Defense contractors competing for a contract to build the U.S. military's replacement to the iconic Humvee are eagerly awaiting a decision from the Army.
Humvee-maker AM General, truck-maker Oshkosh Corp. and defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin Corp. are vying to begin production of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV.
An announcement on which company will be chosen to build the first 17,000 production models of the vehicle is expected either this week or next, sources told Military.com.
Overall, the Army and the Marine Corps plan to buy a total of 54,720 JLTVs to replace about a third of the Humvee fleet at an estimated cost of more than $30 billion, or about $559,000 per vehicle, according to Pentagon budget documents.
That figure, which rose from earlier estimates, includes expenses for research and development, overhead and add-on equipment such as radios, weapons and armor. Officials have said the cost of manufacturing the vehicle alone will be about $250,000.
The companies submitted their final bids to the Army in February. Each of the firms previously delivered 22 prototypes for testing under an earlier contract.
Over the past decade, the Pentagon spent nearly $50 billion buying 25,000 or so of the bigger, mine-resistant ambush protected, or MRAP, vehicles as part of a rapid-acquisition effort spearheaded by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to better protect troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thousands of the hulking vehicles were subsequently scrapped, mothballed or handed down to local police departments because the military never intended them to be a permanent part of the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet.
Now, the Army and Marine Corps are trying to incorporate some of the lessons learned from the wars into a lighter vehicle. "As we move forward, it will be a central piece of the Army," former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said in June of the JLTV.