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[*] posted on 9-6-2017 at 03:39 PM
Amphibious Warfare

Marine Airpower’s Future: Networking F-35s, V-22s, & MUX Drones

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on June 08, 2017 at 3:36 PM

A Marine F-35B in vertical landing mode.

CAPITOL HILL: The Marine Corps’ top pilot sketched a vision of fast-paced and networked air operations, spearheaded by F-35 fighters, V-22 tiltrotors, and the future MUX drones, all linked to each other and the rest of the force by Link-16 and MADL.

Marine F-35s have already practiced spotting targets for Marine artillery rockets and Navy missile defenses, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told reporters. Now imagine those F-35s linked to swarms of MUX drones — cheaper and more expendable than manned fighters — that provide even more sensor data, more firepower, more jamming and even resupply. Imagine V-22 Osprey tiltrotors, escorted by F-35s and MUX, carrying fuel, munitions and spare parts to hardscrabble forward airbases, where the fighters and drones can land to refuel, rearm, and return to the fight without flying back to the fleet.

The goal is to sustain a relentless tempo of strikes in the teeth of high-tech defenses — even while the Navy ships that support Marine operations hang back out of range of land-based cruise missiles. The challenge of so-called Anti-Access/Area Denial threats and the opportunities of new technology have  triggered an upsurge of tactical innovation, especially among young Marines.

“It’s a good time to be a US Marine,” Davis told reporters after a Senate airpower hearing yesterday. Visibly enthused, he described one development after another as “exciting” and wishing aloud that he could get in the cockpit himself. (After 37 years in uniform, Davis is in fact retiring next month). “I wish I was younger so I could fly this thing, but I’ll have to vicariously watch other people do it,” he said.

The innovation is especially vibrant in the F-35 community, Davis said. And that community extends beyond the Marines, he emphasized: “It’s really cool, the synergy between the services.”
While Navy F-35Cs won’t reach Initial Operational Capability until 2019, “the Marine Corps and the Air Force IOC’d already, and already we’re integrating our weapons schools at Yuma and at Nellis,” Davis said. A Marine is flying F-35As as an instructor in the Air Force school at Nellis, while an Air Force F-35A pilot is getting his F-35B qualification to instruct at Yuma.

Yuma’s Weapons & Tactics Instructors (WTIs) are at the forefront of exploring new ways to use the new plane, such as having an F-35 spot ground targets and transmit targeting data to Guided MLRS artillery rockets. The launcher itself had been flown in on a C-130 transport, Davis added, simulating a “rocket artillery raid” — the kind of rapid deployment of heavy firepower to a forward base that is central to future Marine Corps concepts of operations.

For this initial experiment, the F-35 pilots had to manually relay target data to the artillery unit on the ground, Davis said, but “the next WTI class will probably look for automatic target handoff to the GMLRS battery.”

To pass data from F-35s to other forces, Davis said, “Link-16’s one way we do that right now, (but) we’d like to have higher fidelity, higher bandwidth data,” for example by using (the) Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) built into F-35s. MADL was originally meant as a way for F-35s to communicate with each other, undetected by the enemy, but the military is now experimenting with MADL links to other systems. In a test last fall, for example, an F-35 passed target data via MADL to a Navy Aegis air and missile defense system. The Aegis wasn’t on an actual ship but rather a test installation at White Sands Missile Range, the so-called Desert Ship.

In the White Sands test, Davis explained, there was an incoming cruise missile that the “ship” couldn’t see with its own radars because it was hidden behind a mountain range. Flying much higher than a ship’s radar mast and therefore enjoying a much wider field of view, the F-35 saw the missile and transmitted target data via MADL. The ship fired a SM-6 interceptor missile and shot the threat down. What Davis may know and be keeping to himself is just how much greater is range and sensitivity of the F-35’s sensors. But he did offer a few hints.

“The sensors in the F-35, the radar, are really, really strong. It’s exceptional, there’s nothing like it in the world,” Davis enthused. “It’s the smartest kid in class.” In one F-35 flight out of Yuma, he said, “they asked us to look at a missile launch from Vandenberg and we tracked it all the way to space with the F-35.”

“It’s a King Kong killing machine,” Davis said. “It sees stuff and it’s able to kill stuff, very, very effectively. It sees through the weather, air to air targets, air to ground targets.…. Now we’re trying to push the information from that airplane, offboard that” to the rest of the force.

The next big step in F-35 experimentation will be deploying on big-deck amphibious ships, starting with squadron VMFA-121 this summer. Davis suggested using the deployment as a test for the “lightning carrier” concept. The idea is to pack an amphib with all the F-35Bs it can carry and use it as a kind of mini-Nimitz, rather than the current model in which it’s mainly a helicopter carrier with some Harriers aboard.

“As soon as that ship gets there, if they wanted to put all 16 airplanes they have aboard the ship, they could go. And if I were them, I would,” Davis said. “We, as a nation, should experiment with this capability.”

A model of the Bell V-247 concept for MUX on Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis’s desk.

MUX & V-22

The usually unarmed V-22 transport is increasingly the workhorse of the Marine Corps — and, with the new CMV-22 variant, the Navy as well. Its range and speed increased the Marines’ reach sixfold over the geriatric CH-46 helicopter, so no wonder they set the benchmark for the new Marine Unmanned eXpeditionary (MUX) drone.

“V-22…totally changed how we project power from a seabase and how people look at a MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit): 450-mile radius vice a 75-mile radius,” Davis said. So for MUX, the Marines want “range specs at least as good as V-22; air speed at least as good as V-22; and air refuelable (like V-22); can land vertically on board a ship (like V-22).”

One of MUX’s major missions will be escorting V-22s into combat zones, something jet fighters are too fast to do while attack helicopters are too slow. But that’s just one of a wide array of roles Davis envisions for a multi-mission MUX.

It “not only does death and destruction from on high, (flies) long range to escort V-22s and be a mission partner in manned/unmanned teaming for F-35s, but also has a cargo requirement as well,” he said. “We think it will carry an air to air radar, so it will give us airborne early warning. It will give us electronic warfare, it will give us air-to-air fires, air-to-ground fires, (and) airborne resupply at range.” He later mentioned Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance (ISR) and communications relay missions as well.

“It’s actually pretty exciting,” Davis said. “There are a couple of people that are building prototypes”: Northrop Grumman, Bell, Boeing, and Karem Aerospace. “I think the first airplane to fly, the first model, will fly in the fourth quarter of ’17.”

When you combine all these aircraft — the V-22 and MUX, which take off and land vertically like a helicopter, and the F-35B, which is a short takeoff/vertical landing “jump jet” — you get some “really interesting” options to operate independently of both conventional concrete airfields and 1,000-foot-long supercarriers. “The naval service is trying to power project from a seabase,” Davis said. “But what if I’m operating from a long way away? Now what happens to my surge sortie rate?”

Traditionally, supercarriers and big-deck amphibs alike operate relatively close to land, cutting down on the distance their aircraft have to travel to and from targets. Increasingly long-range anti-ship missiles, however, are forcing the fleet to seek refuge further and further offshore. Increasing the distance aircraft have to travel increases the time required for each sortie and therefore reduces the sortie rate, cutting the number of troops and bombs that can delivered to targets each day. But what if you had a pit stop between the ship and the target?

“Combine shipboard platforms with a land base, (an ad hoc) little strip out there,” Davis said. “With our F-35s and (MUX), a VTOL UAV, I can actually get out there at range, expend my ordnance, drop in, get rearmed and reloaded and back airborne again.” The aircraft would only return to the ship for maintenance too complex for the austere land bases to handle.

While Davis focused on F-35 and MUX operating out of these Expeditionary Advance Bases (EAB), other thinkers and publications make clear the EABs would depend on the V-22s to function. Only the tiltrotors have the combination of range,
speed, and carrying capacity to bring in operationally significant quantities of ammunition and fuel. What’s more, the V-22s are being upgraded to provide in-flight refueling to F-35s and other aircraft.
Other Marine Corps aircraft would certainly play their own roles.

Really heavy gear would have to be delivered to forward bases by CH-53 helicopter, which is slower but huskier than the V-22.

