Home » Budget Industry » Marines Pick BAE to Build Amphibious Combat Vehicle; Contract Worth Up to $1.2B


Marines Pick BAE to Build Amphibious Combat Vehicle; Contract Worth Up to $1.2B

BAE Systems and Iveco Defense partnered to create this entrant for the Marines ACV 1.1 competition. Photo courtesy BAE Systems.

After years of stops and starts, the Marine Corps has selected BAE Systems to build the service’s next generation of armored amphibious vehicles designed to protect Marines in transit from sea to shore, the service announced late Tuesday afternoon.

BAE will now produce 30 low-rate initial production units of its eight-wheeled Amphibious Combat Vehicle. The company beat out SAIC to win a $198-million contract for the ACV 1.1 program, with the first vehicles delivering in the fall of next year, John Garner, the Program Executive Officer for Land Systems in the Marine Corps, told reporters during a late Tuesday conference call.

“The path has been navigated to date with one primary goal in mind: ensuring that we field the best capability to our Marines as quickly as possible at an affordable price,” Garner said.

The total value of the contract, if all options are executed, could be as high as $1.2 billion for up to 204 ACVs, BAE said in a late Tuesday statement.

Four of the LRIP vehicles are set for destructive testing, and the balance will move out to operational Marines as quickly as possible to start a long-stalled effort to replace the 870 1970s-era Amphibious Assault Vehicles the service has struggled to maintain in the inventory. PEO Land Systems anticipates an initial operating capability in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2020, with a full-rate production decision later that year.

The Marines have already identified the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion within I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., as the first unit to swap their AAVs for the new ACVs. Fielding should begin in the fourth quarter of 2020, with full operational capability scheduled for 2023, according to a Marine Corps news release.

BAE Systems’ amphibious combat vehicle launches out the back of USS Somerset (LPD-25) in the first-ever launch and recovery test of ACVs. US Marine Corps photo.

The contest for ACV was born after the Marines canceled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program in 2011, after investing more than $3 billion in development for an armored amphibious carrier that could travel up to 20 knots from an amphibious warship to the beach. After than high-speed swim capability proved too costly and too challenging, the Marines instead elected to develop an incremental approach to replacing the AAVs by fielding this ACV 1.1 variant now and considering high-speed swim and other capabilities as potential future upgrades. The Marine Corps also prioritized having a constant conversation internally and with industry on what the service needed for the replacement based on available designs.

“A number of years ago, it was apparent that no individual’s competitor in production at the time satisfied the full Marine Corps amphibious vehicle requirements. So the program office built our own government tech demonstrator that did just that. We made the lessons learned available to industry, and I believe they made the most of that as they refined their offerings,” Garner said.

In 2015 the service down-selected from five companies to two – BAE and SAIC. Each built 16 prototypes that were tested extensively before the final award on Tuesday.

Garner said the decision between BAE and SAIC was based on best value.

“We evaluated technical and we evaluated cost,” Garner said.
“Technical was more important than cost, but of course the cost had to be within certain acceptable parameters. We did what was called the best value determination between the technical performance based on the two different competitors within all the developmental testing and … the total price.”

Beyond ACV 1.1, the Marines are set to develop the next iteration of the program – ACV 1.2.
Kurt Koch, from the service’s Capabilities Development Directorate, said the BAE ACV had already met the 1.2 objectives.

“We estimate the 1.1 to 1.2 will be a fairly smooth transition,” he said. “The systems will look similar, with the key difference being that 1.2 will take on a number of additive capabilities and introduce mission role variance.”

While the production version of 1.1 will need some minor modifications from the 16 prototype test vehicles, service officials said they wouldn’t be much.

“Quite frankly, we could field the vehicle right now the way it is,” Garner said.

  • Kypros

    204 ACVs will replace 870 AAVs?

    • Spencer Whitson

      Not exactly. This is just the ACV 1.1 program. There will be a 1.2 program, which is supposed to be a much larger program, with some additional capability. However, the BAE and SAIC entries to the 1.1 competition were designed such that they could already do most of what is projected for the 1.2 competition, in order to give them a leg up. The big thing for the 1.2 is the long range amphibious capability. The 1.1 competition did not emphasize that area much.

      • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

        There is no difference in 1.1 or 1.2. Read the other USNI article about this program. 1.1 was not supposed to be able to self deploy and swim from a ship. 1.2 was. The BAE offering swims at 7 knots, the same as the AAV and it can indeed self deploy from a ship. The incremental approach was smoke and mirrors, amphibious assault is a relic. The last large scale assault was in 1950, well before anti ship missiles. Today the ships have to stay 100 miles from an enemy coast, at 7 knots that’s a 9 hour ride. And the ACV holds 13 Marines v 20 in the AAV.

        Describe what you mean by 1.2 long range capability? There isn’t any. They are back to square one at 7 knots after 46 years and spending billions.

        • yeah and airborne assault is a relic by that logic. S400 can reach out 200 miles. or more and a lumbering transport is easy pickings for a mach 4 missile that can zoom up to 50000 plus feet.

          have you so easily forgot Admiral Greenert? he stated the facts that many didn’t want to hear (i have my belief on why the 100 miles from shore came about but i won’t risk getting banned by trashing a favorite son here). the reality is that enemy defenses would be rolled back. just that simple to say, hard to do…but doable.

          just like an Army airborne op would need preparation so will an amphibious assault. so will an army heliborne assault.

          nothing is easy so why everyone wants the most complex military operation to be like playing checkers in the park on a sunday afternoon is beyond me.

          long short? your argument is NOT valid, ill conceived and poorly thought out.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            “Rolled back” huh? Just because something is plausible doesn’t make it practical. The Space Force is plausible, I doubt we will get it.

            I’m not the only one that is saying amphibious assault is irrelevant. Lookup the recent article by Breaking Defense about “withering the Marines”. They are going to review large scale amphibious assault to see if it is even relevant. which isn’t.

            Or lookup my article in AMerican Conservative magazine about the ACV.

            Answer this one question: How often does the Marine Navy team practice amphibious assault with live fire?

            The answer is: It never does. So your argument is that we are a football team that doesn’t practice at all during the week but then somehow under the Friday night lights will somehow perform.

          • dude. i pointed out how flawed your statement was. i’ll repeat it in case the batteries were turned down. by your reckoning EVERY FORM OF FORCIBLE ENTRY IS DEAD. do you dare say the same about airborne assault? how about heliborne assault? you don’t. why? because the Army doesn’t even debate the issue it just is. then why does the Marine Corps? because Marine Corps leadership decided to put the entire existence of the Marine Corps in the question basket for reasons only they’ll understand. not only did they push the meme of having to launch from 200 miles offshore (if you think about that is crazy on a stick) but they also talked about “getting back to the sea” as if Marine Expeditionary Units suddenly stopped floating because of the war on terror.

            so PLEASE spare me the talking points of people with an agenda. many of them have already been found to be kings without clothing. what surprises is the effect that they’ve had on the Corps so long after leaving but it is what it is.

            the other arguments you tried to make are pure strawmen. your basic statement is what’s being questioned. listen to Greenert, not Marine leadership of that era.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            I would say the same of airborne assault. IAD is to airborne assault what anti-ship missiles are to forcible entry.

            Forcible entry is dead. When was the last one? 1950.

            Read EF-21. The Marine Corps said we have to stay 65 miles from a beach. Do the math, at 65 miles, at 7 knots, that’s 9 hours to get to the beach. Not happening.

            You can use personal attacks or whatever you’d like. You aren’t addressing the facts.

            Answer my one question: How often does the Corps practice a live fire amphibious assault?

