Marine Corps Scraps Tracks for Amphibious Combat Vehicle

050627-N-1397H-313The Marine Corps is walking away from the high-speed Amphibious Combat Vehicle it envisioned – at least for the time being – but Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos said a wheeled version will have to do in this budget environment.

“We elected to switch and go to a wheeled vehicle,” Amos said on April 1 during a House Appropriations Committee hearing. “These are commercial off-the-shelf … they’re already being made by several different manufacturers.”

Unlike the planned ACV, the vehicle the Corps now calls the ACV 1.1 will not be able to deploy quickly from ship to shore from up to 12 miles out and it will not move on treads once landed. But what makes it a sound alternative is that the Corps already has other means to deploy it over water rapidly, Amos said. And the fact it will move on wheels makes it more survivable in a combat theatre.

Following it’s now cancelled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Marine Corps seem to have abandoned efforts to quickly develop an amphibious vehicle that can both swim at what the Corps calls high water speeds of 13 to 15 knots and survive substantial land threats once ashore. Instead, the Corps plans to field a less-ambitious interim vehicle and simultaneously work on research and development aimed at reaching the desired combination of attributes for the future , senior leaders have said.

And then there’s the cost. Amos said the 300 ACV 1.1s he anticipates buying will cost about $3 million to $4.5 million each. The original ACV, the Corps had envisioned, would have cost between $12 million and $14 million each, he said.

“It’s the way to go, and they are highly mobile, and that’s the direction we’re going,” Amos said.

It does not appear that the Corps thinks it is technically feasible or cost-effective to attempt quick delivery of a vehicle that can both swim at faster speeds for ship to shore missions and also function as a sufficiently survivable land vehicle.

The ACV, as initially conceived, would be able to swim to shore from as far out as 12 miles. While the ACV 1.1 will not do that, Amos said the Corps’ fleet of connectors can. These include some 81Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, that are capable of transporting up to 150,000 pounds and as many as 180 Marines. Powered by four gas-turbine engines and two four-bladed propellers, the LCACs can travel over water, ice, snow, sand and tundra.

Additionally, Amos told lawmakers during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the Corps has two Joint High Speed Vehicles currently out at sea and another eight under contract.

“Those will go fast, they will haul a lot of Marines and vehicles,” he said. “That gives us the ability to maneuver from a sea base that could be pushed out as far as 100 miles because of an enemy threat.”

“So what we’ve done is we’ve changed the paradigm in the way we thought, in that we have to swim all that way in our amphibious combat vehicle,” he said. “Well, it’s impractical now. Can we get on a connector, and the connector take us in? And the answer is yes.”

Amos still plans for the Corps to get the ACV it originally wanted. That’s now called ACV 1.2.

Amos said he came to the tough decision a few months ago to scrap original plans for the ACV. What made it more difficult is that just two years earlier the Corps called it quits on the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle after spending about 15 years and more than $3 billion in research, development and testing.

Amos has not identified the companies who may compete for the ACV 1.1 contract, though in the past Lockheed, General Dynamics and BAE Systems have done so, according to Manny Pacheco, a spokesman for the Corps’s Program Executive Office Land Systems Equipment Modernization.

Pacheco said an RFI for the ACV 1.1 is still a few months off.

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is an associate editor and White House correspondent for Bryant covers all corners of the military arena, is an expert on "Don't Ask Don't Tell" issues, religious proselytizing and other ongoing military policy issues. He has covered Air Force support missions during the Kosovo War and in 2006 the aero-medical evacuation mission out of Balad Air Base, Iraq.A journalist since 1979, Jordan also covered stories in Lebanon, Gaza and Morocco. During the Vietnam War he was assigned to 15th Admin. Co., 1st Cavalry Division, Bien Hoa Army Base. Before joining Jordan was a staff writer and deputy news editor for Military Timesnewspapers in Springfield, Va.

39 Comments on "Marine Corps Scraps Tracks for Amphibious Combat Vehicle"

  1. So the new marine acv is the lav Lol

    Scrapping the acv was a good start now we just need to finish the job and get rid of thr rest of the clueless marine corp.

  2. clueless marine corp… wow.

  3. clueless? tell that to a combat Marine and you'll be eating your teeth.

  4. The Marines had the guts to admit that what they have developed to date is not good enough. Back to the drawing board. Bravo! That's how its supposed to work. Carry on.

