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Team earns acquisition award for AAAV project

By Sgt. Christina Lovett | | July 13, 2000

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Personnel working on the Marine Corps newest warfighting capability were awarded the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award May 23 during the opening of Acquisition and Logistics Reform Week 2000.
The awards are important because they reflect that everyone working on this project does a great job, said Col. Blake Robertson, Direct Reporting Program Manager, Advanced Amphibious Assault.
The Packard Award was established to recognize DoD civilian and military organizations, groups or teams who have made highly significant contributions which demonstrated exemplary innovation and the best acquisition practices.
The bottom line is, however, the vehicle still has to be put out on time, said Robertson. We still have a job to perform and a mission to accomplish.
The Mark 46 Weapons System, currently being designed for the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle, is an extraordinarily accurate and lethal system with day, night and all-weather capabilities.
It is light, compact and low cost. The Mark 46 system represents an exquisite balance of lethality, performance and value, and is one of the most cost effective weapon systems in the world today, according to AAAV officials.
The Mark 46 Weapons System is a world-class model of acquisition reform exemplifying the principles of cost as an independent variable, interoperability, and integrated product and process development to improve warfighter capability while reducing total ownership cost, said the Honorable Dr. Jacques S. Gansler, under secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, in the award citation.
The AAAVs Mark 46 system is a giant leap in lethality and combat effectiveness compared to the Up-Gunned Weapon Station on the current AAV7A1, said Yowell.
Instead of the .50 caliber machine gun and the 40 millimeter grenade launcher on the UGWS, the Mark 46 incorporates a 30 mm, high-velocity cannon, backed up with a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. 
The differences include dramatic improvement A lethality, range, and accuracy.
The 30 mm cannon can also be converted to fire a super-shot 40 mm round by simply changing the barrel and two sprockets in the onboard feed assembly; modifications the crew can do in less than an hour.
In the future, we will be able to up-gun the AAAV without changing - or buying- a new gun.
Although the super-shot 40 mm round has not been developed, the Mark 46 Developmental Team has already anticipated the future upgrade. The 40 mm round will feed through the same feed chute as the current 30 mm round.
Since a 30 mm round is larger, it takes up more space than the 25 mm round used in the LAV-25 and the Armys Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
As a result, fewer rounds can be carried. But more kills are what counts; not the number of bullets, and carrying a 30 mm round means we carry more stowed kills because the 30 mm round is so much more lethal, said Yowell.
The 30 mm can kill anything short of a tank at tactically useful ranges, said Yowell, something the 25 mm round simply cant do.
Considering the lethality of the 30 mm round, there is no need to spend the money developing the super-shot 40 mm ammunition now. But in the long life of this weapon system, we can expect to see the threat get heavier, and eventually we will move up to the 40 mm round.
In the meantime, the 30 mm will defeat the threat for many years to come, and is more cost effective, said Yowell.
Not only is the round an increase in lethality and effectiveness, the sights are also much more capable than those in service on the AAV7A1.
The sights for the Mark 46 Weapons System are thermal sights, able to view through smoke, dust, and at nighttime. Although the sights are not the very best available, according to Yowell, they are by far the most cost-effective for our use, and they currently exceed the requirement.
Our sight has about 85 percent of the performance of the best sights in the world, said Yowell. Weve closed that 15 percent gap to about 10 percent with an inexpensive modification. But to close that remaining 10 percent gap, we would have to pay twice as much. Essentially, we are getting 90 percent effectiveness for half the cost.
The AAAV also encompasses the Enhanced Position Location and Reference System. This system features a multifunction display, allowing the viewer inside the vehicle to see all friendly vehicles and reported enemy positions on flat-panel, moving-map displays.
With a computerized Embedded Training system feeding through the thermal sights, the Marine Corps can now use virtual  training environments in the AAAV to train Marines in between trips to the firing range and field.
This can be used for gunnery training, crew training or, by networking vehicles, for unit training, said Yowell.
Marines can also train while on ship  they can load operational graphic to rehearse the mission they area about to the perform.
The Virtual Training Scenarios are not meant to replace training at the firing range or in the field, said Yowell. It is simply meant to sustain the skill level of training in between trips to the range, and prepare Marines for refining their skills when they fire live ammunition. The Mark 46 Weapons System also employs a full solution fire control system.
This system allows the gunner to aim the Mark 46 on the target and fire, without leading or adjusting elevation for range, as opposed to the AAV, said Yowell.
The computer adds the elevation to the gun, said Yowell. The gun moves independently of the sight. The gunner does not lead the target  he simply aims the sight where he wants to shoot and the computer adjusts the gun accordingly.
Previously, in the AAV, the gunner would need to shoot and adjust with every shot, Yowell said.
That time can mean the difference between living and dying for every Marine on that vehicle. That makes the difference in survivability.
Unlike the weapon station on the AAV, the Mark 46 is also fully stabilized, allowing the AAAV to fire while on the move  over water or across rough terrain, said Yowell.
The performance and value provided by the Mark 46 have already been recognized by the Navy, who has selected for it to use on LPD-17 as the Gun Close-In Gun System for use against small boat threats out to 4000 meters other ship classes are also interested in the Mark 46.
Repeatedly, with the new AAAV project, the Weapons System Mark 46 Developmental Team has created a cost-effective, efficient, exceptionally capable weapons system for the Marine Corps.

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