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Friday, March 4, 2011

Marine Amphib Upgrades Coming Fast and Furious

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With the cancellation of its amphibious Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, the Marine Corps has released several requests for information (RFIs) looking for industry solutions to its future amphibious needs. Instead of buying EFVs, the Marines have issued RFIs to upgrade its existing AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs); while creating a new amphibious combat vehicle (ACV); and a new Marine Personnel Carrier that would work alongside the AAV on land. The Corps has instructed industry that it is only looking for “mature” solutions that require little development. In the near-term, the Marines are looking for an upgrade of their entire AAV fleet—1,057 vehicles—in a 4-6 year timeframe, but BAE Systems’ Ann Hoholick, VP of New Vehicles and Amphibious Systems (maker of the AAV) says the company “could probably do that [upgrade] sooner” if the Corps were interested. While BAE is pitching the upgrade to the AAV, it also plans to bid on the follow-on to the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle—the Amphibious Combat Vehicle—but Hoholick said that the company is in the early stages of putting together its package.
Hoholick says that for the AAV, the company has a survivability upgrade concept, as well as improvements to its land mobility with a new power pack and suspension design, and will be able to increase water speed by about 40 percent, but would still not be able to “get to the high speed requirement that the EFV program has.” With the addition of a cooling system and a 25mm or 30mm remote weapons station, Hoholick says that the new vehicle would see an additional 10,000 lbs in weight added, though with the new power pack—or a new engine that the company is prepared to install—no speed or maneuverability would be lost. The Corps has set the deadlines for responding to the AAV RFI on March 4, while responses to the ACV and MPC requests are due April 22.

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