The U.S. Army has tapped Flyer Defense LLC and Oshkosh Defense LLC to develop the service's Infantry Squad Vehicle, a highly transportable platform for moving grunts into the fight.
Under the $1 million prototyping contract, awarded Friday, Flyer Defense will lead the design effort to deliver two Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) prototypes to the Army for evaluation, according to a company news release. The service plans to purchase about 650 ISVs as part of a production contract that is expected in 2020, the release states.
The Flyer-designed vehicle will be based off two of the company's previously fielded vehicles -- the U.S. Special Operations Command Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 and a version the Army is using as an interim solution, according to the release.
In August 2013, U.S. SOCOM awarded General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems a contract under the GMV 1.1 program for 1,297 vehicles based on the Flyer 72 advanced light strike vehicle design, according to Flyer Defense's website.
The Flyer infantry squad vehicle will be capable of carrying a nine-man squad with a payload capacity of 5,000 pounds, according to the release.
"We are extremely pleased to move forward with the next step in our bid for the ISV program," Flyer CEO Oded Nechushtan said in the release. "We are confident in the vehicle's operational capabilities and its ability to meet, if not exceed, all of the Army's requirements."
If the Flyer-Oshkosh team is selected to build the ISV, Oshkosh Defense will be responsible for manufacturing the production phase vehicles between 2020 and 2024, according to an Oshkosh release on the award.
"The ISV program is critical in providing infantry troops with an agile means to get to and through the battlefield as quickly and capably as possible," George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of Joint Programs at Oshkosh Defense, said in the release. "The ISV platform will also significantly lighten the load for infantry troops, who regularly each carry over 100 pounds of gear on foot."
Oshkosh currently makes the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a joint program between the Army and the Marine Corps designed to provide greater battlefield performance than the older Humvee. The Marine Corps recently announced it will increase its planned buys of the JLTV to about 15,000, enough to replace its fleet of Humvees.
The Army is currently re-evaluating its original plan to buy 49,000 JLTVs, an effort that could take another year to complete before the service announces how many of its Humvees it plans to replace, Army officials say.
The Army began looking for firms to build the new infantry squad vehicle in September 2018. Maneuver leaders have long emphasized the need to equip light infantry units with a lightweight vehicle -- capable of being transported by helicopter -- to increase their speed of movement around the battlefield.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.