WASHINGTON ― The U.S. government has approved the sale of dozens of Assault Amphibious Vehicles to Greece roughly a year after the Marine Corps barred the tracked vehicles from regular deployments following a fatal sinking incident in 2020.
The U.S. State Department approved NATO ally Greece to buy up to 76 Assault Amphibious Vehicles worth $268 million, according to an announcement on Friday. The Marine Corps, which maintains the vehicles are safe, intends to supply the vehicles from its inventory.
Greece, which has sought the deal since at least 2022, has asked to buy 63 of the personnel variant of the so-called AAV, nine of the command variant and four of the recovery variant, with 63 50-caliber machine guns, as well as MK-19 grenade launchers and M36E T1 thermal sights among the related equipment.
After the July 30, 2020 sinking, which killed nine troops, the Marine Corps in December of 2021 restricted its fleet of decades-old AAVs to the land and barred it from deployments or water training except in emergencies. A Marine Corps probe reportedly found that inadequate training, shabby maintenance and poor judgment by leaders led to the sinking of the AAV in one of the deadliest Marine training accidents in decades.
In a statement to Defense News on Friday, a Marine Corps spokesman said that while fleet’s average age is 40 years, the vehicles have undergone “a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), a Reliability Availability Maintainability/ Rebuilt to Standard Program (RAM/RS), and scheduled cycles through depot-level maintenance” throughout their lives.
“The AAV is a safe vehicle and a viable platform for amphibious operations. As with all combat systems and equipment, strict compliance with maintenance standards is an essential prerequisite to safe and effective operation,” said the spokesman, Maj. Jim Stenger.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcement, the sale to Greece will provide “an effective capability to protect maritime interests and infrastructure in support of its strategic location on NATO’s southern flank.”
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.