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On 23 August 2022, Textron Systems announced that they had completed the build of their prototype COTTONMOUTH 6×6 Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV). The prototype has already undergone contractor verification testing at Textron’s facility in greater New Orleans, Louisiana from 1-12 August. Further tests are due to follow ahead of final delivery to the US Marine Corps (USMC) for user trials in December 2022.

In 2021 the USMC selected Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) to deliver a prototype vehicle for the ARV programme by late-2022. The ARV is intended to replace the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) family, which has been in service with the USMC since the 1980s and will come to the end of its service life in the mid-2030s.

Textron have stated that the COTTONMOUTH ARV was built to meet the USMC’s requirements, with the vehicle’s open systems architecture allowing for the integration of multiple mission roles and capabilities. In USMC service, COTTONMOUTH is intended to act as a sensor node within a C4I network, and to this end will feature surveillance, target acquisition and communications systems. The vehicle is to be equipped with Elbit Systems’ IRONVISION, a ‘see-through armour’ system to provide the crew with enhanced local situational awareness.

GDLS has yet to publicly unveil their prototype. In an interview with Janes, Phil Skuta, GDLS director of USMC programmes, said the company plans to deliver its prototype to the armed forces in December, along with a blast hull for survivability testing and a system integration lab. The prototype, Skuta said, can connect to onboard and external sensors, including UAVs and UGVs.

ARV Process

After taking delivery of the prototypes at the end of the year, the USMC plans a six-month evaluation period under laboratory and operational conditions. Following this, a decision on the further progress of the ARV programme is expected before the end of 2023. The stated requirement for the ARV is around 500 vehicles, delivered over a production programme spanning five years. The total value of the contract is estimated at over US$1.5BN.