Smaller helicopters — AH-1 gunships, UH-1 transports, Navy H-60s — would run shorter-range missions, including protecting the fleet from submarines and fast attack boats. But the crucial synergy is the V-22’s long-range cargo capacity, the F-35’s sensors, and the MUX’s versatility.
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[*] posted on 13-6-2017 at 03:37 PM

Published: Monday, 12 June 2017 16:11

MAST Asia 2017: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries unveils new tracked amphibious vehicle
At MAST Asia 2017, the Defense Maritime/Air Systems & Technologies Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries presents a demonstrator scale model of its new tracked amphibious vehicle fully designed by the Japanese Company. Mitsubishi expects to offer this project to the Japanese Defense Forces as next generation of amphibious vehicle.

Scale model Mitsubishi tracked amphibious vehicle in land operation mode at MAST Asia 2017, the Defense Maritime/Air Systems & Technologies Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese defense forces is on the way to create a new Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade by the spring 2017. “The initial size of the brigade will be around 2,000 troops, but this is slated to increase to 3,000 once the force becomes fully operational sometime in 2018.
The amphibious capabilities of the Mitsubishi Amphibious vehicle have already tested with a demonstrator. All the components of the vehicle including the hull, engine, engine, suspension and water jet are fully designed and developed by Mitsubishi.

The Mitsubishi Amphibious vehicle will offer more capabilities in terms of protection, speed and mobility compared to the American AAV7. The vehicle can be used for sea and land operations.
Scale model Mitsubishi tracked amphibious vehicle in sea operation mode at MAST Asia 2017, the Defense Maritime/Air Systems & Technologies Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan
According an interview with Mitsubishi representative at MAST 2017, the hull of Mistubishi Amphibious Vehicle protects the crew from firing of small arms fire and shell splinters. There is a crew of three at the at the front of the hull with two single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear and three day vision blocks for all-round observation. The Mitsubishi Amphibious vehicle is powered by a turbo-charged Diesel engine of 2,206 kW mounted in the center of the vehicle. The rear part of the vehicle can carry a total of 15 military personnel.

The Mitsubishi vehicle is fully amphibious without preparation, being propelled in the water by two water-jets which are mounted in the center side of the hull at the rear. Similar water jet technology is used on the Hayabusa class guided missile patrol boats powered by 3-axis gas turbine propulsion system.

It consists of three LM500-G07 gas turbine engines driving three water jets.

The integrated arm hydro-pneumatic suspension either side consists of six road wheels with drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear, and three track return rollers. To reduce the drag, the tracks can be hydraulically lowered during water operations.
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[*] posted on 13-6-2017 at 08:50 PM

MAST Asia 2017: BMT teams up with Mitsui to position Caimen-90 landing craft for JMSDF requirements

Ridzwan Rahmat, Tokyo - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

13 June 2017

Key Points

- UK defence company BMT has teamed up with Japanese shipbuilder Mitsui to offer the Caimen-90 landing craft
- Platform promises faster amphibious offloads even as launch distances increase given advances in shore defence

A model of the Caimen-90 on display at the MAST Asia 2017 exhibition in Tokyo. (IHS Markit/Ridzwan Rahmat)

UK naval architecture and systems engineering company BMT Defence Services has teamed up with Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co, Ltd to position the Caimen-90 Fast Landing Craft in anticipation of future Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) requirements.

The platform, which was developed as a connector to move heavy vehicles including main battle tanks (MBTs) across the littoral gap, can operate at a maximum speed of 40 kt when unloaded, said Toby Middleton, in an interview with Jane's at the MAST Asia 2017 defence exhibition in Tokyo. "The ability to move men and equipment at these speeds is important especially in Japan's strategic context," he said, adding that the platform will come in especially useful in island recapture or reinforcement operations.

"Unlike the Caimen-90, which is powered by waterjets, most conventional landing craft typically do not feature these speeds, and this could affect mission timelines as offshore launch distances increase given developments in shore defences," added Middleton.

According to specifications provided by BMT, the Caimen-90 can carry a payload of up to 90 tonnes. This may include one MBT or up to four amphibian vehicles. The landing craft can also launch amphibious assault vehicles at sea, should mission parameters call for it.

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[*] posted on 13-6-2017 at 08:55 PM

MAST Asia 2017: Mitsubishi Amphibious Vehicle breaks cover

Ridzwan Rahmat, Tokyo - IHS Jane's Navy International

13 June 2017

Key Points

- Mitsubishi has unveiled details of a tracked amphibious vehicle it is proposing to Japan's army
- Vehicle is intended to boost the service's amphibious transport capabilities

A model of the Mitsubishi Amphibious Vehicle, depicted in water operation mode, on display at MAST Asia 2017. (IHS Markit/Ridzwan Rahmat)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has revealed further details of a tracked amphibious vehicle demonstrator it is currently proposing for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).

The details were revealed at the MAST Asia 2017 defence exhibition and conference, which is taking place in Tokyo from 12-14 June. According MHI officials who spoke to Jane's at the exhibition, the Mitsubishi Amphibious Vehicle has been designed to achieve both good manoeuvrability on land, and relatively higher speeds in the water in comparison to other amphibious vehicles in the market today.

"MHI has extensive experience in the design and construction of large surface ships," said Mitsuhiko Ikeya, a corporate communications officer representing the company at MAST Asia, in response to questions from Jane's . "As such, MHI has incorporated these experiences in the design of the vehicle so that in can operate very well in the water," he added.

Among features that can achieve this is the vehicle's integrated arm hydro pneumatic suspension, which can retract the platform's wheels and track during water operations to recue drag, said MHI. In the water, the vehicle is powered by compact high-thrust water jets. The vehicle has been incorporated with MHI's 3,000 metric hp (2,206 kW) diesel engine but the vehicle's top speeds on land and water are still being verified with the demonstrator unit, said the company.

According to further specifications provided by an MHI representative on site, the vehicle can accommodate a crew of about 15, but this can be changed according to requirements of the JGSDF and its intended mission sets. Weapons that can be mounted on the vehicle have also not been finalised.

The Mitsubishi Amphibious Vehicle demonstrator unit is currently undergoing further verifications internally within the company, but a full show of the vehicle's capabilities is expected to be made to the JGSDF soon, said MHI.

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[*] posted on 19-6-2017 at 03:24 PM

Published: Friday, 16 June 2017 15:40
AMV28A 8x8 armoured from Finnish Company Patria has successfully completed swimming tests.

The Finnish Defense Company Patria has successfully completed swimming tests with its latest generation of 8x8 armoured vehicle, the AMV28A in the end of May in Finland. With a total weight of 28 tonnes the vehicle swam without difficulties, as expected. Patria AMV28A, where 28A stands for 28 tonnes GVW amphibious (sea-stage 3) vehicle, is the latest member of Patria AMV product family, introduced at IDEX 2017 event earlier this year.

Patria AMV28A during swimming tests in Finland. (Photo Patria)
In the swimming tests, two different Patria AMV28A vehicles were tested - one in test configuration with full amphibious weight of 28 tonnes and the other one equipped with Kongsberg PROTECTOR MCT-30 turret with some payload capacity available. Both vehicles had no difficulties completing the various amphibious tests at the Hanko area in southern Finland during rather strong wind conditions, constant wind speed being 10-13 m/s, in gusts more than 17 m/s.

The new Patria AMV28A is an upgraded version of the Finnish 8×8 multi-role military vehicle AMV which is in service with many countries all over the world.

The new vehicle has an elongated body and is equipped with enhanced protection , as well as remote controlled weapon station Kongsberg MCT-30 with 30mm Bushmaster Mk44, which is mounted on a lower unit, Protector M153 OWS with M2HB and Javelin anti-tank system.

The AMV28A is designed to perform land and amphibious operations offering high level of protection against ballistic and mine threats. The vehicle is propelled in the water at a maximum speed of 10 km/h thanks to two propellers mounted at the rear of the hull.

The AMV28A has a crew of three including driver, commander and gunner, the rear part of the hull can accommodate 8 dismounting soldiers.

Patria AMV28A 8x8 armoured vehicle at IDEX 2017, defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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[*] posted on 19-6-2017 at 03:42 PM

Published: Saturday, 17 June 2017 10:09

China has developed the fastest 4x4 amphibious armoured vehicle in the world.

Shades of NZ's AquaTruck...........the armour is going to be rifle-round roof at best.....................

China has developed the fastest 4x4 amphibious armoured vehicle in the world which can reach a maximum speed of 50 km/h. The vehicle is being built by the North China Institute of Vehicle Research in Beijing.

