Oshkosh Corporation, the maker of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), has announced it has agreed to buy Pratt Miller for $115m.

Under the terms of the cash-free, debt-free purchase, Pratt Miller will keep its name, staff, facilities and branding. Oshkosh said the acquisition would conclude in the first quarter of 2021.

Pratt Miller is a crucial player in the US robotic vehicle market, working with QinetiQ to develop and deliver prototypes of the US Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light (RCV-L).

The purchase gives Oshkosh a firm footing in the US uncrewed ground vehicles (UGV) market and strengthens its offering in the face of a US Army effort to recompete the JLTV contract.

Oshkosh president and chief operating officer John Pfeifer said: “We look forward to welcoming the Pratt Miller team to Oshkosh Corporation, we believe combining Pratt Miller’s engineering expertise with Oshkosh’s innovation and operational strengths will enable us to better serve customers and position our Company for growth.”

In a press release, Oshkosh touted Pratt Miller’s ‘significant advances’ in areas including ‘artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous and connected systems and electrification’.

Pratt Miller chief executive officer Matt Carroll said: “Pratt Miller’s motorsports heritage has created a culture of speed, agility, and innovation, which has defined our success. Oshkosh is an ideal partner for us to apply that mindset to some of the most significant challenges facing customers today.

“Together, we expect to grow our decade-long partnership and expand our pipeline of new business opportunities. We look forward to learning from one another and continuing to innovate to bring market-leading products to our customers.”

GlobalData aerospace, defence and security analyst Anthony Endresen told Army Technology that the purchase would give Oshkosh a ‘foothold’ in the robotics and AI market. Adding that it was a natural field for Oshkosh to gravitate towards given the growth in demand for UGVs and optionally crewed platforms.

Endresen said: “We do also expect to see this kind of acquisition going forwards, where larger defence companies acquire key technologies and market entry in this manner, superficially bucking the overall market trends of cash preservation focus and high-risk mitigation.

“It is perhaps best seen as an investment in future core business and current market positioning, rather than pure finance-based acquisition or investment. If we look at who will be the primes in the UGV market in the near future, they would be expected to be companies like Oshkosh and having acquired niche or specialist technology companies.”