Lockheed Martin has won a USMC contract funding the evaluation of the Patria AMV 8×8 vehicle, as part of the marine Corps Marine Personal Carrier (MPC) program. The $3.5 million contract funds the test and evaluation of the vehicle, dubbed ‘Havoc’. The eight months testing will take place at the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where the corps will evaluate the vehicle’s human factors and amphibious capabilities. A parallel evaluation of the vehicle’s protection will occur at the Nevada Automotive Test Center in Carson City, Nev. The MPC program is scheduled for seven years with production of nearly 100 units.
BAE Systems has also received a similar award, to deliver an 8×8 APC (supposedly a variant of the SuperAV 8×8 APC produced by its team-mate Iveco).
Following a comprehensive study and testing of a technology demonstrator vehicle, the Marine Corps prepared an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) summarizing the requirements for the new vehicle.
The MPC was not designed to replace an existing capability but rather complement the capabilities of existing protected transport provided by the AAV in the Assault Amphibian Battalion. Originally, the Marine Corps were looking at vehicles complementing the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) which was terminated later.
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Currently, the corps would like to see the MPC shoulders the protected transportation with the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) and its future replacement within the Assault Amphibian Battalion. In addition to protected transport, the MPC will be more suitable for tactical deployment, by carrying the marine rifle squad in two vehicles, each carrying nine infantry Marines with full combat load. The AAV provides lift for a full 17-man reinforced rifle squad.
The corps plans to field the MPC in three variants – a base personnel carrier (MPC-P) vehicle and two mission role variants (MRV) – including command, fire support and armored recovery vehicles. Preparing to maintain the vehicle for decades, the Marines would like the vehicle to be able to accommodate 25 % additional vehicle weight above the vehicle combat weight without vehicle upgrades.
None of the vehicles being evaluated by the corps was a US design, but options currently on the table will be locally built, if selected. Among the companies competing for the program are Lockheed Martin, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), BAE Systems and its arch rival General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS).
SAIC, which was one of the two primes managing the US Army Future Combat Systems (FCS) program has teamed with Singapore’s ST Kinetics offering Terrex 8×8 Armored Personnel Carrier already fielded by the Singapore Armed Forces. SAIC said this vehicle already deployed with the Singapore Army, will offer “a simple, elegant, enduring and USMC-usable capability to meet the program’s critical needs and schedule.”
BAE Systems, one of the competitors bidding for the USMC/Army Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is also in, teamed with the Italian vehicle manufacturer Iveco. Both are offering the SuperAV 8×8, a new design fresh off the drawing board. Iveco has a long experience with amphibious vehicles; some of its wheeled armored vehicles are supporting the Italian military for decades.
General Dynamics Land Systems, the traditional provider of amphibious armored vehicles for the Marine Corps, offers a model of the Piranha, which already exists in USMC and Army arsenals as the LAV-25 and Stryker. For the MPC program, GDLS is designing a version of Piranha to be fully compliant with the MPC requirement, while leveraging existing systems to maximize commonality while minimizing risk.
The Havoc 8×8 vehicle leverages the Patria Land Systems’ 8×8 Armored Modular Vehicle (AMV), which has been selected by six different European countries. Is currently in production, and is deployed in Afghanistan. The Havoc variant will have U.S. content embedded, including C4I technology and protection systems. The company said its protection level is designed to meet a wide range of threats, “from high blast force levels to large-caliber kinetic threats.” Lockheed Martin and Patria have teamed to propose the Havoc to the Marine Corps in 2008, toward the planned MPC program. At the time the team said the vehicle will be optimized for unconventional warfare, but effective across the full range of military operations. At that time, the MPC was designed to fill the medium-armor ground vehicle gap, (between the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – EFV) and Joint Light Tactical vehicle (JLTV). At a later stage the requirement for full amphibious capability was added, providing capability to “swim” through water.
The amphibious capability of the MPC was originally defined as having the ‘ability to cross rivers and inland waterways’. “The MPC will be capable of utilizing water obstacles, including the sea within the littoral operating area, as maneuver space via a robust tactical swim capability.” The Marine Corps document stated. “This tactical level of water mobility will enable shore-to-shore maneuver and complement the operational (ship-to-shore) and tactical levels of mobility which the upgraded AAV will possess.” robust tactical swim capability (shore-to-shore). The MPC shall swim at 6 knots (6.9mph) in a fully developed sea with a significant wave height (SWH) of three feet with a 6 ft plunging surf.
The vehicle protection will comprise three levels including the basic structural protection (hull and A kit), applique layers (B-Kit) designed to meet the protection levels for specific contingency, and special purpose add-on protection armor (C-Kit), designed to defeat specific threats such as anti-tank guided missiles (AGTM), Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and and Explosively Formed Projectiles Improvised Explosive Devices (EFP/IEDs). This armor will be applied at any level by field maintenance teams. Such capabilities are likely to be addressed by lightweight active protection systems the corps is exploring for some time. Internally, the vehicle will provide blast protection for the crew. The corps has already equipped its LAV-25s with blast protected seats and V-shaped belly plates; such means are likely to be available to the MPC. [/ismember]