Military bidding processes are notoriously contentious. There's big money involved and defense contractors all want a piece of it, even if that means calling in the legal eagles after the decision has been made. But for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the courtroom battleground is getting in the way of giving soldiers and marines a crucial new tool for getting around the battlefield.

Lockheed Martin, which already has a significant piece of the defense-budget pie thanks to the F-35 Lightning II and littoral combat ship, did not care for Uncle Sam's decision to award Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense with the JLTV contract in late August. Two weeks after the award, Lockheed lodged an official protest over the Government Accountability Office's decision. The protest was thrown out in December and followed by an official suit in the Court of Federal Claims, but the damage was done – Oshkosh couldn't legally work on the JLTV contract during the protest period. (Oshkosh wasn't prevented from working on the project while the suit was being considered.)

Because Oshkosh's JLTV program was idle from September to December, it's behind on building the 16,901 vehicles called for in its low-rate initial production contract. That's created a domino effect that has extended delays well past three months, according to Defense News. The Army is projecting the JLTV won't hit initial operational capability until late 2019, six months later than initially predicted. The Marine Corps is worse off, moving its projection from the fourth quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2020.

"A 90-day delay grew into about six- or an eight-month delay just because of the difficulty of rescheduling a test phase that we were going to do, which then impacts the decision date for the full-rate production decision; which, in turn, puts our funding out of phase for the JLTV program...which then allowed us to take a look at the time difference between the completion of testing and that whole rate production decision, and it ended up stretching out IOC about a year," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Naval Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management, Thomas Dee, told Defense News.


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