Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chinese YJ-12 Anti-Ship Missile proves 200nm is not enough...Admiral Greenert was right, we're gonna have to rollback enemy defenses!

via Chinese Military Review.
Very interesting GIF OF YJ-12 Sea-Skimming Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile being launched by Chinese H-6G Badger. While specifications of YJ-12 are not available, details of Its export version called CM-302 supersonic anti-ship missile were made public at Airshow China 2016.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) has disclosed that CM-302 supersonic anti-ship missile has a range of 280 kilometers with warhead of 250 kgs. Missile is capable of sea-skimming at supersonic speed for most of the flight, with capability to  maneuver at terminal stage to avoid hard kill close-in weapon system (CIWS). 
So if the mythical sea base is setup 200nm off shore then even that isn't enough.  I can't find the article but I DISTINCTLY remember Amos and Greenert doing a talk, and Amos saying that we would need the sea base to hover 65, 100, maybe 200nm off shore.  Greenert disagreed and stated that the Navy will rollback enemy defenses.

The YJ-12 for export proves that Greenert was right (he also said that the F/A-XX should not necessarily be stealthy or fast).

There are no shortcuts or "easy" amphibious assault.

For it to work it will require hardwork.  The sooner the Marine Corps wraps its brain around the fact, the sooner we can get to work on dealing with these future threats to the Landing Force and get our Marines onto and across the beach toward the inland objective.

THERE IS NO EASY WAY!  But it is doable!

Chinese Navy Type 055 Destroyer simulation...

Wish we had a Mandarin speaker in the audience.  What I want to know is how many VLS cells it has and if they can be individually quad packed.

Could the Chinese finally be launching a ship that can rival the Burke?

Mobile Protected Firepower primarily for Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, not just Airborne!

via National Interest.
Expected for release this later this month, a draft request for proposals will take US Army plans to add “Mobile Protected Firepower” to its Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) a step closer to realization. The vehicle selected to fulfill the service’s emerging requirement will also determine if a long dormant capability is revived; battlefield delivery of light tank-type vehicles by airdrop. The 1996 retirement of the 82nd Airborne Division’s M-551 Sheridan armored reconnaissance vehicles, and cancellation of the M-8 Armored Gun System, the Sheridan’s intended replacement, left the Army’s airborne formations with a direct fire capability gap the service intends to restore with a new combat vehicle.

“We expect to issue a draft RFP sometime in June with a final following in December, for the vehicle selected, airdrop capability is an objective, not definitive, requirement,”  according to Colonel William T. Nuckols, director of the Mounted Requirements Division at the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia. Nuckols spoke with the National Interest on May 17, confirming imminent release of the draft RFP by email on June 12. Nickols’ group is central to ensuring the selected vehicle fulfills the requirement to provide infantry with the capability to engage line of site targets with a large caliber gun, from a mobile, protected platform.

Initially, MPF requirements were drawn up to re-equip Army airborne formations with an air-droppable light tank. Plans changed as the service saw need to provide its regular IBCTs with a fire support vehicle offering mobility and survivability not available from comparable in-service assets such as the M-2 Bradley. Envisioned organizational structure calls for each Army’s IBCT to receive an MPF company, approximately 14 vehicles. “We are planning for a vehicle to primarily support our IBCT in standard configuration, rather than one that would be configured only for airborne,” Nuckols said.
Story here. 

That one change I highlighted is HUGE!  These vehicles are primarily for the IBCT and not only the Airborne?  That means a much bigger buy, it means a much larger deployment across the force and it gives the Marine Corps another bit at the apple.

Even if we DON'T go with the MPF concept for our forces we could GAIN amazing commonality with the Army by adopting their turret setup for our ACVs!

If we play it smart we should not only monitor the program but test various bits of technology that the Army places on it.

If this doesn't turn into vaporware and a huge clusterfuck from hell this program could be of benefit to both the Army and Marine Corps.

Boxer A2 is essentially a survivability upgrade...

Thanks to Jonathan for the link!

via Janes.
The upgrade will probably be undertaken through the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), which manages the Boxer programme for Germany, in addition to Lithuania and the Netherlands.

