The ACV Program Advances!

by admin on November 28, 2015

102714_BAE_Iveco_MPCFor those who have been reading me over the years, it should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV 1.1) Program (look here and here). I mean, heck, I was for the ACV 1.1 Program back when it was originally the Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) Program!

The cancelled MPC was, essentially, a cost-effective “80% solution” that the USMC should have bought two years ago, back before some un-named idiot cancelled the whole thing. But after a hiatus to reconsider (again!) a gold-plated, fast-moving, super-expensive, beach-landing super-craft (which, yes, I would love!), more rational heads prevailed and the ACV 1.1 program was “born and released” (or….the MPC was just re-released) into the RFI/RFP world–in a surprisingly un-goldplated, off-the-shelf-enabling fashion (which, coming from the pro-complexity and price-is-no-object USMC I’ve been used to, was something of a shock). Of course, all the usual suspects made a play for this program.

So…as everyone knows, the awards were made. BAE, the front-running entrant in the MPC program, won a down-select slot, and will be competing against SAIC. SuperAV versus Terrex 2. Fantastic–it’ll be a great competition by two teams with strong, well-differentiated approaches. Best of luck to both teams. I can’t wait to see who wins!

This is exactly what the USMC procurement community needs right now–two good, relatively low-risk/low-price products fighting it out.

As programs go, the ACV is a pretty boring, low-profile piece of kit (an oft-ignored enabler like the (cough) LCU). And we can all kvetch all day long about amphibious warfare and about how amphibious landings are an outdated concept and will never see the beach and yada yada yada. Fine. But the fact remains (and the blasted South China Sea…and ALL OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC demonstrates) that islands are important–more so now than ever.

And while the ACV 1.1 won’t go kicking down any doors, the ACV 1.1 is a good vehicle for what the US needs right now–something light to enable the dispersed, lighter bits of the USMC and US Navy Team to operate in contingency operations throughout Oceania and Africa–helping enable a dispersed USMC to coalesce quickly at low-threat trouble spots and ensure the insertion of sufficient force to prevent others from seeking unilateral (and likely disruptive) solutions. In my mind, a fleet of ACV 1.1’s may not win a war, but they sure as heck can help prevent one from occurring.

The faster this program gets underway, the better. Good job USMC. You’re on the right track, and I’ll see ya’ll on the beach!

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