Home » News » Marine Corps » Marine’s Conway Gives (Another) Tepid Endorsement of EFV; Capability That Is

Marine’s Conway Gives (Another) Tepid Endorsement of EFV; Capability That Is

by Greg on August 24, 2010

Every time I listen to outgoing Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway talk about the perennially challenged Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program, it sounds like he really wishes there was some alternative. Problem is, there isn’t; there just aren’t a lot of companies out there building armored amphibians.

The Marines need something, anything, to transport them from ships offshore to the beachhead and then get them inland at least some distance; oh, and it has to be fast, both at sea and on land, carry lots of Marines and keep them under armor during the whole process. So, after investing lots of time and money into the General Dynamics EFV, the Marines have the EFV. It’s a costly and so far anyway, unreliable vehicle. But it’s all they got.

“It is not the platform it’s the capability,” Conway said, the Marines need an armored amphibian as the Marines get back to the sea and onboard ships. “It’s not necessarily the EFV made by General Dynamics that goes 25 knots, its the capability that we need to be wed to… if that program were canceled outright we would still be looking to come up with that capability.”

He said the new batch of eight EFVs provided by General Dynamics for extensive testing are more reliable than the original prototypes and the Marines hope they’ll show marked improvement. “It has been a beleaguered program,” Conway said today at a Pentagon presser. “We are looking at affordability of the program in the out years… we have to ask ourselves are 573 (EFVs) affordable.”

Conway said he feels very confident that the Marines, which provide planners an “asymmetric advantage” will emerge from the ongoing force structure review in pretty good shape, if not a bit smaller. A strong Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard team is the linchpin of a strategy based on engaging potential enemies far from American shores, through forward deployment and basing.

“Although we have been fortunate the last couple of times our nation has engaged that a host country would allow us to come in and build the iron mountain, mass the forces and cross the border into attack. There are not a lot of places like that in the world,” he said.

How much amphibious assault capability is enough? “Right now, that is pretty much laid out by a previous QDR that says we will have two brigades prepared to conduct joint operational access,” he said.

– Greg Grant

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

zap August 24, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Can't they just use a fast landing craft , 1 sled or catamaran for each vehicle that can do 40 mph, and then use a AFV that's more suitable for fighting on land and has more in common with what the Army are going to use .

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STemplar August 24, 2010 at 3:52 pm

If you want to off load forces slowly yes, but think about that, if you use an AAV, all your armor goes ashore at once. If you use a LC, that's one trip per vehicle, plus you have to have more room for LCs or carry less armor.

I think Conway's comment about affordability X years out points to a reduced buy.

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Will August 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

A fast landing craft can be used to transport supplies from ship to shore after it is done landing AFVs. The EFV will be committed to transporting infantry from the time it leaves the ship until the fight is over.
A fast landing craft will be exposed to enemy fire for less time than the EFV & it can be armed with defensive weapons that the EFV doesn't have room for.

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STemplar August 25, 2010 at 4:28 am

Yah, but you still have to bring it along, which means less room for AAVs, supplies, other equipment, etc. Unless you bring one for each piece of armor you have to turn around and go back, as opposed to your whole assault force landing simultaneously self powered.

The latest GAO report on it was not flattering. We need something to replace the AAVs but the EFV is shaping up to be an expensive piece of junk. The operational need is there, but even Conway's statements show there may be wiggle room in the #s purchased.

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blight August 24, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Each San Antonio class LPD could launch 14 EFVs. Also, nobody's saying just yet that switching to a transport/lander combo will cut into the number of EFVs. Hypothetically a smallish transport that carries one EFV, and of identical internal space could embark ground vehicles and be available for other tasks.

You must then ask if maintainence of two different, less complex vehicles is more insane than one complex vehicle capable of doing by land and sea as required. The tradeoffs to operate on sea don't serve the EFV well on land, nor would the optimized designs for land do well at sea.

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Steve B August 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Any particular reason they don't use more LCAC's ?. Other then not being armored as well as possibly being somewhat expensive, they have the ability to move quick, can generally get inland to a degree and are a proven technology.

I can't see the issue with not being armored as the next forced entry over a beach is going to have to choose carefully to not come in where the defenses are strongest, thus the LCAC, with it's speed, gives some flexibility.

Hell, they could model the entire landing battalion as a Stryker brigade who's infrantry is the core mission, not a supporting element, simply by adding more LAV's as the core mobility vehicle. The LCAC's then deliver 4 or so LAV's per sortie ?, then quickly return to ship, P/U another load, deliver, repeat, etc…

My thinking is the EFV is a big huge armored target once on land, not at all what's needed in todays typical combat scenario, not to mention impossible to move anywhere other then by ship. If the MC had the EFV right now, they woul NOT be using them in AFG, as there is no possible way to get them there.

Just food for thought

SB

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TTe August 25, 2010 at 3:07 am

Someone always forget the downside of using ferry craft for the armour spearhaead. Once you completed the previous or first sortie and then heading back to mother craft. If I were the shore defender I will strike all these easy chewing preys which will atleast can disrupt the landing operation to be not as smooth as planned or atmost can destroy the whole landing operation. Only one ferry of the first wave force absolutely is not enough.

