Designing the Next-Generation Army Truck

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Over the next few years, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, better known as the JLTV, will enter the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps fleets, eventually replacing the Humvee as one of the most iconic military vehicles in history.  

Though, unlike most new vehicle designs, the JLTV is not simply a revamped version of its predecessor. For the last nine years, Lockheed Martin engineers have been designing the vehicle from the ground up—taking into consideration everything from saving fuel to connecting the fleet and countering blasts.

In fact, the seriously amped up, combat tactical wheeled vehicle system is so adaptable that it will provide decades of reliable service and lower operating costs over the life of the program, plus room for upgrades.

Curious how the JLTV stacks up against the everyday truck? Read on to learn more about the amazing capability embedded into its holistic design.  

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BUILT TO PROTECT

Even an ordinary truck undergoes significant wear and tear from everyday use. A military vehicle must be extra rugged to endure threats on the battlefield and traverse through rough terrain.  

In designing the JLTV, Lockheed Martin took a systems engineering approach, providing M-ATV levels of blast protection in a vehicle that weighs substantially less than its predecessor.

“This ability stemmed from a combination of an innovative, patented hull design developed by our teammate BAE Systems and evolved over many years of design/model and simulate/blast test, isolation floors that contain crushable material, blast-mitigating seats and seat restraints,” said Kathryn Hasse, Lockheed Martin’s JLTV program capture director. “All of these elements work together for the JLTV to achieve the unprecedented levels of blast protection it has demonstrated in government testing.”

While its primary purpose is for mobility and protection, the JLTV also breaks the mold when it comes to on-board technology. Going far beyond rear-view cameras, the vehicle houses a full suite of C4ISR equipment, making it the most well-connected vehicle in the fight.

MOBILITY IN MIND

The JLTV was designed to be lightweight, delivering outstanding gas mileage while providing crew protection similar to a giant military armored vehicle.

“Most military trucks are heavy and inefficient to operate,” said Barry James, Lockheed Martin’s JLTV production director. “In full combat configuration, our JLTVs averaged 12 to 14 payload-ton miles per gallon (PTMPG) in government testing.”

Compare that to up-armored Hummers only getting three to four PTMPG in published reports. Over the life of the program, the amount of money saved on fuel alone could actually cover the cost of procuring the vehicles.

The JLTV’s weight can also be attributed to the systems engineering approach its designers used to reduce the weight of every aspect of the vehicle, including the drivetrain and suspension components, plus a more space-efficient cab and armor configuration.

JLTV Employee Spotlight

Of course, the lighter a vehicle, the less likely it is to get weighed down when traveling through terrain like mud, sand or soft soil. When entering different terrain, the driver can simply push a button to adjust the ride height suspension and central tire inflation system. This would come in handy when fording, climbing a step or traversing soft surfaces.

When it comes to actual driving, the JLTV ride is smooth thanks to superior ride quality, suspension geometry and a low center of gravity. Engineers also included vibration dampening and adjustable suspension to ease the ride. 

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A TRUCK THAT ADAPTS

Going far beyond the upgrades available on any ordinary truck, JLTV engineers used a flexible and reconfigurable approach to the vehicle’s defenses—giving troops the ability to swap out armor if there is ever an upgrade. The driver and commander displays can also be upgraded as new technology becomes available, as can any other component in the vehicle.

Even the JLTV’s engine compartment is designed to accommodate an engine upgrade. The vehicle’s current engine—a 4.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine—boasts greater output than many V6 engines, providing ample power for foreseeable current and future missions.

While most other truck designs use an alternator to charge the battery and provide limited power to onboard and external systems, the JTLV has an Integrated Starter-Generator (ISG) that can generate significantly more power, much more efficiently—up to 75 kilowatts with an upgrade in place.

This level of power would be important if the fleet ever requires future directed energy or other weapons and protection systems that require more power than a belt-driven alternator can provide.

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MORE THAN A TRUCK – UNPRECEDENTED PROTECTED MOBILITY

With these amazing capabilities, the Lockheed Martin Team’s JLTV is far more than just a truck—it is a fully integrated combat tactical wheeled vehicle system that more than meets today’s requirements and was designed with the future in mind. It offers MRAP levels of crew protection, a substantial increase in performance and payload, as well as greater reliability, outstanding fuel efficiency and lower operations and sustainment costs.