The prototype of Chinese 4x4 amphibious armoured vehicle
The layout of the vehicle is similar to all 4x4 modern armoured vehicle personnel carrier with the crew at the front and troops compartment at the rear.

The vehicle features a V-shaped hull which offers more protection against mine blast. To reach the top speed of 50 km/h in the water, the vehicle uses compact pump jets alongside retracting wheels to reduce resistance during a high-speed on the water.

Without any protection, the vehicle has a total weight of 5.5 tons. It can be fitted with armour protection and weapon station mounted on the top of the hull. In this case, it can reach a top speed in the water from 20 to 29 km/h.

The first amphibious tests of the vehicle have been carried out in China showing that the vehicle is more faster than European or American similar vehicles currently available on the military market.

The new Chinese-made 4x4 vehicle can reach a top speed of 50 km/h in the water.
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[*] posted on 19-6-2017 at 11:13 PM
Intellectual property

Do you think they are paying royalties to Gibbs or Waterdcraft ?
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[*] posted on 20-6-2017 at 09:17 AM

Of course they are...................NOT!
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[*] posted on 20-6-2017 at 01:27 PM

With CH-53K in Production, Lockheed Martin Looks to Future

by Bill Carey - June 19, 2017, 10:59 AM

Now that the CH-53K King Stallion has moved into production for the U.S. Marine Corps, manufacturer Lockheed Martin (Chalet 324) is eyeing other buyers for the dramatically improved heavy-lift helicopter.

The early focus is Germany, one of three international users of the legacy Sikorsky CH-53 with Israel and Japan—all considered potential customers for the King Stallion, among other nations. The German army has a requirement for 40 to 60 new helicopters to replace its current CH-53Gs, a selection that Boeing also hopes to win with the CH-47F Chinook. The contractors await a formal request for proposals, which was not expected for another year or two.

Lockheed Martin asserts the Marines will be using the King Stallion years before Boeing fields a planned Block 2 upgrade of the Chinook in the 2020s. The U.S. Army granted the Chinook program Milestone B approval to move from technology maturation to engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) in early April. Boeing expects the Army will make a Milestone C decision to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) in 2021, with deliveries following in 2023.

The U.S. Department of Defense approved a Navy request to start CH-53K production on April 4. The Milestone C decision advanced the program from the EMD phase to LRIP. With a program-of-record requirement for 200 CH-53Ks, the Marine Corps aims to begin initial operations of the K model in 2019.

“This program now is actively transitioning from a development program into a full-fledged production program, and we’re really excited about that. It means that the 53K platform will be ready for international fielding,” said Beth Parcella, Lockheed Martin capture director for CH-53K international programs. “By the time Germany receives its first aircraft, it will have been in service with the Marine Corps for probably at least four years.”
The Chinook Block 2 upgrade schedule “may not align as cleanly as the K does,” she added.

Lockheed Martin also argues that a CH-53K, powered by three 7,500 shp-class GE Aviation T408-GE-400 engines, will be more efficient than a twin-engine Chinook. The new GE engine provides a significant increase in horsepower over the T64-GE-416 that powers the CH-53E Super Stallion, while at the same time consuming 20 percent less fuel, with 60 percent fewer parts, Parcella said. German engine manufacturer MTU has 20 percent of the content on the new engine, she added.

The airframe and engine manufacturers say the T408 empowers the King Stallion to carry a 27,000-pound external load over a mission radius of 110 nm in hot weather conditions, nearly triple the external load capacity of the CH-53E. “All in all we believe having a modern engine that’s far easier to maintain will lead to an attractive rate of maintenance,” Parcella said, when asked to make the case for three versus two engines.

Four system demonstration test article CH-53Ks had joined the flight-test program at the Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky Aircraft facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Plans called for moving the flight-test effort to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Final assembly of production CH-53Ks will take place in Stratford, Connecticut.

There will be no CH-53K to inspect at this year’s Paris Air Show, although Parcella said the 2019 edition of the airshow is a possibility. Nearer term, Lockheed Martin aims to display the new helicopter at the ILA Berlin Air Show in April 2018, assuming the Marine Corps approves.  

Starting in the 1970s, Germany accumulated a fleet of 112 license-built CH-53Gs; about 60 remain actively flying. In February, Airbus Helicopters said it received a contract from Germany’s Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support for obsolescence management of components on 26 CH-53Gs. Retrofits were to take place this year through 2022, extending operation of the helicopter to at least 2030.

Lockheed Martin is also looking to the future of the CH-53K. “Now that we’ve achieved Milestone C and we’re moving into production, we are starting to think very seriously about the future,” Parcella said. “We’re really hopeful that other foreign militaries will see the variety of applications with this aircraft and will recognize that there are mission sets that only an aircraft like this can complete.”
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[*] posted on 13-7-2017 at 03:38 PM

Marines' Upgraded Merlin Makes Yeovilton Debut

(Source: Royal Navy; issued July 12, 2017)

The Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) acquired two squadrons of battlefield Merlins from the RAF to replace their veteran Sea Kings. The first such Merlin, designated Mk. 4, is seen here arriving at RNAS Yeovilton. (RN photo)

Pale grey is the new green. This is the very first of the Royal Marines new steeds to drop in on its future home.

This is a second-generation battlefield Merlin, factory model MLSP 1, tail number ZJ122, making a brief debut at Yeovilton.

It went into the factory at nearby Leonardo (previously Agusta-Westland) in Yeovil as a khaki green Merlin Mk3…

…and it emerged as a maritime grey Merlin Mk4 complete with folding tail, folding rotor head, floatation devices, fast-roping points, enhanced radio and comms equipment and an improved undercarriage (plus lashing points) - modifications all designed so it can operate at sea.

The Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) acquired two squadrons of battlefield Merlins from the RAF to replace their veteran Sea Kings.

Faster and more powerful than their predecessors and equipped with a ramp to load/offload 16 commandos in full battle rig, they were almost exclusively designed for operating over land.

It's the ability to fold the tail section - it's been completely rebuilt for the Mk4 - and the rotor heads which assist flying from Royal Navy carriers in particular.

This first Mk4 made its debut in the Somerset skies last autumn, but it took nearly a year for the Leonardo team to make the short hop to Yeovilton, where it dropped in to refuel as the air station prepared for its annual air day.

At the controls, aircraft captain Rob Dowdell, Leonardo's senior test pilot, with QinetiQ test pilot Lt Ian Pearson at his side in the cockpit and Leonardo's flight test engineers John Doherty and Simon Lewis in the back of the cab.

The first of 25 Mk4s will be handed over to CHF in January, with transition to the new machine completed by the end of 2020.

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[*] posted on 19-7-2017 at 07:38 PM

USMC trials tech in Talisman Saber

19th July 2017 - 10:22

by Gordon Arthur in Rockhampton

The involvement of the USMC’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in Exercise Talisman Saber 2017 in Australia was punctuated by experimentation with new equipment under the Sea Dragon 2025 initiative.

As the designated evaluation unit the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (3/5 Marines) was testing out a range of new technologies and internal organisations for the first time in a major exercise.

Among new systems spotted included a number of Polaris MRZR 4 all-terrain vehicles in use with this battalion landing team (BLT) currently assigned to the 31st MEU. A C2 variant is outfitted for command-and-control tasks with satellite radio, HF, VHF and UHF connectivity. The MRZR 4 can be embarked aboard the MV-22B Osprey for air landing operations to give troops rapid mobility after landing.

Capt Joe Masini, who is one of about 20 members of the fielding and testing branch of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory that is overseeing the evaluation, listed other new technologies being tested in Australia. These include micro- and small UAVs such as the Prox Dynamics Black Hornet, PSI InstantEye Mk2 and Aeryon SkyRanger.

These are proving valuable at the small-unit level as they allow marines to perform reconnaissance in difficult terrain. Masini gave the example of marines clearing a landing zone, a process in which squad-level UAVs saved some 20-25 minutes. They can also spot hostile forces in hours of darkness.

Another item being tested is Magpul’s PMAG Gen M3 spring-loaded magazine, while the battalion is testing an iridium satellite phone that operates using existing US-based ground stations. There are also Android-based chest-carried tablets for officers, these being fitted with a kill switch in the event of imminent capture.

One other area being explored is altering the size of squads and companies. A rifle squad usually consists of 13 marines, but BLT 3/5 is trying out a squad as small as 11 men (two five-man squads, a squad leader and UAV operator), and as large as 16 in other cases. Different terrain can dictate what squad size is optimal to ensure the appropriate fire effect is achieved.

