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Shields up: marines face steep cuts to expeditionary vehicle.

Supporters of the Marine Corps' effort to develop a replacement for its Vietnam-era amphibious assault vehicle The Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV)—official designation AAV-7A1 (formerly known as LVT-7) is a fully tracked amphibious landing vehicle manufactured by FMC Corporation (now BAE Systems Land and Armaments).  are rallying to oppose a provision in the House 2007 defense appropriations bill. The measure would cut funding for the program by $64 million.

That's nearly 30 percent of the $231 million that the Corps requested to start building 15 expeditionary fighting vehicles in 2007. Three senators from states where the EFV EFV Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle
EFV Electronic Viewfinder
EFV Enhanced Fixed Variable (rate)
EFV Electric-Field-Variant Function
 would be built are trying to get their colleagues to reject the cuts.

Full funding for the program "is critical," said the senators, George Allen George Allen may refer to:
  • George Allen (U.S. politician) (born 1952), former Republican United States Senator
  • George Allen (athlete), American college and professional football player
  • George Allen (football) (1918–1990), American football coach
, R-Va.; Mike DeWine Richard Michael "Mike" DeWine (born January 5, 1947) is a former senator from Ohio.

Born in Springfield, Ohio to Jean and Richard L. DeWine,[1] DeWine grew up in neighboring Yellow Springs, OH.
, R-Ohio, and George V George V, king of Great Britain and Ireland
George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert), 1865–1936, king of Great Britain and Ireland (1910–36), second son and successor of Edward VII.
. Voinovich, R-Ohio. The EFV is the Marine Corps' number one priority ground system acquisition, they noted in a letter to the Republican and Democratic heads of the Senate Appropriations Committee In the United States government, the Appropriations Committee can refer to either:
  • the United States House Committee on Appropriations
  • the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations

"The EFV program is quickly approaching a critical programmatic juncture," the three senators wrote. "It ... is slated to enter low-rate initial production later this year." Any reduction in funding would lead to increased cost and production delays, they said.

The three apparently made their point. The Senate committee, in approving its version of the 2007 defense appropriations legislation, voted in July to provide the requested funding for the program. The full Senate put off the matter until this month.

No matter how the Senate votes, however, the battle is far from over. Some time later, conferees from both houses will meet to work out details for a single bill, including whether to cut EFV funding.

The issue arose in May after the Government Accountability Office The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress, and thus an agency in the Legislative Branch of the United States Government.  reported that the EFV program has been plagued by schedule delays, a 45 percent increase in estimated cost and significant technical problems.

Since beginning its final phase of development in 2001, the program schedule has grown 35 percent or four years, said the GAO report, signed by Patti L. Francis, the agency's director of acquisition and sourcing management. The reported noted:

* The estimated cost to build the 1,013 vehicles that the Marines have been planning to buy from the contractor, General Dynamics General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE: GD) is a defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2006 it is the sixth largest defense contractor in the world[1]. The company has changed markedly in the post-Cold War era of defense consolidation.  Land Systems, of Sterling Heights Sterling Heights, city (1990 pop. 117,810), Macomb co., SE Mich., on the Clinton River; platted 1835 as Jefferson Township, renamed 1838, inc. 1968. Largely rural until the mid-20th cent., the city grew as a suburb of Detroit, 19 mi (31 km) to the northeast. , Mich., has risen from $8.7 billion in 2001 to $12.6 billion in 2005.

* The requirement for the vehicle to operate continuously has been reduced from 70 hours to 43.5 hours.

* Testing of EFV prototypes revealed design problems with the hull electronic unit, which provides computer processing; the bow flap, which helps generates lift as the vehicle moves through the water, and the hydraulic systems, which control many of the platform's operations.

The EFV'S plight comes at time when the Marine Corps is struggling to find funds--perhaps as much as $12 billion in 2007 alone--to repair or replace equipment lost, damaged or worn out in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine officials are considering major cuts and perhaps production delays in the EFV program. Program manager Col. Michael M. Brogan, in Woodbridge, Va., told National Defense that he could not discuss the proposed changes until the decisions are final, but he did say that the reductions being discussed are not as steep as reported. Brogan admitted that reliability remains "a challenge," but he hoped to find some solutions as the Marines and General Dynamics continued testing at military bases in California this summer. They conducted amphibious exercises offshore near Camp Pendleton and hot-weather operations at Twentynine Palms.

