Jun 13, 2010

JLTV prototypes roll out on Army testing sites

By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jun 12, 2010

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Both the Army and Marine Corps intend to begin fielding the JLTV in 2015 as a replacement for the venerable Humvee in combat operations.
The services plan to spend $175 million on the program over the next two years.
The Army plans to field 60,000 of the new vehicles, which are designed to provide soldiers with increased mobility and reliability over the Humvee while offering protection on a par with the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle.
Program officials have begun the technology demonstration phase of the effort, which involves prototypes from BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and General Tactical Vehicle, a dual venture between AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems. Each company delivered prototypes across three weight classes in early May.
Over the next 12 months, the prototypes will undergo testing at Aberdeen Test Center and Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. The results will help complete program requirements in preparation for a full and open competition scheduled to begin next summer.
“We’ll say, ‘OK did we get it right or did we ask for a bridge too far in requirements?’ ” Army Lt. Col. Wolfgang Petermann, product manager for the Army’s JLTV program, told reporters at a June 3 prototype demonstration.
Reporters had a chance to ride in two different styles of prototypes.
The prototypes, from each of the three companies, rolled over the hills, dips and bumps on the dirt test track with ease.
The four-seat Category A vehicles are the lightest of the prototypes so they can be loaded into a C-130 aircraft as well as sling-loaded from CH-47 and CH-53 helicopters. They have a payload of about 3,500 pounds.
The Cat A’s will “support those early-entry requirements, so units have that combat capability, so they can hit the ground and get moving right away,” Petermann said.
There will also be a Category A Enhanced Protection variant, which will provide more armor protection when needed.
The Category B vehicles will have six seats, more armor protection and a payload of up to 4,500 pounds. Category C vehicles will be designed for the support role and have payloads of up to 5,100 pounds.

All the JLTV prototypes are designed to provide “MRAP-like protection” to passengers from the powerful, homemade bombs that have become commonplace on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Dean Johnson, deputy program manager for the Marine Corps JLTV program.
They have a base armor package, but have suspensions and attachment points to handle additional armor packages capable of stopping sophisticated explosively formed penetrator bombs known as EFPs. The hulls are either V-shaped or an inverted U-shape on the Lockheed prototypes to redirect the force of bomb blasts away from the vehicle.
All the seats are designed to be attached from the walls to better protect passengers. Seats attached to floor of the vehicle, like those on the Humvee, transfer the blast energy to the passengers.
The windows and windshields on the JLTV are smaller and positioned closer to the ceiling than on the Humvee to provide better protection. All the prototypes are designed to offer improved rollover protection over the Humvee.
In addition to protection, all the prototypes are equipped with the option to have a turret gunner or the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS, which lets the soldier track and kill targets from a computer monitor inside the safety of the vehicle.
The prototypes seem to offer a smoother ride than the Humvee, and the high-tech suspension systems can be adjusted for varying terrain.
“The ride quality is significantly better ... so the soldier is not as beat up when he gets where he is going,” Petermann said.
All the JLTV vehicles and the accompanying trailers are equipped with adjustable suspension so they can be raised or lowered to fit inside the tight confines of transport ships and aircraft cargo holds.
Once the technology demonstration is complete, program officials will finish the requirements for JLTV and issue a request for proposal in June 2011.
The plan is to award two contracts in December 2011 for prototypes that will enter the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development phase.
The Army plans to begin fielding the final versions of the JLTV in mid-2015.
In addition to improved performance, the JLTV is being designed to be more reliable with 4,400 to 6,600 miles between failures — that’s three times less than the failure rate experienced in the current fleet, Petermann said.
Once completed, the JLTV will be “as fast, as off-road mobile, as nimble as a Humvee; it has a better ride and it’s survivable,” Johnson said.

A new ride

Here is a look at three makers’ prototypes for the lightest class of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, called Category A JLTV:

BAE Systems

• Curb weight: 13,200 pounds.
• Combat weight: 20,850 pounds.
• Range: 364 miles.
• Payload: 3,500 pounds.
• Top speed: 82 mph.

General Tactical Vehicle

• Curb weight: 13,400 pounds.
• Combat weight: 20,400 pounds.
• Range: 300 miles.
• Payload: 3,500 pounds.
• Top speed: 76 mph.

Lockheed Martin

• Curb weight: 12,600 pounds.
• Combat weight: 20,400 pounds.
• Range: 400 miles.
• Payload: 3,500 pounds.
• Top speed: 74 mph.

Note: Prototypes for the JLTV program remain under development and specifications may change.

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