Marine Corps ATV
A new Marine Corps ATV maneuvering in the surf at Camp Pendleton. Marine Corps photo

A new Marine Corps amphibious fighting vehicle that uses advanced wheel technology rather than traditional tracks was tested earlier this month at Camp Pendleton.

The tests conducted Dec. 16-18 evaluated the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle‘s maneuverability and performance during low-light and night operations on Camp Pendleton’s beaches.

“I am loyal to tracks, but the more I learn about these vehicles, the more impressed I get with all its features and how it will improve our warfighting capabilities,” said David Sandvold, director of operations for the Marines’ Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, in a report on the tests.

Starting in 2020, the new eight-wheeled ACV will begin replacing the venerable tracked Amphibious Assault Vehicle, which has been in service since 1972.

The new APV out of the water. Courtesy BAE Systems

The basic ACV built by BAE Systems can carry 13 Marines up to 12 nautical miles from Navy ships, then travel up to 65 mph on land. A variant will have a 30 mm cannon to fight enemy vehicles.

“It’s a huge difference on how the ACV and the AAV drive and handle,” said Marine Sgt. Fernando Alvarez. “The main difference (with wheels) is that it’s a lot faster on land. But instead of pivoting like the AAV, we have to make three-point turns now, which is not a problem.”

The ACV has a unique V-shaped underbelly to deflect the blast of improvised explosive devices, a common weapon encountered by the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The first production run of the new vehicles from BAE is expected to total 204.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.