The US military replaced its Humvees in Afghanistan and Iraq, with heavier, better armored vehicles because of the threat from roadside bombs. But that approach may not work In a high-tech conflict, argues manufacturer AM General. You might want to go back to the Humvee. Why? Because it’s simpler. There are no electronic engine controls, no electronic braking, no circuitry that a sophisticated enemy could hack with malware, scramble with directed microwaves, or fry with the electromagnetic pulse from an atomic bomb or other source.
Two years after losing the contract for the next-gen, high-tech Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), AM General is doubling down on the Humvee and making a virtue of its simplicity. Sure, the company has upgraded the vehicle since its introduction back in 1984 with more powerful engines, tougher transmissions, and stronger frames. That increased the maximum weight of a fully-loaded Humvee from 9,000 lbs to 14,000 lbs now, dramatically increasing capacity for cargo, weapons, and armor – even as reliability has increased four-fold.
AM General’s “Keep It Simple, Stupid” strategy seems to be working. Last August, the Army awarded the company a $1.6 billion contract to buy Humvees for Afghanistan. This September, the Army awarded a $2.2 billion contract for “Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Jordan, Slovenia, Bahrain, Columbia, Bosnia and Kenya,” of which $550 million is already on order. The US Army has even restarted buying new Humvees for its own use, mainly in the National Guard, as well as overhauling and upgrading the more than 100,000 Humvees already in service.