The Chilean Marines are negotiating the acquisition of 12 AAV-7 tracked armored amphibious vehicles from U.S. Marine surplus stocks. This potential acquisition is part of the expansion of capabilities associated with the recent incorporation of the amphibious assault ship Sargento Aldea, acquired from the French Navy.
The LVTP-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle, a spacious 29.1-ton vehicle constructed on a base of welded aluminum plates, began production in the early 1970s and quickly became the Marines’ standard amphibious platform. In the late 1970s (or early 1980s, according to other sources), a program to extend the vehicle’s life was contracted, including modifications that created a configuration subsequently known as the AAV-7, with a more robust motor (Cummins VT-400 Diesel) and transmission (NavseaHS-400-3A1) and a new weapons station (Cadillac Gage) with a .50-caliber machine gun and an Mk-19 40-mm grenade launcher, powered by electric motors instead of the potentially dangerous hydraulic system previously used, as well as simplifying the maintenance procedures, among others.
The increase in weight was not followed by modifying the vehicle’s suspension, an obvious oversight that was subsequently corrected in an undetermined number of vehicles.
The vehicle’s large, completely watertight interior compartment enables it to transport up to 25 soldiers with all their gear, in addition to the three-person crew: driver, commander, and gunner. The soldiers exit via a wide rear ramp. Three versions of this vehicle exist: the AAVP-7A1 for transport; the AAVC-7A1, which has an entire set of communications equipment, for command and control; and the AAVR-7A1 for recovery. According to unofficial reports, the Chilean Navy is believed to be considering the acquisition of 10 transport units, one command unit, and one recovery unit.
An extra armor kit also exists, the installation of which requires the further installation of another kit that ensures the vehicle’s stability at sea. The AAV-7A1 is capable of speeds of up to 72 km/hr on land and 5 knots at sea. It has an approximate range of 480 kilometers.