Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you probably saw that the US Army finally selected who will build its next-generation light tactical vehicle. The winner, announced late Tuesday, was MRAP and military truck specialists Oshkosh with their L-ATV (Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle) design, beating out competition from Lockheed Martin and AM General.
Oshkosh won a $6.8 billion contract that will see around 17,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) being built for the Army and Marine Corps, and there is the potential for additional contracts and a production run lasting 35 years (the adjective ‘lucrative’ comes to mind here). I won’t go into the nitty-gritty contract detail, rather suggest a read of Scott Gourley’s comprehensive run down here.
The contract marks the beginning of the end for what is probably the US military’s most iconic vehicle, the Humvee. Brought into service exactly 30 years ago to replace another set of battlefield icons, the M561 Gama Goat and M151 Jeep, the Humvee has slowly become less relevant on today’s battlefield as better protected vehicles have taken their place on the frontline.
The JLTV will be a much better vehicle for troops in almost all respects; particularly in areas such as payload, mobility and protection. It’s the latter area that is most important for troops and where the Humvee’s reputation was tarnished throughout the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Designed as a vehicle for behind the Cold War frontlines, rather than a combat vehicle, the Humvee was a fish out of water in 21st century asymmetric conflicts that had no definitive ‘lines’ or enemy.
But is it really the end? Some would argue that the end of the Humvee really came when the US military decided to purchase mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles to replace Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2007, the Marine Corps had replaced all its Humvees with MRAPs marking a significant shift in the US military’s approach to using light tactical vehicles.
Others would say no, this isn’t the end of the Humvee era. Chances are you will be seeing Humvees in a warzone somewhere in the world for at least another generation. With the JLTV not being procured in enough numbers to replace the entire Humvee fleet, the US
Army will retain many of the vehicles for non-combat roles for the foreseeable future. Hundreds, if not thousands, are also being sold off to governments around the world, including a recent transfer to Ukraine.
Now it’s a matter of time to see if the JLTV can become a military icon like its predecessor. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below.