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Tactical vehicle strategy includes fleet reduction

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Jan. 30, 2011) -- The Army's Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy, released Jan. 26, is the roadmap for managing and modernizing the Army's fleet of nearly 300,000 vehicles over the next 30 years.

"It represents a paradigm shift for the U.S. Army," said Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Spoehr, director of Army force development, of the plan that manages a fleet worth some $70 billion dollars.

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In the past, Spoehr said, similar strategies have looked out only five or 10 years. The new 30-year outlook, he said, reveals a need to cut back in some areas in order to meet budget requirements.

"As we looked out 20 or 30 years we found some aspects of our strategy were going to be unaffordable," Spoehr said. "This strategy makes tough choices today, in order to account for these realities."

One of those tough choices is a reduction in fleet size. By 2017, it's expected the TWV fleet could be reduced by as much as 15 percent, said Lt. Col. Robert Lenz, Army G8. He said the cost savings from that reduction, and from other changes in the strategy, will reduce the per-year fleet procurement budget from what had been projected at $4.4 billion a year down to about 2.5 billion a year.

Also included in the TWV plan is an extension of time between new purchases and recapitalization of vehicles.

"We have kind of factored that in and made what we believe (a) reasonable more incremental approach to our procurement of things," Spoehr said.

The Army will also focus on vehicle versatility, Spoehr said.

"We're going to procure trucks that are adaptable so they can be used in many different environments and have the ability to accept armor and then relinquish armor when it is no longer needed," Spoehr said. He also said that new vehicles must include growth potential built in, so that years after they have been in the fleet, they can easily accept new equipment and technology.

The TWV strategy covers Army tactical wheeled vehicles in four fleets: light, medium, heavy and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected. The light TWV fleet includes the Humvee and will include the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle or JLTV, for instance. The medium fleet includes legacy 2 1/2- and 5-ton trucks, and the heavy fleet includes the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, the Heavy Equipment Transporter System and the Palletized Load System.

Today, a large part of the Army's light TWV fleet is the Humvee. While the Army is no longer buying new Humvees, it is instead working on procurement of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. As part of the TWV strategy, it's expected that the JLTV will eventually make up as much as one third of the light TWV fleet.

The Humvee must also be recapitalized as part of the TWV strategy and the Army has done research into what is possible with the Humvee with recapitalization, said Col. David Bassett, program manager, tactical vehicles.

Also part of the TWV strategy are plans to incorporate about 18 to 19,000 MRAP vehicles into the Army fleet, and to transition the currently joint MRAP program to the Army.

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