Monday, April 13, 2020

ACV Comparison and Evaluation

The Marines are developing a wheeled Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV 1.1) to replace its legacy amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) (for some background, see, "Future Connectors - The Marine Corps View").  On 19-Jun-2018 the Marines selected BAE over SAIC to build the ACV and awarded a contract.  The plan, at that time, was for 204 vehicles at a cost of $1.2B. (4)

Here are some comparative specs on the forerunner, the WWII LVT-4, the legacy AAV, and the new BAE ACV.



LVT-4
AAV
BAE ACV
Length, ft
26 (6)
28 (5)
28 (3)
Width, ft
11 (6)
11 (5)
10 (3)
Height, ft
8 (6)
11 (5)
9 (3)
Weight, lbs
36,500 (6)
58,000 (5)
63,000 (3)
Payload, lbs
6950 (7)
?
6,000 (3)
Sea State
?
5 (5)
3 (1)
Horsepower, HP
250 (6)
400 (5)
690 (1)
HP/ton
13.7
13.8
21.9
Land Range, miles
250 (6)
300 (5)
325 (1)
Land Speed, mph
14 (6)
45 (5)
65 (1)
Water Speed, kts
7 (6)
8 (5)
6 (3)
Troop Capacity
30 (6)
21 (5)
13 (1)



Comparing the three vehicles, it is interesting to note that in its main role as an amphibious transport vehicle, the water speeds are identical and the troop carrying capacity has steadily decreased from WWII until now.  This is not necessarily a bad thing especially given that the AAV and ACV are intended as light armored personnel carriers (APC) and it would be nice if they carried some even multiple of squads.  The BAE ACV does appear sized for about one squad whereas the AAV was an odd squad and a half, or so.  The WWII LVT was a pure water transport vehicle and troop capacity was maximized.


LVT(4) Amtrac


Land performance, in terms of speed and range, has improved which, again, tracks with the use of the AAV and ACV as light APCs.

This is mostly just an informational post.  The main realization from looking at the historical vehicle performance compared to today is how little the vehicles have improved since WWII in regards to their primary role of ship to shore connector.  When one considers the incredible increases in performance of aircraft, missiles, stealth, guidance, sensors, etc. one can’t help but be disappointed by the relatively minor improvements from LVT to ACV.  


AAV


Although a Marine issue, I guess this is lumped in with the Navy’s indifference towards naval gun support and ship armor.  Landing craft just aren’t ‘sexy’ enough to get Navy/Marine attention although I would have thought the Marines would have pushed hard for vastly improved landing craft (not withstanding the long, drawn out, failed EFV program).  Of course, I would have thought they would have pushed hard for heavy naval gun support and they didn’t.

The main problem is that the ACV suffers from the same problem as the AAV which is that it is limited to a few miles of travel to the shore.  In other words, it no more supports the Navy/Marine amphibious assault standoff doctrine than the AAV did so why did the Marines opt to procure it?  It represents zero improvement in the ability to conduct a landing from 25-50+ miles offshore.  So what was the point? 


ACV


Conceptually, the AAV/ACV seems like a failed compromise between a heavy armored personnel carrier (HAPC – like the Israeli Namer or Achzarit) and an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV – like the US Bradley).  The AAV/ACV has neither the armor protection of an HAPC nor the firepower of an IFV.  It is the worst of both worlds!

An amphibious HAPC would have allowed the vehicle/troops to roll straight through any initial resistance and get off the exposed beach.  The ACV, by comparison, has no significant armor and no firepower.

There is now another issue confronting the ACV and that is Commandant Berger’s all but explicitly stated abandonment of opposed landings.  That being the case, what purpose do ACVs serve?  If all future landings will be unopposed then an ACV is not needed – any old ship to shore connector will suffice, including pure helo transport.  In fact, in an unopposed landing and with no heavy equipment like tanks or artillery, helo transport of the resultant light infantry is perfectly adequate.  Of course, rowboats, canoes, barges, and rafts would work equally as well.  To be fair, the Commandant has hinted that the ACV numbers might be decreased.

The ACV appears to be a piece of equipment that has no real purpose in the Commandant’s vision of a new Marine Corps.  Of course, that vision is badly flawed, so …




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97 comments:

  1. Except, the Marines have added an assistant squad leader and squad systems operator to their infantry squad increasing the squad to 15 marines. The BAE ACV appears to be undersized to carry a full squad.

    As for firepower, the Marines are looking to fit these vehicles with a 30 mm cannon similar to what the Army did with their Strykers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "increasing the squad to 15"

      The Marines have been experimenting with different squad sizes for some time now and the Commandant has stated that he is looking at modifying the squad size. So, 13 could still be the size … or 15 … or 37 … or ??? You would have thought they'd have settled on a squad size before committing to a ACV that might not be able to carry a squad.

      "looking to fit these vehicles with a 30 mm cannon"

      Yep. They're also looking at command and control variants along with a vehicle recovery variant and others. 'Looking at' is no guarantee of procurement. Given the Commandant's statements about possibly cutting ACV numbers, the likelihood of 'looking at' actually happening is far from certain.

      Delete
    2. I think we will definitely see a fair number of ACVs purchased, if only as an AAV replacement.

      Given the intention to move to a lighter smaller corps... i dunno. 30mm guns sound like mech infantry 2nd army shenanigans. On the other hand if you don't have tanks then you will need some firepower of your own, won't you? I suppose it could go either way.

      Delete
    3. "you will need some firepower of your own, won't you?"

      Well, if you believe the Commandant, they'll have secret bases and remain totally undetected. No need for firepower if the enemy can't see you or find you … right?

      Delete
    4. "The Marines have been experimenting with different squad sizes for some time now ..."

      According to a recent Marine Times article, the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines has the new squad configuration and have since deployed with the 26th MEU. I'm not sure how many other units have been reconfigured.

      But, one would think the Marines would size their new new ACV to carry the new squad. But, given only two more seats are needed, that might be possible with the current design.

      Delete
    5. "But, given only two more seats are needed, that might be possible with the current design."

      Or, they could do a variation of the old Navy 'hot bunking' concept and just have the extra guys sit on someone's lap! :)

      Delete
    6. "I think we will definitely see a fair number of ACVs purchased"

      To what purpose? The Commandant is being motivated by two main factors: flat/declining budgets and China theater relevance. Those are his words, not mine.

      Having ruled out opposed landings, what purpose do AAV/ACVs serve relative to their consumption of the budget? It's not good enough to say that they serve some minor purpose. Heck, the Commandant is dropping tanks and artillery which serve major purposes! So, why continue to buy ACVs?

      Delete
    7. "... and just have the extra guys sit on someone's lap! :)"

      We're almost there with the airlines. And, there's always the floor to sit on.

      Delete
    8. 15 is way too many for an infantry squad.

      If you're moving through heavy underbrush, especially at night, and you have to move single file your 'squad' could be stretched out over almost 50 yards.

      It's just way too big to control during a firefight.

      The army went from 11 to 9 in the mechanized units so a squad could fit in a Bradley.
      Those are much more manageable size squads.

      Delete
    9. "Well, if you believe the Commandant, they'll have secret bases and remain totally undetected. No need for firepower if the enemy can't see you or find you … right?"

