HMMWV History

By the 1980s the U.S. Military was interested in a successor vehicle to replace its fleet of M-151 jeeps and light trucks. Many of the weapons systems and electronics packages were too heavy for the 1/4 ton jeep platform and the experience with the CUCV trucks was not satisfactory. The solution was a completely new, purpose built tactical truck with a 5/4 ton load rating, the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or HMMWV (pronounced humvee).

Red River Army Depot Forward Repair Activity at Camp Arifjan, south of Kuwait City, Kuwait, October 2006.  This assembly line supports applying upgraded armor survivability kits to HMMWVs
Red River Army Depot Forward Repair Activity at Camp Arifjan, south of Kuwait City, Kuwait, October 2006. This assembly line supports applying upgraded armor survivability kits to HMMWVs.

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History of the AM General HMMWV

On 22 March 1983 the U. S. Army Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command awarded the AM General Division of LTV Aerospace and Defense [now AM General Corporation] a $1.2 billion contract to produce 55,000 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV, pronounced Humvee®), to be delivered in 15 different configurations over a five year period. The HMMWV was selected by the Army over two competitors, after many months of intensive testing by the Army and the Marine Corps. The winning design incorporated high ground clearance, low silhouette, forward visibility and minimum weight — all combined with ease of operation and reliability.

First M998 HMMWV produced by AM General, 2 January 1985. Photo:  AM General, LLC
First M998 HMMWV produced by AM General, 2 January 1985. Photo: AM General, LLC.

The contract included an option to increase the number of vehicles purchased by 100 percent during each of the five option years. The Army eventually ordered an additional 15,000 option vehicles raising the totals to 70,000 vehicles and $1.6 billion. It was the largest multiyear contract for tactical wheeled vehicles ever awarded by the U.S. Army.

Known officially as the M998 Series and nicknamed the HMMWV or Humvee, this technologically advanced 1 1/4-ton, 4x4, multipurpose vehicle answered the armed forces' need for superior mobility in a tactical field environment. It was versatile, mobile, and fast, and replaced an assortment of vehicles, including: some M-151s (1/4-ton utility vehicles [the last of the old "jeeps"]), all M-274s (1/4-ton Mules), all M-561s (1-1/2-ton Gama Goats), and some M-880s (1 1/4-ton pick-up trucks).

HMMWVs were tested for more than 600,000 miles over rugged courses simulating worldwide off-road conditions in combat environments. Drivers from the Army and AM General did everything possible to make them fail. They drove HMMWVs over rocky hills, through deep sand and mud, in water up to 60 inches deep, in desert heat and Arctic cold. Still, HMMWVs passed with flying colors.

As a centerpiece of the Army's vehicular force modernization, HMMWVs are air transportable, maintainable, reliable, and survivable. They meet all of these requirements while incorporating new standards of reliability for combat vehicles. HMMWVs score high on Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Durability (RAM-D) requirements and specifications. During Initial Production Tests, the new vehicle proved to be nearly twice as durable as the Army required.

Another advantage the HMMWV has over other vehicles is its unique multipurpose platform. Its 15 configurations (cargo/troop carriers, weapons carriers, ambulances, and shelter carriers) share a common engine, chassis and transmission, with 44 interchangeable parts. That means fewer training hours are necessary for the mechanics who will maintain it. Its simplified supply, maintenance and logistics system — essentially one set of common parts for 15 configurations — means lower life cycle costs, which saves tax dollars.

High ground clearance is a prerequisite for superior mobility. The HMMWV has it — a full 16 inches — an engineering feat considering that the HMMWV stands only 72 inches high. Full-time four-wheel drive, independent suspension, steep approach and departure angles, 60 percent slope-climbing and 60 inch water-fording capability combine with its high ground clearance to make the HMMWV an exceptional off-road vehicle.

The original M998 had a curb weight of approximately 5,200 lbs., a payload of 2,500 lbs. and a 6.2 liter V-8 diesel engine, with a 25-gallon fuel tank. It can accelerate from 0-30 mph in eight seconds, and has a range of up to 300 miles without refueling. The newer comparable model, the M1097A2, weighs only 700 lbs. more, at 5,900 lbs., but can carry almost twice the payload, at 4,400 lbs. It has a 6.5 liter V-8 diesel engine.

Three HMMWVs can be deployed in the C-130 Hercules transport, six in the C-141B Starlifter and 15 in the C-5A Galaxy. Under combat conditions, it can be delivered by the Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System without the aircraft having to land. In tactical operations, two HMMWVs can be slung from a CH-47 Chinook or a CH-53 helicopter, while one can be slung from a UH-60A Blackhawk.

The performance potential of the HMMWV has been described as unlimited, due to its multipurpose platform and its ability to accommodate a wide range of weapons, including 7.62 mm and .50 caliber machine guns, and the MK 19 40 mm grenade launcher. The weapons carrier HMMWV has anti-tank lethality in the form of the TOW missile system.

Use this link to reach the web page of AM General LLC, the manufacturer of the HMMWV.

The information in this section adapted from the AM General history of the HMMWV.

HMMWV End of Production

In service since 1985, with a total production to FY2010 of around 240,000 vehicles, the HMMWV has been scheduled for replacement by the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The JLTV program has been underway since its Initial Capabilities Document was approved in October 2006. By early 2010, it appeared that budgets for FY2011 and beyond would not include the HMMWV, even if the JLTV is not ready (JLTV full production is planned for 2015.) According to press reports, an order from AM General of 2,620 vehicles will be the end of life for HMMWV, after which the HMMWV has zero units budgeted. The existing HMMWV fleet will be maintained for suitable missions, with gradual phase out by attrition.

In addition to the JLTV, the HMMWV mission will also be absorbed by the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) and other members of the MRAP family.

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

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