GRAND PRAIRIE — A new generation of Humvee-style armored vehicles is on the way to Army and Marine Corps bases nationwide.At a ceremony Wednesday, military officials took ownership of 22 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles that have been under development for the past year by Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie.“It’s really a big deal for us,” said Scott Greene, vice president of ground vehicles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.In 2015, the military is expected to issue a contract for production of as many as 55,000 new vehicles. About 5,000 are expected to be ordered by the Marine Corps and the bulk by the Army. The next-generation vehicles will replace the fleet of HMMWV that entered service in the 1980s. The new, lighter models are up to 40 percent cheaper than the older ones, which cost about $400,000, officials say.Lockheed is in a three-way competition for the contract with AM General and Oshkosh Trucks, which are also expected to deliver test vehicles to the military.If Lockheed wins the contract, final assembly of the JLTVs will be completed by BAE Systems in Sealy, near Houston, officials said. Lockheed has been in the business of developing ground vehicles for four decades.On Wednesday, about 200 spectators, including military, JLTV suppliers, congressional aides and others participated in the delivery ceremony under a large air-conditioned tent at Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control headquarters. One JLTV was on display for spectators in the tent next to the podium; the others were parked nearby.For 14 months, military officials will test-drive the armored vehicles to assess their performance, officials said.Before the ceremony, a video with fast-action music showed an JLTV speeding over woodpiles and rocks.“The glue that makes this all work is … the cooperation between industry and government,” Greene told spectators Wednesday.Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control has about 2,700 employees in Grand Prairie.
Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705 Twitter: @yberard