      I believe the USMC is influence by the JGSF's plans to use small islands as speebumps to delay chinese movement; the JGSDF's plan is to charter fast ferries to put SSM trucks and radar jeeps on these small islands (since they have docks for ferries). They're not going to last very long in wartime, but the Chinese would either have to go out of their way to avoid them, or spend missiles to sterilise these islands. Every missile used on these islans isn't being use to support an invasion of Japan.

      Delete
    10. "Having ruled out opposed landings, what purpose do AAV/ACVs serve relative to their consumption of the budget? It's not good enough to say that they serve some minor purpose. Heck, the Commandant is dropping tanks and artillery which serve major purposes! So, why continue to buy ACVs?"

      I see the USMC interest in the ACV more in what it does on land, as opposed to being a ship to shore transport. Once it gets past the beach, the ACV's greater speed over the AAV gives it better tactical mobility, wheels are much cheaper and easier on the logistics and maintennance compared to tracks, and current wheeled APCs have shown themselves to be pretty competitive off-road with tracked APCs, you're not really giving up that much strategic mobility.

      Given the age of the AAV-7 fleet, the USMC has no choice but to buy ACVs to replace the AAVs if they want to have some form of protected transport for the infantry squad.

      Delete
  2. @ComNavOps:

    I suspect that the ACV is less about conducting a landing from 25 miles offshore, and more about mobility and operations on land. The AAVs are old and tired and worn out, and the present generation of wheeled APCs have demonstrated good off-road capability (as an example, note the Terrex, the other ACV 1.1 competitor, which was specifically intended for offroad travel in rural/plantation Malaysia, given that Singapore would massively prefer to fight in the Malaysian state of Johor instead of in Singaporean streets). It makes some sense if the aim is more about getting a battle taxi with better mobilityy

    "An amphibious HAPC would have allowed the vehicle/troops to roll straight through any initial resistance and get off the exposed beach. The ACV, by comparison, has no significant armor and no firepower."

    The big question, though, is whether an amphibious HAPC - in the sense of being able to swim from ship to shore, as opposed to fording rivers - is even physically possible. At 60 tons, twice the weight of an ACV, a Namer isn't that much lighter than an Abrams. We're going to need an LCAC to deliver it, but then it begs the question of whether an Abrams would be a better asset to be brought in by LCAC. (My opinion: I'd rather have the tank.)

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  3. "Conceptually, the AAV/ACV seems like a failed compromise between a heavy armored personnel carrier (HAPC – like the Israeli Namer or Achzarit) and an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV – like the US Bradley). The AAV/ACV has neither the armor protection of an HAPC nor the firepower of an IFV. It is the worst of both worlds!"

    @ComNavOps: You can't really compre the AAV/ACV to the Namer or the Bradley, though. You're directly comparing land IFVs and HAPCs to an amphibious vehicle. They aren't comparable because they have different functions. You might as well compare a jeep to a tank since they have different functions as well.

    Compared with other wheeled APCs out in the world (e.g. BTR-90, Terrex, Stryker, Type 96 APC, Patria, ZSL-08, etc), weapons and protection-wise the ACV is pretty par for the course.

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  4. Looking at the comparison of the three vehicles, the most notable thing to me is the increased weight over time compared to pretty much similar characteristics elsewhere. So where did all that weight go?

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    Replies
    1. MRAP-level mine/IED protection.

      Delete
    2. Gotcha. Still seems like a lot, but I guess everything comes at a price.

      Delete
  5. You're right ComNavOps, why do they need a long range amphibious, discount stryker, when they have surplus of those heavy lift hovercrafts.

    If those can haul two abrams, they can haul four M2A3s or Strykers. I see no benefit to the ACV besides budgetary reasons...

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  6. I don't think possible to build a do it all vehicle with enough weapons, protection, speed and autonomy in the water.

    From my lack of knowledge: Wouldn't have more sense some vehicle with enough resilience, water speed and range to bring ashore an standard tank or two APC? Maybe even the embarked vehicles could use it's own weapons.

    That same vehicle would be specialised enough to fulfill reasonably well it's task and able to do other tasks as supplying the beach with equipment and evacuate casualties or the same attack force.

    Maybe I am missing something.

    Rex

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    1. "I don't think possible to build a do it all vehicle with enough weapons, protection, speed and autonomy in the water."

      That's the problem. It is not possible to build a small, affordable landing craft that can move troops and vehicles from a ship 25-50 miles out at sea to land in 30 minutes or so. Much more than that and the troops are rendered ineffective due to sea sickness.

      If you can't build a suitable landing craft, that only leaves you with two options: don't do landings or move the troop transports back to near the shore.

      Delete
    2. "If you can't build a suitable landing craft, that only leaves you with two options: don't do landings or move the troop transports back to near the shore."

      I think that is the exact dilemma the Marines are facing. As long as the LHAs/LHDs (and the LPDs/LSDs that accompany them) are the designated transport, we are not going to move the transports closer to shore because of risk, so that means don't do landings. If the Marines don't do landings, then what do they do?

      I think that's exactly the bear with which the Commandant is wrestling. If you don't like his answers--and there's a lot not to like--then be sure to understand the questions he is facing.

      My solution would be to move the transports back closer to shore. Go back to a more conventional amphibious squadron--maybe a smaller LHA/LHD like the Spanish Juan Carlos or Australian Canberra ($1.7B), an LPH which could be like the French Mistral ($600MM), an LPD/LSD like the RN Albion ($500MM), an LST like a slightly smaller Newport/Australian Kanimbla, but with a conventional LST bow so it can actually get to beaches ($450MM), an LPA/LKA which carries a lot of troops, a lot of boats, and some heavy cargo ($400MM), and a land attack frigate that could provide indigenous fire support and also serve as a launch platform for special forces ($400MM). Those costs are guesses, based on recent costs of similar ships in other navies, but the total is about. $4B, or a little more than the cost of a new LHA/LHD. It carries about the same amounts of troops and cargo as the current LHA(D)/LPD/LSD combination, for about half the acquisition cost, and the units are cheap enough that we can afford to risk them by brining them closer to shore, particularly since one lucky hit doesn't send your whole phib force to the bottom. The drawbacks are 1) you need more crew, which you can find by downsizing the shore establishment drastically, and 2) you reduce the phib force SOA from 20-22 knots to about 18 knots because the LST hull form limits you, so you don't spend so much on power plants to squeeze out 2 more knots for the rest. If you're sending them far enough that a 2 knot difference in SOA is critical, then you probably had them in the wrong place to begin with.

      Consider this for a scary scenario: We decide that some objective is so important that we need to move the LHA/LHD in close to permit an assault to take it. So we bring it in and either 1) it gets sunk, which wipes out the whole operation, or 2) we try a more conventional landing, having never done one, and it turns into the inevitable disaster.

      Delete
    3. As far as ship-to-shore connectors, could we do something like the Chinese Z-class? See:

      https://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=625

      How about the French EDA-R? See:

      https://vimeo.com/7557236

      It would seem that we could license build the French and/or reverse engineer the Chinese and be better off.

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    4. I have seen photos, I think posted here by ComNavOps, of the Chinese Z-class amphibious tank firing from offshore. I would expect that it would be almost impossible to have any accuracy while moving with the surf, but I would also expect that kind of firepower coming ashore could have a significant effect on defenders.

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    5. The ZTD-05 assault gun can fire laser-guided rounds, so theoretically if you had another asset lasing for it, it could have better accuraccy firing from the surf. Probably a drone of some sort - life expectancy would be low, but it only needs to last long enough.

