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Marine Corps Releases New Amphibious Vehicle RFI

The United States Marine Corps is continuing its search for an amphibious vehicle “that will 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).”

As part of that search, the service has just released a new request for information (RFI) on industry capabilities surrounding amphibious vehicles. The new RFI is characterized as “an addendum” to a previous RFI for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle issued early this year.

Acknowledging that “The current fiscal environment may prohibit simultaneous procurement of all amphibious vehicle requirements in a single procurement action,” the RFI seeks to obtain industry input “relative to its current capabilities, to identify a recommended incremental approach to replace or improve existing AAV assets.”

The document identifies a number of specific amphibious vehicle requirements, including:

  • The capability to rapidly project force directly to an objective from operational distances;
  • Forcible entry capabilities combined with lift capabilities that facilitate maneuver from operational off-shore distances and deliver forces where the adversary does not expect;
  • The capability to avoid a tactical pause at the waterline;
  • The capability to maneuver cross-country with the M1A1 in a mechanized task force;
  • The capability to increase force survivability through the use of speed, lethality, modular  armor, reduced signature (heat/visibility) and the ability to apply force from standoff  distances;
  • The capability to deliver lethal direct fire to enemy forces and Armored Personnel Carriers/Infantry Fighting Vehicles from a stabilized system with a precision fire control system during day/night operations;
  • The capability to maximize fuel efficiency without realizing performance degradation during operational assaults;
  • The capability to deliver 17 fully combat loaded Marines from ship to shore ready to fight;
  • The capability to provide crew and embarked infantry effective C4I voice and data while  operating in all environments and on the move; and
  • The capability for two amphibious vehicle configurations (i.e. Squad Maneuver/Fighting Vehicle, and Command and Control [C2]).

The requirement list is identified as “not mutually exclusive or collectively exhaustive” with the additional caveat that “industry may include trade space feedback in their responses.”

The program currently envisioned involves a prioritized two-tier procurement action under which Tier 1 requirements would be acquired in an initial procurement action and Tier 2 requirements would be acquired through one or more subsequent procurements.

Tier 1 requirements call for improvements in current amphibious vehicle fleet (AAV) capabilities in the areas of water mobility, land mobility and protection levels.

Water mobility requirements, for example, mandate self-deployment from amphibious shipping and delivery of “a Reinforced Marine infantry squad (17 Marines) from launch distances at, or beyond the horizon (minimum of 12 miles) with speed of not less than 8 knots in seas with 1 foot significant wave height to enable the element of surprise in the buildup ashore, and provide combat-ready Marines at the objective.  The vehicle must be able to operate in seas up to 3 foot significant wave height.  The vehicle must be able to execute a seamless transition from sea to land and have sufficient fuel capacity to maneuver to an inland objective approximately 200 miles away.”

So-called Tier 2 requirements envisioned for subsequent procurement action call for improvements in the areas of networking, lethality, and sustainment.

As examples, while noting that the current fleet of AAVs “possesses two area weapons, a 40mm grenade launcher and a non-stabilized .50-caliber machine gun,” the RFI calls for the objective Tier 2 lethality solution to “have sufficient capability to conduct direct fire overmatch against like threat systems via a medium caliber precision weapon system.  At a minimum the first increment of the fielded capability should possess a stabilized machine gun to increase the ability to engage enemy infantry and light vehicles.”

“Based on the information above, The USMC requests industry provide information about its current capabilities to support an incremental approach to fulfill each of the three Tier 1 requirements (through AAV improvement or replacement) while creating a weapon system platform that will support incorporation of Tier 2 requirements in a subsequent procurement action(s),” it states.

In addition, it notes that the RFI process is designed “to explore the cost of an incremental approach to achieving the full objective capability so as to better understand both the potential improvement to the annual procurement affordability as well as the increased development and procurement costs due to the inherent inefficiency of a multi-step approach.”

Industry responses are requested before close of business on Jan. 9, 2012.

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