Northrop To Compete To Build Humvee Successor

January 8th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Northrop To Compete To Build Humvee Successor

Wall Street Journal
January 8, 2008
Pg. 16
By August Cole
Northrop Grumman Corp. is seeking a contract potentially valued at billions of dollars to build vehicles to replace the Humvees that now provide basic transportation for the Army and Marine Corps.
The Los Angeles defense contractor, in its most recent move to broaden its business beyond its aerospace and naval lines, is expected to announce today that it will compete for a chance to build as many as 140,000 vehicles. Northrop is teaming up with Oshkosh Truck Corp., which has extensive experience making military trucks.
Northrop believes its ability to pack the Oshkosh, Wis., company's vehicles with the latest technologies will give it the edge in a competition that could deliver $20 billion to $30 billion for building and maintaining the vehicles over the coming decades. Northrop's biggest rivals in the defense market -- Lockheed Martin Corp., BAE Systems PLC, Boeing Co. and General Dynamics Corp. -- already are vying for the contract with their own teams of partners. For example, Boeing is working with Textron Inc., and fighter-jet maker Lockheed is working with BAE.
Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, from Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh Truck.
Northrop is entering a technically challenging competition: The Pentagon is seeking a light vehicle robust enough to withstand roadside bombs and with a price tag of less than $300,000 each. The Pentagon will begin winnowing the list of competitors this year, with the hopes of fielding the vehicles in the next decade.
In a break with traditional development programs, the Pentagon is expecting the contractors to foot the bill for the research and development on their vehicles, to hold down costs and shorten the time it takes to get them in the field.
In an interview, Undersecretary of Defense John Young, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, said the "competition will bring us creativity and pricing benefits." He said he hopes to employ the same philosophy on other programs as well.
The foray into this corner of the military market is a departure for Northrop, which built B-2 stealth bombers for the Air Force. Northrop, like some of its aerospace-oriented rivals, sees Army vehicle contracts as potentially lucrative new lines of business that it has yet to tap. Funding for programs tied to replacing or repairing military equipment worn out in Iraq and Afghanistan looks promising because there is an obvious, and urgent, need.
Northrop decided to get involved after the Pentagon last summer began to look seriously at how to pack its next-generation vehicles with more technology while simultaneously making them more resistant to blast damage. According to Jerry Agee, president of Northrop's mission-systems division, it was then clear that "it was more than just a truck-building competition."
The military's experience in Iraq led it to add armor to Humvees and eventually spend billions of dollars on armored trucks designed to withstand improvised roadside bombs that have caused hundreds of casualties in Iraq.
Despite being on track to buy more than 15,000 heavily armored vehicles for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, military commanders acknowledge that the larger trucks are too heavy and cumbersome to be used off-road or in tight urban confines.
The Pentagon's solution is what is called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a family of three vehicle types capable of performing missions from reconnaissance to cargo hauling. The vehicle's target weight is below 20,000 pounds, about half the weight of the heavier armored vehicles now being rushed to Iraq. At less than $300,000 each, the JLTV would also be half the cost.
Although Northrop lacks Oshkosh's history of making trucks for the Army, Northrop officials say their experience in converting Humvees into mobile command centers has helped them understand what the military needs.
Hybrid engine technology is being considered, which would reduce fuel consumption and make the vehicles quieter when being driven in electric-only mode.
The companies face a tough task. The JLTV must meet strict weight limits while also being robust enough to withstand roadside bombs. "It's not going to be the same vehicle you see as the Humvee today," said Mr. Agee.

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