U.S. Army to stop ordering Humvees

The Humvee and the U.S. land-based military go hand in hand in the same way that the military and Jeep once shared a long and seemingly inseparable relationship. But now, it appears as if at least the U.S. Army will be ending its 25-year relationship with the off-road capable Humvee - raising the question of which branch, if any, will be next to end their contracts with AM General.

This week the Department of Defense released its budget, and starting with November 2010, it will no longer be funding the purchase of Humvee vehicles. The Army will however finish out its existing contract, valid through October 2010, and good for 8,000 final Humvees to the tune of $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds.

The maker of the military Humvee, AM General, does provide the Humvee to other branches of the military, in addition to 50 countries worldwide. However, the Army is by far the specialty automaker's largest client - comprising an estimated 80 to 85 percent of total sales.

It is not immediately clear if AM General will be capable of remaining profitable once the Army's contract expires - but almost certainly there will be substantial cuts in AM General's labor force.

Army light ground transportation, post-Humvee
Although the Army has not announced an official replacement for its light-duty troop mover yet, there are two main candidates that are known to be in the running.

The first vehicle up for consideration is the Mine resistant Ambush protected All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, which sits considerably higher than the Humvee, but boasts upgrades in occupant safety and considerable ground clearance. The M-ATV is already in testing in the Afghanistan arena, where it has proven a capable vehicle for traversing mountainous terrain. The M-ATV also comes in several variations, much like the Humvee.

The M-ATV features a 370 horsepower, 925 lb-ft. of torque turbocharged and intercooled inline-six diesel, and a six-speed automatic transmission with manumatic shifting. The M-ATV starts with a base price of $437,000, and skyrockets by an additional million dollars for the top-range model.

The other front runner is the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV. The JLTV has been seen in several variants, and the moniker has even been applied to prototypes from more than one maker. The JLTV being seriously considered by the Army, however, is a specially designed vehicle based largely around its V-shaped hull - designed to mitigate mine and I.E.D. explosions.

The JLTV is a joint project between BAE and diesel producer Navistar.