This is the Oshkosh L-ATV, the US military’s new go-anywhere vehicle that will replace the ageing Humvee. Minnesota defence contractor Oshkosh Corporation has just signed a NZ$10.3 billion contract to supply US forces with 17,000 L-ATVs over the next few years.
The agreement could ultimately be worth more than NZ$30 billion to Oshkosh as the L-ATV (light all-terrain vehicle) gradually replaces the US military’s ageing fleet of 280,000 Humvees.
The L-ATV has been described as a thoroughly modern war machine, one that outperforms the Humvee in every way – it’s tougher, more versatile, easier to maintain, and better protects its occupants.
The US military has been on the lookout for a Humvee replacement since 2005 when it started the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programme.
Several defence contractors worked on their own designs until 2012 when the military whittled candidates down to three – AM General, Lockheed Martin, and Oshkosh.
At around 6300kg, the L-ATV is roughly three times heavier than the Humvee, thanks partly to an underneath design that offers protection from mines and other ballistics.
- Oshkosh Defense will build as many as 55,000 L-ATVs by 2040 — close to 50,000 of them for the US Army and the rest for the US Marine Corps.
- The L-ATV will offer two body styles: a four-door combat-ready vehicle (pictured at top) and a two-door support vehicle, each with a matching trailer. Both models use a 290kW/1025Nm 6.6-litre Duramax V8 turbodiesel engine from General Motors.
- The vehicle is designed to operate at elevations as great as 3658m and at temperatures as low as -40°C or as high as 52°C.
- Its armament options include a manned turret with a 12.7mm machine gun or the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS, which allows a gunner to aim and shoot via a video-game-like interface inside the vehicle.
- To prevent surface corrosion in harsh environments, L-ATVs will wear a self-healing paint called polyfibroblast. The coating contains microscopic polymer spheres filled with an oily liquid. When the painted surface is scratched, the spheres break and fill the abrasion with a waxy “scar.”
- Its diesel-electric hybrid powertrain provides 70kW of exportable electricity — enough to power 18 average-size family homes.
- Off-road, the L-ATV’s adjustable independent suspension can provide as much as 50cm of wheel travel. The wheels on Land Rover’s Range Rover, in comparison, move about half that far.
- Despite its size, the JLTV has a turning radius of just 7.62m — the same as a London Taxi.
- It is designed to ford 1.5m of salt water without a fording kit, in forward and reverse. That’s double the old Hummer’s capability.
- To be transportable by the US military’s CH-53K King Stallion and CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, a loaded L-ATV must weigh no heavier than 7108kg.