By Maj. Nathaniel Holman, Test Officer, Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky — 101st Airborne Division field artillery Soldiers have been testing modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) here to serve as the prime mover and ammunition carrier for their M119A3 105mm Howitzers.
Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery (FA) Regiment, 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) conducted a Fires Integration Operational Test of the JLTV to validate the vehicle’s operational suitability and to inform decisions for fielding to combat units across the Army.
“The operational tests provided my battery with the opportunity to enhance the unit’s standard operating procedures, in a tactical environment, while utilizing new equipment to benefit our tactics,” said Capt. Stephanie Shivley, battery commander of Boldsteel Battery of 2-32 FA.
Boldsteel Soldiers took the lead putting the modified JLTVs into action during a live fire pilot test, which was followed by a live fire record test in inclement weather conditions and during both day and night.
“The overall design not only improved readiness across the formation, but provided valuable data for test development,” said Shivley.
Her field artillery Soldiers executed over 100 live-fire missions, and fired over 900 rounds of High Explosive ammunition downrange, which served as a training opportunity for them.
The operational test at Fort Campbell, according to Maj. Austin BuChans, a test officer with the Fort Sill, Oklahoma-based Fire Support Test Directorate, was needed to see if the new JLTV configurations can serve as a suitable replacement for the HMMWV by field artillery units.
One other test directorate from the Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command (OTC) — the Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate (MS2TD) — also travelled to Fort Campbell to perform the operational test, coordinating the effort closely with 2-32 FA and Fort Campbell leaders.
According to the Test Officer in charge, Mr. Rob Richardson of OTC’s MS2TD, data collected from the test is used to provide information to senior Army and Joint Service leaders on how effective, suitable, and reliable the JLTV modifications will be during real-world operations, while informing decisions on whether or not to field the modified JLTVs to Army light artillery units.
Richardson said the unit employed the modified JLTVs through multiple days of tough, realistic, live fire missions that stressed the capabilities of the vehicles and Soldiers.
“Operational testing is about Soldiers executing unit missions,” he said. “This test is about making sure the modifications to the JLTV are effective in the hands of Soldiers performing the fire support mission and suitable for the environments in which field artillery units operate.”
Field Artillery units within an Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) have historically used the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV; colloquial: Humvee) to tow their 105mm howitzers into combat, along with their Fire Direction Centers (FDC), ammunition, and other necessary equipment.
The JLTV system is the HMMWV replacement and is currently being fielded across the Army.
About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:
As the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC tests Army, joint, multi-service, and multi-domain warfighting systems in realistic operational environments; using skilled Soldiers to provide data on whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. USAOTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer — the American Soldier
The Fire Support Test Directorate — the longest standing test directorate of OTC — prides itself in being a part of the Army’s operational testers since 1902. FSTD conducts tests of current and future artillery systems in realistic environments, using exemplary Soldiers and/or Marines, to provide product managers the necessary information to make informed decisions on those programs.
The Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate conducts operational tests of combat engineer, chemical, transportation, military police, quartermaster, ordnance and medical service systems in order to provide our senior leaders with the necessary information to field the highest quality equipment for the warfighter.