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Army wants to redirect Humvee funding

Jan. 27, 2011 - 06:22PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 27, 2011 - 06:22PM  |  
A U.S. Army Humvee is shown traveling through the mountains of Kapisa province, Afghanistan, in April 2008. The service still hopes to upgrade the existing fleet.
A U.S. Army Humvee is shown traveling through the mountains of Kapisa province, Afghanistan, in April 2008. The service still hopes to upgrade the existing fleet. (Army)
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The U.S. Army still plans to launch a competitive program to upgrade its Humvee fleet, according to the final draft of the service's Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy, released Thursday. But the service has been unsuccessful so far at securing funding for the effort.

The Army would like to start the Humvee recap effort this fiscal year, Maj. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, who directs force development in the Army's G-8, told reporters Thursday.

Getting the effort started will require the Army to submit a second reprogramming request to Congress.

Last spring, the Army asked permission from Congress to shift money away from procuring new Humvees toward a Humvee recap program. That request was denied.

Since then, the Army has done a lot of talking to members of Congress and their staff, Spoehr said. The service also has continued to refine its acquisition strategy and explore what industry can offer.

The Army first released a request for information for the recap program in January 2010.

Most vehicle makers had an improved Humvee on display at their booths at the annual Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) conference in October. The improved Humvee designs featured everything from double-V hulls to advanced armor solutions to structural blast chimneys.

The service plans to release a second request for information before issuing a formal request for proposals, said Col. David Bassett, project manager for tactical vehicles.

In the near term, the Army plans to reset its Humvees used in Iraq and Afghanistan in its depots.

The Army does not plan to buy any new Humvees beyond 2012. However, the service is working with Humvee maker AM General to keep the production line running as long as it makes sense, Bassett said. There are other services' requirements to fill as well as requests from other countries, he said.

The Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy represents a "paradigm shift" for the Army, Spoehr said. Rather than look out five to 10 years as previous documents have, this strategy lays out a plan for how to manage the service's fleet of trucks for the next 30 years, he said.

The Army plans to reduce its overall fleet of 260,000 trucks by 15 percent by fiscal 2017, Spoehr said. In doing so, the Army will reduce what it spends on procurement for tactical wheeled vehicles from $4.4 billion a year to $2.5 billion a year.

Part of this divestiture could include some of the Army's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

The Army would like to divest around 1,500 of the roughly 20,000 MRAPs in its inventory, Spoehr said. The two models the Army would prefer to divest are the earlier version of the RG-33, built by BAE Systems, and Force Protection's Cougar.

The Army owns later, more capable versions of the RG-33, and to upgrade the older models is not cost-effective, officials said. The Army does not own many Cougars, and therefore, resourcing the maintenance and training for them also is not cost-effective.

The Army does not intend to throw either vehicle out, but if there is an opportunity for "someone else to use them," the Army would prefer to divest them, Army officials said.

The Army released a draft of the strategy at the AUSA conference in October, but then pulled it back, saying it needed to circulate the document internally a bit longer.

According to Spoehr, the document released Thursday is the same one the Army was ready to distribute in October.

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