The Marine’s Assault Amphibious Vehicle is getting improvements that are promising another 20 years of life according to Marine Corps Times. Improvements include:
– 49 bolt on buoyant ballistic plates
– additional aluminum belly armor
– moving fuel tanks to external positions
– 18 blast mitigating seats
– upgraded power plant, transmission and suspension
The improvements will cost $1,650,000 per vehicle, add almost five tons and raise the vehicle three inches. The IED specific initiatives promise MRAP equivalent blast protection but one should be highly skeptical. MRAP equivalent isn’t a technical term. There are a variety of MRAPS providing different levels of protection to occupants. Any improvement is good news but suspect a bit of overselling
Almost 400 vehicles are scheduled for rebuild by 2023. Enough vehicles to provide four Marine battalions amphibious assault capability. An additional two battalions of increased mobility will be provided by the wheeled Advanced Combat Vehicle previously covered by GruntsandCo here.
Autoblog reported the Army is being approached by Hendrick Dynamics an offshoot of NASCAR racing team Hendrick Motorsports to purchase modified jeeps featuring a 2.8-liter diesel which can burn any type of diesel as well as JP8 aviation fuel. The jeeps come in three versions. The two and four door versions mimic the civilian Jeep Wrangler and Unlimited models. There is also a pickup version.
The advantages of a militarized commercial off the shelf (COTS) vehicle are reduced cost and increased parts availability. The initial reservation to adopting such a vehicle would be an obvious lack of protection. One must keep in mind that we will not always be fighting the same type of enemy or participate in long wars. It would be a game changing capability to be able to quickly and temporarily provide first/early deploying light infantry forces with enhanced mobility at the beginning of a contingency before an IED threat can develop.
Proponents of this type of vehicle, the Army’s UCLV program, see the utility of these vehicles in employing them where they have not been before and providing foot bound light infantry with unprecedented mobility quickly. This hasn’t been done on a widespread basis since frontier days when infantry units were assigned horses. Having them in the inventory would also provide the capability of deploying them inside and under helicopters. Outside of special operations circles, there are few to no vehicles currently in the inventory that can be transported significant tactical distances with helicopters.