A very small company competing to build the Army’s lightest vehicles just got a big lift from a heavy hitter. “This levels the playing field,” Vyper Adamas president Shane Sterling told me of his firm’s new alliance with Spartan Chassis. “We as a company now have the industrial might behind us to produce our product.”
That might comes from Michigan-based Spartan, which started out building firetrucks but expanded rapidly during the post-9/11 wars, working mainly on Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles. The MRAPs could survive most roadside bombs but proved too heavy and awkward to maneuver offroad. The Army and Marines want to replace them with a nimbler but still well-protected Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, weighing in at a relatively modest 14,000 lbs. But the Army has also decided it needs something much lighter to parachute-drop in with the Airborne: a 4,500-lb Ultra-Light Combat Vehicle, an unarmored nine-man transport, and a modestly better-armored Light Reconnaissance Vehicle.
Vyper Adamas has built small numbers of innovative vehicles for special operations customers they decline to name. In the competition to build the ULCV and LRV for the so-called Big Army, however, they were dwarfed by competitors like General Dynamics and Boeing. It turns out they had a plan for that problem all along: marry their design team to Spartan’s manufacturing power.
“It says a lot about our product and reputation to have a company like Spartan behind us,” Sterling told me. “They have won numerous awards in the past five years for innovation and their ability to produce products on time.”
“As a smaller company, we are extremely nimble, with the ability to design, develop, and now implement, on an extremely large scale, the numbers of vehicles that might be asked of us,” Sterling said. “Senator McCain recently alluded to the fact that he would like smaller companies to bid and compete on contacts. Well, Vyper is that company.”