By Staff Sgt. Jacob Lang, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element, Fort Bliss, Texas
FORT BLISS, Texas — Under the heat of the desert sun, a convoy of military vehicles roll down a dirt trail, kicking up dust and sand as they reach speeds of 45 miles per hour.
The vehicles look familiar but are a little different from what Soldiers are used to seeing.
The vehicle driving down the dirt trails is the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, or FMTVA2. The FMTVA2 is being tested here with hopes it will replace its predecessor, the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, or LMTV, allowing Soldiers across the Army to have access to a modernized vehicle.
“Driving the FMTV has been a complete game changer from the old LMTV,” said Spc. Salvador Castillo, a horizontal engineer with Alpha Company, 16th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
Castillo and his unit tested the FMTVA2 for about 4 weeks and praised the improvements from the previous model.
Castillo expressed appreciation of the user-friendly enhancements, such as improved suspension, and the Drive Display Unit — a digital vehicle monitoring system that informs the driver of vehicle faults in real time.
Feedback from the Soldiers are integral to the equipment testing process. Input from Soldiers testing the equipment is collected and used to inform the U.S. Army Operational Test Command how the FMTVA2 performs.
David Rogers, a civilian employee of OTC and assistant test officer for the FMTVA2 follow-on operational test, said all the data requirements are captured, and testing criteria are met to ensure that they can coordinate with their sister unit, the U.S. Army Evaluation Center, to produce an evaluation report to inform Army senior leaders of the FMTVA2’s suitability and reliability.
“Our mission is to collect the data,” Rogers said. “We provide the data to the evaluators so they can inform decision makers within the Army.”
Rogers explained the evaluator’s role as vital to ensuring the test exercise conducted over the course of the follow-on operational test meets data requirements and gives an overall scope of the FMTVA2’s capabilities and its readiness to roll out to the Army and its Soldiers.
As training wrapped up, the Soldiers testing the FMTVA2 are confident in the vehicle’s performance and their ability to operate them.
“It’s a lot easier for our unit to use, and we’re already comfortable using it. It will make it easier for all of us across the board,” said Castillo.
Three Fort Bliss 1st Armored Division units took part in the operational test: Companies A and B, 501st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Combat Brigade Team; the 16th Brigade Engineer Battalion; with the 528th Hospital Center, 1st Medical Brigade also joining in.
About the U.S. Army Operational test Command:
OTC is subordinate to the Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and is the Army’s only independent operational tester. Testing and assessing Army, Joint, and Multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, OTC uses typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer — the American Soldier.