The M998 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee) is a military 4WD motor vehicle created by AM General. It has largely supplanted the roles formerly served by the M151 1/4 ton MUTT, the M561 "Gama Goat", their M718A1 and M792 ambulance versions, the CUCV, and other light trucks with the United States military, as well as being used by a number of other countries and organizations.
There are at least 17 variants of the HMMWV in service with the United States armed forces. HMMWV serve as cargo/troop carriers, automatic weapons platforms, ambulances (four litter patients or eight ambulatory patients), M220 TOW missile carriers, M119 howitzer prime movers, M-1097 Avenger Pedestal Mounted Stinger platforms, MRQ-12 direct air support vehicles, S250 shelter carriers, and in other roles. It is capable of ford 2.5 ft (76 cm) normally, or 5 ft (1.5 m) with the deep-water fording kits installed.
Optional equipment includes a winch (maximum load capacity 6000 lb. (2700 kg)), and supplemental armor. The M1025 and M1043/M1044 armament carriers provide mounting and firing capabilities for the MK19 grenade launcher, the M2 heavy machine gun, the M240G/B machine gun and M249 SAW. The newly introduced M1114 "up-armored" HMMWV also features a similar weapons mount. In addition, some M1114 and M1116 up-armored and M1117 Armored Security Vehicle models feature a CROWS (common remotely operated weapon station), which allows the gunner to operate from inside the vehicle, and/or the Boomerang anti-sniper detection system.
In June 1981, the Army awarded AM General a contract for development of several more prototype vehicles to be delivered to the U.S. government for another series of tests, and the company was later awarded the initial production contract for 55,000 HMMWVs to be delivered in 1985. HMMWVs first saw combat in Operation Just Cause, the US invasion of Panama in 1989.
The HMMWV was designed primarily for personnel and light cargo transport behind front lines. Like the previous Jeep, the basic HMMWV has no armor or protection against Nuclear-Biologic-Chemical (NBC) threats. Nevertheless, losses were relatively low in conventional operations, such as Desert Storm. Vehicles and crews suffered considerable damage and losses during the Battle of Mogadishu due to the nature of the urban engagement, however, the chassis survivability allowed the majority of those crews to return to safety, though the HMMWV was never designed to offer protection against intense small arms fire, much less machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. However, with the rise of asymmetric warfare and low intensity conflicts, the HMMWV has been pressed into service in urban combat roles it was not originally intended for.
After Somalia, the military recognized a need for a more protected HMMWV and AM General developed the M1114, an armored HMMWV to withstand small arms fire. The M1114 has been in limited production since 1996, seeing limited use in the Balkans before deployment to the Middle East. This design is superior to the M998 with a larger, more powerful turbocharged engine, air conditioning, and a strengthened suspension system. More importantly, it boasts a fully armored passenger area protected by hardened steel and bullet-resistant glass. With the increase in direct attacks and guerrilla warfare in Iraq, AM General has diverted the majority of its manufacturing power to producing these vehicles.
Although some of these kits were available prior to the invasion of Iraq, they were not provided in great numbers to American forces in Iraq prior to the invasion. As a result of this, American soldiers and Marines often improvised extra armor with scrap materials, known as "hillbilly armor" to improve the safety of the HMMWV. While this may have made the vehicle somewhat safer from a ballistic attack, it also increased the weight and raised the center of gravity of the vehicle, reducing its acceleration, handling, braking, reliability, and service life due to its overstressed suspension and drivetrain.
In December 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came under criticism from U.S. soldiers and their families for not providing better-equipped HMMWVs. Rumsfeld pointed out that, prior to the war, armor kits were produced only in small numbers per year. As the role of American forces in Iraq changed from fighting the Iraqi Army to suppressing the guerrilla insurgency, more armor kits were being manufactured, though perhaps not as fast as production facilities were capable of bringing them online. Even more advanced kits were also being developed. However, while these kits are much more effective against all types of attacks, they weigh between 1,500 to 2,200 lbs and have some of the same drawbacks as the improvised armor. Unlike similar-size civilian cargo and tow trucks, which typically have dual rear wheels to reduce sway, the HMMWV has single rear wheels due to its independent rear suspension coupled with the body design.
The armor on most up-armored HMMWVs holds up well against lateral attacks, when the blast is distributed in all different directions, but offers little protection from a mine blast below the truck, such as buried IEDs and land mines. Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) can also defeat the armor kits, causing casualties.
The armor kits fielded include the Armor Survivability Kit (ASK), the FRAG 5, FRAG 6, as well as upgrade kits to the M1151. The ASK was the first fielded, in October 2003, adding about 1000lbs to the weight of the vehicle. Armor Holdings fielded an even lighter kit, adding only 750lbs to the vehicle's weight. The Marine Armor Kit (MAK), fielded in January 2005, offers more protection than the M1114, but also increases weight. The FRAG 5, the latest fielded armor kit, offers the greatest protection but may still be inadequate to stop EFP attacks. The FRAG 6 kit, designed to do just that, is still in development, however its increased protection comes at a hefty price. Over 1000lbs is added to the vehicle over the FRAG 5 kit, and the width of the vehicle is increased by 2ft. In addition, the doors may require a mechanical assist device to open and close.
