Rheinmetall, GM Defense partner in Army’s tactical truck competition

·4 min read

WASHINGTON — American Rheinmetall Vehicles and GM Defense have struck an agreement to partner in the U.S. Army’s Common Tactical Truck competition, the companies told Defense News in a recent interview.

The Army is working to find a replacement for its Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles and is in the early phase of defining requirements through a competitive prototyping effort.

The service released a Request for Project Proposals in late June, and the deadline to submit to compete in the first phase of the competition is Aug. 29 following an extension of two weeks to give industry more time.

Initial production could amount to approximately 5,700 vehicles valued at around $5 billion.

Rheinmetall has sold its MAN Military Vehicles HX family of tactical military trucks to 20 customers globally, including an allied user group of Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

GM Defense is a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors, which sold 2.2 million vehicles on the commercial market in 2021 alone and is rapidly supplying the U.S. Army with its Infantry Squad Vehicle.

Taking the tactical wheeled vehicle heritage of Rheinmetall and pairing that with all the technologies and investments GM is making, “that’s really what brought us together,” Matthew Warnick, managing director of ARV, told Defense News.

The two companies were spotted at Eurosatory, a Paris-based defense exhibition this June, working out some of the final details.

“The Army customer says they want modern, advanced technology based on commercial investments made so that we can deliver the best capability to the warfighter as quickly as possible,” GM Defense President Steve duMont said in the same interview. “That’s what this team is preparing to do.”

As the Army is still in the requirements-definition phase of the program, Warnick noted, joining with GM Defense was particularly appealing because of how ARV trucks could incorporate GM technologies in a truck offered today, but also what it could bring to the table down the road.

The Common Tactical Truck, or CTT, could be in the inventory for roughly 40 years, so the ability to integrate new capabilities and upgrade with new technology is going to be critical, he stressed.

GM Defense brings a lot of possible features including well-developed technologies like Lane Departure Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and other safety features, plus it is developing and delivering, in the commercial market, a number of alternative-energy-powered cars such as vehicles that are fully electric.

The Army plans to choose up to five teams to build three prototypes – each designed for a different mission – by the end of the calendar year as part of the first phase. That phase would last roughly 36 months and would be followed by a pre-production prototype phase that is closely related to an engineering and manufacturing development phase.

The prototypes will go through a 1,500 mile test event, which will include a heavy amount of soldier-centered evaluation.

“This program has been identified as a program that’s going to exploit commercial, pre-existing technology and rapid prototyping and I can tell you, coming on the heels of our Infantry Squad Vehicle program, which was also awarded under an Other Transaction Authority contract, GM Defense really understands the importance of rapid prototyping,” duMont said. “It’s one of the things that I think we did on the ISV program exceptionally well.”

GM Defense and ARV also noted that the parts and supply chain globally is well-established through General Motors and through ARV’s other customers.

And the commonality with other countries could “enhance coalition warfare,” duMont noted. “The fact that you might have some basic or common system elements between allied partners is a real benefit.”

The Army has “very clearly signaled” what it wants when it comes to certain areas, Warnick said. Commonality across missions is going to be a requirement, he said. “How do we buy in scale? How do we support that,” Warnick asked. While the Army really desires taking advantage of the commercial market, “if you go pure commercial, there’s no militarization and there are certain requirements that you’re going to have to make trades on.”

The second requirement is a way to drive down fuel consumption, not just for environmental reasons, but for logistics reasons. “It’s how do I maximize range? How do I maximize operational tempo for those guys? How do I reduce my log[istics] trains to support my tactical wheeled vehicles,” Warnick asked.

General Motors is already investing $35 billion in electric vehicle development and enhancement, duMont noted.

The CTT partnership for both companies could be just the beginning. “You can’t look at the breadth and depth of the capability of General Motors and not think of other synergies that we can have from a partnership perspective,” Warnick said.