AM General basically owned US military ground troop transport for 25 years with its ever-present Humvee. This $220,000 machine is still a staple for 50+ global armies and has played a huge role in every armed conflict since the late 1980s.
But shifting war theatres ushered the Humvee, and AM General, to the back of the pack in the last decade in favor of specially-designed blast-proof trucks. The South Bend, Indiana firm went from cock of the walk to national disgrace with every IED casualty.
The huge MRAPs and alphabet soup of FMTVs, MTVRs, LSVs and ASVs have rolled out in relatively small numbers to replace the venerable Hummer in all its variants -- but the military is still reeling from lack of a go-to truck platform. The US military is still estimated to run more than 200,000 Hummers in a dozen or more customized variations -- a total that US brass would like to replace completely in the mid-term future. The Hummer proved such a PR and HR liability on the battlefield that now it rarely takes forward positions in the line of fire.
The military has a number of request-for-proposals out to build a new JLTV -- the closest thing in the armory to an all-purpose truck. This new machine needs to be light and fairly small so it can be air-dropped en masse, yet tough enough to resist the roadside bombs that had killed so many servicemen.
Three contractors are in final running for the bids, one of which is small-volume and the other a full-scale contract to produce the trucks at big volume. Incumbent Oshkosh Defense actually looks fairly weak in this latest bid, thanks to their stretched production lines already building a dozen vehicles for the army. In addition, their JLTV entry is looking a bit lackluster versus the two new competitors.
Lockheed Martin is getting into the ground-forces business with their hotly-anticipated bid, while AM General is making one of their most concerted efforts yet to earn back US military accolades, dollars and manufacturing jobs.
AM General has a few advantages in its new BRV-O truck, not least its catchy acronym. Standing for Blast-Resistant Vehicle - Off-Road -- the name is catchy and memorable from day one. But the real skills might be its closed procurement system building engines and major components in-house. This typically assures smoother and often cheaper weapon systems among defense chiefs.
The BRV-O is also a formidable machine in its own right. Adding all that bomb-proofing not only doubles safety of the trucks, but also the pricing: the new JLTVs are expected to fetch $400,000 apiece.
Will AM General be able to leverage its advantages and legacy strength making ground vehicles into this new bid? We believe it will, yes. The high-volume contract looks like a two-pony race between AM General and Oshkosh, with Lockheed almost sure to snag the initial ramp-up contract.
Watch this space for a closer look at the Oshkosh and Lockheed trucks --- if you can take your scope of this new BRV-O!
2015 AM General BRV-O
The Blast Resistant Vehicle-Offroad (BRV-O®) Joint Light Tactical Vehicle provides the most operational and protection capability to address current and future needs of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, designed and built by the most experienced military Light Tactical Vehicle producer in the world. In February 2015, AM General submitted its comprehensive proposal for BRV-O to enter Low Rate Initial Production and Full Rate Production, the vitally important next phases of the JLTV program. AM General’s proposal reflects the company’s leadership in systems engineering and light tactical vehicle program management expertise. AM General also has the only Light Tactical Vehicle production line currently operating among JLTV competitors.
AM General’s BRV-O exhibited outstanding performance during the JLTV program’s recently concluded Engineering, Manufacturing and Development phase, including extensive off-road and survivability testing of 22 BRV-Os in 4-seat Combat Tactical Vehicle and 2-seat Combat Support Vehicle configurations. Adding to its credentials as the best value and lowest risk for the JLTV program, BRV-O’s unique features include:
A steel-frame backbone that gives BRV-O a light, yet robust and reliable capability for handling heavy payloads and a wide range of mission-essential equipment for global expeditionary operations.
A smaller silhouette, shaped hull, blast-resistant and ambush-protected armor, and special crew compartment features to provide the highest level of protection in the most demanding environments.
The only EMD-phase tested, modular, open-architecture C4ISR system among JLTV candidates – giving every crew member complete systems access, network connectivity, and situational awareness.
Unprecedented off-road mobility, power and endurance to operate in the full gamut of environments – from jungles, deserts and mountains to urban areas.
Modular armor and other design features that are adaptable and flexible in anticipation of varying missions and future military requirements.