Marine Corps ponders options to expand armor forces in Iraq.As the demand for armored scout units in Iraq soars, the Marine Corps is reviewing its entire array of combat vehicle programs and is considering revising procurement plans.
Officials are debating, among other things, whether to shift funds from futuristic weapon systems to near-term priorities, such as increasing the size of the Marine Corps' light armored force.
A review of Marine force requirements already is underway at the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At the same time, officials responsible for the development and procurement of combat vehicles are grappling with how best to meet the hardware needs of a potentially larger force.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. preliminary estimates, the Marine Corps would be looking to add five light-armored reconnaissance companies. Each company would be assigned to a Marine light armored reconnaissance battalion. In the U.S. Central Command area of operations An operational area defined by the joint force commander for land and naval forces. Areas of operation do not typically encompass the entire operational area of the joint force commander, but should be large enough for component commanders to accomplish their missions and protect their , LAR battalions report to the joint commander of all U.S. ground forces.
The Corps has not yet decided, however, how it will come up with additional light armored vehicles, or LAVs, for the new companies. The Corps already owns more than 700 eight-wheeled LAVs, but the fleet is stretched thin, officials said. Each new light armored company would require 25 vehicles.
Among the options being contemplated are to purchase new vehicles or to bring ashore existing LAVs that are stocked aboard sea-based floating warehouses and saved for emergencies.
"We don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. the strategy yet," said Col. John J. Bryant, program manager for Marine Corps light armored vehicles. The only certainty is that his office has "no dollars now to buy any new light armored vehicles," he told an industry conference.
Commanders in Iraq have found much utility in the light armored battalions, Bryant explained, which has kept these units busier than planned and has led to requests for additional battalions.
The manufacturer of the LAV, General Dynamics General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE: GD) is a defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2006 it is the sixth largest defense contractor in the world. The company has changed markedly in the post-Cold War era of defense consolidation. Land Systems, so far has not received any orders for new vehicles. If the Corps decides to order new LAVs, it would take about 12 to 18 months to produce them, said Michael Peck, director of business development at General Dynamics.
A bare-bones LAV hull costs about $1 million, Bryant said. The priciest piece is the weapons turret, which ranges from $1.5 million to $2.5 million each.
In Iraq, the LAR battalions serve as "eyes and ears for the division commander," Bryant noted. Infantry regiments also rely on LAR companies to function as the "mobile eyes and ears for the regiment."
Although the LAV was designed only for security and reconnaissance missions, "it is actually doing a heck of a lot more," including "limited offensive operations," he said.
Col. Len Blasiol, director of materiel ma·te·ri·el or ma·té·ri·el
The equipment, apparatus, and supplies of a military force or other organization. See Synonyms at equipment. capabilities at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command Marine Corps Combat Development Command, located in at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, has the mission of developing Marine Corps warfighting abilities to enable the Corps to field combat-ready forces. , said the service is considering taking reserve infantry units and converting them to light armored forces. No definitive plans are in place yet, he said.
While these discussions unfold, the Marine Corps is revising its strategy for modernizing the entire armored force.
For the next several decades, Marine Corps ground forces will see a mix of three basic types of armor forces: assault amphibian amphibian, in zoology
amphibian, in zoology, cold-blooded vertebrate animal of the class Amphibia. There are three living orders of amphibians: the frogs and toads (order Anura, or Salientia), the salamanders and newts (order Urodela, or Caudata), and the units, LAR battalions and tank battalions
The centerpiece of the amphibian forces is the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) is the newest USMC amphibious vehicle, intended for deployment in 2015.<ref name="NAVWAR" /> It was renamed from the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle in late 2003. The USMC wants 1,013 AAAV's by 2015. . The Corps plans to buy more than 1,000 EFVs, at a cost of $8.5 million each. "The future for amphibians amphibians
members of the animal class Amphibia. Includes frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and cecilians all capable of living on land or in water. is clear. We know where we are going," Blasiol said. By contrast, for LAVs and tanks, "the future is not so clear."
The Marine Corps expects to begin replacing LAVs and M1 Abrams The M1 Abrams is a military tank produced in the United States. The M1 is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and commander of the 37th Armored Regiment. tanks by 2024, but many fundamental questions remain unanswered, he said. "What is it that we really need? How much will it cost?"
A largely imprecise im·pre·cise
impre·cisely adv. concept for a futuristic family of combat vehicles has been in the works for several years, under a program called MEFFV MEFFV MAGTF Expeditionary Family of Fighting Vehicles (US Marine Corps) (Marine Expeditionary ex·pe·di·tion·ar·y
1. Relating to or constituting an expedition.
2. Sent on or designed for military operations abroad: the French expeditionary force in Indochina.
Adj. 1. Family of Fighting Vehicles). An earlier proposal under the MEFFV program was to develop a 30-ton tank to replace the 70-ton Abrams and a 10-ton vehicle to supplant sup·plant
tr.v. sup·plant·ed, sup·plant·ing, sup·plants
1. To usurp the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics.
2. the 14-ton LAV.
