On January 6, 2011, after spending approximately $3 billion in developmental funding, the Marine Corps cancelled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program due to poor reliability demonstrated during operational testing and excessive cost growth. Because the EFV was intended to replace the 40-year-old Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), the Pentagon pledged to move quickly to develop a “more affordable and sustainable” vehicle to replace the EFV.
The Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) is intended to replace the AAV, incorporating some EFV capabilities but in a more practical and cost-efficient manner. In concert with the ACV, the Marines were developing the Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) to serve as a survivable and mobile platform to transport Marines when ashore.
The MPC was not intended to be amphibious like an AAV, EFV, or the ACV but instead would be required to have a swim capability for inland waterways such as rivers, lakes, and other water obstacles such as shore-to-shore operations in the littorals. Both vehicles are intended to play central roles in future Marine amphibious operations.
On June 14, 2013, Marine leadership put the MPC program “on ice” due to budgetary pressures but suggested the program might be resurrected some 10years down the road when budgetary resources might be more favorable.
In what was described as a “drastic shift,” the Marines decided to “resurrect” the MPCin March 2014. The Marines designated the MPC as ACV Increment 1.1 and planned to acquire about 200 vehicles. The Marines also plan to develop ACV Increment 1.2, a tracked, fully amphibious version, and to acquire about 470 vehicles and fund an ongoing high water speed study. Although ACV Increment 1.1 is to have a swim capability, another mode of transport (ship or aircraft) would be required to get the vehicles from ship to shore.
On November 5, 2014, it was reported the Marines released a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for ACV Increment 1.1. The Marines are looking for information from industry regarding program milestones, delivery schedules, and where in the program cost savings can be achieved.
On November 24, 2015, the Marine Corps awarded BAE Systems and SAIC contracts to develop ACV 1.1 prototypes for evaluation. BAE’s contract was for $103.8 million and SAIC’s for $121.5 million, and each company was to build 16 prototypes to be tested over the next two years. The Marines expect to down select to a single vendor in 2018. On December 7, 2015, General Dynamics Land Systems filed a protest to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about the award of the contract to BAE and SAIC, and GAO had until March 16, 2016, to decide on the protest.
In March 2016, it was reported that GAO had denied GDLS’s protest, noting that “the Marine Corps’ evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the evaluation scheme id entified in the solicitation.” The Marines reportedly stated that the protest put the ACV 1.1 program about 45 days behind schedule but anticipated that the ACV 1.1 would still be fielded on time. Both BAE and SAIC delivered their prototypes early, and the Marines anticipate testing to begin sometime in March 2017.
A potential issue for Congress is the Marines’ new MPC/ACV acquisition strategy and its associated challenges and risks.
Click here for the full report (15 PDF pages) hosted on the ebsite of the Federation of America Scientists.