The Corps plans to have a replacement for one of its oldest combat vehicles, the light armored vehicle, or LAV, by the end of the next decade.
And, by the end of 2020, the Corps says it will evaluate two armored reconnaissance vehicle, or ARV, prototypes — the replacement vehicle for the LAV, according to a news release.
The Office of Naval Research said it awarded two contracts in 2019 to General Dynamics and SAIC to design and build “full-scale technology-demonstration vehicles,” according to the news release.
The General Dynamics ARV will incorporate advanced technologies that are available today, while the SAIC vehicle will be an “at-the-edge” prototype using the most advanced technologies that aren’t quite “mature” today, the release said.
“The future ARV will provide transformational sensor, communications and combat capabilities to collect and communicate information, while integrating robotics and artificial intelligence technologies in manned-unmanned teams,” the Office of Naval Research, or ONR, said in a news release.
“ARV will enable a crew to sense the operating environment using advanced on-board sensors and unmanned systems in order to detect, recognize and identify threats at extended ranges,” ONR said.
The LAV has been providing all-weather armored reconnaissance for the Corps since the early 1980s.
Throughout that history, it has gone through a series of upgrades to boost its survivability and combat power for the modern battlefield.
In 2017, turrets on some of the LAVs were upgraded to fire automated tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided, or TOW, missiles.
And in February the Corps put out a request for information for an organic precision fires system that could use loitering munitions or swarming missiles.
The Corps said it was looking for a fires system that could push beyond the 81 mm mortar at ranges of 7,000 meters to 100 km.
Those munitions could include both kinetic or electronic warfare attributes.
The Corps has been using its LAV vehicle to boost ship security during transits of tight waterways and choke points like the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
The LAV’s M242 Bushmaster 25 mm chain gun could be used to counter small boat threats approaching a U.S. Navy warship.
Marine Corps Times reached out to SAIC and General Dynamics regarding their prototype vehicles and has yet to receive a response.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.