UPDATED: Congressional Aide Says JLTV Fate Looks Uncertain; Less Biz for Industry
The Army has come out with its tactical vehicle strategy and it commits the force to field 244,000 trucks with scalable armor that can support network connections, including MRAPs. That will leave the service with smaller total fleet, down to 244,000 by 2025 from the current level of 260,000.
A congressional aide said the new strategy will mean, "a significant decline for all the companies building new trucks (AM General, Oshkosh, and BAE, primarily).
The Army was pushed by Congress to come out with a strategy out of worries the service was basically buying MRAPS and other gear without any kind of intelligent, long-term plan. As the defense appropriations report language put it:
Concerns persist regarding the absence of an overall truck acquisition strategy to guide the Army’s plans and programs. It is not clear that the Army has conducted the needed analyses for sound acquisition plans or to reap potential savings. defense appropriations report language.Here's the basic plan. Overall, the Army will shrink its fleet of HUMVEEs, MRAPs and medium trucks to 244,000 by 2025 from its current 260,000. How? The service will rid itself of 4,000 of the hardest to maintain and most beat up MRAPS by 2025. It will scrap the 28,000-strong M35 fleet and replace it with new FMTVs for a fleet total of 76,000. That will mean a total reduction of 4,000 trucks. The HUMVEE fleet will shrink the most, going from 101,000 to 35,000 by 2025. But there appears to be one big hole in the Army plan. It does not project how many Joint Light Tactical Wheeled Vehicles it will be. The strategy's answer: TBD.
Overall, the service wants to“buy less, more often” because it thinks this "allows maximum flexibility and technology insertion, thereby reducing risk of obsolescence in the face of a highly adaptive enemy." To put it another way, the Army won't again have to pour unplanned money into something like MRAPs, which lack automated maintenance technology and standard tools, parts and maintenance training that has long been required for most Army vehicles. Not to mention how poorly most MRAPs perform once they leave highways.
What does Congress think of the plan? One aide still in town --quoted above -- said the report didn't have much new information and didn't answer some of the questions the Army needs to answer.
"The only new information appears to be a tacit admission that due to the large number of new trucks procured since 2001 that they are going to significantly reduce procurement of new vehicles in favor of recap/mods," the aide said.
Things don't look great for JLTV if the plan turns out to be what actually happens. "The fact that JLTV is a “TBD” does not auger well for the program. It seems likely that we will buy just enough to support deployed units, for example, vs. equipping the entire Army. If one assumes only a few brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan at some point, that is a small number of JLTVs. As far as those numbers go, they seem to be just nibbling around the margins," the aide added.
On top of that, the service didn't really address "what assumptions they are making about force structure. In theory, every type of unit in the Army should have X trucks. If you total up the requirement, that tells you what the entire Army needs (call it X’). I’m not sure I understand how they explain having less than the current X’ for each truck type," the aide said in an email.