Amphibious assault vehicles are a niche but essential part of modern military forces. Given the many maritime nations in the Asia-Pacific, it’s no surprise that many are acquiring new platforms and upgrading existing fleets, with a number of indigenous designs being developed and introduced into service.
Amphibious assault vehicles have a long and storied history, rising to prominence during World War II with the US Marine Corps in the Pacific. As is still the case today, they were specifically designed to land troops and materiel in a single lift from assault ships during amphibious operations, and support mechanized operations ashore. The standard US Army Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) served well in World War II and the Korean War, and was followed by the LVTP-5 of the 1950s.
In 1972, the United States introduced the 23-ton tracked LVTP-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), capable of negotiating rough seas thanks to a boat-shaped bow and an extendable-bow aircraft. More robust than other amphibious armored vehicles designed to cross small bodies of water, the LVTP-7 has become the AAV par excellence. In 1982, manufacturer FMC (now BAE Systems) was contracted to upgrade the LVTP-7, adding an improved engine, transmission and weapons system to create the AAV-7A1. In the 1990s the Reliability, Availability, Maintainability/Rebuild to Standards (RAM/RS) program was initiated and saw, among other things, improved engines and suspensions.
The tracked vehicle has a crew of three and can carry 21 combat troops or almost 5 tons of equipment. The speed on water is 13 km/h with water jet propulsion or 7 km/h using its own tracks, while the speed on land can reach 70 km/h. The standard armament of the AAV-7A1 consists of a 12.7mm machine gun and a 40mm grenade launcher. An aluminum hull provides protection against small arms fire and shrapnel, but additional armor can be fitted. The three main variants produced are the AAVP-7A1 Personnel (armoured personnel carrier), the AAVC-7A1 Command and the AAVR-7A1 Recovery.
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