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Marine Corps Cancels AAV Survivability Upgrade

Marines with Bravo Company, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, enter the ocean with their Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) on Camp Schwab beach, Okinawa, Japan, June 29, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — The Marine Corps has canceled its Amphibious Assault Vehicle Survivability Upgrade effort with SAIC and will instead focus its efforts on the Amphibious Combat Vehicle that will eventually replace the AAV.

The service issued a stop work order in late August, Manny Pacheco, a spokesman for the Program Executive Office for Land Systems, told USNI News today.

“The Marine Corps did make a decision to focus investment on modernization rather than legacy systems,” he said. “The key there really is, ACV performed a lot better than expected. And so the fact that the deliveries of ACV and AAV SU were approximately two quarters apart, basically six months or so apart, I think the decision was made, let’s just focus our resources on ACV.”

Defense News first reported the AAV SU cancelation on Monday.

In the short term, the Marine Corps is still contractually obligated to SAIC for a few items. The last of four production control models have either just been accepted or will be shortly, Pacheco said. SAIC is also in custody of several other AAV hulls. The Marine Corps and SAIC will have to figure out what to do with those additional hulls, based on their level of completion and any contractual requirements.

There will be little cost savings in the current Fiscal Year 2018, Pacheco said. In FY 2019, the Marine Corps asked for $96 million for AAV SU but the congressional appropriators marked that down. The Marines will have to determine where to ask lawmakers to reappropriate that FY 2019 funding and Pacheco said he didn’t know what priorities the service would ask to spend that money on in the near term.

In the long term, he said, “the vision for ACV is that in the out years we’ll be able to pick up the pace on deliveries and replace the AAVs a little bit quicker than originally planned.”

The Marines had planned to upgrade 392 AAV vehicles which, when combined with the ACVs, would provide a forcible entry capability for all seven Marine Expeditionary Units and two Marine Expeditionary Brigades. In August 2017, the Marine Corps awarded SAIC a low-rate initial production contract that covered 21 vehicles.

Pacheco said it would take three to five years before the Marines and BAE Systems could figure out how to speed up production and budget for an increase in the program. The Marines are currently funding Joint Light Tactical Vehicle procurement in addition to the ACV, but especially once JLTV acquisition wraps up, “hopefully there will be a little breathing room in a little bit where we can put a little more money in the ACV line.”

The ACV’s better-than-required performance was a major factor in the decision to focus on ACV as the long-term replacement for AAV instead of the AAV SU as a stepping-stone boost in survivability and performance. The ability to self-deploy from the welldeck of an amphibious ship was not planned to be added until the second increment, called ACV 1.2. However, BAE Systems paired with Italian defense contractor Iveco on the program and leveraged the SuperAV design’s success with the Italian military. Testing ahead of the Marine Corps selecting a final ACV contractor proved that the BAE/Iveco design could self-deploy from an amphibious transport dock, putting the program significantly ahead of schedule in terms of operational capability.

  • RunningBear

    I know this is a legacy requirement in regards to the history of the Corp, but is it justifiable? No doubt, the requirement for moving the equipment from the LPD, LSD and LHA/D is a necessity and is facilitated by the 35+kt. Ship-to-Shore connectors/ LCACs and the 8+kt. LCU. In light of the vertical lift capabilities of the Corp, the necessity to
    move 16 Marines from the ships to the beach in these ACV 8+kt., is
    questionable. Light armored, 60mph vehicles are a necessity for moving Marines from points A to B and commonality with similar vehicles for parts and maintenance costs should also be a requirement for this 600 vehicle fleet.
    Fly Navy

    • Ed L

      Built a dozen LKA’s

    • Blain Shinno

      Almost every other area of warfare capability has seen an almost revolutionary leap. Low observable technology, improvements in sensors and situational awareness, and the miniaturization of electronics has made air power more lethal and efficient.

      Not so with amphibious warfare – especially with regard to amphibious assault vehicles. The ACV may be a little better protected than the AAV-7 but in terms of speed, mobility, and firepower it is the same or worse.

      Resources are limited. Perhaps the Navy/Marines need to focus on capabilities which provide a better return on investment.

      • RunningBear

        As I have stated to others; bobbing in the ocean at 8kts.+ in a “target” for a dozen Marines, does not appeal to me. Vertical lift is significantly less restricted and a well refined concept for the Marines. Amphib assault is more about the ARG/ MEU than an amtrac. The LCACs and LCUs are necessary to haul the “gear in the rear” to the beach for the Marines, but not for the Marines themselves when exposed to attack from an opp. force. The continued development of the Vertical Lift/ VL with the V-22, H-1/53 and a new Mux/ V-247? should greatly enhance the Amphib program. Couple this with the F-35B and multipliers in many technologies leap forward to the future of the USMC. “One” example is the MADL communications of the F-35B, which is Low Probability of Detect/ LPD and Low Probability to Intercept/ LPI (line of sight) high bandwidth communications for significant SA data. It doesn’t allow an opp. force to localize either the Marine/ Aircraft/ Ship by omni-directional radiation of conventional radio communications. You can’t hear them, therefore you can’t see where to look for them.

        Fly Navy

  • disqus_CbFK3MPhJu

    so the only thing made in the US will be the “ooohrah” stickers on the side?

    • RunningBear

      “made in china” in little bitty print
      Fly Navy

  • Secundius

    If I had to venture a guess, it was a Weight Issue of the Ceramic Composite Armor to the Vehicle. Which probably made the AAV too heavy for Amphibious Operations…

  • vetww2

    My former post has mysteriosly disappeared. So, I will summarize it.
    1, The possibility of an opposed amphibiuos llanding is is remote.
    2. What is needeed is a modern cargo/personnel ship to shore system.
    This would call for 2 modern concepts:
    A. Modernized, upgraded, larger capacity LCACs, (or equivalent (see SUBR)
    B. A supply ship to replace the outdated LPDs and the like for one tht has through
    loading, Troop easy loading/unlading.
    C, Large aircraft platform for compound helos (and, [ugh] V-22s.
    D. From the shore (not swimmers) combat vehicles.