What’s the Marine Corps’ Superior Reconnaissance Car?

US Marines function a Mild Armored Car after coming ashore throughout an expeditionary advance base train, Might 15. The Superior Reconnaissance Car will change the LAV after the latter has served the Marines for 4 many years. (U.S. Marine Corps picture by Sgt. Alexis Flores)

WASHINGTON — Because the Pentagon more and more focuses on the primacy of battlefield info by way of its Joint All Area Command and Management efforts, the Marine Corps’ quest for a brand new reconnaissance car is concentrated not simply on conventional battlefield intelligence gathering, however the capability to ingest and course of knowledge from throughout the joint drive.

Now, after 5 years of know-how demonstrators and different preliminary efforts, the service has two firms — Normal Dynamics Land Programs and Textron Programs — on monitor to ship their last variations of the Superior Reconnaissance Car (ARV) to the service for analysis in December. An announcement declaring a winner shouldn’t be anticipated to return till late subsequent 12 months, however simply final month the businesses put prototypes by way of swim testing to ensure they’re prepared for the end-of-year deadline, executives mentioned.

With a contract value as much as $6.8 billion at stake for the prevailing bid and amid some skepticism of this system from the very prime of the Corps, Breaking Protection spoke to each distributors to know what they hope the ARV will convey to the battle and the way the brand new fight car intersects with two rising Pentagon pursuits: info warfare and unmanned methods.

“The Superior Reconnaissance Car (ARV) is crucial to realizing Marine Corps necessities for Fleet Marine Pressure 2030,” the providers wrote of this system in its newest funds request to lawmakers. “As a part of the portfolio of reconnaissance, surveillance, and goal acquisition methods, ARV will probably be a purpose-built fight car system, extremely cellular on land and water, that may sense, talk, and battle because the manned hub of a robotic and autonomous systems-enhanced crew.”


A Mild Armored Car from 2nd Mild Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, drives throughout a bridge in Brøstadbotn, Norway, March 13, 2014 as a part of train Chilly Response 2014. (Picture by Employees Sgt. Steve Cushman)

A Focus On Command And Management, And UAVs

The ARV’s core function is to interchange the Marine Corps’ Mild Armored Car fleet, a program that has served the Marines for the reason that Eighties and was constructed by Normal Dynamics.

The LAV program is scheduled to sunset within the mid-2030s, proper after the model new ARV is scheduled to “full operational functionality,” the Pentagon’s last acquisition milestone signifying the army’s confidence that the bottom car is totally examined, confirmed and prepared for fight.

The Marine Corps is occupied with six variants of the ARV every with distinctive roles: command, management, communications and computers-unmanned aerial system (C4/UAS); natural precision fire-mounted; counter UAS; 30mm autocannon and anti-tank guided missile; logistics; and restoration.  (Individually, the Corps has additionally put BAE Programs, the prime contractor for one more program, the Amphibious Contract Car, beneath contract to check how the C4/UAS bundle used on the ACV could possibly be outfitted on the ARV.)

Maybe in an indication of its significance to the Corps, the ARV competitors winner will probably be decided by which firm the Marines select based mostly on the C4/UAS variant of the car. Later the service will work with the profitable agency to make the opposite 5 variants.

The Marines discuss with the C4/UAS variant because the “battlefield quarterback” as a result of the intent is to have an ARV able to ingesting the huge quantities of information that will probably be shifting throughout Pentagon and Marine Corps networks in addition to assist Marines make selections within the second based mostly on the data they obtain.

Two Groups With Deep Histories In The Pentagon, Overseas

Phil Skuta, a Normal Dynamics govt overseeing the corporate’s ARV bid, mentioned the core distinction between the ARV’s predecessor, the LAV, and ARV is the power to ingest knowledge.

“You principally have 40-year-old know-how,” he mentioned of the LAV. You don’t have “operational consciousness actually past line of sight… Right here, we’re speaking a few true growth of with the ability to sense and detect the enemy on the battlefield tens of miles exterior” the ARV’s line of sight.

That target ingesting, analyzing and permitting Marines to behave on knowledge from all through the battlefield is core to the Pentagon’s JADC2 efforts, and extra particularly, the Navy’s department of it, routinely known as Undertaking Overmatch.

Navy officers have been tight lipped about what precisely their Overmatch efforts embrace — this system’s chief mentioned that silence is supposed to maintain adversaries guessing — however the notion behind Overmatch revolves round sharing knowledge from platform to platform. The earliest iterations of the know-how have been scheduled to be placed on some plane carriers late this 12 months.


A Normal Dynamics Land Programs govt mentioned his firm’s submission for the ARV competitors is “optimally suited” for working within the Indo-Pacific. (Picture courtesy of Normal Dynamics.)

