In a surprise announcement, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle officials said India has signed a letter of intent to participate in the next phase of the program.
Kevin Fahey, program executive officer for ground combat systems, told reporters about the Indian agreement Tuesday at the annual conference of the Association of the US Army.
That means India joins Australia as a basic partner in the program, giving them lower costs in the EMD portion of the program if they stick with it. Canada, Israel and Britain had all expressed interest in the program and are receiving data about its performance but they have committed so far to their own national programs.
In addition to India signing up with JLTV, the U.S. is sending 17 Stryker vehicles and related forces to India later this month for two weeks of exercises, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, Army Pacific Commander told reporters here at AUSA. These truly joint operations will see Indian troops fighting from Strykers and enable to two sides to refine tactics, techniques and procedures, Mixon said.
Meanwhile, Marine Lt. Col. Ben Garza, the Marines program manager for JLTV, said the program has weight under control, regardless of other reports to the contrary. He said the smallest version, Category A, weighs in at an average of 10,600 pounds; Category B comes in 15,000 pounds; Category C weighs in at an average of 14,500 pounds.
"That's meeting the Marine Corps requirement for transportability," said Bill Taylor, the Marines PEO for land systems.
I asked the three JLTV officials if the fractious debate about the future of Army modernization was imperiling their program, especially given the Marines earlier concerns about weight and their warm reception for M-ATVs in Afghanistan.
"I think there is room for both programs. In fact, I think there is a need for both programs," Taylor said. M-ATV and JLTV share 320 requirements, he noted, but JLTV has an additional 580 requirements above and beyond M-ATV for such things as internal and external power sources and ISR plug and play capabilities.