Military looks for Humvee successor
The 'jeep of the future' is expected to be safer for troops and more fuel efficient.
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"The Humvee offered great cross-country mobility until we started armoring it up," says Lt. Col. Ben Garza, a Marine project manager for the JLTV. "We want to maintain the same kind of cross-country performance, but with a vehicle with those protection levels built into it."Skip to next paragraph
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At least a half-dozen companies, each with multiple partners, are reportedly bidding on the JLTV: Defense contractors BAE-Navistar, Boeing-Textron, Northrop Grumman-Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin all appear to have submitted designs. Furthermore, General Dynamics is teaming with AM General, the "incumbent" maker of the Humvee. Another partnership that is expected to bid includes Force Protection Inc., which makes Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicles.
The military, designers say, is looking for a "25 percent improvement" on many aspects of the Humvee design. For example, designers must submit a plan with an "electronic backbone" built in to make it easier to use different kinds of communications gear and better integrate various vehicle systems, including the vehicle's own diagnostic, tire inflation, and security systems. Maintenance must also be easier.
In addition, the vehicle must achieve greater fuel economy. Still, despite rising fuel costs, and the already hefty fuel bill that the Pentagon pays, the military did not stipulate that bidders build a hybrid vehicle.
"It's not a requirement," says Lt. Col. Wolfgang Petermann, the Army's project manager for the vehicle, regarding a hybrid. Bidders are free to submit a hybrid design, but the military isn't sure the technology is ready to be applied to the rigors that a military truck must endure.
In the secretive world of defense acquisition, Boeing company representatives say they've been "silent on the issue" of a hybrid-powered vehicle. But they pointed to a concept vehicle built by them that was a hybrid and shown at the Army's annual convention in Washington last fall.
"We'd like to have the highest fuel efficiency while it's also safe," says Jerry McElwee, vice president for Boeing Advanced Systems. "The conflict we're in now, we need not only good transportation, but a highly survivable means of transportation."