There’s something nostalgic about watching Schwarzenegger flattening bad guys with a Hummer and then riding off into the sunset in a cloud of gunpowder. The iconic, broad-snouted off-road war machine is one of the most widely used and recognizable military vehicles in the world, and it pains us to say it but it is getting replaced…by this! This is the Oshkosh JLTV “light duty” war wagon of the future, a truck that offers near-Baja racer speed, with the armor level of a light tank.
With 20 inches of usable wheel travel for improved off-road mobility, fully adjustable suspension for raising and lowering the chassis from inside the cockpit, and high-performance brakes designed for holding onto a steep grade, this truck is a monster like no other when it comes time for blazing your own trail. It also will have specialized blast protected seats, unique restraints and stowage areas to minimize crew impact during “adverse events,” and an integrated automatic fire suppression system if things get “heated” out in the field of battle.
Meanwhile, back in the power department, Oshkosh says they evaluated several engines before going with General Motors’ 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 since it can provide 397-horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque right off the shelf, and once tuned can put down way more than that. Originally a joint venture with Isuzu, this motor has been GM’s torque monster since 2001, powering almost all of its heavy-duty models of the Silverado and Sierra pickups, and getting this gig is surely a huge boost for the Detroit automaker.
According to Oshkosh it now has a “$6.7 billion firm fixed price production contract to manufacture the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)” and could see GM deliver as many as 55,000 diesel V-8 engines for installation, with transmissions being specialty items courtesy of Allison Transmission LLC, a company that was once owned by GM and is quite familiar with the Duramax by now.
In a news release on August 25, Charles L. Szews, Oshkosh Corporation chief executive officer, elaborated a bit on how this contract came to be. “Following a rigorous, disciplined JLTV competition, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps are giving our nation’s Warfighters the world’s most capable light vehicle – the Oshkosh JLTV,” he said.
While Oshkosh refuses to release any specs on its military version of the Duramax engine, it does admit that it will offer improved fuel economy when idling and driving, which is something consumers will appreciate if these warhorses ever break into the consumer market. This contract will supposedly cover 17,000 JLTVs, and eventually could be worth $50 billion if all 55,000 vehicles see production, according to the company’s news release. Designed for the Army and the Marines, the JLTV is sizable step-up from the old Humvee, which is still running on diesel technology from the 1980s. General Motors will still build the specialized, military-grade engine in its Duramax engine plant in Moraine, Ohio, and will ship them to Wisconsin after assembly. Oshkosh beat-out Lockheed Martin and AM General for the contract, as all three offered similar vehicles for defense-based tactics.
“Because of the JLTV program, our Soldiers and Marines are getting a level of technical performance that no other vehicle can match,” said U.S. Army Major General (Retired) John M. Urias, executive vice president of Oshkosh Corporation and president of Oshkosh Defense. “Our JLTV has been extensively tested and is proven to provide the ballistic protection of a light tank, the underbody protection of an MRAP-class vehicle, and the off-road mobility of a Baja racer. The Oshkosh JLTV allows troops to travel over rugged terrain at speeds 70% faster than today’s gold standard, which is our Oshkosh M-ATV.”
GM has supposedly revamped the Duramax engine several times since 2001, but its simplistic, twin-turbo 32-valve dual-overhead cam layout has remained practically unchanged since its inception and is incredibly well-built, with the company producing more than 1.5 million of them over the last 14 years. So all together this means that the next Humvee is going to be even more bad-ass than the last one, and far safer too. So the only question now is: When do we get to drive one?