Amphibious warfare is the defining mission of the U.S. Marine Corps, but it’s getting increasingly dangerous. Many littoral states now have anti-ship missiles that can hit amphibious warships far over the horizon. And once Marines get ashore, they have to deal with everything from explosively formed penetrators to suicide bombers to improvised explosive devices. The Marines have adapted their technology and tactics to this rapidly changing environment, but there is one item missing from their arsenal of warfighting tools: a next-generation amphibious combat vehicle. The current “amtrac” debuted over 40 years ago, so a replacement is long overdue, but combining high water speed with protected mobility on land has proven to be a vexing engineering challenge. The service has decided to separate out the land mobility and sea mobility pieces, addressing survivability ashore first in an evolutionary development strategy. GAO says it is a smart approach. Down-select to two contractors is scheduled for later this year, and BAE Systems seems to have an edge in the competition. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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