Sunday, September 27, 2015

My view on the ACV contenders and how they rank...

All pics via Soldier Systems Blog...

Well we now have seen all the contenders for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle downselect and I'll give my rankings based on open source material, rumors and gut instinct.
Water Speed.
This was suppose to be addressed in increment 1.2 but the manufacturers demonstrated that they were able to meet the requirements in 1.1.  Having said that some of these vehicles will swim better than others.  My rankings....
1.  BAE/Iveco SuperAV
2.  ST Kinetics/SAIC Terrex 2 Advanced
3.  (Tie) General Dynamics ACV & Lockheed Martin ACV
This started out as a clear SuperAV advantage.  I think that the gap has closed.  I believe that the Terrex 2 Advanced will push it hard but not overtake it.  The General Dynamics & Lockheed Martin candidates seem more optimized to land performance, although work done to improve water speed seem obvious.
We're talking 8x8's and despite what we've heard from HQMC I still have doubts about their ability to "go anywhere a tracked vehicle can"....having said that I'm sure we've seen improvements in the state of the art.  I don't think they're equal to tracked vehicles but I do think that except in the roughest of terrain (probably areas you wouldn't want to take your track anyway) they can keep up.  What do I base that on?  The performance of the MTVR 7-ton Truck.  That's the real workhorse of the Marine Corps and will continue that role into the future.  But to my rankings...
1.  (Tie) BAE Super/Iveco SuperAV & General Dynamics ACV
2.  Lockheed Martin ACV
3.  SAIC/ST Kinetics Terrex 2 Advanced.
Quite honestly, I could be all wrong on this one, but the General Dynamics ACV and BAE SuperAV (especially the GD ACV) have the pedigree on this one.  The vehicles have the height, big wheels, the ability to skid steer that will make them monsters on roads, extremely capable on land and definitely will be a step forward from the AAV.  While being larger than an LAV-25, I view the LM candidate to offer similar land performance.  Our LAV Battalions are often the forgotten part of our maneuver element but  while great on on roads and decent in the desert, they struggle in other conditions.  I'm a fan, but they have limitations.  I see those same limitations in the LM setup.  Are those tool boxes between the 2nd and 3rd road wheels?  As far as the ST Kinetics/SAIC candidate I think the work done to make it swim better will hurt it in land mobility.

The other categories...blast protection, troop carriage, and weapons fit will all be to standard...consider those portions go or no go areas and rankings will be immaterial.  For example, they'll all be able to fit a 30-40mm RWS if requested by the Marine Corps.

Which leaves us with the 900 pound gorilla in the room.


I think this will turn into a price shootout.  How low will a manufacturer go to grab one of the few contracts that the DoD will put out for a new armored vehicle in the next few years?  The USMC is finally in the catbird's seat after so much pain and humiliation over an AAV replacement.

Let's hope HQMC doesn't screw this up.  Amos was wrong.  We've had far more than "one time to get this right"...we've had over a decade.  Let's not fuck it up at the 1 yard line.

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