The ACV program is intended to replace the 40-year-old amphibious assault vehicle. The previous $3 billion replacement effort, deemed the expeditionary fighting vehicle, was canceled in 2011 because of the system’s poor reliability and cost growth.
ACV is an 8x8 platform with a 690-horsepower engine that can traverse 325 miles on land before refueling. The system can reach ground speeds of more than 65 miles per hour and carry 13 Marines and a crew of three with two propellers and mount up to a 40 mm cannon.
One of the main concerns regarding the amphibious assault vehicle was its lack of survivability. The ACV’s level of protection is equal to or greater than that of a mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, making it three times more survivable than the amphibious assault vehicle, he said. Initial requirements stated the vehicle should be able to protect against threats such as direct and indirect fire, mines and improvised explosive devices.
“Ultimately, the balance between what was best value between survivability, performance and reliability and cost ultimately earned BAE the selection.”
“Once we completed the operational assessment, we wanted to get as much feedback from the Marines as possible. Users provided “a very detailed assessment of their experiences operating the vehicles in areas where improvements could be made.”
The operational assessment led to “very minor changes” in the system’s design. “When it was all said and done, there really were no improvements made to the vehicle. There were only minor engineering change proposals.
One modification the Marine Corps wanted was an increase in situational awareness so contractor upgraded the design with a 360-degree camera suite to meet the requirement. Previously the vehicles had 180-degree cameras.
“Marine Corps Continues on Path to Modernize Amphibious Systems to Allow Manoeuvre Capability in High-End Fight”
Marine Corps has had success with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle proving itself in harsh climates and acquisition officials making concrete decisions on what the replacement for the aging Light Armored Vehicle should be.
The Marine Corps spent late 2018 and much of 2019 testing 16 vehicles delivered by contractor during the ACV competition. Marine Corps originally planned to start with an ACV 1.1 vehicle that would include most of the desired features but may need assistance from a connector to move between the ship and the beach, and then eventually move to a 1.2 design that could independently swim.
Marine Corps officials suspected during the competition that any potential winning design would be more sophisticated than the 1.1 requirements; in 2018 and 2019 a testing team from the contractor and the Marine Corps put the vehicle through its paces during on-land and at-sea tests and allowed the service to officially nix the distinction between the ACV 1.1 and the ACV 1.2 designs.
That decision was based on testing done by a team of ACV operators from contractor and the Marines’ new equipment training team, who conducted reliability growth testing with the 16 engineering and manufacturing development EMD vehicles delivered in the final stage of the competition. That testing showed that the vehicles produced in a serial production line could meet all ACV 1.2 requirements.
The team had other responsibilities, including testing the Lot 1 vehicles coming off the production line and getting the 3rd Assault Amphib Battalion ready to begin working with the new vehicles, but they also found time to take the original 16 vehicles to continue testing them in harsh conditions and learning how the Marine Corps could best leverage this new capability.
The service’s original plan was to pursue the vehicle in different increments, where ACV Increment 1.1 would rely on ship-to-shore connectors. Increment 1.2 would be tracked and fully amphibious.
Marines decided to combine the programs into one ACV family of vehicles after determining that the systems were able to fulfill the requirements for both variants.
Increment 1.1 performed and exceeded the performance requirements in key areas that were the desired performance of the 1.2. “In essence, 1.1 gave us the 1.2 performance requirements, and so there was really no need to continue on with using the vernacular of 1.1, 1.2.”
“Decision to Combine ACV Increments into One Program Expected to Save Money and Create Questions on Capitol Hill”.
Marines need to bring gear to the fleet faster. It is much more cost effective, and now we can focus some of that research-and-development funding on what is past 1.2, not just redoing the R&D just for the sake of redoing it.”
As part of the family of vehicles, the service is seeking multiple variants. These include personnel; command-and-control; and recovery vehicles. Additionally, the Marine Corps decided to pursue a gunned variant that will have a 30 mm cannon to increase lethality.
The current acquisition objective is to obtain over 1, 100 total vehicles. So far, the feedback we’ve gotten from the Marines that operate this vehicle has been extremely positive.
With the consolidation of the program, “there will likely be a number of programmatic changes and potential ramifications for the ACV and ACV 2.0 programs.
So Marines need to explore questions such as: “What is the revised timeline for the replacement of AAVs and will this result in cost savings from not having to upgrade and maintain AAVs longer than previously intended?”
Consolidating the increments into one has been a positive step. It likely accelerated the timeline of multiple variants and “allowed us to pursue those solutions faster than doing it in a ... 1.1, 1.2 approach. It hasn’t had a negative impact on the schedule. It hasn’t had a negative impact on the program. … In many ways it makes it a more efficient program to execute.”
For the gun variant, Marine Corps is in the process of finalizing performance specifications for the 30 mm cannon and contractor has already made headway on the system by integrating a turret on one of its own prototypes to get early feedback, .
“There’s a high degree of confidence both on contractor side and DoD side that integrating a 30 mm system is very manageable,.
When the vehicle was conceived a decade ago, it was specifically designed for turret integration. The platform can carry over 6,000 pounds of payload without affecting its mobility on land or in the water.
Contractor must ensure that it picks a turret that is not too heavy for the vehicle because that will affect performance.
Marines need a weapon system that isn’t overweight. “When contrator designed this vehicle to begin with, they built gross margin into the platform in order to accommodate additional capabilities.
The contractor also demonstrated an ACV equipped with a 40 mm cannon “in an effort to start fully vetting out the integration aspects of their vehicle” using its own internal research-and-development dollars.
However, DoD is not planning on pursuing a 40 mm cannon at this time. For the recovery variant, the service plans to begin creating the design “in earnest” in fiscal year 2022.