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USMC debuts amphibious vehicles in exercise with Philippine armed forces

A file image of a USMC ACV from 2022. The service marked its first employment of the ACV at an overseas exercise during ‘Balikatan' 2024 in the Philippines. (US Marine Corps)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has marked the first employment of its amphibious combat vehicles (ACVs) in an overseas military exercise.

This milestone was accomplished on 4 May when ACVs from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) splashed down into Oyster Bay on the Philippines' Palawan Island from US Navy (USN) landing ship dock USS Harpers Ferry.

It was done as part of the 2024 iteration of Exercise ‘Balikatan', a bilateral drill between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US military.

As part of the amphibious manoeuvres, the ACV platoon organised itself into assault sections in the water after being launched from Harpers Ferry, the USMC said in a 4 May statement.

The vehicles then engaged multiple shore-based targets using their remote weapons systems to control externally mounted Mk 19 40 mm grenade machine guns.

These weapons were co-ordinated and fired simultaneously while afloat to maximise the effect against the targets at shore, the service added.

“The ACV provides unique capabilities to the amphibious force, increasing command-and-control capability, mobility ashore, and a stabilised weapon system to support manoeuvre,” the USMC said in its statement.

Harpers Ferry is presently operating as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group. It consists of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset, and Harpers Ferry itself.

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