On February 8, the military issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to suppliers, soliciting concepts for a new Joint Light Tactical family of Vehicles (JLTVs). The proposed vehicles with companion trailers are to be capable of performing multiple mission roles to provide protected, sustained, networked mobility for personnel and payloads across the full Range of Military Operations (ROMO). According to Brigadier General John R. Bartley, Program Executive Officer Combat Support & Combat Service Support (PEO CS & CSS), "Commonality of capabilities will be the hallmark of JLTV, a future replacement for some portion of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) for the Army, consisting of 10 sub-configurations in three different payload categories."

The RFP that resulted in the HMMWV (that's the acronym that spawned the Hummer military vehicle that became a GM division) was issued in 1979. The first Hummers rolled off the Mishawaka, Indiana, assembly line in early 1985 and more than 190,000 have been delivered since then. But after five years of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the military is more than ready to replace it with something much better suited to the new battlefield reality.

As many as seven firms are believed to be preparing proposals, which are due on April 14. By June, three companies will be selected as finalists, each of which will prepare seven variants of their JLTV family in three different weight classes. After 15 months of development and a year of testing, a winner will be selected, or one company will be eliminated.

The vehicle you see here will likely be a strong contender. It's the brainchild of BAE Systems, Inc., the world's third largest defense contractor working in collaboration with International's Navistar Defense division. Engineers on hand for a recent unveiling in suburban Detroit say the vehicle is virtually ready for production now, as it uses many off-the-shelf components like the Navistar diesel engine.