Marine Corps to Increase JLTV Buy to 15,000 to Replace its Humvee Fleet

U.S. Marines with 3d Marine Regiment and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) instructors enter JLTV's during a JLTV field training exercise, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 29, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Matthew Kirk)
U.S. Marines with 3d Marine Regiment and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) instructors enter JLTV's during a JLTV field training exercise, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, July 29, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Matthew Kirk)

The Marine Corps is nearly doubling the number of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles it plans to buy to replace its fleet of aging Humvees, officials said this week.

The planned increase -- up to about 15,000 from the 9,000 the service initially planned to buy -- comes as the Marine Corps recently declared the JLTV has reached initial operating capability and is ready to deploy with Marines into combat.

The JLTV is the result of a joint effort by the Army and the Marine Corps to field a more capable tactical vehicle after seeing how the Cold War-era Humvee could not protect troops from the powerful, homemade bombs enemy forces used on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Corps had originally planned on buying just 5,500 JLTVs but later increased that number to 9,000. Even with that increase, the Marines maintained earlier this year that the JLTV would replace only about 60 percent of the service's Humvees over the next decade.

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The Marine Corps currently has 15,390 Humvees in its inventory, according to Barbara Hamby, spokeswoman for Program Executive Officer Land Systems.

Military.com asked the Marine Corps to explain a recent statement that the service will replace its entire fleet of Humvees with JLTVs. Officials with Marine Corps Combat Development Command said they originally planned to buy 9,000 of the new vehicles, but that changed once the service evaluated the rest of its light fleet.

"We subsequently completed the evaluation and presented the information to the commandant, at which time he concurred with replacing the remainder of the light fleet with JLTVs,” the command said in a statement. "The total number of JLTVs will be dependent on future force size and composition, but we are planning for an acquisition of approximately 15,000 vehicles."

It is unknown whether the Army will change its plans for the JLTV as well.

The Army originally planned on buying just over 49,000 JLTVs. The remainder of Humvees not replaced by JLTVs would make up the bulk of the 117,000-vehicle requirement for the service's light tactical vehicle fleet, Army officials said in February.

In April, however, then-Army Secretary Mark Esper said that the 49,000 JLTV requirement was first decided on before the new National Defense Strategy directed the U.S. military to focus more on near-peer competitors such as Russia and China and made the Middle East a lower priority.

Esper, who has since become defense secretary, said it could take a year to 18 months for the Army to complete an evaluation that will decide how many JLTVs will be necessary to support the service's new warfare strategy.

Military.com reached out to the service, asking whether that timeline has changed, but did not receive a response by press time.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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