Recon vehicle with Elbit 'IronVision' system shortlisted for US Marine Corps program

The corps is said to be planning to build roughly 500 advanced reconnaissance vehicles under the project. Textron's Cottonmouth prototype with Elbit's situational awareness system is one of two finalists  

Recon vehicle with Elbit 'IronVision' system shortlisted for US Marine Corps program

The Cottonmouth. Photo from the Textron Systems website

The U.S. Marine Corps announced last week that it has chosen Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems to begin contract negotiations to build advanced reconnaissance vehicle (ARV) prototypes. The Marine Corps will also work with BAE Systems to study the possibility of adapting an amphibious combat vehicle (ACV) to become an advanced reconnaissance vehicle.

GDLS, the manufacturer of the Light Armored Vehicle-25 currently in service, said it submitted an ARV prototype proposal by the Corps' May 3 deadline. Textron said at the time of the solicitation deadline that it would compete with its "Cottonmouth" prototype that it had already built and drove nearly 750 miles. In its statement, Textron said that as a next-generation naval sensor node, Cottonmouth has the ability to strengthen communication to operate and employ a mix of reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and C4 systems. Equipped with cutting-edge technology, such as teammate Elbit Systems of America’s IronVision, a "see-through" technology that provides advance visibility and 360- degree situational awareness, the vehicle allows the Marine Corps to see beyond line of sight, Textron said. 

The Defense News website reported that earlier this year, BAE Systems would not confirm whether it planned to participate, but several sources connected to the competition said they believed the company had submitted a bid.

The Marine Corps wanted proposals for the research and development of an ARV prototype as part of its pursuit to replace roughly 600 LAV-25s from the 1980s. The OTA contract will last 22 months, during which prototypes are built and evaluated. Prototypes are planned for delivery in the first quarter of fiscal 2023. The Marine Corps will spend six months evaluating the prototypes. The service will consider data from the prototyping effort and the study on possible conversion of the ACV to an ARV, and then make a decision on the way forward in FY23, according to the report. 

In its solicitation to industry, the Corps said it "may pursue" a production effort upon successful completion of the prototype project, which could be worth about $1.8 billion to $6.8 billion over five years. The plan is to build roughly 500 of the vehicles, said Defense News. 

The Marine Corps recently pulled almost $100 million from Gunner Protection Kits to fund the ARV competitive prototyping phase, according to budget justification documents. A replacement for the LAV is becoming increasingly necessary as the existing platform was considered the most accident-prone ground combat vehicle in the Marine Corps from 2015 through 2019, based on a Government Accountability Office analysis, the website said.