In mid-October, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) will conduct its annual exposition in the nation’s capital. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Building The Army Of 2030.”
That is a fitting focus for a military service that has spent the last five years systematically implementing a strategy for modernizing its rotorcraft, artillery, troop carriers and air defenses.
It is the biggest modernization campaign the Army has seen since the cold war, and it seems to be progressing smoothly.
There’s only one problem: the Army may find itself engaged in a shooting war long before 2030. Like maybe next month, in Eastern Europe or the Western Pacific.
If that happens, many of the bold innovations the service is pursuing will not be ready for primetime, and the Army will find itself fighting with weapons that were first conceived in the Reagan years—or earlier.
However, there is at least one major system that is ready for future combat right now, and promises to be by far the most reliable, resilient, versatile system of its type ever built.
That system is the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), a heavily armored truck that combines the protection of a light tank with an offroad speed faster than the posted speed limit on many interstate highways.
A contract to develop and build JLTV was awarded to the Oshkosh Corporation in 2015, and as of today 18,000 have been built, 15,000 of which are fielded with the Army, Marine Corps, other U.S. services and select allies (Oshkosh contributes to my think tank).
The Army alone expects to buy at least 50,000, with the Marines buying 15,000 more. JLTV was designed to correct deficiencies in the Reagan-era Humvee, the closest thing today’s Army has to the fabled jeep of World War Two.
Humvee was never intended to operate on a battlefield, so when irregular forces in Afghanistan and Iraq obliterated the distinction between front lines and rear areas with improvised explosive devices, the Humvee was dangerously under-protected.
The Army tried adding armor and other defensive features, but the Humvee couldn’t easily accommodate the added weight and on occasion turned into a deathtrap. Eventually the service turned to much bigger “mine-resistant, ambush-protected” trucks that made Brinks trucks look flimsy, but these proved hard to support or adapt to changing conditions.
Enter JLTV, a vehicle conceived to meet the challenge of improvised explosives while still affording speed and flexibility on the battlefield. It was intended to be the first light military truck capable of maneuvering with combat forces and surviving the rigors of modern warfare.
That is precisely what Oshkosh has delivered, in a package that is about as close to perfect as any Army acquisition program is ever likely to be.
Not only has the company built each of the vehicles at a cost about 17% less than what the Army was expecting, but when rival designs were tested during the competition to win the initial contract, the Oshkosh entry turned out to be six times more reliable than the next-closest candidate.
In other words, Oshkosh’s design was much less likely to break down than any other offering. It provided superior (patented) protection to passengers, while enabling unprecedented mobility over rough terrain thanks to an intelligent (patented) suspension.
Furthermore, the four baseline variants of JLTV can accommodate over a hundred different configurations depending on missions and fighting conditions.
For instance, Oshkosh exhibited a heavy gun carrier version at the Black Sea defense conference in May sporting an Elbit remotely controlled weapons station that fires 12.7 mm rounds, but other versions can carry air defense missiles, light machine guns, or no weapons at all. The configuration depends on how soldiers plan to use the vehicle.
More recently, Oshkosh has unveiled an electrically-powered variant of JLTV that saves fuel and can operate silently on the battlefield while needing no fixed infrastructure to recharge. The vehicle simply relies on its diesel engine to recharge lithium-ion batteries, which takes about 30 minutes.
The Army hasn’t requested an electrically-powered variant, but the new offering positions Oshkosh nicely as it negotiates a recompete of the production contract. Nobody proposes to change the design of JLTV, the competition is simply a “price shootout” to determine whether a different company can deliver the same design at a lower price.
That isn’t very likely, because Oshkosh has long since established itself in the marketplace as the low-cost provider of military trucks. Beginning in 1976, it gradually eclipsed rivals to become the sole supplier of Army heavy, medium and light trucks.
Aside from always delivering on time and within budgets, Oshkosh has distinguished itself from other contenders by building a vast array of commercial vehicles from which it derives lessons about producibility and sustainability.
It has also sought to position itself in the marketplace as a technology company that innovates in areas like vehicle electrification, intelligent systems and digital engineering. So, although most of the world probably still regards it as a truck company, it is working to become something more.
The evidence suggests it is succeeding. Fortune magazine ranks it as one of the most admired companies in its field, Newsweek rates it as one of the nation’s most responsible, and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index awards it high marks.
These are heady achievements for a company that suffered a near-death experience in the subprime crisis, when Oshkosh‘s commercial and civil lines nearly dragged it into insolvency, and an urgent Army need for mine-protected vehicles in Southwest Asia saved it.
JLTV demonstrates how thoroughly Oshkosh has bounced back from that low point. Today, its is the dominant provider of light tactical vehicles for the U.S. and several allied forces, with a track record worth celebrating at AUSA 2022.
As noted above, Oshkosh Corporation is a contributor to my think tank. The same has been true in the past of other potential contenders in the recompete of JLTV.
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is the cheaper, easier way to send money abroad. It helps people move money quickly and easily between bank accounts in different countries. Convert 60+ currencies with ridiculously low fees - on average 7x cheaper than a bank. No hidden fees, no markup on the exchange rate, ever.
How to access the offer?
1- Click here
2- Select “Register''
3- Enter your email address, create a password, and select your country of residence
4- Fill out the required personal information, and the free first transfer offer will be applied automatically.
Benefits of the Multi-Currency Account:
- Free to create online
- Hold 50+ currencies
- Get multiple local bank details in one account (including EU, UK, US)
- Convert currency at the real exchange rate, even on weekends
- Spend whilst travelling on the Wise debit card without high conversion fees
Wise International Transfers:
- $1.5 billion saved by customers every year
- Send money to over 60 target currencies
- Lower fees for larger transfers
- No hidden fees. No bad exchange rates. No surprises.
- Send your money with a bank transfer, or a debit or credit card