Army undersecretary Ryan McCarthy confirmed on Wednesday that service plans on buying 25% fewer of the fancy vehicles than it did last year as one of the 93 Pentagon programs facing reduced funding for a $30 billion modernization push.
In light of the Army’s new modernization push and the “high-intensity land conflict” requirements posed by the return of Great Power competition, the branch’s ground fleet mix will consist of 55,000 Humvees, 49,000 JLTVs, and 800 Infantry Squad Vehicles by 2028.
“The JLTV is a new vehicle – more survivable than a Humvee, more maneuverable than an MRAP,” McCarthy said during remarks at the Brookings Institution on Thursday. “There’s no doubt the Army needs it in the future – just not at the numbers of the original program of record when the requirements of a high-intensity land conflict are considered.”
Backing away from the JLTV in the name of “modernization” is a bit ironic considering that, as Military.com notes, both the Army and Marine Corps made the program a modernization priority after the Humvee proved incapable of providing adequate protection against IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We clearly have more capability than we need,” McCarthy said on Wednesday.
Raider Master Drivers hit the tank trails during the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Operator New Equipment Training (OPNET) at Fort Stewart, GA(U.S. Army/Maj. Peter Bogart)
The JLTV rollout has been plagued with worrying errors in recent years. According to the Congressional Research Service, a May 2018 Pentagon inspector general report found that the Army and Marines “had not demonstrated effective test results to prepare the JLTV program for full rate production.”
The latest assessment of JLTV conducted by Pentagon’s operational testing and evaluation arm indicated that the Army’s current vehicles “are not operationally suitable because of deficiencies in reliability, maintainability, training, manuals, crew situational awareness, and safety.”
It’s worth noting that after the first fielding of the JLTV to soldiers back in January, a spokesperson for Humvee manufacturer AM General told Task & Purpose that despite the Army’s framing, the JLTV wasn’t a “replacement” for the Humvee but an “augmentation” of light tactical vehicle requirements.
The bottom line for soldiers in the field is that there will be fewer JLTVs to go around; apparently you’ll have to wait your turn for a smooth ride and a cupholder.