BAE Systems and Navistar design the Humvee’s replacement

BAE JLTV prototype front three-quarterFrom Panama to Iraq, AM General’s High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, a.k.a. Humvee) has served the U.S. military for over two decades. Thanks to the Governator, it became a pop culture star and object of desire for many civilians. Unfortunately for Arnold, the Humvee has outlived its useful life and needs to be replaced. BAE Systems and Navistar Defense are submitting proposals for the Humvee’s successor.

This being the military, there are plenty of acronyms involved. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, set up to choose the Humvee’s replacement, is currently entering its second phase. This Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase is when manufacturers will submit designs based on the military’s specifications. The Pentagon wants a 7-10 ton truck, something that will be lighter than a fully armored vehicle such as an MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected).

With its slanted body sides and tiny windows, BAE System’s design (above) looks like a shrunken MRAP. it also has a V-shaped hull to protect the crew from mines or improvised explosive devices. The BAE prototype is powered by a 6.7-liter Ford Powerstroke turbodiesel. BAE said it chose the Ford engine for its class-leading power and fuel economy.Navistar International Saratoga front three-quarter mobile

Navistar will submit a modified version of its International Saratoga light tactical vehicle (right), which the company launched last October. Navistar emphasized the Saratoga’s flexibility, saying the vehicle was designed to incorporate different variants. The company also said the Saratoga has “a high degree of commonality with fielded vehicles,” which would make deployment of a Navistar vehicle easier.

A replacement for the Humvee is sorely needed, because the nature of warfare has changed since the “Hummer” first rolled into battle. Designed during the tail end of the Cold War, the Humvee was supposed to replace the Jeep as a go-anywhere workhorse. With virtually no armor, it was not designed to linger in urban areas, where it could be ambushed. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it was used for, first in Somalia (the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident), then in Iraq.

The Humvee was designed for conventional, linear warfare, with well-defined front lines. In Iraq and Afghanistan, there were no front lines; the enemy could be anywhere. To protect its soldiers, the military armored its Humvees and bought MRAPs. However, these heavier vehicles are slower, less maneuverable, and harder to transport to the combat zone. A Humvee can fit in any military transport plane, and be carried by a helicopter; heavier vehicles cannot.

For the EMD phase of the JLTV program, each manufacturer will deliver 22 prototypes to the Army and Marine Corps for testing. Up to three contracts for the JLTV will be awarded in June.