Marine Corps Scraps Tracks for Amphibious Combat Vehicle

050627-N-1397H-313The Marine Corps is walking away from the high-speed Amphibious Combat Vehicle it envisioned – at least for the time being – but Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos said a wheeled version will have to do in this budget environment.

“We elected to switch and go to a wheeled vehicle,” Amos said on April 1 during a House Appropriations Committee hearing. “These are commercial off-the-shelf … they’re already being made by several different manufacturers.”

Unlike the planned ACV, the vehicle the Corps now calls the ACV 1.1 will not be able to deploy quickly from ship to shore from up to 12 miles out and it will not move on treads once landed. But what makes it a sound alternative is that the Corps already has other means to deploy it over water rapidly, Amos said. And the fact it will move on wheels makes it more survivable in a combat theatre.

Following it’s now cancelled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Marine Corps seem to have abandoned efforts to quickly develop an amphibious vehicle that can both swim at what the Corps calls high water speeds of 13 to 15 knots and survive substantial land threats once ashore. Instead, the Corps plans to field a less-ambitious interim vehicle and simultaneously work on research and development aimed at reaching the desired combination of attributes for the future , senior leaders have said.

And then there’s the cost. Amos said the 300 ACV 1.1s he anticipates buying will cost about $3 million to $4.5 million each. The original ACV, the Corps had envisioned, would have cost between $12 million and $14 million each, he said.

“It’s the way to go, and they are highly mobile, and that’s the direction we’re going,” Amos said.

It does not appear that the Corps thinks it is technically feasible or cost-effective to attempt quick delivery of a vehicle that can both swim at faster speeds for ship to shore missions and also function as a sufficiently survivable land vehicle.

The ACV, as initially conceived, would be able to swim to shore from as far out as 12 miles. While the ACV 1.1 will not do that, Amos said the Corps’ fleet of connectors can. These include some 81Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, that are capable of transporting up to 150,000 pounds and as many as 180 Marines. Powered by four gas-turbine engines and two four-bladed propellers, the LCACs can travel over water, ice, snow, sand and tundra.

Additionally, Amos told lawmakers during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the Corps has two Joint High Speed Vehicles currently out at sea and another eight under contract.

“Those will go fast, they will haul a lot of Marines and vehicles,” he said. “That gives us the ability to maneuver from a sea base that could be pushed out as far as 100 miles because of an enemy threat.”

“So what we’ve done is we’ve changed the paradigm in the way we thought, in that we have to swim all that way in our amphibious combat vehicle,” he said. “Well, it’s impractical now. Can we get on a connector, and the connector take us in? And the answer is yes.”

Amos still plans for the Corps to get the ACV it originally wanted. That’s now called ACV 1.2.

Amos said he came to the tough decision a few months ago to scrap original plans for the ACV. What made it more difficult is that just two years earlier the Corps called it quits on the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle after spending about 15 years and more than $3 billion in research, development and testing.

Amos has not identified the companies who may compete for the ACV 1.1 contract, though in the past Lockheed, General Dynamics and BAE Systems have done so, according to Manny Pacheco, a spokesman for the Corps’s Program Executive Office Land Systems Equipment Modernization.

Pacheco said an RFI for the ACV 1.1 is still a few months off.

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.
  • oblat

    So the new marine acv is the lav Lol

    Scrapping the acv was a good start now we just need to finish the job and get rid of thr rest of the clueless marine corp.

  • clueless marine corp… wow.

  • Rob

    clueless? tell that to a combat Marine and you’ll be eating your teeth.

    • Majrod family

      So they are bullies then? Congratulations.

  • hibeam

    The Marines had the guts to admit that what they have developed to date is not good enough. Back to the drawing board. Bravo! That’s how its supposed to work. Carry on.

    • Dfens

      Yeah, it’s not like they gave a defense contractor free money for 15 (some sources say 25) years, for which the US taxpayer got absolutely zero return. Oh wait, it’s exactly like that. And no one is accountable. What a surprise.

    • Rod

      Indeed. R&D money is great for any contractor but being able to sell the mass produced, final product is the real prize.

