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Marine Corps Calls for “New Program” View of EFV

With the recent delivery of the first SDD-2 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle prototypes to the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch (AVTB), located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., senior service representatives are calling for observers to take a new perspective on the program.

Built by General Dynamics Land Systems, the EFV has been developed to replace the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV7A1) that was originally procured in 1972. The new vehicle will be the primary means of tactical mobility for the Marine rifle squad during the conduct of amphibious operations ashore.

Marking the recent prototype deliveries at Camp Pendleton, Bill Taylor, Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems, Marine Corps, characterized the SDD-2 prototype deliveries as “extremely significant.”

EFV is one of eight weapons systems programs managed by the PEO.

“What we need to do is ‘put behind’ the old prototypes,” Taylor said. “We need to put that behind us, because every time I pick up a paper I see that the reporters are still hung up and still reflecting back on the program of old. These prototypes are based on a totally redesigned vehicle and an improved, restructured program. And we are very excited about this next phase of the program, where they are going to prove themselves through developmental testing. But these are not the same vehicles. And this whole program, the whole restructure, was based on the premise that we’re going to design around reliability. We have a series of ‘Knowledge Points.’ We have already passed the first Knowledge Point successfully, back with the critical design review. And hopefully next January Knowledge Point-2 will have a good, hard understanding of where we are in terms of the reliability growth plan. So the program is on track right now and I just want to give everyone a chance to prove themselves.”

Knowledge Point-2 will be followed by operational assessments, beginning in the third quarter of FY11 aand supporting a Milestone C decision/start of low rate initial production in the second quarter of FY12.

The Marine Corps has an approved acquisition objective (AAO) of 573 EFVs, with initial operational capability (IOC) in 2016 and full operational capability (FOC) in 2026.

Taylor reiterated his “biggest frustration” that “this current program is sometimes unfairly judged or misrepresented as the program of old. Since its restructuring in 2007 this is a new design; this is a new vehicle.”

“This is a new program,” he said. “I wish people could understand that.”

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