Report to Congress on Marines’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle

December 22, 2021 9:04 AM

The following is the Dec. 13, 2021, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, The Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).

From the report

There are currently four ACV variants planned:

  • (1) a Personnel Variant, which can carry three crew members with 13 Marines and two days of combat equipment and supplies;
  • (2) a Command and Control Variant;
  • (3) a Recovery Variant; and
  • (4) a 30-mm Gun Variant. The Marines intend for the ACV to provide effective land and tactical water mobility (ship-to-shore and shore-to-shore), precise supporting fires, and high levels of force protection intended to protect against blasts, fragmentation, and kinetic energy threats.

Current Program Status 

In June 2018, the ACV entered Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) with BAE Systems selected for the first 30 vehicles to be delivered in fall 2019. In November 2020, the ACV achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC). In December 2020, a Full-Rate Production (FRP) decision was reportedly made by the Marine Corps after having been delayed from September 2020 due to issues related to Coronavirus Disease 2019. The current planned acquisition objective of 632 ACVs would replace AAVs in Assault Amphibian battalions. The previous acquisition objective of 1,122 ACVs was reduced in accordance with Marine Corps Force Design 2030 modernization efforts (see CRS Insight IN11281, New U.S. Marine Corps Force Design Initiatives, by Andrew Feickert). Reportedly, ACV production is to take place at BAE Systems facilities in Virginia, California, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

Initial Operational Testing Observations 

During Marine Corps initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) conducted from June to September 2020, the Department of Defense Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) noted the following:

The ACV demonstrated water mobility and the ability to self-deploy from the beach, cross the surf zone, enter the ocean, and embark aboard amphibious shipping. The infantry rifle company equipped with the ACV was able to deploy from amphibious shipping, maneuver on the beach, and conduct subsequent offensive and defensive operations ashore.

While the ACV demonstrated good operational availability and maintainability during IOT&E, it did not meet its 69-hour mean time between operational mission failures (MTBOMF) threshold. The government-furnished Remote Weapons System (RWS)—an internally controlled, exterior-mounted MK 19 automatic grenade launcher or M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun was the source of the largest number of operational mission failures (OMFs). The government-furnished RWS reliability issue was reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2019.

The ACV accommodated three crew and 13 embarked infantry. Due to the placement and number of blast mitigating seats, interior space within the ACV is limited, making rapid ingress and egress difficult.

Infantry Marines noted that the troop seats were not contoured to fit body armor configurations, leading to discomfort during long range ship-to-objective missions.

Reportedly, the Marines initiated corrective actions after the DOT&E report was published. In September 2021, the Marines suspended amphibious use of the ACV due to towing mechanism problems. In November 2021, the Marines began testing modifications to the towing mechanism in order to resume amphibious operations once the problem is repaired.

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