Logistics: Irreplaceable


September 3, 2009: One of the unheralded successes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the trucks the army and marines are using. These are the FMTV (Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles) trucks and trailers. The U.S. Army has most of them (over 50,000), the majority being the 2.5 and 5 ton class vehicles (which cost close to $300,000 each). These trucks and trailers are wearing out faster than expected because of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many vehicles have nearly 100,000 kilometers of use, often on bad roads or cross country.

The FMTV vehicles, with several dozen different models, have about 80 percent common parts, which makes it easier to stock spare parts and keep vehicles running. The FMTV trucks are more reliable, and have higher availability rates, than the ones they replaced.

The army is still buying more FMTV vehicles (about 3,000 last year, and more this year). Production is now at over 7,000 a year, and will peak at about 8,000 a year. In addition, several thousand have been refurbished, at a cost of about $100,000 each, to nearly new status. Most of the refurbished trucks were worn down by hard use, while others were damaged in combat or accidents. The need for more trucks is also driven by the need to equip a ten percent expansion in the size of the army. Reserve units also need FMTV vehicles to replace Vietnam era vehicles that are falling apart.

The 2.5 ton FMTV trucks replaced the Vietnam era M35 models in the 1990s, which in turn replaced World War II era vehicles. Most of the Vietnam era models could carry 2.5 tons, and tow six tons. The FMTV were basically the third generation of American trucks specifically designed for military use. FMTV appears to be the most successful generation. The army will have acquired nearly 100,000 of them when production stops in the next 5-10 years. A new design is in the works to replace the FMTV family of trucks in a decade or two. FMTV will be a hard act to follow, and many believe that the new generation will be just an improved FMTV design.



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