The 3/5 Marines began training on the new technology about two months before deploying to Okinawa to join the 31st MEU in May. Masini noted that field experience is more important than classroom teaching if the technology is to be exploited.
Among the 40 or so technologies that have been trialled to date are a small-unit water purification system, a joint infantry combat prototype exoskeleton that harvests a marine’s energy to charge electrical equipment, a Dragon Runner 10 tracked robot and self-driving vehicles. 

Gen Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, launched Sea Dragon 2025 last August ‘to establish an experimentation roadmap to capitalise on existing and emerging technology’ and ready the USMC for the challenges and conflicts of the future.

Neller directed that 3/5 Marines ‘will be reconfigured, re-equipped and will receive additional training as it progresses through its training and deployment’. Talisman Saber was an important part of the exploratory phase one of the Sea Dragon 2025 plan, which will culminate in an end user conference in September.
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[*] posted on 21-7-2017 at 10:29 PM

Upgunned ESG concept exercised in Talisman Saber

21st July 2017 - 12:00

by Gordon Arthur in Rockhampton

Exercise Talisman Saber 2017, held in Australia this month, provided the US Navy (USN) with the opportunity to put its latent upgunned Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) concept through its paces in a realistic environment.

The upgunned ESG was a ‘concept in development by the US Navy’, said USN Rear Adm Marc Dalton, commander of the Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, addressing a question from Shephard aboard USS Bonhomme Richard. 

The initiative will take the existing three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and add three cruisers, destroyers or frigates. 

These additions from the Pacific Command’s Surface Action Group will protect the amphibious ships and add new capabilities.

The full upgunned ESG will make use of USS Wasp (LHD 1) when it deploys later this year from Japan with a squadron of F-35B fighters embarked for the first time.

‘We’ve used this [Talisman Saber] exercise to work concept development, especially for the cruiser/frigate/destroyer integration into the force as we build towards adding the F-35B.

Wasp will deploy with the F-35B in early 2018 for the first time.

That will be our first opportunity to operate the complete package as we see the upgunned ESG,' Dalton explained.

‘We’ve got a tremendous amount of insights into how we can take full advantage of that integration between amphibious capabilities and surface combatants, and all the capabilities with the aircraft and helicopters that the task force brings, so that, as we add the F-35B, it will be just another step and we will be proficient much more quickly in bringing these capabilities together.’

Dalton noted that ‘it’s not just about the individual capabilities that each of those units bring, but how we connect them together and take advantage of how they integrate’ so that the sum of the parts is greater than the individual components.

Adm Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, introduced the upgunned ESG concept in April 2016. He said it will help reduce pressure on the USN’s carrier strike groups. 

‘It’s not the same as a strike group. It doesn’t have that depth the strike group brings, not the same number of aircraft and capability, [but] if you look at the demand signal for carrier strike groups from a COCOM [combatant command] perspective from around the world, it’s 15 carrier strike groups,' Swift said last year.

It is clear that this move towards an upgunned ESG has been necessitated by the growing might of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. 

Indeed, US naval dominance in the region in the future is no longer assured. Against a near-peer adversary such as China, the US must therefore alter its approach and beef up the protection of its ARGs.

In the 1990s the USN and USMC attempted an ESG combination of three warships, a submarine, an ARG and a P-3 Orion aircraft, but that effort was stymied by command and control limitations.

Technology has moved a long way since then, and the sensors of the F-35B will help collect a lot of information in the absence of an airborne early warning aircraft like the E-2 Hawkeye. The MV-22B Osprey, with its range, speed and payload, is another important platform that will support the upgunned ESG.

On the day prior to the interview with Dalton, the Bonhomme Richard ARG performed a fast-paced amphibious lodgment on Freshwater Beach in Central Queensland, using Ospreys, LCACs and LCUs to bring 31st MEU personnel and equipment ashore during Exercise Talisman Saber.
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[*] posted on 25-7-2017 at 01:27 PM

US Navy tests amphibious concept at Talisman Saber exercise

By: Mike Yeo   9 hours ago

The U.S. guided-missile destroyer Sterett fires its MK 45 5-inch gun during a naval surface fire support exercise as part of Talisman Saber 17. Talisman Saber is a biennial U.S. and Australia bilateral exercise held off the coast of Australia meant to achieve interoperability and strengthen the alliance between the two countries. (MC1 Byron C. Linder/U.S. Navy)

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia — The U.S. Navy has put its up-gunned expeditionary strike group concept into practice within a realistic war-fighting scenario, with allied surface combatants joining an amphibious ready group, or ARG, and its embarked Marines for a major exercise off the coast of Australia.

The Bonhomme Richard ARG was joined by a surface action group, or SAG, made up of the U.S. destroyer Sterett and four Australian frigates at Exercise Talisman Saber 2017, which saw American and Australian forces carry out two major amphibious landings at Australia’s Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

According to Royal Australian Navy Capt. Guy Holthouse, sea combat commander for the Talisman Saber 2017 Combined Amphibious Force, the up-gunned ESG was pitted against a very active and capable adversary that presented a mix of surface, air and subsurface threats using real submarines, aircraft and ships throughout the exercise, which added training value to both U.S. and Australian forces.

Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, added that Talisman Saber was used “to work on concept development (of the up-gunned ESG), especially for the cruiser/destroyer/frigate integration into the force as we build towards adding the F-35B.”

Dalton noted that the amphibious assault ship Wasp, which will replace the Bonhomme Richard as the Navy’s forward-deployed big-deck amphibious ship in Japan this fall, will start deploying the F-35B at sea in the region in early 2018 and will represent “the first opportunity to operate with the complete package of the up-gunned ESG.”

In addition, a Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine helicopter from the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan was also embarked onboard the Bonhomme Richard for a short duration during the exercise, which Amphibious Force 7th Fleet said was for “practicing the up-gunned ESG concept in providing surface/subsurface defense of the ESG.”

Dalton told Defense News that embarking the MH-60R onboard the Bonhomme Richard is one of several options being evaluated to “dynamically reconfigure the capabilities” of the amphibious forces, which he described as being very flexible; “what we’re looking for is what the right situation would be to when we want to bring that capability onto the amphibious ships and what the trade-offs are.”

The up-gunned ESG concept was first mooted by U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift in April last year. He noted that the basic premise of the up-gunned ESG had been tried before in the 1990s without much success, but still believes that enhanced ship and aircraft sophistication, improvements in command, control and communications capabilities, and new air platforms like the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor and F-35Bs which brought improved performance and sensor capabilities into the mix.

What was left unsaid was that this development of an up-gunned ESG is also acknowledgement that future amphibious operations are unlikely to be uncontested, and in the event of conflict with a relatively advanced adversary or even peer competitors like China or Russia, the ESGs will need to be protected and even possess the capability to mount limited offensive operations.

This is particularly true in the complex littoral environment and islands of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, which have seen the proliferation of advanced anti-shipping missiles in the hands of many of the region’s states in recent years.
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[*] posted on 3-8-2017 at 04:48 PM

Manoeuvres and A Change of Command: Visiting the Dutch Korps Mariniers

(Source: German Ministry of Defence; issued July 18, 2017)

TEXEL and VLISSINGEN, the Netherlands --- The Sea Battalion of the German Navy and the Dutch marine corps, the Korps Mariniers, are growing ever closer together. Commander Axel Meißel, commanding officer of the Sea Battalion, was invited to be present at a change of command ceremony among the Dutch marines and the subsequent exercise. The Sea battalion is part of the land-based units of the German Navy.

The North Sea island of Texel provided the backdrop for command over the Dutch Surface Assault and Training Group (SATG) to be handed over. This group is one of five subunits in the renowned Korps Mariniers. In presence of numerous interested guests Lieutenant Colonel Scheltema handed over command of the unit to Lieutenant Colonel Posthumus, who will now be responsible for the Surface Assault and Training Group.

Commander Meißel said, “It’s a special honour for me to have been invited to witness the change of command, and I’m very happy about this public sign that our Sea Battalion is successfully becoming more and more integrated into the Dutch Navy.”

Manoeuvres in the port town of Vlissingen in the south-west of the Netherlands were next on the agenda for the marines. The certification exercise CERTIFEX took several days and was intended to demonstrate the operational readiness of 1 Marine Combat Group, a Dutch battalion of marines. Under the watchful eyes of several SATG examiners, marines attacked two separate targets in the centre of the town to bring down a number of “insurgents” they had identified, while civilians went about their daily business. The Dutch battalion command planned and monitored the operation on board the landing ship “Rotterdam”.

