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

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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.

Did going off the "gold standard" contribute to the volatile markets since the late '70's?

Channel surfing and ran across this crazy new Teen Titans.  I thought it was goofy as hell and then they started a skit on "gold".

Little did I know it but they gave a cute education on the monetary system.

I know it's slanted but do they have a point?  Did going off the "gold standard" contribute to the economic chaos we've seen since the 70's?

Bell’s V-247 Vigilant Unmanned Tiltrotor...will this platform un-man half of Marine Air?

Thanks to Donald Bacon for the link!

via DoD Buzz.
 The Marine Corps wants a jumbo-sized drone that can take off and land on amphibious ships, and the list of requirements for the aircraft is daunting.

It needs to escort the MV-22 Osprey and have comparable flight range, carry the same weapons as an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, and execute missions ranging from electronic warfare, command and control, airborne early warning, and airstrikes — just for starters.
Story here. 


Think about what Davis wants.  He wants a tilt rotor combat UAV that can escort V-22s, act as command and control, perform early warning, provide airstrikes (and considering the way its performed now...close air support) just for starters?

If successful this could effectively "un-man" half of Marine Air!

AH-1Z?  Gone.  Why risk a pilot when we can get a longer loiter period and a MUCH HEAVIER weapons load for the same range (remember it has to carry the same load out as an F-35).

UH-1Y? Gone.  We have the MV-22 for its insertion mission which leaves only its utility task which are limited in the Marine Corps anyway...and light attack is something the unmanned tiltrotor can perform.

But this gets really interesting when you start talking about F-35 numbers.

Why do you need it if the tiltrotor is gonna do escort?  Why do you need it if the tiltrotor can do electronic warfare?  WHY DO YOU NEED IT if the tiltrotor can perform air strikes/close air support!

The missing piece is software.  Can we get one of these to do anti-air missions?  No, not the penetrating anti-air mission that the USAF is so in love with but the defensive anti-air that the Marine Ground Combat Element depends on Marine/Navy/USAF Air to perform so they don't have to look into the sky.

If the computer geeks can make that happen and if the F-35 is as expensive to maintain as I think it is, we could be looking at the platform that un-man's half of Marine Air just a few years away.

I've never been excited about UAVs.  This one could be an exception.

Last word on AdBlocker...

This will be my last word on AdBlocker on the site and why I took steps to add script to prevent access if you have it installed.

Just a sad reality guys.  I want the blog to grow and ads on the blog are part of making it happen.

Most have been supportive.  Others have written e-mails saying they're gonna stay away because of it.

I get it.

My stance remains the same but I'm making moves to reduce the number of ads you see on the blog.  So I'll be changing things around a bit, moving stuff from here to there...hopefully making things a bit sleeker and speeding up how the blog spools up on your computer/notebook/cell phone.

Cdr Salamander & Eagle One are talking USS Fitzgerald this afternoon....

Want to know what a couple of old skool Surface Navy guys think about the USS Fitzgerald incident?

Then tune into Midrats this afternoon from 5pm - 6pm Eastern time.

There aren't alot of "Surface Navy" blogs or bloggers and many of the people that actually are/were part of that community aren't talking (I wonder why...everyone but the people that serve/served on these ships are talking, why not the people that have been there done that) so the perspective of things from Cdr Salamander and Eagle One should be interesting and will hopefully fill in some of the blanks.

Sidenote:  The damage to the Fitzgerald is worse than I first thought...Just getting some hi-rez pics and if the damage below line is worse than above it's amazing that these Sailors were able to save their ship.  

Turkey refuses to close base in Qatar...why aren't they talking about Al Udeid Air Base

The US Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, provides command and control of air power throughout Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and 17 other nations.

via Reuters.
President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday dismissed calls for Turkey to close a military base in Qatar and said a wider list of demands issued by four Arab states was an unlawful intervention against the Gulf emirate's sovereignty.

In his strongest statement of support for Qatar in the nearly three-week-old crisis centered on the Gulf state, Erdogan said the call to withdraw Turkish forces was disrespectful and that Doha - which described the demands as unreasonable - was taking the right approach.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a boycott on June 5 on Qatar and issued 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran, shutting the Turkish base and paying reparations.
Story here.

Curious isn't it.

Not one word from the GCC about closing down the US base at Al Udeid...the Brits are also there.

How many US personnel?  Over 12K.  I have no idea about the number of allied troops, but it's also large.  If I recall correctly (and I could easily be wrong) but the Brits were talking about a Naval installation there too.

I don't know or understand the end goal of the they even have one?  What happens if we see the usual Arab bluster (is that being racists?) and fighting starts between the GCC and Qatar with our 12K plus troops caught in the middle?

I can only hope someone in the Pentagon is further along in their thinking/wargaming than I am.

Open Comment Post. June 25, 2017

Philippine Govt in talks with Islamic Terrorists...the West still doesn't know how to do COIN...

via Reuters.
Philippine emissaries met on Sunday with a leader of a militant group loyal to Islamic State, officials said, taking advantage of a short truce in a battle over a southern city occupied by rebels for more than a month.

The eight Muslim leaders entered the conflict zone in the heart of Marawi City alongside rescue teams. It was not immediately clear what was discussed with Abdullah Maute, one of two brothers in charge of the Islamist group named after them.

Retired General Dickson Hermoso, who coordinates efforts to free trapped civilians, said a unilateral eight-hour truce by the army to mark the Eid al-Fitr Islamic holiday was extended to enable the talks, details of which he withheld to avoid jeopardizing chances for dialogue.

"We need to balance this because this is very precarious," Hermoso told reporters.

He said the Maute group released some women and children on Sunday and the emissaries had come under fire briefly from rebel snipers.

"We have only established a foothold with the Maute," he said. "We hope both sides will again grant us the respite."
Story here. 

Wow.  You have solid intel on where the Terrorists leaders are and you don't take the opportunity to whack them with a little help from the US in a coordinated strike raining down precision guided bombs and cruise missiles?

I'm not so sure that targeted killing of terrorist leaders is a "war winning" strategy against these hasn't worked against ISIS and Al Qaeda in Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan but if I was a proponent of the thing then this would be an opportunity too good to pass up.


This thing will stretch out for another decade.  The West still hasn't wrapped its brain around conducting successful Counterinsurgency Ops.


I'm not sure.  The Counterinsurgency Manual was re-written with great fanfare by Amos and others but we've seen no improvement.  Is this a failure of modern military culture?  I really wonder.