The AAV (Amphibious Assault Vehicle) amphibious assault vehicle is currently in service with the US Marine Corps.
The US Marine Corps is moving forward cautiously to modernize and reorganize its amphibious units. The corps commanders are working on their priority project - a new floating machine. At the same time, the MPC (Marine Personnel Carrier) marine armored personnel carrier program is in full swing.
The latest high-level 2012 Defense Strategic Management document, issued by the Department of Defense, repeatedly stressed the need for “access” and emphasizes military force, capable of projecting its power, despite the growing challenges that impede this “access” to the American army or another area.
Official representatives of the US Marine Corps (USCM) see their branch of service as a key element of this force; In the past few years, infantrymen often spoke of their desire to return to the amphibious and expeditionary roots of the corps after a decade of ground operations conducted from fixed positions and large forward operational bases.
Marines have many lighter ground systems and are still buying MV-22 Osprey converters with turning screws for fast and long-range expedition tasks. However, in order to satisfy its amphibious ambitions, the USMC for a long time was looking for a replacement for its AAV (Amphibious Assault Vehicle) amphibious vehicles of the 70 era, but it was only disappointment.
In 2011, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended closing the program for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which was to replace the outdated AAV. About 3 billions of dollars were spent on developing the EFV, and 12 billions of dollars were planned for its purchase, which led Gates and the corps itself to the idea that a floating personnel transporter was too expensive.
Instead, the marines decided to choose a three-component approach for floating machines: 1) to moderately modernize their AAV, 2) to develop a replacement for the EFV and 3 machines) to accelerate the deployment of MPC (Marine Personnel Carrier).
The MPC program is progressing; in August 2012, contracts were issued for the manufacture of prototypes. However, infantrymen are mainly focused on refining and refining their plans for replacing the AAV capabilities with what they call the ACV (Amphibious Combat Vehicle) floating combat vehicle.
“MPC along with ACV are aimed at meeting our requirements for upgrading the mobile qualities of the marines,” said Colonel Sean Gibson, a spokesman for the Combat Development and Integration Department at the USMC. “Due to the unique capabilities provided by a fully floating combat vehicle, its modernization is our top priority, and we will certainly turn to such additional capabilities as, for example, MPC, based on our priority,” he continued.
To this end, the infantrymen conducted a so-called “alternative analysis” for ACV, which presented several possible solutions and approved the requirements of the Marine Corps “for a self-deploying, survivable, floating over-the-road vehicle,” said ACV machine group representative Captain Nicole Fidler.
Subsequently, the USCM and the office of the Department of the Navy for R & D and Arms Purchases created the ACV office, which was given the authority to assess the determination of the feasibility, cost and risks of developing an affordable ACV machine with high survivability and high fusion speed.
The results of this management evaluation should form the basis for decisions about ACV's capabilities, affordability, cost, and constructive trade-offs along with plans to acquire a car. “We are currently in Stage I of this assessment, which will take about six months and clarify current requirements, design and cost figures, which will form the basis for developing and evaluating ACV project concepts,” said Captain Fiedler.
In the meantime, the additional MPC program is actively moving forward.
The former Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle expeditionary combat vehicle program was removed from the Pentagon’s budget for the 2012 year because, according to the defense ministry and marine representatives, “it is simply not affordable.”
Patria Land Systems and Lockheed Martin have teamed up under a demonstration contract of the USMC and presented the AMV car. Pictured is a machine with a Kongsberg combat module installed armed with an 12,7-mm machine gun
MPC (Marine Personnel Carrier) from BAE Systems, based on the Iveco SUPERAV 8 x 8 wheeled vehicle, was introduced at the Marine Day. For the show, the company installed the Kongsberg CROWS module on it.
At the exhibition dedicated to the Day of the Marine Corps based at Quantico in Virginia in September 2012, Lockheed Martin showed its application for the Marine Personnel Carrier armored personnel carrier. In the photo, the machine is equipped with mesh screens to protect against RPGs.
In August, 2012 of the year, the US KMP issued four contracts with an estimated cost of 3,5 million dollars each, based on ready-made platforms, one of which he could buy for his planned fleet of MPC 579 machines. The winners of the first stage were the teams led by BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), Lockheed Martin and SAIC. Interestingly, at least three of them based their proposals on existing foreign projects (foreign to the United States, of course).
