MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Science Applications International Corp. [SAIC] in October will begin integrating subsystems onto the hull of the first amphibious combat vehicle it will build for the Marine Corps under a $100-million-plus contract.

The company is confident its 16 vehicles will be ready for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) testing on time, based partly on the fact that it is integrating non-developmental technologies onto a base platform that is already in operation with Singapore’s marines.

The vehicle SAIC displayed at Modern Day Marine is a pre-production example of the 16 EMD vehicles it will begin building next month for delivery between February and June, according to Thomas Watson, vice president for Navy and Marine Corps programs. The first hull build-out will begin next month in SAIC’s Charleston, S.C., production facility.

SAIC amphibious combat vehicle offering at Modern Day Marine Military Expo in Quantico, Va. (Photo by Dan Parsons)
SAIC amphibious combat vehicle offering at Modern Day Marine Military Expo in Quantico, Va. (Photo by Dan Parsons)

SAIC is the technology and subsystem integrator partnered with Singapore Technology Kinetics (STK), which builds the Terrex family of amphibious vehicles on which the ACV is based. The Singapore marine corps has about 400 of the Terex vehicles in service.

“We are working on the integration for our vehicles right now,” Watson said. “When I say start our integration process, that means actually integrating the components onto the hulls. We for months now have been building the sub-assemblies, so everything is being done in parallel.”

SAIC takes the basic vehicle design and upgrades it to meet requirements specific to the Marine Corps. The hulls are built by Demmer Corp. in Lansing, Mich., and then shipped to Charleston where SAIC installs suspension, transmissions and all combat and electronic subsystems.

Like competitor BAE Systems, SAIC plans to build and deliver four vehicles at a time and deliver them in groups of four over the span of four months, Watson said.  

BAE’s contract is for $103.8 million, while SAIC’s is for $121.5 million. Both were awarded in November when the Marine Corps passed on vehicles offered by Lockheed Martin [LMT], General Dynamics [GD] and Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS).  

Both manufacturers were expected to start delivering their prototypes this fall. BAE displayed its first EMD vehicle at Modern Day Marine. The Marine Corps will move into the production phase in 2018 with a single vendor. Initial operational capability (IOC) is expected by the end of 2020 with all 204 ACV 1.1 vehicles fielded by the summer of 2023.

SAIC calls its proposal a “service model” approach to building vehicles where it conducts broad industry market assessments of systems and components and then chooses the most-capable/best value equipment and subsystems to integrate onto the vehicle it deems most closely matches the Marine Corps’ requirements, said SAIC Chief Executive Anthony Moraco.

“We do a very broad market assessment and ST Kinetics is a very good example of an existing platform with mature capabilities where we can deliver an integration model, take advantage of our program management and system engineering expertise, broad analysis of alternative and bring together a capability set that matches the mission requirements,” Moraco said.

“This business model and this approach of using non-developmental items, taking best-of-breed across the landscape of the private sector partnered with public sector, we can deliver mission capability sooner at a much more cost effective cost proposition for the customers.”

SAIC’s vehicle was designed to swim 12 nautical miles to shore, drive 50 miles inland to mission objective and then swim back to a ship, according to Tom Herlihy, vice president of Marine Corps business development.

SAIC and STK design their offering with potential to grow into the requirements for follow-on programs ACV 1.2 and 2.0, which will progressively add capability like high water speed, various weapons and tracks instead of wheels.

“As we looked at the requirements for the Marine Corps, the engineers designed this hull so that it can support lethality upgrades to include up to a 30 mm cannon,” Herlihy said. “The hull would not need any engineering changes to strengthen or provide more rigidity. It is already designed in. … What we wanted to do was have a base platform that had growth potentials in all different directions and provide as much flexibility to the Marine Corps as they move forward.”

It is powered by a 600-horsepower Caterpillar engine that can propel it at 6 knots through the water, 55 miles per hour on land and will allow for weight growth and speed upgrades. The vehicle also has power steering and is designed to be operated by camera while all hatches are battened. A distributed aperture camera system provides a 360-degree view of the exterior of the vehicle that is viewed and can be manipulated on multiple touch-screen monitors inside the vehicle.

“This is a fielded system,” Herlihy said. “There are over 400 in service and there is a tremendous amount of information, practical operational experience that’s baked into the base model – Terrex 1 – that directly moved into the Terrex 2 and then to the ACV design.”