The US Army has started fielding the first joint light tactical vehicles (JLTVs) to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

The unit is the first in the army to be equipped with the vehicle and around 500 new JLTVs will be deployed by the end of March.

Joint Program Office, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles project manager colonel Shane Fullmer said: “This programme has been working towards fielding trucks to soldiers for ten years.

“The entire programme office has been focused on getting soldiers improved tactical mobility, with better off-road, better cross country, higher reliability, more comfort inside the vehicle, and significantly higher protection.”

Prior to delivery of the vehicles, soldiers have undergone training for field level maintenance and new operator equipment.

Deployment of the vehicles with soldiers will run through spring.

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“The entire programme office has been focused on getting soldiers improved tactical mobility.”

The US-Army-led JLTV programme is a top modernisation priority for the service. The new next-generation light tactical vehicle will replace the high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs).

Talking about the vehicle’s numerous comfort features, 10th Engineer Battalion JLTV fielding lead sergeant 1st class Randall Archie said: “There is a tonne of legroom and headroom and it’s easier to get in and out of the vehicle.

“You also don’t have to lean forward in the seat when you wear a CamelBak since the seat is designed with a spot cut out for it.”

In November, Oshkosh Defense received a $1.69bn contract for the delivery of 6,107 JLTVs.

The JLTV will be fielded in two variants and four mission package configurations, which are general purpose, close combat weapons carrier, heavy guns carrier, and a utility vehicle. It will be fielded by both the army and the US Marine Corps.

The modern light protected vehicle features a VICTORY compliant modular, scalable, open architecture system.