      Let’s get General Dynamics and BAE to make the ACV 1.1. The irony of Lockheed getting a contract as a result of a program not being able to meet technical specifications and costs overruns.

    • Hi-beam: Wait, aren’t you that guy that dings other branches for canceling programs.

      The hypocrisy is drowning you out.

    • oblatt22

      Just laughable 20 years of screwing around with taxpayers money and they come back to the LAV. And they don’t admit it they call it the ACV1.1 as if its some sort of derivative of all that money.

      The Marines are all PR and spin.

    • tmb2

      Hibeam, Amos just admitted the primary requirements for the EFV were nice to haves and not combat necessities. Taking 20 years to come to that conclusion is not how it’s supposed to work.

  • Hunter76

    A smart decision. Money is the 1st reason. Mobility is another. 0.1% of the time tracks have a advantage over wheels. If we ever get into a big war, we’ll want vehicles that can travel hundreds of miles on existing roads.

    • blight_

      Most of the money savings comes from giving up on a high speed hydroplaning hull. Even if EFV had wheels it would have still been an insanely expensive monster.

      Edit: In a contested landing, there isn’t much that’ll actually work without firepower on tap or a weakly contested beach. Short of bringing ships close to shore and pounding the hell out of whatever is contesting the landing, sending ashore ACVs that are slow (or EFVs that are fast and unwieldly on land) is an attritional proposition. There’s probably a reason why the Zubrs have weapons, and that’s to make the contested landing and to deliver “normal” AFVs.

      That said, “existing roads” will probably be the first thing to go. Scouts, IEDs, ATGM teams anyone?

    • Hunter – I don’t know if this is a “smart” decision at all. How do the Marines conduct a contested amphibious assault with LCACs (hovercraft) with troop carrying armored cars?

      And track advantages over wheels when it comes to mobility is a lot more than .1%.

      • commenter

        How often have they needed to do it in the last 50 years? Not that that fact totally invalidates the potential need, but it should not be the requirement that drives the cost and design.

        You need to design for the likely scenario(s), not the improbable that you could work around.

        Based on past doctrine and assuming the US would conduct an amphibious invasion, odds are the US will not be invading any high contested beaches. The US would conduct an initial air war to knock out the enemies ability to coordinate and react and to weaken their forces. Odds are air cover would be maintained during the entire operation to control the battlespace. An armored amphib is certainly nice to have in these situations, but not critical.

        • Don’t confuse the lack of use with the requirement to maintain the capability. Using that logic there’s no need for nukes.

          I wasn’t even thinking a heavily held beach assault which is the last thing anyone wants to do. Doesn’t take much for a lightly defended beach to fire one missile to take out an LCAC where a couple dozen AAVP7’s provides too many targets for a lightly held beach. That same force can secure a lightly held beach for the LCAC’s to come in safely.

          • Steve B.

            That same missile is just as effective as a tracked landing vehicle.

            The rub with the the EFV was that the MC realized after the fact that the vehicle, otherwise a good design, was very vulnerable to IED’s and there was no retrofit. So Bye, Bye !.

          • Tracker1stmardiv


      • orly?

        I don’t like the implementation of this idea without the ACV 1.2 landing parties taking the beach first either.

        Again, LCACs are not supposed to be the first wave.

        Unless these LCACs are going onto an well prepared beach with aerial escorts (usually Super Cobras).

      • Andrew M

        Tracks have a huge advantage to wheeled vehicles on a beach, especially in wet sand in the surf and coming out of the water onto the soft sand. Not to mention if there are barricades and if the beach has been been shot up by the ships off shore. The current AAV can climb a 3 foot wall and easily drives though wet sand and through craters. I also agree that roads will be very spotty at best if not completely destroyed or non-existent. I have driven and seen many Amtracks get through rough terrain that a wheeled vehicle would easily get stuck.


      • Hunter76


        The Marines are far from just beach assaulters, their primary role is as shock troops. I predict their next insertion in a major conflict will be by C130s or similar, not by landing on some beach under fire.

        Marine vehicles need to be armored, well-armed, fast, multiterrain, and swimmable. They don’t need to swim at 12 knots. Wheels v tracks always involves trade-offs. I think wheels beat tracks esp considering cost, weight, reliabililty, fuel.

