There are thousands of beat up Humvees heading back from the AO that the Army's going to need to refit or replace as the service reorganizes its brigade combat team structure to reflect a post-Iraq (and Afghanistan) world.
A fight is brewing on The Hill over which option to embrace and given the delays in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the lack of enthusiasm for MRAPs as an everyday transport or tactical vehicle, it's clear there's a future for the Humvee fleet for at least the next decade.
Defense Tech was briefed last week on an option that essentially turns a run-of-the-mill Humvee into a Level I protective MRAP simply by plugging in a specially-designed crew capsule.
The Granite Tactical Vehicle and Textron "Survivable Combat Tactical Vehicle" uses no exotic materials to make it strong enough to withstand an IED blast, but the geometry of the capsule is akin to an MATV or Cougar which allows blast effects to deflect rather than impact the flat surfaces of even a Frag Kit 5 Humvee.
The SCTV has undergone independent and U.S. Marine Corps blast and mobility testing. The independent blast testing confirms the vehicle is capable of protection levels equal to Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) level 1 specifications. While providing unparalleled protection, the SCTV's mobility and performance exceed currently fielded HMMWVs by reducing overall weight and integrating upgraded suspension and engine technology.Granite president, retired SEAL Chris Berman, said while the Corps tests showed the SCTV could withstand any blast thrown at it (three of six capsules sent for testing were blown up), the durability tests fell short since the Humvees used didn't have upgraded suspension. But with a tweaked engine and suspension, the SCTV can deliver better performance than an uparmored Humvee, he said.
It's unclear which way the services will go with their recap -- a more exotic vented DARPA solution or simply an M1115 refit -- but the forces are aligning for quite a fight for the fiscal pie.