The U.S. Marine Corps says its new Amphibious Combat Vehicle has completed testing and will begin the process to replace the decades-old Amphibious Assault Vehicle ahead of schedule beginning next week.
As part of the collaborative process between the Marine Corps and Defense Contractor BAE Systems and Iveco Defense Vehicles, the Amphibious Combat Vehicle was tested by Marines at Camp Pendleton.
The Marine Corps says they will begin fielding the first dozen and a half to a platoon at the Marine base in 29 Palms.
Sgt. Maj. (ret.) James L Johnson Jr. told NBC7, “There’s a lot of Marines and a lot of civilian engineers and a lot of people with very big brains that go into making these things from conception to reality."
The new eight-wheeled ACV, which can transport Marines from ship to shore, is adapted to equip new weapons and communication systems. It has a six-cylinder, 700-horsepower engine, to increase speed and is more fuel-efficient.
“Everything with the vehicle does meet the technological needs that the Marine Corps is looking for right now,” says Sgt. Maj. Johnson.
And it is not just about performance.
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“Safety is one of the key things that goes into the development of these vehicles because the Marines that are operating the vehicle are absolutely the most important asset that we have,” said Sgt. Maj. Johnson.
The new model will eventually replace the Amphibious Assault Vehicle that has been in use since the 1970s.
It is part of the Marine Corps' quest to modernize the force.
Today it is less about boots on the ground and more about technology.
“That’s the direction that the Marine Corps is moving,” said Sgt. Maj. Johnson.
But the timing of this is not lost on the military community here in Southern California. It comes just two months after seven Marines and a Sailor died when their Amphibious Assault Vehicle sank during training.
“It’s a very dangerous job,” says Sgt. Maj. Johnson adding, “These men and women put their lives on the line every day to ensure the United States remains a superpower.”
Currently, the Marine Corps 800 Amphibious Assault Vehicle remain on stand-down from water exercises pending the results of the investigation into the deadly incident off San Clemente Island at the end of July.