We’ve talked numerous times about the Guided MLRS, the Excalibur 155mm artillery round, guided mortar rounds and recently the HVP. Having cracked the code on how to design a guidance system for artillery ammunition, we’re going to see a growing range of projectiles with precision capability for an expanding set of guns.
Here’s BAE System’s self funded project, the Multi-Service Standard Guided Projectile, or MS SGP. It’s an adaptation of the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) designed for the 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS) for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyers.
The MS SGP is being designed specifically for the US Navy’s current standard 5” gun, the Mk45 Mod 4. BAE systems, noting that 155mm is larger than 5” (127mm) has proposed using the MS SGP in a saboted configuration from Marine and Army 155mm guns.
To date, there’s been a successful guided shot, but no production contracts.
Here’s a repost of one of the earlier works on the blog, but that might seem fresh to newer readers.
When you mention the words “amphibious warfare” most people think immediately of the US Marines, and rightly so. But during WWII, the Army invested huge resources into the ability to land on a hostile shore and conduct operations.
There are two general types of amphibious operations: ship-to-shore and shore-to-shore. Ship to shore operations are those in which the landing force is transported to the objective in large, ocean going vessels, then landed via small craft onto the shore. Shore to shore operations take place over relatively short distances, and generally the troops are carried in smaller craft, rather than large transports. Obviously, the anticipated objectives will dictate which approach is taken.
In the late 1930s, with war clouds clearly on the horizon, both the Army and the Marines came to the conclusion that they would need to develop a serious amphibious capability, but they reached different conclusions because of very different assumptions about what type of war they would be fighting.
For 20 years, the Navy had forseen war with Japan in the Pacific. And the cornerstone of the Navy’s strategy to defeat Japan was to defeat the Japanese fleet in a battle, likely somewhere near the Philipines. Since it would be impractical for the fleet to steam all the way from San Diego or Pearl Harbor and fight in those waters, the need for advanced bases was clear. And the Marines understood that as a consequence of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, any islands that could serve as an advance base would almost certainly be held by the Japanese. That meant the Marines had to be ready to travel the huge distances of the Pacific, land on remote islands, and seize relatively small objectives. For the Marines, this was a raison de etre.
The Army faced a different challenge. The Army had no desire to get into the amphibious warfare business. But watching the rise of Nazi German power, the Army leadership was convinced that sooner or later, they’d have to go fight in Western Europe again. And, unlike 1918, they weren’t at all sure the French ports would be available to land the huge armies planned. After the fall of France in June of 1940, the cold realization came that just to get the Army to the fight would mean sooner or later, landing somewhere in Western Europe, under the guns of the enemy. And not only would the Army have to land there, they would have to build up their forces and simultaneously supply them over the beaches until a suitable port could be seized. Fortunately for the Army, England was still available as an advance base.
The Army didn’t completely ignore the ship to shore model of amphibious warfare, mostly because they couldn’t. When it became apparent that no cross-Channel operation to invade Europe would be possible in 1942 (mostly because of a lack of landing craft) President Roosevelt made the decision that a front in the Atlantic theater would be opened in North Africa. A combined British and American force would be landed in the French occupied territories of North Africa, then drive east to engage the German forces in Tunisia. Due to the distances involved, this could only be a ship to shore movement. Many forces sailed from England, but a significant portion sailed all the way from ports on the East Coast of the US. Even against only fitful French and German resistance, the invasion fleet lost five large transports. One of the lessons the Army learned was that transports waiting to discharge their troops and cargoes were extremely vulnerable. In response, the Army wanted to make sure as many ships as possible had the ability to beach themselves to unload, minimizing the reliance on small craft such as the Higgins boat, LCVP, and the LCM.