        • commenter

          This ^ is what it comes down to.

          The fully amphibous assault vehicle and capability would be great, but the cost is too high. Compared to a similar land wheeled vehicle the amphib is 3x the cost. When you consider the frequency this capability is needed (never in 50+ years), it is not worth the price.

        • I never said the Marines were only beach “assaulters”. That is their core competency unlike anyone else.

          The Marines primary role is Shock troops? No, that’s propaganda. “Shock troops are units created to lead an attack. “Shock troop” comes from the German Stoßtrupp. Specially trained troops/units from WWI that used infiltration type tactics to close with the enemy and open up holes in enemy lines. I’m not saying certain Marine units aren’t “shock troops”. I’m saying they aren’t all “shock troops” or the only ones. Look at our history, even recent history. Marines did not typically initiate offensives.

          BTW, M1’s, HMMWVs, MRAPs, all the medium and heavy trucks (the overwhelming majority of vehicles the Marines own) don’t swim.

  • Dan

    Clueless Marine Corps? I would love to see you say that to me or any of my fellow Marines. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Roger

    quit feeding the troll

  • Dfens

    Just in case the 10% the defense contractor managed to skim off the top of the last $3 billion the Marines spent leaving the US taxpayer with nothing to show for it, don’t worry, defense contractor, because there’s more free “research” money where that came from.

  • CaptainDoc

    We need to look at the Russians for designs for this type of vehicle as they have several to choose from that are wheeled(6 or 8 wheels) and cost several million $$ less per unit. The Russians have engines that do not meet Californicate emission standards, manual transmissions, under water operation(snorkel’s), NBC environment self contained, very good mileage per gallon, glazing that will deflect 7.62 rounds, move very fast, seat more troops and so on.


    Great idea. Just make sure they don’t go anywhere it is sandy. Or muddy. Or anyplace that has trees or rocks or buildings that you would need tracks to get through or over. Ever seen a tire try and broach a steep riverbank when the vehicle is floating? Make sure there are ramps at every riverine landing site too. There a reason Marines say YATYAS-You Aint Tracks, You Aint S—l!

    • ATF


  • blight_

    Anyone have more information on this ACV 1.1 proposal?


    And for laughs, some DARPA stuff.

    And a PLA vehicle of interest:

    It doesn’t transport a full squad of Marines, but it’s worth thinking about.

  • Jango Puller

    Wow, I see a lot of anti Marine comments all over the place. yes, there have been some bad decisions, but does it go deeper? Is it because it is one of the last places to find some integrity? No offense to other branches at all. I worked some Army Personnel that were outstanding, but it seems that the Corps is hated just for being the Corps.

  • Hydrodynamicist

    To understand the EFV folly, trace back to its predecessor, the AAAV. The Marines’ concept, which they stubbornly held to for over 25 years of R&D, could be summarized thus: “Start with a Bradley A3, upgun it to a 35 mm main armament, stretch it accommodate 17 Marines, no propellers allowed, so find room for waterjets with exhaust ports as big a 55-gallon drums, and give it 2500 HP so it can plane in to the beach from over the horizon. Make sure it conforms to length, width, and height limitations so we can get enough of them aboard our new amphibious transport ships. BTW, keep the cost down.”

  • Lance

    With this pacific pivot I would NOT want a wheeled vehicle for my assault force coral reefs will chew up and immobilize the wheeled AAV and so we have a Tarawa every time we land in the Pacific. Another Army plant into the Marines came up with this crap. face for most combat vehicles its preferred to use tracks.

  • The Marines need an amphibious troop carrier. The EFV was a poorly managed program. The ACV was/is a good idea. It “might” be a good decision to back off from the ACV for now. It would have been nice if the article expounded on why the Marines insist on “high water speeds”. That’s going to make any solution technically challenging and expensive.

    Going with wheeled personnel carriers and LCAC’s (hovercraft) must have implications on the Marines ability to conduct contested amphibious landings or forced entry.