          • you reference Amos with glee. why? dude got exactly what he wanted. an air centric Marine Corps that is already proving to be overworked and unsustainable. EF21? not worth the paper that it was written on. its a rehash of work done long ago before everything changed. what you’re seeing with that document is a work around to the original plan that Krulak came up with that would see the Marine Corps big three carry the day…the EFV, MV-22 and F-35. well things didn’t work out and adjustments are proving elusive too.

            taking your push for that document further how is a Company Landing Team gonna survive on the modern battlefield? even the sandal wearing terrorists are starting to look more and more like nation state armies! you toss a CLT into Syria or Yemen and its gonna get mauled unless you have almost constant orbits overhead and artillery manned and ready to provide fire missions around the clock.

            want to read some stuff that will shock your soul? read after actions of the fighting in Ukraine. read the account of a Ukrainian Infantry Officer escaping and evading back to his lines after a Russian artillery barrage wrecked his unit….that’s more of a primer on future warfare and the dangers within than EF21 which i consider wishful thinking across the board.

            you reference Amos but ignore Greenert. Amazing!

            trust me, i’m being extremely tame on pages i don’t own so i don’t see the personal attacks. if i’ve made them then sorry bout that, but the fact remains. you’re throwing up your hands and saying that its too hard. it hasn’t been done in a long time so its no longer valid. i wholeheartedly disagree. it can be done if it needs to be done.

            a question for you. what should the Marine Corps bought if it wasn’t one of the two finalists? Bradley’s? that vehicle is totally unsat for operations the Marine Corps conducts. Pumas? same. Namers? bigger than an M1 but it will provide protection….if you can get if off the beach.

            i’m assuming you think no vehicle is valid then you want the Corps to be JLTV based huh? you’re not alone in that thinking but I think you guys are wrong in that too.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            Again, answer the one question I asked: How often do we practice live fire amphibious assault?

            The Marine Corps should develop the LAV that can be airlifted by CH-53K. Armor doesn’t mean much anymore. Anti-tank weapons make short work of armor. That’s the answer to your question. Drop the M1, drop the ACV, and focus on the LAV and make a lot of different variants. Anti armor, C2, mortar, etc.

            JLTV okay.

            Without going into it you talk of all these CLT etc Ukraine. We don’t have a policy in either place. Are we there to kill people or help people? No one seems to know. Lookup 4th Generation Warfare by William Lind.

          • Patrick Bechet

            Uh you really should study the fighting in Ukraine. It is vehicles like the LAC-25, BMP-, M-2 etc that have no place on the contemporary battlefield. Every vehicle, including troop carriers, need to be armoured like an M-1A2 Trophy or T-90! The USMC should have focused on getting a high speed, lighly armoured shore connector vehicle (a modernised AAV-7 would do and be cheaper than all of these stupid ACV programs), and separately, a highly armoured troop carrier (basically an MBT with its engine in the front and a smaller turrent for a 30mm). Once the beach is secured, use LCACs and LCUs to bring the heavy armoured troop carriers and M-1A1s onto the beach and leave the shore connectors behind as you move inland. You CANNOT use one vehicle to land on the shores and also to fight ashore unless you want lots of dead Marines! The Ukraine experience proves that. Its go heavy or go home!

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            Well said, the weapon is the Marines, not the connector. We’ve lost sight of that. The ACV won’t be much use at 100 miles away from the beach.

        • Spencer Whitson

          But there is a difference between the 1.1 and 1.2 programs. As I said, the BAE and SAIC were designed such that they went above and beyond the very limited amphibious capabilities called for in the 1.1 program. As in, the requirements were only really practical for “onshore” amphibious capability through rivers and lakes. I would suggest rereading them. The 1.2 program’s requirements do have the longer ranged amphibious capability as desired, and yes, that means self deploying from amphibs from the sea. It is likely that the 1.1 and 1.2 programs will end up with the same result, because of the capability of the BAE offering in filling most of the 1.2’s requirements, but that is not a given.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            So what is the difference between the AAV and ACV? 46 years and billions spent. The AAV swims at 7 knots, holds 20. ACV swims at 7 and holds 13.

            Read the USNI article about the “incremental” approach. What long range are you talking about? What is the range of the ACV in water?

            They are the same result because of smoke and mirrors. You can’t attain high speed on water without high expense like the EFV and you can’t have heavy protection without being slow like the ACV. So what we have is nothing more than a Stryker or Bradley with some propellers on it. Honestly, there is no difference.