      Delete
    6. "amphibious tank firing from offshore."

      Assuming it wasn't just a photo op publicity stunt, the obvious purpose would be simple, unaimed, suppressive fire. We've forgotten that there is any kind of fire other than expensive, precision guided fire but the Chinese presumably remember and appreciate the value of cheap, effective area suppression fire. Think about it … if you're coming ashore in an opposed landing you'd like to make the enemy duck and cover while you're at your most vulnerable and since you haven't got explicit target locks on 95% of the enemy, the obvious solution is blind suppressive fire until you can get ashore.

      On the other hand, a handful of tanks can't provide much in the way of effective suppressive fire. The rounds are too few and too small. That's what 8"/16" gunfire is for.

      Delete
  7. "Conceptually, the AAV/ACV seems like a failed compromise between a heavy armored personnel carrier (HAPC – like the Israeli Namer or Achzarit) and an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV – like the US Bradley). The AAV/ACV has neither the armor protection of an HAPC nor the firepower of an IFV. It is the worst of both worlds!"

    @ComNavOps: Your wording here is being unfairly prejudicial. You yourself noted at the start that the ACV is an APC. You can't really compare the AAV/ACV to the Namer or the Bradley: You're directly comparing land IFVs and HAPCs to an amphibious APC. They aren't comparable because they have different functions. You might as well compare a jeep to a tank since they have different functions as well.

    Would it be great to have a HAPC? Maybe, but a Namer weighs 60 tons, that's two ACVs. It can ford rivers, but I don't see it being able to swim 25 miles to shore. I think it's telling that only Israel fields HAPCs, and that's because of their very specific geographical and tactical context, that doesn't involve any expeditionary action at all.

    I'm all in favor for upgunning the ACV with an autocannon to give it more punch (in this day and age, with similar levels of baseline protection, what differentiates the modern APC from an IFV is the autocannon and usage/doctrine), but I'm not sure the USMC would go for that if it means adding a turret bustle and sacrificing the size of the infantry squad. Unless they go for an unmanned self-contained turret with zero hull penetration, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "You can't really compare the AAV/ACV to the Namer"

      My fault for being unclear. I'm not comparing the ACV to the Namer. I'm comparing the Marine's need for armored transport THROUGH AN INITIAL OPPOSED LANDING to the ACV and Namer. What I concluded was that the APC is unsuited to the task whereas the Namer is but is not amphibious.

      I'm comparing the requirement to what's available.

      Hope that makes it clearer.

      Delete
    2. "My fault for being unclear. I'm not comparing the ACV to the Namer. I'm comparing the Marine's need for armored transport THROUGH AN INITIAL OPPOSED LANDING to the ACV and Namer. What I concluded was that the APC is unsuited to the task whereas the Namer is but is not amphibious."

      That makes things a bit clearer, yes.

      In a perfect world, something like the upgunned Namers the Israelis are now pursuing - adding an autocannon turret and Spike ATGMs to turn the Namer into a heavy IFV - would be an excellent vehicle to push through a fortified beach... except for the problem that there's no way it's going to reach that beach, since it's not amphibious.

      On the other hand, given the prepatory bombardments before landings in WW2, I wonder why the USMC seems to think that they must attempt an opposed landing on their lonesome. Surely any beach worth taking by an MEU is also worth allocating a CVN and its airwing and desron to the assault. Built up, fixed defenses, the kind that need tanks to punch through, are stationary and fairly obvious targets. Enemy tanks can be camoflaged, but will make their presence fairly obvious once they start firing and maneuvering.

      Although the way it was told to me was that the best way was to have camoflaged SSM trucks positioned to attack incoming landing craft, and to have the beach pre-sighted with artillery, because, as they put it, "a tank can't do anything if the LST it's on is thirty feet underwater."

      (By the way, just out of curiosity, were you aware that I was quoting your previous comments from a year ago?)

      Delete
    3. "something like the … Namers ... would be an excellent vehicle to push through a fortified beach... except for the problem that there's no way it's going to reach that beach, since it's not amphibious."

      I constantly run into this problem. If I mention, say, a vehicle that might have desirable characteristics, someone is inevitably going to point out that that exact vehicle can't perfectly do whatever it is that we're talking about. Well, that was never the point. The point was to look at a vehicle that has some/many of the characteristics needed and that would provide a conceptual starting point for an actual design.

      In this specific case, I was noting that the Namer had the HAPC characteristics needed to make a good assault vehicle. Of course it's not amphibious! It was never designed to be. What we need to do is take the desirable characteristics of the HAPC and design an amphibious version. That may or may not be possible. I can't say since I'm not an amphibious design engineer. Alternatively, if we simply can't design a viable amphibious HAPC, we could also look at designing a single vehicle landing craft to transport the HAPC to shore.

      Interestingly, the Israeli Achzarit HAPC weighs around 44 tons and the WWII Sherman DD, which was 'amphibious', weighed 35-40 tons depending on what version was used. This suggests that an HAPC, if designed to be amphibious from the start, could be viable. Heck, we can make 100,000 ton ships float so it's all about proper design!

      If the Marines were serious about amphibious assaults, I would think an amphibious HAPC would be possible.

      Delete
    4. "Surely any beach worth taking by an MEU is also worth allocating a CVN and its airwing and desron to the assault."

      This would be viable only against a very small defending force. A carrier air wing is woefully insufficient for preparatory bombardment. I leave it to you to calculate the weight of explosives an air wing can reasonably deliver over time as compared to even a very small, low end WWII assault with cruisers and battleships and whatnot providing bombardment support. Similarly, a modern destroyer squadron, even if we were willing to risk it close enough to shore for its guns to reach the shore, simply can't provide the weight of explosives necessary to be effective. Each ship has one 5" gun and even a half dozen or a dozen ships just can't provide enough firepower, to say nothing of the minimal explosive effects of a 5" shell.

      You are correct, of course, that if the Marines were serious about assaults, they and the Navy would have to come up with some way to provide sustained, effective fire support - something we totally lack today and which completely invalidates the Marine's claim of being capable of conducting amphibious assaults.

      Delete
  8. "I think it's telling that only Israel fields HAPCs"

    Good points that *may* speak more to budgets and a lack of institutional clarity within the military, rather than the utility of HAPCs.

    The idea of transporting infantry in modified tank hulls is a concept nearly as old as the tank itself. The British army developed the Mark IX infantry carrier during WWI that pretty much defined tracked infantry carrier layouts familiar to us today. Here is a video from the Tank Museum at Bovington: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_oZ4bYwLO8&list=PLBAEOsdxIbLPFEomzphaZQ0A5Vujkpjd8&index=34&t=0s

    In 1944, the British and Canadians fielded entire regiments of crude “HAPCs” converted from medium tanks and tank based SPHs, particularly the Canadian RAM Kangaroo, but they also converted Churchill heavy tanks, which were also prized for conversion into specialist combat engineer assault tanks. Here is another excellent video from the Tank Museum at Bovington:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DjcNZWVa0w

    By contrast the Germans never equipped even half of their mechanized infantry or panzer grenadiers with halftracks.

    U.S Army has had a decades long fiasco of producing not just an HAPC, but a Heavy IFV like vehicle the stillborn GCV…

    The Russians produced several vehicles, mostly for sappers and special assault troops: the Object 564 (BMO-T Firebug), the BTR-T, culminating in the Object 149 (T-15 Armata).

