The Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is revolutionizing the development, delivery, and sustainment of civilian-styled armored vehicles (AV) for the 21st century. On August 18, 2021, the Department of State announced two first-of-their-kind contracts for manufacturer-built AVs. These contracts represent new government
partnerships with U.S. automakers, General Motors and Ford (via GMD and Battelle). Through this partnership, DSS is leading the development of a next-generation armored SUV, with the intent to arrive at a fully tested and field-capable prototype vehicle to ensure a viable and robust AV supply chain.
As the federal law enforcement and security bureau of the U.S. Department of State, DSS protects the people, property, and information that are crucial to the department’s ability to maintain a diplomatic presence and conduct foreign policy around the world. A fundamental component of DSS’ global protective effort is securely transporting U.S. diplomatic personnel overseas and foreign officials in the United States. DSS’ Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division (DEAV) is responsible for designing, procuring, and testing the AVs for the department and 15 other federal agencies.
DEAV historically has fulfilled AV requirements through the department’s AV blanket purchase agreement for third-party armoring contractors. This mechanism created a lengthy procurement timeline and was not adaptable to growing global threats. DEAV, in collaboration with the U.S. Secret Service, will leverage these new contracts for commercial original equipment manufacturer (OEM) collaboration and development services to develop the next generation of AVs. This partnership with automakers supports the creation of an AV design, a prototype, and a first-article-for-testing of AVs. These projects include the use of previously completed, OEM-developed intellectual property to achieve a prototype AV for testing and final product development.
These ground-breaking projects are poised to improve the AV fleet by diverging from dated after-market tear-down and rebuild practices and evolving to purpose-built vehicle designs with large-scale, production-ready capability, thus decreasing production timelines and increasing flexibility.