Next year, the program will put its test vehicles
through some extensive trials, which hopefully should
prove the EFV has been adequately designed to meet the
requirements the Marines have set out for it, Moore said.
“We’re running them through a series of mission
profiles for the ship-to-shore mission profile, desert
mission profiles, near-shore littoral region mission pro-
files … as well as some other discreet operational tasks
that they’ll run,” he said. “The report card coming out
of that will be the other big part of going through to
the production decision at Milestone C.”
The EFV has faced cost and schedule setbacks over
the years, but Moore said he believes the program has
a handle on them and is not likely to face any major
problems in the future.
“All indicators are we can be reasonably sure we’re
not going to face any more hurdles that will put the
schedule at risk, and one of the big drivers to cost is if
your schedule gets out of control,” he said.
But the program continues to battle controversy
over whether the vehicle is needed at all. Although the
Marine Corps has thrown its support behind it,
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has fueled debate
about the EFV’s necessity by downplaying the likelihood of future amphibious assaults.
Dakota Wood, senior fellow at the Center for
Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, is one who is not
convinced the Marine Corps is using its resources
wisely in an era when most military programs are
focused on ground vehicles with beefed-up armor that
can handle the threat of irregular warfare and improvised explosive devices, the No. 1 killer of troops.
“The vehicle is exactly what the Marine Corps asked
for, and General Dynamics has done a phenomenal job,”
Wood said. “But in the 20 years that it’s been developed,
the world has changed. … You’ve got a very lethal anti-armor threat environment on land … [and] those design
characteristics sub-optimize it to survive in this anti-armor lethal threat environment once you get on shore.”
Wood also raised the issue of cost, saying that the
vehicle would result in the Marines spending “upwards
of 90 percent of available funding on ground programs
for the next seven or eight years, which means you have
10 percent left to fund everything else it has, and it just
doesn’t seem to be a very smart use of finite resources.”
In 1993, the Marines estimated the EFV would cost
around $5.3 million per vehicle. However, the
Pentagon reported to Congress in 2007 that the EFV
was experiencing per-unit cost overruns of 44 percent
above the original baseline, breaching Nunn-McCurdy
Act cost thresholds. The act calls for the termination of
weapons programs whose total costs grew by more
than 25 percent above original estimates, unless they
were certified as critical systems by the defense secre-
U.S. MARINE CORPS
The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) is more robust and
sturdy than the Assault Amphibious Vehicle it is intended to
replace, allowing it to handle terrain and water better. The
EFV may have to travel as far as 25 miles from ship to shore.
tary or if cost growth was attributable to certain specified changes in the program.
Today, the cost of the EFV stands at about $17 million per copy. As recently as six years ago, the Marines
had hoped to field the EFV in 2008.
Wood also noted that developments over the years
in anti-ship cruise missiles may push surface ships
even further out, about 100 to 150 nautical miles from
shore, which “seems to undercut” the EFV’s 25-mile
Wood argues that the Marines should ditch the concept and optimize the ship-to-shore version via a
Landing Craft Air Cushion-type platform that could
transport a ground vehicle optimized for land warfare.
But Moore defended the need for the EFV in the
future, arguing that it fills a range of missions, including exploiting gaps in a shoreline held by the enemy
and conducting humanitarian missions.
Marines need “to be able to have that capability to
provide a credible way to get a lot of combat power
across a beach someplace,” he said.
“The opportunity with the vehicle, with the kind of
speed and firepower that is available, once we can figure out where those gaps are, to rapidly exploit it from
a secure sea base and be persistently there for long
periods of time, it provides a lot of uncertainty for our
adversaries as to when and how we would choose to
engage their force in combat,” he said.
The EFV is useful “just for the intermediate stuff
Marines do every day,” he continued. “Across the globe,
there’s a need — because of natural and man-made disasters — to provide relief, and one of the key components
of that” is an amphibious vehicle such as the EFV, he said.
“To be able to rapidly get out, to be able to operate
independently in small groups with the tremendous
amount of command and control, to allow other things
to flow in behind them — that’s where this platform, I
think, is viewed as especially relevant for the stuff we and
the Marine Corps do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
General Dynamics declined to be interviewed for this
article, deferring comment to the Marine Corps. ■