BAE Systems Presents US Marines ACV to Replace Earlier ‘Deathtrap’ Model

© AP Photo / Bullit MarquezPhilippine Marines cheer as a U.S. Navy AAV (Amphibious Assault Vehicle) storms the beach during a combined assault exercise near the contested reef in the South China Sea.
Philippine Marines cheer as a U.S. Navy AAV (Amphibious Assault Vehicle) storms the beach during a combined assault exercise near the contested reef in the South China Sea. - Sputnik International
Defense manufacturer BAE Systems has presented its first Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), an armored troop transport intended to replace obsolete and dangerous AAVs, in service since the Vietnam War.

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AAVs, for Amphibious Assault Vehicle, are large tracked machines made for sea-to-ground assault. They are designed to disembark from a ship, traverse littoral waters, and provide support to a ground assault. AAVs are good at this task, but have proved to be deathtraps when facing road mines in the Middle East, forcing the Marine Corps to seek a replacement, resulting in years of prototype testing, canceled programs, and confusion.

Five competitors participated in the final program and three, including Lockheed Martin, have been dropped, with two companies — BAE Systems and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) — remaining.

At the annual Modern Day Marine show this year, BAE presented their new vehicle in its final form. The combat transport will undergo extensive testing, along with its SAIC competitor. Currently, both contractors must produce 16 vehicles apiece, before the Marine Corps makes a final choice.

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The armored Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) transport, is a mine-protected 8x8 wheel-propelled vehicle, almost twice the height of the average soldier. According to the manufacturer, its current (1.1) version provides limited amphibious capabilities, compared with AAVs, but future versions will compensate this setback. The reason for the amphibious limitation lies in a confusion of requirements. Initially, the naval capabilities were less prioritized. Later, however, the Marine Corps required that the new vehicles be able to swim as well as the current AAVs.

​The vehicle can carry 13 Marines, along with 3 additional personnel, and is able to propel itself even if some its wheels are destroyed.

The machine is an upgraded version of SuperAV, an amphibious vehicle produced by Italian manufacturer IVECO, which is, in turn, an upgraded version of several earlier designs. According to USNI News, the only actual change in the Italian design is the engine, boosted from 500 to 700 horsepower, so that in the future, heavier armor and weapons can be installed on the machine. Despite being licensed from IVECO, BAE's ACVs will be produced in York, Pennsylvania.

"The vehicle we have here today is our first production vehicle," which came off the production line "a couple of weeks ago," BAE program manager John Swift told reporters.

"It'll begin BAE's own internal testing in two weeks and we will present it to the government in December, along with the test results," he stated.

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