Navistar Defense used the recent Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting to highlight a number of significant platform capabilities across multiple weight classes. Among the programs highlighted was the company’s candidate now under evaluation for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1 program, where Navistar has taken a somewhat unique approach to meeting warfighter requirements [See “Northrop Grumman Team Unveils GMV 1.1 Candidate”].
According to Scott Cassidy, a business development manager for Navistar Defense, the new GMV 1.1 offering, dubbed Special Operations Tactical Vehicle (SOTV), is best understood against the background of another ongoing company program: the Non Standard Tactical Truck (NSTT).
“We partnered with Indigen Armor as an engine and powertrain integrator for the Non Standard Tactical Truck that Indigen Armor builds,” he explained. “We’ve been partnered on this for four years.”
While specific customers were not identified, the NSTT is clearly made to resemble the Toyota Hilux pickup trucks that are a ubiquitous presence around the world.
“What they wanted to do was change the up-armored vehicle industry,” Cassidy said. “You can see a lot of trucks where someone buys a Toyota Hilux, takes it apart, puts armor on it, put in some upgrades to handle that new weight, and then puts in back together. But there’s always something wrong with it, because the truck was never meant to do that. So what Indigen Armor did was build this vehicle and then ‘skin it’ to look like a Toyota Hilux. But there’s no part of this that was ever a Toyota Hilux. Everything from the suspension, which is a Baja suspension, to the seats, is bigger. So it’s actually 10 percent larger than a Toyota Hilux. And if you get into some of those up-armored trucks, since the body panels are where they are, it takes away space from the interior. But here they built the same size interior and then built the armor around it.”
“They did it to fit into a Chinook helicopter,” he added. “They always had that requirement – to drive on and off the Chinook. So when the GMV 1.1 program came out, we were already teamed with them. We knew there was a requirement for an internally transportable capability when they went from V-22 to CH-47. This was the only vehicle in the world that was armored and purpose-built to be inside a CH-47. So we decided it was a natural transition to take a similar approach for that program.”
He continued, “So a year ago, when USSOCOM said that they wanted CH-47 transportability, we said that we already had one that was designed four years ago and has passed independent testing to prove it…So we focused on commonality for the new tactical variant [GMV 1.1] and started designing the SOTV off NSTT as a base. We decided to have the same tooling, the same suspension, the same manuals, the same logistics footprint. So if SOCOM wants to go out and run a base anywhere in the world – whether they have needs for an up-armored vehicle that blends in or a tactical vehicle with a turret – they only need one mechanic or one engine kit. Instead of needing two supply lines they only need one. Instead of needing two different types of driver training they only need one.”
Walking around the resulting SOTV design, Cassidy observed, “The key cost feature here is volume. So both of these vehicles [NSTT and SOTV] are relatively low volume programs if you look at commercial sourcing. But when you put them together you start getting up toward the program size numbers of the MATV or the MaxxPro programs. So what we have done, without having to reuse parts from an old HMMWV, which some people do to save costs, is to source our new purpose-built parts over two programs.”
“It’s the same powertrain and same suspension, but SOTV is not required to be ‘covert,’ which allows us to do a little bit more,” he said. “For example, we had to find a way to have this drive on and off a Chinook and be ready to fire in 30 seconds or less. So we created a new turret design that stows in a folding position [to the rear] underneath the height of the vehicle. So it can drive off in a stowed position and then immediately lift the weapon back up. All you have to do is pull two pins locking it into place and it’s ready to fire. You’re ready to go in 30 seconds or less with any weapon – MK 19, .50-cal, or even a remote weapon station in that same setup.”