The Army now has its first four lightweight Infantry Squad Vehicles that are specially designed to carry infantry foot soldiers into battle.
The delivery of the first four ISVs, made by GM Defense, and its partner Ricardo Defense, is part of a 650-vehicle deal worth up to $214.3 million intended to equip infantry brigade combat teams with vehicles built with commercial components designed for desert racing.
"Our expeditionary ISV is a light and agile all-terrain troop carrier, which is intended to transport a nine-soldier infantry squad, moving throughout the battlefield," David Albritton, president of GM Defense told an audience today at a delivery ceremony.
The ISV, based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, is designed to be air-droppable by C-130 Hercules or C-17 Globemaster aircraft, sling-loaded by a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter or internally carried by CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
It features 35-inch tires, impact-absorbing suspension, electronic power steering, and antilock brakes, according to GM officials. The ISV also has a custom rollover protection system designed to provide overhead protection for the four soldiers in the back of the vehicle.
The ISV concept emerged in 2015 when Army officials at the Maneuver Warfare 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 Oshkosh Defense LLC, as well as SAIC and Polaris Inc., in the initial rapid-prototyping phase of the effort in 2019.
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 has since slowed its fielding plan for JLTV as part of an effort to shave billions of dollars off of existing programs to fund future modernization efforts.
"This platform will be a game-changer for the infantry brigade combat teams ... and was designed to move across restricted terrain, allowing soldiers to close on an objective with less fatigue and greater readiness," said Michael Sprang, Project Manager for the Joint Program Office, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
In addition to the JLTV, Spring's office oversees other vehicle programs, such as the Humvee and the new ISV.
The first four production ISV vehicles will go to 1st BCT, 82nd Airborne Division for further testing, Army officials have said.
GM is slated to deliver 649 ISVs to the Army by fiscal 2024. Before that happens, the Army will conduct an operational test and evaluation phase next year to assess the vehicle's "operational relevance and capability," Steve Herrick, product lead for Ground Mobility Vehicles in the Joint Program Office, JLTV.
If all goes well, the Army will equip 11 IBCTs with 59 ISVs each by fiscal 2024, Herrick said.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct two name misspellings.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.