USMC prepares for amphibious combat vehicle contest

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USMC prepares for amphibious combat vehicle contest


The BAE Systems/Iveco SuperAV vehicle is one of the candidates for a US Marine Corps programme seeking an eight-wheeled amphibious vehicle optimised for land and shoreline operations. Source: BAE Systems

Key Points

  • The USMC is looking to acquire 204 ACV 1.1 vehicles between 2018 and 2022
  • ACV 1.2 will reintroduce an organic over-the-horizon, ship-to-shore capability

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is assessing industry responses to the second of two draft requests for proposals (RfPs) for an eight-wheeled amphibious combat vehicle (ACV) optimised for land operations and shoreline tactical mobility.

Procurement officials at Marine Corps Systems Command are expected to issue a final RfP for ACV Phase 1 Increment 1 (ACV 1.1) following discussions with prospective contractors during the week beginning 26 January.

Four industry teams are understood to be in contention, each proposing modified variants of off-the-shelf 8x8 armoured infantry carriers in service elsewhere: BAE Systems/Iveco (with their SuperAV vehicle), General Dynamics (LAV 6.0), Lockheed Martin/Patria (Havoc), and SAIC/ST Kinetics (Terrex II).

Having seen previous attempts to procure a replacement for its elderly Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAVs) thwarted by cost and performance requirement challenges, the USMC expects its current plans for an affordable ACV - costing no more than USD5 million apiece - to achieve initial operational capability in 2020 and full operational capability in 2023.

According to a request for information (RfI) published in April 2014, and associated documentation, the USMC is seeking a wheeled vehicle to provide protected mobility for 10-13 troops and three crew during ground operations (with a range of 300-500 miles) and shore-to-shore and riverine manoeuvres (up to 3 n miles). With a maximum swimming speed of 5-8 kt, the vehicle will be able to negotiate coastal waters with a 2 ft significant wave height and plunging surf of 4-6 ft.

Other key requirements include the provision of self-defence and direct fire support for dismounted troops via a remotely operated and stabilised 0.5-inch machine gun, with growth potential for a 30-40 mm weapon.

A first draft RfP for ACV 1.1 was published by the Program Executive Officer Land Systems/Program Manager Advanced Amphibious Assault in November 2014, with the second draft appearing on 8 January 2015. A full RfP is expected in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015, leading to the award of engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) contracts to two companies - each for 16 vehicles - in the first quarter of FY 2016.

The 32 EMD prototypes will integrate a number of government furnished items, including communications and navigation equipment; nuclear, biological, and chemical warning systems; and a marinised M153 CROWS II (Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station) fitted with a 0.5-inch M2 machine gun or Mk 19 40 mm grenade launcher.

Once ACV 1.1 developmental and operational testing is completed, the USMC will downselect to a single contractor in the second quarter of FY 2018 to meet the approved acquisition objective of 204 vehicles, comprising 56 low-rate initial production (LRIP) vehicles with options for the full rate production (FRP) of 148 vehicles.

The Integrated Program Plan includes an LRIP Lot 1 requirement for 26 vehicles in standard personnel carrier configuration (plus four vehicles for live-fire lethality and survivability trials). LRIP Lot 2 (FY 2019) will see the construction of 30 ACVs, with FRP Lots 1, 2, and 3 adding 30, 80, and 38 vehicles, respectively, in FY 2020, FY 2021, and FY 2022.

Future plans include the procurement of 490 enhanced ACV 1.2 vehicles, reintroducing an organic over-the-horizon ship-to-shore capability and, in the longer term, an all-new ACV 2.0 intended for high-speed surface transit.

Meanwhile, the legacy AAVs will undergo an upgrade programme extending their lives to 2035; thereafter ACVs alone will provide the amphibious lift capability for 12 marine battalions.

USMC prepares for amphibious combat vehicle contest - IHS Jane's 360
 
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