The A2 standard includes a fire suppression system - which is intended to improve vehicle survivability in the event of a hull breach - and a driver vision system, consisting of an externally-mounted camera to enhance situational awareness. Additionally, the A2 standard includes a satellite communications system and increased ballistic protection.
A number of A2-configured Boxers have already been ordered for Germany as part of the EUR476 million (USD516.4 million) contract for 131 vehicles announced in December 2015. Although these are to be delivered by 2020, the first batch of 272 Boxer vehicles, ordered in 2006, includes a number in the A1 configuration requiring upgrading to the A2 configuration.

The first A2 vehicle was delivered on 18 June 2015 as part of the original order, with all vehicles delivered until this point in the A1 configuration, from when deliveries to the German Army began in September 2009. This clearance from the parliamentary budget committee paves the way for an OCCAR-managed contract to upgrade these A1 vehicles.
Interesting.  Why are they focusing on increased suvivability and not lethality with the upgrade?  This appears to be the current way ahead for many forces.  I don't know why.  I view the ability to hit the enemy before they hit you and destroy them in one shot (or a couple depending on caliber size) as the ultimate survivability feature.  Even if that view isn't shared then wouldn't an anti-missile/rocket system be more worthwhile.

Open Comment Post. June 27, 2017.

HMS Queen Elizabeth heads to sea...

Modern Combat Op/Actions that are influencing Marine Corps development.

The USMC like any other institution seeks to learn relevant lessons from its past.  These lessons are passed down in a tribal setting by the impromptu school circles that leaders give, professional education, and word of mouth around the bar while talking to friends and thinking about good/bad times.

Luckily its also preserved by the Marine Corps Historical Division and those archives are open to all.  Most don't take advantage of the treasure trove of information but its there today (maybe not tomorrow so get it while its hot).

Having racked my brain and considered all actions that are influencing our future, I've come up with these big 5 4 combat ops/actions that are so seared into the brains of our leaders that I believe EVERY weapon system now being procured/tactic devised has its roots in solving an issue that raised its ugly head in these battles first.  Below is my list....

1.  The 2nd Battle of Fallujah.

via Wikipedia.
After Navy Seabees from I MEF Engineer Group (MEG) interrupted and disabled electrical power at two substations located just northeast and northwest of the city, two Marine Regimental Combat Teams, Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) and Regimental Combat Team 7 (RCT-7) launched an attack along the northern edge of the city. They were joined by two U.S. Army heavy battalion-sized units, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment (Mechanized). These two battalions were followed by four infantry battalions who were tasked with clearing the remaining buildings. The Army's mechanized Second Brigade, First Cavalry Division, augmented by the Marines' Second Reconnaissance Battalion and A. Co 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, was tasked to infiltrate the city and destroy any fleeing enemy forces.[34] The British Army's 1st Battalion, The Black Watch, patrolled the main highways to the east. The RCTs were augmented by three 6-man SEAL Sniper Teams from Naval Special Warfare Task Group-Central and one platoon from 1st Recon, who provided advance reconnaissance in the city, Joint Terminal Aircraft Control (JTACS) and unilateral overwatch throughout the operation. The United States Air Force provided close air support for the ground offensive, employing F-15 Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, B-52 Strato fortresses, and AC-130 gunships to carry out close-quarter precision airstrikes against enemy strongholds within the city. The Air Force also employed MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and precision strikes, and the U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft for intelligence collection, surveillance and reconnaissance before, during, and after the battle.
The six battalions of Army, Marine and Iraqi forces, aided by the USMC and SEAL Sniper and JTAC elements pre-fire operations, moved into the city under the cover of darkness; and once aligned with the reconnaissance elements, began the assault in the early hours of 8 November 2004, preceded by an intense artillery barrage and air attack. This was followed by an attack on the main train station, which was then used as a staging point for follow-on forces. By that afternoon, under the protection of intense air cover, Marines entered the Hay Naib al-Dubat and al-Naziza districts. The Marines were followed by the Navy Seabees of NMCB 4 and NMCB 23 who bulldozed the streets clear of debris from the bombardment that morning. The Seabees used armored bulldozers to plow the streets while remaining safe and protected from enemy fire. Shortly after nightfall on 9 November 2004, Marines had reportedly reached Phase Line Fran at Highway 10 in the center of the city.
There are many notable battles from Iraq that deserve much more attention.  This combined effort of the Marines, Army, elements of the Navy, and others is in my mind the telling battle of the era.  No other fight seared in the mind of Marines the fight there.  It will take another decade before all the acts of valor, sacrifice etc...are known.  Khe Sanh was hard.  In my opinion this was harder.

