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Marine Corps Shedding Old Equipment to Pay for New Technology

A U.S. Marine with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 performs maintenance on a F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) on June 22, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — To make modernizing its equipment affordable, the Marine Corps is weeding out old technology that’s either too expensive to run or hasn’t kept pace with advances made by near-peer adversaries, service officials said on Wednesday.

In the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, the Marine Corps focused on plugging capability holes created by decreased funding in several previous budget cycles and the FY 2020 budget is geared toward improving lethality, Brig. Gen. James Adams, said at the NDIA Expeditionary Warfare Conference. As for the budgets in FY 2021 and beyond, Adams said they would be all about modernizing the Marine Corps.

The challenge is finding money in the budget to afford modernization. The current budget is what Adams called the high-water mark for funding, and future budgets will not be larger.

“It’s only going to get the same or less, in my opinion, down the road,” Adams said. “So in order to modernize we have to divest.”

The Marine Corps developed a Requirements Oversight Council to weigh what to fund and what to cut. Divesting might be caused by new technology making older equipment obsolete, or the long-term maintenance cost of a program does not improve lethality.

“Now we’re focusing more heavily on the cyber and space domains,” Adams said. “That feeds into our divestment discussions all the time.”

During the FY 2019 budget process, the Marine Corps identified more than $567 million in savings, in part by identifying programs to either reduce or phase out entirely. These savings were part of an effort reforming how the Marine Corps buys equipment, which has saved about $3.6 billion, Gen. Robert Neller, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, said in March when appearing before the House Appropriations Committee.

One example is the Marine’s decision to cancel the survivability upgrade for the service’s legacy AAV-7 amphibious landing craft in favor of the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle.

Another example of divesting, Adams said, is how the Marine Corps is replacing its fleet of EA-6B Prowlers and the F-18 Hornets with the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The Marine Corps loses some of its electronic jamming capability by divesting its Prowlers, but Adams said the Corps could lean on the Navy’s fleet of EA-18G Growlers to complement more directed electronic jamming equipment mounted on land vehicles or even carried by Marines.

Instead, the Marine Corps is developing better means of defeating small unmanned aerial vehicles, such as quadcopters. These vehicles are hard to detect with traditional radar, relatively cheap to deploy, and used by the full spectrum of forces from extremist organizations to near-peer adversaries. The Marine Corps is developing improved lasers to track and fry the small vehicles and electronic countermeasures to disrupt the signals sent from operators, Adams said.

“It’s easy to say I need this new thing or that new thing, but no one ever comes to the table with an offset. No one ever comes to the issue team and says, ‘I need this, and I’m going to trade that,’” Adams said.
“But we have to figure out where the trades our if we’re going to modernize and accelerate.”

  • RunningBear

    “is replacing its fleet of EA-6B ..and the F-18 .. with the
    F-35B … The Marine Corps loses some of its electronic jamming capability by divesting its Prowlers,..” I suspect the EA/EW suite of the “Bee” may be able to offset the lost capabilities of the Prowler.
    IMHO
    Fly Navy
    🙂

    • Centaurus

      Prowler, Growler, Rumbler, Bumbler…Do they really expect to hang any ECM on a model of the F-35 ? Stealth ECM ? Eventually this problem will rear its ugly head and have to be dealt with. How can the Marines, Navy or anybody hope to evolve the EW suite in a world of “low observables” ?
      Stop using the electromagnetic spectrum ? A BIG hoot to that !

      • RunningBear

        ” How can the Marines, Navy or anybody hope to evolve the EW suite in a world of “low observables” ? Stop using the electromagnetic spectrum ?”

        Yes and no, Stealth is “one” of the capabilities of F-35, it really is like a Swiss-army knife. Getting to the offending emitter may be the job of the stealth a/c and the detection and localization will be performed passively by the Barracuda AN/ASQ-239 system by BAE. No doubt!, when the jamming comes on the localization of the F-35 becomes rather obvious. But!, the power behind the jamming and the EA/EW will minimize the jamming time with the F-135 generator power and even possibly the AN/APG-81 AESA radar as an emitter. The ability to disappear after the event from the electronic spectrum will not be an option that other a/c will have.

        OTH, they may chose to launch one or two 10″dia. AARGM at 60mi.!

        IMHO
        Fly Navy!
        🙂

      • delta9991

        The Marines do not intend to abandon EM. The F-35s onboard systems are, for the moment, mainly tailored to counter threats to the aircraft and accompanying aircraft. From what I can infer from various public reads, this is higher frequency like x-band engagement radars (F-35s hiding F-16s from op-for aircraft, jamming threat radars during mission, etc) The marines are evolving an entire family of systems, from drones to manned vehicles and equipment to dominate the spectrum. The Marines aren’t surrendering it, it’s just migrating from a small collection of assets to a much more distributed and survivable group

        • Centaurus

          Well thats just peachy. More money to the slathering mouths of RAYCO, Boing,
          Locksneed Marfin, BAE and our sacred trust of sub-contractors to dingle-dong a solution to what will be a different dog-and-pony show

          • David Oldham

            I guess you believe slurring the names of those companies fortifies your argument…. Where or where do they hatch such genius.

