Upgraded versions of the Marine Corps’ legacy amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) were cleared for production this week under a milestone C decision that also resulted in an $11 million contract for Science Applications International Corp. [SAIC] to begin the work.
The AAV survivability upgrade program entered low-rate initial production (LRIP) on Aug. 17, according to the Marine Corps. On Aug. 22, the service handed SAIC a contract to overhaul three legacy command-and-control AAVs with the SU design.
AAV SU upgrades the existing vehicle’s hull with buoyant armor, blast-mitigating seats and spall liners and improved fuel tank protection. To compensate for the added weight, the vehicle receives an upgraded engine with increased horsepower and torque, a new electronically-controlled transmission, new axial-flow water jets and external fuel tanks. The package also includes upgraded vehicle controls and driver interface.
After building 52 LRIP vehicles, SAIC is expected perform the same upgrades to 344 additional AAVs, which will provide a full complement for three Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) to maintain a steady-state presence around the globe as well as two-Marine Expeditionary Brigades (MEB) as necessary, according to the Marine Corps.
“As part of SAIC’s survivability upgrade solution, our team has completely disassembled an initial 10 legacy AAVs down to the hull and manufactured, procured and integrated upgrades that protect Marines from underbody explosions, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and direct fire,” according to company information.
SAIC is one of two teams vying to build the Marine Corps new amphibious combat vehicle (ACV) 1.1. The opposing team, ironically, is BAE Systems, the company that manufactured the legacy 1970s-era AAV. In 2015, both companies were awarded $100 million-plus contracts to build 13 ACV prototypes each.
Both teams have delivered vehicles to the Marine Corps, which is putting them through their paces on land and at sea in preparation for a downselect later this year.
SAIC’s ACV is based on the Terrex vehicle developed by Singaporean company ST Kinetics, which was designed from scratch to perform as an armored personnel carrier capable of fording rivers and operating in shallow littorals.
The team offered the original version of Terrex during the previous Marine Personnel Carrier trials and has since made significant improvements to the vase vehicle, resulting in the Terrex 2 that it offered for ACV. The ACV version is slightly larger, has a V-shaped hull for blast deflection and improved mobility on land and afloat.