The commanding officer had been given a particular challenge to cope with. In spite of the complexity of the mission, an artificial limit had been placed on the available resources. That is why mission command had only two Cougar Mk2 helicopters and four landing craft available to quickly deploy soldiers and vehicles.

“It’s impressive watching this exercise unfold. This would hardly be possible in Germany,” Meißel said. “To have boats and helicopters land at night-time, in the middle of partly closed-off but civilian areas of the town, and then conduct mock battles must require a lot of good PR work in the run-up to avoid confusion and fear among the general public! The locals and tourists certainly seemed to be very open-minded and interested,” Commander Meißel went on to comment.

The members of the Sea Battalion and the Korps Marinier will continue to work on German-Dutch military integration in the coming months. The next step is planned for September, when the two nations will get the opportunity to further develop and enhance joint procedures during the NORTHERN COASTS 2017 exercise and the Sea Battalion from Eckernförde will again play an active part in the manoeuvres.

Background information

On 4 February 2016, Germany and the Netherlands agreed to enhance their maritime cooperation. The Federal Republic of Germany benefits particularly in the areas of military deployability by sea and amphibious operations.

The general-purpose supply ship “Karel Doormann” is one of the vessels the Sea Battalion uses together with the Dutch in this context, allowing the Dutch Navy to put their ships through their paces more often.

This is an adapted translation of an article by the Naval Beach Battalion published on

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[*] posted on 5-8-2017 at 12:37 PM

UK Maritime Forces Complete French Naval Deployment

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Aug 03, 2017)

Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel have completed their five-month deployment aboard the French warship FS Mistral.

Two Royal Navy Merlin Mk3 helicopters were also embarked as UK and French maritime personnel trained together across the Asia Pacific region.

Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, said: “From fighting Daesh in the Middle East to jointly operating in Estonia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, our enduring defence partnership with France is stronger than ever as we work together to tackle global threats.

“This deployment has demonstrated the ability of our world class Royal Navy and Royal Marines to operate alongside our French allies and international partners as Britain delivers on its commitment to global maritime security.”

The annual French deployment Jeanne d’Arc included port calls at Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, Guam, Australia and Egypt as well as various multinational amphibious exercises.

Throughout the deployment, UK personnel worked closely with international partners to strengthen defence cooperation in the region. British troops participated in the first ever four-part maritime exercise involving France, Japan, the UK and US, where as part of a week-long practice assault, the two Merlins moved 330 troops from the four nations to and from the island of Tinian.

UK troops also met with the Vietnam People’s Navy in Ho Chi Minh City to compare national maritime operating procedures and exchange experiences, and during a port call to Egypt, British forces took part in a cross-decking exercise alongside French and Egyptian Armed Forces.

Through the 2010 Lancaster House Treaties, the UK and France are continuing to strengthen an ever closer bilateral defence and security relationship. As well as fighting side by side as allies in NATO and the Global Coalition, the two nations are working together as partners in defence equipment and capability programmes such as the UK-France Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon programme.

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[*] posted on 6-8-2017 at 12:10 PM

Officials Call Off Rescue Effort for 3 Marines Lost in V-22 Crash

U.S. Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa load up an MV-22B Osprey during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel exercise, Dec. 7, 2015, at Los Llanos Air Base, Spain. Photo: Staff Sgt. Vitaliy Rusavskiy | 6 Aug 2017 | by Hope Hodge Seck

The search-and-rescue effort for three Marines lost when an MV-22 Osprey crashed off the coast of Queensland, Australia, earlier Saturday has turned into a recovery mission, officials with III Marine Expeditionary Force said.

The search was called off at 3 a.m. local time, 11 hours after the Osprey went down following a launch from the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, officials said in the release. The aircraft was conducting regularly scheduled operations at the time.

Aboard the Osprey were 26 Marines attached to the deployed 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. While 23 of the Marines were recovered following the crash, three remain missing. The aircraft belonged to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 out of Futenma, Japan. The squadron took over as the aviation combat element for the 31st MEU in April.

The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, took to Twitter earlier today to express his concern for the missing troops.

"Please keep the families of those involved in the Osprey mishap near Australia in your thoughts and prayers," he wrote.

President Donald Trump, currently on a working vacation in New Jersey, was briefed on reports of the mishap this morning by his new chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, according to a White House official.

As operations shift to recovery efforts, the next-of-kin for the three missing troops have been notified, officials said. The Marines have not yet been publicly identified; military policy observes a 24-hour window between the completion of next-of-kin notification and public identification of fallen troops.

During the 11-hour search window, small boats and aircraft from the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group conducted "continuous sustained search efforts," according to the release.

The Marines will coordinate and receive assistance from the Australian Defense Force as they begin recovery efforts, including further searches and assessment and survey of the area as sea state permits, officials said.

The circumstances of the tragic mishap remain under investigation.

This disaster comes less than a month after a Marine Corps KC-130T aircraft crashed during a transport mission in early July, killing all 16 troops aboard in what was the deadliest Marine aviation mishap in more than a decade.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.
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[*] posted on 7-8-2017 at 09:18 PM

Osprey mishap: US Marines aircraft located at Shoalwater Bay off Rockhampton

© AAP Image/Reuters Pool, Jason Reed A U.S. Marines MV-22B Osprey Aircraft on the deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard amphibious assault ship, pictured on June 29, 2017.

The submerged remains of a US military aircraft that crashed off Queensland's coast, leaving three marines presumed dead, has been found.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said the aircraft — an MV-22 Osprey — was found by HMAS Melville, which arrived in Shoalwater Bay overnight.

The Osprey ditched into the water off the Queensland coast during a training exercise on Saturday afternoon, and 23 of the 26 crew members on board were rescued.

The US Marine Corps called off the search and rescue operation early on Sunday morning and moved to a recovery and salvage phase expected to take several months.

Two marines — Lt Benjamin Robert Cross and Corporal Nathan Ordway — have been identified by family.

© Facebook/Ryan Cross Lt. Benjamin Robert Cross (left) with his brother Ryan, who confirmed the death to CBS.

Lt Cross' brother Ryan Cross on Monday said his younger sibling had the "highest moral character" and was "devoted" to the Marine Corps.

"It's something that you hope that you never have to experience," he said.

"Every military family knows in the back of their mind there's always a possibility.

"You hope it will never happen to you."

© Facebook: Nathan Ordway Family members say Corporal Nathan Ordway from Kansas is missing, presumed dead.

Corporal Ordway's family and friends took to social media to call for prayers.

"Please pray for his life, his safety, and comfort for the family," family friend Heidi Peltzer wrote on Facebook.

One more of the 26 personnel who were onboard remains missing, presumed dead, but is yet to be identified.

Another is recovering in a Brisbane hospital with a leg injury.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) was supporting the US-led recovery operation.

Senator Payne said underwater search operations would begin on Monday evening.

"The crew of HMAS Melville and our divers will conduct remotely operated underwater vehicle operations beginning this evening," she said.

"The Australian Government remains prepared to offer further support as required and our ADF remains at short notice readiness to support any further requests."

MV-22 aircraft, known as Ospreys, have a somewhat chequered history, with a number of the helicopter-plane hybrids going down recently.

In December, five crewmembers of an Osprey had to be rescued after their craft conducted a shallow-water landing off Okinawa after a training mishap in which a rotor blade cut a refuelling hose, according to the Marine Expeditionary Force.

During a US counter-terrorism operation in Yemen, two soldiers were reportedly injured when a USMC MV-22 experienced a "hard landing" after being called in to evacuate injured troops.
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[*] posted on 14-8-2017 at 08:18 PM

Indonesia shortlists BT-3F amphibious tracked vehicle from Russia for marines corps

Ridzwan Rahmat - IHS Jane's Navy International

13 August 2017

The BT-3F amphibious tracked armoured personnel carrier. Source: Nikolai Novichkov

Key Points
- Indonesia has shortlisted the Russian developed BT-3F amphibious tracked vehicle to replace its marines corps’ ageing BTR-50PKs
- Contract may see Indonesia become the first international customer of the BT-3F

A request by the Indonesian Marines (Korps Marinir – KORMAR) to formally withdraw from further acquisitions of the BTR-4 8x8 amphibious wheeled armoured personnel carriers (APCs) is close to being approved by the Indonesian government, and the service has singled out Russia’s BT-3F platform as a front runner replacement in the programme.

