Bumps in the Road May Lie Ahead for JLTV Procurement.

Author:Tadjdeh, Yasmin

The joint light tactical vehicle is one of the military's largest vehicle acquisition initiatives, but budget uncertainty may affect how many platforms the Defense Department ultimately chooses to purchase.

When the Army and Marine Corps originally selected Oshkosh Defense as the winner of the lucrative JLTV program, the Army indicated it would purchase nearly 50,000 platforms and the Marine Corps would pick up about 5,500.

The contract was a boon for Oshkosh and was hotly contested among industry as vehicle procurement slumped following the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But with the Army focusing on its top six modernization priorities, and the Marine Corps intending to become more expeditionary, questions have arisen about what the future holds for the joint light tactical vehicle.

Last year Army leadership said it planned to cut funding for a number of programs, including the JLTV, as it pursues its top modernization priorities.

George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh, said while the Defense Department has slowed down its procurement of the vehicle, it has not altered its approved acquisition objective of 49,099 vehicles.

"I think things will be OK. They have not changed their AAO," he said in an interview. "They did slow us down slightly in the budget this year... but we're not scared of anything there."

Oshkosh utilizes a flexible production line that allows different products and variants to be built off it, so the company is not worried about the slowdown negatively affecting its workflow, he said.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said despite the Army slowing its purchase of JLTVs, the program is safe from termination.

'As a program it's very solid," he said. "It's not going to get canceled. We're going to buy a lot of them. The question is just how many and how quickly."

For now, it appears that the program will be continuing at a "fair clip," he said, and the vehicle will still be important to the service's overall mission.

"The Army is focused on sustained ground land combat and JLTV fits with that," he said. "It was squeezed as part of Night Court to free up money for new initiatives, but I don't get the sense that that the Army... [finds anything about] the concept that is a problem."

Army leadership coined the term "Night Court" to refer to its process of examining programs...

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