Last month, the U.S. Department of Defense and GM Defense LLC announced an agreement worth about $214,3 million to build, field and sustain the Army’s new Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV).
The ISV program will provide Infantry Brigade Combat Teams an additive lightweight vehicle to move Soldiers and their equipment quickly over complex and difficult cross-country terrain. Designed to provide rapid ground mobility, the expeditionary ISV is a light and agile all-terrain troop carrier intended to transport a nine-Soldier infantry squad moving throughout the battlefield.
The total production ISV contract award value is $214.3 million to procure the initial Army Procurement Objective of 649. The approved Army Acquisition Objective is 2,065 vehicles.
This is the second important production contract award for Army light tactical wheeled vehicle modernization programs of record in the last year. The Army announced in June 2019 the production contract of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. JLTV is modernizing the Army’s and U.S. Marine Corps’ light tactical wheeled vehicle fleets with a leap-ahead balance of payload, performance and protection.
“The Infantry Squad Vehicle meets the challenges we’ve faced to give our IBCT Soldiers greater mobility and increased survivability,” said Chris Stone, the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate’s deputy Army capability manager – Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Fort Benning, Ga. The CDID is the Army’s proponent for generating and validating the operational need for the Infantry Squad Vehicle.
“As the Army’s newest light tactical vehicle, ISV will allow IBCTs more flexibility and a greater advantage getting to the objective,” he added.
The ISV’s basic operational capabilities include:
Nine-man squad carrying capability
- Payload of 3,200 lbs.
- External sling load by a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
- Internal load/external lift by CH-47 Chinook helicopter
- Low-velocity air drop by fixed-wing C-130 or C-17 transport aircraft
- Exceptional mobility over all terrains
The comprehensive team responsible for bringing the ISV program to production contract award involves not only Army acquisition professionals, but also relevant stakeholders representing the Army’s funding and testing communities, Army Futures Command, and Forces Command. Soldier evaluation via user-acceptance efforts has been a key element of the ISV program from the outset, and has helped compress the time it takes to field a modernized capability that meets infantry Soldiers’ needs.
“The Infantry Squad Vehicle program has focused on meeting the Army’s emphasis on enhancing Infantry Soldier mobility and survivability by rapidly fielding modernized capabilities. Our product management team for Ground Mobility Vehicles undertook a great challenge to develop a strategy using experimentation and technical demonstrations to streamline the ISV acquisition process,” said Timothy G. Goddette, the Army’s program executive officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, or PEO CS&CSS, headquartered here.
“Using an innovative acquisition approach through an Other Transaction Authority — a flexible, collaborative tool designed to speed acquisition and modernization — the ISV team awarded the production contract for this capability in 16 months. Using normal acquisition processes, it could have taken as many as 36 months,” Goddette explained.
The ISV acquisition strategy was structured to promote the highest level of competition possible, including affordability. Due to competition, the program office will realize a reduction from the original independent government cost estimate for the program. This provides best value to American taxpayers. What’s more, a senior Army officer who has commanded at all levels in an IBCT was tapped to serve as the ISV program’s Source Selection Authority.
According to Steve Herrick, the Army’s product lead for Ground Mobility Vehicles, PEO CS&CSS, the next steps in the ISV program include GM Defense delivering eight ISVs to Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland within four months. “Following delivery, our program office, along with Army testers, will execute an aggressive and tailored testing plan,” he said.
Herrick went on to explain the Army will conduct tailored production qualification testing to address the vehicles’ ability to meet the performance specifications in areas not previously tested. This will also build confidence in areas already tested, he said. The ISV will also undergo transportability certification, which includes low-velocity air drop and helicopter sling loading. Next summer and fall, the Army will hold an initial operational test and evaluation.
“The program office is marching toward delivering ISVs to the first unit, the 1/82nd at Fort Bragg, approximately eight months after the contract award,” Herrick added. “We are excited about the commercial nature this product brings to the Soldier, and in the future, we could possibly see greater leaps in technology and concepts to include reconnaissance or electric vehicles.”