As the U.S. military prepares to replace its aging, 18,500-unit Humvee fleet by 2015, a fierce competition is brewing among six automakers to land one of three contracts to build the next-generation Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle.
Three companies will share a $5 billion budget that will be awarded by the military’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program. To assist with engineering, manufacturing, and development, each company is expected to receive a $65 million pre-production advance.
AM General, which launched the iconic Humvee in 1984, is entering the race with the Blast-Resistant Vehicle-Off Road (BRV-O). Featuring shock-absorbing seats and a unique self-leveling suspension to balance the heavy armor, the six-cylinder, 3.2-liter turbocharged engine produces 500 lb-ft of torque and up to 300 horsepower. (Take a look at the BRV-O vehicle here). AM General is also entering a second vehicle into the competition by teaming up with General Dynamics. The $260,000 modified Eagle is a classic military vehicle that has been utilized by the German military since 2008.
BAE Systems made headlines when it announced that its Valanx will be outfitted with a Ford Power Stroke 6.7-liter turbocharged diesel engine, the same engine that currently powers F-Series Super Duty Ford trucks. Offering an incredible 800 lb-ft of torque and 400 horsepower, the engine also beats its competitors on fuel economy and has been described as a “futuristic mobile-command-on-wheels.”
“We bring together the best of the defense and automotive industries,” says Ann Hoholick, vice president of Amphibious & New Programs. “Ford products have a reputation for dependability and performance, even under challenging conditions.”
The Navistar Defense Saratoga is equipped with a V8 that offers a comfortable compromise between AM General and BAE Systems’ engines while adding a composite armor that is able to withstand mine blasts, arms fire, and IEDs. A proud sponsor of The Wounded Warriors Project, Operation Support Our Troops America, and the U.S. Army Athletics, Navistar is the only defense automaker that has a commercial fleet with more than 3 million vehicles.
The L-ATV, manufactured by Oshkosh Defense, and the JLVT, produced by Lockheed Martin and three partners, are also strong contenders for the multibillion dollar contract.
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