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Auditors pleased with USMC amphibious vehicle costs, but recommend delay

20 April 2017
USMC AAV7A1s are shown here fitted with the appliqué armour kit meant for deploying inland, where roadside bombs and other threats have changed force protection requirements. Source: USMC

US government auditors found the US Marine Corps (USMC) cost estimates for its competitive Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) 1.1 programme - approximately USD2 billion for development and procurement and USD4.2 billion for operations and support - was fairly reached.

Projections for the ACV fully or substantially met the characteristics of a "high-quality, reliable cost estimate", the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in an 18 April report.

Auditors, however, suggested the USMC "may be overstating potential savings" when comparing the ACV and the legacy AAV7A1 Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) that it is partly replacing because the former will carry fewer marines.

"Specifically, the AAV can transport 17 marines, while the ACV 1.1 will carry a minimum of 10 marines or up to 13. Further, programme officials informed GAO that only 180 AAVs would likely be replaced by the incoming 204," auditors wrote.

The GAO recommended the USMC and US Navy "make more realistic cost comparisons" and, in response to the report, the Pentagon concurred.

The Pentagon did not concur with the GAO's other recommendation: to postpone ACV production decisions until early fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019).

A December 2015 award protest delayed ACV programme testing events and production by several months, which GAO warned could increase "the level of concurrency, or overlap, between testing and production - placing the programme at an increased risk of discovering deficiencies after some vehicles have been built".

Pentagon officials disagreed and said postponing the programme's initial production until FY 2017 "could delay the ACV fielding schedule and impact the affordability and sequencing of future modernisation efforts across the Marine Corps' overarching Ground Combat Tactical Vehicle Replacement Strategy".

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