When enemies began blowing up bombs hidden along convoy routes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military responded by beefing up trucks with unprecedented amounts of armor.
The Humvee gained weight, the 16-ton mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle was rushed to the battlefield and "survivability" became the biggest buzz word on the tactical vehicle front.
The methodology of combating improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, with heavy armor even spread to Special Operations Command, whose original "ground mobility vehicle" weighed less than a Humvee and could fit inside an MH-47 Chinook helicopter That no longer is the case, thanks to added armor and equipment.
But off-the-shelf vehicles being pitched for the next version of the GMV seek to reverse this trend and indicate that special operators have much more to worry about than roadside bombs.
In early April, industry was anxiously awaiting a request for bids for GMV 1.1, a program that finds SOCOM looking to replace more than 17000 modified Humvees it has been using with stealthier, more mobile vehicles. Armor isn't even an initial requirement. The main concerns are that it be fast and modular, and that it again fit inside a Chinook. When the helicopter lands, operators need to be able to roll off and immediately start their mission.
SOCOM has expressed concern about the main Army-led effort to replace Humvees with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Officials have said that the designs were too heavy for the needs of special forces. SOCOM wants trucks that weigh less than 10,000 pounds.
"The emphasis is on the design of the vehicle for mobility, stealth and agility," says John Bryant, Oshkosh vice president and general manager of joint and Marine Corps programs. "Protection can be gained through mobility and stealth."
In an initial solicitation document, SOCOM says it will take a two-phase approach to the program. The first would require written proposals and test data with an award of up to two contracts for further evaluations. The second would include the purchase of two prototypes from each vendor for engineering and operational testing. A single vendor then would be chosen for a production contract, which could lead to the procurement of 200 vehicles annually over the course of five years.
Oshkosh, which developed the Special Operations version of the MRAP all-terrain vehicle, is one of the many companies that have expressed an...