Oshkosh J-ATV makes its case as a 14,000-pound Humvee successor

Among the many, many big-ticket items under consideration by the United States military, one of the single most important is finding a replacement for the venerable Humvee. The iconic off-roader was designed to fight the Soviet Union and has struggled on today's IED-littered battlefields. That's where the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program comes into play.

We've covered the JLTV program in the past, looking at the entry from Lockheed Martin. AM General, the current manufacturer of the Humvee, is also competing for the $9.4-billion contract. A new piece from Wired sheds some light on the third challenger in the grouping – the Oshkosh Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle.

For the L-ATV, Oshkosh drew on its experience building the MRAP, known internally as the M-ATV. The goal was to scale down the large, hulled MRAP into a form factor that provided similar levels of protection without compromising so much on off-road capabilities.

John Bryant, the senior vice president of Oshkosh's defense programs explained that, "Every time we come up with a new level of protected mobility off road, the first thing war-fighting customers around the world say is: 'That's awesome, now can you make it even smaller?'"

The result of Oshkosh's efforts is a vehicle that's 30 percent smaller than the MRAP, but that still weighs in at 14,000 pounds (or 18,000, when kitted out with troops and equipment). That, according to Oshkosh, is big enough to easily protect occupants, but it's not so large as to be untenable on the rough terrain of the world's combat zones.

"Troops require an all-terrain vehicle that's scalable, net-ready, that performs off road, and is highly reliable," Bryan told Wired.

The Pentagon will announce whether the JLTV will go to AM General, Lockheed or Oshkosh this winter. While we eagerly await this announcement, head over to Wired and check out their fairly comprehensive piece on the recent failings of the Humvee and Oshkosh's intentions with the L-ATV.

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