Decision On Military Contract For Camden Expected By Late Summer

Sen. Tom Cotton and Gov. Asa Hutchinson join with other officials in May to look at a prototype of a military vehicle that would be produced in Camden if Lockheed Martin lands the government contract.
Credit Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A Pentagon official confirmed that a decision on the $30 billion award for Joint Light Tactical Vehicle project remains on schedule for an award in the fiscal fourth quarter, which for the U.S. military concludes at the end of September, Talk Business & Politics has learned.

Local congressional sources have recently shared that they believe a winner of the hotly-contested defense contract will not be made in July, as has been previously predicted. An Army spokesperson said, however, the “source selection” timetable has always been at the end of fourth quarter for fiscal 2015.

Pentagon officials also shared a video podcast with TB&P of the recent Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., where Honorable Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology, spoke briefly about the JLTV project at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

Shyu, head of Army acquisition, refused to provide details of the JLTV decision-making process during the hour-long June 10 presentation on modernizing the U.S. military. However, she did offer that the selection of a winner for production of the next-generation, armed tactical vehicle is forthcoming.

“It (the JLTV project) is in source selection, so I really can’t say much about what is going on, but we are hoping to make an award probably late this summer,” said Shyu, whose office will choose the winning contractor.

According to the U.S. Army’s $127 billion budget request for fiscal 2016, which runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 of next year, there are 12 critical programs that support mission command, joint combined arms maneuver, and broad joint mission support.

The JLTV joint program between the Army and the Marine Corps makes the list as a contributor to the joint combined arms maneuver mission. Lockheed Martin, Oshkosh Defense and AM General are the three commercial contractors competing to win the JLTV program contract.

In April, Col. Michel M. Russell Sr., Army G-8 FD division chief for focused logistics, said the Army expects to exit the current engineering and manufacturing development stage of the JLTV competition, and down-select from three contractors to one as part of an acquisition decision in the fourth quarter. The winning contractor would build approximately 17,000 JLTVs for the Army and Marines during three years of low-rate initial production, followed by five years of full-rate production.

The Army plans to eventually purchase 49,099 JLTV’s, while the Marine Corps plans to eventually buy 5,500 of the vehicles. For the Army, initial operating capability on the JLTV is expected in the fourth quarter fiscal 2018.

Russell said in light tactical vehicles, the Army looks for three primary components: payload, performance and protection. Those three characteristics together, he said, are referred to as “the iron triangle.”

“What JLTV does is it meets the capability gap that allows us to bring all three of those back into balance,” Russell said. “We gain all that back, and it’s deployable in all the different environments.”

In a March report to Congress provided to Talk Business & Politics, the Army and the Marine Corps call for $456.9 million in procurement funding for 559 of the JLTV vehicles.

“The Army — on behalf of itself and the Marines — plans to select a winner and issue a single contract award in the late summer of 2015,” the March 9 report by the Congressional Research Service said.

Interestingly, the congressional report also states there are currently no foreign military sales planned for the JLTV, despite previous program participation from Australia and interest from Canada, Great Britain and Israel.

“Congress might wish to examine why these countries are no longer interested in the JLTV program, as foreign participation in these types of programs not only increases interoperability but can also benefit these programs from a cost perspective,” the report concludes.

In late May, the Arkansas Legislature overwhelmingly approved an $87 million incentive-laden financing package for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin. Executives with the defense contracting giant said the company plans to bolster the state’s $87.1 million bond financing with a total investment of more than $125 million for infrastructure improvements in Camden, as well as reach job-creation and wage milestones set by the state during the next 25 years if it wins the military contract.