  5. A smart decision. Money is the 1st reason. Mobility is another. 0.1% of the time tracks have a advantage over wheels. If we ever get into a big war, we'll want vehicles that can travel hundreds of miles on existing roads.

  6. Clueless Marine Corps? I would love to see you say that to me or any of my fellow Marines. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

  7. quit feeding the troll

  8. Just in case the 10% the defense contractor managed to skim off the top of the last $3 billion the Marines spent leaving the US taxpayer with nothing to show for it, don't worry, defense contractor, because there's more free "research" money where that came from.

  9. We need to look at the Russians for designs for this type of vehicle as they have several to choose from that are wheeled(6 or 8 wheels) and cost several million $$ less per unit. The Russians have engines that do not meet Californicate emission standards, manual transmissions, under water operation(snorkel's), NBC environment self contained, very good mileage per gallon, glazing that will deflect 7.62 rounds, move very fast, seat more troops and so on.

  10. Great idea. Just make sure they don't go anywhere it is sandy. Or muddy. Or anyplace that has trees or rocks or buildings that you would need tracks to get through or over. Ever seen a tire try and broach a steep riverbank when the vehicle is floating? Make sure there are ramps at every riverine landing site too. There a reason Marines say YATYAS-You Aint Tracks, You Aint S—l!

  11. Anyone have more information on this ACV 1.1 proposal?


    And for laughs, some DARPA stuff.

    And a PLA vehicle of interest:

    It doesn't transport a full squad of Marines, but it's worth thinking about.

  12. Wow, I see a lot of anti Marine comments all over the place. yes, there have been some bad decisions, but does it go deeper? Is it because it is one of the last places to find some integrity? No offense to other branches at all. I worked some Army Personnel that were outstanding, but it seems that the Corps is hated just for being the Corps.

  13. Hydrodynamicist | April 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Reply

    To understand the EFV folly, trace back to its predecessor, the AAAV. The Marines' concept, which they stubbornly held to for over 25 years of R&D, could be summarized thus: "Start with a Bradley A3, upgun it to a 35 mm main armament, stretch it accommodate 17 Marines, no propellers allowed, so find room for waterjets with exhaust ports as big a 55-gallon drums, and give it 2500 HP so it can plane in to the beach from over the horizon. Make sure it conforms to length, width, and height limitations so we can get enough of them aboard our new amphibious transport ships. BTW, keep the cost down."

  14. With this pacific pivot I would NOT want a wheeled vehicle for my assault force coral reefs will chew up and immobilize the wheeled AAV and so we have a Tarawa every time we land in the Pacific. Another Army plant into the Marines came up with this crap. face for most combat vehicles its preferred to use tracks.

  15. The Marines need an amphibious troop carrier. The EFV was a poorly managed program. The ACV was/is a good idea. It "might" be a good decision to back off from the ACV for now. It would have been nice if the article expounded on why the Marines insist on "high water speeds". That's going to make any solution technically challenging and expensive.

    Going with wheeled personnel carriers and LCAC's (hovercraft) must have implications on the Marines ability to conduct contested amphibious landings or forced entry.

    Finally, Amos is incorrect when he said, "the Corps has two Joint High Speed Vehicles currently out at sea and another eight under contract." The Army actually paid for the first one and transferred it to the Navy that now owns the two built. The others are under Navy contract and are for use by both the Army and Marines.

  16. The fact is that the marines don't have a mission – someone else does everything the marines do better. They are an anachronism like horse cavalry.

    The marines have adapted to this fact by investing heavily in PR and contractor relations. Every marine is told hes Cinderella just waiting to become a Princess if only the right war would arrive where he could throw himself onto a beach against dug in Japs.

    There is a good reason why the marines will loan hollywood anything they want to get on the screen because their survival doesn't depend on defeating the Taliban it depends on conning the American taxpayer.

    After 25 years and 3 billion dollars they are suggesting an amphibious assault force that can only swim lakes and needs a boat ramp to get out of the water ? – perfect fit for the marines – if they get bogged they can just stop the cameras and get a tow out.

  17. Wow, while you clowns argue about the merits of tracks to get you out of the water, you totally missed that this vehicle was never going to be in the water, and would instead be delivered by LCAC, over the coral, out of the water.