          • Spencer Whitson

            It’s a MUCH improved land vehicle over the AAV, while still retaining the same amphibious capability. I, for one, would not want to trust my life to an AAV once on shore, whereas with this I’d feel much safer. And these go much faster. AAVs now are deathtraps. You now have a proper APC doing the job, and can use it as such. That was the goal of the ACV competition. The ACV 1.2 is supposed to go 12 nmi at 7 knots.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            “We have to find a solution to getting Marines to shore, from over the horizon, at something greater than seven knots (8 mph),” the swimming speed of the existing Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) and its Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) replacement, said deputy Marine commandant Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault.

            Not sure what your idea about the ACV competition was. General Beaudrealt disagrees with you. From a General. EF-21 states we have to stay at 65 miles from a beach. Going at 7 knots ain’t gonna cut it. We keep confusing the vehicle for the Marines. The vehicle doesn’t fight, Marines do. Yes they will be protected, but only because they will never leave the well deck of the ships holding at 65 miles from a beach.

            So we have taken 46 years and billions of dollars to essentially make a floating APC that swims at 7 knots. Congratulations.

          • Spencer Whitson

            I honestly don’t know where your idea about the ACV competition comes from, I’m telling you what the requirements actually were, not what you’re desiring. I’m sorry, but the facts don’t match up to your opinions. All I’ve stated here has been the truth, but you contest that because you don’t like the vehicle or the ideas behind it.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            I’m listing facts, you are listing opinions.

            Here are the facts:
            EF-21-marine doctrine from 2014 puts our ships at 65 miles away from the beach
            The ACV swims at 7 knots in the water, this would take 9 hours to complete. The AAV swims at 7 knots too. What is the point of the ACV?

            Read my article in American Conservative magazine about this issue. Google “Amphibious vehicles are latest tax dollar sinkhole”

            Where are your facts? List them.

          • Spencer Whitson

            I just told you what the point of the ACV was, were you listening? And no, the ACV is not the EFV. While I loved the EFV, it was cancelled. It has never been advertised as doing the same thing. It is an amphibious armored personnel carrier. The MPC reborn, as it were. It is capable of doing at least the same swim as the AAV, but is more capable once on land. Read the RFI and RFP for the ACV 1.1 program. Those are going to tell you a whole lot more. General Beaudreault may have wanted something else, but this is what we are getting.

            Now, let me go through what you have told me. First of all, you have told me that there is no difference between ACV 1.1 and 1.2, in response to a comment by me explaining why the numbers of ACV 1.1 that are set to be procured were below the number that would be required to replace the AAV 1:1. Your statement there was false. The two programs are indeed different. They may end up procuring the same vehicle in the end, but they are two separate programs, and the results of the second have yet to be determined.

            After that point, you have constantly been trying to get a word in edgewise and ignoring the answers I’ve provided about the rationale and reasoning as declared by the USMC and those arguing the USMC’s case in front of Congress. You keep asking what the difference between the two is, and the answer is not in swim speed, but in performance on land. I have stated that several times, but you are merely providing opinions at this point instead of looking at the facts. You may not like the ACV as designed, sir, but there are still differences between it and the AAV and the Marines have adopted it nonetheless.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            You said “not in swim speed but in performance on land”.Look here: This was from then Commandant Dunford:
            After the hearing, he told reporters that “the biggest difference between phase 1 and phase 2 is the ability to actually self-deploy off a ship.” The Marine Corps intends to buy about 200 increment 1.1 vehicles and about 400 increment 1.2 vehicles, but “it’s very possible that 1.1 and 1.2 could merge together.”
            Given that each vendor wants to be poised to win both the 1.1 and 1.2 contracts, “my assessment from being out there is industry is leaning into our requirements for 1.2 even as they try to deliver 1.1, and I think they’ll get pretty close.”

            This was in 2015. And guess what, the ACV 1.1 can indeed deploy from a ship. So it appears 1.1 and 1.2 have merged. So if they are the same what is this increased land performance you speak of? Can you show me where this written in the RFP or in some article?

