Camp Pendleton Troops Testing New Amphibious Vehicles
Camp Pendleton Marines are testing prototypes of new amphibious troop transport vehicles.
Troops will see how the Marine Corps' new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles, or EFVs, perform in and out of the ocean over the next six months.
The EFVs will replace Amphibious Assualt Vehicles the Marine Corps has been using since the 1970s. EFV program manager Col. Keith Moore and his team hope to see the first of about 575 planned EFVs operating in the field by 2015.
Once the new vehicles are in the field Moore said they will move amphibious troop transport into the 21st century.
“There are two main computers that run and monitor activity on the vehicle. Which is really important, as technology moves forward to have a digital backbone that you can plug and play new capabilities, new capacities into.”
The Amphibious Assault Vehicles the Marine currently use have no computers and offer only radio communication to troops on board.
Other upgrades in the EFVs include increased artillery power, more comfortable and secure seating for the troops the vehicles will carry and climate control.
The new vehicles look like tanks with flat metal sidings and can carry three operators and 17 other troops from sea to land and back.
Sgt. Robert Baxter is one of the troops who will be testing the vehicles.
"We're like the troops' taxi to the combat zone," he said. "These vehicles will help us deliver them more mission-ready."
Each vehicle is expected to cost $16.7 million. That steep price tag has led Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates to question the need for amphibious capabilities.
But, EFV Program Manager Colonel Keith Moore argued that capability is vital.
“You don’t want to become a one-dimensional force," he said. "As soon as you become only capable of landing in a particular way or particular method they can quickly take that away from you.”