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BAE’s ‘Supersized’ Personnel Carrier

by Brendan McGarry on October 11, 2013


BAE Systems Plc is optimistic the U.S. Marine Corps will eventually resume funding for a new wheeled personnel carrier, an executive said.

The question is, when?

To keep folks talking about the program, the company transported a prototype of its 8X8 amphibious wheeled vehicle to the Modern Day Marine expo a few weeks ago in Quantico, Va. Based on the SuperAV made by Italy’s Iveco Defence Vehicles, the 26-ton green machine was hard to miss.

“We supersized the vehicle, as if we took it to the drive-thru at McDonald’s and gave it a few Big Macs,” John Swift, director of the Marine Personnel Carrier program for the U.S. subsidiary of London-based BAE, said in an interview. “Size matters. The greater the mass, the more buoyancy you have. The greater the mass, the more survivable it can be.”

The service has an operational need for about 570 of the so-called Marine Personnel Carriers, or MPCs. Due to budget cuts, though, it was forced to delay the effort and transfer funding to more important programs, including the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, or ACV.

“We’re now being told that the funding for next year will be vacated and will be reassigned to ACV,” Swift said. “MPC will go into hiatus for one to six years.”

BAE was one of four companies that received contracts from the service to begin developing and testing prototypes. The others were General Dynamics Corp., based in Falls Church, Va.; Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Md.; and SAIC Inc., based in McLean, Va.

Because the Marine Corps mandated that any designs be based on existing platforms, each of the companies partnered with an international company. BAE teamed with Turin, Italy-based Iveco, which is part of CNH Global N.V., based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Iveco’s SuperAV was almost entirely compatible with the Marine Corps’ program requirements, but needed to be modified to carry bigger troops and withstand stronger blasts, Swift said. BAE’s version of the vehicle costs about $3.5 million, he said.

The redesigned machine can carry a dozen Marines, including three crew members and nine passengers, each standing 6-foot-3-inches tall and weighing about 220 pounds, plus their gear, Swift said. It features a V-shaped hull to deflect bomb blasts and can travel up to 10 nautical miles from a dock landing ship to shore and back, he said.

The vehicle on display had already completed water and shore demonstrations at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Swift said. Two others had successfully undergone blast testing at the Nevada Automotive Test Center, he said.

Whether or when Marine Corps may move forward with the program remains unclear, Swift said. When asked whether some level of funding will be likely restored to keep the program alive, he said, “I am hopeful but not confident.”

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Rufus Frazier October 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm

“MPC will go into hiatus for one to six years.”

They did this to GPS IIF during the last defense big department funding drop in the late 90s. The result was the knowledgeable engineers will go elsewhere, the technology will change and when/if funding resumes it will be worse than starting from scratch with overruns and schedule slips galore.


Nick October 11, 2013 at 7:09 pm

"Size matters. The greater the mass, the more buoyancy you have"
For the love of god, don't let that man anywhere near the people designing this thing. I'm guessing he also thinks heavier things fall faster?


blight_ October 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Sorry, accidentally clicked the thumbs down instead of up. My bad.

Anyways, here's our guy who mixed up his density and his buoyancy equations.


Dfens October 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

Another manager chosen for his ability to drag the program out and cause costs to increase instead of being chosen for his ability to get things done on time and on budget. If you wanted BAE to select on the latter basis, then the DoD should pay contractors more for developing weapons on time and on budget.


Pilgrimman October 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

"The greater the mass, the more buoyancy you NEED."


Curt October 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Which, if it floats like this one does, the more buoyancy it has as well. What he meant to say is the more volume you have, the more buoyancy you have since he was talking about size (ie volme) and not mass (usually represented by weight although it's not the same thing of course),


Hunter76 October 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

Right. As a manager, this John Swift has no need to be intelligent.


majr0d October 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

So this will carry a nine man squad. Problem is marine squads are 13…

So the Marine squad hits the beach 30% weaker or has to link up under fire. This is the greatest weakness of the Bradley relearned in Iraq and why the Army has been so adamant that the GCV carry the whole Army nine man squad.