As the Iraq conflict unfolded, Marine officials opted to revisit the MEFFV concept, and intend to continue to refine it for at least two more years. "We need to do the indepth analysis," Blasiol said.
The Abrams eventually will be retired, but not in the foreseeable future, he said. "Our concept calls for lighter forces that can move faster." Senior Marine officials acknowledge that the Abrams tanks weigh down the force--not only by their sheer weight, but also by their massive fuel consumption.
The Defense Department directed the Marine Corps to collaborate with the Army on the design of a next-generation vehicle. The Army's project, called the Future Combat Systems, would provide useful technologies, but the Marines have unique needs that are not met by the FCS FCS - Frame Check Sequence , Blasiol said. "There will be some commonality com·mon·al·i·ty
n. pl. com·mon·al·i·ties
a. The possession, along with another or others, of a certain attribute or set of attributes: a political movement's commonality of purpose. in certain components, but not necessarily the same vehicles ... The Army knows what its requirements are ... For us, we still have to figure out what our requirements should be."
It would not make sense to make FCS a "joint" program, he added. "We realized there is a lot more than just vehicles. We have different doctrine." Nevertheless, "we told OSD (1) (On-Screen Display) An on-screen control panel for adjusting monitors and TVs. The OSD is used for contrast, brightness, horizontal and vertical positioning and other monitor adjustments. [the office of the defense secretary] that we will look at all the pieces of FCS."
A primary consideration for any tank or LAV replacement is the logistics burden it would impose on the force.
"Future concepts call for us to be sea based, over-the-horizon 25 miles at sea, project over 100 miles inland," Blasiol said. "So logistics is a major concern."
Less than a year ago, the Marine Corps set up a task force specifically to study "combat service support" issues, he added. "It's an enormous undertaking."
Between now and 2015, meanwhile, the Corps will need to upgrade existing vehicles that are wearing out fast in Iraq, particularly the LAV. "Some of the technology we have over there now is not up to date," said Bryant. The LAV, for example, has no fire control system, rendering it relatively obsolete when compared to modern systems. "It's like a [1950s] Russian T-55 tank," said Bryant.
The Corps already is upgrading several hundred LAVs and extending their operational life until 2015. It also is about to kick off a program to purchase 50 new LAV command-and-control variants and an improved fire-control system
A fire-control system is a computer, often mechanical, which is designed to assist a weapon system in hitting its target. and gun sight for the LAV 25, a turret-equipped version of the LAV.
No contracts have yet been awarded for this work. General Dynamics expects to be involved in the upgrade work, Peck said, but he noted that the Marine Corps has not yet issued any solicitations.
The upgraded command-and-control vehicle, expected to enter service in 2009, will have satellite communications and high-frequency digital radios that operate while the LAV is on the move. That will be a welcome addition, Bryant said. "Now, we have to stop to set up the antenna and manpack radio ... We'll finally put in a decent intercom system."
In about two years, he said, the Marine command-and-control software be able to exchange data with the Army. "Now, we have different systems."
To pay for these near-term improvements to the LAV fleet, the Corps postponed the procurement of a missile-carrier antitank LAV and a mortar-equipped LAV.
The antitank LAV, if funded, would be equipped with wire-guided TOW missiles, Bryant said. "I'm optimistic op·ti·mist
1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.
2. A believer in philosophical optimism.
op about this program getting funding in 2008. It has lots of support."
The mortar version, called "expeditionary fire support system," would have a 120 mm rifled mortar. That program will compete for funding in 2008, and is being combined with another Marine Corps research project to develop a lightweight fire-support vehicle that can be flown aboard MV-22 Osprey osprey (ŏs`prē), common name for a bird of prey related to the hawk and the New World vulture and found near water in most parts of the world. aircraft.
Commanders in Iraq also want improved "survivability sur·viv·a·ble
1. Capable of surviving: survivable organisms in a hostile environment.
2. That can be survived: a survivable, but very serious, illness. " features for the LAV, to make it less vulnerable to roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. But current protective systems, such as armor kits and munitions-based active protection, add several tons of weight to the vehicle. The problem with the LAV, Bryant said, is that, as its name implies, it's meant to be light, waterproof and easy to maneuver. "It's an engineering challenge when a vehicle needs to be able to swim, be C-130 transportable ... How much survivability, lethality and mobility can be packed into an air-transportable, swim-capable LAV?"
The Army's version of the LAV, called the Stryker, is being equipped with a cage of armor that keeps RPGs from reaching the vehicle. That type of armor, however, is too bulky and cumbersome for Marine operations, Bryant said. "You pay a pretty severe penalty in weight and mobility."