After chronic problems with technology and cost overruns, the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle may actually have been steered onto the right path.
Existing prototypes suffered significant hydraulic and electrical problems, and there were issues with the feed and eject systems of the main gun, EFV Program Manager Col. Keith Moore told a group today at the Navy League's Sea Air Space symposium.
For all intents and purposes, however, the EFV was bascially put back on the drawing board as designers sought to tackle issues that put its costs up and its schedule behind.
"It's a complicated vehicle, with a lot of high-pressure hydraulics," Moore said. "We had a lot of problems with leaks and contamination ... and so there was early failure of hydraulic parts." The electrical system being developed for the problem prototypes was too much of a reach, he said: "some cutting edge technology that ... just wasn't ready for prime time."
The prototype now under development will rely on some earlier, reliable technology aided by software modifications. The hull to the prototype being built to the new design will begin detailed integration and assembly at the end of this month, he said.
Highly accelerated vibration and heat testing has been performed on the new systems, he said, and thus far they show great promise, lasting two or three times longer than reliability predictions indicated they would.
The problem-plagued EFV was supposed to reach its demonstration phase by 2001. It finally went to operational assessment in 2006, but suffered a number of failures and breakdowns. Moore said the EFV now will go into Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation sometime in 2015.
Marine Commandant James Conway made a strong pitch for the EFV on the first day of the Navy League, arguing that the service needs the speed and range of the system to ensure the Marines can still kick down doors -- their primary mission.