Amid struggle with budget cuts, lawmakers oppose plan to drop Marine vehicle

By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 15, 2011; 9:51 PM

The backroom congressional battle over Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates‘s plan to eliminate the Marine Corps’ multibillion-dollar amphibious Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle will be fought out at the same time as the Corps wrestles with how to shrink its forces.

Rep. W. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), new chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power and expeditionary forces, said Thursday that he and others “are going to be opposing the secretary and his decision.” He added, “The need for the core capability of the Marines” – to attack on land from the sea – “has not gone away . . . but how many we buy may be negotiated.”

The armored 39-ton vehicle, which is operated by a three-person crew and can carry 17 combat-ready Marines, is intended to travel at 20 knots from 25 miles out at sea to the shore and run at speeds of up to 45 mph on land. Designed to replace a slower, 30-year-old amphibious assault vehicle that carries 21 Marines and a crew of three, the EFV has cost $3.3 billion to develop. As costs have skyrocketed, the Marines have reduced the number they expect to order from 1,025 to 573.

Tests of original prototypes in 2006 saw repeated failures and critical breakdowns with vehicles, requiring 3.4 hours of corrective maintenance for every one hour of operation. The program was restructured in 2007, and five new redesigned EFV prototypes are being tested at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In his statement announcing that the program would end, Gates said that it would cost $13 billion more for the planned 573 to be built and that they could bring ashore only 4,000 troops at any one time, because not all of the EFVs could be used in a single operation.

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It still baffles me as to why the Military should pay for the research and development of products it lets bids to design.

Cost per design should be the burden of the the developer.  Where this to be the process for selling products to the Armed Services, cost per unit would be considerable less… your thoughts?

 

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