Marine Corps Insists on High Speed ACV

Congress questions how the Marine Corps will be able to deliver high speed ship-to-shore vessel on budget and on time.

U.S. Marine Corps officials told lawmakers that speed is a top requirement for its new Amphibious Combat Vehicle even if it means trading troop capacity to get it.

The Marine ACV program is designed to produce a modern ship-to-shore vehicle that’s twice as fast as the current Amphibious Assault Vehicle.

Corps officials maintain that the ACV is one it the services top modernization priorities, but lawmakers at a May 14 Senate Armed Services hearing seemed skeptical since the Marines last attempt at such an endeavor – the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – ended in a $3 billion failure.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wanted to know “What are we doing differently this time? … When you look at the cost of the high speed in the water issue; when you look back on it in retrospect, it is just nonsense,” McCain said.

Marine officials explained that the Corps using all the lessons learned from the EFV program – which focused on achieving increased high-water speed – to ensure the same mistakes don’t occur again.

“Capabilities such as high-water speed will be weighed carefully for affordability and for trade space so we understand what we are giving up if in fact we want to achieve the high-water speed,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Mills deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, wanted to know how many Marines the new ACV will carry.

“The present AAV is designed to carry at least a squad of Marines,” Reed said. “When you look forward to the new ACV, is that going to maintain that same unit integrity?”

Marine officials said they would know more in October when the Corps is scheduled to receive a report from industry that will look trade space areas that will help program officials set requirement priorities.

“The number of Marines inside it would be one of those areas where we would look at possible trade space,” Mills said.

The ACV is capable of traveling at more than 15 knots in high water, compared to the current AAV which has a top speed of seven knots, Mills said.