Conway Bullish On EFV Redesign

Conway Bullish On EFV Redesign

Both the Army’s FCS vehicles and the Marine’s future amphibian, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), were designed to solve the same problem: how to provide forced entry light-fighters with mobile, protected firepower. Then the IED strewn battlefields of Iraq changed most everybody’s calculus of what armored vehicle survivability really means. So far, the EFV has faired much better than the now-cancelled FCS, even though the EFV has had its share of development problems.

The Marines figure it will cost around $12 billion to buy 573 of the amphibious vehicles (enough to haul eight rifle battalions), according to 2011 budget documents; low rate initial production is scheduled to begin in 2013. The EFV’s development has suffered rising costs, including a Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach in 2007, and the three prototype vehicles experienced serious “reliability” problems during testing, which means they broke down a lot. The Marines promptly ordered seven more prototypes from builder General Dynamics.

“We have high hopes for these new vehicles,” said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway last week when I asked him about the EFV program’s progress at an editorial board meeting. “They [GD] believe that they’ve overcome a lot, if not all, of the disparities that we saw when we tested the other prototypes, which, by the way, were beyond their life expectancy.” Break downs on the three initial EFV prototypes included various hydraulic systems, onboard computers, leaks, steering problems and engine issues.

He said the new vehicles are due to be delivered this spring and summer, after which, they’ll be put through a rigorous series of tests to determine whether GD was able to get the bugs out. “We’re going to watch it very closely,” he said, adding the vehicle must meet all of its key performance parameters before it will go to full procurement.

He sympathized with designers trying to build a heavily armored vehicle that can carry 17 Marines, is armed with a 30mm stabilized cannon and must also reach a speed of 20 knots across the water. The EFV is able to reach those speeds on water because it comes with powerful engines and a flat bottom.

Yet, that flat bottom has also led to criticism that its vulnerable to underbelly IED blasts; the better survivability provided by the V-shaped MRAP hull has now become the standard in armored vehicle design. That’s not possible. In order for it to get up on plane and reach high speeds on water it must have a flat bottom.

Conway said the redesigns GD has put into the vehicle, and subsequent explosives tests, show EFV has “almost MRAP” levels of survivability. Factoring into that EFV survivability equation is the ability to maneuver across areas other than expected lanes of approach which an enemy has had time to seed with mines and IEDs, he said. “When you get static and the enemy starts viewing you and pattering you is when it gets dangerous. That’s what we’ve seen both in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. So our mobility counts for something here.”

This is a similar argument pushed by the Army on their follow on to FCS, the Ground Combat Vehicle. The Army says the future vehicle must be able to maneuver cross-country, away from roads, so as to avoid the most heavily mined avenues of approach.

On those battlefields where IEDs are found in large numbers and are harder to avoid, Conway said the EFV will have a “modular” armoring approach, where additional armor protection against IEDs can be added by troops in the field. He said the recent tests showing EFV survivability against IEDs are a “big deal… we’re pretty excited about it.”

As far as an operational need for a costly new armored amphibian, Conway was unequivocal in arguing that the Marines must have a vehicle able to cross up to 25 miles of sea to reach an enemy beachhead and then fight alongside infantry once ashore.

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these flying bathtub tanks are very cool vehicles.
did anyone notice that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway
did acknowledge in country modular armor after beach entry?
i think they get it.

i would sacrifice a few marines inside for a few surface to air
guided missles on top. just my 2 cents Gen.

12 BILLION? Can anyone see the ludacrisy in this loooong and costly program?

MEU’s are at the front of nearly every conflict we have been involved in, thier AMTRACKS have proven valuable many times able to drive right off the transport ship and head to shore fighting securing the seaports so the rest of the military gear can come in. The cost are much higher than they should be but then everything in AMERICA is anyways (yet you can buy a HARLEY, FORD, CHEVY, or DODGE over seas for an average of $10,000.00 less and they will ship it to your home town). IED’s have always been and always will be an issue, they realized this in NAM and had the good ideal to go air mobile to avoid them and the booby traps, Our leaders forgot this concept as of late and opted for bringing in civilian contractors and trucks to move supplies instead of continuing to do it the right way. The MARINES need new amphibious fighting vehicles I only hope GD can get thier poop in one sock for this one.

