Moog Inc. aims to keep aging Marine Corps armored vehicles in the field with major vetronics upgrades

BY John Keller

EAST AURORA, N.Y.—U.S. Marine Corps leaders needed major combat vehicle electronic upgrades to the service’s 1970s-vintage Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), especially in light of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program cancellation earlier this year. They found their solution from Moog Inc. Space and Defense Group in East Aurora, N.Y.

Officials of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in McLean, Va., have subcontracted with Moog Space and Defense to provide the upgraded AAV with a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, turret electronics, turret slip ring, touch-screen panel, gunner’s control hand station, fire-control computer, and electronic sight with laser range finder, thermal imager, and color daylight camera with several zoom functions, says Kevin Eschner, senior project engineer at Moog Space and Defense.

The U.S. Marine Corps AAV armored personnel carrier, shown above, is getting a major vetronics upgrade from engineers at Moog Inc.

“This vehicle had no electronics in the turret, expect the motor to turn the turret,” Eschner explains. “Now we need power from the vehicle, communications lines, and switches, so the gunner is not pulling the triggers on the weapon, but is using a gunner’s control hand station.” SAIC is supervising the vetronics work under contract to the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, in Crane, Ind.

The gunner’s hand station enables the AAV gunner to turn the vehicle turret and elevate the vehicle’s weapons. “We took that hand controller and integrated it though the fire-control computer and the sight,” Eschner says. The sight boasts a laser range finder, thermal imager, and color day camera, as well as several zoom functions.

The Marine Corps has about 800 AAVs in service, and must keep these vehicles in the field since the EFV cancellation and while the Marine Corps develops future generations of amphibious assault fighting vehicles.

The AAV was designed in the 1960s and had major upgrades in the mid-1980s to the AAVA71 configuration. It is a tracked amphibious armored personnel carrier that accommodates a crew of three and carries as many as 25 Marines into battle. It is armed with a .50-caliber machine gun, grenade launcher, and smoke-laying equipment.

Although Moog has not received contracts for production upgrades to the AAV, the company has performed demonstration tests for the Marine Corps, and has scheduled future tests involving moving targets, full-vehicle integration, and fire-on-the-move capability, Eschner says.

The vehicle uses CAN Bus for hull functions, and the RS 422 databus for turret electronics integration. The fire-control computer communicates with the FLIR sensor and gunner’s touch screen, for example, via the RS 422 bus.

FOR MORE INFORMATION visit Moog Space and Defense online at, SAIC at, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division at

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Mil & Aero Magazine

February 2015
Volume 26, Issue 2

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