Marines use new amphibious vehicle overseas for the first time

Marines use new amphibious vehicle overseas for the first time

The Marines have debuted an amphibious combat vehicle overseas, showing that the Corps believes it has solved the training problems that previously limited the vehicle’s operations.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s amphibious fighting vehicle platoon conducted live-fire training in Oyster Bay, Philippines, on Saturday as the unit was deployed to the country for the large-scale bilateral exercise Balikatan.

Amphibious combat vehicles can emerge from the well deck of an amphibious ship and transport Marines through the waves and onto shore. These capabilities make the vehicle a key part of how the military’s amphibious force, the Marine Corps, launches amphibious attacks.

In the training, the platoon launched vehicles from the landing dock USS Harpers Ferry to form a strike force, according to a Marine Corps news release. The Marines then approached and fired on land targets with externally mounted Mk 19 40 mm grenade machine guns controlled by remote weapons systems.

Instead of firing a grenade grenade in the bay, the vehicle used a 40mm training round that marked the target with orange chalk, according to the release.

After the exercise, the Marines and amphibious fighting vehicles returned to Harpers Ferry.

“The hard work and dedication of our Marines made today’s training a success,” Col. Sean Dynan, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a news release. “Today’s training is a Marine Corps-wide proof of concept for successful ACV employment in a hypothetical environment.”

The road to preparing an amphibious combat vehicle for overseas operations was a difficult one.

The amphibious combat vehicle is a replacement for the amphibious assault vehicle, an aging platform that the Marine Corps has used since the 1970s.

The new vehicle is heavier and has a V-shaped hull rather than a flat one to protect the underbody from blast waves. Like previous platforms, it has wheels rather than tracks.

In 2020, an amphibious assault vehicle sank off the coast of California, killing eight Marines and a sailor. The military stopped fielding amphibious assault vehicles at the end of 2021 amid a transition to amphibious combat vehicles.

However, the Marine Corps suspended surface operations with amphibious combat vehicles from September 2021 to January 2022 due to tow rope issues.

After water training resumed, the Corps again canceled water training in July 2022 due to a vehicle rollover. The vehicle returned to sea in late September 2022, but an accident a few weeks later caused the service to halt most training with the vehicle in choppy waters.

No injuries were reported, but the Marines attributed this to insufficient training on how the new vehicle differs from its predecessor. After developing a new curriculum, they recertified pilots and mechanics through the transitional training unit at California’s Assault Amphibian School, Camp Pendleton.

In January, Assistant Commandant Gen. Christopher Mahoney announced that the vehicle would be deployed to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in March.

A portion of the force, including an amphibious combat vehicle platoon, deployed to Harpers Ferry on March 19, according to a news release. Somerset Amphibious Transport Wharf transported other Marines from the unit to the Philippines.

The third amphibious assault ship, USS Boxer, which was to transport the remaining Marines in the unit, returned to San Diego for maintenance less than two weeks after its deployment.

Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are gathering insights into the amphibious combat vehicle’s “employment, embarkation, maintenance requirements, logistics trains, and integration with allies and partners,” the Marine Corps said in a news release.

The Marine Corps based in Japan will receive its first amphibious fighting vehicle in the summer, Col. Tim Huff, the Marine Corps’ advanced amphibious assault program manager, announced May 1. BAE Systems is deploying 184 amphibious combat vehicles to the Marine Corps, all of them to Camp Pendleton, California, home of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The 12 amphibious fighting vehicles are scheduled to arrive at the Okinawa-based 4th Marine Regiment in July, Huff said.

“This is important because we’re going to be in different geographic locations,” Huff said.

Eileen Lowenson is a staff reporter at Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an Editorial Fellow in her August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College and served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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