Sources from the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) told Jane’s on 14 August that as part of a due diligence process to select the replacement, KORMAR chief Major General Bambang Suswantono, and a delegation of senior officers from the service, will arrive in Russia in the week beginning 21 August to witness a demonstration of the BT-3F near Moscow.

Major Gen Bambang will also participate in the Army 2017 military-technical forum as part of his visit, and visit the premises of Concern Tractor Plants, the Russian heavy industry equipment developer that designed BT-3F. KORMAR is a service under the TNI-AL’s command structure.

The Indonesian House of Representatives’ commission on defence, intelligence, and foreign affairs (Komisi I) had previously approved a sum of USD95 million under the country's 2017 defence budget to replace the KORMAR's ageing BTR-50PK APCs with BTR-4s. This approval was granted in addition to the initial batch of five BTR-4 APCs ordered by the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) from Ukraine's defence industry holding group UkrOboronProm in February 2014.

(282 of 720 words)
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[*] posted on 25-8-2017 at 11:29 PM

Bring Back the Dragon Swarms

Proceedings Magazine - August 2017 Vol. 143/8/1,374

By Brian J. Dunn

The rise of networked enemy surveillance systems and long-range precision strike capabilities make Marine expeditionary unit (MEU)-centered amphibious ready groups (ARGs) too large to avoid attention, and they are too few in number to carry out widely dispersed missions. U.S. amphibious warfare needs a real innovation in how Marines are put ashore, using new technology and perhaps some old ideas to help Marines carry out new ways of achieving objectives.

According to “Expeditionary Force 21” (EF21), “the increased range, precision, and proliferation of antiaccess/area denial (A2/AD) systems highlight the need to conduct dispersed operations with smaller, task-organized forces. While EF21 seeks to carry out traditional Marine missions in the new threat environment of this century, there is a danger of not adapting fast enough. The operating concept risks failure if the Marine Corps does not push adaptation ruthlessly tested into the force. 1

This does not mean simply doing the same things with better technology. Trying to do the same big operations once begun from offshore to something done from over the horizon with more extensive, expensive, and technologically advanced tools is not the answer.

Simply asserting that today’s Marines will defeat A2/AD challenges twists an otherwise admirable “can do” attitude into what looks more like the “Charge of the Light Brigade.” It might be magnificent, but it is not a war-winning strategy.

Modern U.S. amphibious doctrine is built on the experience of World War II, and today’s Marines can look to it for insights into disaggregated operations. Japanese victories in the opening months of the war relied on small units to take small islands and swarms of small units to converge on larger targets. The Japanese Navy used older warships to carry its naval infantry and provide fire support to the troops as they landed. 2 Prewar Japanese amphibious doctrine held that using units “widely dispersed yet concentrated at the point of attack” was the best way to hit an objective. 3

Even though the U.S. Marine Corps spent the inter-war years developing amphibious doctrine and specialized equipment, at the beginning of the war the U.S. discovered the need for capabilities that the Japanese had used so effectively. The Navy, in response, developed the assault transport ship (APD) from obsolete destroyers to carry company-sized Marine elements to begin the rollback of Japanese gains.

Today’s Marine Corps needs to move away from battalion-sized MEUs to company- and platoon-sized operations (building on them for larger operations); and the Navy needs an updated APD dedicated to moving Marines and providing fire support to carry out a greater number of smaller, faster amphibious missions. Disaggregated “swarms” are the means to adapt to the A2/AD challenges that threaten large-scale amphibious operations.

Expeditionary Assault Ship as the Enabler

Operations in high-threat areas might only be possible with smaller amphibious units that can land, conduct a ground element mission, then withdraw before the enemy can effectively react. This is how to cope with more potent threats, rather than trying to build mobile death stars that can slug their way ashore, swatting away ever-expanding threats.

Exercise Blue Chromite, conducted in the western Pacific in autumn 2016, demonstrated this nimble, always-moving concept. The exercise centered around a series of raid scenarios that required Marines to move rapidly from ship to shore, and from objective to objective on land, without setting up a heavy footprint that would bog down their movements. 4

This approach may make the Marines “more focused on the company, platoon, and squad levels, with the service trying to empower lower echelons that will operate with more independence in dispersed operations.” 5

Carrying out disaggregated Marine operations emphasizing empowered smaller units will require a new type of ship. The Navy should resurrect the APD—the nimble “Green Dragon”—used in World War II. Between late 1938 and early 1939, the U.S. Navy modified its oldest flush-deck destroyer, the USS Manley (DD-940), replacing her forward two boilers and two stacks with a berthing compartment for 120 Marines. Her four triple torpedo tube mounts were replaced by davits to handle the new Higgins boat, and one waist gun was removed while another was moved to the ship’s centerline.

The APDs, based on destroyer and destroyer escort hulls, could carry up to 200 men. In 1969, the Navy still had 11 in the fleet, which by then were called fast amphibious transports (LPRs).
The British, too, adapted a destroyer—HMS Campbeltown (ex-USS Buchanan (DD-131))—to carry 80 commandos for the raid on German-occupied Saint Nazaire in late March 1942. The ground complement was limited because the ship was to be used as a very large improvised explosive device to wreck the dry dock at the port.

Today, the Navy could use decommissioned larger Coast Guard cutters or Navy frigates for these expeditionary assault ship (EAS) conversions. The speed and shallow draft of the littoral combat ships (LCSs) could make them ideal platforms for this mission as well, allowing them to launch Marines closer to an objective. The LCS could make room for a Marine expeditionary company (MEC) by using habitability modules.

6 With the Navy moving beyond the LCS concept to create frigates in their place, LCSs may be available for experimentation.

Modern-day Marine Raiders, the designation of Marine Corps Special Operations Command forces, take their missions as well as their name from their World War II forbears. Today’s Raiders would be ideal to spearhead the testing and adoption of dispersed or disaggregated operations that land, attack, and relocate before the enemy can react.

Swarming Marine Expeditionary Companies

The key characteristics of an expeditionary force as defined in EF21 include “deploying and employing tailored, economic forces of almost any size and configuration,” and “living and operating in austere conditions where large support bases are unacceptable or infeasible.” 7

More, smaller units afloat (or ashore, in places such as Spain and Australia) will allow the Marines to “engage forward” during peacetime in more locations and respond to crises more rapidly. During war, smaller units would enable numerous operations to secure island or coastal landing sites. Marine companies dispersed to separate locations should have the ability to operate in a more self-contained capacity, and have the “necessary personnel and equipment to immediately integrate enablers and assets.” 8 These attributes would be key for MECs.

Splitting Marine units in the Pacific across a wider basing pattern would put a strain on Navy amphibious assets to move them.

Some troops could be “stranded on an island” without sufficient EAS hulls to match Marine basing. Existing large amphibious warships still would be valuable, however, if the Marines emphasize disaggregated operations. A single big-deck amphibious carrier could support multiple company-sized elements landing on separate objectives within a few hundred miles of each other. Other Navy amphibious ships could be used as mother ships for dispersed operations of the MECs, as EF21 suggests.

In conflict, seizing small but important islands in the Persian Gulf, the South China Sea (some literally being built by China), and the East China Sea could be a mission for small assault elements.

In the Persian Gulf, in addition to securing key islands, MECs could follow in the footsteps of U.S. forces during the Iran-Iraq War who manned barges, small boats, and helicopters in the northern Persian Gulf to oppose Iranian efforts to interfere with the flow of shipping.

In the South China Sea, China already has deployed mobile artillery to at least one of its artificial islands, and added point air defenses to all of its Spratley Island outposts. To remove those assets from the Chinese side of the board—and more important, to make them friendly assets—the Navy and Marine Corps team must be able to seize those islands.

Marines are also needed in Europe. While a confrontation with Russia would rely on heavy Army and NATO forces, there are many opportunities for MEC operations, from Norway’s littoral regions, to the Baltic Sea’s critical islands, to the shores of the Black Sea, to Mediterranean islands and coastal regions. These missions would include setting up outposts for antiaircraft and antiship assets and for fire support to friendly ground forces, denying the enemy such assets, and clearing approach routes to project power ashore for larger-scale operations.

Per EF21, scaling up Marine forces may require linking up forward elements with reinforcing units rapidly deployed. If Marines are flown in from distant bases, they could link up with afloat prepositioned equipment at or near the objective.

