Twitter Facebook Google RSS
 
National Defense > Blog > Posts > Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles
Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles
By Dan Parsons
 


Not only does the Marine Corps plan to buy a wheeled vehicle to replace its aging ship-to-shore personnel carriers, but senior leaders are now convinced that wheels are superior to the tracked vehicle that the Corps unsuccessfully spent $3 billion over a quarter of a century to develop.
 
Replacing the amphibious assault vehicle, or AAV, has been one of Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos’ highest priorities during his tenure. He announced earlier this year that plans to develop a purpose-built vehicle had been scrapped in favor of buying off-the-shelf ship-to-shore connectors.
 
After 26 years of searching for a tracked vehicle to replace the AAV, the Marine Corps also shifted focus to wheeled vehicles.
 
Purchasing commercially available wheeled vehicles will save money and will provide an improved capability over available tracked vehicles, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, told reporters during a June 26 breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C.

Several existing wheeled personnel carriers were tested at the Nevada Automotive Test Center. “The capability that came out of these vehicles was far superior to a tracked vehicle,” said Glueck.
 
More than 1,000 amphibious assault vehicles, or AAVs, that Marines ride out of the well decks of amphibious ships, onto shore and into combat, are 50 or more years old and need to be replaced.
 
Marine Corps leaders wanted a vehicle that could ride fast through the water while planing like a speedboat, then sufficiently protect Marines once ashore.
 
The latest failed development attempt, called the expeditionary fighting vehicle, achieved the desired speeds through water, but sacrificed troop protection and weapons.
 
It was canceled and revived as the amphibious assault vehicle, which has lagged and is being revised as a phased acquisition. Engineers from the military, industry and academia studied the issue and found that the Marine Corps’ desired vehicle was technically feasible, Glueck said. But shoehorning the requirements for both high water speed and survivability into a single vehicle would come at an unaffordable price, he said.
 
“The price was not just dollars, it was in terms of capability,” Glueck said. “To be able to get the high water speed, you have to keep it under a certain weight.
 
The large engine that pushed the vehicle to such high speeds also ate up space and capacity for Marines, armor and weapons. “When you start looking at force protection … weight means something,” Glueck said. “To have armor protection for the forces against IEDs and other types of weapons that are out there, you need to have weight to give you that armor protection.”
 
Program managers were forced, therefore to cut back on the ACV’s armor, armaments, troop capacity, and suspension and wheel strength, he said.
 
“What you ended up with a vehicle that, yeah, I can get up on a plane. Yeah, it can do maybe 23 to 25 knots, but once it gets ashore, it’s not optimized for 90 percent of the missions that Marines need it for,” he said.
 
At an estimated $12 million to $14 million per copy, the cost of the Marines’ ideal vehicle was no trivial matter, he said. The actual cost of procuring the vehicle would have almost certainly exceeded those estimates, he added.
 
The Marine Corps has since settled on buying a wheeled vehicle from those currently available on the international market. Choosing from commercially available wheeled vehicles for the first phase of the ACV program will shave about $5 million to $6 million off the cost of each unit over the life of the program, Glueck said.
 
The Marine Corps will buy 204 personnel-carrier variant ACVs in the first phase of procurement.
 
In later iterations where additional capabilities like command-and-control or logistics variants are purchased, the savings will be less, he added.
 
The second phase will include mission-role variants and weapons variants, of which the Marine Corps plans to buy 490. Those variants may reintroduce tracks or could remain wheeled, Mullen said. That phase will likely take place around 2025.
 
All the vehicles in the fleet will share the same frame and drive trains, among other components, which will ultimately bring down sustainment costs, he said.
 
BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems, SAIC and Lockheed Martin have offered ACVs that have undergone preliminary testing by the Marine Corps.

Glueck had advice for vehicle manufacturers looking to score Marine Corps contracts in a future that will see the service return to scalable, expeditionary deployments and sea-basing worldwide. “If I was a contractor and looking at what I needed to develop, it's going to be light, mobile capabilities that we can field rapidly in the near term that will give us increased combat capability,” he said.
 
Photo: Terex Amphibious vehicle (SAIC)

Comments

Re: Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles

I read that the MPC *was not* meant to replace the AAV but act as a compliment since the Marines often ride in the beds of unarmored MTVRs as their "APC."  As such, the USMC wants to put the Marine infantry under armor (which makes sense).  I don't think the AAV will go away and that the MPC will replace it on a one-to-one basis.

Also, the EFV is said to cost around $22 million per unit, not $12 to $14 million each.