All of these platforms serve as test and evaluation prototypes for demonstrating currently available technologies and industry capabilities that could meet the intended requirements of the MPC program.
At the moment, the infantry is at the stage of evaluating the characteristics of four vehicles, namely amphibious capabilities, survivability, "human factor" (for example, comfort and the number of airborne troops), and equipment placement. According to Emanuel Pacheco, a representative of the program for the development of the machine for the marine corps, the USMC conducts a two-week test of each model at the testing ground of amphibious vehicles based on the marine corps in Kemp-Pendleton.
It was planned to complete these tests in August 2013 of the year, followed by explosive tests for survivability in the test center in Nevada, which will be completed around October of the year 2013.
It is expected that MPC machines will weigh approximately 20 - 25 tons and will provide a level of protection similar to the levels of protection of machines of class MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected - with increased protection from mines and ambushes). As MARCORSYSCOM (Marine Corps Systems Command) Marine Systems Command stated, current plans envisage the redeployment of a reinforced infantry unit on two MPC machines and an infantry battalion by an MPC company together with regular wheeled infantry vehicles.
Machines must be able to cross rivers, waterways, and small waves, but at long distances they may require ship-to-shore delivery systems.
Corps officials suggest that the program will deploy three options: base (MPC-P), command post (MPC-C) and repair (MPC-R). The MPC-C will be configured to meet the needs of the mobile battalion command and act as a focal point coordination center, while the MPC-R variant will serve as a mobile repair and maintenance platform.
Industry offerings selected to showcase the package include the Havoc 8x8 machine, which was introduced by Lockheed Martin in partnership with Finnish Patria Land Systems. Havoc is based on the Patria AMV (Armored Modular Vehicle) 8x8, which is in service with several European countries and deployed in Afghanistan by the Polish contingent.
The AMV machine was created with a high level of modularity, which allows customers to determine the power unit, heating, air conditioning and other components, as well as to purchase various body models or functional kits. Armaments that can be installed range from 7,62-mm machine guns to 105-mm turret guns or 120-mm mortar systems.
The US KMPs have not yet decided on the MPC turret system, but Lockheed Martin at the annual Marine Day in September 2012 showed a version of its Havoc machine with the same 40 mm / 12,7 mm tower installed on AAV.
Representatives of the company said that the car can move through the water at a speed of 6 miles / h and on the highway 65 / miles / h. It is equipped with a hp 540 diesel engine. with torque 1500 lb / ft. Havoc does not have a V-shaped hull, its function is performed by a “subframe”, which weakens the effects of explosions under the bottom and absorbs debris. The platform also has an explosion-proof bottom and explosion-proof seats.
Meanwhile, BAE Systems has teamed up with Iveco to offer its own version of the Italian wheeled vehicle SuperAV 8x8. The company also showed its platform at the Marine Day exhibition, on which the Kongsberg CROWS remote-controlled combat module with an 12,7-mm caliber machine gun mounted on a variety of American combat vehicles was mounted.
As stated in the BAE Systems technical specification, this MPC application includes a Iveco Cursor 13 six-liter engine with turbocharging and intercooling with an HP 560 horsepower and an 1622 torque of pounds / foot. The machine can drive on a highway at a speed of approximately 65 mph and in water at a speed of approximately 6 mph using two hydraulically driven independent independent propellers. The platform also has an “explosion-proof housing and seats” to protect against explosions under the bottom. In addition, the original SuperAV machine has a hydropneumatic suspension, which can be supplemented with an optional ground clearance adjustment system in order to increase the anti-explosion protection of the bottom or reduce the height of the vehicle when landing in a landing craft or transport aircraft.
A remotely controlled combat module, armed with an 40-mm grenade launcher and an 7,62-mm coaxial machine gun, is mounted on the Terrex Singapore Army BMP
SAIC has teamed up with Singaporean ST Kinetics and introduced a platform based on the Terrex 8x8 armored personnel carrier, which is in service with the Singapore army. Currently, company representatives do not specify specific information on integrating the platform into the MPC program, but it is worth noting that the body of the Singapore-based Terrex machines is all-welded, made of armored steel with additional armor to increase the level of protection. The modular booking kit of these machines can be upgraded as technology advances or the threat spectrum changes.
