The U.S. military HMMWV operated as designed but failed due to a change of mission. Here’s what resulted from those hard lessons.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked once in a news conference about troops using scrap metal pulled from landfills to “up-armor” their HMMWVs (called the HUM-V). His response was “You go to war with the army you have. Not the one you might want or wish to have.” Though true, our troops in Middle Eastern urban warfare were finding themselves in transport vehicles modeled after Jeeps designed to fight the Soviet Union in Europe. Though unstoppable in off-road maneuvers, the HMMWV was lightly armored, or unarmored and was not able to resist explosive devices improvised from artillery shells.
The HMMWV was modified by troops and the military to have better resistance to small-arms fire and small IEDs, but the modifications led to a snowball effect of other performance failures. The suspension and drivetrains were not designed for the added weight of the armor and more problems resulted. These issues were recognized and the U.S. military and its private industry partners have come up with is called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). This new generation of armored troop transport is specifically designed to resist IEDs.
Oshkosh Defense will build the new JLTV for the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army. John M. Urias, president of Oshkosh Defense says the new vehicle “… 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. The Oshkosh JLTV allows troops to travel over rugged terrain at speeds 70% faster than today’s gold standard.”
The new Oshkosh JLTV has not only armor under the vehicle to resist IEDs and armor on the sides to protect against small arms fire, the weapon’s turret is fully protected. Some versions have remote fire weapons systems to keep the operator inside the vehicle. The new JLTV is powered by a GM Duramax 6.6-liter diesel or diesel-electric hybrid.
Mobility is key to America’s military. The JLTV is just one of the vehicles available to its soldiers. Augmenting the heavily protected JLTV are ATVs made by Polaris. The company has just been awarded a contract to supply the U.S. Special Forces with two and four seat ATVs. These vehicles are mainly intended to be dropped into areas where road-side bombs are less of a risk because there are no roads.
Image of 1986 HMMWV with cloth doors and roof courtesy of RieStore and Youtube