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Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV)
Type Amphibious assault vehicle
Place of origin United States

The Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) is a program initiated by Marine Corps Systems Command to procure an amphibious assault vehicle for the United States Marine Corps to replace the Assault Amphibious Vehicle. The program replaces the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program canceled in 2011.

Design requirements[edit | edit source]

The ACV should have countermeasures able to contend with a full range of direct fire, indirect fire, and land mine threats. Visible and thermal signature reduction technologies will also be utilized. Modular protection can be applied as necessary.[1]

The vehicle must have the capability to transition from water to ground operations without tactical pause. It must be able to maneuver with the M1A1 Abrams in a mechanized task force. It must have the capability to destroy combat vehicles similar to itself. Weapons must have sufficient range to engage targets from a standoff distance. Weapons will apply precision fire from a stabilized system. It must provide direct fire support for dismounted infantry in an attack.[1] The Marine Corps has identified speed on water as a top requirement, even at the cost of troop carrying capacity.[2]

The ACV must be able to self-deploy from an amphibious assault ship at least 12 miles from shore with 17 Marines aboard. It has to be able to travel 8 knots or faster through seas with waves up to three feet. The vehicle is to be operational between 2020 and 2022, with 573 vehicles planned to be procured.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

A request for information (RFI) was issued to industry on 17 February 2011. The document outlined expected requirements and asked industry for informal design proposals and program methodology feedback. Responses were due by 22 April 2011.[1] An industry day was held on 6 April 2011.

In August 2012, General Dynamics was awarded an ACV Hull Survivability Demonstrator contract for the design, fabrication, and test support of a full-scale hull to demonstrate crew-protection technologies. In November 2012, they conducted simulated mine-blast tests on their ACV ballistic hull design, successfully meeting mine-blast survivability requirements. Work concluded by May 2013 and will be used to refine requirements for effective protection against under-vehicle threats.[4]

In April 2013, DARPA awarded a $1 million prize to a team in the Fast Adaptable Next-Generation Ground Vehicle (FANG) contest. The team beat out 1,000 other competitors to submit their design for a drivetrain for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle. The FANG initiative is to demonstrate a way to procure working systems better than the current defense acquisition process, which frequently leads to delays and cost overruns. The Marines are in charge of the ACV program, so there is no guarantee that the Darpa-crowdsourced mobility drivetrain will result in a vehicle bought by the Corps.[5]

At a roundtable discussion on 26 June 2013, Marine Corps General Jim Amos told the media that the program was still being pursued, and that a request for proposals (RFP) would be issued in early 2014. The Corps has secured and saved a “moderate amount” of money for early development. With the previous Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle cancelled from cost overruns, the Marines are being cautious to identify trade-offs between requirements and cost for the platform. Amos noted that they were working with contractors to see which type of vehicle would meet requirements without proving too costly.[6]

In January 2013, the ACV team was created and tasked to evaluate the feasibility of building an affordable, survivable amphibious high water speed vehicle. The team includes representatives from over six Department of Defense commands. Their initial requirements and engineering analysis evaluated 198 requirements for the platform. From July 9–11, 2013, 25 Marines gathered at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia for a Warfighter Requirements Workshop to review the team's capabilities analysis and determine the value of various capabilities. 30 requirements with cost and weight implications were considered "tradable," including armament and armor protection. Safety and design-specific capabilities, like transportability (fitting on an amphibious ship) were considered non-tradable. The point of the workshop was to get input from fleet Marines about what capabilities they wanted to prioritize with current financial pressures. Over the next month, the team ordered the preferences and applied actual cost and weight data to determine feasibility recommendations for Marine Corps leaders by the fall.[7]

The Marine Corps feels they have only one opportunity to get the ACV program right, partly from the previous EFV program being cancelled in 2011 after using $3 billion in development and also from severely reduced budgets for the rest of the decade compared to the previous one. They may even not know exactly what they want and can afford from the vehicle. Trade studies were begun in January 2013 and were to be conducted for six months, but they have been extended another six months. With the service's normally tight budget combined with sequester cuts, giving priority to the ACV may take funding and resources from other programs. The plan to begin buying 5,500 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles around 2019 could be replaced with retaining and modernizing up-armored Humvees and keeping the large numbers of relatively young Oshkosh M-ATVs. The Corps' preference of the ACV over the JLTV and willingness to sacrifice it is partly to maintain their amphibious assault culture. The amphibious-capable Marine Personnel Carrier is a program to create a better vehicle to transport Marines after they come ashore. In June 2013, budgetary pressures forced the MPC program to be suspended for up to a decade to focus funding on other priorities.[8]

Variants[edit | edit source]

The three basic variants include the Squad Maneuver/Fighting Vehicle, the Command and Control Vehicle, and the Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle.

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

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