The U.S. Army’s program to field a more resilient and versatile successor to the Humvee light truck has unfolded in remarkably smooth fashion. Manufacturer Oshkosh, which won the contract in 2015, has delivered 13,000 vehicles to the Army and other services on schedule and below budget. Nonetheless, the plan has always been to recompete the contract, to see whether a different company might surpass the incumbent on pricing while delivering equal or better quality. A draft request for proposals will be issued in October, and at least three offerors other than Oshkosh look poised to compete. Because the program is going so well, the main concern in the recompete is that the Army not get diverted into unnecessary modifications of the baseline design that require extensive testing or drive up the cost of sustaining the fielded fleet. For instance, electric drive has considerable political appeal, but trying to add it now would produce a mixed fleet with more complicated maintenance and operational requirements. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, but it does mean the Army needs to think through whether the change would interfere with JLTV’s core goals of saving lives and winning wars. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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