These craft were carried near the objective by transports, and lowered over the side by booms or davits. That took time, time during which the transports, only 5-10 miles offshore, were vulnerable to submarines, airplanes and even coastal artillery. While they were fairly good for getting the first units of lightly armed troops ashore, they were less efficient at getting ashore the huge numbers of follow-on troops needed, and importantly, the massive numbers of vehicles the troops would need to break out from any beachhead. Further, they just weren’t capable of bringing ashore the cargoes of supplies, fuel and ammunition the troops would need. Something bigger was needed. And the first of these bigger craft was known as the LCT, or Landing Craft Tank. An LCM3 could carry one tank, barely. An LCT was a much bigger craft and could carry from 3 to 5 tanks. Five was an optimum number, as that was the number of tanks in a platoon, and keeping tactical units together on a landing greatly assisted in the assualt. As you can see from the picture, the LCT was essentially a self-propelled barge with a bow-ramp.
The LCT could easily sail from England to France, or from Mediterranean ports in North Africa to Sicily and Italy. And while it could carry real numbers of tanks, something even better was in the works- the Landing Ship Tank, or LST. Early in the war, espcially as the Allies were first gearing up for the invasion of North Africa, the Army (and especially the British) realized they had no way of shipping tanks overseas and landing them across beaches in any numbers. The LCT couldn’t handle the voyage, and loading LCMs over the side of a transport was problematic in anything but a flat calm. Worse, tanks kept getting heavier and heavier, faster than the booms on transport ships could grow to handle them. The idea arose of converting vessels originally built to carry rail cars from Florida to Panama as tank carriers. But while they could drive the tanks on at the embarkation point, the problem of discharging them remained. To unload them, the Army would need to seize a port. Indeed, this limitation was precisley why Casablanca was a target of the invasion. Enter the British. They had built a series of very shallow draft tankers to serve the waters around Venezuala. The reasoned that the design could quickly be adapted to build a large vessel that could safely beach itself, unload tanks held in what had formerly been the holds via a ramp in the bow, and then retract itself from the beach. Unlike an LCT, the LST might be ungainly and slow, but it was a real seagoing vessel.
While the LST was very valuable in bringing tanks, up to 20 at a time, it turns out the real value was in trucks. The Army in WWII was by far the most mechanized and motorized army in the world. And that meant trucks. Lots of trucks- to move people, supplies, tow guns, you name it. And the LST could carry a lot of trucks, already loaded, both on its tank deck, and on the topsides. And unlike the hassle of unloading a regular transport, all they had to do was drive down a ramp. After making an initial assault, as soon as an LST had discharged its tanks, it would turn around, go back to England (or where ever) and load up on trucks to build up the forces on the beachhead. To say the LST was a success would be a bit of an understatement. The US built roughly 1100 of them during the war for our Navy and the British.
While the LST was great for carrying tanks and trucks, it didn’t do so well at carrying people. One thing the Army really wanted was a small ship that could carry a rifle company from England and land them on the shores of France, non-stop and as a unit. The trick was getting the size just right. It had to be small enough to be built in large numbers, but big enough to cross the Atlantic on its own. It wouldn’t be expected to carry troops across the Atlantic. Those would come across on troopships. But any vessel large enough to do the job would be too large to carry aboard a transport. Pretty soon, the Navy designed and built the Landing Craft Infantry, or LCI. This was a vessel designed almost entirely with the invasion of Normandy in mind. It carried about 200 troops, roughly a reinforced rifle company, for up to 48 hours, which is about the time it took to load and transport them from ports in the Southwest of England and discharge them over the beaches of Normandy.
The Army had one other great tool for bringing supplies across the beach. In the days before the LST was available, the only method of getting trucks ashore across the beach was to winch them over the side of a transport into an LCM. Someone at GM had the bright idea of doing away with the LCM part, and making the truck amphibious. That way, the truck could swim ashore, then drive inland to the supply dumps. The result was basically a boat hull grafted onto a 2-1/2 ton truck, known as the DUKW, and commonly called a “duck.” Thousands of DUKWs, almost all manned by African American soldiers, brought wave after wave of critical supplies ashore across the beaches of Normandy and at other beaches the Army invaded. Unlike most landing craft, these were bought by, and operated by the Army, not the Navy.
