When it replaced the beloved Jeep in 1985, the Humvee looked invincible, but it was never designed to withstand improvised explosive devices (IEDs), a deadly problem in Iraq and Afghanistan. So much of a deadly problem, in fact, that the U.S. military is parking the Humvee in favor of the better armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).
Lacking armor along its exposed, flat bottom, the Humvee proved particularly vulnerable to IEDs and land mines. Attempts to add armor plates to the Humvee's underside increased crew protection, but the increased weight reduced the vehicle's capacity and maneuverability, and reduced the number of Humvees that could be transported by air.
According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report issued in January 2012, underside armor plating will come as standard equipment on the JLTV, which will hit the road at a average production cost of about $250,000 per vehicle.
"With the JLTV, the Army and Marine Corps hope to regain the performance once offered by the [Humvee] while adding inherent crew protection against IED-like threats," noted the Marine Corp's Land Systems Division on its website.
Working together, the Army and Marine Corps will produce two models of the JLTV: a four-passenger Combat Tactical Vehicle and a two-passenger Combat Support Vehicle.
Along with greatly improved crew protection, the JLTVs will be required to deliver high levels of maneuverability and dependability over all types of terrains and in all weather conditions.
Inside the improved armoring, the JLTV's crew will have access to an onboard vehicle diagnostics system, as well as links to all current and future aircraft and satellite-based battlefield condition displays.
Oh, and the HUMMER: As it takes its place in military history, the Humvee may be best remembered for its civilian spin-off, the HUMMER. First produced by American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1992 and later by General Motors (GM) starting in 1999, the pricey HUMMER was touted as the ultimate "go anywhere" off-road sport utility vehicle. But after 18 years of going to more malls than mountain tops, the HUMMER was officially dropped by GM on April 7, 2010, after several attempts to sell the line to other automakers failed.
Also See: Flying Humvees and Laser-Guided Bullets