Sunday, October 16, 2011

Have you seen this pic from F-35 ship board testing?

Ship suitability testing with the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant of the Lightning II continued on 4 October 2011, as Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Fred Schenk flying BF-2, the second F-35B test aircraft, successfully carried out a short takeoff from the deck of the USS Wasp (LHD-1) at sea. Called Development Test 1, test pilots will verify F-35B basic performance and handling qualities in a flight envelope that approximates that used by fleet pilots during amphibious assault ship qualification flights.

The rationale for a unique Marine Personnel Carrier gets weaker and weaker.

I like the idea of a Marine Personnel Carrier.

I like the idea that it must be amphibious.

I like the idea that it won't necessarily be a copy of the overweight Stryker II.

But the rationale for this vehicle seems to be slipping away.  Remember.  The whole idea behind the Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) was that the EFV would be used in the assault phase and once established on land, Marine forces would have too little armored lift to be a mobile force.  To make up for the shortfall in lift (because the EFV was so expensive and couldn't replace the AAV on a 1 for 1 basis) the MPC concept was born.

Now read these words from a Marine Corps spokesman via the Marine Times...
The MPC would fill a perceived gap, offering mobility in moderate surfs with enough armor to protect troops on the ground from most improvised explosive devices, Koch said. In an assault, AAVs or ACVs would come ashore first, with the MPC delivered by naval connecters like the Landing Craft Air Cushion to reinforce them.
The Corps plans to field about 600 of the vehicles.
But wait there's more...
Production of the MPC still could be at least a decade away, but the service is using money previously earmarked for the EFV on three other projects: the MPC; a partial renovation of the existing Amphibious Assault Vehicle fleet; and development of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, a less-expensive next-generation amtrac.
The Commandant promised that he would drive an ACV before the end of his tenure.  If that vehicle comes in on time and under budget then what becomes of the MPC?  Will we need it?  If so then why a unique vehicle?  If its to be delivered by connectors then why not just buy Strykers?  Or if not Strykers then why develop a new vehicle?  Wouldn't this requirement easily be met by an off the shelf 8x8?  Oh and while we're at it why an 8x8 why not tracks?  Why not 6x6?

I'm solidly behind the idea of getting the Ground element a little 'new' vehicle love but this is not the way to do it.

I'm starting to sense the same issues with the EFV creeping into the Amphibious Combat Vehicle & Marine Personnel Carrier programs.

1.  No sense of urgency.
2.  Bureaucratic inefficiency.
3.  Lack of clearly defined design goals.
4.  Requirements with no roots in reality.

The list can go on but we seriously need to get these programs together.  They need to be staffed with dynamic, dedicated Marines whose sole focus is to get these vehicles across the finish line in a reasonable time period.  The fiasco which was the EFV should not be allowed to be repeated.

And speaking of the EFV.  Why didn't we just scrap the hydraulics on that bad boy (who needs tracks that can be raised if you're not doing 40 knots anymore), redesign its interior and call it a day and get it into production.

Hate to say it but the Ground Vehicle part of the Marine Corps is broken.  Development of Infantry weapons and equipment is in good hands.  Aviation is aviation.  The Ground vehicle side is in serious trouble.

We have the M1A1 that a decision is going to have to be made on.  We have the JLTV and upgraded Hummer that will need to be decided on (and we have the US Army twisting arms to keep the JLTV going)....the only real winner on the vehicle front is the MTVR.

Yep, things are kinda screwed up.