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Race to build JLTV grows to 6

What was once thought to be a four-horse race to build the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle has expanded now to six competitors after AM General announced it submitted an independent proposal to replace the Humvee.

This comes as a surprise since AM General had already teamed with General Tactical Vehicles on a bid. AM General leaders said they plan to continue to work with General Tactical Vehicles on a dual bid, but will also offer an independent vehicle called the Blast-Resistant Vehicle-Off Road (BRV-O).

AM General's additional submission is the third surprise of the week in the JLTV competition. Navistar shocked many when it split with BAE Systems to submit their own bid. Ford Motor Co. then joined the competition by agreeing to build the engine that will power BAE Systems' vehicle.

AM General, long time manufacturer of the Humvee, started to discuss producing an independent bid once the Army announced it would pivot from a developmental program to a competition focused on off-the-shelf technologies, said Chris Vanslager, an AM General executive. This isn't the first time a defense company has submitted an independent bid while teaming on a separate bid in the same competition, Vanslager said. He emphasized that AM General's independent submission will not take away from their work with General Tactical Vehicles.

AM General received a lot of attention for their "chimney" technology they planned to use in a vehicle for the Humvee recap program. The chimney built into the center of the upgraded Humvee vented a blast from underneath the truck. However, Vanslager said the company has no plans to build the chimney into the BRV-O.

AM General will join teams led by Oshkosh, BAE Systems, Navistar, Lockheed Martin and General Tactical Vehicles. The Defense Department plans to pick three defense teams for the 27-month engineering and manufacturing development phase of the competition.

The Army plans to buy at least 50,000 JLTV while the Marine Corps plans to buy another 2,500 at a price tag no higher than $250,000 per vehicle. Two JLTV variants will be built: the Combat Tactical Vehicle that can carry four troops and the Combat Support Vehicle that carries only two, but also an additional 1,600 pounds.

Industry leaders said program managers blew the competition open when it announced it would entertain submissions from companies who didn't take part in the technology development phase and emphasized the need to keep the vehicle affordable by using off-the-shelf technologies.

Like AM General, Navistar officials said they didn't consider an independent bid until the Army redefined the program in an effort to save it after the Senate Armed Services Committee recommended axing it with requirements and costs spiraling out of control.

BAE Systems JLTV Capture Lead Glenn Lamartin admitted he found it peculiar for a partner company to build a separate vehicle so similar to their joint venture. Navistar spokeswoman Elisa Koc said that as requirements changed so did Navistar’s plans for their submission to the JLTV competition.

John Bryant, an Oshkosh executive, said his company is not worried about the additional competition. The competition still consists of many of the same players it did when it started outside of Ford. Oshkosh plans to lean on its experience building the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle with its submission of the Light Combat Tactical All Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV).

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