When the Marine Corps put a call for an off-the-shelf wheeled Marine personnel carrier (MPC), industry hopefuls began looking within their own portfolios and to other manufacturers to find a suitable platform.
Science Applications International Corp. [SAIC] settled 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 MPC trials and has since made significant improvements to the base vehicle, resulting in the Terrex 2 that it offered for ACV, said Thomas Watson, SAIC vice president for Navy and Marine Corps programs.
“The Terrex 2 is a generational upgrade to the vehicle that we engineered with our partner for ACV requirements 1.1 and 1.2,” Watson said. It has “significant technological upgrades…in all aspects of the vehicle…The Marine Corps basically gets their 1.2 solution in this.”
The ACV version is slightly larger, has a V-shaped hull for blast deflection and improved mobility on land and afloat. The Marine Corps has not published requirements for the second iteration of the ACV, which should introduce variants with a gun turret and a command-and-control vehicle. SAIC’s Terrex already can mount a 30mm gun on a remote turret, Watsons said.
A feature that differentiates the SAIC vehicle from its main competitors is its sophisticated command-and-control suite. The vehicle bristles with cameras that form a distributed aperture system piping in real-time, full-color, full-motion video to the crew, vehicle commander, gunner and troops in the aft compartment. The driver has multiple screens that provide a 360-degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings. Display panels at the commander, gunner and troop commander stations also show the camera’s view so “before the ramp goes down,” Marines are aware of what awaits them outside the vehicle, said Anthony Herlihy, SAIC’s director of business development for Marine Corps Operations.
“This Terrex family of vehicles was always designed to be driven, operated, commanded and controlled from a buttoned-up position,” Herlihy said. “That’s why you have the very robust camera system…The whole purpose of the vehicle is to get the infantry squad where they need to be and for them to be effective, you really need to build their situational awareness.”
Hundreds of Terrex vehicles have been fielded by the Singaporean armed forces since it was introduced in 2009, though not in the Terrex 2 configuration. The technologies that distinguish the Terrex 2 are new to the Marine Corps as well. The service already has tested the base vehicle alongside offerings from General Dynamics [GD], Lockheed Martin [LMT] and BAE Systems during the MPC trials.
In MPC, the Marine Corps “wanted a non-developmental, mature, fielded system,” Herlihy said. “STK was the perfect candidate because they had a modern, fielded 8X8 that was already designed to be an amphibian, more for their local operational environment–basically a low sea state or rivers. When we did the MPC program, we did very minor modifications to the vehicle.”
Modern Day Marine is the first time Marines will have a chance to inspect the Terrex configuration that could replace their decades-old amphibious assault vehicles. The version on display is configured for Singaporean marines and lacks a third command station for the gunner, a dedicated hatch for the personnel chief and other tweaks that will be made to bring it in line with U.S. Marine Corps requirements, Herlihy said. It has been redesigned from the original Terrex to provide a smoother ride through outboard buoyancy that decreases roll and pitch through rough seas, more comfortable seats and a powerful air conditioning system.
Terrex 2 was officially unveiled last week at the Defense and Security Exhibition International in London. SAIC is taking the reins on the Marine Corps program, because one of the requirements is that the eventual ACV be manufactured in the United States. ST Kinetics holds the intellectual property rights to the vehicle. SAIC has a licensing agreement to build the vehicle and perform final integration and delivery at the same Charleston, S.C., facility where the company is performing the AAV survivability upgrade program and where it built its share of mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles (MRAP), Watson said.