    I am not impressed by armor protection of IFVs, the performance of IFV autocannons (ineffective against mud walls in Afghanistan), the cost of IFV autocannon ammunition (~about $1,000 per round or $3-10,000 per burst), yet delivering significantly less HE-frag on target than a single 81mm mortar round ($800), or a $1,000 tank round (HE Frag). A first rate modern IFV like the German Puma is $14M per copy, a bloody lot of money for a 30mm autocannon without MBT protection.

    GAB

    BMPV-64
    IDF Achzarit

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    1. The up-armored Bradleys appear reasonably well protected against anything short of an ATGM or heavy RPG (e.g. RPG 29). Probably still too lightly armored for somewhere like Syria, where they sling ATGMs all the time.

      Autocannons vs mud walls in Afghanistan isn't really that fair. Those walls can be a couple feet thick, from what I've read. Nothing short of a tank gun round or 155mm round will do much to them. The Bradley does have TOW, with a bunker buster warhead option. Expensive, but would provide some utility there.

      I kinda doubt the 50mm autocannon the Army seems to like for the future would really do much better there.

      It seems to me that we would benefit from having at least some segment of the Army riding in max-protected HAPC/HIFVs that have a shot at closing the distance to dismount in an ATGM-heavy environment. In a perfect world, you'd build a family of heavy vehicles like the Russians are doing, with MBT, HIFV, engineering and arty variants that shared at least powertrain, running gear, core C4, APS, and so on. Perhaps have two chassis, a front-engine for the HIFV and arty, and a rear drive for the MBT. Then heavy units will share parts and maintenance experience across their heavy vehicles.

      Yes, it would be an expensive program.






      Delete
    2. @Anon2: "It seems to me that we would benefit from having at least some segment of the Army riding in max-protected HAPC/HIFVs that have a shot at closing the distance to dismount in an ATGM-heavy environment."

      The ability to carry at least the vanguard of assault infantry and sappers *though* the enemy the enemy defensive belt at great speed, in large numbers, in relative safely, and in good order is a premium. Refurbishing old MBTs to sort this problem is very reasonable, but I would rather the emphasis be on troop capacity and defensive systems, rather than firepower, which is better provided by artillery (mortars) and supporting armor. The Russians had a surplus of tens of thousands of MBTs after the cold war, making this an easy and cheap option for them.

      That said, I believe the anti-tank mine remains the greatest threat to maneuver warfare – people focus on the tactical issues, but any attack is more a race against the enemy reserves, than sorting the enemy in front of you. Anti-tank mines, are cheap, can (and have been) deployed by the millions, and will absolutely break up or delay an assault that lacks serious counter mine capability.

      Active defense systems and the latest ERA raise serious questions about the effectiveness of shaped charged warhead ATGMs, to include even the heavier systems (the old tow system weighed on the order of 150 lbs. ready to fire). CKEM and other kinetic energy based ATGM technologies have not been mass produced in quantities needed to assure us of their effectiveness. ATGM defenses can be suppressed effectively with artillery or even mortars; and this can be done from safe distances. Modern defenses face serious challenges from EW, and multi-spectrum sensors like synthetic aperture radar, infrared, acoustic, seismic sensors and the like.

      GAB

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    3. We have a couple thousand M1s of various vintages in storage.

      In theory, we could develop a Achzarit-like conversion program that replaces the turbine with a modern, compact diesel, adds a rear ramp, removes the turret and adds a central area to house a squad.

      The weight savings could be used for additional armor, an APS, electro-optics, and so on.

      Probably too ghetto to get funding, but I have to imagine it would be a fraction of the price of the GCV or one of the other new HAPC/IFVs the Army considered (Puma, Namer).

      How would you issue such vehicles? Separate "assault" battalions that could be attached to any BCT? Seems like you may not need full HAPC brigades. Individual companies organically attached BCTs might limit training and strain the parent BCT to support them.

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    4. "Active defense systems and the latest ERA raise serious questions about the effectiveness of shaped charged warhead ATGMs"

      Would an artillery (or mortar) barrage trigger the active defenses on a tank, even without a direct hit, thereby depleting the defense against subsequent anti-tank missiles?

      Delete
    5. "How would you issue such vehicles? "

      Returning to the amphibious application, even if we could magically acquire the best HAPC in the world at zero cost, we have no way to get them ashore in the initial wave. This is the ever present weakness in trying to use any heavy asset (tank, artillery, SPG, HAPC, engineering vehicles) in an assault. By the time it's 'safe' to bring them ashore by LCAC/LCU/LCM you no longer need them.

      Delete
    6. “How would you issue such vehicles? Separate "assault" battalions that could be attached to any BCT? Seems like you may not need full HAPC brigades. Individual companies organically attached BCTs might limit training and strain the parent BCT to support them.

      Three options:

      1. I would create an “Armored Combat Engineer battalion” in each tank or mech infantry brigade: this battalion would have 2x HAPC companies, a ‘pure’ CE company, 2x Combat Enginering Vehicle (AFV) companies, and a large mortar platoon. All AFVs in this battalion might be based on HAPCs. Combat engineers are typically at the vanguard for most every operation and thus are the force most in need of the HAPC capability. Engineers are responsible for the mobility/counter mobility mission and every HAPC not actually carrying troops into an assault should have a mine plow/roller/flail or other countermine capability. The HAPC companies would be large and sized to move attached conventional infantry companies, not just the smaller CE company.

      2. Another option is to form a 4th company of HAPCs in each tank battalion. HAPCs are simplified tanks. This makes administrative/maintenance sense, The HAPCs could relieve MBTs of the burden of carrying Bulldozer blades and countermine gear. I am somewhat less enthused about the operational wisdom of this arrangement.

      3. We could create ‘pure’ HAPC battalion formations to support infantry formations.





      Note: HAPCs ought not be treated as IFVs in any of the organizations I propose above: they should be assigned a specific task and returned to the parent command immediately to get on with their next task. The model is the British 79th division of WW2 fame AKA “Hobart’s Funnies.” I like the old British ‘Guard’ organizations or the current Russian formations: brigades should fight as 2-3 task forces pulling elements as needed from ‘pure’ battalions. I would convert the USMC to the brigade system.

      GAB

      Delete
    7. "I would convert the USMC to the brigade system."

      Someone needs to write up this system as an alternative to the Commandant's new direction. It clearly isn't going to come from within the Marines as the Commandant has put the hammer to any opposition!

      A knowledgeable, outside writer … could be anyone … just saying.

      Delete
    8. "Would an artillery (or mortar) barrage trigger the active defenses on a tank, even without a direct hit, thereby depleting the defense against subsequent anti-tank missiles?"

      Yes!

      Modern artillery concentrations would not only destroy active defense and ERA, it would break optics, chop off antennas, damage suspensions, cut tracks, blow off wheels, destroy main guns, and even kill vehicles.

      Please see the article (lots of photographs!): "Who Says Dumb Artillery Rounds Can’t Kill Armor?" By Major (Retired) George A. Durham, Field Artillery Journal, U.S. Army, Nov/Dec 2002

      GAB

      Delete
    9. "Who Says Dumb Artillery Rounds Can’t Kill Armor?"

      I note in the referenced article that the test vehicles used were M-48 Patton tanks and M113 vehicles. Care to speculate to what extent, if any, the results would differ using current M1 Abrams and Bradleys?

