When the names of world class defense companies Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems come up in conversation or in print it is usually in association with cutting edge aerospace and electronics systems. Lockheed Martin is the company that gave the United States the U-2, the F-22 fighter, the Patriot air and missile defense system, the Theater High Altitude Air Defense system, the Aegis radar and naval combat system, the JASSM and LRASM missiles, AEHF communications satellites, the Space Fence radar system and Intelligence Driven Defense solutions to the advanced persistent cyber threat. BAE Systems has brought the world such advanced defense products as the Tornado and Typhoon combat aircraft, the FALCON broadband secure communications system, the Striker II digital helmet-mounted display, advanced threat infrared countermeasures/common missile warning system and the Astute-class nuclear attack submarine. These two companies are major collaborators on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter along with engine maker Pratt & Whitney.
So it may come as something of a surprise to learn that these two companies soon may also be a leader in the design and production of advanced military vehicles. Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems are the leaders of one of the three teams competing to provide the U.S. military with the world’s most advanced ground transportation system, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The JLTV is intended to be a replacement for the ubiquitous HMMWV or “Hummer” utility vehicle but with enhanced load capacity, greater survivability and additional power generation capability. Testing of vehicles began in September 2013. The selection of a single source production contractor is expected sometime in the summer of 2015. The current plan is to acquire some 55,000 vehicles for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.
The JLTV is intended to be much more than your father’s Oldsmobile. The Lockheed Martin/BAE Systems team is applying advanced concepts and technologies from a number of different sources including Formula 1 racing, prior work in aircraft cockpits and avionics design, and state-of-the-art onboard electronic diagnostics. Borrowing from its aerospace experience, Lockheed Martin developed a computer program to test the complex tradeoffs between different designs and features, mission profiles and cost parameters. The Cummins/Allison power train has demonstrated reliability, maintainability and fuel efficiency through some 200,000 hours of testing. The Meritor ProTec adjustable suspension system provides unparalleled comfort for vehicle passengers while allowing negotiation of extremely rugged terrain. The design of the Lockheed Martin/BAE Systems JLTV system shows what is possible when the best ideas and enduring experience of companies with knowledge in all aspects of technology development, systems integration and lean manufacturing are brought to bear on a complex problem.
BAE Systems is providing critical technologies in the realms of vehicle survivability, mobility and communications. In addition, the team will rely on BAE Systems’ experience in the manufacture of military vehicles. The team announced that this month it will turn on its JLTV production line in Camden, Arkansas in order to support the Department of Defense’s production readiness review. The manufacturing line was recently moved from a BAE Systems facility in Sealey, Texas where it had for years produced both military trucks and the Caiman variant of the MRAP.
The Lockheed Martin/BAE Systems team is certainly a leading contender for the JLTV award.
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