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  • Embeleaguroubled Fighting Vehicle Faces More Problems
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 1:13 PM on Jul 06, 2010

    The US Marines' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle shares a distinction with another of the Corps' flagship programs, the V-22 Osprey, in having been completely restructured and reengineered during its development. In an operational assessment in 2006, EFV prototypes turned out to be almost a ton overweight, broke down on average every 4.5 hours and completed only three out of 24 mobility and gunnery tests.

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    In March 2007, the Navy punished contractor General Dynamics by awarding it a $143 million contract to repeat the systems development and demonstration program. However, a newly released report from the Government Accountability Office asserts that the program remains at risk and should be reviewed, and that the production ramp should be slowed. The Defense Department has agreed or partially agreed with most of those recommendations.

    The Marines and GD have continued to test the SDD-1 prototypes whle the new SDD-2 prototypes are being built (the first SDD-2 vehicle rolled out in May). The GAO reports that the tests have shown some improvements to "significant high speed water steering issues" but that more improvements were needed to allow the vehicles to operate in formations. In cold conditions, the EFV would not start as required and had to be kept in a 60-degree hangar, and ice build-up "severely limited" visibility.

    The GAO also notes that the EFV reliability rate has been projected in the past based on statistics for other fighting vehicles, but that its actual complexity is "more analogous to helicopters". (So is its $18 million average procurement unit cost and $3.8 billion development bill.)

    The DoD agrees with the GAO's recommendation to review the "business case" for the EFV program. It also accepts advice to delay Milestone C - the go-ahead for low-rate initial production - which is currently set for early FY2012, although the department says that it is mainly for funding reasons. The Pentagon also agrees that a set of conditions should be met before the next operational assessment (OA-2), planned for the second half of FY2011, including the availability of add-on armor.

    Tags: ar99, efv, gao

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