2.  The Heliborne Assault into Afghanistan 2001.

via CNN.
About 500 of an expected 1,000-plus Marines landed south of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar on Sunday. They were quickly in action, with the Pentagon confirming reports Monday afternoon that U.S. helicopter gunships attacked an armored column near the airstrip they control.

"They are not an occupying force," Rumsfeld said. "Their purpose is to establish a forward base of operations to help pressure the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, to prevent Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists from moving freely about the country."

Rumsfeld said the base they have established could be used for humanitarian operations or for special operations troops, but won't necessarily be used to put more U.S. ground troops into Afghanistan.

The Marine force includes members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit of Camp Pendleton, California, aboard the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Peleliu; and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, aboard the USS Bataan. Both ships are stationed in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Pakistan.
Story here. 

This one action has had on OUTSIZED influence on current and near term future Marine Corps operations.  It catapulted Mattis into rock star status and started his cult of personality.  In essence he conducted the heliborne assault for the record books.   I've tried to see if I could find a longer distance helo assault by any other force in history and I haven't.

Why is this influencing future Marine Ops?  You hear long distance Marine Corps raid by MV-22, think of Mattis/Afghanistan.  You hear about Marines sending infantry by MV-22 to assist in the air sea battle by taking out enemy air defense sites...think Mattis/Afghanistan.

This one action probably saved the MV-22, and gave Marine planners the key to unlocking Congressional purses when it came to Marine Aviation.  If you can strike deep then you need the other widgets to support those Marines on the tip of the spear.  But even if that was enough it also tossed a bone to others.  Did you catch Rumsfelds wording?  Can be used for humanitarian assistance or to support Special Ops?  This was where the supporting SOCOM meme was born.

3.  Invasion of Iraq.

via Wikipedia.
On 23 March, a convoy from the 3rd Infantry Division, including the female American soldiers Jessica Lynch, Shoshana Johnson, and Lori Piestewa, was ambushed after taking a wrong turn into the city. Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed, and seven, including Lynch and Piestewa, were captured.[147] Piestewa died of wounds shortly after capture, while the remaining five prisoners of war were later rescued. Piestewa, who was from Tuba City, Arizona, and an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe, was believed to have been the first Native American woman killed in combat in a foreign war.[148] On the same day, U.S Marines from the Second Marine Division entered Nasiriyah in force, facing heavy resistance as they moved to secure two major bridges in the city. Several Marines were killed during a firefight with Fedayeen in the urban fighting. At the Saddam Canal, another 18 Marines were killed in heavy fighting with Iraqi soldiers. An Air Force A-10 was involved in a case of friendly fire that resulted in the death of six Marines when it accidentally attacked an American amphibious vehicle. Two other vehicles were destroyed when a barrage of RPG and small arms fire killed most of the Marines inside.[149] A Marine from Marine Air Control Group 28 was killed by enemy fire, and two Marine engineers drowned in the Saddam Canal. The bridges were secured and the Second Marine division set up a perimeter around the city.

On the evening of 24 March, the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, which was attached to Regimental Combat Team One (RCT-1), pushed through Nasiriyah and established a perimeter 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) north of the city. Iraqi reinforcements from Kut launched several counterattacks. The Marines managed to repel them using indirect fire and close air support. The last Iraqi attack was beaten off at dawn. The battalion estimated that 200–300 Iraqi soldiers were killed, without a single U.S. casualty. Nasiriyah was declared secure, but attacks by Iraqi Fedayeen continued. These attacks were uncoordinated, and resulted in firefights in which large numbers of Fedayeen were killed. Because of Nasiriyah's strategic position as a road junction, significant gridlock occurred as U.S. forces moving north converged on the city's surrounding highways.
No comment on this one.  Just read the history from official sources.

