GM Defense’s new president Steve duMont eyes more ISV orders
Speaking to Harry Lye as GM Defense opened its new infantry squad vehicle (ISV) production facility in North Carolina, the company's new president Steve duMont said he wanted to sell the vehicle to new customers and discussed future opportunities for the business.
GM Defense opened its new 75,000-square-foot production facility in Concord, North Carolina, at the start of May. The facility went from an empty shell to producing vehicles in just 90 days and is expected to build 2,065 ISVs for the US Army.
Commenting on the new facility, Steve duMont, who joins GM Defense from Raytheon Intelligence & Space, said: “I am really impressed with everything that I’ve seen. I mean, literally, a 90-day turn to take an open, empty facility and turn it into a world-class production facility, that capability doesn’t exist in the world that I come from, the defence world that I come from.”
The facility is designed to support the full-rate production of the ISV that will equip US Army Infantry Brigade Combat Teams. GM Defense told us that the plant could produce seven or eight vehicles a week.
Currently, the company is building vehicles at a rate of two-and-a-half units a week due to the size of the current army task order.
// GM Defence's new president Steve duMont
A new facility with expansion in mind
Commenting on the choice of location, GM Defense engineering group manager Joe Moraschinelli said: “Once we won the contract, we realised we didn’t have a site to do this at so the obvious choice for us was the site in Concord, which is close to Hendrick [Motorsports] – one of our strategic partners – and also close to the military, Fort Bragg, location. It made sense for us financially to come to this location.
“It took about just over 90 days to put the site up. We did have a shell of a building with zero infrastructure, four walls and a concrete floor; that was it. No piping, no heat, no air, nothing. Within 90 days we were producing vehicles out of a location that basically had nothing in it.”
The Concord plant has already produced six production ISVs, adding to the 27 vehicles the company had already assembled at its Milford, Michigan, facility. Hendrick Motorsports provides the chrome-moly steel exoskeleton of the vehicle frame used on the ISV.
Mark Dickens, GM Defense architectural chief engineer, added that the facility was built ‘with expansion in mind’ and that if the company needed to build more vehicles at a low rate using a different configuration, that could be added in.
Moraschinelli said that the company had several ways it could increase production rates, including expanding the size of the production line, adding more shifts, or increasing the number of people who work on the vehicle.
// GM Defense's new ISV production facility in Concord, North Carolina
ISV expansion and the JLTV recompete
GM said the need to expand at some point was ‘anticipated’ when the company established the facility, and duMont expressed his intention to expand orders of the ISV.
“I want to sell this vehicle to our US Department of Defense customers and to allied land forces around the planet and build as many of them as we can, but also use this opportunity as a springboard to go find the next great challenge that our defence customers have and go solve that with the amazing capabilities that I’ve witnessed in my two and a half weeks with the company,” duMont said.
The company has so far been contracted for the production of the first 649 vehicles. It has also built a one-off all-electric concept ISV that is being demonstrated to the US Army.
The ISV is based on the commercially available Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck and uses 90% commercially available components.
duMont said the ISV was just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ for GM Defense.
The JLTV programme is very important to us.
Commenting on the upcoming recompete of the US Army’s JLTV programme, duMont said:
“The JLTV programme is very important to us. It’s a recompete of the JLTV contract that was awarded several years ago and there are 30,000-plus vehicles to go. Our defence customer is looking for opportunities to take cost out of their acquisition, to develop and deliver a better product with higher reliability and better quality.
“I can’t think of a better company on the planet to do that than the one that I just joined. So JLTV is an important programme for us.”
Oshkosh Defense is currently manufacturing the JLTV.
Interest in OMFV
Looking towards opportunities to expand outside of the tactical wheeled vehicle market, duMont said GM Defense had ‘applicable technologies’ in the autonomous or robotic vehicle space.
“The optionally manned fighting vehicle (OMFV), that’s not a tactical wheeled vehicle,” duMont said. “It’s a combat vehicle and it has tracks instead of tires, but I really feel, given the technology that we’re demonstrating in our delivery of the infantry squad vehicle in an amazingly quick period of time, we’ll be able to do something similar as we look at programmes like OMFV for the US Army.”
The deadline for proposals for the OMFV competition’s digital design phase has already passed; however, duMont said he saw potential roles in the programme for GM Defense as a teammate or potential supplier of underlying technologies.
// Main image: The infantry squad vehicle. Credit (all images): GM Defense