Assault Amphibious Vehicle

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AAVP7A1 RAM/RS
USMarines AAV Iraq apr 2004 116 hires.jpg
US Marine Corps AAV in Fallujah, Iraq
Type Armoured personnel carrier
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1972–present
Used by See Operators
Wars Falklands War, Persian Gulf War, Somali Civil War, Iraq War
Production history
Designer FMC Corporation
Manufacturer United Defense
Produced 1972
Specifications
Weight 29.1 tons
Length 7.94 m (321.3")
Width 3.27 m (128.72")
Height 3.26 m (130.5")
Crew 3+21

Armor 45 mm
Main
armament
Mk 19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher (rounds: 96 ready; 768 stowed)
Secondary
armament
M2HB .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun (rounds: 200 ready; 1,000 stowed)
Engine Detroit Diesel 8V-53T (P-7), Cummins VTA-525 /903 cubic inches(P-7A1)
400 hp (300 kW)
VTAC 525 903 525 hp(AAV-7RAM-RS)
Power/weight 18 hp/tonne
Suspension torsion-bar-in-tube (AAV-7A1); torsion bar (AAV-7RAM-RS)
Operational
range
480 km (300 miles); 20 NM in water, including survival in Sea State 5
Speed 24–32 km/h (15–20 mph) off-road, 72 km/h (45 mph) surfaced road, 13.2 km/h (8.2 mph) water[1]

The Assault Amphibious Vehicle[2] (AAV)—official designation AAV-P7/A1 (formerly known as Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel-7 abbr. LVTP-7)—is a fully tracked amphibious landing vehicle manufactured by U.S. Combat Systems (previously by United Defense, a former division of FMC Corporation) and FNSS Defence Systems.[3][4]

The AAV-P7/A1 is the current amphibious troop transport of the United States Marine Corps. It is used by U.S. Marine Corps Assault Amphibian Battalions to land the surface assault elements of the landing force and their equipment in a single lift from assault shipping during amphibious operations to inland objectives and to conduct mechanized operations and related combat support in subsequent mechanized operations ashore. It is also operated by other forces. Marines call them "amtracks," a shortening of their original designation, "amphibious tractor."

Development[edit]

Two U.S. Marine Corps Assault Amphibious Vehicles emerge from the surf onto the sand of Freshwater Beach, Australia
U.S. Marines exit from an Assault Amphibious Vehicle during a live fire exercise in Djibouti, Africa, in 2010

The LVTP-7 was first introduced in 1972 as a replacement for the LVTP-5. In 1982, FMC was contracted to conduct the LVTP-7 Service Life Extension Program, which converted the LVT-7 vehicles to the improved AAV-7A1 vehicle by adding an improved engine, transmission, and weapons system and improving the overall maintainability of the vehicle. The Cummins VT400 diesel engine replaced the GM 8V53T, and this was driven through FMC's HS-400-3A1 transmission. The hydraulic traverse and elevation of the weapon station was replaced by electric motors, which eliminated the danger from hydraulic fluid fires. The suspension and shock absorbers were strengthened as well. The fuel tank was made safer, and a fuel-burning smoke generator system was added. Eight smoke grenade launchers were also placed around the armament station. The headlight clusters were housed in a square recess instead of the earlier round type. The driver was provided with an improved instrument panel and a night vision device, and a new ventilation system was installed. These upgraded vehicles were originally called LVT-7A1, but the Marine Corps renamed the LVTP-7A1 to AAV-7A1 in 1984.

Another improvement was added starting in 1987 in the form of a Cadillac Gage weapon station or Up-Gunned Weapon Station (UGWS) which was armed with both a .50 cal (12.7 mm) M2HB machine gun and a Mk-19 40 mm grenade launcher.

Enhanced Applique Armor Kits (EAAK) were developed for the AAV-7A1 in 1989 and fitted by 1993, and the added weight of the new armor necessitated the addition of a bow plane kit when operating afloat.

The Assault Amphibian Vehicle Reliability, Availability, Maintainability/Rebuild to Standard (AAV RAM/RS) Program has provided for a replacement of both the engine and suspension with US Army M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) components modified for the AAV. The ground clearance has returned to 16 inches (40.6 cm) and the horsepower to ton ratio has changed from 13 to 1 back to 17 to 1. The AAV RAM/RS rebuild encompassed all AAV systems and components in order to return the AAV back to the original vehicle's performance specifications and ensure acceptable Fleet Marine Force (FMF) AAV readiness ratings until the EFV is operational. Introduction of the BFV components and the rebuild to standard effort is expected to reduce maintenance costs for the remaining life of the AAV through the year 2013. Though due to the cancellation of the EFV the AAV will remain in service much longer.

