Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Why did HQMC pick the Kongsberg turret for the ACV instead of other great options?

We covered this before but I have to circle back to why the Kongsberg turret. A refresher from Defense-Aerospace...
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS has been selected by BAE Systems, Inc. to design and manufacture the remote Medium Caliber Turret (MCT) for the United States Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) -30 program.

Kongsberg will deliver up to 150 MCTs in a phased program as part of this contract. Test article delivery will commence early 2021 followed by production phases.

The Kongsberg MCT-30 is the first remotely operated 30mm turret to be qualified and fielded in the United States. The system provides highly accurate firepower for wheeled or tracked combat vehicles. It is remotely controlled and operated from a protected position inside the vehicle compartment for optimized crew safety.

The MCT-30 leverages a link-less medium caliber cannon providing lethality, extremely high reliability and multi-user functions to the Marine Corps ACV and other platforms.

“The ACV-30 with Kongsberg’s MCT-30 turret signifies a powerful lethality capability for the Marine Corps, representative of a new era in U.S. amphibious operations,” said Pål E Bratlie, Executive Vice President Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

The U.S. Army, in 2015, chose Kongsberg’s MCT-30 to increase the lethality of the Stryker Brigade in Europe. The system has been fielded and operated with the Army as part of the European Deterrence Initiative since 2018.

It is the primary armament and fire control system for the Infantry Carrier Vehicle – Dragoon (ICV-D) Strykers. All MCT-30s, and any remote weapon stations, bound for U.S. customers are manufactured in the Kongsberg Johnstown, PA facility leveraging a U.S. supply base located in over 30 states.

Let me be clear up front.  This isn't a bash the HQMC or Kongsberg blog post. This is a simple why did they select this particular turret thing.  When the Army went this way in 2015, to be honest, I was kinda confused.  Even back then there were other options that seemed to offer more capability. Fast forward to today and the turret seems almost old tech.  Toss in a few realities that the Marine Corps has chosen for itself and it makes even less sense.

What do I mean?  We can expect compressed budgets because of the coronavirus.  Tanks are out so we're gonna need a mobile anti-tank capability. The Marine Corps is emphasizing sensors so a robust suite is desirable.

So where should we have looked?  Below are a few options....

Besides being hyper accurate the EOS 2000 comes with built in spike launchers, can provide protection up to STANAG 6, has active protection built in and has gunner/commander independent sensors.

Next up for consideration would be the Rafael Samson as seen on the Singaporean Hunter AFV.

It boasts some of the same features as the EOS 2000 (but in my opinion to a lesser degree) and is also another option that should have been considered.

Another consideration?  Longevity.  Was any thought given to the idea that the ACV might be FORCED to serve much longer than planned (God knows the AAV certainly did...from my recollection we had been seeking to replace that vehicle from the 80's!) so perhaps the idea of following the Army's lead and moving to a 50mm gun should have been considered.

Again, this isn't a slam HQMC, Kongsberg or any of the decision makers. A bad decision done on time can be directed.  A good decision too late is a mistake.

An explanation of how they arrived at the Kongsberg would go a long way in establishing where the Marine Corps is headed and what leadership is thinking.

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