Defense Media Network

AAV Survivability Upgrade Moves Forward

Select fraction of aging AAVs will undergo upgrade to hold the line until ACV fielding

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The United States Marine Corps Program Manager for Advanced Amphibious Assault (PM AAA) has released its Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) Survivability Upgrade Program.

The announcement asserts that the FoV “does not provide the crew and embarked Marines the level of protection necessary to operate in contemporary combat environments where there is a high probability of encountering Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).”

As described in the Oct. 29 RFP, the AAV “is the United States Marine Corps (USMC) self-deploying, fully amphibious combat vehicle that supports the Joint Force and the Marine Air Ground Task Force in conducting operations across the full Range of Military Operations. Originally fielded in 1972, the AAV is the oldest vehicle platform in the USMC inventory. Since 1972, the vehicle has undergone major modernization efforts in the areas of Land Mobility, Reliability, Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence (C4I) and Lethality.”

Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV)

Staff Sgt. Spencer Jones, from Fisher, Ark., and section leader, Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), parks his AAVs at to the staging point following a simulated mechanized amphibious assault in the 5th Fleet Area of Operation, April 20, 2013. The AAV is the oldest vehicle platform in the U.S. Marine Corps and is expected to remain in service until at least 2030. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Guevara

Although he AAV Family of Vehicles (FoVs) will be in service until at least 2030, the announcement asserts that the FoV “does not provide the crew and embarked Marines the level of protection necessary to operate in contemporary combat environments where there is a high probability of encountering Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).”

As a result, the AAV Survivability Upgrade Program “is required to improve force protection and restore operational relevance to the USMC AAV Personnel Carrier variant platform. This program is intended to mitigate gaps in the performance until a comprehensive capability material solution can be provided in the 2025 – 2030 timeframe.”

The AAV Survivability Upgrade Program “is required to improve force protection and restore operational relevance to the USMC AAV Personnel Carrier variant platform.”

Seen as a bridge effort until the Marine Corps can field the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), the AAV Survivability Upgrade program focuses on the upgrade of 396 AAVP7A1 RAM/RS [Reliability, Availability and Maintainability/Replenishment Spares] vehicles.

Desired upgrades identified by the Marine Corps include:

  • Improved underbelly and sponson protection
  • Integrated blast attenuating seats
  • Integrated spall liners

With contract award currently planned for the spring of 2014, the program will be divided into a series of sub-phases – like the preliminary design review (PDR) phase and the critical design review (CDR) phase – and options (including the building of prototype vehicles and support as well as low rate initial production (LRIP)).

According to the statement of work, if the EMD prototype vehicle build option is exercised, the contractor will produce 8-10 EMD prototype AAV Survivability Upgraded vehicles based on the CDR baselined design. The contractor will receive government-provided IROAN [Inspect and Repair Only As Necessary] vehicles, procure and manufacture materials, assemble materials, and test the resulting AAV Survivability Upgrade vehicles based on the baselined CDR design.

The government will conduct government developmental testing (GDT), reliability growth testing (RGT) on those EMD prototypes “to evaluate the performance and reliability of the contractors design, identifying any system level deficiencies, and to predict performance in OT [Operational Testing].”

Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV)

Lance Cpl. Henry Terriquez, an Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) crewman with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, drives an AAV during a mock ship to shore operation aboard the USS Makin Island Sept. 6, 2012. AAV survivability upgrades being sought included improved underbelly and sponson protection, integrated blast attenuating seats, and integrated spall liners. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

If the follow-on LRIP option is exercised, the contractor will be required to deliver a total of 16 upgraded LRIP vehicles for use in a range of government LRIP testing prior to a full rate production (FRP) decision.

With contract award currently planned for the spring of 2014, the program will be divided into a series of sub-phases – like the preliminary design review (PDR) phase and the critical design review (CDR) phase – and options (including the building of prototype vehicles and support as well as low rate initial production (LRIP)).

The RFP also includes a longer range “notional production delivery schedule” that reflects 22 vehicles delivered in FY  18 (4 in the first quarter and 6 in each subsequent quarter); 30 vehicles in FY  19; 62 vehicles in FY  20; 96 vehicles in FY  21; 96 vehicles in FY  22; and the final 90 vehicles in FY  23.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...