Managing Streamlined Integration of Advanced Force Capability

Mr. Michael Sprang
Project Manager
Joint Program Office
Joint Light Tactical Vehicles

From Armor & Mobility, Fall 2021

Michael D. Sprang leads the Joint Program Office, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is an Army-led Joint Family of Vehicles program designed to restore payload and performance that were traded from light tactical vehicles to add protection in recent conflict — giving commanders an improved protected mobility solution and the first vehicle purpose-built for modern battlefield networks. Previously, he assumed the role of Acting Deputy Program Executive Officer in January 2018. In this capacity, he supported the Program Executive Officer in leading the development, integration, testing, acquisition, fielding, sustainment, and modernization of more than 250 diverse programs of record. This portfolio spans the Army’s Transportation, Quartermaster, Ordnance, and Engineer portfolios, and includes the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, Army watercraft, contingency basing, robotic & autonomous systems, and numerous other key force enablers.

He served as the Deputy Project Manager for Joint Program Office – Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JPO-JLTV) since November 2014. Before becoming the deputy PM, he led Engineering Manufacturing & Development-Team Alpha (PD EMD-A) within the JPO-JLTV. As the Product Director EMD-A, he had overall program management responsibility for one of the three EMD JLTV contractors.

From 2009 to 2012, Mr. Sprang served in Product Manager – Light Tactical Vehicles as the Assistant Product Manager (APM) for HMMWV Production & Sustainment and APM for HMMWV Modernization, where he oversaw the continued production and sustainment of the High Mobility Multi-wheeled Vehicle and its modernization program.

From 2004 to 2009, he was assigned as APM for Crew Protection with Project Manager – Tactical Vehicles. In this role, he had technical and managerial purview over all aspects of the Add-on Armor program for the U.S. Army with an operating budget of approximately $1.2B. The Add-on Armor program provided significant and rapid solutions on all tactical vehicles operating in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Armor & Mobility spoke recently with Mr. Michael Sprang, Project Manager, Joint Program Office, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, regarding the state of fielding of DoD’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and lessons learned since the Army and Marine Corps took their first deliveries in 2020.

A&M: Please provide some background on the Army’s need for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) capability, initial order delivery numbers, and date of first JLTVs to service.

Mr. Sprang: The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program is an Army led Joint program. The JLTV family of vehicles is designed to restore payload and performance that were traded from light tactical vehicles to add protection in recent conflict — giving commanders an improved protected mobility solution and the first vehicle purpose-built for modern battlefield networks. The JLTV’s speed and off-road mobility keep pace with modern combat formations in rapid, high-intensity conflicts; its ample payload and power host varied mission packages; and it also sports major automotive performance and sustainment improvements over its predecessors. In short, Soldiers and Marines need a reliable and transportable protected mobility solution that reduces their logistics and sustainment demands, restores payload capacity, enhances occupant protection, and improves connectivity with current and future battlefield networks. JLTV is that solution.

To date, the government has awarded an estimated $6.5 billion on the current JLTV contract. The average cost per vehicle is approximately $375,000. This includes vehicles, trailers, operator and maintainer training, spare parts, and field service representative support. The Army currently anticipates purchasing approximately 49,000 vehicles, and the Marine Corps up to 15,390 vehicles spread across two variants and four mission package configurations: General Purpose, Heavy Guns Carrier, Close Combat Weapons Carrier, and a Utility vehicle.

As of the most recent accounting (mid-August 2021), 12,678 vehicles and 992 trailers have been delivered and accepted at time of interview, including multiple fieldings to our first Foreign Military Sales customers.
The Army’s First Unit Equipped was the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and its initial operating capability was complete in Fiscal Year 2020. JLTV fieldings have been made in all Army components: Active, Reserve, and National Guard.

The program has been lauded with two David Packard for Acquisition Excellence Awards as well as DoD Should-Cost and Innovation Awards.

A&M: Can you explain how the JLTV represents an improvement over HMMWV mobility and protection?

Mr. Sprang: The JLTV family of vehicles is designed to restore payload and performance that were traded from light tactical vehicles to add protection in recent conflict — giving commanders an improved protected mobility solution and the first vehicle purpose-built for modern battlefield networks. The JLTV’s speed and off-road mobility keep pace with modern combat formations in rapid, high-intensity conflicts; its ample payload and power host varied mission packages; and it also sports major automotive performance and sustainment improvements over its predecessors.

Specifically, JLTV provides our Soldiers and Marines with:

  • PROTECTION substantially greater than the High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) and similar to the base MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV), yet at two-thirds (2/3) of the M-ATV’s weight—improving mobility and transportability.
  • PAYLOAD capacity similar to the M-ATV without losing protection, but while gaining maneuverability.
    PERFORMANCE improvements that offer greater speed over terrain, acceleration, reliability and fuel efficiency than legacy HMMWVs.
  • TRANSPORTABILITY by CH-47, CH-53, and inside amphibious transports. While legacy HMMWVs can be transported in this manner, M-ATVs are both too large and too heavy for any rotary wing transport.
  • CONNECTIVITY in the first light tactical vehicle purpose-built for battlefield networks.
  • SUPPORTABILITY designed into the system, including integrated Driver’s Smart Display Unit and Health Management System (HMS) systems that continuously monitor vehicle conditions—predicting and diagnosing faults and improving overall sustainment.

A&M: In terms of lessons learned from initial real-world operations, what are some key positives and improvement points that brigade combat team integration has realized?

Mr. Sprang: At every step in the process, the JLTV program has sought and incorporated warfighter feedback on requirement achievability, technological maturity, and associated impacts to cost, schedule, and performance—making warfighter involvement a centerpiece of efforts to translate requirements into capabilities. It would be most appropriate for the program office to defer to operational units equipped with these trucks for comments on their performance in real-world operations.

A&M: What is the general timeframe for expected further investment in JLTV in terms of additional delivery to service and slated upgrades?

Mr. Sprang: The JLTV trailer is slated to begin fielding to Army and USMC units in Fiscal Year 2022. The Joint Program Office remains on schedule to release the first Full Rate Production competitive Follow-On Contract Request for Proposal with a planned contract award in September 2022. The competitive strategy leverages an already capable platform, and through focused design upgrades and competition, bring new capabilities to the Soldiers and Marines. The JLTV Follow-On Contract is based upon a new A2 variant of the Family of Vehicles, which includes several technology insertions in the areas of powertrain, electrical architecture, noise reduction, and stowage improvements.

The pending competition also includes significant incentives for competitors to propose additional technology enhancements in the areas of fuel efficiency, corrosion, upgraded vehicle architecture, and driver assist capabilities, while keeping the JLTV affordable. These technology advances on a proven system, that currently has growth and modularity capability in weight, power and available kits, make the JLTV the optimal platform for the Light Tactical Vehicle mission in a Multi-Domain Operational environment.

A&M: Feel free to address any additional challenges/goals going forward.

Mr. Sprang: The Joint Program Office remains on schedule to release the first Full Rate Production Competitive Follow-On Contract Request for Proposal with a planned contract award in September 2022. The Government has robustly engaged with industry every step of the way to communicate as effectively as possible by holding multiple industry days and follow-on one-on-one engagements with prospective suppliers to relay its Follow-On Contract acquisition strategy.