After enjoying years of the Air Force dominating the skies in the fight against the Islamic militants in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the Army is beefing up its short-range missile-defense capabilities to counter the rockets, missiles, and weaponized drones that are increasingly becoming staples of foreign arsenals. And while the return of active-duty maneuver SHORAD battalions for the first time since the end of the Cold War is part of Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley’s strategic emphasis on a “combined arms, multi-domain capable” Army, the tactical implications are far more appealing: a bunch of new, explosive toys to play with.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is meant to be everything the Humvee is not: It’s designed by Oshkosh Defense to withstand the ground-based IED attacks early on in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that had forced Humvees to armor up, reducing payloads and performance, and slowing brigades to a crawl. With a modular design to accommodate armor plating fit for an MRAP, Oshkosh hopes the first 600 JLTVs, set for fielding by the Army and Marine Corps in early 2019, will represent a quantum leap forward for the Department of Defense’s light truck fleet.
The Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington is less of a service branch confab than it is a show-and-tell for the global defense industry: an exposition of gear and vehicles, gun and tanks, that are shaping the future of land warfare. But while Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor prototype and a wildly rotating THAAD-style missile launcher dominated the convention center space on Oct. 9, one class of vehicle stood out as the most exciting among rank-and-file soldiers: General Dynamics Land Systems’ brand new Stryker armored fighting vehicles.