After eight years of the Obama administration’s vow to weaken America on the world stage, we are repairing and replacing antiquated aircraft, for which replacement parts were no longer available — and developing longer range, more accurate weapons-delivery systems and missile defense shields. President Trump has also announced the inauguration of a new military branch — the U.S. Space Force — to prepare us for satellite-based warfare, and even farther into the future, interplanetary combat.
If this sounds very Star Wars — it isn’t. Other countries have begun similar efforts and may even be more advanced than we are — although we hope America’s newest exploits will remain closely guarded secrets.
Back to Earth….
Speaking at the January 2019 Surface Naval Association symposium, the Navy’s Director of Surface Warfare, Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, reported the draft of their new Surface Combatant Capability Evolution Plan (SC CEP) — to insert the newest technologies — including tactical submarine, 5th generation aviation and amphibious ship plans — to achieve “cross-domain inter-operability.” The Navy and Marine Corps shift in strategic focus is based on intelligence and enemy nations’ activities.
Adm. Boxall’s announcement is as much a new mindset as a plan — at “the big (surface combatant) level, the smaller level and the unmanned level… incorporating underlying military systems into new ship designs — creating lethal and survivable ships; and getting [our armed forces, multiple resource sponsors and researchers] all on the same page.”
Boxall seeks “a more tangible blueprint…to drive not how much money do you have, so here’s what you get to go buy, but the other way around… say hey this is what we need to do by this time, and if we don’t, here’s the risk, because we modeled it and we know.”
Marine Corps. Major General David Coffman, Director of Naval Expeditionary Warfare, spoke of “an ongoing challenge in readiness, given the threats to our amphibious forces.” Coffman and other strategists are creating new approaches; launching “more dispersed, dis-aggregated yet networked assault [capabilities], using smaller unmanned vessels to perform reconnaissance, countermine and attack missions.”
The aim is to reduce our vulnerability to enemy fire and to better identify key targets across wider geographic areas. “Upgrades will come to combat ships in many classes [and new ship design] with a focus on command, control, communications, computers, cyber-aspects and intelligence…in lockstep with Adm. Boxall’s plan.”
The entire conceptual shift has an increased “sea-based” focus, with smaller multi-mission vessels, fortified by larger ‘amphibs,’ operating at larger, safer, distances Coffman also envisions the larger ships will operate as “seaports, hospitals, logistics warehouses and sea-bases for maneuver forces.”
Going from macro to micro, Gen. Coffman described the Marine Corps’ new amphibious combat vehicle designed for ‘deep strike’ attacks, preparing for long-range high-intensity land-attack missions and “total destruction” emerging from amphibious assault.
By 2021, BAE-built Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACVs) will massively expand U.S. military capabilities beyond the current Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs), for extended penetration on land after an initial beachhead is broached.
The new 30-ton ACV with 700 horsepower ocean water-cooled engines are much more powerful than traditional AAV’s (400hp conventional engine) power, which will enable ACVs to travel 365 total miles — e.g., about 13 miles through water, from carrier ship to shore, at about six knots, and then up to 60 mph for hundreds of miles on land.
Using advanced automotive technology, the U.S. Marine Corps move is from tracked AAVs to 8×8 wheeled ACVs, engineered for greater land speed, maneuverability and survival. The new transports’ v-shaped hulls will increase combat durability, according BAE Systems; and won’t require torsion bars. They will have digital driver’s instrument panels and will be armed with .50-calibre machine guns. The USMC can order them with unmanned turrets, 30mm guns, and jammers in complex radio suite to block enemy radio transmissions.
The new ACVs will launch from big-deck amphibs, called LHAs, and from Amphibious Transport Docks, called LPDs – emphasizing ship-to-shore water-launched combat vehicles Other amphibs are being built with an aviation emphasis, to utilize air-launched support.
Although America’s global military focus shift may still be in draft stages, we know they will move ahead rapidly — and we trust the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines and Merchant Marine’s integrated efforts will deliver more advanced weapons capabilities in short order. Let China, North Korea, Russia and others display their missiles in parades to impress cheering crowds — what counts is America’s true military might should it be tested on multiple fronts.