      Delete
    10. I agree that tanks are too heavy, too difficult to deploy and too costly. But let's keep half of them. The CMC says it will take 10 years to remove them (and the LAVs he's targeted) so let's hope someone tempers his idea like:

      The Corps has 58 tanks pre-po in Norway. Get rid of them, the Russians are not going to invade Norway! And heavy tanks are wrong for mountains anyway.

      Cut the reserve tank company tanks at Camp Pendleton and another at Camp Lejeune, this drops 28 more from the force. They can use the active tanks at these locations to train who will leave these tanks behind when they fly off to the MPF.

      Covert from MPF tank battalions with a 58 tanks to armored battalions with 28 tanks. This would shed a total of 60 tanks from the MPF. An armored battalion would have two tank companies (28 tanks), an armored engineer company with the valuable M-1 tank variants (bridge, engineer, recovery), and an LAV company.

      So the Corps could slash almost half its tanks (116 of them, all reserve or in pre-po storage) and save lots of money with little operational impact. The parts from these 116 tanks would provide spare parts for years.

      But in the long term, tanks may be dead as explained here:

      https://www.g2mil.com/Anti-armor.htm

      Delete
    11. Before someone dings me, the reserve tank company at Camp Pendleton would have to move two hours to 29 Palms to use the active tanks, where they must go to train anyway.

      Delete
    12. "I agree that tanks are too heavy, too difficult to deploy and too costly."

      Says who, on what basis, and compared to what alternatives?

      USMC ground formations are infantry, and not even a marine division, can stop a Russian or Chinese tank or motor rifle brigade.

      35,000 marines could not take Tarawa from ~3,000 Japanese without the aid of a handful of M4A2 Shermans (at one point only one tank was fully mission capable).

      Fast forward to 2004 Fallujah, and the marines could not sustain their attack without U.S. Army tanks from 2/7 Cavalry, which *led the assault* even though urban terrain offers the most advantages to infantry.

      “Well, before Najaf, we were under the impression that the best way to fight the urban fight was with dismounted soldiers and going building to building. But the big lesson we learned was that armor does a better job at it because they have more firepower and better vision capabilities on their vehicles.” Eyewitness to War Volume II, The US Army in Operation AL FAJR: An Oral History by Kendall D. Gott, page 53.

      Marines do not get tanks because the USMC has never fought against a competent enemy with a modern tank force. Marine officers are not really exposed to maneuver warfare until later in their careers, and then only if they are one of the few that attend the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Marine leadership is further hampered by the reality that most USMC generals have never held division command.

      GAB

      Delete
    13. GAB said, "Note: HAPCs ought not be treated as IFVs in any of the organizations I propose above: they should be assigned a specific task and returned to the parent command immediately to get on with their next task. "

      I worry that treating them as "funnies" means there won't be that many of them and they won't be available when you need them. Will they bear the brunt of all of the major fighting and thus be quickly worn out? Will they get the continued resourcing necessary to preserve the capability if they're not part of main-line Army units?

      OTOH, one has to ask, is the IFV really relevant anymore in its current form? Maybe a GCV-like HIFV would be worth the money after all? Then at least all heavy units would have them and would be equally capable of these types of high-intensity fights.

      Delete
    14. " is the IFV really relevant anymore in its current form? Maybe a GCV-like HIFV would be worth the money after all?"

      I'm not a land combat guy so I can't really offer an informed opinion, however, I repeatedly note the US military's tendency to want to make every ship/aircraft/vehicle a do-everything ship/aircraft/vehicle. The idea that the IFV is not relevant and that a HIFV might be better smacks of that tendency to want to turn the IFV from what it is into a near-MBT.

      Sure, one can argue that a IFV is not survivable in a head to head slugfest against a MBT but, if that scenario arises, you've screwed up in how you should be using the IFV.

      The IFV should be integrated into infantry and tank operations and we should not be evaluating it as a stand alone, tank fighter. If we integrate it and operate it properly we gain the advantages of its troop carrying capacity, lightness (relative), cheapness (relative), and formidable anti-infantry/anti-soft skin capabilities. That seems worthwhile to me.

      I don't have the land combat expertise to offer a detailed Concept of Operations for an IFV but the broad strokes of a concept seem obvious enough. I'll leave it to the land combat experts to pass the final judgement but I would ask, if not an IFV then what?

      This is analogous to asking whether a destroyer should be battleship armored because it can't stand up to an enemy battleship in a toe-to-toe slugging match. The answer is no, a destroyer shouldn't be armored like a battleship. The destroyer has certain roles and strengths that make it valuable as is and it is up to the wise naval commander to use the destroyer in the tasks for which it is ideally suited and void the others. So, too, with an IFV.

      Delete
    15. This not about fighting other tanks. The problem is how do you advance on complex terrain (urban) with the intent to clear it of hostile forces, when the enemy has Kornets, RPG-29s, mines, and enough time to prepare fighting positions. If only tanks can survive the advance, they'll be picked apart by infantry at close range. They need supporting infantry to advance with them, even lead.

      Syria, Ukraine, and other conflicts have shown that combatants won't just limit using ATGMS against tanks. They'll shoot them at everything.

      If the infantry can't advance mounted, because their APCs or IFVs don't have sufficient protection, then they have to move forward dismounted. This greatly slows movement, and opens them up to attack from indirect fires, snipers, small arms, and so on.

      So the HIFV/HAPC idea is to give them a mount that allows them to close with and dismount near the objective, surviving the long-range ATGMs and heavy RPGs.

      A HIFV/HAPC presumably also would be more mine survivable as well, though probably not without mobility kills. This is why engineers also need a heavy vehicle like Assault Breacher.

      Lastly while operating in close urban terrain, a HIFV/HAPC with significant all around protection would be more survivable in an ambush.

      The difference between the two is how much money, space and weight you want to devote to weapons and sensors vs dismounts.

      Delete
    16. "I agree that tanks are too heavy, too difficult to deploy and too costly."

      GAB. I was referring to modern warfare, not World War II or 2004 actions against urban insurgents. Read that G2mil link I provided to get the idea. On the other hand, heavy armor is good in urban areas, but not with 120mm cannons that infantry must stay clear from. I'd like an M-1 tank with a 40mm autocannon for urban fights.

      Delete
    17. "I agree that tanks are too heavy, too difficult to deploy and too costly."

      This seems to be an unfounded statement. In fact, history suggests the opposite. We've had no problem deploying tanks wherever needed. Desert Storm is a good example as are any of the Iraq/Afg conflicts.

      Vehicle weight seems to have no effect on deployment or individual vehicle performance since M1 Abrams are highly mobile and have tremendous performance.

      I see absolutely no evidence to support your contention. Perhaps you'd care to provide some evidence?

      Delete
    18. "I agree that tanks are too heavy, too difficult to deploy and too costly."

      This is unsupported and appears to be simply a 'lightness' meme running through the US military without any evidence, history, or wargaming to support it. Don't just repeat the fad of the moment, question and examine it and form your own opinion based on hard facts and logic!

      Delete
    19. "Vehicle weight seems to have no effect on deployment or individual vehicle performance since M1 Abrams are highly mobile and have tremendous performance."

      Task Force Hawk is often thrown around when discussion the difficulties of deploying heavy units.

      It should be fairly obvious that lighter units require less lift, fewer HETs, less fuel, less maintenance, and so on. They cause less damage to roads and local infrastructure and can use more bridges and lighter rail.

