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Marines Consider Drone-Equipped Future Reconnaissance Vehicle

The US Marine Corps wants to explore a drone-equipped amphibious combat vehicle (ACV) variant as an advanced reconnaissance vehicle (ARV) option.

The service has contracted BAE Systems to conduct a concept study to explore the possibility of an ACV equipped with “command, control, communication and computers/unmanned aerial systems mission payload.” 

Simultaneously, the service is looking at a new design platform to replace its aging fleet of around 600 light armored vehicles (LAV), used primarily for mobile reconnaissance.

For Future Reconnaissance Battalions

Marines’ spokesperson Maj. Joshua Larson told Defense One: “After conducting a comprehensive analysis of alternatives for the advanced reconnaissance vehicle requirement, the Marine Corps concluded that there was value in exploring both a new design and a Mission Role Variant of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle.”

“As a result, the program executive office, land systems, contracted this concept study to evaluate the utility of an ACV MRV in meeting the requirement to equip future Mobile Reconnaissance Battalions.” 

ARV Prototype Competition

General Dynamics Land Systems, Textron, and BAE Systems have submitted ARV prototype bids.

According to the service’s solicitation notice, “The ARV will be a modern combat vehicle platform, with an open system architecture, and it will be capable of fighting for information dominance.” 

“It will balance competing capability demands to sense, shoot, move, communicate and remain transportable, as part of the Naval expeditionary force.”

Looking for Capabilities, Not Platforms

A few days before the prototype bid ended, the service explained that they were not looking to replace the 80s’ LAV with a similar platform.

Marine Corps Times quoted Commandant Gen. David Berger that “An armored ground vehicle might not fit into the small team, island-hopping strategy that the Corps is pursuing.”

Deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration Lt. Gen. Eric Smith added that the “Corps is looking at capabilities, not platforms, for whatever comes after the LAV.”

“What it will be replaced with is not necessarily another vehicle,” Smith said. “It could be, but the capability is to also control air and ground robotics and provide reconnaissance.”

Amphibious Combat Vehicle 

The BAE Systems ACV is a mobile combat platform designed to conduct ship-to-shore operations. There are two ACV variants: one for personnel and the other for command and control.

According to the manufacturer, the service can modify the ACV to install the “command, control, communication and computers/unmanned aerial systems mission payload,” pending the results of the phase 1 study.



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