advanced procurement of the first production models
of the CH-53K. Ground testing of the helicopter is
under way with the first test flight expected later this
year and IOC of the first squadron scheduled for 2019.
The proposed budget would provide “critical funding for the last test articles [aircraft] in support of a
Milestone C decision” for low-rate production in 2016,
Although Dunford did not list them in his written
statement, the budget also funds three established
Marine aviation programs, requesting funds to buy 19
MV- 22 Osprey tiltrotors next year and 18 the following
year to finish the Corps’ planned buy; 28 of the AH-1Z
attack and UH-1Y utility helicopters and two KC-130J
transport and refueling aircraft. It also would buy four of
the new RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial systems.
The Corps’ top ground priority is the ACV, which is
the latest attempt to replace the Vietnam-vintage AAV- 7
amphibious assault vehicles. After cancelling the
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, which promised long-sought high water speed but became burdened
by soaring cost and technical challenges, the Marines
have opted for a wheeled troop transport, labeled ACV
1. 1, which will have marginal amphibious capabilities
but good mobility and survivability on land.
The budget requests $219 million in research and
development funds for ACV 1. 1. The Corps expects to
award contracts later this year for two firms to build
test vehicles leading to a down-select for serial production of an estimated 204 of the initial 1. 1 vehicles. A
more capable ACV 1. 2 would be obtained in the future,
while research continues for an affordable high water
The budget also requests $27 million to continue
AAV life extension and improvements.
The other priority vehicle program, the JLTV, is in
engineering and manufacturing development phase,
with a production contract award expected this year,
Dunford said. The proposed budget supports the
Corps’ strategy to reach IOC for the JLTV in fiscal 2018
and full operational capability in 2021.
The Marines plan to buy 5,500 JLTVs, which is an
Army-led program to replace Humvees with more survivable vehicles. Dunford also requested support for
proposed C4 programs.
“Deployed warfighters require access to the right
data at the right place at the right time… We will con-
tinue to invest in C4 down to the corporals and ser-
geants. This will allow our front-line Marine riflemen
to be more agile, lethal and responsive by directly
leveraging the capabilities of the F- 35 and communi-
cating better with special operations forces.”
He also supported funding for Navy shipbuilding
programs because the Corps’ amphibious capabilities
“are reliant on the nation’s investments in our part-
nered Navy programs.”
He specifically cited the 12th San Antonio-class
amphibious transport dock, the LX(R) program to
replace the aged dock landing ships and the proposed
ship-to-shore connectors that would allow Marines to
get ashore from amphibious ships.
Because the available amphibious ships do not meet
operational requirements, Dunford also supported the
development of “alternative sea-basing platforms,”
such as the joint high-speed vessels and various
Military Sealift Command support ships. ;
Marines prepare to board CH-53E Super Stallions as part of an aerial assault for the Battalion Assault Course on Feb.
12 at Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., during Integrated Training Exercise 2-15. The fiscal
2016 defense budget requests Marine personnel funding of $13.3 billion, which would hold the manpower level at
184,000, just 100 Marines below the 2015 authorized end strength. It also requests $673.4 million for the engineering
and manufacturing development phase and advanced procurement of the first production models of the CH-53K helicopter to replace the legacy CH-53Es, the U.S. military’s only heavy-lift helicopters.