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Latest version of Marine Corps' amphibious fighting vehicles goes further, faster

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 1/5/2004

Story by Staff Sgt. Cindy Fisher

WOODBRIDGE, Va. (Oct. 2003) -- The Marine Corps' newest expeditionary asset is the latest in a series of vehicles that began with the Roebling Alligator in 1932. The new vehicle, formerly known as the Advanced Assault Amphibious Vehicle, was recently renamed the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

In the 20th century, the Corps' focus was on amphibious operations, but the 21st century focus is shifting to expeditionary operations, said Lt. Gen. Emil R. Bedard, the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations, Headquarters, Marine Corps, during his speech at the renaming ceremony at the Worth Avenue Technology Center in Woodbridge, Va., Sept. 10. Changing the name of the vehicle reflects this cultural change in the Marine Corps' warfighting concepts.

In other words, "a rose by any other name would still smell like burnt oil and diesel fuel," according to Col. Clayton F. Nans, the direct reporting program manager at the technology center. Nans added that this vehicle, which is unique to the Marine Corps, has seen a lot of improvements from the original design and better compliments the expeditionary nature of the Corps' current warfighting concepts.

The EFV, along with the MV-22 Osprey and the Landing Craft Air-Cushioned, are the future of Marine Corps warfighting, said Lt. Gen. Bedard. "It is about being able to go where we want to go and to be able to go as deep and fast as we need to. (The EFV) is the vehicle that will take us from further out to sea, to deeper into the heart of the enemy."

The predecessor to the EFV, the Assault Amphibian Vehicle, has been in service for almost 40 years. The vehicle, which was originally fielded in 1972, has been overhauled and upgraded numerous times throughout its career but a 1988 Mission Area Analysis determined that it was deficient to meet the Corps' needs in areas such as water and land speed, firepower, armor protection and system survivability.

"The Marine Corps has always been an expeditionary force," said Charles M. Hall, president of General Dynamics Land Systems, which was awarded the contract to develop and demonstrate the vehicle in February 2001. "This new vehicle's capabilities must surpass previous amphibious vehicles so the Marine Corps can continue to exploit the sea and the land."

The EFV will exceed the requirements set forth by the Marine Corps, Hall said. "We have demonstrated most of those requirement. The EFV will provide the capabilities necessary for the 21st century Marine."

The vehicle is expected to exceed the water speed of the AAV by three times, have a land mobility equal to or greater than an M1A1 tank, have increased survivability features than the AAV, provide command and control capabilities to subordinate, adjacent and higher units, and provide nuclear, biological and chemical protection for its crew and accompanying troops.

Lance Cpls. Edward J. Castleberry and Kenneth D. Koonce, both AAV operators and veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, recently had a chance to put the EFV through some of its paces.

"Its awesome, absolutely years and years more advanced than what we have now," said Castleberry, a crew chief with 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene, N.C.

"It is way better than the one we have right now-a lot more firepower and speed," added Koonce, an AAV crewman based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"EFV is much more than an Amphibious Assault Vehicle and truly represents a transformational leap in technology and capability beyond any previous Assault Amphibian. EFV will be one of the most capable and advanced fighting vehicles ever fielded," said Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, in a letter to the Direct Reporting Program Manager of the EFV program.

The EFV program entered the system development and demonstration phase of the acquisition cycle in December 2000. Since receiving the SSD contract, General Dynamics Land Systems subsidiary General Dynamics Amphibious Systems has been fabricating and testing the second generation of the vehicle. They have completed three and will build a total of nine of the second generation prototypes and one live-fire test vehicle at the Worth Center facility. They will also develop the low-rate initial production design.

Looking ahead, General Dynamics Amphibious Systems expects to enter into operational assessments in fiscal year 05, according to Hall. Extensive testing of the reliability, survivability and capabilities of the prototype vehicles will continue throughout the SSD phase.

This is a long-term program and a third generation of the EFV will be developed before it is fielded, said Nans. "We expect to begin fielding the EFV in fiscal year 2008."

Currently, a total of 1,013-935 EFVP, for personnel, and 78 EFVC, command vehicles-are scheduled to be built and delivered through fiscal year 2018. General Dynamics has selected a Prince William County facility for production of the EFV.

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