MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. QUANTICO, VA — Lockheed Martin unveiled its entry for the US Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) at the Modern Day Marine expo this week.
The ACV program seeks to develop an armored vehicle that can shuttle Marines marines back and forth from offshore ships to land. The vehicles are needed to replace the service’s 1970s-era Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs), and were developed as an alternative to the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which was cancelled amid cost concerns in 2011.
Four of the five entrants displayed their eight-wheeled ACV prototypes at Modern Day Marine. Together with Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, General Dynamics and SAIC parked their 8x8s within a few feet of each other.
The fifth competitor, Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems, did not show its entry at the expo.
The Marine Corps will narrow the field to two competitors in November, said Bill Taylor, the Marine Corps' program executive officer for land systems. The two semi-finalists will submit 16 vehicles each, which will then undergo a series of tests before a finalist is chosen in 2018.
"We just received final proposals this week," Taylor said during a panel presentation for industry on Wednesday. "Prototype build will consume just about all of FY16, and testing will consume just about all of FY17."
Ultimately, the Marine Corps will buy 202 vehicles via the ACV program, said Manny Pacheco, spokesman for the program executive office land systems.
"We're pretty confident that industry has built the capability that will ultimately meet our requirements," Pacheco told Defense News.
James Hasik, a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said that unlike the recent competition for the US Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which industry observers largely expected to go to eventual winner Oshkosh, the competition for ACV appears to be wide open. Lockheed Martin's submission in the JLTV competition was not selected, and the company has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office.
Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin initiated the acquisition of American helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, potentially giving the defense giant another segment in which it can build platforms.
Hasik said that Lockheed's "totally credible" JLTV entry demonstrated that the company has a design team that knows how to construct an armored off-road vehicle.
"It signals that LM is very interested in selling into as many domains of defense as it can," he said of Lockheed's ACV entry.