The US Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Development
The AAVP7A1 has served the US Marine Corp with distinction since entering service in 1972, but by 1996 the Corp was looking for a replacement.
In June that year, US firm GDLS won the Risk Reduction contract for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. GDLS formed a new company called General Dynamics Amphibious Systems who built 3 prototypes. In 2001 the company won the next development stage of the project, the demonstration phase. Eight troop vehicles and one control vehicle were built.
The principal weapon is the Mk44 Bushmaster II 30mm chain gun. It is unique in that the barrel can be removed and replaced with a 40mm barrel. It can fire API (Armour-Piercing Incendiary), HEI (High-Explosive Incendiary) and APFSDS-T (Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot-Tracer) rounds. It has a dual feed allowing the gunner to select the appropriate round for the target with a flick of a switch. Just over 400 rounds of 30mm can be stowed in the vehicle.
The Mk44 is fully electrically stabilized with a fully digitalised fire control system, which includes thermal sighting and gives a 90% hit rate at ranges of 1200m and can operate in all weather conditions.
For close encounters it is equipped with a 7.62mm coaxial MG, with 1400 rounds stored. Both weapons are mounted in the Mk46 two man turret, which uses an electrical turret traverse. This is less lethal to the crew if penetrated compared to the hydraulic alternative system and generates a far lesser thermal signature.
The vehicle is made of aluminium. Additional modular armour (would appear to be smaller than modules used on Main Battle Tanks) containing ceramic materials, which gives the vehicle the ability to upgrade to meet future threats. Its currently rated for splinter shrapnel from 155m artillery shells and 14.5mm MG fire.
The vehicle has a full NBC protection and internal fire detection/Extinguishing system. It’s also designed to reduce the effects of IED and RPG attack with spall lining. The Marines also sit on mine blast protected seats. Sighting equipment is also laser protected.
The vehicle uses a German MTU MT 883 Ka-523 diesel engine. Whilst on land it generates 850hp and at sea 2702hp.
On land, it was a requirement that the vehicle could keep up with the Corps M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank fleet, so has a top road speed of 72km/h and a range of 523km.
The vehicles amphibious capability is quite remarkable and advanced compared to others.
Its propelled via water jets located in the rear. A front hydraulically operated bow plate is then positioned, the hydrogas suspension retracts, pulling the road wheels and tracks into the hull, so the bottom of the vehicle becomes a flat surface. The jets kick in and thanks to the bow plate and flat bottom, the vehicle raises up and skims across the water, rather than the typical boat shape hull pushing through it.
This transformation is all done with the press of one button! It has a top speed of 20 to 25 knots in sea state 3. This remarkable capability aids in the protection of the launching/staging ship.
If anything has been learnt in recent years, it is that countries like North Korea are still developing land based anti ship missiles as demonstrated by their public tests, so there is still a genuine threat to a fleets safety.
The EFV’s improved amphibious capability now means that it can be launched up to 25 Nautical Miles away from the landing beach. This means not only is the fleet out of the firing line, but it no longer can be seen and used as a visual indicator to the enemy that their Marine Corp is about to breach their shore line.
EFV(P) – The commander and gunner are located in the turret and driver up front. 17 fully equipped Marines are carried in the rear.
EFV(C) – The commander and gunner are located in the turret and driver up front. 7 staff stations and 2 jump seats. The vehicle is equipped with a multitude of communications of varying commander level.
Both vehicles have temperature controlled air conditioning.
The US Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was initially expected that the vehicle would enter production in 2007 and that 1013 vehicles would be ordered (935 Personnel carrier & 78 Command).
The vehicles design, especially amphibious capability involves complicated mechanisms to work and like all such systems on Armoured Fighting Vehicle, they are put through stresses and strains that increase their susceptibly to faults, which reduces the vehicles reliability. This has been raised as a genuine problem and concern in the US Congress.
This of course has pushed the cost of the vehicle up and there have been concerns about the vehicles susceptibility to IED’s as the vehicle lacks a V-Shaped hull, which is essential to deflect the blast of an IED and increase survivability.
These issues were raised in congress in 2009 and the future of the EFV project looms in the balance and maybe cancelled following the decisions made during the 2010 ongoing Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) process.
The US Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Project Cancelled
During a Pentagon briefing, on 6 January 2011, revealing budget efficiencies and reinvestment possibilities, SECDEF Gates announced his intention to cancel the EFV program. In a statement released after Gates’ press conference, CMC Amos said that he supports the cancellation of the EFV:
“Today the Secretary of Defense announced the termination of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program. I support his decision. After a thorough review of the program within the context of a broader Marine Corps force structure review, I personally recommended to both the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy that the EFV be cancelled and that the Marine Corps pursue a more affordable amphibious tracked fighting vehicle.
Despite the critical amphibious and war-fighting capability the EFV represents, the program is simply not affordable given likely Marine Corps procurement budgets. The procurement and operations/maintenance costs of this vehicle are onerous. After examining multiple options to preserve the EFV, I concluded that none of the options meets what we consider reasonable affordability criteria. As a result, I decided to pursue a more affordable vehicle”.
—James F. Amos, 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps.