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JLTV Sinking, EFV Wobbly

The Marines, who have voiced concerns for some time about the program, appear ready to abandon or seriously curtail their purchase of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).

"We've got thousands of up-armored Humvees out there sitting around [and we're] wondering what we're going to do with them," Gen. James Conway said at the Expeditionary Warfare Conference in Panama City, Fla. according to our colleagues at Inside Defense. "Is there a possibility that we can take the up-armored Humvee, elevate it off the deck, give it a v-shaped bottom, perhaps secure the hull and make it our next Joint Light Tactical Vehicle? We don't know the answer to that, but we've got to find out, because I don't think we're going to have the money to buy new."

The Army has already voiced concerns about the program's rising price and may substantially scale down its buy to around 50,000 (another tip of hat to the Inside Defense folks). Service support for JLTV has been slipping for some time, as became clear in the Army's tactical vehicle strategy, which did not include any numbers for JLTV.

All this flows down from the Iraq and Afghan conflicts, which saw the Pentagon pour more than $40 billion into various forms of the MRAP. On top of that, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Army to include the MRAP in its budget and force plans, forcing decisions about what to do with uparmored Humvees and JLTV.

In addition to the JLTV woes, support for the General Dynamics platform known as the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle seems to be growing shakier. The new Marine Commandant, Gen. James Amos, told the Senate Armed Services Committee "there is absolutely an enduring requirement for the capability to conduct opposed amphibious" operations, but he came down on the side of an EFV capability, not necessarily EFV.

Now we have Navy Undersecretary Bob Works telling the conference in Panama City that the service certainly needs something like the EFV. Echoing Amos' approach, the folks at Inside the Navy quote him as saying he "wouldn’t count the EFV out yet.” A "slightly modified" version of EFV might do. Or, in a sentence likely to send shivers down the back of General Dynamics, he said: “We might be looking at a different system, but it will all depend on a myriad number of issues.”

Those budget drills inside the Pentagon must look increasingly similar to the devices used by dentists.

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