Pentagon evaluators are scheduled in December to decide whether to proceed immediately with low-rate initial production or to postpone that decision until some time in 2007.

"I don't want to delay that decision," Brogan said. Such a delay simply would drive up the ultimate cost of the vehicle and postpone getting it into the hands of war fighters, he said.

Nominated for a promotion to brigadier general and command of the Marine Corps Systems Command--the service's main acquisition organization--Brogan is moving into a position where he will have a stronger voice in the EFV'S future.

"We very much believe the nation needs the forcible entry forcible entry n. the crime of taking possession of a house or other structure, or land by the use of physical force or serious threats against the occupants.  capability that the expeditionary fighting vehicle brings to the table," Brogan said.

The EFV--formerly known as the advanced amphibious assault Noun 1. amphibious assault - an amphibious operation attacking a land base that is carried out by troops that are landed by naval ships
amphibious operation - a military operation by both land and sea forces

 vehicle--is the latest of a series of platforms that Marines have developed since 1932 to move troops and equipment from ship to shore while under hostile enemy fire.

It is intended to be faster, tougher and more deadly than the current assault amphibious vehicle Noun 1. amphibious vehicle - a flat-bottomed motor vehicle that can travel on land or water

automotive vehicle, motor vehicle - a self-propelled wheeled vehicle that does not run on rails
, which was first fielded in 1972. The EFV'S name was changed to reflect the fact that, unlike traditional practice, it is expected to spend most of its time moving cross-country, not from ship to shore.

The Marines' only other combat personnel carrier is the light armored vehicle, which can carry no more than six troopers. Thus, although the AAV AAV Adeno-Associated Virus
AAV Asian-American Village
AAV Amphibious Assault Vehicle (US DoD)
AAV Association of Avian Veterinarians
AAV All Activity Vehicle (Mercedes-Benz)
AAV Airborne Assault Vehicle
 was designed to be amphibious, it has been pressed into service as a troop carrier in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The EFV is intended to do a better job in this role, Brogan said. It can cruise at 45 mph on land, compared to no more than 30 mph for the AAA AAA: see American Automobile Association.

(Triple A) A common single-cell battery used in a myriad of electronic devices of all variety. Like its double A (AA) cousin, it provides 1.5 volts of DC power. When used in series, the voltage is multiplied.
. The EFV also is faster on the water--reaching 20 mph in heavy seas, as opposed to 6 mph for the AAV.

The EFV is powered by a 6,000-pound, 12-cylinder, MT883, Ka523 diesel engine made by Germany's MTU Friedrichshafen MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH is a manufacturer of commercial engines. It was a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler until 2006 when it was sold off to the EQT IV private equity fund. Roughly translated from the German, MTU stands for "Motor and Turbine Union". . That's the same engine used in Germany's Leopard, the United Kingdom's Challenger, France's LeClerc and Israel's Merkava tanks. It can generate up to 2,700 horsepower to propel two 23-inch diameter water jets at sea and 850 horsepower to do the same for the vehicle's 21-inch tracks on land.

The EFV also has a greater range than its predecessor. It can launch from 25 miles at sea, while the AAV can do so from only two miles out. Once it reaches land, the EFV can go 345 miles without refueling, compared to 200 for the AAV.

In addition, the new vehicle can outshoot out·shoot  
tr.v. out·shot , out·shoot·ing, out·shoots
To shoot better than (another): a pistol that easily outshoots others in its class; a basketball player who outshot all others on the team.
 the older one. The EFV is armed with a fully stabilized MK44 Mod 1 30 mm automatic cannon that can shoot on the move. For greater accuracy, it has a laser range finder range finder

Instrument used to measure the distance from the instrument to a selected point or object. The optical range finder, used chiefly in cameras, consists of an arrangement of lenses and prisms set at each end of a tube.
 and a second-generation forward-looking infrared An airborne, electro-optical thermal imaging device that detects far-infrared energy, converts the energy into an electronic signal, and provides a visible image for day or night viewing. Also called FLIR.  system, giving it a 90 percent probability of a hit at 1,500 meters, Brogan said.

