LVTP-7 or AAV-7 has a rather bizarre appearance, its head tapering forward like a boat, combined with wheeled-tracked system and a massive body.
Transporting an infantry platoon across the beach in an amphibious campaign is always a challenging task. During World War II, sea amphibious campaigns were the fiercest battles. Such missions required many soldiers, ammunition and supplies, cross thousands of miles of sea to concentrated for raids.
One of the keys to America’s victory over Japan at the Pacific front was the amphibious vehicles. This type of vehicle was full of soldiers, light protective armor and accompanying firepower. They pass the enemy’s fire points on the coast, move ashore and support infantry fighting. Basically, this new type of infantry fighting vehicle originated from the LVT-1 that was completed in the LVT-4 form.
After World War 2, these types of amphibious vehicles continued to evolve, and LVTP-5 and LVTP-6 versions continued to replace the outdated versions. In the late 1960s, US marines began a program to search for new alternatives to LVTP-5. These vehicles had to transform their roles from swimming to running, and then infantry fighting vehicles, with significantly different mobility requirements than other combat vehicles.
In September 1967, the LVTPX12 design was accepted by the USMC and put into service with the name LVTP-7, mass production began in 1971. In 1982, the LVTP-7 series began a modernization program to increase the life cycle. The new version was named LVTP-7A1 to distinguish it from the old generation, however, the USMC Command re-identified it as AAV-7A1 in 1984.
LVTP-7 has a rather bizarre appearance, its head tapering forward like a boat, combined with wheeled-tracked system and a massive body. The drive system consists of six double-tired road wheels to a track side with the drive sprocket at the front and the track idler at the rear.
The front of the vehicle is elongated, the hips and rear are upright. A large, flat rear doors, electrically controlled, provide access for soldiers and cargo. There is also a small door that one person can pass through to reduce the danger for the whole team in the vehicle when people are in or out.
The hull is made of up to 45mm all-welded aluminum, able to withstand light weapons, shell splinters and flash-burns.
As for the crew’s position, the driver will sit in the front left, while the commander is in the back, corresponding to the hatch on the roof. The accompanying periscope helps to keep a good view outside when all is in the vehicle. The turret on the right is responsible for supporting fire when the vehicle is near the shore and enemy fire points.
The engine was placed in the front, which not only increased the protection but also increased the space for the rear compartment. The troop compartment has enough space for 25 fully armed soldiers, has a roof door to access when needed. The vehicle can swim well with a pair of waterjets fitted at the rear of the track idlers.
The original LVTP-7 version used a 400 horsepower Detroit 8V-53T turbocharged diesel engine that helped it reach a maximum speed of 64km/h on road with a range of nearly 500km.
The internal structure of LVTP-7 is modular, so it can be equipped with additional equipment to perform other functions such as ambulance, command vehicle.
Weapons as mentioned, only a 12.7mm Browning machine gun capable of shooting targets such as infantry, light armored vehicles or low flying aircraft. But the LVTP-7 does not have any viewing or firing ports for the soldiers inside, without the NBC system is also a shortcoming of the vehicle.
On subsequent AAV-7 upgrades, the car was equipped with a new Cummins VTA-525 engine with 400 horsepower in response to the increased vehicle volume after the upgrade. Eight smoke launchers were mounted on the turret while the suspension was further strengthened. The driver’s cabin is modified for more convenience and has night vision glass.
The new Cadillac Cage weapon system used for enhanced firepower included a 12.7mm M2HB machine gun and a 40mm Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher. In response to modern battlefield weapons, an EAAK Enhanced Applique Armor Kit has been developed specifically for the AAV-7A1. All AAV-7A1 in the payroll shortly thereafter have been upgraded to this new standard.
The AAV-7A1 series has two other major versions in addition to the regular combat version, which is the AAVC-7A1 command vehicle that removed the turret and installs communication devices in the troop compartment.
The second model, the AAVR-7A1 Recovery vehicle, also removed the turret, instead a large easy-to-see crane next to the equipment needed for the rescue vehicle.
Despite weighing up to 29 tons and 7.94m long, the AAV-7A1 has a very good buoyancy, operates safely in sea stage level 5 conditions. AAV-7A1 can run on flat roads with a maximum speed of 72km/h and 13.2 km/h when swimming, much faster than similar vehicles.
The LVTP-7 generations has been used in many battles. During the Falkland War of 1982, the Arghentina army used this vehicle to deal with the British. LVTP-7 was also used in multinational peacekeeping forces in Beirut and Lebanon in the 1980s. It was also used during the US invasion of Grenada in 1983 and in the war to liberate Kuwait from Iraq in 1991. During the wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, the AAV-7 was also used in the formation of US Marines.
In June 2018, the Marine Corps announced they chose Iveco SuperAV 8×8 wheels for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program to supplement and eventually replace the AAV. However, until the near future, AAV-7 will still be the backbone of the amphibious forces of the US army.
It can be said that in terms of amphibious assault capability, there is no vehicle more advanced than AAV-7 in the world at this time. The AAV-7 has been serving in the armed forces of many countries around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Spain, South Korea and most recently Thailand. Currently, 36 AAV-7A1 Assault Amphibious Vehicles are the backbone of the Thai Marine Corps.
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