Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has awarded Oshkosh Defense $1.7 billion to exercise available options for 6,107 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and 22,166 kits of associated equipment.
The new contract, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, is part of an Army and Marine Corps joint program to replace the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle as the primary frontline utility vehicle for the U.S. military.
The JLTV is currently in low-rate initial production, with the first vehicles to be delivered to units for active service in January 2019.
Army procurement and research funds of $1.7 billion have been obligated upon award of the new contract, with work expected to run through September 2019.
The JLTV will be produced in a number of variants, ranging from conventional troop transport, anti-tank platforms, light cargo, air defense and command and control. It is designed to provide the same level of protection against blast damage and conventional weaponry as the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles that have seen extensive service in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theatres.
Many MRAP types are too heavy to handle rough terrain, while the JLTV is lighter and has mobility equal to or better then the HMMWVs it will replace in combat service.
The JLTV has an advanced power plant that lets it function as a generator for other exterior equipment like communications, battery charging and lights, letting personnel plug in gear like it a conventional wall socket.
The Army in 2015 issued a $6.7 billion preliminary order for 16,001 JLTV's to be used by the Army and Marine Corps, with more orders to follow. The Marine Corps in September also upped its long-term requirements for the vehicle to 9,061 vehicles.
Other nations have expressed interest in the JLTV, with the British army seeking to acquire 2,747 vehicles in multiple variants through foreign military sales and sales to other allies being considered or pending.