Finally, in the Pacific, when you speak of amphibious warfare, again, you rightly think of the Marines. But in fact, the Army had a huge presence there as well. Indeed, it was always a larger prescence than the Marines. The Army made over 100 amphibious assualts in the Pacific theater, many in the Southwest Pacific in and around New Guinea. In conjunction with the US Seventh Fleet, MacArthur’s forces in the Southwest Pacific became masters at the art of amphibious warfare, striking where the Japanese least expected them, and routinely conducting sweeping flanking movements that left Japanese garrisons cut off and useless. Dan Barbey, the Commander of 7th Fleet became known as “Uncle Dan The Amphibious Man.” All this with a fleet mostly composed of tiny LCTs, a few LSTs and LCIs.
The Army also fought alongside the Marine Corps in some of their most storied battles, such as the invasions of Saipan and Okinawa. Indeed, if the atomic bomb attacks had not lead to the early surrender of Japan, the invasion of the home islands would have been mostly an Army affair. Largely as a result of the Army’s preocupation with the European theater, these magnificent efforts have received little attention from the public at large.
After WWII, the Army’s focus again turned to Europe and the Cold War. For several reasons, including the vulnerability of shipping to nuclear weapons, amphibious operations fell out of favor with the Army. The Marines of course, continued to maintain that unique capabilty. Currently, the Army has no capability to conduct a landing against opposition. Current doctrine does still provide for limited ability to sustain forces by what is known as LOTS or “Logistics Over The Shore” and for the rapid deployment of troop units to hot spots via Afloat Prepositioning Squadrons. Basically, sets of unit equipment are mainained aboard large ships just days sailing from their possible objectives. If needed, they can sail to a friendly port or harbor, and unload their cargoes to meet up with troops flown in by either commercial aircraft or military transport planes. Alternatively, they can serve as a follow-on force to reinforce a beach seized by Marine amphibious assault.
There’s a major, major difference between the Marine EFSS and the Army’s own 120mm smoothbore mortar systems. And it’s not really so much the guns themselves. It’s the organization of fire support assets.
A Marine Division has three infantry regiments, and an artillery regiment. The Marines have elected to replace their light 105mm howitzers in the artillery regiment with the EFSS. That means the division’s artillery will lose significant range, but will also gain a much greater ability to land early via vertical envelopment using the MV-22 Osprey, and that the small size and light weight of the EFSS will allow battalions and batteries of fire support to move quickly right behind the supported infantry regiments and battalions. It is a fairly bold shift, but the Marines probably know better than I what their fire support requirements are. One other major impetus for shifting to EFSS is that space on amphibious shipping for artillery is incredibly tight. EFSS has a very small footprint, which makes finding space for it much easier. Or rather, not taking up as much space as a conventional 105mm artillery battery frees up space for other vehicles and equipment the Marines really want to bring along, but previously had no footprint for.
The Army, by contrast, doesn’t have the same shipping and footprint constraints. Further, the Marines have, historically, only operated in division or larger sized formations since World War II. The Army, by contrast, has always had (at least theoretically) the ability to field corps and field armies. And each of those formations had their own artillery to reinforce the fires of divisional artillery. For instance, today, each Brigade Combat Team has its own Field Artillery Battalion, to support its maneuver battalions. The division headquarters controlling the BCT might well have a Fires Brigade attached to effectively double the artillery available. In the Marines, there simply isn’t any artillery above the division level.
In the Army, 120mm mortars belong to the infantry and combined arms* battalion commander, in the form of a mortar platoon organic to each battalion. That is, they are not an artillery weapon, but an infantry weapon, one of many supporting weapons organic to the maneuver unit.
Both the Army and the Marines have smaller mortars, 60mm and 81mm, that are infantry weapons, belonging to the rifle company or the infantry battalion, though how they are distributed differs in detail, if not in effect.
