US Army’s Humvee Replacement Not ‘Operationally Suitable’?

The replacement program for the humble HMMWV or Humvee, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), has run into a speed bump with Congress’ Government Accountability Office (GAO). In a May 2019 report, the GAO claimed that the JLTV was not “operationally suitable” due to a range of issues, amongst them “high maintenance needs, low reliability, training and manual deficiencies, and safety shortcomings.”

This follows on the heels of cost overruns that threaten the JLTV’s planned adoption by the British Army. It’s also not the first time the JLTV program has been criticised. US Army evaluators initially found the platform to have a “large visual and loud aural signature increasing detectability.” Furthermore the US Army found that “Units cannot maintain the JLTV without support from the contractor field service representatives due to vehicle complexity, ineffective training, poor manuals, and challenges with troubleshooting the vehicle.”

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is showcased for Marines after an executive brief at Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans, La., March 9, 2018. The JLTV, manufactured by Oshkosh Defense, is finding it’s new home with the Marine Corps Reserve as the successor to the Humvee, which has served the U.S. armed forces for over three decades. The Marine Corps will be introducing the new tactical vehicle into circulation as early as the beginning of 2019 for the active component and will be fielded to the reserve component in 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Adwin Esters)

Many of the issues identified by both Army evaluators and the GAO report have already reportedly been addressed but Oshkosh has remained tight-lipped. The US Army has lowered its initial orders to manage the costs of a number of improvements to the platform although both the Army and USMC have “recently concluded operational testing for JLTV and found the vehicles to be survivable for the crew and effective for small combat and transport missions,” according to the GAO report.

The JLTV, produced by Oshkosh, is available in both Combat Tactical Vehicle (CTV) and Combat Support Vehicle (CSV) variants. The CTV itself comes in three models- General Purpose (GP), the Heavy Guns Carrier (HGC) and the Close Combat Weapons Carrier (CCWC). The US Army have indicated a requirement for just under 50,000 vehicles whilst the USMC are currently ordering a little over 9,000.

The USAF have ordered just 140 of the JLTV platform, likely for initial use by Air Force Special Tactics units and as a proof of concept as the Air Force hopes in future years to obtain fiscal approval to replace all 3,000 plus HMMWVs in USAF service.