It is not every day that you see a 30-ton armored amphibious assault vehicle launch off an elevated concrete pier at high speed into the water, but for the 70th anniversary of the Indonesian Armed Forces, this was apparently part of the spectacle.
The vehicle shown is the AAV-P7, also known as “Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel-7” (LVTP-7). Often times they are just refereed to as AAVs or “Amtracks.” The AAV-P7 was originally designed and built by United Defense and is been used by the USMC and a dozen other marine arms from around the globe.
The AAV-p7 carries a crew of up to four plus up to 25 troops internally, depending on the variant. It is usually equipped with a 40mm grenade launcher and a .50 caliber m2 machine gun. Upgraded variants are equipped with smoke grenades and can burn their fuel to create a smokescreen. The AAV-P7 has a range of around 300 miles on land and 20 miles while “swimming” through the water, during which it can handle up to sea-state five, although it would not be pretty inside.
Most famously, many U.S. Marines pushed their way through Iraq in Amtracks, the results of which were controversial. The vehicles, although they could wade through rivers, gave much less protection to its crew and soldiers inside than the M2 Bradley used by the Army. Still, comparing the two vehicles is not exactly fair, as the AAV-P7 could carry many more troops than the Bradley and it was meant for amphibious operations, not for traveling hundreds of miles inland during a sandy blitzkrieg. Since its introduction in the 1970s, the AAV-P7 also saw action in Argentina during the Falklands War, the first Gulf War and in Beirut, Grenada and Somalia.
The USMC has rebuilt and greatly upgraded many AAV-p7s over the years as a replacement for them has never come to fruition. A new program called the Amphibious Combat Vehicle aims at correcting this. Still, even if the ACV makes it into production, Amtracks will be a central part of the UMSC’s inventory for decades to come. It will also continue to serve with various militaries around the world long after it leaves service with the Marines.
You know — come to think of it, the Amtrack could be the ultimate ship-to-shore tender for the super-yacht owning mega-rich. Just turn the AAV’s interior into a VIP lounge and give it a nice paint job and oligarchs would have the safest, most flexible way to visit shores around the globe.
Bottom line, the Amtrack is one versatile vehicle.
Photos via DoD