Amtracs Forever

The Marines are fitting their 25-year-old AAV-7 amphibious tractors with thermal sights, replacing old starlight scopes with a range of just half a mile, according to Defense Industry Daily:

The replacement AAV7A1 day/night sight must provide daylight as well as nighttime sighting ability to detect targets to 4.7 km, recognize targets to 2.5 km, and identify targets at 700 m.
The news comes hot on the heels of rumored deep cuts to the Marines' ExpeditionaryFighting Vehicle, aav7turret.jpga long-delayed attempt to replace more than a thousand AAVs with as many new vehicles featuring stabilized cannons and better armor and comms.The idea behind the EFV is to field a vehicle that's closer to a Bradley than to a boat, since these days the Marines spend a lot of time far inland, fighting like Army infantry. Despite the clear operational need for EFVs, the expense has proved just too great -- a quarter of the Corps' procurement budget over five years, according to some estimates.The AAV upgrades reflect the Marines' growing acceptance that they're going to have to hold onto these ancient vehicles indefinitely. The first sign was the initiation of a top-to-bottom rebuild similar to the Army's tank remanufacturing initiative that aims to keep 15-year-old M-1s crawling into the 2030s. National Defense Magazine explains:
[T]he AAVs suspension system is replaced with one derived from the Armys Bradley Fighting Vehicle. In place of the current 400-horsepower engine, the AAV gets a 525-horsepower Cummins V903, also installed in the Bradley. The HS-400 transmission is rebuilt and modified to include a new torque converter, upgrading it to the HS-525 configuration. The remainder of the vehicle is rebuilt according to original specifications.
The problem of ageing weapons is everywhere in today's DoD. The Navy is rebuilding P-3 Orion patrol planes from the 1970s to keep them flying until the new P-8 enters service. The Air Force is studying ways to upgrade F-15s to complement the "silver-bullet" F-22 fleet. Meanwhile, B-52s keep on chugging, 40 years after they rolled off the Boeing assembly line.But the Marines have it worst. Nearly everything in their arsenal -- from fighter jets to helicopters to trucks -- is old, real old. And it's all decaying ever faster in the heat and sand of Iraq. The bill for repairs so far? $30 billion.--David Axe
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