Another drawback of the up-armored HMMWVs occurs during an accident or attack, when the heavily armored doors tend to jam shut, trapping the troops inside. As a result, HMMWVs are being fitted with hooks on their doors, so that another vehicle can rip the door off, freeing the troops inside. In addition, Vehicle Emergency Escape (VEE) windows, developed by BAE Systems are currently being fielded for use on the M1114 uparmored HMMWV, with 1000 kits ordered.
The soldier manning the crew-served weapon on top of the vehicle is extremely vulnerable; however, many HMMWVs have been fitted with basic gun shields, as was the case with M113 APCs after they were first deployed in Vietnam. The U.S. military is currently evaluating a new form of protection, developed by BAE Systems as well as systems designed by the Army, which are already in theater. The new gunner's seat is protected by 1.5 to 2 feet (45.72 - 60.96 cm) high steel plates with bullet-proof glass windows. Additionally, some HMMWVs use CROWS, which slaves the machine gun to controls in the back seat to allow remote operation. The Boomerang anti-sniper system is also being fielded by some HMMWVs in Iraq to immediately give troops the location of insurgents firing on them.
Other countries in Europe and South Africa employ a number of different light armored vehicles, both tracked and wheeled, and some even built in the US by Cadillac Gage, that are designed more specifically for low intensity combat situations, and are more resistant to small arms; some trucks even have high v-hull bottoms to deflect mine blasts.
In 2007, the US Marine Corps announced an intention to replace all HMMWVs in Iraq with MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) armored trucks because of high loss rates, and has issued contracts for the purchase of several thousand of these vehicles, which include the International MaxxPro, the BAE OMC RG-31, the BAE RG-33 and Caiman, and the Force Protection Cougar. , which have been deployed with the Army and Marines primarily for mine clearing duties. Heavier models of Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMV) can also be used for patrol vehicles. Unfortunately, some MRAP vehicles have been known to become stuck or roll over much more readily due to their high center of gravity and overall larger size compared to the HMMWV.
Another weakness has proven to be its size, which has limited its deployment in Afghanistan because it is too large for many forms of air transport. This size also limits the ability for the vehicle to be manhandled out of situations. Additionally, troops in Bosnia found the vehicle's wide track to be a liability, since two Humvees could not pass each other on narrow mountain roads. One vehicle had to drive with two wheels on the unpaved berm, exposing it to land mine danger.
The HMMWV replacement process, now being undertaken by the U.S. Military, is an effort to replace the current AM General HMMWV. The HMMWV has evolved several times since its introduction, and is now used in tactical roles for which it was never originally intended. The US Military is currently pursuing several initiatives to replace it, both in the short and long terms. The short term replacement efforts utilize Commercial off-the-shelf vehicles as part of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) program. Long term efforts include the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and Future Tactical Truck Systems programs, which are currently focused on building requirements for the HMMWV replacement and technology research and evaluation. Various prototype vehicles such as the MillenWorks Light Utility Vehicle, International FTTS and the ULTRA AP have been constructed as part of these efforts.
During 1995, production of the M1114 based on the improved ECV chassis began. The M1114 meets Army requirements for a scout, military police, and explosive ordnance disposal vehicle with improved ballistic protection levels. The M1114 provides protection against 7.62 mm armor-piercing projectiles, 155 mm artillery air bursts and 12 lb. anti-tank mine blasts. The U.S. Air Force has a number of vehicles under the designation M1116, specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Air Force. The M1116 features an expanded cargo area, armored housing for the turret gunner and increased interior heating and air conditioning system. The M1114 and M1116 receive armor at O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt Armoring Company of Fairfield, Ohio.
There are at least two Chinese automobile manufacturers building HMMWV copies, possibly with the assistance of General Motors. Both HMMWV copies rely heavily on imported U.S.-made parts including chassis, gear box, and diesel engine. It appears that at least one company, Dongfeng Motor Corporation (DFM), has the full consent and cooperation of the General Motors Corporation. Both manufacturers claimed that they will be able to gradually increase the percentage of indigenously made content on the vehicles in the future, since the PLA is unlikely willing to accept any equipment that relies largely on foreign made parts.
Some local vehicle assemblers in the Philippines even make small and full-sized replicas of the Humvee. They are usually mounted on chassis intended for jeeps, jeepneys, or (in case of the full-sized replica) small trucks, and is powered by surplus gasoline or diesel engines. It looks like a real Humvee, but it is smaller in size, and is priced the same as an ordinary "owner-type" jeep (Php80,000 upwards).
In addition to the United States, the HMMWV is used by the following countries: