Memorial Day is all about celebrating our Armed Forces and remembering the high cost of freedom. Countless American lives have been lost in the continuing fight for freedom and independence. Today, we honor them in the best way we know how – by taking a look at the U.S. Military’s current mobile hardware.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is built by Lockheed Martin as a “lightweight” vehicle designed for widespread use throughout the military. It serves as an armored troop carrier that’s resistant to light arms fire and roadside IEDs commonly found on today’s front lines. Unlike up-armored Humvees and the heavy MRAPs, the JLTV doesn’t suffer from poor driving dynamics and off-road performance. This helps keep our boys protected while on the move, regardless of terrain or outside conditions.

Despite the JLTV’s 14,000 pound curb weight, the vehicle is light enough for both the CH-47 Chinook and CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters to airlift, giving the vehicle an added level of transportability. Also adding to the JLTV’s list off accolades is its relatively low cost and good fuel economy, along with its reliability and low logistical support costs.

Sure, the JLTV might not have as memorable a name as the Humvee, but this bad boy is one of the best solutions to keeping our troops safe while keeping them on the move.

Continue reading for the full run-down


Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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Just take a look at this beast. Even a short glance reveals how purpose-built this sucker is. The JLTV’s overall design centers on occupant safety as evidenced by its sloping-hull design. The bottom of the passenger compartment is sloped so it directs any explosive blast outward rather than upward, helping make the armor more effective. The tucked-in sides also give the JLTV a respectable amount of ground clearance. Helping in that are the massive tires connected it the four-wheel independent suspension system.

The front grille and hood feature a flat design that reduces manufacturing costs while keeping the engine protected from enemy fire. The front bumper also is strictly business, holding both recovery points and tie-down loops. Poking through the hood are the airlift loops similar to those on the Humvee. At the rear, the JLTV is modular in its design, allowing for multiple uses.

The JLTV isn’t just about playing defense. The roof is capable of supporting a machine gun turret thanks to the integrated hatch. A .50 caliber Browning machine gun would make the JLTV a formidable attack platform.

Armament and Crew Safety

Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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Obviously the JLTV is armored to protect the crew from both flying bullets and exploding bombs, but the JLTV goes beyond thick steel plating. The hull is shaped like a boat, forcing the blast outward and keeping the crew compartment safe from breaching. The vehicle’s floors are also comprised of a unique structure that acts as a crumple zone to reduce the impact of blast forces. Shock-absorbing seats provide further protection from the sudden acceleration during an explosion. Lastly, the JLTV’s air suspension features multiple ride heights, with the highest setting offering even more ground clearance and protection from IEDs.


Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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Powering this 14,000-pound beast is a 4.5-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline four-cylinder. An Allison automatic transmission backs the Cummins for an unbeatable powertrains combination. Though Lockheed Martin doesn’t advertise the Cummins’s powertrain specifications, expect the engine to produce at least 300 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. With extra low gears in the differentials and transmission, this would be enough power to move the JLTV to 60 is a relatively quick 20 seconds. While that might be an educated guess, The JLTV is all about mobility, right?

Off-Road Abilites

A robust 4WD system is the backbone of the JLTV’s abilites to trudge through nearly any terrain. Putting the power down are four Goodyear tires with an aggressive tread design and thick sidewalls. Mounted on beadlock wheels, the each tire features the ability to inflate and deflate with the push of a button from inside the cab. This gives the driver the ability to “air down” when tracking across loose or rough surfaces like sand and rock, while inflating the tires for driving on the road or with a heavy load.

The four-corner independent suspension system features air shocks that absorb bumps far better than conventional heavy-duty shocks. The added benefit is a variable ride height for different situations.


Lockheed Martin's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
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The Lockheed Martin JLTV offers a good compromise between the lightweight Humvee and the heavy weight MRAP – both keeping its occupants protected while allowing a great level of mobility through tough terrain. It’s weight class also provides a greater level of transport options, including helicopter, while allowing for greater fuel economy during long-distance driving.

The downside to all this capability is cost, with the JLTV likely costing some $450,000, but the advantages of troop safety far

  • Leave it
    • Expensive
    • Still extremely heavy
    • Not as widespread in use as Humvee (yet)

Source: Lockheed Martin

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
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