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First SDD-2 EFV Prototypes Delivered to Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps is preparing to begin government developmental testing on the System Development & Demonstration (SDD)-2 prototypes of its Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV).

The important test phase follows recent delivery of the first SDD-2 prototypes to the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch (AVTB), located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., by General Dynamics Land Systems.

The latest SDD-2 prototypes contain more than 200 design changes from earlier models, focused on enhancing the performance and reliability of the vehicle.

The EFV has been developed to replace the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV7A1) that was originally procured in 1972. The new vehicle, which will have a troop capacity of 17 Marines with individual combat equipment, will be the primary means of tactical mobility for the Marine rifle squad during the conduct of amphibious operations ashore.

EFV improvements over the legacy AAV7A1 system include mobility, lethality, communications, protection, and payload capacity.

In the case of lethality, for example, the EFV introduces the Mk. 46 weapons station, a two man turret design incorporating a 30 mm Mk. 44 chain gun cannon and 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. Coupled with a state of the art full solution fire control system, the EFV will be able to engage moving targets out to ranges of 2,000 meters while being on the move itself.

The latest SDD-2 prototypes contain more than 200 design changes from earlier models, focused on enhancing the performance and reliability of the vehicle.

The self-deploying, high water speed, armored amphibious EFV will be capable of transporting Marines from ships located beyond the horizon to inland objectives as well as using lakes and rivers as inland avenues of approach. Moreover, once on land, the EFV will have the speed and maneuverability to operate with main battle tanks.

“This vehicle provides the infantry-carrying capacity for the Marine Corps,” observed Col. Keith Moore, USMC, program manager for the EFV. Speaking at an event marking the prototype deliveries to the Marine Corps, Moore explained, “We need EFV whether we are doing a ‘land only’ type mission, where EFV will provide that land mobility, armor support, and firepower for Marines as they are moving about in an objective area; or for that unique Marine Corps capability of being able to project that power from out in the ocean. We need for the vehicle to be able to provide that [amphibious] capability as well, which is something that is not required by something like the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle or whatever they end up replacing that with over the next couple of years.”

“For the foreseeable future there are still people out there that would do us harm that we are going to need to engage,” he added. “And this is a principle weapon system that our infantry Marines at the squad level need to give them the best chance for success.”

The Marine Corps will receive a total of seven SDD-2 prototypes. Following the completion of crew training in early July, the Marines will begin the developmental test phase, with 500 hours of testing to be performed on the vehicles between August and December of 2010.

The majority of the testing will occur at AVTB, with additional testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

The testing will be followed by a “Knowledge Point-2” in the second quarter of FY11 and operational assessment in the third quarter of FY11. Longer-range program plans call for a Milestone C decision (including approval to enter low rate initial production [LRIP]) in the second quarter of FY12.


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