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Marines Test New Amphibious Combat Vehicle's Maneuverability
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez
January 1, 2020

The world is constantly advancing around us. As the most feared fighting force in the world, it is imperative Marines advance their capabilities along with it. The Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicle is here to improve Marines’ amphibious capabilities.

Marines with the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, tested the ACV’s maneuverability and performance during low-light and night operations on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s beaches in December 2019. The Marines spent hours driving ACVs the Southern California surf and in the open ocean to assess how well they could interface with the vehicle and conduct operations in low light.

U.S. Marines with Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, drive a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle ashore during low-light surf transit testing at AVTB Beach on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 18, 2019. The test was designed to assess and verify how well Marines can interface with the vehicle and operate at night. The ACV is an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier designed to fully replace the Corps’ aging fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez)
U.S. Marines with Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, drive a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle ashore during low-light surf transit testing at AVTB Beach on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 18, 2019. The test was designed to assess and verify how well Marines can interface with the vehicle and operate at night. The ACV is an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier designed to fully replace the Corps’ aging fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez)

“AVTB has been on Camp Pendleton since 1943,” said David Sandvold, the director of operations for AVTB. “We are the only branch in the military who uses our warfighters to test equipment that is in development.”

The ACV will be replacing the Amphibious Assault Vehicle starting in late 2020. The AAV has been in service since 1972, serving in countries around the world. The AAV has been the go-to vehicle to carry Marines and gear from ship to shore, but with adversaries around the world growing more powerful, the ACV was created to enhance the capabilities of ship to shore missions and amphibious assaults.

The ACV will come in four different variants derived from the armored personnel carrier base. There’s a recovery variant, a command and control variant, and an up-armed variant to engage enemy armored vehicles. Each ACV comes equipped with eight wheels instead of the tracks originally on the AAV.

“It’s a huge difference on how the ACV and the AAV drive and handle,” said Marine Sgt. Fernando Alvarez, an AAV operator with AVTB. “The main difference (with wheels) is that it’s a lot faster on land. But instead of pivoting like the AAV, we have to make three-point turns now, which is not a problem.”

U.S. Marines with Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, drive a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle along the beach during low-light surf transit testing at AVTB Beach on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 18, 2019. The test was designed to assess and verify how well Marines can interface with the vehicle and operate at night. The ACV is an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier designed to fully replace the Corps’ aging fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez)
U.S. Marines with Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, drive a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle along the beach during low-light surf transit testing at AVTB Beach on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 18, 2019. The test was designed to assess and verify how well Marines can interface with the vehicle and operate at night. The ACV is an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier designed to fully replace the Corps’ aging fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez)

The ACV powers through high surf, traverses over trenches and trucks over sloped terrain. The ACV’s significant protective assets make it resilient to direct attacks and allow it to operate with degraded mobility in an ever-changing battle environment. The vehicle possesses sufficient lethality to deliver accurate fire support to infantry, whether stationary or on the move.

“Technology is modernizing,” explained Sandvold. “As we learn about the ACV, we see everything it has to offer.”

The ACV also has a unique V-shape underbelly to deflect the blast of improvised explosive devices. Since IED’s were the most lethal weapons used against AAV’s, the new ACV was designed to take a blast from an IED, continue the mission and bring Marines home safely.

“I am loyal to tracks, but the more I learn about these vehicles, the more impressed I get with all its features and how it will improve our warfighting capabilities,” said Sandvold.

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