by Nathan Gain
BAE Systems Land & Armaments and SAIC were both awarded contracts yesterday, 24th November, by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) to build and deliver 13 prototypes each for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle Phase 1, Increment 1 (ACV 1.1), worth €98m for BAE Systems and €115m for SAIC. According to the terms of the contracts, each of the U.S. companies also has an option for three additional vehicles.
Five companies were vying for this contract.
BAE Systems Land & Armaments L.P., of Sterling Heights, Michigan, in partnership with Italy’s IVECO, and SAIC, of McLean, Virginia, which has partnered with Singapore’s ST Kinetics, will have to deliver their 13 vehicles in the third quarter of 2016. Tests will begin in January 2017 and the final selection will be made in March or April 2018. The winner will then have to build another four platforms for live shooting tests.
The objective is that a squadron of ACV 1.1.’s will be deployable in 2020 and that by 2023 the six USMC battalions will be equipped with all 204 vehicles.
Whether based on SIAC’s Terrex 2, or BAE’s remodelled SuperAV, the future ACV will be an armoured 8×8 troop transporter for up to 10 soldiers (13 in the future), able to reach a maximum speed of 100 kph on the road and 11 kph in water and to traverse waves at least 60cm high.
Lessons learned from ACV 1.1 will inform the development of improved capabilities in the following phases of the programme, the ACV 1.2, of which 490 units will be bought. In subsequent phases of the ACV program, recovery vehicles are expected to be developed along with command and control variants of the vehicle, the Marine Corps future beast of burden.
The vehicle will replace the venerable Assault Amphibious Vehicle, in service for more than 40 years. Many of its components and parts are obsolete and are no longer being manufactured so the vehicle is becoming increasingly costly and difficult to maintain. That, along with the changing environment in which Marines are expected to fight, has produced a need for a new combat vehicle.
Meanwhile, the USMC plans to upgrade 392 AAV7A1s before 2028 to include increased protection from mine blasts, improved engines and power supplies, improved seating, better fuel protection and select improvements for water and land mobility. These should prolong the AAV’s life up to 2035.