      Now obviously M1s and Bradleys can be deployed. We've done so numerous times. It's just harder.

      Delete
    20. I have many, many issues with the G2.mil analysis; ‘War is boring’ is not an authoritative source for cost accounting, and is citing weapon concepts like LOSAT, which have yet to reach feasibility and were already replaced by other programs.

      The M1 Abrams is frequently used as a strawman for opponents, yet it is a 40-year-old design and was built with assumptions and tradeoffs that few other nations were willing to buy, and may, or may not hold today.

      The much newer Russian T90M tank and the Japanese Type 10 tank weigh less than the 1950s era M48 Patton tank, largely because they have reduced the crew size saving ~1 cubic meter of armored space in the turret.

      Another example is the oft heard grumbling about fuel consumption even though at least one Navy and Marine Corps study showed that the plethora of trucks in a MEU collectively consume more fuel than the tanks!

      GAB

      Delete
    21. “Task Force Hawk is often thrown around when discussion the difficulties of deploying heavy units.“
      Task Force Hawk is a great example of a conflict that the USA had zero interest in participating in, and many unintended and negative consequences down the road.

      How many of our ‘Kosovo allies’ aka KLA ended up in Iraq, Syria, the Mahgreb, etc. killing Americans?

      How many of those KLA that we protected went on to burn churches, rape, pillage, and terrorize the Serb minority in Kosovo?

      How many Serbians and others did we push into the Russian sphere of influence due to a unilateral siding with the ‘Kosovars’ against the Serbs and ignoring a nasty cycle of horror dating back to the middle ages?

      How much intelligence did the Russians and PRC collect from that down F-117?

      I am not impressed arguments that enable presidents to quickly push the nation into ill-conceived, poorly planned, and generally poorly prosecuted wars, that ignore the *constitutional process of declaring war.* There is a huge difference between an emergency hostage rescue, or NEO, and using military power to redefine borders and create/destroy nations.

      GAB

      Delete
    22. “Task Force Hawk is often thrown around when discussion the difficulties of deploying heavy units.”

      Task Force Hawk is a great example of a conflict that the USA had zero interest in participating in, and many unintended and negative consequences down the road.

      How many of our ‘Kosovo allies’ aka KLA ended up in Iraq, Syria, the Mahgreb, etc. killing Americans?

      How many of those KLA that we protected went on to burn churches, rape, pillage, and terrorize the Serb minority in Kosovo?

      How many Serbians and others did we push into the Russian sphere of influence due to a unilateral siding with the ‘Kosovars’ against the Serbs and ignoring a nasty cycle of horror dating back to the middle ages?

      How much intelligence did the Russians and PRC collect from that down F-117?

      I am not impressed arguments that enable presidents to quickly push the nation into ill-conceived, poorly planned, and generally poorly prosecuted wars that ignore the *constitutional process of declaring war.*

      There is a huge difference between an emergency hostage rescue, or NEO, and using military power to redefine borders and create/destroy nations.

      GAB

      Delete
    23. GAB,

      I wasn't debating the merits of the intervention, only the difficulty in moving heavy forces to carry it out.

      This was in response to CNO saying, "Vehicle weight seems to have no effect on deployment or individual vehicle performance since M1 Abrams are highly mobile and have tremendous performance."

      Vehicle weight clearly does have a major impact on deployment.


      Delete
    24. "Vehicle weight clearly does have a major impact on deployment."

      While it must be accounted for, it has no major impact. We transport the bulk of our equipment via ship and the weight of an individual vehicle is meaningless to a ship.

      Delete
    25. Vehicle weight translates into increased logistics needed to support it. That means more tankers, more fuel, more and heavier spare parts, and so on.

      An HBCT requires 84,000 gallons of POL per day (combat). An Airborne BCT only requires 24,000 gallons per day.

      An HBCT can chew through 64ST per day of ammunition in combat. An Abn BCT, only 7ST per day.

      A light infantry division only requires two LMSRs to move its equipment. A heavy division requires 5.4 LMSRs.

      sources:
      https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2007/RAND_MG649.pdf
      https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/109th-congress-2005-2006/reports/09-27-strategicmobility.pdf

      For any administrative (non-combat) movements over land, you'll normally want to load tanks and other heavy tracked vehicles on HETs or by rail, rather than accumulate the wear on the vehicles themselves. This adds additional overhead to move the HETs.

      You may even choose a different overland route for a heavy unit vs a lighter unit based on the strength of the road and bridge network, which could involve a longer route.

      And obviously, light units are more readily deployable by
      air. Task Force Hawk took forever to deploy, in part, because they moved the HBCT components via C-17.

      So yes, tanks and other HBCT vehicles and their supporting units are less deployable than lighter vehicles and their units.

      Delete
    26. If we're looking to relocate our entire armed forces every week then, sure, weight matters. But we don't. We rarely make massive relocations and when we do it's by ship which doesn't care about weights of individual items. Our heavy equipment is either pre-positioned (Europe, for example, or on maritime pre-positioning ships) or stored in the US for movement by ship, if needed. You're trying to create an argument about a non-factor. We manage to move M1 Abrams just fine wherever and whenever they're needed. There is no problem.

      Using your logic, our land forces would consist of pure infantry made up of all-female squads (they weigh less than men) of 2 per squad (smaller squads consume less supplies).

      What your fixation on weight totally ignores is combat effectiveness and, for that, there's just no substitute for heavy armor and heavy firepower.

      Delete
    27. Nope not arguing any of that.

      Just pointing out that heavier units have heavier logistics requirements and thus are harder to deploy.

      I made no mention of combat effectiveness, desirability of intervening around the world, women in combat, phases of the moon, when to lift coronavirus restrictions, or any other unrelated factor.

      We can and do move heavy units. We have lighter units specifically because heavy units are hard to move (and are more expensive).

      This should be an obvious statement to everyone arguing with me here.

      Delete
    28. What you're completely failing to grasp is that military forces exist to engage in combat. All that matters is combat effectiveness. Light or heavy does not matter - only combat effectiveness. Now, there may be valid reasons for light forces but those reasons should ONLY be because they enhance our combat effectiveness within whatever doctrine/operations we're wanting to execute. Otherwise, you're building a light force for its own sake - which is exactly what you seem to be proposing.

      If combat effectiveness requires heavy forces then the task is not to figure out how to lighten them into light forces but, instead, to figure out how to support them - and we figured that out long ago. As I keep repeating and you keep ignoring, we've figured out how to deploy heavy forces with no great difficulty and have done so regularly.

      Delete
    29. "As I keep repeating and you keep ignoring, we've figured out how to deploy heavy forces with no great difficulty and have done so regularly."

      I think I JUST said this (minus the no great difficulty part).

      I said it here, "We can and do move heavy units. "

      I said it here, "Now obviously M1s and Bradleys can be deployed. We've done so numerous times. It's just harder."

      In fact, this entire sub-thread started with me pushing for HEAVIER vehicles (HAPC/HIFV), and you saying IFVs are like destroyers to a tank's battleship and that's a good thing. But now I'm the one that doesn't recognize the combat effectiveness of heavy forces.

      So I give up. I think you're just arguing to argue.
      Have a nice day.



      Delete
    30. "... military forces exist to engage in combat..."

      THIS

      Heavy forces generate massively greater firepower, and have massively greater capability to maneuver in the face of enemy firepower.

