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Document: Report to Congress on Marine Corps’ Next Amphibious Vehicle

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An amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) exits the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD-50). US Navy Photo

An amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) exits the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD-50). US Navy Photo

The following is the March, 19 2014 Congressional Research Service report, Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC): Background and Issues for Congress.

On January 6, 2011, after spending approximately $3 billion in developmental funding, the Marine Corps cancelled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program due to poor reliability demonstrated during operational testing and excessive cost growth.Because the EFV was intended to replace the 40-year-old Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), the Pentagon pledged to move quickly to develop a “more affordable and sustainable” vehicle to replace the EFV.

The Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) is intended to replace the AAV, incorporating some EFV capabilities but in a more practical and cost-efficient manner. In concert with the ACV, the Marines were developing the Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) to serve as a survivable and mobile platform to transport Marines when ashore. The MPC was not intended to be amphibious like an AAV, EFV, or the ACV but instead would be required to have a swim capability for inland waterways such as rivers, lakes, and other water obstacles such as shore-to-shore operations in the littorals.

Both vehicles are intended to play a central role in future Marine amphibious operation. The ACV is scheduled to enter service between FY2020 and FY2022 and the Marines currently plan on acquiring 573 ACVs. Total program and per vehicle costs have not yet been made public, with the Marines citing ongoing affordability and vehicle mix studies as the primary reason why definitive costs are not yet available.

On June 14, 2013, it was reported that Marine leadership had put the MPC program “on ice” due to budgetary pressures but the program might be resurrected some 10 years down the road.

The Marines reportedly will continue to communicate with defense industry, so if the decision is made to restart the MPC program, it can be done in an expeditious and cost-efficient manner.

In what has been described as a “drastic shift,” the Marines have decided to “resurrect” the MPC and designate it as ACV Increment 1.1 and acquire about 200 vehicles. The Marines also plan to develop ACV Increment 1.2, a tracked version, and to acquire about 470 vehicles and fund an ongoing high water speed study. Although ACV Increment 1.1 will have a swim capability, a connector will be required to get the vehicles from ship to shore.

The FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 113-66) recommended fully funding the Administration’s ACV budget request. The FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-76) recommended a $14 million cut to the Administration’s ACV request due to program delay. The Administration’s FY2015 budget request for the ACV is $105.7 million in Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) funding.