  18. I can't believe that the Chinese can make this:

    but we have completely thrown in the towel.

    Yes, I know it's smaller than what the USMC would want, but surely it could be scaled up. It just seems impossible to me that with all the technology available, we can't make what is basically a faster Amtrak/Duwk

  19. With all the talk of storming the beaches I feel like I'm in the 1940s again. What beach is going to be contested after a couple precision air strikes these days? "Oh noooo, a fortified bunker". Air strike… Walk around… Done. Of course I'm over simplifying to make a point but I just don't see the need to prepare for a fight that just isn't happening or going to happen anytime again.

  20. I can see both points. But, my view is that the marines need tracks, period. During a beach assault, (if they plan on doing them any more)there might not be enough lcacs to go around, and the marines would be forced to swim the vehicles to shore any way. And, besides…and wheeled vehicles are not the way to go anyway…they would get too bogged down anyway in sand, mud, coral. or un broken ice.

  21. "But what makes it a sound alternative is that the Corps already has other means to deploy it over water rapidly, Amos said. And the fact it will move on wheels makes it more survivable in a combat theater."

    Soooo, the EFV was redundant and dangerous to take into combat? When did you determine that?

  22. Lance has it right. The pivot to Asia requires tracked combat vehicles. Anyone tried to navigate a rice paddy in a wheeled vehicle? All those wheeled armored vehicles belong to forces dedicated to Europe, where they can run the roads and Afghanistan, where they have no reason not to.

    The USMC requirement is [a] armored to protect against an RPG, [b] carries a squad and its ammo, but [c] can swim in rough seas after being dropped off an LST. Such a vehicle contradicts the laws of physics.

  23. The need to land against a fortified beach died in WWII. I am a 23 year amtracker. Loved it lived it. As well as my son after me. The need is gone due to smart weapons. We just need to get to the land and use a vehicle that can protect us

  24. Can we just up turrent the aav7p with a more modern torrent with a larger weapon? Seems we can just buy the MPC for ashore and keep using the aav7p's for contested beaches. I do agree though that smart weapons and other weapons change the dynamic some.

    What I think the Marines really plain on doing is using there v-22's wisely to quickly take whatever beach they want and then quickly re-enforce the beachhead with lcacs. With heliborne assault you can pick the landing place of your choice and kick in the door that way.

  25. To everybody here who admires or defends the USMC:

    Their string of programs to develop huge lookalike amphibious tracked APC/IFV things actually goes back to 1973, the year after AAV-7 entered service.

    Here's a '78 document about LV/A:

    This racket is even worse than the MV-22 story. The USMC is terminally incompetent in big ticket development programs.

  26. I've never been in the military and know nothing. That said I know about developing things that didn't exist before. Take an engineering estimate of time and money on any new project. My rule of thumb is triple it. Boeing, the premier builder of passenger jets was how many years late? 4 or 5 years. You are trying to get a few years ahead of "current" because it takes 3-5 years to get to market. Then you're behind already and it has to last 25 years. So quit bad mouthing Marines. How much should "research" cost? Imagine trying to test an airplane without an engine? Test a car without wheels. Development is expensive because testing can't done until the components are assembled. The integration of electro-mechanical devices is challenging. Theory is great but not real world. You don't just flip a switch and turn on a brushless DC motor. You have to have motor controllers. Isn't it better we spend our taxpayer dollars on developing and maintaining our technological and manufacturing capabilities? Military programs fund PHds, engineers, material specialists, blue collar machinists, coders, mechanics, and thousands of other specialties. It funds colleges, through research, it employs our young and our old. Compare that to building a damn road where a few low skilled illegal immigrants push around millions of pounds of rocks, aggregates. I'll put my money in the Military Always!! Same with the space program. So stop being ignorant and read something. I recommend Milton Friedman as a good start to understanding economics moving on through to data posted on FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data.

  27. PFC Smuckatelli | April 5, 2014 at 11:07 pm | Reply

    Meanwhile at 2nd tracks were all living in the field.. Train train to be disband, yatyas

  28. before buying new equipments, especially for european forces, may be useful to understand in the long future what kind of WWIII will engage the players. who will fight who? and why? where? Once we know why, who, where, about the future war, it's possibile to suppose what kind of objectives aggressors will look for? what kind of equipments will they need to get the victory?. On comparing now and tomorrow, it's possibile to understand what kind of capabilities do they need in the future? How many time do they need to get them? When WWIII will explode?! So at the end of the long analisys, it could also appear a big surprise, for example it may happen no future amphibius operations will engage any forces in one kind of WWIII.

