The Marine Corps planned next generation of amphibious assault vehicles is set to begin production and more importantly remains under budget.

The Marine Corps launched the program to replace its Assault Amphibious Vehicle, which was first fielded in 1972, with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle — billed as a better protected and faster way to carry troops from ship to shore.

Development costs are now an estimated $60 million below original projections of $810.5 million, a Government Accountability Office report found.

A protest to the Corps’ November 2015 selection of two contractor prototypes — BAE Systems’ SuperAV and SAIC’s Terrex 2 — caused a work stoppage that briefly delayed the schedule, but no further delays are anticipated and Marine officials are set to decide on which of the two it will order for its first batch of 30 vehicles in June.

The Marines want 208 new amphibious vehicles by 2022, with initial rounds of low-rate runs producing 30 vehicles in 2018 and 2019. This will outfit two of the Corps’ 10 amphibious assault companies.

Each vehicle was expected to cost between about $4 million and $7 million, according to a 2015 GAO report.

The GAO said it could not publicly say more about the manufacturing readiness or the technical performance of the vehicles since the two contractors were still in competition.

The new vehicle improves on the armor and land maneuver capabilities of the legacy AAV, with limited amphibious capabilities that will be addressed in a second round of manufacturing; however, Marine officials have said the initial vehicle is already close to meeting the second iteration’s requirements.

The first model, called ACV 1.1, won’t fully replace the 46-year-old AAV, which officials have called “nearly obsolete,” so the Marine Corps is also upgrading nearly 400 of its 1,060 vehicles to protect against threats such as roadside bombs at an estimated cost of $1.7 million per vehicle. The Corps plans to replace those upgraded AAVs by 2035.

The Corps plans to field nearly 500 of the program’s second model by 2026 to outfit four of the service’s 10 amphibious assault companies.

A third model, called ACV 2.0, is expected to travel at twice the old AAV’s water speed, allowing the Marines to launch from ships beyond the view of shore without the aid of landing craft to carry the vehicles.

The two prototypes that the Marines are looking at are produced by BAE Systems Super AV and has a three-man crew and carries 13 Marines or the SAIC Terrex 2  AV which carries a crew of three with 11 Marines. Both have V-shaped hulls and travel at 7 mph on the sea and 65 and 55 mph respectively on roads.

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Photo courtesy BAE Systems