WASHINGTON — The U.S. Marine Corps is spending $225 million as it takes another stab at replacing its aging fleet of amphibious assault vehicles.
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The Marine Corps on Tuesday awarded two contractors — BAE Systems and SAIC — contracts to develop 13 prototypes of the new vehicle.
The Marines announced that they hope to have infantry paired up with the new amphibious combat vehicles (or ACVs) by 2020.
“ACV 1.1 is the first phase of eventually replacing the (assault amphibious vehicle) with a truly amphibious, armor-protected personnel carrier to support the infantry ashore,” Col. John B. Atkinson, director of the Marines’ Fires and Maneuver Integration Division, said in a statement.
The amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) in use now have become too costly to repair and upgrade, in part because many of their components are no longer manufactured, according to the announcement. The replacement will be an eight-wheeled vehicle similar to mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles used on land.
Whichever prototype is selected will include an onboard weapons systems. But the corps is also looking at a larger update of the program with options for variations on the new ACV vehicle.
The movement on a new amphibious vehicle program comes after the Marines spent $3 billion on a previous failed project to replace the vehicles. A Congressional Research Service report earlier this year found that the planned amphibious expeditionary fighting vehicle (EFV) program was canceled “due to poor reliability demonstrated during operational testing and excessive cost growth.”
While the new ACV is being tested, the Marines will update their existing 392 amphibious vehicles to better protect against mine blasts, upgrade their engines and improve land and water mobility, according to the announcement.
A call and email to the Marines communications department were not immediately returned Wednesday.