The U.S. Defense Department's inspector general over the next year will audit the program developing a replacement to the iconic Humvee.
The so-called Joint Light Tactical Vehicle was among nearly a dozen weapons acquisition programs and other projects identified in the inspector general's "audit plan" for fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1.
The objective is to determine whether the Army and Marine Corps office in Warren, Mich., overseeing the effort "is effectively managing and developing the Joint Light Tactical Vehicles for the low-rate initial production phase of the acquisition process," according to the document released this month.
The services want to buy a total of almost 55,000 of the vehicles to replace about a third of the fleet of Humvees, a light-duty utility truck that entered military service in 1985 and whose vulnerability to roadside blasts was exposed during the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Program managers last week said they still plan to purchase the total number of vehicles, including about 49,000 for the Army and about 5,500 for the Marine Corps, despite the prospect of ongoing budget cuts.
The forthcoming audit, however, may give more ammunition to critics of the program.
The Pentagon has already estimated the effort to develop and build the vehicles at almost $23 billion, or about $400,000 per truck, according to a June report from the Congressional Research Service. Leaders have maintained each vehicle will cost about $250,000.
"As budgets come under increasing scrutiny with the current fiscal constraints, the Department will be challenged to evaluate the usefulness of all programs," the audit plan states.
"We will focus on the Department’s efforts to improve acquisition by focusing oversight on procurement quantities, effectiveness in preparing the program for the next major milestone decision, adequacy of testing and evaluation, and the meeting of user needs," it states.
Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Md.; Oshkosh Corp., based in Oshkosh, Wis.; and AM General LLC, based in South Bend, Ind., won contracts to develop JLTV prototypes.
Lockheed, the world's largest defense contractor, recently began running radio advertisements for the program in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region.
Other acquisition efforts targeted for audits include the Army's Joint Tactical Radio System's Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit, the Army's OH-58F Kiowa Warrior Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade, the Air Force's Global Positioning System Ground Control Segment, the Air Force's MQ-9 Reaper drone, the Navy's Global Positioning System-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Service and the Navy's Ohio-Class Replacement Submarine, according to the report.