In the late 1970s, the U.S. Army found it needed a better performing vehicle to replace a number of vehicles then in use. The specially-designed M561 Gama Goat used in many operations had proved unsatisfactory, and there were problems with payload limitations and safety characteristics of the M151-series Jeeps and civilian trucks adapted for military use. The Army sought a new jack-of-all-trades light tactical vehicle that could fulfill all the mission requirements of light civilian trucks and various specially designed Army vehicles.
Thus the concept for the High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) family was born…on paper. Its history began in 1979 when the U.S. Army issued a draft specification for a new tactical vehicle to replace all the tactical vehicles in the one fourth- to 1¼-ton range.
Many of the vehicles the HMMWV was to replace were not meeting the military mission requirements. At this time, the average age of the vehicles the HMMWV was to replace ranged from 10 to 20 years. It would take an additional six years before production vehicle deliveries actually began.
The military looked for a family of versatile, technologically advanced, cross-country vehicles capable of performing both combat and combat-support roles. The basic chassis was to be capable of being modified into a number of variants. It was also to be diesel-powered, consistent with the Army's desire to use diesel fuel throughout its tactical vehicle fleet, and it was to have an automatic transmission.
AM General became one of three contenders that were awarded an Army contract for the design and construction of 11 prototype HMMWVs (six weapons carriers and five utility vehicles). The other firms were Chrysler Defense and Teledyne Continental.
Overall, HMMWVs were tested for more than 600,000 miles over rugged courses simulating worldwide off-road conditions in combat environments. They were driven over rocky hills, through deep sand and mud, in water up to 60 inches deep, in desert heat and Arctic cold.
Complicated production proposals were required. Winning the contract was based on a combination of the most technically qualified and most cost-effective five-year production bid.
In March 1983, AM General was awarded the initial production contract for 2,334 HMMWVs. This was the first increment of a five-year contract for nearly 55,000 HMMWVs. These were produced in 15 different configurations over the term of the contract. Of these vehicles, 39,000 were for the U.S. Army and the remainder was divided between the Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and Navy.
Production began at AM General's Mishawaka, Ind. plant in the fall of 1984 and the first deliveries were made early in 1985. The total production by mid-1991 was more than 72,000 vehicles including international sales.
Follow-on multi-year contract awards called for more than 33,000 vehicles. By March 1995, approximately 100,000 HMMWVs had been built. An additional 20,000 units were ordered by more than 40 international governments since 1991. To date, more than 281,000 units have been produced.
During late 2000, AM General was awarded another production contract for 2,962 trucks in the M998A2 series. The contract contained six single-year options running to FY07.
In 2007, this contract was extended to run through 2009. To date more than 85,000 trucks have been ordered under the contact awarded in 2000.