Pentagon Spending More Money on Heavier, Gas-Guzzling Vehicles

May 9th, 2011 - by admin

National Defense Business & Technology Magazine – 2011-05-09 00:57:53

Even Without Fancy Frills,
Future Military Trucks Will
Cost More Than Bentleys

National Defense Business & Technology Magazine

(April 25, 2011) — It is a sign of the times that a military Humvee truck for which the Army paid less than $50,000 will cost nearly four times that much to modernize. And refurbishing a Humvee still costs half the price of a new vehicle.

Such are the sobering numbers confronting Army and Marine Corps truck buyers as they embark on fleet replacement programs for more than 100,000 aging Humvees.

The services want their revamped Humvees to have enough armor so that occupants can survive bomb blasts. They want more fuel-efficient engines, and onboard electricity generation so troops can power their radios, sensors and other combat gear. Current vehicle designs, most of which date from the Cold War era, had not anticipated these requirements.

The Defense Department is spending $36 billion on a fleet of 20,000 heavily armored mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, but MRAPs are twice as heavy and, at $500,000 to a million dollars each, too expensive to be considered Humvee substitutes.

The Army estimates that it could cost $180,000 to upgrade an armored Humvee. “Dependent upon availability of funds, there is a potential requirement to competitively recapitalize and modernize the Army’s current fleet of 60,000 up-armored Humvees,” said an Army “market survey” published last week. “With other customers, the total potential quantity over the next 20 years is approximately 100,000 vehicles.”

Protection from roadside bombs is a significant cost driver in any truck program, noted a RAND Corp. study. “Tactical wheeled vehicles are acquiring more situational awareness and protection capabilities, thus growing closer to their ground combat vehicle cousins and more distant from their commercial counterparts,” the study said. “These trends mean more expensive vehicles in most fleets and, due to the large number of tactical wheeled vehicles, much more expensive fleets.”

RAND analysts said senior military buyers have yet to fully comprehend the “funding implications of the survivability of tactical wheeled vehicles.” The tradeoff between survivability and affordability, the study said, “presents a major policy decision for DoD and Congress.”

The need for protection from improvised explosive devices [IED], the study said, “demands that this class of vehicles have armored cabs, at a minimum.”

Not able to predict what IEDs future enemies may use against US forces, vehicle buyers face tough tradeoff decisions among weight, cost and protection, RAND analysts noted. And no matter what protection is acquired, there is no guarantee it will work. “Technology-based solutions to mitigate vulnerability are expensive, whereas the enemy’s countermeasures are relatively cheap,” the study said.

Both the Army and Marine Corps have been weighing whether to fix or buy new as they map out their future truck fleets, but it appears increasingly likely that they will do more fixing than buying. The truck that is being designed to replace the Humvee — the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle — is coming in at higher than expected costs. The original estimate for JLTV was approximately $250,000 per vehicle. The latest number from the Army is $300,000 per vehicle, and some outside estimates have exceeded $400,000, according to RAND.

The large investment planned to refurbish the current Humvee fleet suggest that the military may be scaling back future JLTV purchases and expects to keep the Humvee going for a couple more decades.

“Based on the Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy and future force structure plans, the up-armored Humvees will be required to play a significant part in combat, combat support, and combat service support roles beyond fiscal year 2025,” said the Army’s market survey. “In support of this effort, vehicle capabilities and requirement adjustments are being refocused to improve crew protection while restoring automotive mobility, payload and performance.”

RAND said the military services will continue to struggle with how to balance their vehicle needs within funding constraints because they don’t have a clear sense of what their options are. The study recommends greater use of models and simulations before buying commitments are made.

“It is impossible to protect the vehicle fleets from all threats solely with onboard armor, situational awareness and active protection systems… [and] at the same time, incorporate off-vehicle assets in trade-offs and calculations” without using advanced modeling and simulations, RAND said.

Some of the more important trades for ground combat and tactical wheeled vehicles are: protection versus mobility, passive versus active protection, manned versus unmanned systems, armor versus situational awareness, payload versus speed versus range, range versus off-road capability, size versus stealth, modularity versus specialization, organic ISR (intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance) and fire support versus remote, said the study.

“These trades are especially important for ground vehicles because the platforms are pushing against the limits of weight, power, size, maneuverability, payload, protection, and cost,” RAND noted. Smarter use of modeling and simulation, the study said, could help the Defense Department save money.

Fuel-Guzzling Trucks Are the Target of
Marine Corps’ Upcoming Energy Experiment

The Marine Corps’ energy-efficiency campaign is now turning attention to fuel-guzzling tactical trucks

National Defense Business & Technology Magazine

(April 21, 2011) — The Corps is seeking ideas from industry on how to reduce vehicle fuel consumption. The goal is to test promising technologies at a demonstration scheduled for August at Twentynine Palms, Calif. Proposals are due April 29.

