At the recent Modern Day Marine trade show in Quantico Virginia, Lockheed Martin revealed their entry for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (AVC) competition. The ACV program seeks to find a replacement for the Marines aging AAV vehicles which date back to the 1970’s. The ACV program follows the unsuccessful Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program which was cancelled in 2011 amid cost and performance concerns. The Lockheed Martin entry joins four other competitors, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, SAIC and Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems. Unlike the tracked Expeditionary Vehicle, the ACV prototypes are all wheeled 8×8 vehicles. According to an article from Defense News, the Marine Corps will narrow the field to two competitors by November and an ultimate winner will be selected in 2018. Lockheed Martin’s entry into the ACV competition signifies a move into parts of the defense sector it has previously not been active in. While General Dynamics and BAE are the two traditional suppliers of armored ground vehicle, Lockheed Martin is traditionally an aerospace company. However, Lockheed Martin has been making moves to expand it’s portfolio, including its recent failed bid to win the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program.
The five candidates are:
Lockheed Martin – Based on the photos so far made available, this vehicle appears to be based on the Finnish Patria 8×8.
BAE – This entry is a variant of the Superav 8×8 developed by Italian firm Iveco.
General Dynamics – The GD entry is based on the Piranha 8×8 originally developed by the Swiss firm MOWAG. This is also the basis of the General Dynamics built Stryker APC used by the US Army.
SAIC – This entry is based on the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle developed by Singapore Technologies Engineering and Timoney Technology.
Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS) – This is the only vehicle not on display at the Modern Day Marine show. It is assumed that the ADVS entry is a version of their 8x8x8 vehicle.
It is interesting to note that of the above list, four of the five options are based on vehicles not originally designed by US companies in response to a US government program. The AVC program is a much less ambitious program than its predecessor, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Since the end of the Cold War, the US military has not had a successful AFV development program that involved creating a completely new vehicle from scratch (Crusader SPG, Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle/AAAV, Future Combat Systems, Ground Combat Vehicle, etc.) Every successful AFV program since the Cold War has been either a foreign designed licensed product (Stryker) or an upgrade or derivative of existing weapons systems (M109A7, AMPV.)