The Singapore-made Terrex has a Caterpillar C9 diesel engine with 450 horsepower, coupled with an Allison 4500SP automatic transmission, which allows it to reach speeds of approximately 65 mph, and afloat two stern propellers accelerate the car to 6 mph.
The remote-controlled combat module R-600 from the Australian EOS is installed on the basic Terrex version in Singapore, which the Singaporean army modified to install the 7,62-mm machine gun and the 40-mm automatic grenade launcher or 12,7-mm machine gun.
Also, the company GDLS is rather laconic with its offer, which, of course, presented a variant of the machine from its family Piranha, but has not yet confirmed its participation in the program.
The company could potentially have certain advantages in the fight for victory in the MPC program, since the European division of General Dynamics European Land Systems had already manufactured a large number of Piranha vehicles for the military around the world, and GDLS itself sold the Piranha variants to the US Army (Stryker) and the marines ( Light Armored Vehicle).
Until the GDLS offer of the MPC program has been published, members of the Piranha family of machines have some common elements, such as amphibious capabilities, provided by two high-performance propeller screws. Also, cars, as a rule, have an independent suspension of all wheels and the central location of the transmission.
After these four prototypes complete the tests and industry groups receive their “instructions”, the next step in the MPC program will be final development and implementation in production. As part of this phase, applicants will fight in an open tender as envisioned by the defense budget for the 2013 fiscal year.
Further, two contractors will be selected according to the program, each will provide three prototypes for testing, after which the main contractor will be selected and a decision will be made on the initial production of a small batch (in the Pentagon language, the Milestone C solution).
However, Mr. Pacheco from the software office for developing a new car noted that the USMC, after the completion of all prototype tests, has not yet officially approved the plan for the next stage of MPC development, since this depends on the decisions to be made on the ACV project. He added that the provisional readiness date of the initial MPC deployment, once scheduled for about 2022 a year, became a “floating target” and that the software requirements for 579 platforms may be affected by ACV decisions.
The Marine Corps intends to buy ACV 573 machines, but as expected, fewer or more of them can affect the MPC program in some way or another.
Based on these preliminary requirements, eight infantry battalions (a serious reduction of the previous plan from the 12 battalions) could themselves be deployed from the landing craft, and the remaining 4 battalion could be delivered by MPC vehicles.
Some members of Congress, tightly controlling the funding of each project, argue that this amphibious force may not be enough. They noted that for the delivery of MPC along with the main combat tanks and other weapons, ship-to-shore platforms may be required, such as Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft and other landing ships. The argument put forward by critics in Congress suggests that the decrease in the level of projection of amphibious power when replacing ACV with MPC can be much more than it actually seems.
“It seems to be a decline in the amphibious and amphibious capabilities of the country,” said Senator Jack Reed, chairman of the naval subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Marine personnel carriers (Marine Personnel Carrier), at least, as they currently see, will require ship-to-shore delivery systems for themselves to fight, they will not be able to conduct offensive operations on the defended coast," he said at the defense budget hearings for the 2013 year, where research and development funding was requested in the amount of 95 million dollars for ACV and 40 million dollars for MPC.
Reed noted that using LCAC ships to transport amphibious forces means that fewer ships will be available to transport tanks, artillery and other support components. "The speed of creating combat power on the coast will be significantly reduced, and the risks for the most landed naval infantry will increase," he said.
Similarly, the senator criticized the hopes placed on MPC vehicles, since two vehicles would be needed to transport the infantry squad, while existing AAV or still speculative ACV machines could bring the entire squad to shore, and this could mean that volume and weight ”will be needed to equip marines on the often-and-so crowded amphibious assault ships of the Navy.
Senator Reed’s concerns concern not only the general amphibious needs of the USCM, but perhaps the needs of all US military personnel. How is the corps going to set priorities between the attacking coast machine and the protected mobile platform for action immediately behind the coastal strip, and what combination of these capabilities does it (the corps) need or can it afford?
As expected, these questions will be answered at the so-called Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) 2010, a four-year defense review of congressional military programs and capabilities conducted at Congress level.
