Spending millions to rebuild the Army's aging Humvee fleet apparently stopped making sense up on Capitol Hill.
Defense leaders, especially those in the Marine Corps, had said it was fool hardy to spend slightly less to rebuild the old fleet rather than invest in new trucks that will last longer. However, Congress pushed back pointing out how each service has recently struggled to deliver new vehicles.
AOL Defense reported last night that Congress has finally listened to those pleas from the Pentagon and agreed to cancel the Humvee Recapitalization program in the forthcoming defense budget with those funds transferred over to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program.
It took a last minute compromise between the Army and the Marine Corps to save JLTV from Congress' ever sharpening budget axe. However, an agreement to ease off strict weight requirements sliced $80,000 off the per vehicle cost of the JLTV.
Defense officials intended to replace the entire Humvee fleet with the JLTV. Spiraling costs and missed deadlines caused Army and Marine Corps officials to amend those expectations. Army leaders now want to replace a third of its 150,000-Humvee fleet with the JLTV and Marine generals plan to buy 5,500.
Of course, the JLTV would never have had to compete with the Humvee recap if the program had run smoothly. But thus is life in the defense acquisition world where a program that meets a deadline is the outlier.
Stories about titanium mufflers on JLTVs allowed the Humvee recap to gain momentum as a hedge for what looked more and more like another doomed modernization program for the Defense Department.
Truck companies got creative as they tried to build a Humvee that could withstand the improvised explosive device blasts shredding Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan. AM General, the original Humvee manufacturer, even installed a chimney system built by Hardwire LLC into its Humvee that funneled blast pressure through the vehicle rather than around it.
The fate of both programs always came down to per vehicle costs, though. Once Army and Marine Corps officials agreed to reduce the JLTV's price tag below $300,000, it made investing $200,000 to rebuild each Humvee a tougher sell.
An official announcement from the Pentagon on the Humvee Recapitalization program will not come until the defense budget is unveiled. And companies involved in the Humvee Recap have plenty of friends on Capitol Hill.
If the Humvee recap is caneled it places all the pressure back on JLTV program leaders. The Defense Department would no longer have a back up plan to replace its fleet of trucks it started building in 1984.