Officials Look for Ways to Upgrade Humvees after Recap Cancellation
Beidel, Eric, National Defense
* The Defense Department is having to make choices between programs in an effort to cut back on spending, and leaders have made their intentions known when it comes to a light tactical vehicle fleet dominated by Humvees.
They are throwing their support behind the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle as a replacement for the trucks, some of which have been in service since the 1980s. But even if the Army and Marine Corps can pull off JLTV in the current fiscal environment, there are thousands of Humvees that will have to be updated or scrapped. The Army's fleet numbers about 160,000, and the Marines' more than 20,000.
But the Army recently announced the termination of a program to recapitalize a portion of the Humvee fleet that would have covered about 6,000 trucks. Despite being killed as part of a five-year plan to reduce defense spending, the Modernized Expanded Capacity Vehicle effort remains a goal of Army leaders.
The service's Combined Arms Support Command continues to push for a dedicated program for Humvee recapitalization.
Since 2005, the Humvee's chassis has undergone many modifications. These include enhancements to brakes and the steering package as well as improvements to cooling and engine performance. However, issues remain, officials said at a recent industry day for the MECV. They noted a series of problems relayed to them by troops: added weight was causing engine parts to break; the vehicle was moving slower and making wider turns; it would sometimes stall out going uphill.
"The vehicle's acceleration is much worse and the brakes are not holding up," officials quoted one soldier as saying. "The vehicle is too heavy and needs upgraded brakes."
The MECV was aimed at providing "protective armor below the cab, enhancements of the vehicle's ability to respond to demands for speed and braking, improvement of the vehicle operator's ability to control the vehicle, and the incorporation of safety enhancements to reduce the intrusion of thermal fires from fuel as well as directed enemy fire in the form of projectiles from entering the crew compartment," according to Army Training and Doctrine Command documents.
By early 2011, more than 46,000 Humvees had already been converted to improved configurations at Army depots in Pennsylvania and Texas. The predominant gaps when it comes to tactical wheeled vehicles remain protection and survivability, and the MECV program was aimed at improving those traits for light trucks, said Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge, commander of CAS-COM's sustainment center of excellence.
Critics, meanwhile, have said that there were far too many overlaps between up-armored Humvees, JLTV and an off-road variant of the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle called M-ATV. …