*Combined Arms Battalions are the maneuver battalions of Armored Brigade Combat Teams, and consist of a battalion with two tank companies, and two Bradley mechanized infantry companies.
“In an interview conducted with the CIA, then-Capt. Golsteyn claimed to have captured and shot and buried a suspected IED bomb maker,” the ArmyTimes said Thursday, citing a newly surfaced Army document. “He further went (on) to comment that he went back out with two others to cremate the body and dispose of the remains.”
The publication reported that the secret document was first published Wednesday by The Intercept website.
The internal Sept. 29, 2014, information paper says an investigation by Army criminal investigators determined Golsteyn “committed the offenses of murder and conspiracy based on the interview provided by the CIA,” the Washington Post said.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division conducted an investigation, but was unable to discern any corroborating evidence, such as witnesses or a burial site. Absent that, no criminal proceedings were viable.
If what the internal Army memo says is true (and at this point, we really only have the CIA’s word for it that then CPT Golsteyn made such statements), that would certainly be cause for both the revocation of the award, and the separation board Golsteyn faces next week.
Today marks another significant centennial of the Great War. (Yesterday marked the centenary of beginning of the Armenian Genocide.) The ANZAC landings at Gallipoli took place on 25 April 1915. It is a very special ANZAC Day. From last year:
Today is the 25th of April. It is ANZAC Day, commemorating the 99th anniversary of the landings of 31,000 men of The Australian Division, and the Australian-New Zealand Division (reinforced with two batteries of mountain guns) on the crescent-shaped portion of beach known as Ari Burnu, forever after known as Anzac Cove.
The ANZAC landing began before dawn on 25 April 1915, and was initially unopposed, By mid-morning, however, Turkish troops under LtCol Mustapha Kemal had reacted strongly and taken the landing beaches and the precariously shallow Dominion positions under rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire. Unable to move forward, and hanging onto hillside rocks and scrapes, ANZAC Commander MajGen Sir William Birdwood asked to have the beach-head evacuated.
The Royal Navy argued that such an evacuation, particularly under fire, was impractical. So Birdwood was ordered to stay, with the advice given by General Sir Ian Hamilton to “dig, dig, dig!”. It is from this message, many conclude, that the ANZACs became known as the “diggers”. Despite herculean efforts and near-suicidal courage, including the tragically costly landings at Sulva Bay in August of 1915, the stalemate was never broken. Unable to advance, with no evacuation possible, the ANZACs remained locked in their initial positions, enduring conditions even more horrendous than those on the Western Front, until finally pulled out as a part of the general evacuation of the Gallipoli Operation in December of 1915.
ANZAC Day has become a day of remembrance for all Australian and New Zealand war dead, but remains especially poignant for the nearly 13,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who gave their lives in the foothills of the Bari Sair Mountains, in the eight months of hell on Earth that was Anzac Cove.
When armor is struck by a projectile, the kinetic energy is transferred through it. Depending on the type of projectile, that can cause armor on the far side of the impact to detach and turn into projectiles on the protected side. In fact, during the 1950s, a type of projectile called HESH was designed and fielded to exploit this possibility. HESH was a High Explosive Squash Warhead. Basically a lump of plastic explosive would flatten out on armor then explode. It was never intended to actually penetrate the armor, but instead generate a lot of spall on the inside.
Fortunately, there’s a relatively simple way to counter spall, called, amazingly enough, a spall liner. A prime example is on the M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicle. Bolted to the inside of the hull’s armor is about a half inch thick layer of Kevlar sheeting. Kevlar has only modest capability against HEAT rounds and kinetic penetrators, but it is more than sufficient to stop spall (which both HEAT rounds and kinetic penetrators also generate). A Bradley might suffer badly from a hit, but minimizing the spall tends to make the crew much more likely to survive.
