US Marines’ ACV Achieves Major Milestones

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A number of performance milestones recently demonstrated by the US Marines’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) have highlighted the new operational capabilities that the system is providing to the Corps. These key events are the first deployment of the ACV with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on-board ships of an Amphibious Ready Group and the delivery and field testing of the ACV with a 30mm automatic cannon (ACV-30). 

Of particular notice was the 15th MEU ‘s ACV conduct of an amphibious assault launched from the Landing Ship Dock (LSD) USS Harpers Ferry against Palawan Island beaches in the Philippines in April. This was followed by a live-fire exercise at Oyster Bay in which the platoon successfully demonstrated their ability to successfully engage and neutralize targets while in the assault.

Selected in 2018 following a competitive run-off, the ACV is replacing the AAV7 Assault Amphibious Vehicle first fielded in 1971. Manufactured by BAE Systems, the design is drawn from the Iveco Defence SuperAV. Utilizing a proprietary 8 X 8 wheeled H-drive and shrouded propellor water propulsion, the vehicle is capable of road speeds in excess of 105 kmph (65 mph) and six plus knots in the water. The ACV-P (Personnel) is equipped with the Kongsberg Protector remote weapon station with either the .50 heavy machine gun or Mk19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. The Initial Operational Capability for the ACV was given on November 13, 2020, shortly before BAE Systems received the $184 million full-rate production contract for the Personnel Carrier variant.

Embark of an ACV platoon with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the three ships in the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which is operating in the Pacific, marks their first overseas deployment. Here they will be able to demonstrate their unique ability to facilitate not only the ship-to-shore projection of Marine combat power but also its rapid exploitation of subsequent operations ashore. The ACV has already shown its mobility, adaptability, and reliability in numerous stateside exercises. This deployment will offer practical, hands-on validation of its ability to perform in its primary mission in support of Marine amphibious forces.

The initiation of the process for introducing the ACV-30 is significant as it is the first ACV variant that provides a protected, direct fire combat capability to the Corps’ ground manoeuvre force. Integrating the Kongsberg stabilised, M44 medium-calibre gun, remotely operated turret enhances the lethality of ACV. The weapon system offers precision, day-night engagement of a range of targets with both kinetic anti-armour and programable high explosive ammunition. The latter 30 X 173mm ammunition allows for optimum engagement with either point, delay, or air-burst effect. In addition, use of a remote station eliminates the spatial constraints of turreted cannon systems, providing more room for troops or mission-critical equipment.

The delivery of the ACV-30 follows BAE development of the ACV-C Command and Control (C2) variant with the first production vehicle provided in January 2024. It integrates seven additional radios, antennas, and a larger battery pack to support silent watch operations allowing secure voice and data communications. The ACV-C is to provide C2 capabilities to battalion and regiment headquarters. Development of a recovery variant, ACV-R, is currently underway with production test vehicles scheduled to be provided by BAE to the Marines in 2025.

by Stephen W. Miller