Bloomberg News

Marines May Delay Light Combat Vehicles Program to Late 2020s

November 20, 2011

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Marine Corps may scrap plans to buy new combat trucks until the late 2020s, officials told a U.S. House Armed Services panel.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program is under scrutiny in Congress after a Senate panel recommended its termination in September. The Marine Corps plans to develop the new truck with the U.S. Army.

The Marine Corps said it may delay the JLTV and rely longer on its aging Humvee trucks because its priority is to buy new amphibious assault vehicles to ferry Marines from sea to land.

The biggest risk to the plan to modernize the combat vehicle fleet is “not program schedule but rather decision schedules,” Brigadier General Daniel O’Donohue, director of capabilities development, Brigadier General Frank Kelley, the head of Marine Corps Systems Command, and William Taylor, the land systems program executive officer, said today in a joint statement prepared for a hearing of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

If JLTV is delayed, “we lose an opportunity that we cannot readdress” until after the procurement of a new amphibious combat vehicle, or ACV, “in the late 2020s,” the officials said.

Three companies in 2008 won technology development contracts for JLTV: General Tactical Vehicles, a joint venture of AM General LLC and General Dynamics Land Systems, part of Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics Corp.; BAE Systems Land & Armaments, part of London-based BAE Systems Plc; and Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp.

‘Excessive Cost Growth’

The Senate defense appropriations subcommittee on Sept. 13 proposed ending the estimated $54 billion program, citing “excessive cost growth.” The Senate has yet to approve the fiscal year 2012 defense spending bill which includes the termination provision.

In response to the subcommittee action, the Army and Marine Corps developed a strategy to reduce the unit cost of the JLTV. The new estimated unit costs range between $230,000 to $270,000 for base vehicle configurations, according to a draft request for bid proposals. The previous unit cost estimate was at least $350,000.

In January, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, a $15.5 billion fleet of new armored transports to carry rifle squads from sea to hostile shores. At $18 million apiece, the EFV was too expensive, he said. Instead, the Marines now plan to buy new amphibious vehicles under the new program called Amphibious Combat Vehicle, or ACV.

“The ACV remains the Marine Corps’s No. 1 ground modernization priority,” the officials told the House panel in their prepared statement.

--Editors: Steven Komarow, Terry Atlas

To contact the reporters on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bloomberg.net. Brendan McGarry in Washington at bmcgarry2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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