The Marine Corps' plan to fast track the development of its next-generation amphibious vehicle could mean some design and mechanical problems might not emerge until after the first systems hit the fleet, according to a government watchdog agency.
As the Marine Corps prepares this month to select two competitors to produce prototypes of its Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1, the Government Accountability Office commended the service for following best practices tied to major acquisition programs. But the GAO is also warning Marine officials to keep an eye on two key points.
Developing the first round of ACVs before the preliminary design review is complete “poses risk,” the Oct. 28 report states. That could result in costly modifications down the road.
The service's plan to combine preliminary and critical design reviews into one event — just 90 days after development begins — leaves too little time to address issues, the report states. GAO officials cited the canceled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program as an example of what the Marine Corps should not repeat. The EFV's critical design review was conducted at a similar stage, but prototype testing continued for three years — long after the findings could inform the design. After 15 years, the $3.7 billion program was deemed too expensive to maintain.
“If the ACV 1.1 does not demonstrate the expected amphibious capabilities, then more development than currently anticipated may be required for ACV 1.2 to achieve ship-to-shore amphibious capability and greater effort may be needed to retrofit ACV 1.1 vehicles to achieve the same capabilities,” the report said.