    Finally, Amos is incorrect when he said, “the Corps has two Joint High Speed Vehicles currently out at sea and another eight under contract.” The Army actually paid for the first one and transferred it to the Navy that now owns the two built. The others are under Navy contract and are for use by both the Army and Marines.

    • blight_

      “Those will go fast, they will haul a lot of Marines and vehicles,” he said. “That gives us the ability to maneuver from a sea base that could be pushed out as far as 100 miles because of an enemy threat.”
      “So what we’ve done is we’ve changed the paradigm in the way we thought, in that we have to swim all that way in our amphibious combat vehicle,” he said. “Well, it’s impractical now. Can we get on a connector, and the connector take us in? And the answer is yes.”

      Since JHSV can’t unload directly on a beach, the plan is to send MPC’s off the well-deck to go the last few hundred feet towards shore, or something like that. JHSV better be prepared to fight.

      • The JHSV doesn’t have a well deck.

  • oblatt22

    The fact is that the marines don’t have a mission – someone else does everything the marines do better. They are an anachronism like horse cavalry.

    The marines have adapted to this fact by investing heavily in PR and contractor relations. Every marine is told hes Cinderella just waiting to become a Princess if only the right war would arrive where he could throw himself onto a beach against dug in Japs.

    There is a good reason why the marines will loan hollywood anything they want to get on the screen because their survival doesn’t depend on defeating the Taliban it depends on conning the American taxpayer.

    After 25 years and 3 billion dollars they are suggesting an amphibious assault force that can only swim lakes and needs a boat ramp to get out of the water ? – perfect fit for the marines – if they get bogged they can just stop the cameras and get a tow out.

  • Snafuperman

    Wow, while you clowns argue about the merits of tracks to get you out of the water, you totally missed that this vehicle was never going to be in the water, and would instead be delivered by LCAC, over the coral, out of the water.

    • Barry

      And you — Master of all Clowns? — plus the entire USMClown Army missed the point that their job is storming the beaches, which you can’t do in a LAV or ACV or whatever you want to call that glorified pick-up truck they’re proposing to buy.

  • JohnnyRanger

    I can’t believe that the Chinese can make this:

    but we have completely thrown in the towel.

    Yes, I know it’s smaller than what the USMC would want, but surely it could be scaled up. It just seems impossible to me that with all the technology available, we can’t make what is basically a faster Amtrak/Duwk

    • AAK

      That would be stealing the intellectual property of another country. The Chinese wouldn’t like that.

    • Dfens

      We haven’t thrown in the towel. Research is continuing. Didn’t you read the article? The free money will continue to flow to the defense contractor. After all, that’s what our military actually exists for. It is a welfare program for the richest of the rich.

    • The ZBD2000 is VERY lightly armored and doesn’t carry enough Marines.

  • With all the talk of storming the beaches I feel like I’m in the 1940s again. What beach is going to be contested after a couple precision air strikes these days? “Oh noooo, a fortified bunker”. Air strike… Walk around… Done. Of course I’m over simplifying to make a point but I just don’t see the need to prepare for a fight that just isn’t happening or going to happen anytime again.

  • barney

    I can see both points. But, my view is that the marines need tracks, period. During a beach assault, (if they plan on doing them any more)there might not be enough lcacs to go around, and the marines would be forced to swim the vehicles to shore any way. And, besides…and wheeled vehicles are not the way to go anyway…they would get too bogged down anyway in sand, mud, coral. or un broken ice.

    • tiger

      Tracks are harder to maintain & chew up roads. Most fights will be in urban eras in this century.

  • tmb2

    “But what makes it a sound alternative is that the Corps already has other means to deploy it over water rapidly, Amos said. And the fact it will move on wheels makes it more survivable in a combat theater.”

    Soooo, the EFV was redundant and dangerous to take into combat? When did you determine that?

  • Fritz

    Lance has it right. The pivot to Asia requires tracked combat vehicles. Anyone tried to navigate a rice paddy in a wheeled vehicle? All those wheeled armored vehicles belong to forces dedicated to Europe, where they can run the roads and Afghanistan, where they have no reason not to.

