The High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee, is easily one of the most iconic off-road vehicles of all time. But having been designed during the Cold War and seeing use in operations it was never intended for, the venerable Humvee has been in dire need of a successor. That’s why, since 2005, the US Military has been working to build a suitable replacement. Thus, they started the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, which pitted several defense manufacturers against each other to build the military’s next go-to light tactical vehicle. In 2012, the list of potential candidates was whittled down to three manufacturers: AM General, Lockheed Martin and Oshkosh. This week the US military selected Oshkosh as their winner.
The Oshkosh Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV) is meant to satisfy the JLTV program’s requirements for superior protection and mobility. The problem with the old Humvee was its lack of protection against ballistic attacks. It was never originally built to withstand blasts from IEDs that hounded military personnel participating in recent armed conflicts. Enter Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, a heavier, more expensive alternative that offers better blast protection, but came at a cost of maneuverability. While MRAPS were great in open combat areas, in more complex terrain like the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, MRAP vehicles lack the mobility of the smaller, lighter Humvees.
The L-ATV should offer the best of both worlds. It has what Oshkosh refers to as a “Core1080 Crew Protection System”, which includes a hull design providing MRAP-like protection from mines and other ballistics, blast-resistant seats and IED detection. At around 14,000 pounds it’s nearly three times the weight of a Humvee but significantly less than an MRAP’s 14-to-18-ton curb weight. Despite that massive heft, a 6.6-liter GM turbo-diesel engine will get the L-ATV to a purported top speed of over 100 mph. Some L-ATVs will also be equipped with ProPulse, a hybrid system that will provide users with 70kW of onboard and export power. For traversing rugged terrain that may or may not be home to hidden explosives, the L-ATV is equipped with Oshkosh’s TAK-4i intelligent independent suspension, which gives the L-ATV 20 inches of wheel travel.
As it stands, Oshkosh’s $6.7 billion deal with the US Military will result in thousands of L-ATVs that will see use by both the Marines and the US Army. The first L-ATVs will possibly see use by the Army in 2018 and will continue to be built and acquired until 2040, provided Lockheed and AM General don’t exercise their option to protest the Military’s decision. The original contract will see 17,000 L-ATVs built for the military; assuming the L-ATVs are successful, that number could increase to over 50,000. While the Humvee will be missed by many, compared to the L-ATV’s superior protection and performance, we’d say its retirement is long overdue.