A method the Marines hope to feed ARV knowledge about what’s going on round it’s an unmanned aerial system able to being deployed doubtlessly so far as 30 miles away from the car. A spotlight for the competitors, the executives mentioned, was gaining a transparent grasp on how that drone will combine with the ARV.

“Understanding how that flight will happen after which bringing that knowledge again into the ARV and turning that knowledge into helpful info to base — whether or not it’s your reconnaissance determination or different selections off of [it] is what we imply by integrating the unmanned aerial system functionality,” Skuta mentioned.

In Normal Dynamics’ favor on this competitors is their historical past with this system. The corporate is successfully the incumbent because the makers of the LAV and has taken half in know-how demonstrators since 2019. The corporate can also be coming into this competitors having not too long ago picked up a separate $1.14 billion Military contract for the Cell Protected Firepower car.

“ARV [has] to be small, cellular, survivable platform that may function in a number of areas of the globe, and particularly in these littoral areas [and] coastlines because the Marines have staked a number of their future ideas within the Indo-Pacific area,” Skuta mentioned. “We predict our car is suited optimally for these kind of tactical areas to be working in.”

Regardless of the historical past, Skuta mentioned their ARV candidate is a “clear sheet” design, which means it was created from scratch.

Likewise, Textron senior govt for land and sea methods David Phillips informed Breaking Protection their providing, known as the Cottonmouth, was a “clear sheet” design, regardless of that firm having different Military contracts as effectively.

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Textron’s “Cottonmouth” car will probably be its submission for the Marine Corps’ Superior Reconnaissance Car program. (Picture offered by Textron Programs)

Throughout an interview, Phillips harassed that Cottonmouth shouldn’t be derived from the corporate’s M117 Armored Safety Car, which has been purchased by the US Military in addition to worldwide prospects, nor the Commando car, a variant of the M117.

He additionally mentioned the mix of C4 and unmanned methods integration makes this primary variant of the ARV notably complicated. However naturally, he added, his firm’s bid was made with the Marines’ wants in thoughts.

“The place we imagine Textron Programs coming with a clear sheet design on this factor actually brings worth to the Marines is we’ve acquired a really distinctive background and historical past in each floor fight car growth and manufacturing, but additionally in methods integration… in a number of domains throughout” manned and unmanned methods, he mentioned.

Along with the M117 and Commando autos, Textron can also be answerable for the Shadow and Aerosonde unmanned aerial methods, each of that are utilized by the Pentagon, and the Marine Corps’ new Ship-to-Shore Connectors, medium-sized vessels designed to move Marines and their gear from deep blue water ships by way of shallow waters and in the end onto land. The familiarity with the latter is vital as a result of a key requirement for the brand new ARV is to be a weight and dimension that permits 4 of them to be transported on one Ship-to-Shore Connector.

“We wished to … make it possible for from a sturdiness and actually reliability standpoint, we have been constructing a stable car and definitely from [a] dimension and transportability [perspective], protecting actually conscious of 4 methods on a Ship-to-Shore connector,” he mentioned. “We all know how vital that’s for the Marines in transporting issues by way of the littoral and onto the shore.”

That familiarity with the Ship-to-Shore Connector’s capabilities mixed with the corporate’s wider portfolio of unmanned methods integration is bound to play to its favor within the last bid.

A Skeptical Eye On The Program, From The High

As soon as each bids are submitted to the Marines in December, the service plans on asserting a winner round fall of 2023. If all goes in line with plan — not one thing that’s ever surefire on this planet of Pentagon acquisition — the following Superior Reconnaissance Car will probably be prepared for actual world operations round 2030.

The service has deemed the ARV as “essential in the direction of the modernization of Marine Corps reconnaissance functionality,” in line with the Navy’s fiscal 2023 funds justification paperwork. However, like each different main acquisition program within the Pentagon, not everyone seems to be totally satisfied. On this case, the skepticism is from the Marine Corps’ prime officer.

“Whereas I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that all-domain reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance will probably be a essential component of any future contingency, I stay unconvinced that extra wheeled, manned armored floor reconnaissance items are the very best and solely reply – particularly within the Indo-Pacific area,” Commandant Gen. David Berger wrote in his preliminary Pressure Design 2030 rollout. “We have to see extra proof throughout Part III to assist this conclusion earlier than participating in an growth of our present capability, or committing billions of {dollars} in procurement funds in the direction of the acquisition of an Superior Reconnaissance Car (ARV).”

With that in thoughts, the final has since directed in his Might 2022 replace to Pressure Design that the Marine Corps “evaluation and validate all assumptions” concerning the ARV. In different phrases, Berger desires the service to think about the altering winds on the Pentagon and make sure this program continues to be going to provide a product worthy to battle in 2030.

Regardless of Berger’s feedback although, the ARV program continues to be rolling alongside and for the competitors’s winner, will probably be a possibility to solidify its place within the Marine Corps’ future floor autos portfolio.

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