Traditional amphibious warfare ships could assist in the transition from disaggregated power projection ashore to concentration in battalion- and brigade-sized operations inland after the MECs have weakened or neutralized coastal defenses that would have prevented a conventional ship-to-shore movement by a larger maneuver unit and its accompanying Navy ships.

MECs also could carry out A2/AD missions. Prior to 1921, the Marines prepared “for the defense of advance bases and not for offensive landing operations.” 9 Citing World War II experience, EF21 holds that the Marines must be capable of establishing and defending advanced bases while working with other services to “project power and control the sea.” This will allow the United States to “turn the A2/AD table” on an enemy by deploying weapons and sensors in a “network of numerous austere bases—by occupation or seizure—as a means of dispersing aircraft, missiles, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets” that deny an enemy the ability to operate in those waters and in that air space. Such advance expeditionary bases equipped with long-range strike, antiship, and antiair systems would function as “sea denial outposts.”

Such outposts—quickly established and abandoned as needed—could be used for forward arming and refueling points to support dispersed air operations ashore, making a transition between sea-based and land-based Marine air power truly seamless.

The Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) also should be part of the dragon swarm concept. The NECC could create island defense forces of mixed infantry, air defense, and antiship (tube, rocket, and missile) units. Their coastal riverine force patrol boats also would contribute. Used in place of MECs, NECC coastal defense units would hold small islands and force an enemy to operate in an A2/AD environment.

Deploy, Survive, Fight, and Win

The Navy is trying to cope with new A2/AD threats by attempting to land Marines on large ships from over the horizon.

This is not innovation.

It has been a long time since the large-scale amphibious operations at Inchon. The United States refrained from a landing in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War after two ships were damaged by Iraqi naval mines off the coast of Kuwait. Perhaps large-scale opposed landings are no longer possible. But as long as enemies hold islands, the United States will need to assault hostile shores, or defend them against enemies. The threats to large-scale amphibious operations mean that the Marine Corps must focus on smaller amphibious operations that can be completed before enemy forces can react in strength.

Transitioning to Marine expeditionary companies and Navy expeditionary assault ships as the basic maneuver unit for amphibious operations, but whose ground elements can be augmented, including with non-amphibious lift assets, may be the innovation that ensures Marines can deploy, survive, fight, and win. Converting new APDs to ruthlessly test this operational concept must be the first step.

1. Major Scott Kinner, USMC (Ret.) “Making Expeditionary Force 21 Work,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 141, no. 11 (November 2015), 19.
2 Alan R, Millett, “Assault from the Sea: The Development of Amphibious Warfare Between the Wars, the American, British, and Japanese Experiences,” in Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, ed. Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 70.
3. Ibid., 69. It should be noted that this approach was appropriate only for small islands or larger but poorly defended islands. The U.S. defense of Wake Island, for example, demonstrates that the swarm concept is insufficient on its own to overpower defenders capable of hitting naval ships that carry the landing force.
4. Megan Eckstein, “Marines Practice Expeditionary Advance Base Operations in Exercise Blue Chromite In Japan,” USNI News, 4 November 2016,
5. Megan Eckstein, “Marine Corps to Prioritize Smaller Frontline Units in Upcoming Budget Plans,” USNI News, 5 October 2016,
6. “Expeditionary Force 21,” 20.
7. “Expeditionary Force 21,” 6.
8. Kinner, “A Custom-Built Corps,” U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings 140, no. 11 (November 2014), 22.
9. Gunther E. Rothenberg, “From Gallipoli to Guadalcanal,” in Assault from the Sea: Essays on the History of Amphibious Warfare, ed. Lt.Col. Merrill L. Bartlett, USMC (Ret.) (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1983), 178.
Mr. Dunn served in the Michigan Army National Guard until 1993. He previously taught American history and was a research analyst for the Michigan State Legislature. He has written articles for Army Magazine, Military Review, Infantry Magazine, and the Joint Force Quarterly.
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[*] posted on 1-9-2017 at 11:12 PM

Posted On Thursday, 31 August 2017 12:50

US Marine corps approved a low-rate initial production of the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Survivability Upgrade program

The Marine Corps approved the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Survivability Upgrade (AAV-SU) program to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP), with the program executive officer for land systems signing a Milestone C decision on Aug. 17 and the program manager awarding SAIC funding for 21 vehicles Tuesday, Advanced Amphibious Assault Program Manager Col. Wendell Leimbach told USNI News.
SAIC delivered its first of 10 engineering and manufacturing development vehicles in March 2016, and the Marine Corps has spent the last year and a half putting these vehicles through developmental tests and operational assessments to ensure they meet all the criteria for “making the vehicle relevant to the modern battlefield.” Those upgrades – which SAIC performed on legacy AAVs that first went into production 45 years ago – include enhanced survivability through added armor and blast-mitigating seats, and an improved engine and suspension to allow equal mobility as the legacy AAVs despite the added weight. Delivery of personnel AAV-SUs will begin in the second quarter of next year, Leimbach said. Those vehicles would then be put into a reliability growth testing program, where potential improvements will be identified and either fed back into the design or held onto for the Marines to modify at a later date.

Developmental testing took place at Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland and the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch (AVTB) at Camp Pendleton, and the operational assessment took place at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and AVTB. Throughout the testing, which wrapped up in June, the program office learned a lot of lessons that were fed back into the design. For example, Leimbach said, adding new survivability features into a fixed vehicle hull size “constrained the internal volume” of the vehicle. The award to SAIC includes funding to overhaul 18 personnel-variant vehicles and three command and control-variant vehicles. The Marine Corps originally planned to only upgrade the personnel-variant vehicles but has since decided to include a few dozen command and control vehicles as well.
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[*] posted on 7-9-2017 at 01:59 PM

Borsuk Badger amphibious tracked IFV HSW MSPO 2017 Poland

MSPO 2017 News Official Online Show Daily Coverage

Posted On Wednesday, 06 September 2017 17:10

At MSPO 2017, the International Defense Industry Exhibition, the Polish Company HSW (Huta Stalowa Wola) unveils the "Borsuk", Badger in English, a new amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle to response to the new needs of Polish army and to replace old BWP-1, Polish-made version of the Soviet-made BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle..

New amphibious tracked IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) "Borsuk", Badger in English at MSPO 2017, the International Defense Industry Exhibition in Kielce Poland. 

The Badger is a new concept of amphibious tracked armoured vehicle fully designed and developed in Poland by the Company HSW. The vehicle will be able to cross all types water obstacles with high level of maneuverability. It has also the capacity to be used in various terrain and in all weather conditions.

According to the requirements of the Polish armed forces, the vehicle shall not weigh more than 25,000 kg. The layout of the vehicle is divided in three main compartments, the engine at the front with the driver position on the left, the turret in the middle and the troops compartment at the rear.

The agreement to start the project of the Badger was signed in 2014, and the first prototype of the vehicle was unveiled at MSPO 2017. According to the project director of HSW, the Badger will be ready for production at the end of 2019, and the first vehicles could be delivered to the Polish army in 2021 or 2022.

The Badger has the capacity to carried a total of 6 military personnel including driver and commander. In the water, the vehicle is propelled by two waterjets mounted at the rear of the hull.

The Badger is fitted with a Polish-made unmanned turret fully controlled and aimed by gunner from inside of the hull. The turret is armed with a 30mm Bushmaster automatic cannon and one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun mounted to the right side of the main armament. There is four smoke grenade dischargers located to the right side at the front of the turret.

The turret can be traversed through a full 360º with elevation from -9° to +60°. The cannon has a rate of fire 200 rounds per minute.

Second armament of the vehicle includes two launchers for the Israeli-made anti-tank guided missile Rafael Spike mounted to the right side of the turret.
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[*] posted on 21-9-2017 at 11:09 AM

Bayonets, hot coffee and dry socks: Marines still rely on low-tech gear

By: Andrew Tilghman   3 hours ago

An infantryman fixes his bayonet on his rifle before attacking a simulated enemy objective at Bradshaw Field Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia (Sgt. Sarah Anderson/Marine Corps).

Some aspects of warfare have changed very little over time.

While many top military leaders often talk about about cyber capabilities, fifth-generation fighter jets and training with virtual reality, the Marine Corps continues to demand gear that would be familiar to Roman warriors 1,000 years ago.

