Iowa National Guard a training center on military’s new multipurpose vehicle

JOHNSTON — The Iowa National Guard is training soldiers from across the country on how to operate its new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Iowa Guard Sergeant First Class Bradley Meyer says the JLTV takes over the duties that had been pushed onto the Humvee. “We’ve basically kind of outgrew it, and the Humvee is just not a big enough platform for the equipment that we have nowadays, and where we need to use it and get it to and all that stuff,” Meyer says.

He says the Humvee was never originally intended to be a combat vehicle, but the JLTV is designed specifically for that. One big improvement over the Humvee is the electronic systems.  “They’re very basic computers on the Humvee. Whereas the JLTV, more conforms with what I like to compare it to is the civilian world as far as how all the computer systems are integrated into the vehicle and what they control. And what we can see, and what it can tell us,” he says.

Meyer says it’s designed to protect soldiers and that makes operating it a little different. “Sot that’s another difference between some of our other platforms that we have in our fleet. It is unique to drive,” Meyer says. “I wouldn’t say it’s hard to drive, I would just say it’s different to drive, there is a little bit of limited visibility, because all of the all of the windows are ballistic. And they’re a lot smaller.”

He says the JLTV has a top-rated speed of 76 miles an hour, which is unlike most other military vehicles. “It’ll get up and boogey, I think it’s zero to 50 in about 18 seconds, if I remember, right,” he says. “And I know that sounds slow when you think of zero to 60 times, but comparative to all of our other military vehicles in the fleet, it’s much faster than the rest of them.” Meyer says it has an adjustable suspension that increases the comfort of the soldiers with a much smoother ride than other military trucks.

Other features include cameras, an automatic fire extinguisher, a heated windshield, and something common in the civilian vehicles, but not in the military. “I believe this is the first vehicle other than I think one of the old semis that has cupholders,” he says. The suspension system on the JLTV that allows it to go from a very low stance to rise up higher, and in some versions can go through five feet of water. Meyer says it also has a drivetrain that can be synced up to get it out of some tough terrain.

“So I’ve seen these trucks be buried in mud or sand or whatever it is all the way up to the belly of the truck, and you engage all of your lock levels, and with a little bit of with a little bit of maneuver, and a little jockeying around, those trucks will drive out of way more than you would think they would be capable of driving out of, It’s a pretty slick little unit,” according to Meyer.

Meyer says there are four different variants of the JLTV from a general purpose model, to one that is only a two person capsule with a pickup bed on the back. Meyer says the training is also different for the JLTV. They normally would train soldiers for several weeks on how to handle all types of vehicles. But he says the JLTV training is one week straight and focuses solely on how to operate it.