U.S. Marines with 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, storm ashore in an amphibious assault vehicle during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 in Thailand. The Marine Corps is moving forward with plans to replace the aging AAVs with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle now under development. (Staff Sgt. Leo Salinas / U.S. Marine Corps)
The U.S. Marine Corps could launch a request for proposals for its next-generation Amphibious Combat Vehicle within the next few months, following another review of what is needed, the commandant said.
Gen. Jim Amos told reporters Jan. 28 that he called for a “deep dive” study on what is needed in the vehicle that lasted “right up to Christmas.” He hopes to share the results with U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus soon and then brief the next secretary of defense, most likely former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel.
“I think all of this is going to happen over the next couple of months because we’re anxious to get money in the budget that we’re working on right now, the  budget,” Amos said after delivering a speech at the Special Operation/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium in Washington. “We’ve got [the money], so we just want to keep it there.”
The Corps had initially intended to release the RFP for the ACV in the fall but delayed it to again review what it will require from industry on the project. Marine officials want the vehicle to replace its aging fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles, transporting troops from Navy ships to shore, and then pushing into ground operations without stopping.
Development of the ACV began after then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the $13 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program in 2011 due to cost overruns and years of delays. Due in large part to that experience, the Corps is paying close attention to the details to make sure the ACV stands up to scrutiny on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.
Amos acknowledged that point Jan. 28, saying he feels “particularly good” about how many times the Corps has gone over the ACV’s requirements.
“I don’t want to bring out another EFV,” Amos said. “I’m not going to bring out another EFV. I’m going to bring out an Amphibious Combat Vehicle, and we’re going to hit a home run the first time out of the chute.”
Amos also said that despite major pressure on the federal budget, the Corps is still interested in buying about 5,500 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. The vehicle is expected to eventually replace the Humvee in the U.S. military’s fleet, especially in the Army.
The only way the Corps’ interest in the JLTV would wane, Amos said, is if it is faced with sequestration, the automatic federal budget cuts that are looming if the U.S. government doesn’t find another way to reduce its deficit by March 2. The cuts were put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, a federal statute that calls for $600 billion in budget cuts over 10 years at the Pentagon if no other deficit reduction agreements are reached.
‘If sequestration hits on March the second, then I’m going to have to go back and look at all my programs, and that’s where the JLTV would be looked at very, very carefully, just along with all my programs,” Amos said. “Right now, it’s funded, we like it, we want to buy it, we need it, but if sequestration [hits], I have to tell you what: Everything is on the table.”