This film is from circa 1965. Even in 1990, the Vulcan/Chaparral/FAAR team formed the backbone of the armored/mechanized infantry division’s Air Defense Artillery battalion, though by that time, there were also several FIM-92 Stinger missile teams available.
Some of the platoon and company life fire gunnery ranges at Graf in Germany were especially fun when, as a dismount grunt, I could stand right next to an M163 Vulcan, and watch it dispatch bursts at targets.
By 1990, both systems were clearly obsolete, and would be hard pressed to successfully engage most any Soviet aircraft, and even struggle with helicopters such as the formidable Mi-24. The Vulcan had been slated to be replaced by the M247 SGT York 40mm gun* but the failure of that program meant the Vulcan and the Chapparal eventually were both replaced by the Stinger missile, and a lot of hope that Stinger would be enough.
*Which, the Vulcan itself replaced the earlier M42 40mm gun carriage, popularly known as the “Duster.”
Or, as this Administration would couch it, this is either another tragic college campus shooting that highlights the need for stricter gun laws, or just some folks shooting at other folks, in which no one religion is responsible. NBC News has the story.
Al Shabab, an al Qaeda-linked terror group based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack. Sheik Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, said many Christians were being held by the militants. “We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” he told Reuters.
Witnesses corroborated the Al-Shabab claims:
When the gunmen arrived at his dorm he could hear them opening doors and asking if the people who had hidden inside whether they were Muslims or Christians. “If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” Wetangula told The Associated Press. “With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”
Prayers for the lives of the Christians who are hostages to these muhammedan monsters. And for the souls who died because of their faith. It is likely too late to pray that our Islamist sympathizer of a Chief Executive would have a pang of conscience about the massacres perpetrated by the radical Islamists whom he refuses to name as America’s enemies. Reverend Wright got his wish. God did damn America, with lazy, media-brainwashed voters who twice elected the empty-suit charlatan whose “hope and change” has eroded liberty, alienated our allies, and emboldened our enemies.
By all means, however, let’s avoid calling these filthy animals what they are. Let’s instead make a deal with Iran to facilitate their nuclear weapons efforts. Understanding that some things are not negotiable.
Seventy years ago today was an Easter Sunday. On 1 April 1945, elements of the United States 10th Army, under General Simon B. Buckner, landed on the island of Okinawa. The landings were almost unopposed, but the 110,000 Japanese defenders soon resisted with the savagery and skill familiar to every US combat leader in the Pacific. Half a million US troops would come ashore in Operation ICEBERG, beginning 82 days of brutal, unrelenting combat for the island. When the battle was finished, General Buckner and one other US General were dead, along with nearly 100,000 of the island’s defenders, and 13,000 US soldiers, sailors, and Marines. (Near the end of the battle, US Marine MajGen Roy Geiger would temporarily command US 10th Army after the death of General Buckner, until Joe Stillwell’s arrival.)
The Japanese had fought furiously, employing in massive waves the kamikaze tactics against the invasion fleet that were first revealed off Leyte. Among the US killed were 4,900 sailors, as the US Navy lost 36 ships sunk and 368 damaged by the suicide onslaught. One in three Japanese civilians were killed or committed suicide in the fighting, nearly 150,000 in total. The battle, which ended with the island being declared secure on 22 June, was a terrifying harbinger of what the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands would be.
The “Saipan ratio” used to compute casualty estimates for the invasion of Japan, was proven a dramatic underestimation by US casualties on Okinawa, which were almost four times the earlier calculations. In addition, Allied intelligence of Japanese air strength on Formosa (within range to help defend Okinawa) had pegged the number of operational aircraft at under one hundred. There was, in fact, eight times that figure, as the US and British Naval forces would discover to their dismay. Okinawa (and Iwo Jima) weighed heavily in the decision to employ atomic weapons against Japan as an alternative to invasion. With what occupation forces found on the Home Islands, the men destined for the invasions Honshu and Kyushu likely breathed a great collective sigh of relief.