The US Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) program has successfully passed the next stage and entered a new stage. The other day, the first ceremony of transferring combat unit equipment took place. In the near future, new similar events will take place, and the fleet of new wheeled amphibious armored vehicles will increase. Then they will launch a full-scale series, and in a few years the ILC will significantly update the fleet of amphibious assault and landing vehicles.
The ACV project was launched in 2011 as a replacement for the closed EFV. The winner of the program was chosen only in 2018 – it was an armored vehicle developed jointly by BAE Systems and Iveco Defense Vehicles. At the same time, the first order for 30 pre-production cars with a total cost of approx. $ 200 million.They were to be built by the end of September 2019, and delivery to the customer was expected in 2020. In February of this year, we signed another contract for 26 pre-production armored vehicles worth $ 113.5 million.
Various tests of the first ACV machines and other preparatory activities continued until the beginning of this fall. At the end of September, the Pentagon announced the imminent transfer of equipment to the units of the ILC. This event was expected over the next several weeks. On October 15, the project developers announced the transfer of the first 18 pre-production ACVs to the customer.
On November 4, a solemn ceremony of transferring equipment to the first operating unit took place at the ILC Air Ground Combat Center. 18 units equipment in the configuration of a floating armored personnel carrier will serve as part of the 3rd separate amphibious assault battalion of the 1st Marine Division. Receiving new ACV vehicles will allow the battalion to abandon the old AAV7A1 amphibians.
In several stages
The purchase of serial armored vehicles is planned to be carried out within the framework of two so-called. phases, while the first is divided into two main stages. Currently, the ACV 1.1 phase is underway, and after its completion, ACV 1.2 will be launched. In the distant future, the start of the ACV 2 phase will take place. All these phases and stages provide for the fulfillment of different requirements and the supply of equipment in a different configuration.
The current stage of ACV 1.1 provides for the purchase of 204 ACV vehicles in the configuration of the ACV-P armored personnel carrier. It is planned to spend approx. $ 1.2 billion and several years. To date, there are contracts for a total of 56 pre-production vehicles and are being fulfilled. The remaining 148 units. will be ordered a little later and will be received by 2023.
Right now, BAE Systems and Iveco are developing several specialized prototypes based on a common platform. They must create command-staff and repair and evacuation modifications, as well as complete an infantry fighting vehicle with a combat module for a 30-mm automatic cannon. The modernization of the existing armored personnel carrier is also planned. All new modifications are being developed as part of the ACV 1.2 phase.
During ACV 1.2, at least 650 armored vehicles will be built in four main configurations. The armored personnel carrier will remain the most massive model. Cannon BMP ACV-30 will be released in the amount of 150 units. Dozens of command and staff and repair vehicles will also be built.
The production of armored vehicles of the ACV 1.1 series has already started and will last approximately until 2023. Then, the ACV 1.2 vehicles will go into series. According to the current plans of the Pentagon, the release of new amphibians will continue until the end of this decade. Over time, the equipment of the first series will be modernized using some solutions and components of stage “1.2”, which will increase its characteristics and increase the degree of unification.
Technique in parts
Current plans include the construction of more than 850 promising ACV armored vehicles in four modifications. So far, only 56 pre-production samples have been contracted, and only 18 units managed to get to the combat unit. However, in the near future, the numerical indicators of the program will improve.
Due to the production of new ACVs, it is planned to re-equip six amphibious landing battalions of the ILC. One of them has already received the first part of modern technology, and in the foreseeable future will bring its number to the regular number. Together with armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, the staff vehicles will be transferred to the 3rd separate battalion of the 1st division.
With the help of promising ACVs, the obsolete AAV7A1 transporters will be replaced. Now in the combat units of the ILC there is approx. 1200 of these machines, and most of them will be reduced due to moral and physical obsolescence. After the construction of all the planned ACVs, the number of AAV7A1s will be reduced to 400 units. – four battalion kits.
The future prospects for the AAV7A1 and ACV are not entirely clear. After 2030, a complete replacement of obsolete amphibians is expected, but the Pentagon has not yet decided how it will be carried out. Perhaps they will be replaced by new modifications of the ACV, but so far the possibility of creating a completely new armored vehicle is not ruled out.
Requirements for future ACV armored vehicles were developed at the beginning of the tenth years, but then they were revised and partially changed. The KMP wanted to get an amphibious armored combat vehicle on a wheeled chassis, capable of fully replacing the existing tracked AAV7A1. Increased requirements were imposed on the level of protection, weapons and operational capabilities, driving performance, etc. Their implementation allowed the Corps to obtain a modern design with high performance.
The ACV of all modifications receives a four-axle undercarriage and a pair of water-jet propellers. The body is sealed and allows you to swim. During an amphibious operation, the vehicle can move by boat or independently, developing a speed of up to 6-8 knots on the water. Initially, it was required to provide a landing from a distance of at least 10-12 miles from the coast.
The armored personnel carrier is operated by a crew of three and transports 17 paratroopers who disembark through the aft ramp. The 32-ton vehicle provides protection against small arms and small-caliber artillery. Developed mine protection is provided. To support the landing, there is a remotely controlled weapon station with an Mk 19 grenade launcher or an M2HB machine gun. After 2023, deliveries of the new ACV-30 BMP with a small-caliber cannon will begin.
In accordance with customer requirements, the ACV armored vehicles are comparable in mobility and maneuverability to the M1 Abrams main tank, which should improve the operational capabilities of the Marine Corps. Recently, the ILC began to abandon tanks, but the high speed and maneuverability of the ACV will be useful in this case too.
The need to replace the outdated AAV7A1 amphibians became apparent a long time ago, but it took a long time to take such measures. The EFV project failed due to its high complexity and cost, which necessitated the launch of the ACV program in 2011. He, too, faced noticeable difficulties, and the first armored vehicles reached the combat units only now.
Serial production of several ACV versions will continue until the end of the decade, but this will only replace two-thirds of the existing AAV7A1. Further rearmament will be a matter of the distant future. Nevertheless, the existing plans will make it possible to carry out a serious re-equipment of the main parts of the ILC and give the Marines modern combat vehicles with better protection and increased characteristics.