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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Marines’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV): Background and Issues for Congress

Andrew Feickert
Specialist in Military Ground Forces

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) is an armored amphibious vehicle program that originated two decades ago to replace the 1970s-era Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV). Like current AAVs, the EFV is designed to roll off a Navy amphibious assault ship, move under its own power to the beach, and cross the beach and operate inland. The EFV has experienced a variety of developmental difficulties, resulting in significant program delays and cost growth. The EFV is currently in its second systems design and development (SDD) phase attempting to improve the EFV’s overall poor reliability and performance that it demonstrated during its 2006 operational assessment. On January 6, 2011, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced, based on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Navy and Commandant of the Marine Corps, that he would recommend the cancellation of the EFV. Secretary Gates also reaffirmed the Marines’ amphibious assault mission and pledged to fund future efforts to acquire a more affordable and sustainable replacement and also to upgrade existing amphibious assault vehicles.

The Marines originally planned to procure 1,025 EFVs at a total cost of $8.5 billion, but increasing costs compelled the Marines to reduce their procurement to 573 EFVs. Each EFV was expected to cost about $24 million apiece, and there were concerns that the high cost of the EFV could consume up to 90% of the Marines’ ground equipment budget. There has been congressional opposition to Secretary Gates’s decision to cancel the EFV. Despite the Marines’ agreement to cancel the program, some Members reportedly believe that the EFV is central to the Marines’ ability to launch an amphibious assault far enough off shore to protect the fleet. Other Members have also suggested that the EFV cancellation would lead to eliminating hundreds of high-skilled manufacturing jobs, as well as hurting local economies in states and districts associated with the EFV program.

The Marines, a little more than a month after Secretary Gates’s EFV cancellation announcement, initiated a new competition to upgrade existing AAVs and develop a successor to the EFV (previously called the New Amphibious Assault Vehicle [NAV] but now called the Amphibious Combat Vehicle [ACV]). The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, has committed the Marine Corps to fielding the ACV within four years. General Dynamics, the EFV’s developer, suggests that it would be more affordable to “finish what’s already been started,” and build 200 EFVs and save the amount of money that it will take to terminate the program.

The Marines did not submit a budget request for FY2012 funding for the EFV. Instead, FY2011 and FY2010 funds will be used to cover termination costs as well as complete ongoing testing and developmental work, to include delivery of EFV-related software.

Potential issues for Congress include the possible evaluation of General Dynamics’ proposal to build only 200 EFVs, which it contends would save $6 billion. Another issue is a possible examination of EFV technologies that the Marines plan to incorporate into the ACV to help to ensure that there is “value added” by these technologies and that they meet “cost-benefit” criteria. Another possible issue is the Marines’ plan to field the ACV in four years, which could be considered by some as overly ambitious. Navy and Pentagon officials stated that the soonest that the ACV would be ready was 2024, while the Commandant of the Marines Corps has committed the Marines to field the ACV in four years.

Date of Report: March 14, 2011
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: RS22947
Price: $29.95

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