Raytheon Receives $121M to Enhance USMC’s LAVs, M1 Tanks
The US Marine Corps will soon spend between between $257 – 307 million to acquire 130 new LAVs in assorted variants. In parallel with these efforts, the Marines are also upgrading the thermal sights on their existing LAVs and M1 Abrams tanks. SpaceWar.com notes that Raytheon recently recently received $96 million to produce, install and support 416 Improved Thermal Sight Systems (ITSS) for the Corps’ Light Armored Vehicles, and another $25 million in Firepower Enhancement Program (FEP) funds to outfit another 150 of their 403 M1A1 Abrams tanks with night vision systems that include 2nd generation FLIR, laser rangefinders, and updated targeting computers.
Wider modernization efforts are under consideration for these platforms, of which ITSS and FEP are just a part. ITSS/FEP systems will offer better performance and longer sensor “reach” than current systems. In full-scale warfare, that can mean the difference between firing first and/or setting up your opponent unobserved, vs. a nasty surprise followed by incoming fire. It will also enhance these vehicles’ ability to offer broader persistent surveillance by sitting in advantageous locations, a capability that is especially helpful in the lower intensity “pop-up target” scenarios that define most of the Global War on Terror’s “Small Wars” campaigns.