By Maj. Peter BogartMay 1, 2019
Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Soldier recently became the first in the Army equipped with the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and spent several days in late April testing and giving feedback on new features as part of the "Big 4" Soldier Touchpoint Event.
The "Big 4" refers to the new capability added to the truck with these enhancements - increased situational awareness (roughly 250% larger rear windows and the Forward Facing Camera), added muffler, troop seat kit, and the JLTV-Trailer. Soldiers took part in the test as drivers, truck commanders, and rear seat and troop seat passengers.
The muffler was added to reduce engine noise and make it easier for the crew to communicate, a front facing camera helps ensure operators can better see terrain near the vehicle, especially going over embankments, and the troop seat kit and trailer add to the personnel and cargo carrying capacity and give Soldiers a trailer capable of handling the same increased speed over rough terrain as the JLTV itself.
During the test, Soldiers spent a day going through convoy operations in the vehicles without the upgrades and then went through the same lanes in vehicles with the upgraded features. Pfc. Allan Muraira said the larger windows were crucial to being able to scan for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or other hazards during tactical halts.
"My eyes didn't hurt as much because I wasn't straining," said Muraira. "It's hard to see out the smaller window which made it hard to do your fives and 25s without opening the door."
Soldiers also mentioned how the reduced engine noise from the new mufflers made it easier to communicate inside the vehicle.
The most popular feature for the drivers and truck commanders is the front facing camera. Sgt. Daniel Kledzinski said that on the first day of the testing they took the trucks to the wash racks where they were able to drive up the ramps with better visibility to elevate the front of the vehicle and contrast what is seen through the front window and what the camera adds.
It made a world of difference because with the camera you can actually see what you are about to drive over," said Kledzinski.
Kledzinski also said that the noise dampening improved comfort and was less fatiguing, both factors that would be magnified on long convoys or mission.
Two JLTV trailers were used during the testing and in addition to providing feedback on the towing performance, Soldiers were evaluated on how long it took to couple and uncouple the trailers.
Maj. Erika Hanson, Assistant Production Manager for JLTV Systems Integration, said that the decision has already been made to install all JLTVs with the larger windows, camera, and mufflers while the troop seat kit and JLTV trailer are still in the test phase. Raider Soldiers are the first in the Army to field the JLTV and their input is part of an ongoing process in the JLTV fielding program.
"This event is to get Soldier feedback which will be provided to Army Senior Leadership in conjunction with developmental testing at Aberdeen Test Center," said Hanson.
1ABCT Soldiers have fielded over 320 JLTVs since January and have already integrated them into their daily operations. The brigade is currently training up for a January 2020 decisive action rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Ca.