New 40mm cannon on the Marine Corp’s amphibious combat vehicle destroys drones, pick-up trucks

A Marine Corps amphibious combat vehicle armed with a 40 mm cannon is seen in Kingman, Arizona.
(Kris Osborn)

Navy and Marine Corps are interested in up-gunning its new Amphibious combat vehicle with a stronger, bigger range 40mm cannon may have taken a step forward after a live-fire demonstration, which blasted out of the cannon — to destroy the enemy, pick-up trucks, aerial drones, groups of fighters and other metal targets.

The integration of the new gun brings a new level of firepower to the Corps’ the emergence of new high-tech ACV, which is currently armed with a 30mm Bushmaster Northrop Chain Gun Cannon. The live-fire demo, which takes place in a recent Northrop Grumman Bushmaster User Conference in the Arizona desert, showed the 40mm armed cannon the ability to explode, burn and destroy larger, more hardened targets at longer ranges, as compared with the ACVs 30mm cannon.

A 40mm diameter would imply a greater attack explosion, significantly longer range and — in a newer, cutting edge development — and the ability to focus, and press the air-flying enemy drones.

“We invest each year in upgrading our current systems to make them more deadly and reliable. Gun upgrades of systems use of new innovations, advanced ammunition,” Dan Olson, Vice President of Northrop Grumman Armament Systems, told Warrior Maven in an interview.


Potential 40mm cannon counter-air drone attacks represents a significant step forward for the auto-cannons. It gives a possibility to ID and destroy the poet-in the air, such as the approach of small drones or even low flying enemy helicopters; it can add an extra layer of combat tactics can be to strengthen the existing Short Range Air defense (SHORAD) program that is designed to fire Hellfire missiles and other weapons to hit higher flying air threats. Integrated sensor technology can, in some cases, to share and to pass from the targets, enabling a vehicle-mounted gun to expand the envelope outside the country-goals.

The new 40mm weapons configuration is aligned with an emerging Navy-Marine Corps amphibious assault strategy, which, among other things, sees a possible need for an extensive penetration in the soil of his defense after the first priority is taken.

As a way to demonstrate and further explore the ACV Bushmaster Cannon attack flexibility, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems demonstrated that the 40mm gun firing on the move, hitting and exploding white pick-up truck targets, drones, and fixed structures on the other side of an Arizona desert valley.

This flexibility, enhanced by the added land attack firepower, also complements other elements of the Corps’ newer, more “distributed” amphibious assault strategy; as amphibious operations occur in narrow, more dispersed, in addition to scenarios, the landing of troops will have to go in a more country-to fight without large numbers of troops in the area. They are more likely to rely on support from the air, a long series of fires, and the “network” intelligence of the other ISR nodes, command and control of vessels or elements of the force — to find and exploit landing areas most favorable for the attacking force.

The new ACV makes use of seawater for the cooling of the engine, allowing it to carry up to 200 litres of fuel – enough for a longer 365-mile mission. While the new ACV can travel approximately 13 miles through the water, at about six knots, from ship to shore can hit speeds of 60 mph on land for hundreds of kilometres inland. Northrop the development of the 40mm cannon is, for a large part destined for the support of this strategy, as the more range and ammo are designed to support the deeper ground-attack penetration capabilities.


The Northrop-BAE together scheme is now finalizing gun-turret integration, to prepare the weapon for the struggle in the coming years. Corps developers cite sensor-weapons-gun alignment as a major emphasis on the development of the ACV; increased landside speed, manoeuvrability in comparison with the current AAV to be strengthened by “a precision weapons station, improved lethality, and a robust swim capability to operate within the littorals,” Col. Kirk Mullins, ACV 1.1 Program Manager, Advanced Amphibious Assault, Program Executive Officer Land Systems.

“The vehicle is designed to be a turret and the superstructure which is reinforced in the base design. This is the highlight of tower-integration analysis,” John, managing Director of Amphibious Warfare, told the Warrior Maven in an interview.

Northrop weapons developers explain that the 40mm gun can be on the basis of the vehicle’s turret and fire control configuration, easy changing of the 30mm cannon barrel for a 40mm barrel without any technical difficulties or major changes.

“The ACV is not maintenance intensive because of the increased reliability, and it also offers a better protection against the threats that we face on the battlefield,” Mullins added.

Some of the 40mm demonstration shooting, Swift said, “networked” attacks on groups of enemy fighters with the nearby Rpg’s. The RPG fire, he explained, was connected to the base vehicle to reinforce destructive power by hitting the target of the horizontal and vertical angles. Goals have been achieved, in some cases, using a laser rangefinder. This technology fires a laser beam at a target, traveling at the speed of light. Given the fact that the speed of light is a known entity, it can mathematically be combined with the length of time it takes to travel to the target. Given these two well-established variables, algorithms can then calculate the exact distance, place the round on a target.


Along with a bigger, longer range gun, Northrop is also working intensely ammunition preparation to be advanced airburst rounds, high-explosive rounds of an emerging “close” rounds. Each of these rounds brings a new atmosphere of attack options for offensive operations, because they may explode in the vicinity of or above a specific purpose. By explode in a certain area, a proximity fuse can make use of a smart, pre-programmed fuse to destroy groups of enemy fighters or other “area” targets harder to hit with the standard “point-explode” rounds. Airburst rounds exists, and Olson said Northrop is fast-tracking the development of the close rounds

“We have invested quite heavily in our ammunition to further enhance the lethality of our systems. This includes the area of the closeness melt, and the creation of on-board power and computing power to ID targets,” said Olson.

Along with the efforts to upgrade its offensive fire power, the marine Corps has also engaged with the preparation to assess whether the vehicle is the ability to withstand attacks, the firing of live weapons in its new Amphibious combat vehicle — to the attack to achieve “total destruction.” This is designed to prepare the car for the long distance, high-intensity land-attack missions from an amphibious assault.

Senior marine Corps and Navy leaders have long expressed concern that the current amphibious assault force is too small to meet the current threats and Combatant Commander requests. A new up-gunned water-land strike of the vehicle, therefore, clearly seems to be intended to help to bridge the gap.

“We have an ongoing challenge in readiness, in view of the threats to the amphibious forces,” Maj. Gen. David Coffman, Director of the Maritime Expeditionary Warfare, said in January at the Surface Naval Association Symposium.

In contrast to existing tracked AAVs, the new armored fighting vehicles are 8X8 wheeled vehicles, designed for greater speed, manoeuvrability and survivability on land. By removing the need for torsion bars, a wheeled vehicle, such as the ACV can build a V-shaped hull for additional protection, speed and control of sustainability, BAE Systems, developers say.

“The Corps was kept on the wheels because of advances in automotive technology,” Swift said.


The new vehicle weighs 30 tons and has a digitized driver’s instrument panel. The existing and new armored fighting vehicles armed with a .50-Cal Machine Guns and is designed with an unmanned tower that integrate the 40mm gun. The new ACV also makes use of a more powerful 700hp engine, compared with the AAVs 400hp engine.

A more dispersed amphibious assault force not only reduces the vulnerability to enemy fire, but also can make use of the advanced C4ISR and networks to better identify key points of attack over a wider area.

The new vehicle, currently a Navy Low-Rate Initial Production deal with BAE Systems to deliver 30 vehicles. The Corps is preparing to implement new BAE-built Amphibious Combat Vehicles by 2021.

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