The US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) two-pronged amphibious vehicle modernisation effort will include some significant survivability upgrades to its legacy AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles, and be complemented with a new personnel carrier with mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP)-levels of protection.
The AAV7A2/Survivability Upgrade package and Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) 1.1 and 1.2 are, aside from improving USMC sealift, focused on protecting against underbelly blasts from mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Major Darrel Commander, a requirements officer within the USMC’s Assault Amphibian Vehicle programme, said on 15 November at the SMi Future Armoured Vehicle Survivability conference in London.
Indeed, the AAV7A2 plans to upgrade four battalions-worth of vehicles with additional belly armour, integrated buoyant armour, blast attenuated seats, and an external armoured fuel tank, improving the vehicle’s underbelly blast survivability to approximately half that of a MRAP-type vehicle, according to Maj Commander.
To compensate for the 11,000 lb additional weight burden of these elements, improvements to the vehicles’ powertrain, marine drive train, and suspension were also necessary. However, despite these, the AAV7A2 has a reduced capacity on soft soil and can carry one less dismount compared with the original AAV7. The two variants share the same capacity to operate at sea and the same weapons.
Meanwhile, the two sets of four battalions of ACV 1.1 and 1.2 vehicles are to complete the USMC’s amphibious vehicle fleet alongside the AAV7A2. These vehicles are to have MRAP-levels of protection and are to be fully fielded by fiscal year 2022 (FY 2022) and FY 2026, respectively.
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