It's s not just Army and Marine Corps commanders who are amped to replace their beaten-up old Humvees with Oshkosh Corp’s shiny new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle: Both the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command are reportedly angling to add the multipurpose combat vehicles to their arsenals in in the coming year.
The Air Force is considering the JLTV as a potential successor to the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle as the primary vehicle for the security forces tasked with guarding missile silos and launch facilities, Defense News reported at the beginning of 2017. The branch included $60 million to purchase 140 as part of its fiscal year 2018 budget request that it submitted in May. But according to an Army official, Air Force officials were inching closer to finalizing the exact number and time frame to replace the branch’s aging fleet of Humvees.
“We’ve had some very top level discussions with the Air Force,” joint program manager Army Col. Shane Fullmer told National Defense magazine during a JLTV demonstration at Marine Corps Base Quantico on June 14. “I don’t think they’ve settled on types or quantities or anything like that. We’ve just had some overarching discussions.”
When reached by Task & Purpose, Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews confirmed that the branch is set on purchasing 140 JLTVs not just for use by the security forces, but personnel involved with a variety of missions from explosive ordnance disposal downrange to the Guardian Angels weapons system tasked with personnel recovery.
“The JLTV provides a balance of protection, performance and payload in order to afford Airmen the greatest opportunity to accomplish their mission in a variety of terrains and battle spaces,” McAndrews told Task & Purpose. If fully funded by Congress, the Air Force plans on acquiring 46 utility, 48 general-purpose, and 46 heavy-gun variants of the combat vehicle.
More importantly, a variety of potential JLTV applications outlined by McAndrews fall under the purview of U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s special tactics forces, like pararescuemen and the tactical air control forces who embed with Army and Marine units downrange, suggesting that the JLTV might catch the eye of special operations forces.
Speaking at Quantico on June 14, Fuller told National Defense that U.S. Special Operations Command itself has “expressed interest” in picking up the JLTV, although SOCOM officials “have not yet tested” the vehicle despite discussions with the Army’s joint program office. (SOCOM did not immediately respond to request for comment from Task & Purpose.)
The news is a boon for Oshkosh, which beat out both Lockheed Martin and Humvee parent AM General LLC for a $6.7 billion DoD contract to provide 17,000 JLTVs for the Army and Marine Corps. The two branches now plan on purchasing nearly 55,000 JLTVs combined, 49,000 for the Army and 5,500 for a Corps; however, the Corps already looking to expand its fleet to 9,091.
Other branches won't have to wait too long to get their hands on the new combat vehicle. According to Fuller, the JLTV program is ready and waiting to accommodate increased interest among various military leaders. “They might have some unique needs but our contract would accommodate that. … If they came to us and said, ‘I have this other piece of kit that really needs to go on there,’ we could design ,” he told National Defense. “It wouldn’t be overly complicated. … We can accommodate almost anything.”
The Air Force plans on fielding the JLTV as soon as fiscal year 2019. In the mean time, they'll have to watch and wait while the soldiers of the Army's 10th Mountain Division and Marines with II Marine Expeditionary Force get to play around with their new toys.