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thedrifter
05-02-07, 07:35 AM
Marines order new landing vehicle parts

Published: May 1, 2007 at 3:37 PM

DETROIT, May 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marines moved forward this week with a program to replace the venerable amtrac amphibious landing vehicle.

General Dynamics announced Tuesday it had received a $44 million contract from the corps for spare parts and systems designed for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) that will be used for testing purposes.

The EFV is an amphibious assault vehicle that carries infantry ashore and also includes heavier armaments that allow it to serve in a tank-like role as the Marines move inland. The vehicle can travel to the beach at 20 knots, three times faster than the current AAVP7-A1 amtrac (amphibious tractor), and can also keep pace with fast-moving armor on land.

The vehicle is also equipped with updated command-and-communications gear as well as a 30mm Bushmaster gun that will replace the lighter .50-caliber machine gun carried on the AAVP7.

Analysts have been debating the merits of the program with critics contending the money for the project would be better spent on up-armored land vehicles rather than amphibious vehicles, given the overall rarity of assaults on defended beaches. Proponents counter that the EFV gives the Marines a versatile and potent asset in the littoral operations anticipated in the 21st Century.

The EFV project is currently in the SDD (System Design and Demonstration) phase, and the contract announced Tuesday is a modification to the original SDD agreement. It calls for delivery of the parts and vehicle systems that will be used for further developmental testing.

About 40 percent of the work will be carried out by General Dynamics in Germany with the remainder at U.S. facilities run by GD's Land Systems unit based in suburban Detroit. The work is scheduled for completion in September.

Ellie