The days of the Humvee as the US Army’s vehicle of choice are about to come to an end, after the Department of Defense signed a $6.7 billion deal with the Oshkosh Corporation to provide a new vehicle with “far superior protection and off-road mobility.”
The Wisconsin-based defense company beat off competition from a joint bid by Lochheed Martin, the UK’s BAE Systems, and AM General, which had originally produced the Humvees, the Army said in a statement.
— Oshkosh Defense (@OshkoshDefense) August 26, 2015
The plan will be for Oshkosh Corporation to build 17,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV), which will replace the Humvees. However, over the time, the military services plan to replace a total of 55,000 vehicles, which could see the value of the contract rise to over $30 billion.
The iconic Humvee was first introduced by the US military in 1984 and saw its first combat role in Panama in 1989. It became synonymous with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These military campaigns also exposed the aging vehicle’s flaws, as it offers little protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which became weapons of choice for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Iraq admitted in June that ISIS jihadists captured thousands of Humvees seized from Iraqi forces retreating from Mosul last year.
— RT (@RT_com) June 1, 2015
Oshkosh say their JLTV will be a significant improvement and just by looking at the new model, it is easy to see why. At first glance, it looks almost like a tank on wheels, complete with its very own gun turret. It will have amour like a tank, but weight two thirds less than the Humvee. It will also be fleet-footed like a jeep, but capable of carrying large amounts of cargo across all sorts of terrain. The first JLTV’s are expected to be deployed in 2018.
“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,” John Urias, president of Oshkosh Defense, said in a statement, as cited by AP.
While the Humvee has become incredibly popular as a civilian vehicle, as championed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who could be seen driving the gas guzzling machine around California, there are no plans at the moment to make the JLTV available to the general population just yet.
Oshkosh chief executive Charles Szews said the company would love to build one, but that “this one would be a little bit difficult to get into someone’s garage.”