12 billion is for 573 vehicles and the warranties/tech support, it’s high yes but so is everything here these days. Maybe the MARINES should wait till they are on a deployment and purchase them while over seas to reduce the cost of them like when we buy our POV’s overseas, Singapore was always a good place to buy a new POV with the biggest savings (cut out the middle man — and taxes and fees required in the US). Everything purchased in the US that is US made is more expensive to buy here than anywhere else in the world, where as I can but a new BMW in Germany for 1/2 the cost of one here, why are our own manufacturers and contractors soaking us so hard and giving all the good deals to foreigners, because we are dumb enough to pay for it.

Interesting that our Marines would be expected to fight their way ashore, and then dismount to add armor so they can actually drive around? Would one vehicle protect the others while some put on additional armor? Would the armor be pre-positioned where the Marines were gonna storm ashore???

All programs can have high hopes — until tin is bent and problems show up.

The old AAV’s have done a great job, but are not designed for the next war. The EFV allows Navy ships to launch from over the horizon to protect them from enemy threats. The EFV’s weapons system is far superior to the AAV’s as is the it’s comm suite. Lots of cost is tied up in a very difficult set of restrictions. Must be the same external size as the AAV’s, Must be able to get to the beach before all the Marines are too sick to fight, must provide protection and mobility ashore, Not an easy techie task and they have been working on it for a while to get it right.

The marines utilize thier RECON, FORCE RECON, and SCOUT SNIPER units very well in advance of thier movements, SEAL TEAMS are also used at times in advance of the MARINES arrival, they dont just charge in blindly. The landing zones will be reconed in advance then while the landing is in progress recon will have moved in to the surrounding areas. The landing force will go in and secure the area with what they have initially, If RECON reports findings requiring uparmour before they move inland then they will do so. They really are good at what they do and is the reason they have been given areas to controll that others could not, thier FOB’s are the safest to be on even though they are more primative than ARMY ones. While other branches have personnel trained in recon and sniping, the MARINES have full companys and or platoons devoted to these specific occupations rather than selecting soldiers out of the company to go out and reconoiter the area.

Quick math its $21 million a vehicle. Purchase price is closer to $12 million with the rest covering replacement parts and servicing agreements like you said.

Its supply and demand that we get soaked by manufacturers. If we were less willing to pay the prices they’d bring the prices down. Both we as Americans and our Governement in this instance percieve an inflexible need, that inflexibility means we’re willing to pay more rather than taking a lesser alternative. The critical thing is that it is our willingness to pay those high prices that make our economy the largest. Every little bit more than what it costs them to make means another dollar going to make another job.

This article compares the EFV and FCS towards the end and I think its critical to point out while they both relied on mobility to improve survivability the degree to which the EFV does so is less than the FCS. FCS got canceled because when it ran into trouble with its active defense counter measure it was relying almost 90–100% on mobility, which is unrealistic. The EFV with its degree of mine resistants and its scalable armor rely less so. Thats why when coupled with its amphibious capabilites the EFV is worth while and FCS was not.

I forget who it was but one of the article authors suggested maybe the army should look at the EFV. I don’t think that’d be a bad idea.

Your assumption is that the $12B is in production vehicles and that is not the case. The engineering and design costs for the most sophisticated combat vehicle ever built has to be spread over the number of vehicles produced. If you only built 500 Chevy Malibu’s you would have to charge the customer several hundred thousand dollars each.

what is your military experience or did you get that off a wiki article?

Good Morning Folks,

Hey you gotta love General Conway, he is a snake oil salesman, but alas not a very good one, he left out of his pitch one critical factor the EFV is made of ALUMINUM.

At $21 million a ride thats just to expensive, by the way that’s double that’s more then double the $10 million per vehicle of a years ago.