4.  US Marine Artillery provide fire support in Syria. 

I include this one because I consider it unique.  For the first time in recent memory the USMC Ground Combat Element was not asked for as a "complete unit".  Instead a portion of it was desired to provide fires.  I find this interesting, and perhaps a bit troubling but I also consider it the future.  Once the Marine Corps sold itself as a combined arms team.  Now bits and pieces are being used.  What does that spell for the future?

This was just a quick and dirty.  I'm sure others can come up with more consequential battles but these are the ones that stood out in my mind  What's your list and where did I go wrong?

Monday, June 26, 2017

UK Ministry of Defense takes LM to task over its Warrior Upgrade work...

via Defense Aerospace.
The boss of US defence giant Lockheed Martin has been given a dressing down by the MoD over spiralling costs and delays on a £1bn contract to upgrade Britain’s tanks. 

Lockheed was hired almost six years ago to overhaul and fit new gun turrets to Britain’s ageing fleet of Warriors, which have served in the Gulf, Bosnia and Iraq. 

However, the American company is understood to be struggling with costs and complexity over the overhaul. 

Lockheed has not yet completed an initial contract to upgrade 12 demonstration tanks, significantly delaying the award of a follow-on deal to fit out the fleet of more than 600 vehicles. (end of excerpt) 

Open Comment Post. June 26, 2017

Belgium is buying Jaguar Armored Fighting Vehicles

via Janes.
Belgium's Council of Ministers announced on 22 June that it had approved the procurement of 60 Jaguar armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) and 417 Griffon light combat vehicles currently under development in France.
Story here.

Interesting.  The Aussies just chest thumped about their CRV (whichever they choose) being the best in the world.  I think the Jaguar will give it a GREAT run for its money if not beat it outright.  One other thing.  This vehicle already has orders?  This could potentially be a world winning rig.  Looks like the French hit a homerun by going back to their armored roots and rediscovering the vehicle class that put them on the map.

Teaching college students how to handle an active shooter

 #survival #survivalist #přežití #preziti #zbran #zbraň #zbraně #pistol #pistols #revolver  #revolvers #puška #puska #strelba #střelba #armáda #vojna #sebeobrana #vojsko  #slaňování #defence #prvnipomoc #seskok #seskokpadakem #kubotan #sniper #snipers  #teambuilding #lumirnemec #thortactical

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Making an Amphibious Combat Vehicle - Direct Fire Variant (Modern Day AMTank)

Earlier this week we talked about the options (here) facing the Marines with regard to its tank force.  With news that Congress is pushing the US Army to get going on its modernization and upgrading of its vehicles, the USMC is faced with a dilemma.

Do we do the same, stick with what we have or chart a new course?

I put forward what I see as potential options and even covered a few of the issues with them (again here).  What I want to do now is pull back the covers on each of them in a little more depth.

AMTanks during WW2 and why we needed them...

Landing Craft Infantry Rocket
The ACV-Direct Fire Variant proposal is nothing new. During WW2 AMTanks were used to great effect in the island hopping campaign that formed the fighting ethos of the Modern Day Marine Corps.

During that time period it was all about firepower.  Understanding the enemy and his motive for fighting took a distant backseat to finding, fixing and destroying him.

The US Navy provided magnificent fire support in the form of its devastating battleships, gun cruisers that would make dashes toward the beach to cover the landing force and to kill fortifications, destroyers that would get even closer even though they had paper thin armor, rocket filled landing craft that would saturate entire grid squares with salvos of 'death from above' and I recently learned even PT Boats/Coast Guard ships that would not only provide fire in the form of light cannon/machine guns but also act as rescue craft in case an Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) suffered a mishap at sea.

But it wasn't enough.

Marine Planners and Analyst soon realized that a missing ingredient was direct fire during the actual assault.  Even if every pre-planned target was hit and hit again, the Japanese had become masters in building fortifications.  They buried them deep and built them strong.  They were also adept at hiding them from our recon aircraft.  In essence a 24 hour bombardment with millions of tons of ordnance expended would result in a defense still capable of inflicting heavy casualties.

