region and away from regions like
Iraq and Afghanistan, the emphasis
on littoral operations will make the
ACV a critical capability for the
service to have.
“Littoral operations require a
diverse array of complementary
capabilities that enable amphibious forces to maneuver along
coastlines, in interior waterways
and from ship to shore,” said
Marine Corps spokesman Maj
Anton Semelroth. “The Marine
Corps intends to employ a combination of capabilities to meet these
requirements. The Amphibious
Combat Vehicle, in particular, will
provide Marines with the capability to operate from naval platforms
while striking a balance between
being light enough to facilitate
rapid deployment and heavy
enough to conduct sustained expeditionary warfare
across the range of military operations.
“The ACV will provide substantial armored protec-
tion, superior cross-country and soft-soil mobility,
enabling agile maneuver in the most challenging ter-
rain,” he continued. “While the ACV is phased into
service, the Marine Corps will make survivability
upgrades to some of the current [AAV] fleet to provide
a robust amphibious capability while we selectively
modernize our infantry mobility capabilities within the
constraints of a challenging fiscal environment.”
The Marine Corps awarded contracts to BAE Systems
and SAIC for the survivability upgrade program in 2014.
The fiscal 2015 budget included $104.2 million in
research and development funding for the upgrades.
The ACV program received $105.7 million for
research and development in 2015 and the fiscal 2016
budget request seeks $219 million more.
With the competition in a very sensitive phase, the
contractors bidding for this lucrative effort were, not
surprisingly, unwilling to say much.
Robin Porter, spokeswoman for General Dynamics,
said the company did not have any information to share,
but would after a selection was made.
Similarly, Lockheed spokesman John Kent said that
while he would be happy to talk about the proposal once
it has been submitted, he declined to discuss the pro-
gram further, saying only that Lockheed “remains com-
mitted to the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program.”
Tom Watson, SAIC senior vice president and Navy
and Marine Corps customer group general manager,
said in written responses that his company boasted a
“very mature offering” with the
Terrex platform, already in use by
the Singapore Armed Forces.
“We have studied the Marine
Corps requirements and made
some enhancements tailored to the
Marine Corps performance specifications,” Watson said.
The Marine Corps has “done an
exemplary job in communicating
requirements” on what it is looking for in the ACV, he added.
The Marines’ priorities are water
and land operations, as well as
embarked Marines, force protection
and integration of government-furnished property that is tied to an
independent cost variable — such as
not being able to exceed a fixed average unit manufacturing cost in order
to keep the budget under control.
“The priorities are clearly articulated” in the solicitations that have been posted,
Watson said. SAIC’s ACV offering will be a “
complementary capability” to legacy AAVs, but will be an
improvement in that it will provide greater force protection on land and water, as well as improve the reliability of the vehicle and enhance squad land operations, he said.
BAE Systems’ ACV capture manager John Swift said
in an interview that it was a “privilege and an honor to
be submitting a proposal” to work on the program,
describing an amphibious platform as a vital one for
the future of the Marines.
“It’s the culmination of our efforts for the past four
years,” Swift said. “Really, what we’ll be offering is the
eight-by-eight. We’ve shown it at various demonstrations abroad, as well as at Modern Day Marine,” a military equipment, systems, services and technology
exposition held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
The vehicle is derived from BAE’s partner on the
program, Italian firm IVECO. The fully amphibious
platform was “designed from day one not just for land
use, but optimized for amphibious use,” Swift said. “It
can launch from a ship 10 to 12 miles offshore.”
The vehicle is ready for production “immediately,”
he said, noting that three vehicles have been built in
the United States for blast testing and the transition to
manufacturing is under way. Testing will continue in
the meantime, but Swift expressed great confidence in
IVECO’s design, noting that the company already is an
important manufacturer for the Italian military, and
the largest producer of overland trucks.
“We’re confident in our vehicle,” he said. ■
Assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs)
assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Forward exit the well
deck of the amphibious transport
dock ship USS Green Bay during
exercise Balikatan 2015 in the South
China Sea April 17.