The Marine Corps will spend $3 million-$4.5 million per vehicle for its Increment 1 Amphibious Combat Vehicle, which will have low water speed but will be very maneuverable on land, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee Tuesday.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) asked about the program, which the Marine Corps decided earlier this year to restructure.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos, right, told the House Armed Services Committee in a March 12 hearing that the Marines would love a 12th LPD, and would want to use the LPD design as its upcoming LX(R) replacement amphib class, but that fiscal constraints may prevent them from doing so. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, left, said if Congress provided seed money for studies, the Navy may be able to find a cheaper way of transitioning from LPD construction into the LX(R) program. Photo: Dana Rene/Defense Daily
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos, right, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee in a March 12 hearing. Photo: Dana Rene/Defense Daily

“We provided $123 million last year–I’m not sure whether that’s being used for your Amphibious Combat Vehicle,” he said, asking about the status of the program.

Amos walked through the decision points over the past two years and all the efforts to avoid going the way of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: a program with too many requirements that the service could not afford.

“We can build a high-waterspeed vehicle, and we know now that we can do it,” Amos said, with the high water speed being the operationally smarter option. “The cost of that vehicle is going to be somewhere along the lines of the vehicle that we canceled, so that’s not good. And second of all, the compromise on what that vehicle will be able to do ashore…was too great a compromise. The shore, where the vehicle was going to live 99 percent of the time, was too great.

“So we elected to switch and go to a wheeled vehicle, and these are commercial off-the-shelf, Congressman,” Amos said of the Increment 1 low-waterspeed ACVs. “They’re already being made by several manufacturers, so we can put a program in place for what we call Increment 1, which will be somewhere probably around 300 vehicles. We’re in the process of doing acquisition work on that right now. These vehicles will be somewhere between $3 million and $4.5 million apiece, vice $12 million-14 [million each for EFV]. It’s the way to go, and they are highly mobile, and that’s the direction we’re going.”

Moran noted that the Marine Corps had originally asked for 573 vehicles, though Amos did not address whether that goal has changed. Amos did say, though, that the money in the fiscal year 2015 budget request–which was compiled before he reached his decision about breaking ACV into a low-waterspeed first increment to allow time for research and development on high-waterspeed technologies–was sufficient, just in the wrong accounts. He said his office would work with Congress to move the same dollar amount around between research and development and procurement accounts to get the money where it’s needed without asking for anything additional.