AM General just bandied its Jeep Gladiator Military-Grade Truck (MXT) at the Annual Meeting and Exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army a few days ago. Now, General Motors Defense presents its entry based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 at the same gathering, while overseas, Ricardo worked a martial transformation on the Ford Ranger for the British Army.
The GM Defense Infantry Squad Vehicle is competing to win an Army contract for 651 ISVs slated for production over the next five years. The contract specs call for a vehicle capable of carrying nine solders and gear at highway speeds in extreme conditions on and off-road, light enough to sling-load under a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, and with a footprint small enough to fit in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
Starting with the Colorado ZR2 helps keep costs down, another cost-efficient measure being that 70 percent of the Colorado ISV's components come from the GM parts bin. Looking like a scaled-up side-by-side, engineers turned the Colorado into a giant roll cage with skid plates, powered by the 2.8-liter diesel four-cylinder with 186 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, shifting through a six-speed automatic. Underbody plating shields everything from the engine to the front and rear mounts for the long-travel Multimatic DSSV dampers. Proving out dynamic prowess off-road partly explains Chevrolet Performance having run more than 10,000 racing miles in the Best in the Desert series.
Nine troops grab two seats in front, three in the second row, two-rear facing seats in a third row, and two more outward-facing seats in a fourth row at the back, behind the rear axle. Their gear gets stowed in the space between the third and fourth rows, strapped to webbing that forms the roof over the ostensible cabin, or slung from the numerous gusset apertures through the roll cage structure.
The Colorado prototype will compete with similar looking entries from Oshkosh/Flyer Defense and SAIC/Polaris on the contract expected to be decided next March. And for any who wonder, the SAIC in question is an American company, Science Applications International Corporation, headquarted in Reston, Va. The Army has already awarded all three entries $1 million prototyping contracts to develop their ISVs ahead of the contract deadline, with testing to begin next month at the branch's Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
Meanwhile, over the pond, Ricardo took Europe's bestselling pickup, the Ford Ranger, and turned it into a prototype "general purpose utility vehicle for defense, policing, security and rescue services roles." The English engineering firm already makes the Land Rover Defender 110-based Weapons Mount Installation Kit (WMIK) and builds the General Dynamics Foxhound in use by the British Army. The same Polaris Government and Defense that's working with SAIC on the U.S. Army ISV provided assistance on development work.
For the Ranger, Ricardo started with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost diesel Ranger putting out 210 hp and 368 lb-ft. shifting through a 10-speed automatic. From top to bottom there's a ring-mounted weapon system in a roll cage over the bed, similar to that on the WMIK, armored glass, four-point harnesses for all occupants, lightweight yet heavy-duty bumpers, rock sliders, NATO infrared reflecting (IRR) paint, ballistic underbody armor for the radiator, engine, and fuel tank. The 24-volt electrical system's been upgraded to provide reliable power and electromagnetic compatibility for operational theaters. The bed holds at least seven jerry cans, and options include rollover protection and beefier suspension, brakes and wheels.
Ricardo's work is a demonstrator to gauge interest from the military. Having seen Ricardo's WMIK, though, we realize yet again the hole left in the market by the Defender's demise and imagine Ineos' Projekt Grenadier engineers already have wartime applications in the works.