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Good Enough For Government Work

GM Defense ISV

After months of testing, The United States Army has awarded General Motors a $214.3 million dollar defense contract for the GM Defense ISV military vehicle. Based on the 31xx platform which underpins the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, along with plenty of the off-road hardware that makes the ZR2 great, the Infantry Squad Vehicle came out ahead against entries from Wisconsin’s Oshkosh Defense and California’s Flyer Defense, LLC. The US Army began testing the vehicles last November at the Amberdeen Test Center in Maryland, before undergoing further testing through the winter and spring at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Each company originally was given $1 million from the Army to build a prototype.

The $214.3 million US Army Contract covers an initial procurement to acquire approximately 649 ISVs starting this year. Divided up, that’s nearly $330,000 for what is essentially a Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 chassis and minimal add-ons otherwise. By far and away, this would be the most expensive vehicle GM produces should the numbers hold true. Meanwhile, the base 2020 Colorado ZR2, with doors and a radio, costs $41,400. Separately, the approved Army Acquisition Objective is 2,065 vehicles.

GM Defense ISV

While finalists from Polaris and Flyer Defense were commendable, GM Defense was likely rewarded the contract thanks to its manufacturing efficiencies, ease of maintenance and a well-established global supply chain.

The GM Defense ISV was designed to provide the military with a rapid ground mobility solution that could seat up to nine soldiers, as well as haul their gear. Another requirement was that it must also be 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 transport whenever, wherever.

To make this vehicle a reality, GM Defense partnered with UK-based Ricardo Defense in 2019, which has offices in Michigan. This was after the U.S. Army awarded three $1 million contracts to competing industry providers to develop ISV prototypes for testing, evaluation and down-selection for the production contract. Ricardo Defense will support key product logistics and fielding requirements of the GM Defense ISV.

GM Defense ISV

The chosen engine of the GM Defense ISV is a 186-horsepower, 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel engine, and six-speed automatic transmission, just like the production Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. But likely without the pesky emissions requirements. After all, our government is immune to such matters.

The GM Defense ISV prototype on display at the 2019 SEMA Show featured Chevy Performance engineered hardware such as long-travel Multimatic DSSV dampers, long-travel rear leaf springs, jounce shocks, front upper control arms, steel driveshaft, underbody skid plates and ball-spline half shafts. Most of these parts are available either on the Colorado ZR2 Bison or as Chevrolet Performance race components. A closer look also reveals that the wheels appear to be accessory parts from American Expedition Vehicles. Its instrument panel also came from a boat, as it needed to be waterproof. You read it here first.

GM Defense ISV

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.

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