WASHINGTON — General Motors Defense is joining the General Dynamics Land Systems team to design an optionally manned fighting vehicle for the U.S. Army in a competition already underway.

“Our team continues to grow stronger and gain momentum as we aggressively push to provide this important capability for the Army,” Don Kotchman, GDLS vice president and general manager of U.S. operations, said in a Feb. 16 statement.

“I see tremendous synergies as we seek to leverage core capabilities in integrated vehicles, power and propulsion and mobility and autonomy to support the OMFV program,” Steve duMont, GM Defense president, also said in the statement, adding that he looks forward to combining talents in advanced technologies, digital design expertise and manufacturing scale.

“Aligned with the Army’s phased philosophy for the OMFV competition, General Dynamics Land Systems has implemented digital engineering processes, artificial intelligence and modular open electronic architecture into its concept for the program,” the statement added.

There are five companies competing to design the replacement for the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, including GDLS. The other four are Point Blank Enterprises, Oshkosh Defense, BAE Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles.

The teams already completed initial concept reviews with the service, which are now informing simulation activity and requirements refinement.

The Army laid out nine broad characteristics, rather than a laundry list of requirements, when it solicited proposals for the first phase of the competition.

Two years ago, the Army, in its first attempt to hold a competition to replace the Bradley, received just one physical bid sample — from GDLS — by the October 2019 deadline. Instead of moving forward with one bidder, the service canceled the competition and took a step back, producing a new plan meant to generate robust competition over a more reasonable timeline. That plan laid out a five-phase effort.

The first phase, now in full swing, is for an initial design. That will be followed by a full and open competition for a detailed design phase that will take place over fiscal 2023 and fiscal 2024. Awards for up to three contractors are expected in the second quarter of FY23.

The prototyping phase will begin in FY25, and the Army is expected to select in the fourth quarter of FY27 one company to build low-rate production vehicles. Full-rate production is expected to begin in FY30.

When asked about partnerships in the fall of 2021, Kotchman told Defense News that the company didn’t want to get locked into too many partnerships because “you begin to artificially narrow the realm of your trade possibilities to support the Army’s requirement development for its performance spec.”

So far, GM joins AeroVironment, Applied Intuition and General Dynamics Mission Systems as a major partner on the GDLS OMFV team.

GM Defense won its first major contract with the U.S. Army in 2020 to deliver the new Infantry Squad Vehicle. The platform is based off of the Chevy Colorado. The company delivered the first ISV to the service 120 days after winning the contract.

Most competitors haven’t yet finalized a vehicle design because the Army hasn’t called for that level of detail, but is instead asking how the competitors would approach developing that design.

“One of the neat elements of this initial phase of the program is that the Army isn’t asking us for the answer,” Kotchman told Defense News last spring. “The Army is asking us how are we going to approach developing the answer.”

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 degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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