WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army approved full-rate production for the GM Defense-manufactured Infantry Squad Vehicle, according to April 5 service and company announcements.
“This green light represents a major Army acquisition programmatic milestone in ‘motorizing’ Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, Security Force Assistance Brigades, as well as Army Ranger units,” the Army said in its statement.
The Army plans to buy a total of 2,593 ISVs over the course of the program. GM Defense has already delivered more than 300 vehicles to the Army, fielding many to the service’s 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, the company said.
In June 2020, GM Defense won the contract to build the ISV, designed for easy transport to operational environments, following developmental testing of three vendors’ submissions. The company received $214.3 million to produce 649 vehicles by the end of fiscal 2024.
The 5,000-pound ISV is based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 truck and uses 90% commercial-off-the-shelf parts. It can be sling loaded from a UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter and fit inside a CH-47 Chinook.
The Army wrapped up testing this year to address issues identified in prior evaluations. In his annual 2022 report, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester slammed the ISV, citing the troop carrier’s vulnerability and uncomfortable ride.
The service told Defense News at the time it was working to fix issues that cropped up in initial operational testing, including that the ISV did not meet the requirement to be able to travel 1,200 mean miles between operational mission failure, also flagged by the weapons tester’s most recent report.
The 2020 and 2021 annual weapons testing reports noted additional troubles, including steering problems, bent seat frames, engine cracks and overheating.
The Army began new reliability compliance testing last summer to evaluate its fixes for the issues identified and wrapped up in January. Part of that testing included driving the ISV for 5,000 miles over varying terrain and speeds to ensure the ISV complied with the requirement for meantime between operational mission failure.
Despite identified issues, the ISV’s key requirements were met — providing small tactical units a faster more efficient entry into operational areas, Steve Herrick, the Army’s product lead for ground mobility vehicles with Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support, said in an interview with Defense News a year ago.
Since the initial contract, GM Defense has also demonstrated missions for the ISV beyond the initial nine-passenger troop carrier to include fire support, command and control, electronic warfare, counter-unmanned aircraft systems, reconnaissance and logistics and casualty evaction.
The company has also demonstrated a fully electric ISV.
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.