We speculated in the previous AM General BRV-O article that the three-way race for the US military's new JLTV looks pretty clear-cut. That being said... nothing with government work and billion-dollar deals is straightforward or very transparent, so we are just basing these predictions on what we would do if sitting in the Pentagon.
With Oshkosh Defense already drowning in orders, a strike-out for this hot ground-transport maker looks more likely in JLTVs than ever before.
One of the military RFPs is for high-volume JLTV manufacturing, likely replacing many behind-the-lines Humvees. In this case, AM General's proven high-volume manufacturing may tip the scales on the jumbo order in favor of the BRV-O.
The second order on the table is a ramp-up contract that seems tailor-made for the new Lockheed Martin bid.
The orders are not mutually exclusive. In theory, AM General could be brought in to help produce the Lockheed truck en masse some time in the future, as needed. A bit like Ford making the vast majority of Willy's Jeeps in the Second World War.
On to the new hotness: the Lockheed JLTV.
Despite lacking a memorable nickname or TLA/FLA (three- or four-letter-acronym) in its name, this machine is a serious contender.
A partnership between Lockheed and BAE Systems, the Lockheed truck seems leaps and bounds ahead of the Oshkosh or AMG JLTVs. The machine has been in development since 2006 and now seems ready for primetime.
The latest and most desirable mechanicals live under the bomb-proof cockpit sanctuary, with every inch of the design specially tailored to post-2004 ground tactical needs. Cummins makes the 4.5-liter I-4 turbodiesel, while the transmission is from Allison. Both top-flight, tier-one suppliers known for making some of the best truck powertrains worldwide. A top speed of 70-mph matches the straight-six diesel in the BRV-O, but promises much better range between fill-ups thanks to better aerodynamics and overall powertrain efficiency.
L3 Communications and Meritor (axles, brakes, etc) also join the A-list roster of suppliers.
How is it so much more efficient at speed? The Lockheed JLTV offers an exclusive air suspension with 15.5-inches of overall ride height adjustment possible. This can hunker the truck low to the ground for paved roads, yet lift it skyward in minutes for rough tracks.
A much smoother ride is a side benefit of the air suspension choice in the Lockheed, with possible advantages in ballistic testing as well -- when the solid steel 'hull' of these IED-resistent machines is the last line of defense for US servicemen.
A last indicator of the Lockheed's overall viability as a future combat platform is its overall modernity and systems integration. Integration of the full suite of high-tech communication, surveillance and battle from around the Lockheed stable makes their first ground transport bid a promising part of a fully-integrated, perhaps-autonomous forward assault fleet.
For a sneak peak at ground warfare in 2020, just imagine a convoy of these Lockheed JLTVs blasting through the desert at 50-mph -- all while blasting bad-guys and sending/receiving teraflops of data back to HQ. An ultra-capable JLTV like this will leave no doubt of who controls each battlefield.
Check out the JLTV in its testing scenarios below -- although please note many of these photos are a few years old. The Lockheed JLTV team just passed 200,000 development miles, so many things have changed for the latest official candidate for the contact. (The latest trucks can be spotted via their LED lighting in front, while the first prototypes just used halogen headlamps as placeholders.)
Photo Credit at Arkansas Capitol Building
2015 Lockheed Martin JLTV
U.S. Government Gives Green Light to Lockheed Martin Team’s JLTV Production Plans
CAMDEN, Arkansas, Sept. 5, 2014 – The Lockheed Martin Team’s [NYSE: LMT] Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program successfully completed the government’s Production Readiness Review (PRR) at the company’s Camden, Arkansas, Ground Vehicle Assembly facility. During the PRR event, the team assembled a JLTV on its production line to further demonstrate production readiness.
The PRR was a detailed evaluation of Lockheed Martin’s JLTV production planning and readiness in terms of schedule, performance, cost and other criteria. Successfully completing the PRR is one of the government’s critical steps for a contractor to demonstrate production readiness.
“Our Camden facility is ready for production,” said Scott Greene, vice president of ground vehicles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “To fully prove that point, we assembled a JLTV on our Camden production line during the PRR event, proving conclusively that the line and facility are ready for vehicle assembly right now.”
The Lockheed Martin Team had successfully completed a government Manufacturing Readiness Assessment at the Camden site late last year.
As the only contractor in the JLTV competition to have won a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Manufacturing Excellence, Lockheed Martin will perform final assembly of JLTV at the Camden facility with support from long-time military vehicle manufacturer and partner BAE Systems.
“Lockheed Martin’s Camden Operations is one of the most recognized and highly awarded military-equipment manufacturing operations in the United States, with a reputation for producing high quality systems on-schedule, and at a very competitive cost. We wanted to leave no doubt to our Army and Marine customers that we’re ready to build JLTVs in Camden,” Greene said.
The Lockheed Martin Team’s JLTV is systems-engineered to provide crew protection comparable to Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, while returning crucial mobility, reliability and transportability to Soldiers and Marines. The Lockheed Martin Team’s JLTV pioneered the single level of protection approach for both the Army and Marine Corps, demonstrating protection above that of the smaller MRAP vehicles fielded in-theater.
A patented Meritor Pro-TecTM all-independent air-ride suspension brings unprecedented agility and off-road mobility to this class of vehicles, while the dependable Cummins turbo diesel and Allison transmission combine abundant power with exceptional fuel efficiency. Rounding out the vehicle’s portfolio of capabilities is on-board and exportable power-generation with substantial margin for future growth, and state-of-the art connectivity with other platforms.
For more than three decades, Lockheed Martin has applied its systems integration expertise to a wide range of ground vehicles for U.S. and allied forces worldwide. The company’s products include the combat-proven MLRS M270-series and HIMARS mobile launchers, Havoc 8x8, THAAD launcher, Common Vehicle, Light Armored Vehicle-Command and Control, Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme and JLTV, as well as pioneering unmanned vehicle technologies such as the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) and the Autonomous Mobility Applique System (AMAS).
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.