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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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U.S.

Marines’ new ride to come in 4 variants and can go anywhere on land or sea

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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The United States Marine Corps has a new ride to get from ship to shore. It’s called the amphibious combat vehicle (ACV), and production on the different variants of the ACV is ramping up.

It’s not a tank. The 8×8 platform is a mix between an armored personnel carrier and a boat. The company that makes the ACV, BAE Systems, describes the vehicle as a mix of true open-ocean amphibious capability, land mobility, survivability, payload, and growth potential.

During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the USMC functioned essentially as a second land army. Under its Force Design 2030 plan, the Corps is preparing for more amphibious wars, like with China in the Pacific or Russia in the Balkans. If a conflict sparks in those regions, the ACVs will be a key troop transport.

It takes three Marines to crew the ACV. Another 13 can ride in the back. Clocking in at more than 65 miles per hour on land and more than 6 knots at sea, the all-wheel drive, twin-prop ACV was built to be exceptionally mobile. It can operate in just about any terrain or environment.

Marines started fielding the initial personnel ACV variant back in 2021. BAE Systems is now working on getting a command-and-control vehicle, called the ACV-C, to the Corps by March of 2024.

After it failed to hit the marks during initial testing, the command variant is getting an upgraded array of antennas and network sensors so it can share information on the battlefield quicker and further.

A third ACV variant is currently in production as well. It’s called the ACV-30 and features a 30 mm cannon. Only three ACV-30s are being built right now because they need to undergo a series of tests before full-scale production gets underway. If testing stays on course, BAE said there should be enough ACV-30s by 2026 to field at least one unit.

Mark Brinkman, BAE Systems’ program director for the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle, told Defense News once the ACV-30 is operating in the hands of Marines, it will be the Corps’ “largest direct fire weapon system in the [ground combat element], since the Marine Corps has gotten rid of their tanks” and artillery.

The fourth variant, a recovery vehicle, is still in the design stages. The ACV-R will give Marines the ability to perform field maintenance on other ACVs, or tow them off the battlefield and back to the ship if necessary.

The ACV-R won’t be widely available to the Marines until early fiscal year 2028. In the meantime, the Corps will continue to use the AAV recovery variant to perform field maintenance.

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THE US MARINES HAVE A NEW RIDE TO GET FROM SHIP TO SHORE. IT’S CALLED THE AMPHIBIOUS COMBAT VEHICLE, AND PRODUCTION ON THE DIFFERENT VARIANTS OF THE ACV IS RAMPING UP.

IT’S NOT A TANK. THE 8×8 PLATFORM IS A MIX BETWEEN AN ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER AND A BOAT. THE COMPANY THAT MAKES THE ACV, BAE SYSTEMS, DESCRIBES THE VEHICLE AS A MIX OF TRUE OPEN-OCEAN AMPHIBIOUS CAPABILITY, LAND MOBILITY, SURVIVABILITY, PAYLOAD AND GROWTH POTENTIAL.

DURING THE IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WARS, THE USMC FUNCTIONED ESSENTIALLY AS A SECOND LAND ARMY. UNDER ITS FORCE DESIGN 2030 PLAN, THE CORPS IS PREPARING FOR MORE AMPHIBIOUS WARS, LIKE WITH CHINA IN THE PACIFIC OR RUSSIA IN THE BALKANS. IF A CONFLICT SPARKS IN THOSE REGIONS, THE ACVs WILL BE A KEY TROOP TRANSPORT.

IT TAKES THREE MARINES TO CREW THE ACV. ANOTHER 13 CAN RIDE IN THE BACK. CLOCKING IN AT MORE THAN 65 MILES PER HOUR ON LAND AND MORE THAN 6 KNOTS AT SEA, THE ALL-WHEEL DRIVE, TWIN-PROP ACV WAS BUILT TO BE EXCEPTIONALLY MOBILE. IT CAN OPERATE IN JUST ABOUT ANY TERRAIN OR ENVIRONMENT.

MARINES STARTED FIELDING THE INITIAL PERSONNEL AVC VARIANT BACK IN 2021. BAE SYSTEMS IS NOW WORKING ON GETTING A COMMAND-AND-CONTROL VEHICLE, CALLED THE ACV-C, TO THE CORPS BY MARCH OF 2024.

AFTER IT FAILED TO HIT THE MARKS DURING INITIAL TESTING, THE COMMAND VARIANT IS GETTING AN UPGRADED ARRAY OF ANTENNAS AND NETWORK SENSORS SO IT CAN SHARE INFORMATION ON THE BATTLEFIELD QUICKER AND FURTHER.

A THIRD ACV VARIANT IS CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION AS WELL. IT’S CALLED THE ACV-30, AND FEATURES A 30MM CANNON. ONLY THREE ACV-30s ARE BEING BUILT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THEY NEED TO UNDERGO A SERIES OF TESTS BEFORE FULL-SCALE PRODUCTION GETS UNDERWAY. IF TESTING STAYS ON COURSE, BAE SAYS THERE SHOULD BE ENOUGH ACV-30s BY 2026 TO FIELD AT LEAST ONE UNIT.

THE FOURTH VARIANT, A RECOVERY VEHICLE, IS STILL IN THE DESIGN STAGES. THE ACV-R WILL GIVE MARINES THE ABILITY TO PERFORM FIELD MAINTENANCE ON OTHER ACVs, OR TOW THEM OFF THE BATTLEFIELD AND BACK TO THE SHIP IF NECESSARY.

FOR MORE UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACT REPORTING ON THE USMC OR OTHER MILITARY VEHICLES, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT SAN.COM.