WEB EXCLUSIVE: GM Defense Hunts for More Business as it Opens New Plant

By Stew Magnuson

Stew Magnuson photo

CONCORD, N.C. — Basking in the afterglow of winning its first major contract since jumping back into the defense market, General Motors’ subsidiary GM Defense is preparing to go after more contracts, its newly appointed president said May 4.

The U.S. automotive giant named Steve duMont as its new president on the day it celebrated the official opening of its new production facility in Concord, North Carolina. Lawmakers and representatives from the Army and Special Operations Command were on hand to tour the new plant and drive some of the first infantry squad vehicles to come off the line.

The first iteration of GM Defense was sold to General Dynamics in 2003. In 2017, the company announced it was returning to the defense business. By the summer of 2020, the Army awarded GM Defense a $214.3 million contract to build 649 ISVs. The newcomer beat Oshkosh Defense and SAIC, which had also submitted prototypes for evaluation.

The Army has an acquisition objective of 2,065 ISVs intended for infantry brigade combat teams. The vehicle is based on the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck architecture and features 90 percent commercial-off-the-shelf parts. The light all-terrain vehicle can transport up to nine soldiers and their equipment.

Hendrick Motorsports, located near the new facility, is providing the chrome-moly steel exoskeleton of the vehicle frame, including the GM Defense-designed rollover protection system. Ricardo Defense leads the integrated product support, including technical manual development, new equipment training, provisioning, total package fielding and field service support for the ISV.

General Motors is investing in electrification, autonomy, manned-unmanned collaboration and inter-vehicle network connectivity, duMont told National Defense after the new facility’s formal opening.

“GM is making big investments in those areas now, and I'm going to harness that to the benefit of our warfighters’ needs,” said duMont, who joined GM Defense after working for some 20 years for companies such as Raytheon Technologies, BAE Systems and the Boeing Co. DuMont also served as an aviation officer and attack helicopter pilot in the Army.

Along with two of the new squad vehicles GM brought for VIPs to test drive on May 4, the company featured a fully electric version that was driven on the same course as the pair of diesel-powered ISVs.

“There are a couple of different [military] electrified vehicle programs going on now,” duMont said. “They're small at this point, but we think that could become the foundation for a different path in the DoD toward electrified vehicles.”

In addition, there are advanced battery programs throughout the services where GM Defense can contribute, he said.

As for major programs, GM Defense will enter the recompete contract to manufacture future joint light tactical vehicles. The incumbent Oshkosh Defense developed the vehicle with the Army, but the government bought the technical designs. Congress has mandated that the JLTV manufacturing contract be recompeted.

“We're looking at the recompete for JLTV right now. We're putting a lot of energy and effort into that. I think as the Army sees the quality of the product that we just delivered on ISV, we will get some attention,” duMont said.

The Army is looking to issue a new JLTV contract in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022, service officials said last year. The JLTV recompete could be worth up to $12.3 billion for 30,000 vehicles and 10,000 trailers over a decade. The Army will take the opportunity to make some upgrades to the vehicle including signature management, better seating and a new engine. It currently uses the GM-manufactured Duramax.

As for larger class military vehicles, duMont said the subsidiary will not shy away from such programs.

“We could build something bigger than [the JLTV], but I also want this business to scale at the right pace,” he said.

He believes GM Defense can partner with other contractors on programs such as the Army’s optionally manned fighting vehicle, which is in a heavier class.

“We'll be looking at which team we want to join, or do we want to be a supplier of components to all teams? We're still trying to make that decision and we'll come up with a smart strategy that best supports the warfighter,” he said.

The subsidiary will also be looking to make inroads in the overseas market, duMont noted.

Topics: Tactical Wheeled Vehicles

Comments (1)

Re: GM Defense Hunts for More Business as it Opens New Plant

The next logical step, even if this is an Infantry Support Vehicle, would be to "Guntruck" a several dozen of them.

Transporting nine soldiers equipped with carbines and small arms just for a ride makes sense, but without some form of "overwhelming firepower" against an enemy target, it doesn't seem wise to speed towards an objective without some heavy firepower. Now that the US Army has a new truck chassis, equipping a few dozen more with a gun ring, ATGMs, APKWS launchers, SHORADS, and autoloading mortars makes sense, in addition to some armor and removing a fewer seats. Sure, it's not designed for combat or a FAV, but should be equipped for at least Infantry FIRE Support. That way, in a firefight or at FOBs, the Light Infantry and Airborne can have a Fire Support Vehicle instead of waiting for the Mobile Protected Firepower Light tank to roll up and show up. I wouldn't call it a "Technical Truck" in a sense, but even a Low-Profile CROWS with Javelin ATGM coaxial on a modified rollcage would benefit the Light Infantry Forces.

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