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Marine Corps Clarifies Amphibious Vehicle Needs

United States Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) representatives have begun to clarify service requirements for a new amphibious vehicle system that would “provide increased force protection, water speed, land mobility, lethality, and survivability, while balancing capacity, mobility, transportability and total ownership costs over the current Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV).” The requirements clarification for the new ACV came in the form of responses to industry questions surrounding a request for information (RFI) issued earlier this year.

As an example, in an attempt to clarify the RFI statement that the “current fiscal environment may prohibit simultaneous procurement of all amphibious vehicle requirements in a single procurement action,” service representatives added that “The intent of this [RFI] is to obtain input from industry on incremental development approaches. More specifically, the government seeks to better understand how various technologies might logically group into incremental upgrades if a single step to full capability is not fiscally desirable.”

In response to another question regarding possible upgrades to the current AAV series recovery vehicle, they added that it was excluded from the RFI “as it was not deemed relevant to an incremental acquisition approach” and that “The decision as to whether or not to procure recovery variants has not been made.”

“The ultimate requirement is to have a marinized and protected medium caliber weapon station with a capability of ranging and acquiring targets in all conditions with a continuous 360 degree field of fire, capable of elevating from -20 to at least +60 degrees and capable of loading ammunition under armor,” it continued. “The weapon station should employ existing or programmed DOD weapons, capable of engaging stationary or moving targets with precision fires while stationary or on the move on land or at sea. Likely ACV-P [personnel variant] targets include dismounted personnel, lightly fortified defensive positions, lightly armored combat and tactical vehicles, small boats, and armored personnel carriers.”

Several of the industry questions sought clarification on “threshold” versus “objective” requirements in areas like operational distance capabilities, water speed, protection levels, and lethality of the weapon station on the AAV personnel variant.

In the case of questions involving the weapon station, for example, the MARCORSYSCOM response explained, “In an incremental approach, the Marine Corps will achieve the full ACV capability through two or more discrete increments. It is assumed at this point that each of these increments will be fielded across the entire fleet. As such, the intent was that the current upgunned weapon station must be replaced by at least a stabilized .50-caliber machine gun in the first increment, but will ultimately require a medium caliber remote weapon station.”

“The ultimate requirement is to have a marinized and protected medium caliber weapon station with a capability of ranging and acquiring targets in all conditions with a continuous 360 degree field of fire, capable of elevating from -20 to at least +60 degrees and capable of loading ammunition under armor,” it continued. “The weapon station should employ existing or programmed DOD weapons, capable of engaging stationary or moving targets with precision fires while stationary or on the move on land or at sea. Likely ACV-P [personnel variant] targets include dismounted personnel, lightly fortified defensive positions, lightly armored combat and tactical vehicles, small boats, and armored personnel carriers.”

ACV program plans seem to be coalescing around an approach outlined, “As approved at the ACV Material Development Decision (MDD), the ACV program has been approved to enter a combined Material Solution Analysis/Technology Development Phase. An In Process Review will be held after the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), at which time the material solution will be set and the subsequent Milestones will be established. For this RFI, the government is looking for industry input into an incremental acquisition program to deliver a series of incremental capability upgrades in order to inform ongoing affordability analyses. This could be achieved either through delivery of a baseline new vehicle with subsequent planned upgrades, or a set of planned upgrades to the legacy vehicle. The overall intent is to minimize the per vehicle cost of each of the increments without stretching the program over more than three increments, and preferably only two.”

In addition to answering industry questions, the latest release extended the industry response deadline for the original RFI from Jan. 9, 2012 to Feb. 10, 2012.

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