U.S. Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division will be the first unit to receive the service's new Infantry Assault Vehicle under a deal with GM Defense LLC aimed at equipping foot soldiers with increased mobility on the battlefield.
The Army on June 26 awarded GM Defense, and its partner Ricardo Defense, a contract worth up to $214.3 million to build 649 ISVs that can be airdropped or carried by helicopter into the fight, according to an Army news release. The contract, according to information published by the Defense Department, includes "installation kits, ancillary hardware and logistical support."
The GM Defense ISV is based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, an architecture made up of about 90 percent commercial-off-the-shelf parts, according to the release.
It can carry a payload of 3,200 pounds and is designed to be sling-loaded by a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and internally carried by CH-47 Chinook helicopter, the release states. The Army can also deliver the ISV into battle by low-velocity airdrop using C-130 Hercules or C-17 Globemaster aircraft.
The ISV concept emerged in 2015 when Army officials at the Maneuver Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia stressed that light infantry units needed an ultra-light combat vehicle for forced-entry operations.
GM Defense and Ricardo competed against teams from Flyer Defense LLC and Oskosh Defense LLC, as well as SAIC and Polaris Inc., in the initial rapid prototyping phase of the effort in 2019 to design a highly mobile vehicle capable of carrying a nine-man infantry squad.
The ISV is the latest Army effort to equip troops with modernized battlefield transport. In 2015, the service selected Oshkosh to build the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a joint Army-Marine Corps program to replace the Cold War-era Humvee. But the Army began to slow its fielding plan for JLTV as part of an effort to shave billions of dollars off of existing programs to fund future modernization efforts.
"The Infantry Squad Vehicle meets the challenges we've faced to give our IBCT soldiers greater mobility and increased survivability," Chris Stone, deputy capability manager of the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate at Fort Benning, Georgia, said in the Army's release.
"As the Army's newest light tactical vehicle, ISV will allow IBCTs more flexibility and a greater advantage getting to the objective."
The Army plans to deliver the ISV to the 82nd's 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in early 2021 and field the 649 vehicles by 2024. The contract states that all work will be complete by 2028.
The next steps in the effort include GM Defense delivering eight ISVs to Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland within four months for testing, Steve Herrick, the Army's product lead for Ground Mobility Vehicles, Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support, said in the release.
The Army is also scheduled to hold an initial operational test and evaluation of ISV next summer and fall, according to the release.
"The program office is marching toward delivering ISVs to the first unit ... at Fort Bragg, approximately eight months after the contract award," Herrick said. "We are excited about the commercial nature this product brings to the soldier, and in the future, we could possibly see greater leaps in technology."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.