PARIS — GM Defense has created an international division to market its products outside of the U.S., the company announced June 13.
GM Defense International made its debut at the Eurosatory a defense exhibition in France this week. GM Defense is a subsidiary of General Motors, which broke into the defense market in the U.S. when it minted a contract with the Army to build its Infantry Squad Vehicle in 2020 following a competition between an Oshkosh Defense and Flyer Defense team as well as an SAIC and Polaris team.
GM Defense International is “our entity for us to go to market in this global environment,” GM Defense President Steve duMont told Defense News in an interview in Paris on June 13.
The company is rapidly gathering interest from countries worldwide as it fields the Infantry Squad Vehicle to the Army and as global events, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, highlight what military capabilities might be in urgent demand.
“Here in Europe, the past couple of months again have demonstrated the importance of tactical mobility, and so we have a lot of interest from this region as well,” duMont said. Several customers in the Middle East market have also actively come forward asking for information on GM Defense capabilities, duMont said. African and the Pacific-based militaries could also benefit from capabilities similar to the ISV, he noted.
The entity took its first step into the international market last month, announcing it would compete to provide Canada’s armed forces with a new light utility vehicle. That vehicle offering is based on the Chevy Silverado, featuring a larger chassis than the U.S. Army’s ISV, which is based on the Chevy Colorado.
“The size and their initial variant is really for a logistics support vehicle, so requirements for a pickup truck, and it’s a great fit based on a Silverado heavy-duty platform,” duMont said.
The company plans to build prototypes in a fashion similar to its approach for the Army’s ISV program, which was to “listen and learn, and then try to implement what the soldier wanted,” he noted.
DuMont added that the company already builds trucks in Canada, with 2,600 Canadians already employed. GM has spent more than CA$6 billion (U.S. $5 billion) over the last decade to build up capacity, he added.
“In terms of industrial participation, we are answering that in a great way,” duMont said. “This is our model that we’re developing internationally ... we’re leveraging GM’s global footprint.”
The company is showcasing both ISV and its new off-road capability concept vehicle based on the Silverado at Eurosatory. The concept vehicle featured M240 machine guns, painted Army green.
“It’s really just to show that next size up and start to trigger some of the dialogue around the realm of the possible; again, fully-leveraging a commercial platform,” duMont said.
While a UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter can sling-load the ISV or a CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter can carry the vehicle, the larger vehicle, which a helo cannot transport, provides a greater ability to add much heavier payloads, duMont said. “You can build this up to meet mission needs of greater weight.”
“In Europe, with Ukraine, it has demonstrated again the importance of tactical mobility and tactical mobility of offensive weapons. So think anti-tank guided missiles,” duMont said, or “moving intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets forward into the battle space.”
GM Defense is also marketing its all-electric vehicle options and its Ultium battery technology to international customers. The company has developed an all-electric ISV, which is not a U.S. Army requirement. The company hopes the Army will move forward on an Electric Light Tactical Vehicle program in the near future, but the service has yet to back the program with funding.
In some ways, countries outside of the U.S., particularly those in Europe, are further behind in releasing hybrid and all-electric tactical vehicle capabilities. DuMont noted that could mean opportunities for more rapid development on solutions to keep vehicles charged on the battlefield.
“I’m putting a lot of energy and effort on my team in understanding just how to do this,” he added.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.