Defense Media Network

PM Advanced Amphibious Assault

The late October 2013 release of a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) Survivability Upgrade Program is just one more example of the increasing tempo of activity within PEO Land Systems’ Office of Program Manager, Advanced Amphibious Assault (PM AAA).

The new engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) program effort addresses design and integration services to improve the force protection of the Marine Corps legacy AAV personnel carrier variant platform.

Initially fielded in 1971, the AAV remains the primary general-support armored personnel carrier (APC) for Marine infantry.

Initially fielded in 1971, the AAV remains the primary general-support armored personnel carrier (APC) for Marine infantry. The AAV7A1 Reliability, Availability, Maintainability/Rebuild to Standard (RAM/RS) Family of Vehicles (FoV) previously underwent a series of capability enhancements to improve mobility and reliability and to extend the platforms’ service life.

The Marine Corps’ AAV FoV consists of the AAVP7A1 (Personnel) RAM/RS APC and two supporting mission-role variants: the AAVC7A1 RAM/RS Command vehicle and AAVR7A1 RAM/RS Recovery vehicle. The AAV7A1 RAM/RS FoV provides ship-to-shore-to-objective mobility as well as direct fire support with organic weapons.

Assault Amphibious Vehicles

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, conducted amphibious landings on Red Beach with Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) as part of exercise Dawn Blitz, June 24, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Reel

As of this writing, the Marine Corps AAV fleet size is 1,063 RAM/RS vehicles in Personnel, Command, and Recovery variants.

Programmed for eventual replacement by a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), the AAV7A1 RAM/RS FoV will continue to serve the Marine Corps until at least 2035. It is perhaps noteworthy that the new 2035 lifespan projection for the FoV is 10 years longer than service projections made as little as one year ago.

The AAV Survivability Upgrade Program, which will affect 392 of the Personnel variants, will further improve force projection while maintaining the current land and water mobility of the AAV, serving as a capability bridge to fielding and replacement by the new ACV. The 392 platforms included in the AAV Survivability Upgrade will provide the Marine Corps operational forces with four battalions of lift plus some additional support capabilities.

The Survivability Upgrade initiative will improve force protection and platform survivability by integrating technically mature upgrades into the existing hull. These upgrades include belly and sponson armor, blast-mitigating seats, and spall liners. The upgrades may also include fuel tank protection, and automotive and suspension upgrades to maintain current land and water mobility characteristics despite increased weight growth.

“The AAV Survivability Upgrade RFP is largely about force protection and platform survivability,” observed Dennis Boucher, program director for AAV Systems within PM AAA, PEO Land Systems. “The RFP is essentially for a design concept, with options for follow-on prototype development and low rate initial production [LRIP] efforts. And we’ll see what happens after that.”

“The concept award should be in the spring of 2014,” he said. “Prototype development is planned to start in the third quarter of FY 15, followed by low rate initial production projected for third quarter of FY 17. Initial Operational Capability [IOC] is currently targeted for FY 19, reflecting a minor slip from previous schedules.”

Although not addressing any specifics about ACV, Boucher emphasized that the AAV Survivability Upgrade Program is designed to serve as “a bridge” to whenever the Marine Corps fields its ACV.

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