BAE Systems announced Thursday that it's adding defense giant Northrop Grumman to the team building its version of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Northrop will be responsible for the truck's sensors, communications equipment and computers -- C4ISR, as it's called -- and BAE officials hope this will give them an edge over rivals Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. Northrop-built, open-architecture electronics will reduce the cost of operating a vehicle over its lifetime, BAE vice president Glenn Lamartin told Buzz, because they'll be simpler and cheaper to upgrade.
"These vehicles will be with military for decades. It's just like the computer on your desk. You know that technology changes every few years," he said. "The military has had to bear the cost of inserting technology into their vehicles over time, so we’re looking to Northrop for a solution ... today that allows open architecture over time. We're confident we can keep the cost of ownership low."
But as you read here yesterday, the JLTV competitors have their work cut out for them in keeping costs under control, not only for the vehicles' C4ISR but also for almost everything else about them -- the price tag could grow to $400,000 per vehicle, according to one study. (Times, say, 50,000!) Engineers have to build a truck that can carry heavily armed soldiers or Marines, withstand the dangers of infantry warfare, protect against improvised explosive devices, move quickly, and be light enough to transport easily to foreign battlefields.
"It’s not an easy problem to solve," said BAE's JLTV program manager, Deepak Bazaz.