When it comes to military vehicles today, there’s really only one image that comes to mind: the big, boxy, go-anywhere Humvee. While the High mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV
) is currently the king of the hill, which will change in 2015 when the government chooses a new vehicle to support our troops at home and abroad. While there are currently three major competitors vying for the chance to make the military’s new baby, the front-runner seems to be a machine produced by Lockheed Martin, known as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle
, or JLTV. While Lockheed Martin
isn’t the first name that comes to mind when talking about trucks, they seem to have hit the nail on the head with what seems to be an amazing piece of machinery. Lockheed is more akin to building far more technological weapons like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but by taking what they’ve learned in these areas and applying it to something that transports our troops on the ground, they are doing exactly what needs to be done.
Design and Technology
Much like every other military vehicle, the JLTV uses a diesel engine, this one provided by Cummins
and mated to an Allison transmission. The design of the JLTV allows the engine to be used as both a means of travel as well as for external power generation when parked. The JLTV uses a ProTec
High Mobility Independent Suspension to give the truck amazing off-road prowess while keeping it moving safely on roads.
Since we are talking about a military vehicle, armament does come into question, and while the Lockheed JLTV doesn’t come with any standard weapons, it can easily be fitted with a machine gun as well as a full-size Hellfire rocket launcher. Much like its predecessor, the JLTV is built to be customized. More firepower means less calling for backup, which overall means less casualties.
A large part of the design and technology aspect of the JLTV is focused on troop safety, especially in regard to roadside IEDs. The JLTV utilizes a V-hull
to protect the underbody from blasts by redirecting the force of an explosion outward instead of up into the passenger compartment. Along with this comes not only a standard armor protection, but an add-on armor kit for extreme situations. In government blast tests, the JLTV met all IED requirements while still being 40% lighter than the currently-used vehicles with mine and IED protection. One of the biggest reasons the government is moving away from the Hummer and into something new is the safety issues the current vehicle has, and the JLTV seems to right all the issues and then some.
Why It Might Win
With a nearly unlimited supply of customizations for weapons from Hellfire and Hydra rockets to rock-solid technology behind the safety and V-hull design, to the deep pockets that Lockheed Martin has, the JLTV seems to be a shoe-in to win the contract.
While things seems great, there is still some major competition from big names in trucks Oshkosh and AM General (the current Humvee provider). These companies are known for truck design and have some pretty amazing things in store, but with recent issues in weapons from Lockheed and a major move in production due to a plant closing, Lockheed is determined to win, something that might give them the edge. Currently the government is behind due to the Sequestration, which means the final choice might not be until late 2015 or early 2016, but when the choice is made, expect to see a lot of these being deployed.