The Japanese were a determined foe and fought with the kind of zealotry that would make modern day terrorist blush with envy.

LVT (A) - 4 AMTank
In stepped a modified LVT to provide the direct fire needed to cover the last mile.  According to books covering the fighting in the Pacific, Marine AMTankers fired almost continuously...once they got within range of the beach, across the reef and while leading the assault inland.

So why a modern day AMTank?  Why should we consider an Amphibious Combat Vehicle-Direct Fire Variant?

So why should we consider a modern day AMTank?  Because currently the USMC operates (and I'm still looking for that article with the interview of a retiring Marine Colonel who commanded 2nd Tanks) around 60-70 M1A1 Abrams.

It's a beast of a tank make no mistake, but as it said in the article (if I'm recalling correctly), the force is so small that tribal knowledge is being lost. Sure we can still 'tank' as long as the Army is still in the game, but Marine Tankers operate in unique environments (aboard ship) with a unique reason for being...supporting the infantry.  If Marine Tanks is dying then we either revitalize it or we let it wither away.

AMTanks could revitalize it.

This is workable...Allies are proving that...

Some will say that an 8 wheeled, amphibious direct fire vehicle is beyond the pale and unworkable.  I say they're wrong.  Below are examples of eight wheeled direct fire vehicles that are catching the attention of many in the armor community.

The pic above shows the Japanese Maneuver Combat Vehicle.  The Japanese are making a big push to upgrade their defenses and fast moving armor that can operate in all conditions is one of their "must haves".  The MCV fits that bill being able to use Japanese roadways and arriving to the fight with a powerful 105mm cannon.  Can we expect it to stand toe to toe with enemy tanks?  Not hardly, but that's not it's role.  It's to provide fire for other forces. Its an on call direct fire for Japanese commanders.

Here you have Iveco's Centauro II.  I personally feel its the best of breed and edges a wheeled combat vehicle as close to tank like performance as we'll ever see.  From my reading on websites (including Italian military forums) this is almost the ULTIMATE cavalry vehicle.  They expect it to move fast, hit hard with it's 120mm cannon and then get away before the enemy can find and fix it.

I believe either of the candidates for the ACV would make an AWESOME platform for the Centauro turret, and would give us a direct fire vehicle that would make us the envy of Marine Corps units around the world (only the Chinese seem to have locked onto the idea of a modern day AMTank type vehicle).

Imagine a future Marine Corps mission set off the coast of Africa.  Boko Haram is once again acting up in a coastal African nation and the national command authority requests a raid to signal American resolve and to reassure an ally.

Our MEU has been disaggregated and the big deck is off playing baby aircraft carrier so the mission falls to a San Antonio class LPD.  Sitting in its well deck are 16 ACV Infantry Carriers, and 8 ACV AMTank variants.  Mission planner set out the parameters and its decided that the 8 ACV-IC and 4 ACV-AMTank will make a run to a suspected village under the control of Boko Haram. Overhead cover will be provided by V-247 Attack Tiltrotor (Unmanned).

This would be a joint operation with the host nation providing traffic control and once feet drive the speed of march would be 40 mph arriving at the objective at 2AM.

I won't dig any further into the fantasy fight but suffice to say the Marine Corps was victorious, the AMTanks proved their worth and speed of march was an important factor.

But think about the parameters.  Able to swim from ship to shore, travel over land at 40mph, go 100 miles to arrive time on target at the objective and then to motor back to ship?

Mechanized raids would be a brand new ballgame.

So what are the downsides?

We've got to have a serious talk about how we're gonna deal with enemy tanks.  For ages its been said that the best anti-tank weapon is another tank. Is that still true?  We get everything with this AMTank concept except the armor to hang in the fight after taking a hit.

Is speed, swim, lighter logistics worth giving up the brute power/armored strength of a Main Battle Tank?

I really don't know.  Tomorrow we talk about planned upgrades to the USMC's M1A1.