Association of the U.S. Army convention in Washington.
"The trucks are about a third of the way through the 27-month TD [technology development] phase, and we've been through the preliminary design reviews," says Kevin Fahey, program executive officer, combat support & combat service support. "Over the next couple months we're going to do the Critical Design Reviews," with more the first week of October, and two more in November.
Fahey said that between now and the end of the year, the plan is for the three remaining contractors in the competition to submit their armor coupons and ballistics, and early next year in April/ May is when they will get the prototype vehicles with about a year of testing on them.
Despite earlier plans calling for everyone from the Canadians to the British to the Australians to the Israelis to participate in JLTV development, only the Australians remain, and India also has started to show interest.
"The Australians have given us notice that they want to participate in the next phase of the program," according to Fahey, "while we just found out that India also wants to participate in the next phase of the program." But for the moment, the Australians are the only full participant in the next phase. India has only entered into discussions about participating in the JLTV program.
When it comes to the rumblings about the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) muscling in on the territory already carved out for the JLTV in future plans, Bill Taylor, deputy PEO, says not so fast.
"I think there's room for both programs. In fact, I think there's a need for both programs. M-ATV, like MRAP, was driven by urgency and the need to satisfy that urgency," Taylor said. The M-ATV, he said, focuses almost exclusively on crew survivability, like MRAP, but JLTV is taking the long view. Both programs share 320 mission requirements, but JLTV is going after an additional unique set of 580 requirements that M-ATV is not required to satisfy, he said.
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