Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

U.S. Marines are guaranteed winners in the battle to build new amphibious combat vehicles.

Two American defense contractors remain in the running to build new amphibious combat vehicles for the U.S. Marine Corps, welcome news in the effort to ensure our nation’s defense is Made in America.

It’s a tough competition for BAE Systems and the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), who will create up to 16 prototypes of the new vehicles to be tested over a two-year period. A $1.1 billion contract will then be awarded to the company deemed best suited to the task.

The winning firm — who won’t be named until 2018 — will manufacture 204 vehicles, welcome news for the workers of BAE’s York, Pa. plant or SAIC’s Charleston, S.C. facility. While both organizations have manufactured amphibious vehicles in the past, an order of this size could be a significant game changer. More workers, expanded facilities and increased local supply chains could all become realities for whichever producer wins.

Certain aspects of the new design have already been directed. Based on research conducted with Marines familiar with the vehicles, the needs of the combat fighter have been strongly incorporated into the new design. These vehicles will be smaller than their predecessors, swifter and lighter allowing more speed and maneuverability.

They have also been designed to better withstand the force of direct fire or proximate explosions. Even ventilation and air conditioning have been improved for a more enjoyable ride. With these provisions already integrated into the new design, the Marines on the front lines will be better protected and better able to take the fight to the enemy.

The only remaining question: Which contractor can improve on this design even further?

Regardless of who is awarded the final contract, it must be emphasized that maintaining this production within the United States is of the utmost priority. Only through the utilization of American firms can we guarantee the quality, operability and high standards necessary for every piece of equipment used by our men and women in uniform.

Good luck to both BAE and SAIC, and congratulations to the U.S. Marines for what should be a game changing new element of modern warfare.