    The USMC requirement is [a] armored to protect against an RPG, [b] carries a squad and its ammo, but [c] can swim in rough seas after being dropped off an LST. Such a vehicle contradicts the laws of physics.

  • Yatyas

    The need to land against a fortified beach died in WWII. I am a 23 year amtracker. Loved it lived it. As well as my son after me. The need is gone due to smart weapons. We just need to get to the land and use a vehicle that can protect us

  • Can we just up turrent the aav7p with a more modern torrent with a larger weapon? Seems we can just buy the MPC for ashore and keep using the aav7p’s for contested beaches. I do agree though that smart weapons and other weapons change the dynamic some.

    What I think the Marines really plain on doing is using there v-22’s wisely to quickly take whatever beach they want and then quickly re-enforce the beachhead with lcacs. With heliborne assault you can pick the landing place of your choice and kick in the door that way.

  • S O

    To everybody here who admires or defends the USMC:

    Their string of programs to develop huge lookalike amphibious tracked APC/IFV things actually goes back to 1973, the year after AAV-7 entered service.

    Here’s a ’78 document about LV/A:

    This racket is even worse than the MV-22 story. The USMC is terminally incompetent in big ticket development programs.

    • tmb2

      Then they’re in good company. USAF, USN, and USMC are building an airplane that is nearly double original cost estimates; USAF, USN, and USA have spent a few billion on uniforms that don’t camouflage you from anything, it took the USAF over a decade to get a new tanker which is based on an existing plane, USN wanted to build 55 ships that now they’re not sure what they’ll even be used for yet they’re still going to build 32, the USA spent 20 years designing the Bradley because they wanted it to do a little bit of everything and so far has spent tens of billions in failed attempts to replace it. The list goes on and nobody is special.

  • Drt

    I’ve never been in the military and know nothing. That said I know about developing things that didn’t exist before. Take an engineering estimate of time and money on any new project. My rule of thumb is triple it. Boeing, the premier builder of passenger jets was how many years late? 4 or 5 years. You are trying to get a few years ahead of “current” because it takes 3-5 years to get to market. Then you’re behind already and it has to last 25 years. So quit bad mouthing Marines. How much should “research” cost? Imagine trying to test an airplane without an engine? Test a car without wheels. Development is expensive because testing can’t done until the components are assembled. The integration of electro-mechanical devices is challenging. Theory is great but not real world. You don’t just flip a switch and turn on a brushless DC motor. You have to have motor controllers. Isn’t it better we spend our taxpayer dollars on developing and maintaining our technological and manufacturing capabilities? Military programs fund PHds, engineers, material specialists, blue collar machinists, coders, mechanics, and thousands of other specialties. It funds colleges, through research, it employs our young and our old. Compare that to building a damn road where a few low skilled illegal immigrants push around millions of pounds of rocks, aggregates. I’ll put my money in the Military Always!! Same with the space program. So stop being ignorant and read something. I recommend Milton Friedman as a good start to understanding economics moving on through to data posted on FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data.

    • oblatt22

      Every American should read this to understand why the Chinese economy is leaping ahead. Incompetence has been accepted and institutionalized in America.

  • PFC Smuckatelli

    Meanwhile at 2nd tracks were all living in the field.. Train train to be disband, yatyas

  • chip

    before buying new equipments, especially for european forces, may be useful to understand in the long future what kind of WWIII will engage the players. who will fight who? and why? where? Once we know why, who, where, about the future war, it’s possibile to suppose what kind of objectives aggressors will look for? what kind of equipments will they need to get the victory?. On comparing now and tomorrow, it’s possibile to understand what kind of capabilities do they need in the future? How many time do they need to get them? When WWIII will explode?! So at the end of the long analisys, it could also appear a big surprise, for example it may happen no future amphibius operations will engage any forces in one kind of WWIII.

  • Cpl. Big T

    Why not ask the guys who operate the pig, on a daily basis, what would you like?, what don’t you like?, what would you change? It just floors me that the guys at the top, know what are the best options for a vehicle that they have never had any experience with.

    That being said, I volunteer at least two weeks of my time to General Amos and the Marine Corps to come up with a revamped AAV for the next decade. I know that it has been 6 years since I have touched a gator, but I know everything about it, just like it was yesterday.