Improved fuel economy and greater onboard power generation capability are sought for the Humvee; the MRAP or mine-resistant ambush-protected truck; and the MTVR, or medium tactical vehicle replacement.

In the last decade, the Defense Department’s tactical truck fleet has experienced a 75 percent increase in gross vehicle weight with a commensurate 30 percent decrease in fuel economy, said Jonathan Carpenter, the lead engineer for expeditionary power systems at Marine Corps Systems Command.

Loaded down with armor and combat gear, a Humvee gets 8 miles per gallon; the MRAP ekes out 4 miles per gallon and the MTVR attains 4.3 miles per gallon, he told the Institute for Defense and Governmental Advancement’s tactical vehicle summit on April 20. Keeping up with fuel demands in Afghanistan has been a huge logistics and security challenge as resupply convoys must travel hundreds of miles on mine-infested road to reach forward operating bases.

To address battlefield power and energy problems, the Marine Corps last year began hosting a series of experiments designed to test commercial technologies in realistic environments. The first experimental forward operating base, or ExFOB, event held in Quantico, Va., demonstrated solar power and water generation systems. A unit subsequently deployed to Afghanistan with some of those renewable technologies and is evaluating them in combat operations.

A second ExFOB held at Twentynine Palms attracted companies that had developed hybrid photovoltaic generator-battery systems, solar powered direct current (DC) air conditioners and solar powered DC coolers.

For the third ExFOB in August, Marine officials are seeking high efficiency and large area photovoltaic technologies to harvest solar energy for a company-sized forward operating base at approximately 5 kilowatts. Marines also are interested in PV technologies that can heat water.

One of the objectives is “improving the fuel efficiency of tactical vehicles and looking for ways to more efficiently power both on and off-board electronic systems,” according to the solicitation posted on the FedBizOpps website. “There are a lot of technologies out there that the government is unaware of, or simply hasn’t purchased yet,” Carpenter said. “Why don’t you bring it to the desert and we’ll test it.”

Excess Weight in New Light Trucks
Causing Growing Tension Between Army and Marine Corps

National Defense Business & Technology Magazine

(April 22, 2011) — The next-generation military truck, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, may not be so “joint” anymore.

A rift between the Army and the Marine Corps over JLTV is growing. Corps officials are unhappy with current JLTV designs and continue to seek ways to reduce vehicle weight and costs.

The Army is leading the JLTV effort to design a replacement for up to 50,000 aging Humvees. Three industry teams are developing prototypes. The Marine Corps plans to buy 5,500 of the vehicles, but early cost and weight estimates are unsatisfactory, officials said. Vehicle weight is a significant sticking point for the Marine Corps, which is trying to lighten all its equipment to make it more easily transportable by air or sea.

“There’s no doubt of the tension there between the ‘big Army’ requirement and the Marine Corps’ expeditionary overlap,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue, director of the capabilities development directorate at Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “We have a mission profile for vehicles that are not complementary,” he told the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s tactical vehicles summit this week.

Marines expect their trucks to operate 30 percent of the time on paved roads and 70 percent of the time off road — the exact opposite of what the Army intends for its vehicles, he explained. Marines also place transportability of those vehicles at a premium. “We will sacrifice protection for transportability and mobility,” he said. Vehicle designers have struggled to balance the “iron triangle” of protection, payload and performance in military tactical vehicles. Meeting the requirements of one of those three characteristics often disrupts the technologies’ ability to adequately satisfy the other two areas, he explained.

Marines would like JLTV to weight about 14,500 pounds, but they acknowledge that it is a tough target. “You start getting at the ragged edge of what’s possible. That’s understood,” said O’Donohue. “What we can do is have acquisition processes that are flexible enough to maximize that kind of ragged edge.”

The Corps might be willing to accept 80 percent of the solution at 60 percent of the cost, he added. “This is the era when the Marine Corps needs to be informed by the art of the possible,” he said.

The Marine Corps Combat Development Command is now exploring armor alternatives for a Humvee recapitalization program, which will refurbish 4,000 vehicles. One of the options is a “capsule” technology that would replace existing cabins with a new enclosure. Another system under consideration is a chimney-like device to mitigate the impact of roadside bomb blasts. “The Marine Corps is encouraging all of them,” in an effort to get the best bang for the buck, said O’Donohue.

The humvee recap program could help to inform JLTV as that program develops, he added. A request for proposals will be released this summer and officials could commence testing prototypes as soon as October.

Concerns about the weight of JLTV also were expressed by the commander of US Army Special Operations Command Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, who told the IDGA conference that current designs are too heavy and don’t meet special operators’ needs.

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