Limited reset[edit]

In July 2013, the Marine Corps began seeking industry assistance for a "limited reset" of the service's AAVs to enhance reliability. The limited reset was planned to begin in 2016, with roughly 40 percent of the 1,064-vehicle fleet to go through a survivability upgrade. The AAV's service life is to end in 2030.[5] The Marines released a request for proposals for the AAV Survivability Upgrade Program on 29 October 2013. 396 AAVs are planned to go through the survivability upgrade, with numbers varying each year ranging from 22 to 96 vehicles. Survivability upgrades will be applied to a fraction of the fleet to improve force protection until the fielding of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle.[6] SAIC was awarded the contract to perform AAV upgrades in March 2015.[7] The Naval Research Laboratory is working on a rare type of rubber that can provide corrosion resistance and ballistic protection for Marine AAVs and help extend their service lives to 2035. Previous methods of bolting on additional armor layered laminate high hard steel, rubber, and soft steel, which weakened from thermal expansion and contraction, water corrosion, and physical damage. The NRL is experimenting with a specific type of rubber called polyurea that stretches with the armor without cracking, which can better absorb the kinetic energy of bullets and blast fragments.[8]

On 28 January 2016, Marine and SAIC officials unveiled the AAV survivability upgrade (SU). Survivability enhancements include replacing the angled Enhanced Applique Armor Kit with 49 buoyant, flat-sided ceramic panels (adding 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of weight), a 2.25 in (5.7 cm)-thick aluminum armor underbelly providing MRAP-equivalent blast protection, a bonded spall liner, armor-protected external fuel tanks, and 18 blast mitigating seats in an alternating high and low pattern with elevated foot stands. To handle the extra weight and increase land speed, it has a VT903 engine that boosts power from 525 hp to 675 hp, as well as a new power take-off unit and transmission. Shocks have been replaced by a new suspension system that uses rotary dampers and upgraded torsion bars, which raises the hull by 3 inches (7.6 cm) and gives a smoother ride. The troop compartment of provisions for the crew and embarked Marines is also revamped, increasing supplies to operate from one day to three. Speed on water is expected to increase due to new axial flow water jets, and reserve buoyancy is increased from 18 to 22 percent. The upgrade costs $1.65 million per vehicle, and will be applied to enough AAV personnel variants to lift four infantry battalions. Testing will be conducted throughout 2016, with low-rate initial production expected in 2017, initial operational capability in 2019, and full operational capability in 2023.[9][10][11]

Variants[edit]

An AAVR-7A1 (Recovery vehicle) attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit splashes into the Pacific Ocean from the well deck of USS Juneau before heading to the beach.
  • LVTP-7: Original series introduced from 1972. Originally armed with a M85 .50cal machine gun.
  • LVTP-7A1: 1982 upgraded. Renamed to AAVP-7A1 from 1984.
  • AAVP-7A1 (Personnel): This is the most common AAV, as it carries a turret equipped with an M2HB .50 caliber heavy machine gun, and a Mk19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. It carries four crew radios as well as the AN/VIC-2 intercom system. It is capable of carrying 25 combat equipped Marines in addition to the crew of 4: driver, crew chief/vehicle commander, gunner, and rear crewman.
  • AAVC-7A1 (Command): This vehicle does not have a turret, and much of the cargo space of the vehicle is occupied by communications equipment. This version only has two crew radios, and in addition to the VIC-2, it also carries two VRC-92s, a VRC-89, a PRC-103 UHF radio, a MRC-83 HF radio and the MSQ internetworking system used to control the various radios. This AAV has a crew of 3, and additionally carries 5 radio operators, three staff members, and two commanding officers. Recently, the C7 has been upgraded to use Harris Falcon II class radios, specifically the PRC-117 for VHF/UHF/SATCOM, and the PRC-150 for HF.
  • AAVR-7A1 (Recovery): This vehicle also does not have a turret. The R7 is considered the "wrecker", as it has a crane as well as most tools and equipment needed for field repairs. It is by far the heaviest of the three, and sits considerably lower in the water. Crew of three, not including the repairmen.

Many P7s have been modified to carry the Mk 154 MCLC, or Mine Clearance Line Charge. The MCLC kit can fire three linear demolition charges to breach a lane through a minefield. MCLCs were used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and again in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

In the 1970s, the US Army used an LVTP-7 as the basis for their Mobile Test Unit (MTU), a ground-based antiaircraft high energy laser. After several successful test firings at Redstone Army Arsenal, the laser was reportedly transferred to NASA.

Combat history[edit]

Firing smoke grenades in training.

Twenty U.S.-built LVTP-7s were used by Argentina during the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands[12] with all of them returning to the Argentine mainland before the war ended. From 1982–1984, LVTP-7s were deployed with U.S. Marines as part of the multi-national peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon. As Marines became increasingly involved in hostilities, several vehicles sustained minor damage from shrapnel and small arms fire. On October 25, 1983 U.S. Marine LVTP-7s conducted a highly successful amphibious landing on the island of Grenada as part of Operation Urgent Fury. It was heavily used in the 1991 Gulf War and Operation Restore Hope. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, AAV-7A1s were criticized for providing poor protection for the crew and passengers compared with other vehicles such as the M2 Bradley. Eight were disabled or destroyed during the Battle of Nasiriyah, where they faced RPG, mortar, tank and artillery fire. At least one vehicle was destroyed by fire from friendly A-10 Warthog attack planes.[13][14][15] In August 2005, 14 Marines were killed when their AAV struck a roadside bomb in the Euphrates River valley.[9]

