U.S. Marine Corps Testing Capabilities of New Amphibious Combat Vehicle

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) tested the maneuverability and performance of the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) during low-light and night operations on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s beaches, Dec. 16-18.

The vehicle was tested by the Marines with the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch (AVTB) of Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MCTSSA), based at Camp Pendleton.

During the testing, the Marines spent hours driving ACVs in the Southern California surf and in the open ocean to assess how well they could interface with the vehicle and conduct operations in low light.

“AVTB has been on Camp Pendleton since 1943,” said David Sandvold, the director of operations for AVTB. “We are the only branch in the military who uses our warfighters to test equipment that is in development.”

The Marine Corps selected BAE Systems along with teammate Iveco Defence Vehicles for the ACV program in 2018 to replace its legacy Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) fleet, which has been in service since 1972 and was also built by BAE Systems.

The AAV has been the go-to vehicle to carry Marines and gear from ship to shore, but with adversaries around the world growing more powerful, the ACV was created to enhance the capabilities of ship to shore missions and amphibious assaults. The main difference between the vehicles is the fact that ACV is an 8×8 wheeled vehicle while AAV is a tracked vehicle.

Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs)
File photo of two U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Vehicles emerging from the surf onto the sand of Freshwater Beach, Australia. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel E. Smith, U.S. Navy. (Released)

“It’s a huge difference on how the ACV and the AAV drive and handle,” said Marine Sgt. Fernando Alvarez, an AAV operator with AVTB. “The main difference (with wheels) is that it’s a lot faster on land. But instead of pivoting like the AAV, we have to make three-point turns now, which is not a problem.”

The ACV will come in four different variants derived from the Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) base. In addition to the APC variant (ACV-P), there is a recovery variant (ACV-R), a command and control (C2) variant (ACV-C), and an up-armed variant with 30mm medium caliber cannon (ACV-30) to engage enemy armored vehicles.

The vehicles are equipped with a new 6-cylinder, 700HP engine, which provides a significant power increase over the AAVs. Each vehicle embarks 13 Marines in addition to a crew of three.

The ACV possesses ground mobility and speed similar to the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank during sustained operations ashore and has the capability to provide organic, direct fire support to dismounted infantry in the attack. The vehicle will support expeditionary mobility capability and capacity with balanced levels of performance, protection, and payload.

The ACV’s significant protective assets make it resilient to direct attacks and allow it to operate with degraded mobility in an ever-changing battle environment. The vehicle possesses sufficient lethality to deliver accurate fire support to infantry, whether stationary or on the move.

The vehicle also has a unique V-shape underbelly to deflect the blast of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Since IEDs were the most lethal weapons used against AAVs, the new ACV was designed to take a blast from an IED, continue the mission and bring Marines home safely.

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