Will Textron’s Cottonmouth AVR live up to its namesake and USMC standards?

Textron Systems recently announced that it successfully completed the prototype build of the Cottonmouth Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (AVR), a purpose-built vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps that would eventually replace the venerable Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) series.

Despite the current supply chain issues affecting the defense industry, Textron Systems finished the Cottonmouth AVR’s prototype just four months after the Critical Design Review that took place in April.

Cottonmouth ARV Milestone
Textron systems announced that its cottonmouth prototype vehicle hit a significant milestone on August 23, 2022. (Image source: Textron Systems)

Engineers have been working tirelessly since the launch of the Alpha prototype last year, including upgrades and adjustments based on the result of the extensive testing.

“The team did an excellent job accomplishing the required design milestones to create a vehicle that meets and exceeds our customer’s highest priority requirements, and doing so in less than a year. Considering the complexity of the build, it’s a huge accomplishment,” said David Phillips, Senior Vice President, Land and Sea Systems at Textron Systems.

Textron is one of the two selected companies of the USMC to produce a prototype vehicle for the AVR that is slated to be delivered later this year.

The Cottonmouth ARV is claimed as “a recon vehicle to be feared on,” and will be part of the USMC’s next-generation amphibious recon fleet, and it is hailed to be the most advanced military vehicle to date. It features advanced full-spectrum reconnaissance and surveillance sensors capable of defeating hostile threats beyond sight.

Most of the technical specs are yet to be unveiled, but it’s expected to weigh around 18.5 tons, armed with a Javelin and a 1×12.7mm machine gun. It can reach a maximum road speed of up to 100 km/h and an Amphibious acceleration on the water of 10 km/h within a 500 km range. Rather than serving as a fighting recon vehicle like the LAV-25 (including raiding and screening operations), the Cottonmouth AVR will focus on surveillance, identifying targets, and utilizing its advanced long-range sensors instead. Furthermore, it can fully operate on water, propelled by two waterjets, and it can be launched from amphibious assault ships and operate in the open sea.

In addition, the Cottonmouth ARV is outfitted with amphibious mobility, unrivaled versatility, and electronic warfare capabilities, capable of adjusting to various mission requirements and future technology upgrades thanks to its open system architecture.

“We can’t always predict what the next requirement will be,” Philips added. “But we can ensure our vehicle systems are rugged, survivable, reliable and easily adaptable for growth. Whether it’s loitering munitions, counter unmanned air systems technology, mesh networks or something yet to be invented, this vehicle will enable our customers to incorporate it.”

Earlier this month, the vehicle passed the first round of Contractor Verification Testing with flying colors, ticking all the boxes from the USMC requirements. But this is only the first step in a series of rigorous testing the vehicle will go through, and it will be soon submitted for U.S. government-led testing.

Marines’ future generation AVR (Image source: Textron Systems)

USMC launched its AVR program to replace the LAV fleet that has been in service since the 1980s. “While the LAV remains operationally effective, the life cyclle of this system is set to expire in the mid-2030s,” it stated. Moreover, the service branch requires “a family of vehicles” that “will be highly mobille, networked, transportable, protected, and lethal,” it added.

The initial prototype requirements of the AVR include a tethered unmanned aircraft system with auto-launch and retrieval and an open architecture approach that allows them to integrate various capabilities (e.g., battle management systems, communication suites, etc.). Accordingly, the replacement vehicles should weigh less than 18.t and is small enough to fit four on a Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) transportation.

(Image source: Textron Systems)

“As we understand it, the intent here is that the Marines want to replace their current fleet of … over 600 LAV-25s currently in service with up to 500 Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicles,” Phillips said in a statement during the simultaneous release of its alpha prototype.

“It incorporates dual mechanically driven water jets to provide simultaneous land and water propulsion,” Phillips said. “We’ve already incorporated an amphibious cooling system…to ensure the requirements are met, which is a seaworthiness in up to two to three feet of waves and allowing rapid transitions between land and water modes.”

The Cottonmouth AVR is scheduled for delivery in December 2022.