Marines, don't repeat the Army's mistake. We lived with it for 30 yrs and still trying to fix it.


JCross October 12, 2013 at 12:35 am

The Terrex, also in the competition, does hold 12 troops. It's also a proven off-the-shelf APC design. And the Bradley scenario isn't exactly equal, as being an IFV, the turret takes up much room and weight. The Puma and Bradley are of similar size to the Terrex, but only hold 6 people.


majr0d October 12, 2013 at 1:19 am

The Bradley is an IFV. The MPC is an amphibious APC. The issue I was addressing is exactly the same, the ability of an APC to transport the whole infantry squad. (IFV are also technically APCs.)

The Terrex literature does say it can carry 12 passengers but I'm not sure those are American sized troops. One has to be careful with manufacturers claims.


JCross October 12, 2013 at 2:11 am

Fair reply to both parts. I was just thinking out loud as to why the Bradley or any IFV wouldn't be a good comparison to a true APC. As to the Terrex, all they say about the test is that it held the "specified" number of troops.


Wosiu October 13, 2013 at 11:48 am

Terrex maybe holds 12, but child-size Singaporeans.


Wosiu October 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Polish Hipopotam 8×8 amphibious vehicle should be capable to carry of squad of 13:


majr0d October 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Not liking that very vulnerable windshield on the hipopotam.


damien October 11, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I don’t know why they don’t build these amphibious vehicles as wheeled semi-submersibles with twin schnorkels and periscopes – submerged, they are protected from ATGMs and other kinds of fire, and there would be far less issues with dealing with different sea states.


JCross October 12, 2013 at 12:41 am

Water sealing, demands of a clean hull all around, and unless you have some epic snorkels, you couldn't go deep enough to escape most fire. Anything go wrong while submerged, no quick means of escape. In other words, it'd cripple the vehicle's usefulness for a minor and arguably worthless capability.


majr0d October 12, 2013 at 1:27 am

Seems it would take a lot more energy to move a submerged body through the water than on top of it. There's also a lot more complexity to designing a buoyancy system.


hibeam October 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Nice machine for the marines but I think the Navy should require it be able to take off like a helicopter. To save money. Maybe the air force has some requirements?


Vpanoptes October 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm
Mitchell Fuller September 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

Man, y'all's comments have me laughing, good wit!


Tad October 12, 2013 at 4:41 am

"BAE Systems Plc is optimistic the U.S. Marine Corps will eventually resume funding for a new wheeled personnel carrier, an executive said.

The question is, when?"

When the DoD finally stops spending all its money on the F-35 and LCS boondoggles.


Lance October 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Wishful thinking by BAE who money got there heads. The USMC will not have the funds anytime soon for this. I also dont see the need for a LPV replacement for now. more crap from greedy company.


hibeam October 12, 2013 at 5:59 pm

How many drones could we afford to have on station for the cost of one of these things full of marines. 20? 30? And no broken bodies coming home from war. More savings.


JustaPlanoTexan October 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

When the mission calls for "boots on the ground" how does any number of drones complete that mission?


PolicyWonk October 15, 2013 at 8:16 am


The "Chair Force" has been trying to sell the notion of victory from the air for ages. However, they have yet to figure out how to take and hold ground from the air – that still requires the tried and true boots on the ground.


Underpaid October 17, 2013 at 10:27 am

hibeam, think the answer is slightly less than 2. An armoured vehicle like this runs into about US 2 million, the ballpark figures for drones is something like 1.x million, so it's almost a 1:1 exchange. More like a 2:3 exchange.


blight_ October 12, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I'm still not sure if we'd be better served by delivering infantry to the shore on boats instead of a dual-purpose vehicle. The tradeoff is that you need space aboard ship to store boats /and/ whatever armored personnel carrier you wanted to carry your marines on the ground, and that personnel carrier would compete with the M1 and other trucks for limited LCAC space.

