Increased activity and competition in the Arctic are prompting the Pentagon to put a renewed focus on the region. The Army is now seeking a replacement for a vehicle that remains a cornerstone for its units in Alaska.
The service's small unit support vehicle, or SUSV--which was last purchased in 1983--is an amphibious, tracked system built to travel through rough terrain such as snow, mud and swamps. At 1.8 pounds per square inch of force, the platform has a footprint that exerts less pressure than a human foot. That allows it to travel smoothly over deep snow.
However, the aging vehicle no longer falls under a program of record, leaving the service without means to maintain them, the Senate markup for the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act noted. Rather, the decades-old systems are being "cannibalized for parts" to keep the remaining systems running.
Additionally, the vehicles have only five years left before they will be classified as obsolete, according to the Senate markup for the fiscal year 2018 NDAA.
"Allied and near-peer competitor countries are developing extreme cold weather ground transportation capabilities that far exceed U.S. military capabilities, notably the recent advances in all-weather/cross-country mobility being demonstrated by new Russian specialty vehicles," the document stated.
Keith Klemmer, director of business development for the National Guard at BAE Systems, said it is also difficult to find replacement parts for the vehicle because of its old age. The company's Swedish subsidiary, Hagglunds, was the original manufacturer of the small unit support vehicle.
In June 2018, the Army released a request for information to gather industry input for a new platform that will have four variants and provide transportation for "a combat-loaded Infantry-like squad element, emergency medical evaluation, command-and-control capability and general cargo." The RFI was issued by Army Contracting Command-Warren and the product director for medium tactical vehicles.
The new system--deemed the joint all-weather all-terrain support vehicle, or JAASV--would have to operate successfully in "otherwise impassable terrain" such as marshy conditions, deep snow, frozen ice and extreme cold weather, the notice stated. Cold weather is defined as temperatures that drop as low as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a tracked, amphibious platform, it would also need to have a light footprint and be transportable by a CH-47, UH-60 or...