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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - The 2nd generation prototype of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle will replace the old amphibious assault vehicle in the future. The new vehicle is currently undergoing operational assessments here. The vehicle is being created to address the weakness found in the current amphibious assault vehicle. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen)(released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

Am tracks just got faster stronger and meaner

2 Feb 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

The Marine Corps is conducting operational assessments on a new vehicle, which will replace the current amphibious assault vehicles used today.

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle, has been undergoing assessments of its firing system here since early January and will continue till the end of February as part of its first phase of evaluation.

The vehicle is being created to address weaknesses found in the current AAV, according to Col. Michael Brogan, the direct reporting program manager of the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle.

The program has turned the new vehicle into a faster, more accurate and stronger vehicle than the old AAVs.

“I’m convinced that the war fighting capabilities this will provide will be superior in all ways,” said Brogan.

The vehicle has the same fire control system as the Army’s M1A1 Main Battle Tank for its 30 mm cannon, according to Brogan. This allows the vehicle to shoot accurately while moving, standing still and shooting at moving targets. The old AAV had to be standing still to fire its main gun accurately, and it had trouble with moving targets.

“That 30 mm is going to put a lot more steel on target than the 40 mm grenade launcher or the .50 cal,” said Brogan.

The program also focused heavily on the speed of the vehicle, which can attain a speed of 20-25 knots in the water compared to the old vehicle’s five to six knots, according to Brogan.

The speed is achieved by cutting down on as much drag as possible, according to David M. Branham, the public affairs officer for the program. When in water mode, the vehicle transforms from a standard type tracked vehicle to a flat bottom boat. The tracks are pulled into the bottom and flaps are placed over them and locked in place automatically to reduce the resistance on the water. There is also a transitional mode, which helps it get over tough terrain such as reefs while in the water.

The vehicle can hold a reinforced rifle squad of 17 Marines plus the three crewmembers. Another difference in the vehicles is the EFV must be correctly balanced and has more weight limits. Gone are the days of there is always room for one more, according to Brogan.

The inside of the vehicle has protection against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks, according to Brogan. The inside is also air-conditioned to protect the electrical equipment and make it more comfortable for the Marines.

The armor is similar to current armor kits installed on AAVs now, which have separate armor plates that can be replaced quickly and easily when damaged. The armor also cuts down on the amount of shrapnel that enters the vehicle if it is penetrated, according to Staff Sgt. Jason Accord, a developmental test Marine with the program.

The computer systems and optics on the vehicle allow it to be an all weather, day and night vehicle, according to Branham. The computer systems can also tell commanders how far they are from the line of departure, the target, where friendly forces are and where enemy combatants are located.

The vehicle also has extensive communications including satellite and radios, and it can communicate with other EFVs all around the world, according to Brogan.

“I’ve spoken to an (EFV) in Hawaii from an (EFV) in California,” Brogan said.

There will be two types of EFVs. The first is a personnel variant, which will have the 30 mm automatic cannon and the 7.62 M240G Medium Machine Gun, and there will be the command variant, which can be employed as a tactical command post for maneuver unit commanders at the battalion and regimental level.

The $10.1 million vehicle will not be fielded totally until the year 2020.

Along with the Marine Corps getting a new amphibious vehicle, it will also get two new Military Occupational Specialties. The EFV crewman, which will be 1834, and an EFV mechanic, which will be 2148. 

The Marines currently manning the vehicle are staff noncommissioned officers and noncommissioned officers from various assault amphibian units and pipeline students from the Assault Amphibian School Battalion who have been training to crew the vehicle.