Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Amphibious Combat Vehicle a model of procurement efficiency?

via National Interest.
The U.S. Marine Corps’ plan to replace its aging fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV7) is about to take a major step forward.  By the end of June, the two teams vying for the contract to build the first of a series of increasingly sophisticated Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACV) will each provide the Marine Corps with 16 prototypes of their proposed solution for testing. The current plan is to release a final request for proposal by the end of the year and award a contract for the first tranche of some 200 ACVs by June 2018.  Delivery of these vehicles is to be completed by 2025.

The ACV program is a model for how a military service with an urgent need to enhance its warfighting capabilities, but constrained by a lack of time and a scarcity of funds, can pursue near-term modernization. The Marine Corps’ initial effort to replace the AAV7 with a new platform, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), an altogether remarkable armored platform capable of high speed movement from landing ships to shore, fell afoul of a combination of changing requirements and declining procurement budgets. In response, the Marine Corps came up with a clever solution: a phased modernization program for the ACV that would produce sets of increasingly capable platforms as technology and resources become available. In addition, to meet the Marine Corps’ near-term needs, some 400 AAV7s will be upgraded.
A model for others?  Really?  Fucking seriously Dan?

That might fly on other defense blogs but not this one.  Let's do the tick tock (and this is just from memory...if I pulled out my library it would be much worse) on this ongoing travesty.

1.  The USMC embarks on the EFV program.

2.  Changing dynamics require the EFV to become blast resistant.  The design is changed again after finally hitting it's stride.  Costs rise.

3.  In a move to mitigate the cost increase of the EFV, the Marine Corps launches the Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) so that the goal of providing armored protection for two Marine Expeditionary Brigades can be met.

4.  The CMC (Amos at the time) starts trotting out the theory of extremely long distance ship-to-shore movements.  As far as 200 miles out is actively talked about.  Many suspect this is a move by the Aviation Mafia inside the Corps to gobble up more funds and to justify the MV-22.  They're right.

5.  The MPC program is cancelled.  In light of changing requirements, the Marine Corps will now lift 2/3rds of its combat power ashore by air instead of the previous 1/3rd.  The Ground Combat Element is turned on its head, trying to figure out ways to get armor ashore by helo instead of landing craft.

6.  The outcry from the tribe is intense.  More money for aviation but nothing for the ground?  Amos puts the MPC program back on track.

7.  In another last minute move Amos reclassifies the MPC program and abandons any attempt at this time to get a high water speed armored transport.  Instead he rebrands the program as being the Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1, 1.2, 2.0 and 3.0.  That's the part that everyone misses.  ACV 1.1 was only suppose to swim inland waterways.  Manufacturers stepped up and are now providing vehicles that can match the AAV in swimming from ship-to-shore.  2.0 is suppose to be a tracked vehicle and if I got it right 3.0 was suppose to be the uber high speed tracked vehicle.  In short the ACV is suppose to be our interim vehicle...the Marine Corps "Stryker".

You would think that's where the story ends right?  Wrong!

8.  Even after deciding to buy an off the shelf vehicle, the Marine Corps continued to slow walk the project.  In the time it's taken Brazil to field a new 6x6, upgrade their M-113s and begin working on an 8x8 based on the 6x6 the USMC is just NOW approaching the time to take delivery of 16 vehicles for a year long test.

This program is many things but a model for others?  I think not.  Our only hope is that our Marines finally get a vehicle that matches others on the modern battlefield.  That AAV upgrade and ACV?  They're the only game in town that the Corps has for high intensity combat. 

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