Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR APR 2015 Contents 37
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 08 | APR 2015
ACV 1.1 – AVAILABLE NOW AND GOOD ENOUGH
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s
Subcommittee on Seapower in mid-March over concerns about the
selection of wheeled over tracked vehicle designs for ACV 1.1, LTGEN
Glueck identified the ACV 1.1 as the USMC’s top modernisation
The USMC has an overall requirement for armoured lift for 10 Marine
battalions. The 392 upgraded AAVs will be able to provide lift for four
battalions and the ACV 1.1 the additional six battalions.
Responding to questions by senators about ground mobility, LTGEN
Glueck said “From all the analysis we have done, we are not giving
away any capability whatsoever from going from tracked to wheeled
technology. Actually, we are gaining capability. We are gaining
ACV 1.1 will focus on “how fast can we get a good vehicle out there
that is going to be good enough that is non-developmental and be able
to meet our basic requirements,” LTGEN Glueck said.
The ACV 1.1 program will involve purchase of 204 military-of f-the-
shelf vehicles, with a capacity to carry at least 10 Marines.
“But industry is focusing on the objective requirement for [ACV]
1.2 because they want the full contract,” LTGEN stated. This has seen
industry designing ACV 1.1 candidate vehicles with 12 or 13 troop
“So we are actually going to be getting a more capable vehicle from
the beginning,” commented LTGEN Glueck. “The ACV 1.2 will address
some of those improvements we wanted to have but also focus on
mission-specific capabilities such as command and control, logistics ...
and perhaps even firepower.”
It is understood industry will offer four candidate vehicle designs for
ACV 1.1: BAE-Iveco SuperAV, SAIC-STK Terrex, Lockheed Martin-
Patria Havoc (AMV) and General Dynamics Land Systems LAV 6.0.
The LAV 6.0 is reportedly to be offered for the ACV 1.1 program, the only North American vehicle design in the mix.
related technologies such as fire suppression systems, mine blast-
protective seats and protected fuel systems.
Regarding its operational capability once ashore, the ACV’s
cross-country mobility is comparable to the M1A1 Abrams MBT,
but its high-speed on-road mobility also allows it to manoeuvre
with other wheeled assets like the JLTV and LAV (Light Armored
Vehicle). The ACV is equipped with a stabilised M2QCB 12.7mm
HMG in a remote weapons system (RWS), with the potential to
accommodate a dual-mount, stabilised Mk 19 40mm automatic
grenade launcher and M2 RWS before being introduced to the
operating forces. This will permit the ACV to engage threats on
water or land with accurate fires while on the move, with the
gunner remaining under armour protection seated within the
hull. In addition, the possibility that different weapons variants
can be developed for the ACV is very promising since this is
already being done in foreign militaries.
The ACV carries three crewmen (driver, gunner and vehicle
commander) and between 10 and 13 combat-loaded infantrymen
with up to two days of supplies. Two ACVs will provide transport
for a reinforced rifle squad and will provide the squad leader with
an additional manoeuvre element that can provide precision
suppressive fires in support of an attack or when occupying the
defence. These attributes are particularly noteworthy and make
the ACV optimised to operate ashore, where the majority of the
mission profile for this vehicle exists.
NEAR-TERM HWS VIA COMPLEMENTARY CONNECTORS
Coupled with the decision to pursue a wheeled vehicle, the
decision was made to achieve HWS in the near term by a
significantly increased focus on connectors. Connectors will get
the ACV as close to shore as the threat will allow and achieve it
much faster than tracked vehicles would be able to do swimming
on their own. This means an increased reliance on LCACs in
particular (capable of carrying 2 ACVs and achieving over 40
knots), but also reliance on a new vessel that is only now coming
on line – the Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV). The JHSV is a
catamaran-configured, medium-sized vessel capable of carrying
up to 21 ACVs 1,200nm at 35 knots. The USNS Spearhead (JHSV
1) is the first vessel in its class (out of 10 intended to be built), and
recently sailed on its first operational deployment to determine
the different ways that this vessel can be employed.
