By the end of 2020 the Marine Corps will have a new chariot to deliver them to battle- after 43 years of service, the AMTRAC is being replaced.
The Modern Day Marine Expo in late September has been chosen as the event where four of the five potential applicants will be displayed for the Corps to see; the four vehicles are manufactured by BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and SAIC.
From the potential pool of applicants, two will be selected to produce a limited initial run of vehicles to submit to the Corps for evaluation. This initial evaluation will consist of 16 vehicles from each company; in 2018 a decision will be made to award one with an initial contract for 202 vehicles, due by 2020.
So what exactly are the requirements for the Corps’ new steed?
First and foremost the ACV 1.1 (the designation for the replacement vehicle) must have deployable countermeasures to protect against direct fire, indirect fire, and landmine threats. An upgradable, modular armor package must also be available.
Seeing as how the Marine Corps is an amphibious force, it goes without saying that the ACV must be able to transition from marine to land operations without pause. Additionally, in fulfilling its role as a personnel carrier the ACV must also be able to maneuver with the Abrams tank as part of a mechanized formation.
While the initial order for the new ACV will be utilized strictly as personnel carriers, all models must have the capability to engage and destroy vehicles occupying a similar role in their battle space. The primary weapon on the ACV has not yet been announced, however it is required that it must be able to engage at standoff distance, and be able to deliver precision fires from a stabilized weapon platform.
While the required troop capacity is 10-13 Marines, the Corps has made it clear that troop capacity may be scaled down in order to increase speed on water.
Initial phase vehicles are expected to cost between $3-$4.5 million each and are strictly a wheeled variant, while the second phase vehicle (the actual high-speed amphibious variant) is estimated to cost $12-$14 million per unit.
The phase one vehicle serves as a temporary solution while development still continues on the phase two.
The Corps is not taking the decision to replace its aging vehicles lightly, as they feel they’ve only one shot to get it right- this all comes on the heels of the EFV program being cancelled in 2011, after costing the Corps $3 billion.
Marines will no doubt rejoice upon hearing that defense contractors have announced that comfort in a new vehicle hasn’t been throw right out the window. “Marines spend so much time in the vehicles that we wanted to make it so when you get to the objective that it is comfortable enough that you can get out and fight.”