      Seriously, this was decided in the first world war.

      Conventional infantry is very rare in most peer armies and for good reason. The Germans, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc. have mostly mechanized infantry and the odd mountain, and or parachute infantry formations.

      GAB

      Delete
    31. Even the Australian army, slave to the infantry (and no money) mafias for 50 years is moving to an entirely mechanised and motorised force

      Delete
  9. Possibly dumb comment here. We want to get troops to shore to project firepower. What better firepower than a tank? Can we not put a tank in an undersea envelope/barely subsurface? that gets to solid ground and climbs out of the water? I would take a tank over a squad anyday. What am I missing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "What am I missing?"

      Nothing and two things.

      You're not missing anything in assessing the value of a tank!

      You're missing two points regarding the use of a tank:

      1. They're useless unless you can get them ashore in time to be useful (initial wave). Right now, that's what limits their usefulness. Hence, your subsurface suggestion. If/when anyone can figure out how to get a tank ashore, we'll see their usefulness skyrocket.

      2. Keep in mind terrain. For the Pacific theater, terrain (islands) often limits the use of tanks. We saw this in WWII.

      Delete
    2. "1. They're useless unless you can get them ashore in time to be useful (initial wave)."

      It is a challenge.

      It is also true that modern infantry have proven incapable of achieving much on their own without tanks (Cambrai, Tarawa, Antwerp, Manila, Grozny, Falluja, etc.).

      Why it is acceptable to risk a ~$150 million dollars H-53K, which RAND studies suggest is not survivable against current air defenses; but unacceptable to use a ~$70 million dollar ACV/SES vehicle like the LCAC as an assault platform is beyond me…

      GAB

      Delete
    3. "Why it is acceptable to risk a ~$150 million dollars H-53K, … but unacceptable to use a … LCAC as an assault platform is beyond me…"

      I don't know, either. However, one major factor might be the fact that we have woefully insufficient numbers of LCACs. An ARG, for example, has only around 5 LCACs, total. If you factor in any attrition, whatsoever, the follow on resupply effort fails.

      We could, somehow, try to gather more of ?70? some LCACs that we have in inventory to support an amphibious assault but I don't know how we'd transport them to the site.

      We seem to have sized our connector fleet (talking about the MEU/MEB/MEF organic assets) based on ridiculously optimistic assumptions about attrition (as in assuming zero loss, even due to simple mechanical issues).

      Perhaps the Navy/Marines realize this and therefore relegate the LCAC to uncontested scenarios only? Just speculating out loud.

      Delete
    4. "Perhaps the Navy/Marines realize this and therefore relegate the LCAC to uncontested scenarios only? Just speculating out loud."

      I chalk it up to institutional inertia.

      The Soviets saw pretty minor uses for naval infantry, but managed to field a pretty large hovercraft that they intended to use as an assault platform.

      LCACs/PASCAT and other systems are actually easier to transport! They do not need well decks!

      GAB

      Delete
    5. If it's an emergency commercial float on float off ships can be chartered to carry large numbers of LCACs and landing barges into theatre

      Delete
    6. "float on float off ships can be chartered to carry large numbers of LCACs"

      How many FO/FO ships are available for charter? Several? Dozens? Hundreds? I have no idea. Do you have a ballpark estimate?

      How many LCACs can a FO/FO carry? 1? 2? 3? 20? 100? Again, I have no idea.

      Answering those two questions will give us an estimate of how many ships are needed. In a major assault, we would need to transport all 70-90 LCACs we have. A handful would be carried on the amphibious ships, of course.

      Delete
  10. If its a cost issue then I cite CNO rule 1, there is no cost issue.

    ReplyDelete
  11. If I am making people laugh I hope it gives everyone a good day!
    I picture a heavily armored WW11 LST virtually unsinkable carrying a tank to shore. Shoot away.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would appreciate it if someone with a greater technical knowledge could explain to me the tradeoffs between tracked and wheeled vehicles. The trend seems to be more toward wheeled vehicles, and I would like to have a better understanding of why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wheeled vehicles are cheaper to manufacture and maintain. They also have terrific mobility on roads and other hard surfaces.

      But the tracked vehicles spread out the ground pressure of the vehicle which provides a vastly superior level of mobility off-road. Tracks also provides a stable platform for heavy weights, like armor and heavy turrets that hold big guns.

      Delete
    2. Sounds like ideally, you'd want a mix. Use each for what it does best.

      Are there any particular considerations, one way or the other, for amphibious vehicles? Does one work better than the other for the water part of the operation?

      Delete
    3. To add to your question above, one of the main benefits of the tracked LVTs in WWII was that the could climb over barrier reefs. I assume wheeled vehicles with good cross-country mobility can as well, but I wonder if this is still an ACV requirement?

      Delete
    4. That makes sense. I am wondering if either configuration would help get more speed through the water. Does one create less drag than the other? My thought is that for Marine purposes, you might give up a little on the ground to get some advantage in the water.

      Delete
    5. I think historically, the Marines have favored water performance over land with their amphibious vehicles, but the ACV is a shift in the other direction.

      Not sure which has more drag in the water, but the ACV appears to be less a purpose-built amphibious vehicle, and more a land vehicle with significant amphibious capability.

      Delete
    6. Wheeled vehicles are more useful most of the time.

      In tasks like peacekeeping or counter insurgency the locals will resent their roads being destroyed by tracks.

      Wheeled vehicles can self deploy at a good speed giving greater long range mobility. See French in Mali or Australian Bushmaster PMV (designed to drive a section for three days without resupply).

      In recent wars armies have noticed that 99% of the time wheeled vehicles have sufficient mobility at the tactical level.

      If you can only afford one or the other you would choose multipurpose wheeled.

      But tracked are better in close combat. They are not as high so smaller target. They are easily repaired. And they do have better mobility.

      Delete
    7. There is also a limit on how much weight wheels can carry. Although they are getting up to near 40 tonne which was thought to be impossible a few years ago. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_(armoured_fighting_vehicle)

      Delete
    8. In a peer fight I want tracked vehicles.

      Even in a scouting role I want tracks because I don't want to be tied to the road system, it's a good way to get killed quickly.

      Delete
    9. Wheeled and tracked vehicles have their strengths and uses, but I take issue with the term ‘mobility” and how it is tossed around loosely, typically on the side of wheeled vehicles.

      Wheeled AFVs generally lack the ability to move *through* terrain, and particularly to push full width mine plows (or rollers) at depths of 12” in heavy clay, which is a typical requirement to defeat anti-tank mine defenses. Yes there are wheeled bulldozers, but wheeled vehicles generally do not generate the traction to do this at speed and under fire as shown in this video: https://youtu.be/whhaUhZNk0I

      Defeating minefields in vegetated areas will increase the problem. And sometimes vegetation ‘is’ the mobility challenge.

      Tanks have an easier time with trees:
      https://youtu.be/avsuS8m6bis
      https://youtu.be/aPctAC-5nsY
      https://youtu.be/VvvimwFmpFg

      In 1945 Germany our troops often found the safest and fastest way to assault was to knock a row of houses down, rather than drive down the street into pre-sighted ambushes.

      Most of our mobility issues over the last decades have involved open mostly terrain in SW Asia, against mostly illiterate, 3rd world goat herders, which is not the pacing threat of high intensity war, against a peer opponent like Russia or China.