For both the LCACs and JHSVs, since neither can land vehicles
directly ashore in a non-permissive environment, the intent is
for these platforms to maneuver quickly from well beyond the
threat envelope for anti-ship missiles to just outside of small
arms range of the shore and conduct an in-stream launch of the
ACVs so that they can swim ashore on their own and deal with
any threat encountered. This would complement the A2/AD fight
being conducted by the amphibious task force during amphibious
operations and help to enable the amphibious task force’s ability
to approach much closer (ideally to within 12nm) to manoeuvre
the rest of the force ashore.
This increased reliance on connectors also means an increase
in connector interface and maintenance capacity to support
amphibious operations for a major contingency. One way to help
meet this new requirement is to leverage a new class of ships
coming on line. This new class of ships is the MLP, essentially
an oil tanker converted into a float-on, float-off vessel that’s able
to ballast to a depth necessary to enable three LCACs to operate
from it at one time. The Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) is
designed to come alongside selected maritime prepositioning
ships and other strategic sealift ships and transfer equipment
from those ships to LCACs, JHSVs and potentially other landing
craft and lighterage. Vehicles and equipment will move between
sealift ships and the MLP via connecting ramps and then traverse
the MLP and load onto LCACs and JHSVs for movement ashore.
Additionally, a concept is being fleshed out to use heavy-
lift barge carriers already in the strategic sealift inventory as
LCAC ‘motherships’ that would enable additional LCACs to be
positioned and maintained in the area of operations without
taking up amphibious ship well deck spots and MLP landing
What has been stated above is only the beginning. During
March 2014, the Connector Summit was conducted at Marine
Corps Base Quantico to see what else might satisfy the HWS
requirement. Aside from the LCAC replacement program that
will result in replacing old LCACs with a similar capability
starting around FY17, a replacement program for the venerable
LCU is also getting started.
In addition to these standard programs, other interesting
concepts were presented at the summit that might prove useful.
These include an ultra-heavy-lift amphibious connecter which is
designed to lift as much as an LCU and go about two-thirds the
speed of the LCAC known as the Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious
Connector; a half-scale model of the UHAC has been built
and was subjected to at-sea and shore based testing in Hawaii.
Another concept, the LCU-Folding, may prove able to carry three
to four ACVs and achieve speeds of 19-20 knots.
The most interesting concept presented was something the
USMC actually tested in the late 1980s to be used by LAVs
to get ashore quickly: a self-propelled aluminum sled that
accommodates one vehicle. The driver of the vehicle controls the
sled and steers it ashore at speeds up to 25 knots. Once ashore, the
vehicle drives off the sled and leaves it for landing support units
to police up and return to sea-based shipping. These concepts
will take several years to get to a technology level that can then be
pursued, but all represent different ways to achieve the HWS
Littoral operations require a diverse array of complementary
capabilities that enable amphibious forces to manoeuvre along
coastlines, in interior waterways and from ship-to-shore. As
discussed in Expeditionary Force 21, the USMC intends to
employ a combination of capabilities to meet these requirements.
This family of systems has been described above, and though
some aspects are developmental, the overall approach is one of
finding different ways to achieve the requirement to get from
ship-to-shore as quickly as possible and fight once there. In
particular, it is believed that the ACV optimises operations within
the littorals by providing commanders a capability that can
operate from naval platforms while striking a balance between
being light enough to facilitate rapid deployment and heavy
enough to conduct sustained expeditionary warfare across the
range of military operations while providing armoured protected
lift for our ground forces.
The ACV provides our Marines with ship-to-shore manoeuvre
as well as significantly enhanced protection, mobility and possibly
even lethality, all of which are essential to conducting operations
in the current and anticipated operating environment. In the
aggregate, these efforts will significantly advance the USMC’s
ability to conduct operational manoeuvre from the sea and STOM
in the 21st century.
This article was reproduced with permission from the Marine Corps Gazette,
where it was published in the September 2014 issue.
Lieutenant General Kenneth J. Glueck, Jr is the Deputy Commandant,
Combat Development and Integration, and the Commanding General, Marine
Corps Combat Development Command.
For more about the ACV program, see ‘USMC begins Amphibious Combat
Vehicle quest’ in the November 2014 issue of DTR.
The STK Terrex on beach trials in the United States.
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