If one wants to see what an aluminum vehicle does in combat go look into the history of the 3/24 Marine Regiment (USMCR) and there tour in the an Bur with the also aluminum haul AAV-7’s.

The 3/24 Marine Regiment lost a lot of Marines is AAV-7’s hit by RPG’s. Forget about IED’s and EFP’s the common RPG-5 or 7 is more then enough to destroy a aluminum AFV.

On the test part the general also forgot to mention that the seven vehicles for the second test were all sent back to BAE/GD with out being tested, they leaked so badly the bilge pumps couldn’t keep them afloat long enough to be tested.

In short this is just to expensive of a toy for a mission that was last done in 1950. The current AAV-7 is still a quite serviceable ride for the amphibious mission of the Marines.

The 30mm Bushmaster II gun will be missed for sure by Marine Rifle Companies moving inland but what Battalion Commander is going to risk a vehicle as fragile and expensive as the EFV as an Infantry direct fire support weapon? You can’t miss what you never had.

Byron Skinner

Not sure where you are buying a new BMW at, but if you think you can buy one for half the price in Germany, you are smoking dope. As a result of huge taxes and higher labor costs, a comparable BMW in Germany will cost at least twice as much as in the US. Now if you get overseas delivery, you can save a few dollars over the US price since you don’t pay the taxes but you still have to ship it home and pay sales taxes in your state. Military Overseas sales, which apply only to the military, are much cheaper but then so is the military sales price in CONUS on the same vehicle. Basically the manufacturer forgoes some profit but doesn’t have to pay dealer costs and overhead. It has little to do with expense in America. I live in Europe, the cost of living here is dramatically higher than in the States.

So we’ve got 60% of the world living in cities near the ocean. We think those cities will be the areas where Marines are called upon to restore stability, work with local security forces, etc.

How do you protect the ships from missiles with stand-off distance, yet get the Marines some sort of armor protected vehicle? EFV was the answer.

Or, we just wait until all the bad guys go to bed, then we row ashore with M1’s on LCACs!

retired after 24 years of active duty (1980 to 2004)

Half may have been a bit extravagant, I didn’t buy a BMW one of my LT’s did in Baharain, saved 17,000.00 off the price of the same car in VA, I paid 9,000.00 for a heritage model in singapore (NIB) and 24,000.00 for a F350 King Ranch truck (yeah military sales), no one in the states — even kansas were they are made would give me that kind of deal. every one in my unit always waited till we deployed to purchase vehicles because we couldnt get better deals even through AFFEES state side as we did through AFFEES over seas.

When was the last time the USMC had to fight their way ashore performing an amphib landing? Somalia? Nope the only oppostion there was the media on the beach. Granada? Nope don’t think so ( I know I was there). My point being, the military and the defense contractors have fleeced the taxpayers for years by stretching out programs and adding uneeded capability to the systems. Twenty one million a copy? Thats just absurd for an AFV.

Everyone agrees the price is rediculous, but that doesn’t do away with the fact that the MARINES need new gear. No we havent been challenged in an amphibious landing for decades but that doesnt mean we wont in the future. There is a lot of technology on this thing that many grunts would prefer not be on it, but the brass wants it. Yeah its the same brass that thought we would never be fighting another guerilla war again when they got rid of all the old stuff in favor of high tech toys. I dont like toys, never had an issue defeating high tech in war games and never came across it during any conflict other than the Cartels use of it to protect thier factories and homes (which didnt work out well for them). I say make it low tech — dependable — and easy to work on if you want it to succeed in combat. A modern version of the WW2 duck would work nicely also and could have a V hull bottom to boot.

More gold-plated solutions for the USMC. Crew-served ATGMs will kill these easy on the approach to the beach. That is if the U.S. ever figures out how to get an invasion force through minefileds-Example-Desert Storm.

Tarawa-like casualties don’t look too good on CNN. Especailly if the war in question is just more useless dirt.

There are a number of reasons the AAAV is wholly unsuitable for counter insurgency and the flat bottom is one of them. Try it against an IED.

