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
TypeArmoured personnel carrier
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1972–present
Used bySee Operators
WarsFalklands War, Persian Gulf War, Somali Civil War, Iraq War
Production history
DesignerFMC Corporation
ManufacturerUnited Defense
Produced1972
Specifications
Weight29.1 tons
Length7.94 m (321.3")
Width3.27 m (128.72")
Height3.26 m (130.5")
Crew3+21

Armor45 mm
Main
armament
Mk 19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher (96 ready rounds)
Secondary
armament
M2HB .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun (200 rounds)
EngineDetroit 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/weight18 hp/tonne
Suspensiontorsion-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
Speed24–32 km/h (15–20 mph) off-road, 72 km/h surfaced road, 13.2 km/h water (45 mph, 8.2 mph)[1]
 
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AAVP7A1 RAM/RS
USMarines AAV Iraq apr 2004 116 hires.jpg
US Marine Corps AAV in Fallujah, Iraq
TypeArmoured personnel carrier
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1972–present
Used bySee Operators
WarsFalklands War, Persian Gulf War, Somali Civil War, Iraq War
Production history
DesignerFMC Corporation
ManufacturerUnited Defense
Produced1972
Specifications
Weight29.1 tons
Length7.94 m (321.3")
Width3.27 m (128.72")
Height3.26 m (130.5")
Crew3+21

Armor45 mm
Main
armament
Mk 19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher (96 ready rounds)
Secondary
armament
M2HB .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun (200 rounds)
EngineDetroit 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/weight18 hp/tonne
Suspensiontorsion-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
Speed24–32 km/h (15–20 mph) off-road, 72 km/h surfaced road, 13.2 km/h water (45 mph, 8.2 mph)[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).

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 Amphibian Vehicles emerge from the surf onto the sand of Freshwater Beach, Australia
U.S. Marines landing from an Assault Amphibian Vehicle in Djbouti

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 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 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.

In July 2013, the Marine Corps began seeking industry assistance for a "limited reset" of the service's AAVs. The limited reset is not to increase its capabilities, but to enhance reliability due to the focused attention on sustaining maintenance. Three areas of consideration are replacement of obsolete, worn, or high failure-rate parts, recapitalization actions to extend the equipment’s useful life by returning them to original performance specifications, and repair or overhaul of equipment to Marine Corps standard. The limited reset is planned to begin in 2016, with 96 vehicles upgraded per year to the total 1,064 vehicle fleet; roughly 40 percent of the fleet will go through a survivability upgrade. The AAV's service life is to end in 2030.[3] The Marines released a request for proposals for the AAV Survivability Upgrade Program on 29 October 2013. Survivability upgrades will be applied to a fraction of the fleet to improve force protection until the fielding of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle. Features are to include increased side and underbelly protection and integrated blast seats and spall liners. A contract is planned to be awarded in spring 2014. If an engineering, manufacturing, and development phase is exercised, the contractor will make 8-10 upgraded vehicles based on a critical design review. 16 low-rate production vehicles will be tested before full-rate production of the upgrades. 396 AAVs are planned to go through the survivability upgrade starting in FY 2018 and be completed in FY 2023, with numbers varying each year ranging from 22 to 96 vehicles.[4]

Variants[edit]

An AAVR-7A1 attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit splashes into the Pacific Ocean from the well deck of USS Juneau before heading to the beach.

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.
Argentine Marines in the Falkland Islands

Twenty U.S.-built LVTP-7s were used by Argentina during the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands 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 the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has been criticized for providing poor protection for the crew and passengers compared with other vehicles such as the M2 Bradley. Eight of them 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.[5][6][7] AAV-7A1s were also used extensively in the Persian Gulf War and in Operation Restore Hope.

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.[8] 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.[9] Replacement of the AAV will now come from the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program.

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.[10] At total of 15 systems were produced for the USMC and one system for Taiwan.[11]

Operators[edit]

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. Retrieved 2010-08-04. [dead link]
  3. ^ Marine Corps Explores AAV Reset Options - Defensemedianetwork.com, 16 July 2013
  4. ^ AAV Survivability Upgrade Moves Forward - Defensemedianetwork.com, 6 November 2013
  5. ^ Deadliest battle of war so far Sarasota Herald-Tribune, from New York Times News Service, March 24, 2003
  6. ^ Zeigler, Martin (2006). Three Block War II: Snipers in the Sky. iUniverse, pp. 34 and 36.ISBN 0-595-38816-7
  7. ^ Final Roll Call[dead link]
  8. ^ U.S. Marine EFV Delivery Delayed to 2015 and Costs Double. defensenews.com
  9. ^ Cavas, Christoper P. "Hold Off on EFV, House Leaders Ask". Defense News, 24 January 2011.
  10. ^ Virtual reality, real ingenuity – Marines in need of a virtual trainer create their own
  11. ^ "TJ, Inc". Tjinc-eng.com. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  12. ^ "Mecatrol". Mecatrol. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  13. ^ KALLENDER-UMEZU, PAUL (13 April 2014). "Big-Ticket Buys Could Hurt Japan". www.defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  14. ^ SONODA, KOJI (21 August 2013). "Defense Ministry preparing Japanese version of U.S. Marines". asahi.com. The Asahi Shimbun Company. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Chile; Marines order surplus AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles - Dmilt.com, May 15, 2013

External links[edit]