Replacement[edit]

Renamed from the Advanced Assault Amphibious Vehicle in late 2003, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) was designed to replace the ageing AAV. Able to transport a full Marine rifle squad to shore from an amphibious assault ship beyond the horizon with three times the speed in water and about twice the armor of the AAV, and superior firepower as well it was the Marine Corps' number one priority ground weapon system acquisition. The EFV was intended for deployment in 2015.[16] However, in January 2011 United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced plans to cancel the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. In 2012, the USMC dropped the EFV and cancelled the program. The AAV-7 is planned to remain in service for some years to come.[17] Out of the 1,058 AAVs in the fleet, 396 will undergo a survivability upgrade (SU) to lift six infantry battalions and keep them in service another 20 years, while vehicles of the non-upgraded portion of the fleet will be replaced as the Amphibious Combat Vehicle enters service.[11]

Training systems[edit]

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) under the Virtual Training and Environments (VIRTE) program, led by then LCDR Dylan Schmorrow, developed a prototype training system called the AAV Turret Trainer. The system consists of an actual surplus turret mounted with ISMT (Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer) weapons firing on a projected screen displaying the VIRTE Virtual Environment.[18] At total of 15 systems were produced for the USMC and one system for Taiwan.[19]

Operators[edit]

Map with AAVP7 operators in blue

Current operators[edit]

Future operators[edit]

  •  Japan: JGSDF: After a period of testing 6 AAVP-7A1s, Japan on 7 April 2016 announced it would purchase 30 systems. Vehicles are AAV7A1 Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability/Rebuild to Standard (RAM/RS) versions, with a more powerful engine and drive train and an upgraded suspension system, providing improved mobility, command, control, and repair capabilities. Deliveries to take place in mid to late-2017.[22][23][24][25]
  •  Philippines: Philippine Marine Corps: 8 units (KAAV7AI variant) on order.[26]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Eland, Ivan, Putting "Defense" Back Into U.S. Defense Policy, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, p.150
  2. ^ "Assault Amphibious Vehicle Systems (AAVS)". Marine Corps Systems Command. 2009-03-19. Archived from the original on March 27, 2008. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  3. ^ http://www.ssm.gov.tr/katalog2007/data/151/uruntr/uruntr6.html
  4. ^ http://95.0.165.204/v1.6/index.php?conmenu=7#
  5. ^ Marine Corps Explores AAV Reset Options - Defensemedianetwork.com, 16 July 2013
  6. ^ AAV Survivability Upgrade Moves Forward - Defensemedianetwork.com, 6 November 2013
  7. ^ SAIC Continues into Next Phase of Assault Amphibious Vehicle Survivability Upgrade - PRNewswire.com, 5 March 2015
  8. ^ Corrosion-fighting rubber could extend life of Marines’ amphibious vehicles - Defensesystems.com, 18 March 2015
  9. ^ a b Marines' aging amphibious vehicle fleet to get better armor, more power - MarineCorpstimes.com, 29 January 2016
  10. ^ US Marine Corps Shows Off Upgraded Amphib Vehicle - MarineCorpstimes.com, 16 March 2016
  11. ^ a b Marines’ Upgraded AAVs Begin Delivering, Will Comprise One-Third of Lift Need In 2020s - News.USNI.org, 23 March 2016
  12. ^ Smith, Gordon (1989). Battles of the Falklands War. p. 21. ISBN 9780711017924. 
  13. ^ Deadliest battle of war so far Sarasota Herald-Tribune, from New York Times News Service, March 24, 2003
  14. ^ Zeigler, Martin (2006). Three Block War II: Snipers in the Sky. iUniverse, pp. 34 and 36.ISBN 0-595-38816-7
  15. ^ Final Roll Call Archived May 8, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ U.S. Marine EFV Delivery Delayed to 2015 and Costs Double. defensenews.com
  17. ^ Cavas, Christoper P. "Hold Off on EFV, House Leaders Ask". Defense News, 24 January 2011.
  18. ^ "Virtual reality, real ingenuity". physorg.com. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  19. ^ "TJ, Inc". Tjinc-eng.com. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  20. ^ "Mecatrol". Mecatrol. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  21. ^ "Obama’s Plan to Arm Taiwan". warisboring.com. Retrieved 2015-12-17. 
  22. ^ KALLENDER-UMEZU, PAUL (13 April 2014). "Big-Ticket Buys Could Hurt Japan". www.defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  23. ^ SONODA, KOJI (21 August 2013). "Defense Ministry preparing Japanese version of U.S. Marines". asahi.com. The Asahi Shimbun Company. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  24. ^ Wasserbly, Daniel (7 April 2016). "Japan buys new BAE Systems AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicles". Jane's IHS 360. Washington, DC: Jane's IHS. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  25. ^ BAE Systems to Provide Upgraded Amphibious Assault Craft to Japan - Defensetech.org, 8 April 2016
  26. ^ "South Korean firm sole bidder in DND’s assault vehicle deal". philstar.com. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 

External links[edit]