Oshkosh JLTV

(Image/Oshkosh Corp.)

The era of the Humvee being used as U.S. soldiers’ primary combat vehicle is almost over.

The U.S. Army this week awarded WI-based Oshkosh Corp. a $6.75 billion contract to build thousands of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (or JLTVs) to be used by both the Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. JLTVs offer both tank-like protection and Jeep-like mobility due to advanced independent suspension, explosive and automatic fire protection, and digitally controlled engine performance.

The initial order calls for 17,000 vehicles. Production is slated to begin next year, and the Army expects them to be field-ready for 2018. The contract could eventually be worth $30 billion or more over the next 25 years when Oshkosh is projected to build about 50,000 JLTVs for the Army, and about 5,500 for the Marine Corps.

The 30-year-old Humvee (known formally as the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV) will continue to function as a military support vehicle for servicemen and women for the foreseeable future, according to Scott Davis, who heads up the U.S. Army’s Combat Support and Combat Services Support, in an interview with Army-Technology.com.

“Our JLTV has been extensively tested and is proven to provide the ballistic protection of a light tank, the underbody protection of an MRAP-class vehicle, and the off-road mobility of a Baja racer,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. (Retired) John Urias, Oshkosh Corp.’s executive vice president. “The Oshkosh JLTV allows troops to travel over rugged terrain at speeds 70 percent faster than today’s gold standard, which is our Oshkosh M-ATV. Looking to future battlefields, we know that our troops will face a myriad of threats. Soldiers and Marines can be assured that the highly capable Oshkosh JLTV will perform the mission.”

Lockheed Martin and AM General (which manufactures the Humvee) came up short in their bids to provide the U.S. Armed Forces with warzone vehicles. Both companies produced several competitive prototypes for the Pentagon. Extensive field testing spanning months and years gave the Oshkosh JLTV the edge.

Despite the Army’s decision to phase out the Humvee, let’s all tip our caps to the military vehicle that, like Jeep, captured the imagination of Americans after performing heroically both in and out of combat zones throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s. In 1992, AM General made the civilian Hummer (now called the H1) available for purchase. General Motors bought Hummer in 1999, and expanded the line with full-size luxury SUVs (the H2) and mid-size SUVs (the H3).

Despite being out of production since 2010, H2 and H3 vehicles remain relatively common sights on American roadways.

You can read more about Oshkosh’s federal contract from The Washington Post here, and learn more about the vehicle itself on the Oshkosh Defense website here.

See the vehicle in action:

Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.