    The Mk-19 has got to go. The idea was novel, but not practical. The turret would be more useful as dual 50’s. We would be tickled if we could get some type of gatlin gun type of weapon and/or cannon.

    For water speed, double the impellers and make the engine stronger.

    Those are a few of many changes that we would want.

    Any tracker would agree that she is old. She has done more than she has been asked to do. We never asked for anything new, we just need upgrades to keep up with the times and technology. The platform itself is fine, there is no need to scrap it. It will be cheaper to build off of it.

    To the guy complaining about 3 billion dollars “wasted”, you are crying over 3 billion, not trillion. Government waste has been an issue since the beginning, so crying about it will get you nowhere. I look at it as a 3 billion dollar education, we learned just another way not to do something.

    Semper Fidelis from the Amtrack God

  • chaos0xomega

    Was hoping this was an indication that they would be moving back to riverines/shallow-draft fastboats… they have the advantage of being faster and having longer range, still being able to provide serious firepower to a beach landing, -and- best of all, they aren’t limited to inserting along a shoreline, as they can penetrate into inland waterways to strike vital (and less protected) locations deep behind enemy lines. Yes, you do lose the benefit of APC’s once they hit the ground, but I imagine if you build some slightly larger boats you could just as easily strap a Stryker, LAV, or what-have-you to it and then disembark it close to shore.

    And then there are LCAC’s…

  • Charles

    Joint High Speed Vehicles (JHSV), aren’t to my recollection built to military standards.

    From what I recall, they are basically civilian designs that were beefed up some, and are intended for inter-theater transport.

    Not exactly what I’d be thinking of using for a contested landing…

  • Kostas

    It is disappointing that in 2014, the USMC is still considering some outdated designs. These designs are overqualified for a low threat environment where LCACs carrying conventional MBTs and APCs would do the work much better. On the other hand there is no way these vehicles would survive in a real high threat environment. So what is the point of spending money on them?

  • Cpl. Big T

    To PFC Smuckatelli, keep your head up. When I was in Amtrack school out at Del Mar, the AAAV program was in the works. They had working prototypes that they tested in the jetty there. They were no doubt fast and cool. Two main problems with them off of the bat was they relied on computers too much and had too much hydraulics. The hydraulics was being ran at dangerously high levels and always broke down. I thought that the AAV was going to go away as well, but it didn’t. So get to know your war hog and know it well. It will give you as much as you put into it.

    The Corps is slow to change. 2nd Tracks, tip of the spear. Remember that it can always get worse, time is relative, and live by the 14 leadership traits (JJDIDTIEBUCKLE).

  • Tracked vehicles have their place, but ever since the second world war it was clear, tracks do not work for everything.
    Speed is more important now than ever.
    Vietnam was a classic example, the Tet offensive overtaxed the US logistics ability, leaving a gap in supplies.
    Once they were able to capture the rear, they simply took what they wanted, mostly US field radios, and took over.
    The Marines did an outstanding job as did everyone else, but this was the beginning of the end.
    Speed in battle can make or break.

    • Tet left a gap in supplies? Evidence? How is that relevant?

      You do realize we won Tet? We kicked the crap out of the NVA and the VC ceased to be a viable force. The North was unable to hold on to any of its objectives and failed to incite a popular rebellion.

      The only victory they had was in public opinion and the revisionist history that portrays Tet as a loss.

    • tmb2

      Cow Thief, the VC and NVA units that took part in Tet only captured a few of their objectives (there were hundreds) and even then only held them for a few short weeks. They lost nearly 100,000 troops from the offensive. By the summer of 1968 the VC was irrelevant as a fighting force until we left. What does your perceived supply gap have to do with Tet? And what does that have to do with a new amphib vehicle?

  • Only if there are better plans in place so Marines have the tool to get the job done. What are the cost of life insurance of marines I had 2million at E-4 1993.

  • WBR

    It’s time to get rid of Amos and put someone else in the drivers seat.

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  • Thanks for finally talking about >Marine Corps Scraps Tracks for Amphibious Combat Vehicle | Defense Tech