The Light Amphibious Vehicle or LAV-25 (used by the USMC) has been out of date for some time and the Marine Corps is looking for something new.

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in Reston, Va., is building a prototype reconnaissance armored combat vehicle to enable U.S. Marine Corps battlefield reconnaissance units to fight through the enemy to gather and disseminate crucial intelligence information from the battle front.

Officials of the U.S. Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Va., announced a $19 million contract to SAIC on Thursday for a portion of the Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) program that involves advanced high-risk technology development called “at the edge.”

The project seeks to build two ARV variants — a base model and an at-the-edge model — to evaluate technologies, performance, and battlefield concepts. Contractors will build two demonstrators of each variant. SAIC has been selected for the at-the-edge model. Other contractors will handle the base variant.

The at-the-edge variant that SAIC will build will be operational, but isn’t supposed to have the durability necessary to withstand sustained operations on the battlefield. It is to demonstrate enabling technologies at technology readiness level 5, which seeks to validate components in a simulated or real environment.

The base variant and its vetronics will have an average manufacturing unit cost of $6 million per platform for 500 units, with initial operating capability (IOC) in 2027. The SAIC at-the-edge version, with its advanced high-risk technologies, has no IOC date.

Related: Army to approach industry for armored combat vehicle prototypes to demonstrate unmanned technologies

M1097 Avenger AA System

Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions are expected to receive additional anti-aircraft assets that will be added to the new ARV, to increase the mobility of those missiles.

At present, the USMC Low Altitude Air Defense is structured around the M1097 (Humvee), and are organic to Low Altitude Defense Battalions. The Marine Corps is trying to remake itself to be better capable to meet real world needs within the coming decades

Marine Corps AA defensive systems have come and gone. Complementary Low Altitude Weapon System (CLAWS), which fired Advanced Medium Air to Air Missiles (AMRAAM) was discontinued in 2006.  In 2006 the coming war with China was not viewed as ‘nearly inevitable’.  Obviously things have changed, and the USMC is remaking itself in many important ways. The new Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle needs to be able to wear ‘many hats’ within the new USMC structure, and hopefully it will be ready when the Marine Corps needs it.


  1. Several of my Marine Corp veteran relatives have some passionate views (big surprise!) about what the Corps should be. To a man, and woman, it isn’t “Army light”. My late son, the Army Medic, noted the Marines weren’t equipped for drawn out, sustained, operations. His example was the Korengal Valley that the Marines never quite dominated but the 1st/4th Infantry did. There are things “Big Army” can do better. YMMV

    • The USMC is light infantry with its organic artillery, air defense artillery and air support (sometimes). It’s naval infantry, not the Army. And today they are re-crafting it to be more like naval infantry than a manpower augment to Big Army. They’re shedding some people and hardening up for the coming war with China.

  2. This is on topic and off topic. I did not know that the M1097 actually was produced. I did a little research on the Net and found that the victors do write the history.

    I worked at LTV Missiles and Electronics in the late 1980’s; this was my first job after leaving active duty. One member of our Quality Test Engineering group was assigned to the Pedestal Mounted Stinger program while doing tests at White Sands. I saw a test vehicle in our plant in Grand Prairie, TX. It was really a neat system. The pedestal was unmanned and the gunner sat in the right seat with all of his screens and controls. As I was new to the Test Engineering world, that test engineer shared some stories with me. In the competition with Boeing we were outscoring them. The big BUT came in a late conversation, one of the government people told our (LTV) test engineer that Boeing would get the contract even if they built the LTV vehicle since the government had bought the rights to the design. The eventuality happened because Boeing had bid about half of what LTV did for the LRIP contract to cover what would happen. However, a month after the contract was awarded to Boeing, they submitted a contract change request that brought the price up to the same as LTV’s price; this was to fill in all of the holes that they were not required to bid on but needed to do to fulfill the contract. The contract was suspended for some time but we forgot about it because we were out of the running anyway.