          • Spencer Whitson

            I believe you have gotten the argument confused slightly. You have been complaining about the differences between the AAV and ACV, and now we’re back to the differences of ACV 1.1 and 1.2. You’ve flopped between the two three times now, even after I made it quite clear that the improved land performance comparison was with the AAV, after you had complained that you didn’t see a difference between the ACV and the AAV. At your behest, let’s return to the ACV 1.1 and 1.2. The ACV 1.1 is a resurrection of the MPC, as it were, to provide a true APC to the USMC with some amphibious capability. The ACV 1.2 is designed for the full amphibious capability, with most of the ACV 1.1’s mobility and survivability on land. However, that is not all. The ACV 1.2 will also have a number of mission variants (such as Command, Ambulance, possibly Mortar, etc) in addition to potentially making changes to the ACV 1.1 based on feedback gained from having the ACV 1.1 in service.

            What was just awarded was the ACV 1.1 competition. It will replace some 200 odd AAVs in service. As it turns out, the vehicle that won the competition for the ACV 1.1 is also capable of being able to self-deploy a significant distance from ship to shore. It is likely that BAE’s entry to the ACV 1.1 competition could conceivably be selected to win ACV 1.2, that is not guaranteed. So no, they have not merged as of yet, but they quite possibly could in the future.

            As for a good article to read, this site posts the written reports to Congress for various things, including the ACV program, the most recent of which was in March of this year.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            So 1. 2 is designed for “Full amphibious capability” and then you say “As it turns out” 1.1 has full amphibious capability. In other words, they aren’t different.

            Time will tell, mark my words. There is no 1.2 ACV that is any different than 1.1 other than a few radios or ambulance etc. Why not just have the mission variants now? The technology is there. The incremental approach was to hide the fact that you can’t achieve speed on the water.

            To say the only difference is mission variants completely rewrites history. Dunford was not lying when he said 1.1 was not supposed to self deploy and 1.2 was. The fact that 1.1 can means it was all smoke an mirrors.

            You are missing the bigger picture. Anti-ship missiles have made large scale amphibious assault irrelevant.
            The AAV swam at 7 knots, the EFV at 25 once offshore distance moved to 12 miles. Today that distance per EF-21 is 65 miles, and the ACV swims at 7 knots. See the issue?

            I’m doing a podcast this Friday with the project on government oversight about this scam. Take a look in a few weeks if interested. Or read my book, American Cobra Pilot.

          • Spencer Whitson

            But they are completely different programs, and the selection for ACV 1.2 has not been made yet. They are different. Time probably will tell, but until time tells, you cannot say that it has already happened. I agree with you in that the BAE offering for ACV 1.1 will probably be only slightly modified for ACV 1.2 and will likely win it, but that has not happened for sure yet. Don’t count your eggs before they hatch. You can’t say for certain whether they are or are not different because we don’t know what the ACV 1.2 selection will be.

            As for your assertion that it was all “smoke an mirrors”, I truly believe that to be missing the point and completely over-dramatic. Most of the entries for ACV 1.1 did not have that level of swimming capability. It was not something that was necessary for the program. A happy addition if it had it, and one which could sway the balance, but not actually the end goal for the ACV 1.1 competition. So was it smoke and mirrors or a case of contractors overperforming expectations? Probably the latter, which is why there’s two different stages of this program in the first place. From the start, there has not been anything stating that this was to have an EFV-like performance in the water, nor the 1.2.

            And I’m not missing the big picture, I’m just not listening to you when you say it because it was not relevant to the conversation we were having. You kept trying to talk past the real concrete points that were made to a different topic entirely. It truly is a bad debate tactic and intellectually dishonest, but I’m not entirely sure you yourself are aware that you are doing it.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            If by “level of swim capability” you mean propellers identical to an AAV that yes, that is some capability. It existed in 1972 and it hasn’t changed. What a great technology! It swam at 7 knots then, and 7 knots now. So what is the point? It can’t make the 65 nautical miles.

            The big picture you are missing is that the waterbourne amphibious assault is a thing of the past. Anti-ship missiles made that the case. Your arguments assume that we are going to storm the beaches, but I’m saying your premise is incorrect and thus the entire premise of a water connector is not correct. In other words, the ACV is useless, it is like the VHS tape a few years after DVD.

            I’ll address this in my podcast this Friday.