Is there any data on the test vehicles, such as which ones the Marines prefer so far?
Peter at 6/26/2014 2:25 PM

Re: Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles

I sure hope the enemy has good roads for those wheel vehicles becasue wheels don't do cross country well
A Z at 6/27/2014 8:30 AM

Re: Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles

They need to fire Amos.  All he's doing is protecting the F-35 and Osprey while everything else fails.

Lessons from Iraq, Afghanistan and nearly every other post-Cold War conflict?  The Marines need to transport ALL Marines in some kind of armored vehicle.  They need about 1,000 New AAVs and about the same or up to 1500 MPCs (not 200 or less then 500 total).  Air Assault is a dying operational concept.  The Osprey will do nothing more then deliver Marines into "Battle of Mogadishu" type scenarios. 

Lessons learned from the Stryker?  Large wheeled vehicles make big, lightly armored targets and have limit abilities in restricted or complex terrain.  Even worse is that at 29 tons, the current AAVP7A1 is barely heavier then most of the MPC competitors (heaviest versions of each weight between 24 and 30 tons).

What is unbelievable is no one is talking about cost.  The LCAC is expensive as is the "high speed connectors" (over $200mil each).  The Osprey is ungodly expensive at over 3 times that of a Black Hawk and even more then the more capable CH-53.  So the Marines cannot afford a new AAV and only limited numbers of these wheeled vehicles.  I have a feeling that the Marines won't get a new AAV, will only get a few MPC, the Osprey will be out of service by 2025 and there won't be enough landing craft to land a battalion of Marines because those will get cut too.
Mark at 6/28/2014 8:59 PM

Re: Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles

The US Marines really need to get out of the mindset of having Remote Weapon Systems of MK-19 AGL and M2HB .50 cal in arming their armored vehicles similar to Strykers.  That is no different in armament than the AAV7 turrets and contributes nothing to more and heavier firepower.  Already, the US Army is hoping to buy some LAV IIIs with 25mm autocannon turrets because the Army finds the Strykers' RWSs' MK-19 and M2HBs to be not enough firepower.

The Marines have talked about arming some RWSs with light 25mm MK38 autocannons, but that remains to be seen.  I think the MPC should have some DELCO 25mm turrets with two ATGM missiles.
Peter at 7/3/2014 8:15 PM

Re: Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles

Amos has gone loco. I say keep the MPC as a replacement for the LAV-25 FOVs which was the original purpose. Also has any thought been given by GDLS to entering the EFV minus the hydroplaning feature and adding additional firepower like the Javelin ATGM?
Col. McQueen at 7/4/2014 3:17 AM

Re: Marines Favor Wheeled Ship-to-Shore Vehicles

One reason the GDLS EFV was canceled was that it didn't have a V-hull against IEDs as the ground clearance is really low. 

It's too low to really add armor plate to the bottom of the hull and make it a V-hull unless the EFV is jacked up into the air, and really too low in ground clearance to even make a V-hull.  As such, when DoD and Congress saw this problem, and all the IEDs being used and the need for a V-hull, that was one reason the non-V-hull EFV got canceled.
Peter at 7/8/2014 8:04 PM

Add Comment

Items on this list require content approval. Your submission will not appear in public views until approved by someone with proper rights. More information on content approval.

Name: *

eMail *

Comment *

Title

Attachments

Name: *


eMail *


Comment *


 

Refresh
Please enter the text displayed in the image.
The picture contains 6 characters.

Characters *

  

Legal Notice *

NDIA is not responsible for screening, policing, editing, or monitoring your or another user's postings and encourages all of its users to use reasonable discretion and caution in evaluating or reviewing any posting. Moreover, and except as provided below with respect to NDIA's right and ability to delete or remove a posting (or any part thereof), NDIA does not endorse, oppose, or edit any opinion or information provided by you or another user and does not make any representation with respect to, nor does it endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other material displayed, uploaded, or distributed by you or any other user. Nevertheless, NDIA reserves the right to delete or take other action with respect to postings (or parts thereof) that NDIA believes in good faith violate this Legal Notice and/or are potentially harmful or unlawful. If you violate this Legal Notice, NDIA may, in its sole discretion, delete the unacceptable content from your posting, remove or delete the posting in its entirety, issue you a warning, and/or terminate your use of the NDIA site. Moreover, it is a policy of NDIA to take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other applicable intellectual property laws. If you become aware of postings that violate these rules regarding acceptable behavior or content, you may contact NDIA at 703.522.1820.

 

 

Bookmark and Share