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JLTV, GCV programs face uncertain futures

by Mike Hoffman on February 19, 2013

The Army’s plans to overhaul its vehicle fleet by replacing the Humvee and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle could see significant delays should the Pentagon absorb the devastating budget cuts associated with sequestration and the continuing resolution.

Army brass had hoped to replace the Humvee with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), and the Bradley with Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) with trucks and armored vehicles starting to roll off factory lines toward the end of this decade. However, Army acquisition officials have already announced a delay to the GCV and defense analysts fear a similar fate could face the JLTV program.

Soldiers and defense industry officials will discuss the future of two of the Army’s top modernization priorities at this week’s Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The uncertainty that surrounds the Army’s budget future has left both defense companies and the Army waiting to see how much funding they will have to support the modernization programs.

In January, the Army announced it will extend the Technology Development phase of the GCV program by six months and reduce the number of contracts issued for the engineering and manufacturing development phase from three to one.

The Army faces steep cuts to its budget should Congress and the White House fail to levy a deficit reduction agreement by March 1 and avoid the sequestration cuts that will subtract $500 billion from planned defense spending over the next ten years.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Congress that his service will have to remove $18 billion from its operations and maintenance budget between March and October should sequestration occur and Congress pass another extension of the continuing resolution.

No Army programs would be spared should these cuts come to pass to include modernization accounts. Defense analysts worry Army leaders will look to delay or cancel weapons and vehicle programs to fund other coffers to maintain readiness.

No such delays have been announced for the JTLV program – a program that inched close to the chopping block as per vehicle price estimates reached up to $500,000 a few years ago. The Army and Marine Corps have since reviewed the program and reduced the number of requirements to salvage the program, but there are those still those with doubts at how many JLTVs the Army will be able to afford to buy.

Lockheed Martin, AM General and Oshkosh each received EMD contracts for the JLTV program in August 2012. The three defense companies will have until 2014 to build their prototypes for Army testing and prove they can produce the trucks the Army hopes to replace the Humvee.

Those Humvees will age faster than they have already from 12 years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Odierno warned that sequestration budget cuts could force the Army to skip trips to the depot for resets from extended deployments.

Odierno told the Senate that the Army’s readiness levels will undoubtedly suffer should sequestration occur. Those readiness levels will drop partly because the Army’s fleet of vehicles will miss needed maintenance and upgrades due to potential budget cuts.

“We will have to reduce work in the depots, which will delay the reset of our equipment coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We will have to delay maintenance on our current fleets,” Odierno said.

Missing that maintenance could have both short term and long term effects for the vehicle fleets, the Army four-star said.

“The sad part about this is once you start these delays, it will take longer and longer and longer to catch up,” Odierno said. “So this will not be just a FY13 readiness issue, it will be a readiness issue that goes into FY14 and FY15.”

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle hasn’t seen nearly the same amount of use in Iraq and Afghanistan as the Humvee. However, the development program to replace it has faced severe questions on its affordability as per vehicle cost estimates have creeped up to the $10 million range.Congress has also raised flags over its weight. The GCV would likely weigh about 84 tons, meaning the armored troop carrier would weigh more than an Abrams tank.

Defense analysts have predicted that the Army will be forced to either upgrade the Bradley or find a similar vehicle already in production because of the costs associated with developing the armored vehicle.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronaldo February 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm

So much has been said by myself and others of the identity crisis of the USMC ( ref: EFV debacle etc.). With this, and the sequential failure of the 60T Crusader, the 40T Crusader, and the FCS…..you've got to wonder if the Army isn't in as bad or worse shape in defining what it truly needs.

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Godzilla February 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm

FWIW I think the EFV was the right vehicle at the right time for the USMC. As future missions are more likely to occur in the Pacific, where US forces are redeploying to counter the Chinese expansion, such sorts of amphibious vehicles are essential. The current USMC vehicle in that class is utterly obsolete.

It was a stupid decision by the same Secretary who canceled F-22 production claiming the Chinese were decades behind on stealth fighter development only for a Chinese stealth prototype to be unveiled the day he visited China.

GCV however makes no sense. It is something designed for holding down the fort in a city war and even for that scenario it is too heavy. Are they expected to fjord rivers because of the weight or what? Why not just repurpose some M1 Abrams chassis for that specialized task if the need happens just like the Israelis use the Namer? IMO what the US Army needs is light tanks and light IFVs in the Swedish CV-90 class (can act as a light tank with 105mm rifled gun or 120mm smoothbore gun or as an IFV with a 30mm or 40mm autocannon just change the turret).
In a decade a new MBT to replace the M1 using new advances in tank suspension, propulsion, all around degree vision, automated systems to reduce operator load, possibly automated reloaders and a larger gun.

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Roy Smith February 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Lance February 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I find these programs the key to why the Army is so screwed up. 1st the M-2/3 Bradley is being updated and also is far superior to any Russian and Chinese APC in performance and after upgrades technology. NO NEED TO REPLACE THE M-2/3!!!!! The fact is also that is bigger and heavier than a M-1A1 tank makes it a slow easy target for the enemy. This is another Ordierno dream in his brainless head. JLTV isn't much better since the vehicle is twice as BIG as a HUMVEE, no sense in what a jeep style vehicle is suppose to be. This is more programs that defense companies bought generals to promote. Time to axe these companies and programs.Fire Ordierno he a flop anyway. Same for ICC the M-4 is fine and most solders approve of it and there no truly better weapon out there dont waste money on a failing finding tour that FN spent in congress to make. Save money for what we need. Face it its sucks but is this what it takes to make the Army wake up and spend on weapons the solders want! Time to fire that idiot Ordierno, and his friends in FN Oshkosh and EADS.

