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Marine Corps Assault Amphibious Vehicle Survivability Upgrade DODIG-2018-060

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Background

The AAV is a tracked combat vehicle that can immediately transition from water to land operations. The purpose of the survivability upgrade is to increase the AAV’s force protection and provide the Marine Corps an amphibious assault capability until the fielding of the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle. The program office plans to upgrade 405 AAVs by FY 2023 for an estimated procurement cost of $835 million. The Program Executive Officer Land Systems, as the milestone decision authority, approved the initial production of 18 upgraded vehicles in August 2017.

Finding

The program office achieved its primary requirement to improve the AAV’s force protection. However, the program office did not achieve all program requirements, including cost control, tactical egress, and reliability, before beginning initial production. This occurred because vehicle updates and design changes:

  • increased costs above the average procurement unit cost objective of $1.65 million per vehicle,
  • prevented a troop commander wearing full personal protective equipment from exiting the rear of the vehicle, and
  • reduced the vehicle’s reliability. The AAV survivability upgrade also experienced failures of its legacy parts affecting its reliability performance.

As a result, program officials began initial production on vehicles that did not meet all program requirements. The AAV survivability upgrade may require future modifications and additional funds if the troop commander cannot safely exit the rear of the vehicle and the program office cannot improve the AAV’s reliability and functionality. In addition, reduced vehicle reliability could decrease the number of operational vehicles, increase the number of upgraded vehicles and spare parts, or increase maintenance time.

Recommendations

We recommend that the Program Executive Officer Land Systems reestablish a cost control to minimize procurement costs. In addition, the Program Executive Officer Land Systems should test and verify that a troop commander wearing full personal protective equipment can exit the rear of the vehicle. The Program Executive Officer Land Systems should also develop a solution, in coordination with Headquarters Marine Corps, Combat Development and Integration, for the AAV survivability upgrade to demonstrate the required level of reliability before procuring additional low-rate initial production vehicles.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Program Executive Officer Land Systems did not address the recommendation to reestablish a cost control to minimize procurement costs; therefore, the recommendation is unresolved and remains open. The Program Executive Officer stated that cost controls are necessary and are in place as established by the acquisition program baseline. In addition, the program office is required to report costs quarterly to the Program Executive Officer Land Systems and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition). We request that the Program Executive Officer Land Systems provide additional comments regarding how the acquisition program baseline will minimize procurement costs.

The Program Executive Officer Land Systems addressed all specifics of the recommendation to verify that the troop commander can exit the rear of the vehicle before procuring additional low-rate initial production vehicles. Therefore, this recommendation is resolved, but will remain open. We will close this recommendation once we verify that the program office demonstrated the troop commander wearing full personal protective equipment can exit the rear of the vehicle.

The Program Executive Officer Land Systems partially addressed the recommendation to develop a solution, in coordination with Headquarters Marine Corps, Combat Development and Integration, for the AAV survivability upgrade to demonstrate the required level of reliability before procuring additional low-rate initial production vehicles. Therefore, this recommendation is unresolved and remains open. The Program Executive Officer stated that the AAV survivability upgrade Milestone C Acquisition Decision Memorandum established criteria for the AAV survivability upgrade to demonstrate reliability acceptable to the Director, Capabilities Development Directorate before the full-rate production decision. However, the memorandum also states that the Marine Corps should withhold award of additional low-rate initial production vehicles until the AAV survivability upgrade demonstrates reliability acceptable to Headquarters Marine Corps, Combat Development and Integration. We request that the Program Executive Officer Land Systems provide comments on the final report regarding the solution to improve the AAV survivability upgrade’s reliability before procuring additional low-rate initial production vehicles.

This report is a result of Project No. D2017-D000AT-0119.000.