          • Spencer Whitson

            Yes, I mean near enough the same swimming performance as the AAV, although I’m not sure AAVs can swim 12 nmi. Again, the point of the ACV is to have an AAV but better performance on land. More armor, especially against mines and IEDs. More mobility. Potentially even more armament, although that hasn’t really progressed very far yet. The USMC decided it wanted a more capable APC on land.

            My arguments have not been anything more than the facts here. I have not argued that the ACV will take part in contested beach landings. I have merely been stating the goals of the program, the structure of the programs, and what result has been achieved thus far.

            I have to say, you are jumping all over the place with your points. You need to learn to stick to one narrative at a time, as you keep switching arguments here. If you wish to discuss the future of amphibious assault we can do that in the future, but at the present, we’re discussing the ACV and its program structure.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            Okay so if the ACV can’t make it to the beach what is the point of armor protection? The program began with land protection but forgot that this vehicle has to move from 65 miles away to a beach at 7 knots. So we began at the beach but didn’t figure out how to get there. So yes the ACV will be protected, well done. But only because it will never leave the ships.

            Here is the ACV program:
            1. Achieve armor protection and good land performance. (check)
            2. Move from ship to shore in a tactical environment (????, we’ll figure it out)

            See the problem?

            Here is what it should have been
            1. Move from ship to shore at high speed, sacrifice some armor (check)
            2. Fight on land

            They have the cart before the horse.

            Read my article in American Conservative: Google: Amphibious Vehicles are the latest tax dollar sinkhole. I lay the history of these connectors out. You’ll see that it makes no sense. The ACV program is a sham. Solves nothing.

            If you don’t mind me asking are you in the Marines or another service? Marines are the weapon, not the machine. The wars have made everything way too heavy.

          • Spencer Whitson

            Here’s a question, did my previous response not go through? I thought for sure I had posted it.

          • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

            I saw it on the comments yesterday, all about amphibious assault, doesn’t seem to be up now. ????

            The Big Green Machine Marine Corps took it down, didn’t fit their narrative lol.

  • SAIC version sucks from the start

    • actually it DID NOT! STK picked a weak horse in SAIC…that was the problem. if they would have taken a beat after the downselect and gotten General Dynamics onboard they could easily have executed in a timely manner AND had a better chance of winning.

      if you followed this competition that’s the second time a manufacturer picked a bad partner and paid for it. Patria suffered first by teaming with Lockheed Martin who dumped them and then tried to take proprietary materials to build their own rig to enter into the contest.

      if this had been done properly the down select could have included three great candidates. the Patria AMV amphibious version, the STK model and the Iveco.

      really doesn’t matter. the Marine Corps has labored long and hard and at the end of the day purchased the MPC…Marine Personnel Carrier, the stablemate to the more expensive and capable EFV.

      the only real question remains. is this right rig for the high end fight or is it built to do what the AAV suffered greatly trying to do…make a long march into Iraq?

      • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

        Its the wrong rig totally. Amos got a vehicle that protected well on land then forgot that it actually has to get to the beach. It swims at 7 knots, the same as the AAV. And carries 7 less Marines. There are no more high end fights. Those ended in WW2. We aren’t going to launch an amphib assault against a Senkaku island that is 1.5 miles square and looks like a mountain ridge. These ACVs will never leave the well deck of the ships in a real war with anti-ship missiles. See the Falkland war if you doubt it.

  • John Locke

    30 years after initial concept development and cancellation of another amphibious vehicle program that siphoned off $3B the U.S. is finally going with this BAE design. The waste of time, money, material and manpower is incredible. Ike was right, the defense industry is in charge of the U.S..

  • Marine Captain 3 Percenter

    This whole program is a waste. The ACV swims at 7 knots, the same as the AAV. So after 46 years and billions of dollars spent, we are back to square one. 1.1 was not supposed to be able to self-deploy and swim from a ship, but it can. So what is 1.2? And will there ever be a high speed connector? No, because amphibious assault at the MEB level is a total relic of the past.

  • Ed L

    On a different note. I think the A-10 Warhog should be given to the Army so their warrant officers can fly it in CAS