Secretary of Defense Gates said then that determining how to adequately measure and finance amphibious (amphibious) capabilities would be a key issue for QDR. After which he gave a rest in the 2010 budget of the year to the EFV program, which for all his 12-year-old history suffered from a significant increase in costs and several stops. Ultimately, QDR should have helped determine the EFV procurement decisions, to answer the question of whether the United States needed invasion options.
Ultimately, in the analytical part of QDR, it was not openly announced how to properly balance the assault forces, what capabilities are needed, in what quantity, and whether any other similar work is being carried out. The EFV program was more likely to be canceled due, at least, according to Gates, that it could “essentially swallow the whole budget for a vehicle for the Marine Corps and most of its total budget allocated for procurement”. At the same time, he added that the Pentagon will “allocate funds for the development of a more affordable and sustainable floating machine” to provide infantry with future delivery systems from ship to shore.
To date, details regarding the amphibious needs of the Marine Corps have not been answered, and the Pentagon is currently preparing for the next QDR. Major General Kenneth McKenzie, a representative of the USCM at the QDR 2014 hearings scheduled for February 2014 in the Congress, said in March 2013 that he still doesn’t know if the ACV program will be considered in the upcoming review.
Many observers of landing operations on the coastline and forceful invasion are often viewed through the prism of the battles of the times of the Korean or World War II, including high-intensity battles, such as the battles for Tarawa (city and port on Tarawa Atoll in Oceania) in 1943, where marines coast met fierce resistance of the Japanese.
According to General Mackenzie, in modern warfare amphibious forces were used somewhat differently, and the planning bodies of the corps did not consider these difficult and complex maneuvers as a future model. “I believe that the best example of what amphibious equipment means for a Marine Corps is the 58 Task Force; Here, one can mention the landing under the command of General Jim Mettis on the coast of Pakistan and making a dive deep into southern Afghanistan. Not a single floating machine crossed the coast at that operation — it was simply dictated by geographical features. ”
In November 2001, Task Force 58 launched its offensive with amphibious assault ships in the northern Arabian Sea, and thereafter made a helicopter throw and transport aviation 70s, occupied the runway and organized a forward base near Kandahar. A few months later, it was replaced by the airborne forces of the American army.
“You strike with your overwhelming power from the sea at that moment and at the place you chose. Here is an example of a modern landing operation, ”General Mackenzie described this operation.
“God keeps the guys landed in Tarawa, but no one wants to repeat it, so we believe that such a scenario is very unlikely today; you find a weak spot in the defense of the enemy, move to the area where he does not expect you, you move deep into the defense and strike strategically, ”he added.
However, General Mackenzie noted that the USMC still wants to be able to move to the coast through coastal waters, if geographical conditions and circumstances require such an operation. “Nobody wants to fight not the shore, you want to cross it, you want to crush it ... and you want to go further. You are not smiling at all to end the battle on the coastal water's edge, ”he remarked.
“The beauty of an AAV or ACV car is that you don’t stop at the beach, you move inland ... because your landing place on the beach is very vulnerable.”
The general added: “We want to keep two expeditionary brigades of marines capable of a military invasion anywhere in the world. This is the minimum level for us. ”
While aviation assets are a key element in the operations of these brigades, nevertheless, under certain circumstances, they will have to interact with surface combat components, which the USCM hopes will consist of MPC machines and machines designed to replace obsolete AAV (it is planned that ACV will reach the stage of initial entry into service somewhere in 2020 - 2022 years).
Arguments are also being made against the purchase of large quantities of amphibious weapons. The arguments here are as follows: the hull has not very often stormed coastlines in recent decades, and the fleet currently does not intend to keep its ships closer 25 miles from the enemy coastline in order to protect combat boats and personnel from the ever-increasing threat of actively preventing the enemy from landing on coast; In addition, one of the most costly parts of the EFV project was the requirement to quickly deliver infantrymen to the shore from outside the 25-mile zone.
However, the command of the Marine Corps is not entirely consistent, and indicates the need to have a full set of military tools and instruments. Official representatives of the United States International Law Commission argued that amphibious forces could be useful for capturing a springboard in order to open vital supply routes by land, for example, in the event of an attack or closure of the Strait of Hormuz or Malacca Straits.
Amphibious forces also participated in the evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon in 2006, moreover, the clear threat of an assault landing was used to divert several Iraqi divisions during the Gulf war in 1990-1991.
Jane's Defense Weekly