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GM Defense delivers first Infantry Squad Vehicles to Army

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Milford — GM Defense, a subsidiary of General Motors Co., completed an initial delivery of four Infantry Squad Vehicles to the U.S. Army for its first major defense contract since its 2017 inception. 

The Army awarded a $214.3 million contract for the vehicles just a few years after the automaker's comeback in the defense business. GM Defense will manufacture 649 Infantry Squad Vehicles, based on the Chevrolet Colorado, for the five-year contract. It will support additional production of up to 2,065 vehicles if authorized over an eight-year period. 

The Infantry Squad Vehicle is based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck architecture.

Acquiring the competitive contract, and getting them delivered in 120 days during a pandemic, puts GM's products into the hands of a new customer, potentially providing even more customers and new revenue to support GM's future programs.

"That partnership that we have inside the company is phenomenal," GM Defense President David Albritton said at the automaker's Milford Proving Ground on Tuesday. "As we expand the reach that we have into the company, and we educate more people about the programs and what the Army customer expects in a vehicle, that's nothing but goodness for us."

GM left the defense business in 2003. It announced a comeback with a small startup unit inside the parent company in 2017 after working with different branches of the military on power and propulsion programs. 

GM Defense President David Albritton spoke Tuesday as the GM subsidiary delivered the first Infantry Squad Vehicles to the U.S. Army.

"We saw this as a unique opportunity to bring the best-of-class automotive processes and advanced technologies of GM to the defense market once again," Albritton said. 

Tim Herrick, GM vice president of global product programs, provides a bridge between GM Defense and its parent company for when the small team inside GM Defense needs assistance on a project, like the Infantry Squad Vehicle.

"Getting the troops to rally around the vehicle has been great," he said. "We will continue to do that, as we see technologies that come in, whether it's batteries, propulsion systems, new engines, so on and so forth ... to make sure that all of General Motors is here to support GM defense. This is just the beginning of our support for the team."

The automaker previously developed and tested a separate concept vehicle — the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 fuel-cell truck — in partnership with the U.S. Army. GM Defense is continuing to explore the potential for fuel-cell vehicles on military vehicles.

"We don't have the infrastructure today to be able to offer a hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle," Albritton said. "But the future is going to change."

Albritton wouldn't discuss financials on Tuesday, but said the goal is to be a profitable entity for GM and winning programs like the Infantry Squad Vehicle contract "is a great start toward that."

Low-rate production Infantry Squad Vehicles, 27 in total, will be built at GM’s Milford Proving Ground. Production will transition to full-rate levels in Concord, North Carolina, in early spring.

The midsize truck architecture of the Infantry Squad Vehicle uses 90% proven commercial parts, including Chevrolet Performance race components. The 5,000-pound vehicle was designed to provide rapid ground mobility for troops. Its light enough to be sling loaded from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and compact enough to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for air transportability. 

"This platform will be a game changer for the Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, and I'm very excited to see it sport so much commercial content," said Michael Sprang, project manager for the joint program office, joint light tactical vehicle. "ISVs provide great mobility to the Infantry Brigade Combat Team and was designed to move across restrictive terrain allowing soldiers to close on an objective with less fatigue and greater readiness."

khall@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @bykaleahall