Oshkosh, Partner To Bid For Military Vehicle Contract

January 9th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Oshkosh, Partner To Bid For Military Vehicle Contract

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 9, 2008
Pg. D1
Lightweight machines could replace Humvee
By Rick Barrett
Oshkosh Truck Corp. has entered into a partnership with defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. to compete for a multibillion-dollar contract to build lightweight military vehicles that could replace or augment the current fleet of Humvees.
If selected for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, Oshkosh would design and manufacture the vehicles, while Northrop Grumman would be the prime contractor and systems integrator.
The duo joins a field of industry heavyweights that already have announced their intentions to compete for the contracts, potentially worth $20 billion over the next decade. They include partnerships between Boeing Co. and Textron Inc., General Dynamics and Force Protection Inc., and Lockheed Martin Corp. and Armor Holdings Inc.
"We are going up against a bunch of heavy hitters in the defense industry," said Stephen Zink, Oshkosh Truck vice president of defense business.
Oshkosh has thousands of military trucks in Iraq and Afghanistan, where blast-resistant vehicles are needed to protect troops from roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.
Insurgent attacks on vehicles have accounted for more than half the U.S. combat fatalities in Iraq, according to the military.
Humvees haven't fared well against attacks, even when the vehicles were equipped with armor. They were designed in the 1980s for a different type of tactical situation, said Ivan Oelrich with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C.
The latest requests for lightweight vehicles that provide better troop protection are the result of what's happened in Iraq, Oelrich said.
The Pentagon plans to release a request for proposals on Feb. 1, and award two or more contracts by June for the production of prototype vehicles. The prototypes will be due about 27 months after the contracts are awarded, according to the Army's Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command Web site.
Under another contract, Oshkosh has already produced a concept vehicle that's bigger than a Humvee but smaller than some other trucks in the field.
The next generation of lightweight military vehicles are expected to be faster and more maneuverable than another line of combat trucks called mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs.
The new vehicles could be used for long-range surveillance purposes and as mobile command centers. They're expected to have features such as advanced weapons systems, night-vision capabilities, and diesel-electric hybrid engines that can run almost silently when necessary.
The new vehicles also could have electronic jamming devices and sophisticated communications equipment.
"Typically in the past, radios and communication gear were add-on systems. In today's requirements, they have to be integrated into the vehicle," Zink said.
Both the Army and Marines have said MRAPs are too heavy for their rapid response missions. But the needs of both services still have to be reconciled, since the Marines need vehicles capable of driving through water and the Army wants more emphasis placed on blast-proof armor.
The Humvee was designed as a vehicle to haul soldiers, but now the military is demanding more from it, said Ronald Hoffman, senior research physicist at the Aerospace and Mechanics Division of University of Dayton's Research Institute in Ohio.
The Army and Marines are looking at other vehicles because they realize the Humvee can't do everything, Hoffman said.

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