The Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle program reached another milestone, proving the vehicle’s ability to deliver future combat power from ship to shore and follow-on objectives. The ACV, which proved the new vehicles’ ability to not only take on challenging surf, but also complete a long swim from ship to shore and back. Several capabilities were evaluated during recent testing, including the vehicle’s ability to embark and deploy off of an amphibious ship, its ship-to-shore threshold and a high-surf test, which subjected the vehicle to aggressive surf zones with waves reaching over six feet. These major accomplishments facilitated the program moving from what was originally envisioned as an incremental approach, to one that will be known as the ACV family of vehicles, without the nomenclature of ACV 1.1 or ACV 1.2.
The Marines want three variants of the ACV â€• a command and control configuration, a recovery and maintenance setup and ACVs with 30mm medium-caliber cannons. The 30mm-cannon arming follows suit with making existing and future ground combat vehicles more lethal. The Army began upgunning its Stryker vehicles with a 30mm cannon, replacing its twin .50-caliber machine guns. The move is part of a larger trend in both services to up-gun existing and future armored vehicles in light of parallel developments among potential conventional opponents, especially Russia. The Marines said it would look to begin a follow-on â€œlethality upgrade” for the vehicles, then known as ACV 1.2.
The ACV 1.1 meeting the 1.2 requirements ahead of schedule, the Corps is able to completely avoid the incremental engineering, manufacturing and developmental costs associated with developing a different ACV 1.2 vehicle. The program office tested the vehicle to all of the ACV 1.2 transition requirements, and even subjected the vehicle to 9-foot waves without issues. The platform met the 1.2 requirements earlier than anticipated, which the program office credits in part to the competitive process by which the vehicle was selected. Because of this, the Marine Corps now was the opportunity to combine the program into a singular ACV family of vehicles program.
In June 2018, Marine Corps Systems Command awarded BAE Systems a contract to begin low rate initial production of the amphibious vehicles. Since then, the Advanced Amphibious Assault program office at Program Executive Officer Land Systems has continued conducting a variety of robust swimming and other tests on the platform. Most recently, the ACV program office successfully completed 1.2 anticipated requirement testing, and determined the ACV technologically capable of fully replacing the legacy AAV. The new amphib vehicle is supposed to replace the nearly 40-year-old legacy tracked assault amphibious vehicle.