      GAB

      Delete
    10. GAB, thanks for the youtube links. Looks like a Leopard I imitating King Kong crashing through the jungle.
      I'm sure that was teeth-rattling for the crew.

      Good examples of what a wheeled vehicle wouldn't be able to do.

      Delete
    11. Anon,

      I do not write off wheeled AFVs; I just want to be clear eyed about trade-offs.

      GAB

      Delete
  13. https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200414/ddm/012/010/109000c
    Does anyone read Japanese? Global Military Info on Twitter claims that this story says the Japanese are deploying IRBM in the Ryukyu
    Islands. If true, this could be the first counter to china's large asymmetric missile force.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The US and Japan are discussing yadda yadda..."

      Just talk for now.

      Delete
  14. According to Evan Karlik of The diplomat stated on Aug 30 2019
    that Japan was building two missile bases on Amami Oshima north of Okinawa. Another base at Miyako to the south and a third at Ishigaki between Miyako and Taiwan.

    ReplyDelete
  15. If I were in charge of the USMC, I would follow CNO's recommendation that the Marines make port seizure a core capability.

    That means a forced amphibious landing somewhat near a developed urbanized area. The Marines' and Navy's equipment should match the needs of this kind of operation.

    The Navy would use its carrier task forces to achieve local air and sea superiority to make the amphibious landing viable. I would also have new Des Moines class cruisers (8"), new Alaska class battle cruisers (12"), and updated Iowa class battleships (16") providing NGFS.

    The landing fleet wouldn't/couldn't be the ridiculous 25 miles offshore.

    I believe the current AAV would be adequate for these amphibious operations.

    The leading edge of the first wave would have infantry in the AAVs.

    It would also have AAVs that didn't carry troops but were converted to fire support platforms. They would be armed with a 25mm, vulcan-style gatling guns and copious amounts of ammunition. Their job would be to smother resistance to the landing as it's encountered, with a secondary job of air defense against helicopter gunships. They would also have a laser designator and a forward observer to identify hard point targets for copperhead-guided naval gunfire rounds to hammer. These AAVs would also have reactive armor to help survivability against HEAT rounds and RPGs.

    I would also have a tank-carrying landing craft capable of carrying up to a 70-ton M1 Abrams main battle tank.

    In the trailing edge of the first wave these would each carry two medium tanks of no greater than 35 tons. These tanks would feature wide tracks to drive over soft sand, a 105mm gun, and heavy armor in the frontal arc to enhance survivability during the assault.

    Later, after the objectives are taken, these vehicles would be helpful in securing the objectives by serving in a defensive role by utilizing their heavy frontal armor and reasonably heavy main gun.

    The second wave would have more AAVs, but also the tank-carrying landing craft bringing in m1150 combat engineer vehicles.

    Close air support would be provided by new A10 Marine aircraft, adapted for flight off of LHAs (instead of F35s). If the Air Force can use these into the 2030's, then the Marines can also use them as they would be perfect for this role.

    Once the immediate beach head is secured, the Marines can bring in their heavy mechanized units. These would feature M1 Abrams tanks and LAV/Stryker type vehicles to carry the infantry and provide fire support.

    I think the wheeled vehicles would be adequate since port areas could be assumed to be urban in character with well-developed and comprehensive road systems.

    As the heavy units push inland, any counter-attacks by the enemy should be disrupted by the NGFS of the Iowas, Alaskas, and Des Moines class ships.

    So.......this plan basically is the opposite of everything that the Navy and Marine Corps are currently planning to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is what the US Army/Australian Army did in WW2 in the South West Pacific.

      Everything is supported by land based air.

      The goals are always airfields rather than ports but everything is coastal. So all goals are within 200 miles of a current airbase.

      You DO NOT do amphibious assaults. They are too costly.

      You do an amphibious landing near your goal. Then attack as a conventional land army by land.

      Repeat for next airfield. Bypass as much enemy posts as possible and let them wither on the vine.

      Delete
    2. If you're going to only be capable of performing unopposed landings you'll need to book your reservation early for that chunk of beach so the enemy isn't there already when you show up.

      Don't forget to send in the deposit check, they won't reserve it for you without it.

      Delete
    3. "You DO NOT do amphibious assaults."

      That's a nice general guidance principle but it's not always possible to achieve. The Normandy landing, for example, was unavoidable. The Pacific island assaults were unavoidable. Only the firepower of the US Navy allowed the later island assaults to be conducted relatively resistance free, initially, by pushing the Japanese back off the beaches into the interior. Had the Japanese not been forced off the beaches there would have been no choice but to conduct opposed landings.

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    4. I did specify the theatre which is littoral - land and sea everywhere but jungle makes it a spot operations. A division can't defend 40 km of dense jungle coast. A landing doesn't imply no enemy troops - just not many.

      The Central Pacific had long distances between land. Not so for likely area of future operations.

      And the main point. There will be no invasion of Chinese territory because they have nukes.

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    5. "There will be no invasion of Chinese territory because they have nukes."

      No, there will be no invasion of MAINLAND China because they have a gazillion people.

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    6. "A landing doesn't imply no enemy troops - just not many."

      ???? The Japanese had half a million troops in the Philippines, depending on how you want to tally the forces. That's quite a few and yet we assaulted the islands! The Japanese had 76,000 troops on Okinawa when we landed. The Germans had entire armies when we assaulted Europe/Normandy. The Japanese had 350,000 troops when we conducted the New Guinea assaults. And so on.

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    7. Please stop with this immediate use of nukes BS. This is childish/Hollywood level thought similar to all soldiers being little more than human terminators that jump at any order.

      The reality is nukes are little more than a very expensive bargaining chip; they are political tools, not military tools. If all is lost and total defeat/death is inevitable, then the situation may change. However, simply using nukes because you have them is ridiculous. Why do you think Iran and North Korean have invested and risked so much to attain this capability? Simply having the option is likely to force other responses from your aggressors (look what happened to Saddam and Gaddafi, this pretty much cemented this reality to everyone who saw what happens when the political winds change).

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  16. 1) 15 man squads are only on select MEUs. Marine squads remain at 13.
    2) AAV capacity is closer to squad size because benches were replaced with blast attenuated seats
    3) Water speed of any survivable options requires ships be close to launch. LCACs are probably not survivable is an opposed assault.
    4) Commandant is looking for other uses for LHDs because bringing LHDs close enough to launch connectors risks the aviation assets on board. The LHD needs to stay away from shore which makes launching connectors impractical.
    5) Commandant is looking for cheap connectors that can be the expendable backbone of our amphibious fleet which will likely be troop carriers without aviation.
    In my opinion, we need WW2 style Liberty ships staged near hotspots like we stage MPFs. The ships should be crewed by a few merchant mariners. Get rid of LHDs. Aviation strike support can come from carriers and maybe use MLPs for temporary aviation assault support.

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  17. The ACV water speed is fine and its protection is very good. Even the EFV was not much faster in the water if it did not transform into high speed mode. EFV was unreliable while transforming and very expensive.

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    1. "The ACV water speed is fine"

      No it's not! Not with the doctrine we currently have of launching from 25-50 miles offshore. Troops can only ride in the water for about 30 minutes before they become disabled. If you're going to launch an assault from 25-50 miles that means you need a landing craft with a speed of 50-100 mph!!!!

      The ACV water speed may as well be zero given our doctrine. Now, if we want to move the troop transports in to around 5 miles from shore then the ACV speed is fine.

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