In service since 1984, the Humvee isn’t getting any younger. Right now the United States military is in possession of nearly 18,500 of them, all of which are set to be replaced by an as-of-yet-to-be-determined successor in 2015. Enter the suppliers and contractors who are all vying for a piece of the government pie. And who can blame them? With $5 billion being awarded across three winning companies – each liable to receive up to $65 million for preproduction engineering, manufacturing, and development – the race to supply the military with its next Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is underway.
Of course, whenever government contract money is at stake rest assured there are multiple players in line gunning for it. And with the United States government preparing to dish out billions in contract cash in order to replace the iconic military Humvee, competition is fierce.
Last month, AM General, makers of the original Humvee, unveiled its Blast-Resistant Vehicle-Off Road (BRV-O) in Detroit, but they aren’t the only ones aiming to win those government greenbacks. Stiff opposition from Oshkosh Defense, Lockheed Martin, and BAE Systems, among others, all of which are vying for one of three contracts on the line.
Given that these hardcore military machines are truly a sight to behold, here is a quick rundown (including pictures) of the six vehicles battling it out.
Makers of the original Humvee, AM General’s BRV-O is somewhat of a latecomer to the party. Shown for the first time last month in Detroit, the BRV-O features a six-cylinder, 3.2-liter turbocharged engine which is said to churn out 300 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque.
Inside, the BRV-O ‘s crew capsule features energy-absorbing seats, shaped underbody, and modular armor for maximum protection. Of course, added armor can quickly pack on the pounds, reducing overall vehicular mobility. AM General seems to have addressed these issues thanks in large part to an increased payload that provides a margin for added armor, as well as a unique self-leveling suspension aimed at increasing the BRV-O’s tactical maneuverability.
A joint effort between General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General, The Eagle may not appear as shiny and bleeding edge as some of its counterparts, but that may just provide it with the advantage it needs to allow the Eagle to soar over the competition. In fact, military buffs will no doubt already be familiar with the Eagle, seeing as how it’s a repurposed version of the Eagle IV, which General Dynamics European Land systems has supplied to the German military since 2008.
The Eagle isn’t as new, but it is tried and tested; and, perhaps more importantly, it’s relatively cheap at less than $260,000 a pop.
With utility in mind, the JLVT — a collaborative endeavor consisting of multiple companies including Meritor Defense, L-3 Combat Propulsion Systems, Vehma International of America, with Lockheed Martin at the helm — has been designed from the ground up to be one of more versatile and cost effective entries into the U.S. Army and Marine Corps JLTV competition.
Already a winning bidder for the first phase of JLTV development, Lockheed was forced into making several modifications to its design by reducing the amount of exotic (read: expensive) materials such as titanium after the Pentagon’s requirements changed for the second phase of the competition.
Launched in October of 2011, Navistar Defense’s Saratoga is yet another entry into the U.S. military’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program. Originally designed to target a gap in the light tactical vehicle market, the Saratoga provides a tactical salvo of components aimed at improved mission effectiveness, including metallic or composite add-on armor, and is capable of withstanding arms fire, mine blasts, and IEDs.
Under the armored hood the Saratoga features a fire-breathing V8 capable of pumping out 340 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque.
Aside from sporting the coolest name of the bunch, BAE Systems’ Valanx also happens to feature a Ford Power Stroke 6.7-liter turbocharged diesel engine, which BAE indicates gives it a leg up against the competition by providing the best fuel economy, horsepower, and torque of any engine in its class.
Truck enthusiasts out there will immediately be familiar with the Power Stroke. It’s the same engine Ford uses in its F-Series Super Duty trucks. Previously, the Valanx utilized a Navistar engine in favor of its current mill, but made the switch to the more powerful Ford engine, which is capable of producing an impressive 400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque.
Other specifics regarding the powertrain remain undisclosed, so we’re not entirely sure whether the engine specs in the Valanx will exactly match up with that of a 2012 F-250 Super Duty.
While the Valanx may score points with its tough-as-nails name and rather futuristic mobile-command-on-wheels design, it is the Oshkosh Defense’s L-ATV that wins us over with its rugged looks and take-no-prisoners attitude.
Built independently and from the ground up, the Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle will make use of Oshkosh’s Tak-4i intelligent suspension system already used in more than 20,000 vehicles. And because fuel economy is a growing concern, Oshkosh offers its ProPulse hybrid diesel-electric drive train.
According to Oshkosh, the L-ATV features a scalable and advanced crew protection system which can provide dynamic defense capabilities depending on operational and battlefield needs.