How the Generals Saved the JLTV
PARIS — Oshkosh Defense may be one of the newest entries in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle competition, but it was also one of the program’s original bidders. Shut out of the technology development phase in 2008 due in part, company executives believe, to its hybrid electric drive concept, Oshkosh has since spent $80 million of its own money developing six subsequent generations of its JLTV before submitting its bid–dubbed the L-ATV–in March at the start of the program’s engineering and manufacturing development phase.
“It’s probably the best vehicle we’ve ever designed,” said (ret.) Maj. Gen. John Urias,president of Oshkosh Defense. He said that the company had put 20,000 test miles on the vehicle before it was even submitted to the Army and Marine Corps, and that the company was prepared to submit a prototype of its design, but military officals declined the offer.
But the progran has only made it this far because of the intervention of a pair of four star generals Urias contends. Once the cost of the program shot up to an estimated $400,000 per vehicle, the Arny’s vice chief of staff and the Corps’ assistant commandant sat down with industry to find out what was driving the cost growth. In a series of one-on-one discussions before the latest request for proposals was released eariler this year–of which Oshkosh was a part–”industry was very forthcoming” Urias said, and with that line of communication now open between industry and the military, “based on that feedback they revised some of the requirements and thereby they were able to drive a lower unit manufacturing cost for the JLTV. And it saved the program.” The program is now expected to cost about $250,000 per vehicle.
Urias called the process a”very novel and creative paradigm shift from the way programs have been birthed in the past” where the government simply wrote up a list of requirements “in a vacuum without regard to the financials.”
The engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program was shortened from 48 months to 27 months in the RFP that came out on March 27, and six industry teams are bidding for the contract.