The AAV, by contrast, has an MK 19 MOD3 40 mm grenade launcher A grenade launcher is a weapon that launches a grenade greater distances, more accurately, and faster than a soldier could throw by hand. The man-portable grenade launcher , but it cannot shoot on the move, the launcher is not stabilized, and the vehicle has no range finder or infrared sensor.

The EFV comes in two versions, a command-and-control variant and a personnel carrier, which can accommodate 17 combat-equipped infantrymen, plus a crew of three.

That's fewer than the 21 passengers and three crews members that the AAV can transport. The AAV, however, is only lightly armored Adj. 1. lightly armored - equipped with armor heavy enough to provide protection against fire from light arms
lightly armoured

armored, armoured - protected by armor (used of persons or things military)
, while the EFV is protected by a ceramic-composite bolt-on armor that can stop 155 mm artillery shrapnel and 14.5 mm armor-piercing rounds.

Because the armor is bolted on it can be removed for greater speed when not needed and upgraded when improvements come along, Brogan said.

Since the EFV must remain light enough to stay afloat, there is a limit to how much armor it can carry, but even the most heavily armored vehicles--such as the Abrams tank--are susceptible to really large explosives, he said.

The EFV's seats, however, are built to withstand mine blasts, and the vehicle is insulated against chemical, biological and nuclear contamination.

The new vehicle also has an enhanced command-and-control capability. Unlike the AAV, which comes equipped only with a radio system, the EFV's command variant is intended to provide a senior officer and seven staff members with the ability to communicate with higher, adjacent and subordinate maneuver units, as well as supporting organizations and an offshore amphibious task force A Navy task organization formed to conduct amphibious operations. The amphibious task force, together with the landing force and other forces, constitutes the amphibious force. Also called ATF. See also amphibious force; amphibious operation; landing force. . It includes 11 radios, seven computer workstations with displays and keyboards, and six servers, with three operating systems--Windows, Unix and Solaris.

The GAO report, however, warned that a key requirement for the EFV--interoperability--cannot be demonstrated properly until the initial operational testing (testing) operational testing - A US DoD term for testing performed by the end-user on software in its normal operating environment.  and evaluation phase begins in 2010. "Interoperability means that the EFV communications system In telecommunication, a communications system is a collection of individual communications networks, transmission systems, relay stations, tributary stations, and data terminal equipment (DTE) usually capable of interconnection and interoperation to form an integrated whole.  must provide essential command, control, communications and intelligence functions for embarked personnel and EFV units," the report said. Also, the document noted, the EFV system must be compatible with other Marine Corps communications equipment, as well as with the Army, Navy, Air Force and North Atlantic Treaty Organization North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), established under the North Atlantic Treaty (Apr. 4, 1949) by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. .

In addition, the GAO said, reliability--which "still presents a significant challenge"--is not scheduled to be demonstrated until 2010.

EFV program officials have noted that they have developed plans to resolve these issues and are optimistic that they can do so. However, the GAO countered, "There are no guarantees that this will actually happen."

Therefore, the GAO recommended that the Defense Department delay a decision to begin low-rate initial production until the vehicle's design and technologies can be demonstrated successfully. Commenting on a draft of the report, the Pentagon's acting director for defense systems, Mark D. Schaeffer, concurred, promising to assess the EFV's readiness to begin production "within a year."

Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee admitted that his service could have made a better effort explaining the need for the EFV.

"We probably haven't done a real good job of articulating what that vehicle is going to be able to do for us," he told a recent gathering of defense writers. Delaying or cutting production, he cautioned, would come with a price.

"If we don't have that type of vehicle, we're going to have to buy more bridging," Hagee said. "As you're driving around, just count how many bridges you cross in a day's drive. You'd be surprised.... If those bridges are gone, you have got to be dragging bridges with you or find some other way around. With an EFV, you don't need that. You just go right across."
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Author:Kennedy, Harold
Publication:National Defense
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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