First overseas debut in exercise for the USMC ACV 16/05/2024 | Fabio Di Felice

The Marine Corps' new Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) debuted in its first overseas deployment and exercise in the Philippines.

The ACV involved in the training were part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), under the Combined Task Force 76/3, which officially deployed this spring in the Indo-Pacific region and attended Exercise BALIKATAN '24. This exercise has the purpose of increasing US-Philippine bilateral interoperability and lethality across land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace domains, and it is a tangible demonstration of cooperation between the 2 countries in an increasingly complex Indo-Pacific security environment. In detail, the platoon of ACV, which was part of Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/5, left the USS HARPERS FERRY (LSD-49) and, during their ship-to-shore movement conducted a live fire, waterborne gunnery range exercise attacking targets along the shore of Oyster Bay, with MK-19 40mm grenade launchers and 12,7 mm heavy machine gun. The Marines used the opportunity to coordinate and control the simultaneous fires of all their section’s weapons while afloat to maximize the effect against the targets ashore. The ACV offers unique capabilities to the amphibious force, increasing command and control capability, mobility ashore, and a stabilized weapon system to support maneuver.

The new ACV replaced a decades-old platform, the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV or AAV-7), that had a troubled history, including a 2020 incident that resulted in the deaths of 8 Marines and 1 sailor. The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the BOXER Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which includes the HARPERS FERRY and USS SOMERSET.

As already reported by RID in the last weeks, the USS BOXER, the ARG’s namesake, suffered some engineering issues, and returned to San Diego, causing Marines and sailors to be offloaded so repairs could be made. The BOXER, which was the notable absent of the exercise, had already been delayed by months, due to maintenance and readiness issues. During this first deployment, the 15th MEU will continue to provide feedback for ACV employment, embarkation, maintenance requirements, logistics trains, and integration with allies and partners. This feedback, and the relative lesson learned, will be vital for the service to ensure the new vehicles will be the most operationally ready and capable platforms to be employed by the glorious Corps.

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