The venerable Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) is undergoing a Survivability Upgrade (AAV-SU) while development of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle is proceeding. The current plan is to upgrade 396 AAVs to the AAV-SU standard.
From the SAIC product brochure (1), upgrades include,
- integral aluminum underbody and crew compartment armor
- buoyant, ceramic-composite flank and roof armor
- integrated spall liner
- individual blast-resistant seats
- upgraded engine with increased horsepower and torque
- new, electronically-controlled transmission and Power Takeoff (PTO)
- new axial-flow water jets
- external fuel tanks
- upgraded vehicle controls and driver interfaces
Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is planned for 2019 with Full Operational Capability (FOC) following in 2023.
So, how is the project coming? There’s some good and some bad. Let’s take a quick look at the DOT&E 2017 Annual Report.
- Test units demonstrated desert and littoral operability – not exactly a surprise as the legacy AAV could already do that.
- Reliability is an issue with Mean Time Between Operational Mission Failures at 10.7 hrs versus the required 25 hrs.
- The transmission rapidly overheats when the vehicle’s tracks are used for swimming.
- The transmission operation requires the vehicle to slow and pause during the transition from sea to shore creating a vulnerability during a critical moment.
- The braking system is subject to a condition that can cause loss of hydraulic power and lock the brakes which necessitates remedial action that takes place outside the vehicle – undesirable in combat!
- The vehicle was able to accommodate 17 troops.
- The troop commander could not egress with the troops, instead having to egress out a top-side hatch and then down the side.
- The AAV-SU median egress time was 29 seconds, which exceeds the user requirement of 18 seconds.
- The vehicle met its force protection requirements.
Here’s an interesting recommendation from the DOT&E,
“Reduce the troop capacity threshold …”
The legacy AAV supposedly carries 21-25 Marines, depending on the source. Whether that’s true in practice, I don’t know but derating the AAV to 17 with a recommendation to further reduce that capacity is noteworthy.
In short, the survivability upgrade has some problems but nothing that appears unfixable in a reasonable time frame.
The biggest negative would seem to be the time frame for the project. Five to six more years to get a relatively simple upgrade to full operational capability seems excessive.
There’s no particular point to this post – just informational.
(1)SAIC product brochure, “Assault Amphibious Vehicle Survivability Upgrade”,