Then there is the aluminum RPG armor. http://​www​.defenseindustrydaily​.com/​b​a​e​s​-​l​r​o​d​-​cag

This program has been in development for thirteen years and two billion dollars have been spent. They don’t have a working prototype. Whenever it goes down the road for test a tow truck soon follows to drag it back because it broke down. My hats off to the folks at General Dynamics for having the political muscle to continue this program for so long and have so much tax payer money to fund it. Look at the Styker vehicle its suffers catastrophic suspension(combat field enviorment) and powertrain failures (urban combat enviorment) yet GD stills gets funding for the Stryker Program. Here are two examples that all it takes is plenty of political muscle not combat effectiveness.

in all 4 branches? sounds like you are saying you were in the corps, where you in a recon position? what do you really now about the reconnaissance elements of all branches?

I sure hope that Conway ‘s confidence is not misplaced, because I see this program as one that is in the cross hairs for cancellation. It is hugely expensive, late, and relies on tech that may or may not be mature… The recent test results that say that the EFV has “almost MRAP like” levels of protection are tests that I would like to read more about. However, if the USMC and GD can get this program to perform to expectations then I would be all for it despite the despicable costs involved. USMC AAV-7s need to be replaced and this is the only thing in sight. While I agree with the posters who find it hard to imagine a full on Tarawa style amphibious landing in the near future, that is not the only application for this vehicle. The majority of the world’s population does live near the coast, many of the places that the US will likely be called upon to deploy in the future may have weak or barely existing port infrastructure. This system, if it can escape ANY further problems, will bring significant capability to the table. The real question is, can they make it work and avoid any more cost increases? I don’t have the same confidence that General Conway seems to have.

Nope I just painted boats, shined brass, cleaned toilets, and saluted all day long for 24 years, I dont really know much about anything. or I may have worked routinely with all 4 branches and foreign military units up close and personal and know a lot. I might know that regular units may recieve some training in recon but it is not as detailed as that given to SPECOPS operators such as FORCE RECON — SEALS– SF– FCC’s (ALL BRANCHES) OR SCOUT SNIPERS. My only intent above was to indicate that the marines have the capability to figure out if they need to up armour thier vehicles before they move inland or if there is even a need for them to advance farther instead of waiting for the rest of the expeditionary force and equipment to be transported ashore for the inland battle, the EVF is not the only armour the marines have. I had no intention of starting a branch war or insulting anyone.

The Stryker has been very successful in reality. The only suspension related problems are due to the vehicle carrying too much weight, which is a result of so much extra gear being carried. Upgrades to the Stryker intend to improve the suspension and allow room for such growth.

Add on armor is meant from prolonged operations. Any add on armor would be added when there was a need for it.

I love how so many people think that you can get every thing in one. To get you IFVs so they can take the kid of hits a lot of people are talking about on here it would have to have more armor than a M1. There is a reason why you need to use aluminum armor. Steel is to heavy and the aluminum armor used today has simular stopping power to steel. Don’t forget people that just because were fighting an asymetric war today does not rule out a more coventional war 15 years from now. equipment that can fight very well in a asymetric battle field is great, but if its no good when its put up to coventional forces well whats the point.

Spc Poole
U.S. Army

Good Morning Folks,

To Richard Swank. Yes Rich they we returned to the BAE/GD plant from Camp Lejeune. Why are they still sitting in a parking lot in Lima?

Why are they not back at Camp Lejeune being tested in order to support General Conway’s snake oil pitch?

Sometime Rich partial “facts” are not very helpful.

Byron Skinner

Byron, The 7 vehicles haven’t even left the GD plant in Lima, OH yet. Get your facts straight.

Exactly. And I like reading about people complaining that new vehicles like MRAPs, Strykers, and the EFV can’t take hits from anti-tank missiles and the like; my answer to that is that they’re not supposed to because they’re not tanks and not even an M1A2 is completely invunerable from anti-tank munitions. They don’t call these kinds of weapons anti-tank for nothing, they’re designed to take out tanks so how do you expect APCs & IFVs to survive hits from things designed to kill tanks? Tank grade armor is too heavy for things like APCs & IFVs which is why they use aluminum armor, it gives them a reasonable level of protection while at the same time being relatively light weight.

To go back on topic, I do hope that the EFV works out, the Corps could certainly use it. But my concern is how complicated it is with the retracting treads and all, as soon as I saw that I figured that the EFV was going to be a maintenance nightmare and, sadly I was proven right and I’m not even a mechanic.

while i want to believe you, when you make brash ignorant statements like only the marines have company sized recon units its hard to. do you know what LRS is? Since Force Recon does not fall under SOCOM i don’t think its fair to categorize them as “spec ops” not that Ive ever heard a professional use that term.

Yeah the price is ridiculous, but your argument against it is bad. Just because they havent had to fight to an amphib landing doesnt mean they dont need the ability. When was the last time we used a nuke in anger, or when was the last time our air superiorty was seriously contested? Its been a while, but we still need to update the equipment to make sure we can be the best and make others think twice before challenging us. I will give you that the price is absured and that they need to stop adding stuff to it, but if the capability worries an idiot into thinking twice im all for it.

Having studied the Chinese answer to the EFV, (and yes I read Chinese and translated the printed articles without Google) thee Chinese admit that their vehicles are not as fast as the EFV but are in service and heavily armed.

They are however, as the laws of physics are immutable, lightly armoured large sized ordnance magnets (near the size of First World war tanks) with huge dead zones that will be destroyed by any weapon included 12.7mm close up and 20mm/25mm cannon whilst still in the water. ATGMs and bunker-busting type LAWS will deciamte them.

The add-on armour is important, and there is a need for them, but at what capability and cost? The uniquitous RPG-7 is everywhere in likely conflict zones so how will they be employed. The Chinese still have them in PR photos ‘storming the beach’ in Iwo Jima style assaults. More importantly, their Type 03P light tanks (highly upgraded Type 63s) are used for forcing bridgeheads in river crossings.

Yeah I have been to Fort Lewis and know about the recon leadership course at Benning. I dont ever remember mentioning SOCOM just some various special operations units which could also include RANGERS, AIRBORNE, EOD, SWCC, SAC and PJ’s. But LRS (Long Range Survelence — Airborne Infantry) primarily collect intell for ARMY intel (which is great and my hat is off to those guys for the job they do) but as a separate entity and not as part of an advancing unit the way the Corp does (one step ahead on a regular basis). I also know that the guys do not generaly refer to themselves as specops but it is a term that most people recognize, GREEN BERETS ARE SF/ SNIPERS ARE OPERATORS/ SEALS ARE FROGMEN, some say SPECWAR, some just say SF as well/ PARA RESCUE ARE PJ’s/ RANGERS ARE ALWAYS RANGERS AND SO ON. And I also know that these guys are not all part of SOCOM just because of thier quals and that SOCOM is comprised of all elements of the military which include regular infantry/ riflemen etc.

CONTINUED: I guess I could have also given noteable mention to LRRP’s of the NAM era and KIT CARSON SCOUTS as well. I was only trying to point out and obviously did it poorly that the MARINES have the assets at hand as part of thier MEU’s to figure out if they need to uparmour thier EFV or not. If I offended you I apoligize, If you want to call me a liar then so be it — I have nothing to prove to anyone — I did my tour to give you the freedom to say or think what ever you want. Other than that — if your still active ‘TAKE CARE AND WATCH YOUR 6″

EFV is a good concept, but it needs major, major work. Too many moving parts! Thousands of parts can be removed and most leaks can be fixed with a few simple changes. Does anyone realize aluminum burns??

Ive done my tours also, and i never called you a Liar

Here’s my question: Thirteen years in development, two billion dollars spent, no operable vehicle; how has GD been able to continue this program? We can argue concepts, weapons, etc; I would like an opinion or factual answer to my question.

I agree, someone needs to go to jail for this, bigtime! All the money spent and nothing to show for it seems to me to be a major fraud on the American Taxpayer. I would think that even if it was a bad design, the amount of money spent should be able to fix it to work. Basically we got fleeced and someone should be hung out to dry.