    With that as background let’s go on to the rewriting of history. If you read Wikipedia, you are led to believe that the M1097 was never competed. The fiction told is that Boeing developed the vehicle privately, presented it to the government and after testing the Army bought it. Other sources that mention the history repeat this falsehood. A little deeper diving with knowledge that LTV participated shows some acknowledgement of that fact. Since LTV Missiles and Electronics was sold to Loral in 1992 and later to Lockheed Martin, I guess they got wiped from the history. There is a picture at the following link. Though the article says we produced some, my knowledge is that we never did. We might have tried to sell the system to some of our allies.

    • Thank you for your comments. The M1097 is deployed. I haven’t read the Wikipedia page, but they are not exactly the best source. Beltway bandits are so named for a reason. Better that they would be called “Beltway Pirates”.

      Notwithstanding, I’d like to see CLAWS come back.

  3. I didn’t know there was a ground launched version of the AMRAAM.

    I did some development work on the AMRAAM when I was at Hughes in the middle 1980’s.

    • The system worked well, but USGOV felt that it wasn’t needed for Afghanistan. However they’ve remained in inventory and will be needed against Chinese air threats to USMC expeditionary forxes.

  4. Why is the LAV-25 out of date? What makes it out of date? For a light reconnaissance armored combat vehicle It has to be somewhat fast and lightly armored to withstand small arms fire, am I correct? I have ridden in several when attached to Marine MP units as an Army MP and the jarheads spoke highly of the LAV-25. As a combat vehicle I thought it better then the Ford Jeeps we ran around in but not as good as a Bradly…

    • The new proposed replacement has reactive armor, which is cool, so long as you’re not leg infantry anywhere near the ARV…

      I think that the primary concern is that it’s not electronically networked for a modern battlefield. Keep in mind, Cederq, that I’m a dinosaur. In the new world, what one ARV sees, they all see, whether it’s a ground threat or an air threat. Distributed information on the battlefield is the new way to fight. I though that putting a blasting cap into a sock of C-4 was enough, but apparently it’s not.

      • I’m willing to bet that some company could take them, strip them down completely, and rebuild them to meet the requirement to operate networked.

        I know they do that with the Abrams, and you get a better-than-new tank.

        Probably not enough profit for one of the big companies to do, but most of that stuff should almost be off-the-shelf….

        • I can’t argue that point. And because the new beast is barely a concept vehicle, it’s like pounding sand with a hammer. My guess is that the Marine Corps wants an amphibious wheeled Bradley AFV. The LAV 25 may be too small? But they’re supposed to be small if they’re “light”. They are scheduled to receive the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (follow-on to the HUMVEE) so the new machine needs more armor, a gun, etc. more than the Light Tactical Vehicle. It has to be more than the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (wheeled, no gun) troop carrier. And it will compete (I guess) in some ways with the new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

          So let’s say that USMC is tired of the LAV 25 and wants an up-armored Amphibious Combat Vehicle with a gun. That’s what the ARV is – essentially.

  5. The primary factor in LAV-25 rebuild life might well be either salt water corrosion, or space for electrical generation. Modern combat systems use crazy amounts of power, and if there’s no room for more generators, that limits the upgradeability.

    Just look at how much onboard generation a modern civvie car uses, for an example. Lots of pickup trucks have to have 2 alternators now, imagine the load from all that comms gear, sensors and stuff in a fighting vehicle.

    Or they just might want something newer and shinier.

    • Or maybe all of those reasons. From my reading and discussions, they are concerned about networking the battlefield and the LAV-25 lacks the organic capacity and possibly also the additional armor that they want to slap on. We can all argue whether it’s cheaper to keep the hermit crab in the existing shell or to find it a new one.

  6. if they sell them surplus i’ll mortgage the house. always loved those things. the army should have went to them instead of the bradley. like everything else they add so much crap onto it that the original mission concept gets lost.

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