  29. Why not ask the guys who operate the pig, on a daily basis, what would you like?, what don’t you like?, what would you change? It just floors me that the guys at the top, know what are the best options for a vehicle that they have never had any experience with.

    That being said, I volunteer at least two weeks of my time to General Amos and the Marine Corps to come up with a revamped AAV for the next decade. I know that it has been 6 years since I have touched a gator, but I know everything about it, just like it was yesterday.

    The Mk-19 has got to go. The idea was novel, but not practical. The turret would be more useful as dual 50’s. We would be tickled if we could get some type of gatlin gun type of weapon and/or cannon.

    For water speed, double the impellers and make the engine stronger.

    Those are a few of many changes that we would want.

    Any tracker would agree that she is old. She has done more than she has been asked to do. We never asked for anything new, we just need upgrades to keep up with the times and technology. The platform itself is fine, there is no need to scrap it. It will be cheaper to build off of it.

    To the guy complaining about 3 billion dollars “wasted”, you are crying over 3 billion, not trillion. Government waste has been an issue since the beginning, so crying about it will get you nowhere. I look at it as a 3 billion dollar education, we learned just another way not to do something.

    Semper Fidelis from the Amtrack God

  30. Was hoping this was an indication that they would be moving back to riverines/shallow-draft fastboats… they have the advantage of being faster and having longer range, still being able to provide serious firepower to a beach landing, -and- best of all, they aren't limited to inserting along a shoreline, as they can penetrate into inland waterways to strike vital (and less protected) locations deep behind enemy lines. Yes, you do lose the benefit of APC's once they hit the ground, but I imagine if you build some slightly larger boats you could just as easily strap a Stryker, LAV, or what-have-you to it and then disembark it close to shore.

    And then there are LCAC's…

  31. Joint High Speed Vehicles (JHSV), aren't to my recollection built to military standards.

    From what I recall, they are basically civilian designs that were beefed up some, and are intended for inter-theater transport.

    Not exactly what I'd be thinking of using for a contested landing…

  32. It is disappointing that in 2014, the USMC is still considering some outdated designs. These designs are overqualified for a low threat environment where LCACs carrying conventional MBTs and APCs would do the work much better. On the other hand there is no way these vehicles would survive in a real high threat environment. So what is the point of spending money on them?

  33. To PFC Smuckatelli, keep your head up. When I was in Amtrack school out at Del Mar, the AAAV program was in the works. They had working prototypes that they tested in the jetty there. They were no doubt fast and cool. Two main problems with them off of the bat was they relied on computers too much and had too much hydraulics. The hydraulics was being ran at dangerously high levels and always broke down. I thought that the AAV was going to go away as well, but it didn’t. So get to know your war hog and know it well. It will give you as much as you put into it.

    The Corps is slow to change. 2nd Tracks, tip of the spear. Remember that it can always get worse, time is relative, and live by the 14 leadership traits (JJDIDTIEBUCKLE).

  34. Tracked vehicles have their place, but ever since the second world war it was clear, tracks do not work for everything.
    Speed is more important now than ever.
    Vietnam was a classic example, the Tet offensive overtaxed the US logistics ability, leaving a gap in supplies.
    Once they were able to capture the rear, they simply took what they wanted, mostly US field radios, and took over.
    The Marines did an outstanding job as did everyone else, but this was the beginning of the end.
    Speed in battle can make or break.

  35. Only if there are better plans in place so Marines have the tool to get the job done. What are the cost of life insurance of marines I had 2million at E-4 1993.

  36. It's time to get rid of Amos and put someone else in the drivers seat.


  38. You really make it appear so easy together with your presentation however I
    find this topic to be really one thing that I feel I would never understand.
    It sort of feels too complex and very extensive for me.
    I’m having a look forward for your subsequent submit, I will attempt
    to get the grasp of it!

  39. Thanks for finally talking about >Marine Corps Scraps Tracks for Amphibious Combat Vehicle | Defense Tech <Liked it!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.