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Diablo21 February 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Bradley is not heavier than the Abrams. You need to check your sources. Combat loaded Bradley and Abrams are 28 and 70 tons respectively.
Also the JLTV, while slightly larger, is not twice as big as the HMMWV. You may be thinking the the M-ATV, which is not a JLTV.
About the only thing you got right is that the BFV does not need replaced.

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S O February 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm

He compared GCV and Bradley.

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Steve February 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Lance:

Agree with everything except the caliber we currently field and fight. Would you hunt a mule deer with a 5.56 mm/.223 Remington. I hope not. The 6.8 mm SBC (approx. a .270 Remington) or better yet the 6.5 mm Grendel (approx. .257 caliber) is a MUCH better choice cartridge and compatible with the AR-15 system. I just want our fighting men and women to have the best to fight, win and come home safe with… JMO

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crackedlenses February 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm

5.56×45 mm. kills people just fine out to 5-600 meters with military ammunition. The rounds you listed have their drawbacks, and the military would never adopt them on a wide-scale basis.

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riicky February 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Awe, I like the humvees just seems so traditional and cool looking. Can't they just make them stronger.

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Jacob February 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm

How hard can it be to find a replacement for the Bradley? There's lots of IFVs out there on the market, just hold a competition and see which one fits the Army's needs best.

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JEFF February 20, 2013 at 8:27 am

The problem is the Army doesn't know what it's needs really are.

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Godzilla February 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm

It is pretty hard to select. Do you want to do city wars or civil wars with heavy IFVs to prevent another lightly armored Delta Force in downtown Mogadishu incident or do you want light IFVs with low ground pressure that can operate in Southeast Asia in case there is a war between China and Vietnam (again) or what?

To me it seems pretty simple. IFVs should remain in the Bradley weight class but should probably be more modular in armor and choice of gun turret like the CV-90 so that it is quicker to ship an intervention force.

For large scale city conflicts the infantry can take cover behind an MBT: this is what happened in WWII and it is still standard pratice today. All they did back then was add some grapples and a tank telephone in the back so a soldier could tank with the tank crew. Or you can do like the Israelis who designed a rear door and some infantry carrying capacity in the Merkava.

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fastphil February 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm

"devastating budget cuts"???!!! Seriously? Sequester means $500B in defense cuts over 10 years. We are $16T in the hole. Get real. To quote Ben Carson, counting one number per second, it would take 500,000 years to count to 16,000,000,000,000. And the unfunded liabilities are much larger still. There are much bigger cuts coming. We need to accept that there is no threat of a military invasion of the US, and seriously cut the size of the Army and Marine Corp. We can't afford it, and like Jefferson, I fear a large standing army in the hands of any politicians, especially Pres. Zero.

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Rob C February 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

The sequestration is going hurt everything, it should be huge surprised that GCV and JLTV is going be hurt by this. Its meat cleaver for ignorant and stubborn US politicians.
Honestly, its bad enough that Army can barely make its mind up and changing the designs on these IFVs and small "trucks" and still dealing with gouging defense industry who take DoD to the cleaners on most their projects.

Hopefully something good will come out of this sequestration, but i doubt it. Since the stubborn and arguably ignorant politicians seems to be wanting harm the country they so call say they love in name of their electorate.

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Musson February 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm

The Pentagon just told Congress that every civilian worker will have to take a short furlough. 800,000 will have to take 1 day a week off for several months.

Oh the Humanity!

/s

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fastphil February 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Sequestration is just the start. Cutting $50B/year is peanuts. We are borrowing that amount every 12.5 days!!!!!!

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SJE February 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Part of the problem is that we decide on the milspec and then ask for bids, when 95% of what we need in some areas could be obtained by modifications of exising production lines. For example, tweaking the existing production lines for civilian SUVs to add armor, and bigger engines. MUCH MUCH cheaper

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Paul February 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Whenever the bickering between politicos & soldiers (with the Mfg's hiding in the background) regarding this vehicle or that weapon, my thoughts turn to the enemies which have given our armed forces to worse time. Invariably it is MOBILITY with spartan utility which allows an armed force, standing professionals or slovenly irregulars, to confound our tech heavy forces. Perhaps the DoD should look @ the way those guerrillas equip & deport themselves before the Tax Payer is asked to purchase equipment which no one seems to agree is suitable.

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Steve February 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm

An 84 ton IFV. The GCV program is a DISASTER based JUST on that fact alone. What the HELL is wrong with the M-2?3? Please someone enlighten me.

We don't buy off the shelf or from established allies' because the defense contractors don't make the multi-billions from that scenario and the former field and flag rank retires don't get the consulting jobs with them. Screw the country right? SOBs.

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jhm February 21, 2013 at 5:46 pm

the answer is: we have no idea why

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Muns February 21, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Evidently you have not had the pleasure of serving in a Bradley fighting vehicle, only to have to have your driver fiddle with the TEK cable to get it shift in theater.

The Brad while a good vehicle is not what we need if we had to add-on gear for the current and future conflicts.

HOWEVER the GCV is to replace NOT the BRAD but the M113 series vehicles. Read the requirement documents. The M113 is horrible obsolete.

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SFP May 23, 2013 at 2:33 am

Agree with everything except the caliber we currently field and fight. Would you hunt a mule deer with a 5.56 mm/.223 Remington. I hope not. The 6.8 mm SBC (approx. a .270 Remington) or better yet the 6.5 mm Grendel (approx. .257 caliber) is a MUCH better choice cartridge and compatible with the AR-15 system. I just want our fighting men and women to have the best to fight, win and come home safe with… JMO

Reply

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