WASHINGTON: The Army’s Infantry Squad Vehicle has reached first unit equipped status after the service started fielding 59 vehicles to soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division this week.
The GM Defense-made Infantry Squad Vehicle, which can carry up to nine soldiers and was the center of recent controversy, is the Army’s new tactical troop transport vehicle meant to enhance the mobility of infantry squads.
Steven Herrick, product director for ground mobility vehicles at Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support, told Breaking Defense in a statement that an additional 59 ISVs are scheduled to be delivered to the 101st Airborne Division in June. The first 59 are going to the 1st brigade of the 82nd Airborne, which previously tested the vehicles in recent years.
The Army plans to buy 2,406 vehicles in all, and budget documents say that includes 165 ISVs for $34 million in fiscal 2023 and 183 in FY24. In an unusual move, the budget documents don’t detail planned purchases for FY25 through FY27. Herrick said those numbers are still under discussion.
The Army’s 2020 contract with GM Defense for $214 million covers the first 649 vehicles. The full-rate production decision is set for the first quarter of FY23.
“The Army is assessing the ISV level of investment for FY24 and beyond as part of part of the ongoing POM24-28,” Herrick said, referring to the services Program Objective Memorandum. “The current ISV contract is a requirements-based contract and can support production through FY28.”
Herrick also added that the program office received a requirement to field ISVs to the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades, which train partner forces.
In an interview with Breaking Defense on May 5, GM Defense President Steve duMont said that the company’s facilities in Concord, N.C., are prepared for full-rate production of the vehicle and potential contracts from international customers.
“We have the ability to put multiple lines into our Concord facility to potentially double and maybe even triple,” duMont said.
The first unit equipped milestone is some good news for a program that found itself the subject of a scathing report from the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, which dubbed the ISV “not operationally effective” for combat against near-peer threats. The report also said the troop carrier lacked adequate force protection and communications capabilities. It noted that the program had a corrective action plan to fix problems noted in the report.
In statements to Breaking Defense following the report, Herrick took issue with the testing criteria and defended the efficacy of the ISV stating that it is “not designed to defeat or counter specific threats nor is it intended to operate as a combat fighting platform.”
“The primary role of the ISV is as a troop carrier to provide ground mobility to designated Infantry rifles squads reducing their need to cover large areas of terrain on foot,” Herrick said in February.
The program office at the time also said it was “considering investigating” a vehicle-mounted radio on ISV.