WASHINGTON — The U.S. Marine Corps has awarded BAE Systems with a $184 million contract to deliver amphibious combat vehicles, or ACV, at full-rate production, according to a Dec. 10 company announcement.

The first lot of full-rate production ACVs amounts to 36 vehicles but is expected to grow to 72 vehicles in early 2021, with the option for 80 vehicles annually over five years. The Marine Corps declared the ACV had met initial operational capability requirements on Nov. 13. The full-rate production decision was delayed due to issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the ACV enters into service it will be providing highly advanced solutions for conducting maritime-based warfare operations and will play a vital role in the Marine Corps’ complex and challenging missions,” John Swift, director of amphibious programs at BAE Systems, said in the statement. “For BAE Systems, full-rate production validates years of dedication and teamwork in partnership with the Marines to introduce this capability to the warfighter and leave our adversaries on the battlefield at a marked disadvantage.”

BAE, with teammate IVECO Defence Vehicles of Italy, beat out SAIC for the contract to build the ACV following a competitive evaluation period in June 2018. That contract allowed the company to enter low-rate initial production with 30 vehicles expected by the fall of 2019 and valued at $198 million.

The ACV offers “force protection capability three times greater” than its predecessor, the assault amphibious vehicle, the BAE statement noted. “It provides substantially increased horsepower, with its six-cylinder, 690 horsepower engine, making it capable of land speeds exceeding 55 mph while running extremely quietly. It’s also designed to provide Marines the flexibility to address additional mission roles and future technologies through its modular design.”

BAE’s ACV provides space for 13 embarked Marines and a crew of three, which keeps together the rifle squad. The vehicle has a V-shaped hull to protect against underbody blasts, and the seat structure is completely suspended.

BAE is currently under a $67 million contract modification, which was awarded in June 2019 to develop new variants for the ACV including adding a command vehicle and a version with a 30mm medium-caliber cannon, according to the company. The company also noted that the design and development for both have begun.

The Marines plan to field 204 of the vehicles. The total value of the contract with all options exercised is expected to amount to about $1.2 billion.

Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.

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