Andrew Howell, a managing director with the British company BCB International, stood on the sprawling vendor exhibition hall at the annual Modern Day Marine gear show selling flint sticks and steel strikers for Marines to use for starting fires.

“This is low-tech,” Howell said as he scraped the flint and created a small shower of sparks, demonstrating it as part of a kit for cooking in the field.

“Marines want a survival kit, so when a cyber attack happens and all the systems get knocked out, they can be self-reliant. I think it’s a good strategy.”

BCB sells field-cooking kits to the British Royal Marines and Howell hopes the U.S. Marines will order some, too.

The Modern Day Marine conference at Marine Corps Base Quantico is the largest annual gathering of Marines and defense industry professionals who showcase their wares in the hopes of landing big contracts with the Corps.

Amid the massive radar systems on display and software engineers showing off intelligence analysis tools, a salesman with the Ontario Knife company displayed one of the most ancient weapons of war.

Ontario Knife talks Marine Corps blades
Ontario Knife Company spoke to Marine Corps Times about the legacy bayonets and machetes. (Daniel Woolfolk/Staff)

“This is the Marine Corps’ bayonet,” he said, lifting from the table a knife with an eight-inch, double-sided black blade and brown handle.

The Marine Corps bought tens of thousands of the OKC 3S bayonet back in 2003 and has not bought many since then, Yates said, because the knives are nearly indestructible.

“It’s a hunk of steel. It doesn’t break. And it never gets out of date,” he said.

The standard OKC 3S bayonet, issued to most Marines, retails for $184.

While very few Marines have needed to use the bayonets in close-quarters combat, they double as a survival knife and remain a vital piece of an infantryman’s kit for cutting rope, opening food, or for use as a makeshift screwdriver or a small crow bar.

“Everybody needs a knife,” Yates said.

Across the sprawling vendor floor filled with elaborate signage and flat-screen TVs displaying promotional videos was a booth for the Fits company, which was adorned with hundreds of socks.

The company sells “tactical” socks made from merino wool reinforced with nylon. The socks have deep and well-defined heel pocket to keep them from slipping and the fabric is thinner at the end “so it doesn’t bunch up by your toes,” said Luke Eldridge, a partner with the Fits company.

The socks retail for $19 but are available for $12 in Marine Corps exchanges, Eldridge said.

Some military leaders may be losing site of the strategic value that low-tech supplies can provide, Howell said.

“At the moment, the American military cannot have a cup of hot coffee in the field,” he said, as he showed off his company’s “crusader cup canteen” that can be used with its “Fire Dragon” heating system.

“If you’re trying to win hearts and minds, making a cup of coffee for the right person at the right time can be critical.”
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[*] posted on 21-9-2017 at 11:12 AM

Commandant: Amphibious vehicles will be vital in future shore combat

By: Todd South   3 hours ago

BAE Amphibious Combat Vehicle (David Schacher/BAE).

As adversaries advance capabilities to target and defend their shores, Marines moving from ship to land will be ever more reliant on the vehicles that get them there, said the Corps’ top general.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller told a standing-room only crowd Wednesday at the annual Modern Day Marine military expo at Quantico, Virginia, that the current sea-to-shore connectors — air cushion, landing craft or other systems — are a serious shortfall.

“That’s the area that we’re going to pay close attention to,” Neller said, adding that developments will involve a variety of machines and methods.

Improving on current crafts is crucial for moving forces, but also for avoiding attacks.

“Those connectors that allow us to sustain that force ashore and not have to build a huge pile of logistics ashore that makes it targetable, but use the sea to move in and out of the maneuver area as we need to,” Neller said.

The Amphibious Assault Vehicle, a tracked landing vehicle, has been chugging along in that mission for nearly four decades and is due for a replacement.

The new rendition, an Amphibious Combat Vehicle, is being developed by BAE Systems and SAIC, who both are vying to be selected for the contract. The ACV will be wheeled, not tracked.

With operational tests beginning in December, BAE Systems configured a new variant for display at the annual convention.

The troop transport or personnel carrier version can carry 13 Marines and a three-person crew.

The command and control version would come equipped with radio, satellite and other communications gear for the unit commander to coordinate landings and assaults. It can carry seven Marines and a three-person crew.

For proprietary reasons, no photographs were permitted inside the vehicle, but BAE Systems ACV Program Manager John Swift explained that the company configured the vehicle to support current command and control setups in existing AAVs, while also displaying ways in which the vehicle can be outfitted for other missions.

The interior contains mounted radios and laptops networked together and front-facing seats, as opposed to the transport version in which Marines face each other with feet near the center and backs outboard.

The concept version was not part of a Marine Corps request or current requirement, Swift emphasized.
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[*] posted on 21-9-2017 at 11:16 AM

Marines apply World War II lessons to modern warfare, commandant says

By: Jeff Schogol   4 hours ago

Marines exhibit a Japanese flag captured on Guadalcanal. A return to tactics used in the bloody campaign is a possibility (Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

Future wars may look a lot like those from the past.

The Marine Corps’ new concept for fighting in the littorals calls for Marines to establish temporary, austere outposts in forward positions known as Expeditionary Advanced Bases.

Guadalcanal, which U.S Marines, soldiers and sailors took during World War II, provides lessons about what such a base might look like, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said on Wednesday at the Marine Corps League’s annual Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Virginia.

Unlike other amphibious operations in the Pacific, the enemy did not fight U.S. troops on the beaches of Guadalcanal, Neller explained. The aim of the Guadalcanal Campaign was to secure an airfield on the island.

“There was a point where the enemy had projected their power to a certain point and we were going to confront that projection of their power,” Neller said. “We occupied the airfield. We were reinforced by U.S. Army and National Guard forces.’

Navy Seabees and Marine Corps engineers improved the airfield, which was eventually used by Navy, Marine Corps and Army Air Forces aircraft, he said.

At one point in the six-month campaign, an Army divisional commander was put in charge of Marines on the island.

“More sailors died in that fight because of the fight at sea than Marines died on that island,” Neller said. “It was a joint, combined fight. We were there with New Zealand, Australia, the local Solomon Islanders.

“I think that template — securing an advanced base, an airfield, to project power, using the capabilities of the joint force enabled by Marines coming from the sea — is something that we are going to see in the future.”
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[*] posted on 21-9-2017 at 06:14 PM

MDM 2017: Industry opportunities in USMC logistics portfolio

20th September 2017 - 08:09 GMT | by Scott Gourley in Quantico, Virginia

In an overview of the new Logistics Combat Element Systems portfolio on the opening day of Modern Day Marine, service leaders identified a range of upcoming acquisition opportunities for industry.

The portfolio, which is one of four that were recently established within Marine Corps Systems Command, includes three subordinate programme management (PM) areas: engineering systems; supply and maintenance systems; and ammunition.

According to Col Jeff Stower, portfolio manager for Logistics Combat Element Systems, the engineering components includes things related to power, fuel, water, mobility/countermobility,  EOD, materiel handling equipment, construction equipment, cranes and bulldozers.

Stower pointed to seven solicitations forecast for the engineer area within the next two years, including platoon water purification systems, intelligent power management systems and modular electronic grids scaleable up to 300kW for use at FOBs and base camps.

In addition, common advanced solar panels, mobile electric power sources, EOD 9 bomb suit replacement, remote fuse disassembly and large panel x-ray system are also being sought. These opportunities run from Q1FY18 to 3QFY19.

‘PM Supply and Maintenance handles our “health” systems, shelters, containers, tools, tool sets, calibration systems, automatic test systems/automated diagnostics for vehicles and other electronics,’ Stower continued. ‘And in this area we are looking at two primary solicitations at the end of next year.’

The first is a fluid analyser for vehicle fluids (4QFY18). Stower said that the Marine Corps is looking for two types – one for operator level maintenance and one for intermediate level maintenance.

'At the operator level we are looking for a battery operated handheld real-time fluid analyser to quickly assess the condition of vehicle engine oil, transmission fluids, differential fluids and hydraulic fluids to determine the condition and remaining life of the fluid,’ he said.

'At the intermediate level we’re looking for a bench top portable analyser of wear particles within those vehicle fluids to support machine wear analysis.'

Another solicitation for a handheld microwave communications and radar test set is also planned for 4QFY18.

Under PM ammunition, which manages the Marine Corps’ ground ammunition programmes, Stower pointed to an anticipated 2QFY18 acquisition of up to approximately 400,000 rounds of multi-calibre match ammunition.
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