Could the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Get Hybrid Vehicles?

Could the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Get Hybrid Vehicles?

Oshkosh Defense has revealed a hybrid-electric variant of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. 

Oshkosh Defense, the company behind the U.S. Army and Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, recently unveiled a hybrid-electric version of their Humvee replacement. The “eJLTV,” which Oshkosh has been working on for years, is reportedly capable of being operated silently.

“For many years, we’ve been developing, testing, and evolving hybrid-electric variants of our heavy and medium-duty tactical wheeled vehicles,” John Bryant, President of Oshkosh Defense, explained in the company’s media statement.

“Now, with the eJLTV, we’re offering our military customers an affordable way to electrify their light tactical wheeled vehicle fleet without compromising the off-road performance or superior protection necessary in combat operations.”

Although hybrid vehicles, as well as all-electric cars and trucks, are already integrated into the civilian automobile market, they have yet to penetrate military vehicles sales. Still, Oshkosh argues that the potential advantages are substantial.

“While the U.S. Army has not requested a hybrid-electric JLTV as part of the JLTV recompete, the eJLTV proves that Oshkosh Defense has the team and technical capabilities to produce this highly capable vehicle today,” Bryant stated.

The company’s statement explained that the eJLTV can recharge its battery in only thirty minutes. Oshkosh added that the eJLTV reduces or eliminates “the need for a charging infrastructure.” Many believe that the necessity of charging infrastructure is the most significant barrier to the widespread use of electric vehicles in military settings.

Oshkosh noted that the eJLTV’s hybrid drive increases fuel economy by over 20 percent and offers a 30kWh battery capacity, with the potential for additional capacity. The company also claims that the vehicle’s high export power capacity eliminates the need for a towed power generator.

It is important to note that Oshkosh has significant experience with hybrid vehicles. The company also has a federal contract to supply the United States Postal Service with up to 165,000 zero-emission electric and fuel-efficient, low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles.

Though the company is taking a bold capabilities step, it is not clear that the JLTV or eJLTV will be widely used in the future. The JLTV was built and designed during an era of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The types of threats it is intended to counter—primarily small arms and improvised explosive devices—might not be as relevant in a conflict with a near-peer competitor.

Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.

Image: Reuters.