Hovertanks can't come soon enough.

It feels like the only reason we have amphib APCs is so that there is one less vehicle that needs to be carried by precious LCAC or other landing craft.


Dfens October 13, 2013 at 10:35 am

The Army seems to be trapped in its thinking that heavier and slower is better while the other services go off the scale on the other end opting for lightness and speed while all either seem to get is really high cost. To me these APC's seem like a good opportunity to apply wing in ground effect and cavitating hydrofoil technology. They could come in very fast (100 – 140 mph), hop obstacles or breaking waves, and revert to wheeled travel once past the beach if road travel is required. Historically that kind of innovative thinking is met with derision and firing as Jimmy Doolittle demonstrated.


tiger October 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I think you mean Billy Mitchell?


tiger October 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

In other words; we need less Armor & more carrier out of this thing. Walking is not a option. Waiting for a LCAC to bring trucks is not great either. Lets start with something light & simple like the DKUW & work up from there. It starts at 8 tons & carries 12. Now upgrade the motor, enclose it, add light armor protection & other do dads. To me that seems like a cheaper & more mobile APC.


blight_ October 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

Perhaps if the Marines are in a rush to save room, they can procure amphibious versions of every vehicle that currently sits aboard an LPD. Wonder how that would go.


mpower6428 October 12, 2013 at 7:12 pm

unless china blitzkriegs the pacific rim in the next 20 years…. I don't see a need for this.

In all honesty… when is the last time the US Marines pulled an amphibious BLT sized raid since Somalia. and was that one even necessary…?


red2429 October 13, 2013 at 12:50 am

On various websites it says that if you want a turret it will drop the troop capacity down to 8-9. Pictures without a turret makes it look unarmed. I could not find anything that wrote about how you might shoot from it without a turret. I do not know, may be shooting from it is not a requirement. Does anyone on here know more about it?


JCross October 13, 2013 at 2:18 am

There is a full IFV style autocannon turret available, which indeed takes up a good chunk of space. Without it though, you still have machine guns or a 40mm grenade launcher on a pintle or remote mount.


hibeam October 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

BAE’s ‘Supersized’ Personnel Carrier. Just what we need in the age of smart missiles and IEDs every five feet. Why not a Personnel Carrier Blimp to float our men ashore from the air at 5mph?


majr0d October 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Considering the AAVP7 is 40 years old it's pretty clear the Marines need a replacement. This specific vehicle might not be the answer. Wheels aren't as mobile as tracks and it doesn't carry the whole Marine squad.

Amphibious warfare isn't going away nor do smart missiles and IEDs make close combat obsolete unless you're in the white flag industry..


hibeam October 14, 2013 at 11:28 am

If Big Dog had a dolphin mode then marines could ride them ashore and up onto the beach. Mounted cavalry from the sea.


Globalstrat October 16, 2013 at 8:24 am

Oh dear. He really has no clue!

1) Buoyancy isn't mass dependant. It's density that matters.

2) Making heavier doesn't make it more survivable. That's down to the emergency systems, crew competence, the validity of the original design


Bill October 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Weight matters. That is why most humvees are upside down after receiving a roadside blast. I have read that vehicles need a V hull and 7+ tons to stay upright with a blast under unit.


Coffeejoejava October 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Let's see here…..carries only nine Marines…is larger than the current AAV….

Well decks for ships are only so big, planes can only carry so much weight….how in the hell are you going to get enough of these into the area of operations to make any kind of difference? What is the Marine leadership willing to leave behind so they can have these? Hopefully this thing dies a quick death.


sri lankan news October 18, 2013 at 1:16 am
bum291 October 18, 2013 at 4:29 am

It's not big enough th be called "supersize". When I saw "supersize" i thought of an armoured bus.


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