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Blight August 25, 2010 at 8:34 am

It's moot if the amount of embarkables in wave one is unchanged. If EFVs made it in wave one and LCACs were sunk, you'd have resupply and followup issues anyways.

Oblat August 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

"If only one could just rename the program, claim it is a "new vehicle" and then point at a lower price without all of that sunk R&D cost making things look worse."

You just have to wonder about Bill some times: For Instance why the solution to every problem is to defraud the American taxpayer. Is is it a creative visualisation thing – where if we pretend the problem doesnt exist it just goes away.

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William C. August 24, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Your still trolling about here Oblat? I thought you had left? Go back under your rock, you ignorant leftard. Your exactly the sort of idiot who points and gasps at the cost without looking over the program's history, and what it will actually cost once the vehicle is in production.

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Oblat August 25, 2010 at 8:03 am

Honest hardworking Americans still have to pay the full amount – development and production – no matter how you try to hide it.

Something to consider Bill as you head off to the trough every morning

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William C. August 25, 2010 at 8:49 am

As an honest and hardworking American unlike yourself, I have no problem with my tax dollars going to pay for such equipment rather than being spent on some dead-end stimulus project or paying off people's credit card debt.

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Chaboss August 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm

crack kills. use with caution.

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joe August 24, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Affordable and less mechanical nightmare is needed…the EFV is a Hydraulic Monster (if you've seen how it gets most of it's planing action from Hydraulic movement of underbelly bow plates and track skirting)…maybe a more simpler design could be used and also off the shelf proven vehicle…like, the Bradley IFV.
Encrease the body length of the Bradly by 4 feet (to increase the Troop transport from 7 to 11), develope a underbelly floatation hull that bolts onto the Bradley (But is quickly ejected using explosive bolts once it hits land ,from inside the vehicle), and add on sponsons to the sides (Which can be quickly removed after the Beach landing and area is secured). A built in internal high speed jet propulsion system in the disposable hull. No fancy Hydraulics are needed or maintained, a proven IFV for land operations with an extended body to carry more troops. It's a one way trip to the beach anyways, so why all the fancy extra equipment once you move inland? Just a thought anyways.

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TTe August 25, 2010 at 3:17 am

That's sound quite reasonable idea nothing worng with that thought except for the way how to get it to work. You need a broarder dock of the mother craft to accomodate the armour with thier add-on also some space to store these add-on while transporting to the theatre or leave all these armour vehicle afloat beside the mother craft and tow them across the ocean. Another solution, build the new bigger dock LPD for them then you better ask the Navy first!

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@Cr4shDummy August 25, 2010 at 3:38 am

I personally love the Bradley and would love to see the Corps use it, but I think a program like that would be marred with cost overruns.

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Mastro August 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

You do know that the Bradley is not amphibious? Especially since they uparmored it?

Increasing the body length by 4 feet would probably be a disaster- the COG would probably change and turn the thing into a teeter totter.

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Rjack August 24, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Adding to Joe's line of thinking;
There are probably thousands of M113 vehicles in storage in the U.S. Why not turn them over to the USMC for land transport duties. Purchase hovercraft to serve as mini LCACS's to transport the APC's to the beach or beyond, then let the mechanized vehichles to the fighting and driving. Griffon hoverwork of Britain supplies military hovercraft to UK forces, as well as overseas customers – India's navy just purchased some as patrol boats.
http://www.griffonhoverwork.com/applications/1

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Blight August 25, 2010 at 8:37 am

Not to get all Mike Sparksy but I think only early M113s had amphib capability? I remember a company made an amphib kit…granted amphib m113s wont be as fast as a efv, you could carry more of them, and thus some could be turned into floating fire support platforms with real kick compared to the EFVs armament. Then phase out LAV, which has nominal amphib capability which is incompatible with EFV.

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Jacob August 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Didn't we use to have M4 Shermans equipped with flotation devices to help them get to shore? Can't we do the same thing with a Bradley IFV?

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William C. August 25, 2010 at 8:55 am

The early versions of the Bradley were designed to float and swim once the crew set up some minor things. Later versions of the Bradley (A2 onwards) lost this capability due to their heavier armor. It would probably be possible to equip a Bradley with a flotation device like the Sherman, but just like those Shermans it would be very slow. Easily slower than the Marine Corp's current AAVP-7A1. Plus the Bradley only carries 6-7 men in back. The EFV carries 17-18. The Marines tend to prefer larger APCs carrying a full squad and then some.

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joe August 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Jacob;

Unfortionately the M4s used a canvas skirting to help them float, and that didn't work to terribly well in rough seas (D-Day). The Bradley had a skirt design too, but that didn't work very well either…I had proposed a detachable floating hull under the belly of the beast (leaving enough clearence for the tracks to make contact to help launch from a Amphibious ship and climb over coral reefs) and add on sponsons (Large sealed floating containers) to the sides for boyonce and inside the hull it's own powerful hydrojet system. All of this detachable thru explosive bolts within the Bradley once it makes it to shore. Turning it back into a IFV. Oh, and also increase the length of the Bradly to carry a larger amount of troops to shore.

