of the new components were subjected to “accelerated life testing”
and others were fitted onto the
original prototypes to demonstrate
their capabilities, he said.
In addition to the redesign of
other key components, the water
jets, engines and transmission will
benefit from “evolutionary reliability enhancements that we were
able to find,” Moore said.
Because the EFV’s weight can
determine whether the vehicle can
obtain the required water speed, the
program has had a constant battle to
control the initial weight and provide
a weight-growth margin of 1,500
pounds to allow for future changes.
The approved design would
provide 700-750 pounds of weight
growth, and General Dynamics has
identified additional changes that
should allow the remaining weight
gain, Moore said.
Part of the weight margin was
achieved by lowering the EFV’s original requirements to be able to maintain its high water
speed under all conditions up to sea state 3.
With $60 million in the fiscal 2009 defense bill, the
EFV program has $255.4 million to start production of
the seven new prototypes, the program office said.
The first new prototype is expected to be delivered
in May 2010, with an additional vehicle every month
after that, Moore said.
Testing would begin in the first quarter of fiscal
2011, with four of the vehicles put through mission
profile tests for 500 hours each to test reliability.
Although the approved design is supposed to provide
61 hours between mission failures, Moore said they expect
the prototypes to demonstrate about 30 percent to 40 percent of that. Any component failing to reach those levels
will be redesigned to meet the reliability goals, he said.
The vehicles also will go through an operational
assessment to allow independent evaluators to determine if they can fulfill their mission.
The two sets of tests will produce a new design with
a projected reliability that will be presented to the
Defense Acquisition Board in the first quarter of fiscal
2012, Moore said.
If approved for low-rate initial production, the EFV
could reach IOC in 2015.
While the new models are being tested, some of the
original prototypes will be used for live-fire tests to
measure their combat survivability. ■
The complex hydraulic system and computerized “fly-by-wire” control system
that allow the EFV to convert from a tracked vehicle into a flat-bottomed craft
that skims over the surface of the water, propelled by water jets, then shift
back into a tracked vehicle at the beach have been a massive challenge in the
decade-long development of the vehicle. An EFV prototype is shown here
undergoing maneuverability tests on the beach at Navy Amphibious Base
Little Creek, Va., in May 2007.
requires congressional notification of program cost
growth of more than 15 percent over the original estimate, and calls for the termination of programs whose
total cost grow by more than 25 percent.
But Pentagon procurement officials determined the
EFV was essential to national security and that no
alternatives could provide equal or greater military
capabilities at equal or less cost. The program was
ordered to virtually start over, with a comprehensive
redesign focused on reliability.
Moore said a high-level Pentagon review in December
determined that “General Dynamics now has a design
with a predicted reliability of 61 hours mean time
between operational mission failures.”
Of the 180 significant design changes made, the
main purpose of 87 of the changes was reliability
enhancement, while others were to improve performance or offset weight or cost that had been added by
other changes, Moore said.
Some of the design changes would improve corrosion resistance in the engine compartment; others were
made in the turret, primarily to improve the main gun
ammunition feed system to prevent jamming.
Another priority was improving the endurance of
the hydraulic system that allows the EFV to become a
high-speed boat, Moore said.
Although most of the evidence for the projected
increased reliability was in design specifications, some