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Marines Steer $2.4 Billion Toward Tactical Vehicles

Marines Steer $2.4 Billion Toward Tactical Vehicles
The Marines are looking for already developed vehicles to replace the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Source: Department of Defense

Money budgeted for the canceled General Dynamics Corp. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle will be used for a variety of tactical ground vehicles over the next five years, according to Lieutenant General George J. Flynn.

The Marine Corps expects at the end of January to request information from defense contractors for three types of vehicles: the Marine Corps Personnel Carrier, an updated version of existing armored amphibious vehicles, and a new amphibious vehicle to carry rifle squads from sea to land, Flynn, head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Virginia, said today in a telephone news briefing.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week announced plans to cancel General Dynamics’s $15.5 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program as part of his drive to cut $178 billion over the next five years.

The Pentagon had allocated $2.37 billion over five years for development, procurement and spare parts, according to Defense Department budget documents. Flynn said that money, freed up by the cancellation, would be available for the new vehicles. Congress would have to approve the shift in spending.

‘Contentious’ Cancellation

The plan by Gates to kill the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle has run into criticism from lawmakers such as Representative John Kline, Republican of Minnesota, a former Marine who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“This is going to be pretty contentious,” he said in a telephone interview today. “Many of us were surprised that the EFV would be canceled.”

The EFV is designed for amphibious landings in hostile environments. Congress, through this fiscal year, has approved $3 billion of the program’s $15.5 billion cost.

Flynn said he expects Ashton Carter, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, to issue the memorandum to officially cancel the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle within two weeks.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said in an e-mail statement that the timeline for the cancellation is “still being worked out.”

“The EFV money, right now, we will be allowed to reinvest it in our ground tactical vehicle strategy,” Flynn said.

The upgrades to the existing amphibious assault vehicles likely will have priority, Flynn said. BAE Systems Plc is holding the contracts for the AAV-7A1, a rebuilt amphibious assault vehicle.

Industry Competition

Flynn said the Marine Corps plans to have an industry competition for the amphibious assault vehicle upgrades, but that depends on the contractors’ response to the request for information, due at the end of January.

With money freed up from the EFV, the Marine Corps is looking to speed up the purchase of new Marine Corps personnel carriers. The Marines are looking for already developed vehicles, Flynn said.

Lockheed Martin Corp., of Bethesda, Maryland, London-based BAE Systems and Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics have been lining up for the potential competition.

Flynn said the Marine Corps is planning to buy a new armored amphibious vehicle instead of continuing to buy a smaller number of EFVs.

The price of each new vehicle would fall between $4 million and $12 million, while the cost of one EFV rose to $18 million from an initially projected cost of $5 million per vehicle, Flynn said.

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