Report to Congress on Marines’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle

March 15, 2023 10:55 AM

The following is the March 13, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, The Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).

From the report


The Marine Corps describes the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) as The Corps’ next-generation vehicle designed to move Marines from ship to shore. Designed to replace the Corps’ aging Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), which has been in service since 1972, the ACV will be the primary means of tactical mobility for the Marine infantry battalion at sea and ashore. The ACV will have the capability to provide organic, direct fire support to dismounted infantry in the attack.

There are currently four ACV variants planned: (1) a Personnel Variant (ACV-P), which can carry three crewmembers with 13 Marines and two days of combat equipment and supplies; (2) a Command and Control Variant (ACV-C); (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.

The ACV program delivered initial ACV-P variants in November 2020 and delivered initial ACV-C variants in FY2022. Plans call for delivery of Improved Lethality 30-mm Gun Variant ACVs in FY2025 and Recovery Variants in FY2026.

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 Initiative: Force Design 2030, by Andrew Feickert).

Full-Rate Production Contract

On March 6, 2023, BAE reported it had received its third full-rate production ACV contract for $256.8 million. Under this contract, BAE will produce both ACV Personnel and ACV Command variants. BAE reports ACV production and support is taking place at BAE locations in Stafford, VA; Jose, CA; Sterling Heights, MI; Aiken, SC; and York, PA.

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 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 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 was rectified. Reportedly, in early 2022 after fixing the towing mechanism, the Marines began amphibious operational training with ACVs, including crew certification and training on a number of new safety-related procedures.

Download the document here.

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