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EFV—Corps’ future amphibian visits Combat Center

By Gunnery Sgt. Frank Patterson | | October 22, 2004

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One of the Corps’ future weapons, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, debuted here last week.

A team from the Direct Reporting Program Manager, Advanced Amphibious Assault and General Dynamics Amphibious Systems brought the EFV—formerly known as the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle—to the Combat Center through October for testing.

These are some of the final tests for this phase of the EFV development. Soon it enters the next phase—operational assessment, according to Gunnery Sgt. Calhoun S. Jacob, DRPMAAA team member.

“The doctrine for employing this vehicle has already been developed,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Newell, human factors engineer whose task is to ensure the operational suitability of the EFV for AAV crews.

The EFV is slightly larger than the AAV and carries a complete reinforced rifle squad (17 Marines) and a crew of three. The EFV, however, is designed more as a combat vehicle than a troop transport.

“The EFV’s main armament is the MK-46 30 mm weapon system,” said Shawn Haag, General Dynamics Amphibious Systems. “The MK-46 is a fully stabilized weapon system with a full-solution fire control system. It has a 30 mm chain gun coaxed with a 7.62 mm machine gun.”

Other improvements include an engine that gives the EFV twice the horsepower of the AAV and another third of the horsepower of the recently upgraded AAV. The 800-horsepower power plant produces 1,200 horsepower in the transition mode and up to 2,750 in the water.

These operating modes—land, transition and water—have been joined by a fourth mode that is specific to the EFV: the “Silent Watch” mode.

A driver must start the AAV’s engines hourly to keep the batteries charged. In Silent Watch mode, the EFV can sit in an ambush position for an entire night if necessary without alerting the enemy by keeping its batteries charged with an APU—auxiliary power unit—and maintaining surveillance with thermal and night-vision sights.

When the EFV changes from land to water configurations it is like a Transformer, said Jacobs, referring to the cartoon robots that change into trucks and jets.

He explained that as the EFV transforms, the treads retract into the body and flaps fold out covering them essentially transforming this next-generation amphibian into a flat-bottom boat. As the undercarriage changes, a bow plane folds down, which combined with the thrust created by the 2,700-horsepower, turbo-boosted engine, turns the 35-ton EFV into a speedboat that dances across the waves at more than 20 knots.

“This thing is so fast in the water that the running joke around DRPA is how long will it be before someone tries to water ski behind it,” said Jacobs.

The passengers inside the vehicle now sit on individual fold-down seats instead of the bench seats, and the rear ramp door opening has been reduced to something a bit larger than a regular doorway. But even with the smaller hatch, tests have shown that 17 combat-loaded Marines can still egress in about 18 seconds, said Newell.

The EFV incorporates many more changes to the AAV concept, such as improved armor, which makes it one of the best-protected vehicles in any branch of the Armed Forces, said Newell.

As the Marine Corps strives to perfect its primary task of amphibious warfare, vehicles like the EFV, MV-22B Osprey and LCAC add capabilities that are essential to the “Operational Maneuver from the Sea” concept. The EFV’s potential will keep U.S. Marines on the technological edge of amphibious operations well into the future.

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