New 25mm Chain Gun Turret Strengthens JLTV’s Armor Punch
Oshkosh Defense is set to test a 25mm chain gun atop a four-door common light tactical vehicle for nations interested in turning their nimble four-wheeled tactical trucks into direct-fire weapons platforms. fast. European JLTV operators are particularly interested in fitting larger armaments to existing light vehicles for use in urban combat scenarios on display in Ukraine, according to Oshkosh.
The upgraded four-door version of JLTV is also being introduced to the U.S. Marine Corps and Army as a retrofit kit for their trucks, said George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh. Defense. It consists of a JLTV with a new bolt-on roof that accepts a John Cockerill Protected Weapons Station (CPWS) armed with an M242 25mm Bushmaster chain gun.
Firing up to 200 rounds per minute with an effective range of 2,000 meters, depending on the ammunition used, the addition of this weapon could allow a single JLTV to engage and defeat most armored vehicles it encounters, including some tanks. The 150 cartridges stored in the turret are protected from enemy fire. Another 155 rounds in ammo boxes can fit in the space of a single seat inside the JLTV.
Unlike other remote weapon stations, the turret has a central hatch that allows a crew member to peep in or out of the vehicle. The hatch cover is hinged or can be raised vertically to provide overhead protection even when open. It can also be removed to allow a soldier to stand in the hatch. With the lid closed, occupants get blast protection comparable to a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle and the firepower of a Bradley while being just as fast and mobile than a Humvee.
Unveiled at this week’s Modern Day Marine Expo in Washington, DC, the vehicle’s new turret can also mount a 7.62mm machine gun, 40mm smoke grenade launchers and two Javelin anti-tank guided missiles mounted horizontally on the side of the turret.
“The only thing we really had to change on the truck was the roof and since our capsules are a modular design, we just replaced the roof panel with the new roof panel and then mounted that turret up there,” said Mansfield. The war zone. “And again, it was a mockup, but we’re building a real version of it right now.”
CPWS features a welded aluminum frame housing a “multi-barrel” that can sport either a M230LF 30mm (a version of the gun found on the AH-64 Apache) or the venerable M242 25mm cannon. It is remotely operated by an electromagnetic drive that provides a 360 degree range of motion and can be given additional armor up to protection level five. The above video from John Cockrill’s website shows that the barrels are interchangeable. Optics can be top or side mounted.
The gun can elevate from -10 degrees below horizontal to an angle of 60 degrees upwards, a high firing angle that could be useful in urban environments and could play a secondary role against aerial threats like small drones.
“The other thing is that this turret is also modular,” Mansfield said. “You can weaponize it by just putting on bolt-on armor so you get a bit more protection up there. The gun system itself is more of a standard system. It is the interface between the truck and the systems that is important. We’re kind of agnostic about which system goes up top. We just develop the mounting kit and the harnesses and such to be able to run it on top of the truck.
Oshkosh is keen to prove that the roughly 16,000 JLTVs already in circulation are survivable, modular, and relatively inexpensive to modify to serve as lightweight units in a variety of scenarios, Mansfield said. Oshkosh will mount a real CPWS on a JLTV this summer in preparation for a live-fire demonstration in Spain or Belgium this fall, he said.
Besides the US military services, Belgium, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Lithuania, Brazil and the UK operate JLTVs. All current operators will be able to purchase a CWPS upgrade kit for their existing vehicles, which simply requires removal of the roof panel to mount the weapon system, Mansfield said. The current war in Ukraine lends credence to the idea of arming existing light vehicles with weapons relevant to modern urban combat, Mansfield said.
“Europe is very interested there at the moment, I think, with the things that are happening,” Mansfield said. “They seem very interested in being able to buy a JLTV for whatever price Oshkosh can give them, and then put some pretty good lethal gear in there. …It becomes more than just a wheeled tactical vehicle, doesn’t it? It becomes a deadly asset that they can use or employ on the battlefield. You can get MRAP level protection. You have mobility. He will follow the combat formations. And now you’ve put some lethality on it, that’s it. It is a very good vehicle for what interests them at the moment.
The M242 is the same gun as the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle as well as the Marines’ LAV-25, so its addition to JLTV represents a significant increase in capability while maintaining commonality with other systems on field. The barrel and ammunition are also already in the US arsenal, so at least for US customers the logistical and maintenance requirements should be minimal.
The addition of such a powerful gun to JLTV is one of many recent efforts to equip tactical vehicles for various missions otherwise performed by heavier and more expensive platforms. The Marine Corps in particular could benefit from the added firepower as the service transitions from tanks to smaller, lighter platforms to support expeditionary operations.
The JLTVs have housed a number of weapon systems since their commissioning in 2016. Oshkosh and Bushmaster have previously demonstrated a 20mm gun configuration and another M230 30mm gun configuration atop the JLTV for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. Lockheed Martin recently delivered a version of the truck with a top-mounted Spike Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) missile system that is now in the hands of US Special Operations Forces. Oshkosh mounted a 120 millimeter mortar on a two-door version of the truck and conducted a live-fire demonstration in Europe. Yet the M242 offers long-proven range, muzzle velocity, accuracy, and armor-destroying power that is in some ways superior to these other offerings. Also, this is a full turret setup, not a more basic remote weapon station setup.
It’s been nearly four years since Oshkosh introduced a JLTV equipped with a remote weapon station equipped with a .50 caliber machine gun and a Javelin missile. In 2020, the US Marine Corps tested a Naval Strike Missile anti-ship cruise missile from a launcher mounted on a JLTV, demonstrating the utility of the truck for the service’s future plans for distributed operations. The Marines also plan to arm their JLTVs with a variant of the UVision Hero-120 roving munition, launched from a common multi-canister launcher for use against various land and sea targets.
Oshkosh won the original $6.7 billion contract to build 17,000 JLTVs in 2015. Now that its deal has expired over eight years, other companies will have a chance to build the follow-up A2 version of JLTV. A competitive takeover request for proposals for JLTV was issued in February. Proposals for the vehicle are due July 15 and a contract award is expected in September.
“We were always aware that we were going to be in a new competition after the eight years of our current contract,” said Mansfield. “We are very excited to be competing for this. We are very efficient on our lines… and obviously if we are selected as winners, we are ready now. They don’t have to wait for another vendor to augment what we already have in place.
The upcoming contract covers 15,400 vehicles and 7,600 trailers. In the A2 version, the Department of Defense wants an upgraded Banks Power-modified GM Duramax engine and hybrid-electric drive powered in part by lithium-ion batteries.
Oshkosh unveiled a hybrid-electric truck called the eJLTV in January. Also an adaptable kit, the eJLTV is designed to improve energy efficiency by 20%, Mansfield said. It also allows users to immediately switch from internal combustion to “silent mode”, powering all on-board systems with the battery which can then be fully recharged in 30 minutes when the engine is renegade, Mansfield said.
Oshkosh hopes it will remain the incumbent manufacturer, but GM Defense, MaxxPro MRAP builder Navistar and AM General are all vying to take over the contract.
Oshkosh is keen to show that existing JLTVs have a wide range of applications beyond troop transport and the addition of a remote gun turret certainly provides tactical options for current customers. The war zone will follow the company’s progress as it takes this case to the United States and its allies abroad.
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