I’m good with that — thanks for your service.

GD has a lot of internal conflict between it’s various divisions and they dont communicate or talk back and forth between each other unless its required by contract. They should have asked elctric boat division to be part of the contract, having built submarines for decades they would have been able to apply a number of improvements to the hydraulics, hull penetrators, and water tight integrity of the design and electronics packages that will work in a maritime enviroment. The program has been put on hold a number of times as well. They also kept playing with the design to meet the required speed but never realized that if they recommended engine mods such as larger intercooler — free flowing exauhst — cnc turbos and such the engines would have made up a lot of difference a lot faster than playing with the front foil and improved on land performance as well, but the spec said this driveline and they left it stock.


Are you aware that all light infantry vehicles to include the Stryker, AAV, and even the proposed FCS are to be built using aluminum? The trend is lighter and faster. The days of the behemoth are over. The light infantry brigades have a requirement to be C-17 transportable.

Tactics are key no matter what vehicle you use.

Actually, these are the seven new prototype vehicles being manufactured Byron. I just was at the plant last week. They will be delivered this summer to the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch at Pendleton. I know my facts.

As a taxpayer and retired Marine, I have to ask why the EFV is needed…and I don’t accept that it is for “forced entry” from the sea. That rationale worked 30–40 years ago, but today, the Corps fights in Joint Operations involving and leveraging the talents and capabilities of its sister services. So why do Marines need to “fight their way ashore” in the 21st Century? This argument is counter-intuitive if not just down right specious; the speed of US Naval amphibious shipping is (thought to be) such that the Marines can land where the enemy is not. Back to Joint Ops…if the beach is so dangerous, what about the nearest airfield? Or the capabilities of the Army’s airborne Corps? No, the EFV is a white elephant argued FOR by well-intentioned Marines and Congressmen whose impassioned voices are more motivated by providing jobs, than by making rational long-term strategic decisions. Is it heresy to suggest the Marine Corps reconsider its mission? The last full-blown amphibious assault of a defended beach was a long, long, long time ago…

Sign me, Marine Veteran

Enter teBBxt right here!But General Dynamics still gets funding, this program is going on its fourteenth year.
Again stop the discussions of concepts, weapons, aluminum versus armor. Most of the contributors don’t acknowledge the time and wastful spending plus the Marine Corp Commandant continues to endorse this program, As I said before my hat is off to General Dynamics for the polictical muscle they employ for the dismal failure this program is it still is granted additional funding. I’ve seen the EFV in action or lack of, it doesn’t work. The only way it can move any distance is by tow truck.

i think the capability must be maintained, but wat are the options? A bunch of Marines can capture an airfield, then bring more ashore. How much is this really gonna cost, and will we ever need it? How ’bout going where they are NOT. Sounded good 2 me.

Little hard to believe anything you say Byron, when i just seen these 7 units the other day and they are far from being fully built. They are currently still being assembled in Lima Oh. How can they have been tested and returned?

So in your opinion we should only prepare for fights we already had. No sense looking towards the future?

Carl Levin is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and Senator from GD’s home state of Mich. I’ll bet he keeps adding riders to the budget that have kept this alive for the last 14 years. JMO.

Basiclly the Commandant doesn’t want to lose this vehicle on his shift and have to call it off , especialy after all the money thats been “wasted”. Truth is all that wasted money could have been put to good use updating the already dependable AAV7A1’s . Update the weapon system , beef up the armor and let em’ roll. Marines have loved this vehicle from day one ! Will promise you one thing , If the EFV comes to pass it will continue to be a money pit to maintain and keep operational therefore more of a liability to Marines than an asset. Sorry taxpayers , You got screwed on this one ! Don’t go away mad EFV , just go away broke !

PS: Govt Philosophy: If it ain’t broke , fix it til it is !

What country doesn’t have the technical ability to shoot at anything over the horizon anymore ? You could probably pull up on google where the ships are and heading and just get with the local women and find out when they’ll be ashore !


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