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@Cr4shDummy August 25, 2010 at 3:33 am

They did a long time ago with the Phalanx system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_CIWS) and electronic countermeasures.

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@Earlydawn August 26, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Phalanxes and Aegis are not effective against multi-axis saturation attacks by anti-shipping missiles. Do you think they fire them one at a time?

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Raraavis August 25, 2010 at 11:24 am

The answer is to build as cheaply as possible small unmanned armored amphibious fighting vehicles. Get them onshore and let them engage enemy ground forces with massive air cover. Even if many of them get chewed up you haven't lost any troops and you can seriously degrade any threat in the area. Phase two can be bringing in troops by air and small boat to reinforce the area and phase three can be the arrival of landing craft with armor.

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Mastro August 25, 2010 at 11:48 am

Sorry- but Tarawa was 60+ years ago.

Drop off a bunch of Strikers/LAVS from a LCAC. Then some Abrams. Take out strong points with air strikes/cruise missiles.

I never bought the argument for the EFV and the LCAC- just classic military bloat.

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William C. August 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm

You just said we should use the LCAV to drop off vehicles, then you said it is "military bloat?"

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William C. August 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I meant LCAC.

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Mastro August 26, 2010 at 11:43 am

I mean we have the LCAC- which we can put non amphibious vehicles on-

Having both LCAC and the EFV is wasteful.

What is the argument for having both? When would the LCAC not work- but the EFV would?

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phrogdriver August 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Umm…whenever there's an enemy waiting on or near the objective? The EFV may not be the toughest IFV on the planet, but I daresay it will withstand bullets better than the rubber, glass, and aluminum LCAC.

tribulationtime August 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Hit and sunk! better reasons ever. Thank you to take care! Kisses.

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Robert A. Fritts August 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

On my last rotation to a-stan my company was paired up with a Polish Company equipped with the Rosomak(Wolverine) IFV. Now it was superior to the Stryker in almost everyway. I saw one get hit with a RPG-9 from 200 meter which detonated on the side of the drivers station, but did not penetrate. well we come to a river and we have to find a fiord point to cross. The Rosomak crews seal up a few hatches plunge into the river and start zipping around very fast looking for our crossing point, while we wait as a stationary target. Specs say it can get 8Kts in the water. The Polish mechanics told us they can get 35KPH in the water once they tweak to motor and have taken them 50+KM in the Baltic. These guys said they water skied from them in Poland. Comes with 30mm, 40mm, and twin 120mortar(AMOS). Sights, C3 and Armor all first rate. Costs less than $5 Million US with the mortar(most expensive). Buy them off the self. USMC problem solved. Now when a US defense Contractor gets involved we may be able to get them in 12 years for $30million a piece and it will not float(oh thats my Stryker).

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Robert A. Fritts August 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Also the M-113 with the electric drive is a great Idea. The Italian Alligator kitted stretch M-113 is worlds better than the current Amphip and has more speed and armor than a Stryker. There are also about 8000+ of them paid for and awaiting modification. Check out what the Dutch, Turks, Italians, and Israelis have done to M-113s, we probaly do not have to buy a new Armor fighting vehicle for any service for 50 years.1st we need to ban the top 50 defence contractors from new sales for 7-10years. I bet we would field amazing equipment for our Soldiers and Marines at half the cost.

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leesea August 31, 2010 at 12:42 am

Early Dawn hit the first decision point (aka define your rqmts then buy a system).
Standoff distance has been questioned for years and NOW senior leaders are asking what it should be? Once the distance is determined the time to get there yields speed required. OTH is a nebulous term which now plays in the world of G-RAMMS.

Next issue with EFV is why are the Marines buying this expenisve an APC which spends 80% of its life on land while paying huge costs to move it over water? CMC has already said they can't afford as many as wanted.

I like the PASCAT too BUT it is simply a fast LCM sized transport (55 ton payload) not amphibious. So maybe for 2nd wave sustainment lifts it will help. Which gets tot the third issue the Marines must deal with – why do ALL their landing craft HAVE to be fully amphibious? Can't some be full up on the beach/land and most not be?

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Robert A. Fritts September 7, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Could all of this have been avoided by replacing the CH-46 with a more modern Air-Assault oriented Helo 25 years ago when they really needed to be replaced? Big thanks to the Crews and maintainers of CH-46s( the B-52 of helicopters!

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Blight August 25, 2010 at 8:40 am

Yeah, the Russians have amphib pseudo tanks that can fire a legit gun from the water. and knowing them, their guns will have a ATGM of some kind. Not as fast as EFV, but a Hezbollan/Iranian ATGM will nail a wave of EFVs as easily as AAAVs. They've shown us what can happen on defensive terrain with a plentiful supply of ATGMs…

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pfcem August 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Try informng yourself of reality before making such a fool of yourself.

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