          • Centaurus

            Well, well. And what would you care if someone openly “slurs” the names of contractors that eagerly suck-up to the DOD to provide equip. that is usually not-on-time and over-budget, yet eagerly swarm the airwaves with promotional advert. promising the taxpayer “the future”. BTW, what was my argument ? I had made a statement, Mr Oldham. Questions ? Never mind…

  • Desplanes

    Phasing out the Prowler before FY20 was planned years ago. Nothing new.

  • Matthew Schilling

    Quantity is its own quality. We didn’t win WWII with quality overmatch.

    • vetww2

      Our European tactics, especially the D-day decaption and Patton’s auto supply system, out did Guderian’s Blitzkreig and even von Runshedt’s Battle of the Bulge.
      Our Pacific Halsey’s Bunch up and Thatch’s Weane, are emblematic of our superior tactical maneuvers.

  • Matthew Schilling

    We overwhelmed our enemies with our industrial might, and let’s just pretend like the Mark 14 torpedo never happened, that’ll be fun!
    Much of our quality equipment and gear evolved during several years of war. Thankfully, CONUS went largely unscathed, so we had astounding reserves of industrial might available to us. We cannot count on that next time – first, our industrial capacity has been hollowed out by obtuse globalists, and second, what we do have will more likely be targeted.
    Since I didn’t wrap quantity is its own quality in quotes, I obviously didn’t misquote anything. I alluded to the famous saying. Take a moment to look up “allusion”. I’ll wait.

  • George Hollingsworth

    Yea, just think the 1,000 plane B-17 raids in WWII could have been replaced by one F-35B. It’s stealthy you know, at least this month with the bomb carried internally. Sometimes.

    • vetww2

      Silly. One .30 cal. Machine gun could have replaced the whole Continental army, with the Red Coats walking in straight lines.

      • Secundius

        And the Entire British Navy in the 18th Century could have be Easily Sunk by a single “Liberty” class Freighter…

        • Ed L

          I was thinking more along the lines of the Gatling gun and a scope rifle. Like the Time Machine question. If you had one were in time would you go back too? Kill Hilter? Stalin? How about Karl Marx or Lincoln? Or going back to 2000 years and unified the tribes of the Americas to kill any intruders onto the shores or islands

          • Secundius

            In 1792, the Royal Navy had some 661 Ships with ~14,000 Cannons. While the Russian Navy had ~800 ship, they had far fewer Cannons at ~9,000. I suspect that not even a Gatling Cannon could overwhelm 661-ships without Melting the Barrels…

          • vetww2

            OK, !10, then.

          • vetww2

            OR CHRIST or MOSES or MPHAMMED or,,,,,,,
            GOOFY

  • Ed L

    The Army has successfully fired a 155mm artillery round 62 kilometers (38.5 miles) modified M777A2 mobile howitzer. The new ERCA weapon is designed to hit ranges greater than 70km (43.5 miles),

    • vetww2

      Can it be adapted for Navy ships? Is it a guided round?

      • Secundius

        Already has! By the Germans! Known as the MONARC “MOdular Naval ARtillery Concept” (i.e. PzH.2000), which uses a M776 Gun Tube that Full Chrome Lined. And was Tested on the F220, FGS Hamburg German Frigate in 2003…

        ( http : // navweaps . com / Weapons / WNGER _ 61 – 52 _ MONARC . php )

        • Ed L

          Sounds like it’s tailor made for the Zumwalt Class Cruisers

          • Secundius

            It’s being considered! But as to when, is anyone guess…

          • Ed L

            Wonder if it could be done with the Naval 5 inch.

          • Secundius

            At the present time Full Chrome Bore Barrels are only available in 45mm, 76.2mm and 155mm sizes…

  • A Traveler

    The problem with “quality” in the context of the best, most advanced, most effective, technology is that it costs, and costs exorbitantly! The US military has a habit of ordering up only the best, and then experiencing the inevitable cost overruns, inablity to schedule upkeep and upgrades when required because operational commitments must be met, and ending up with deployable forces with untrained, overfatigued crews rotating through active deteriorating ships stretched way too thin (and not particularly interested in re-enlisting when their hitch is up), chasing too many operational requirements. You can have a 700-ship navy capable of the global coverage the national command authority expects and advertises, OR you can have a 300 or 400-ship navy with better everything, but simply not enough of it OR, you can find some optimal mix that delivers numbers as well as acceptable, if not uniformly cutting-edge, levels of lethality. Does deploying a crew on the last generation platform place them unnecessarily in harm’s way? No more so than deploying them on too few platforms over way too much ocean.

  • David Oldham

    Nice revisionist history. The reality was that is was combined arms and superior support systems that overwhelmed the axis. Carriers and submarines went no where without oilers and didn’t deliver a single weapon without transports. In fact superior weapons are the biggest, fastest and whatever.

    • vetww2

      Small addition. SUPERIOR TACTICS. Example the “Thatch Weave” which accounted for many Zero shoot downs despite inferior maneuvering ability, The reasons for victory are beyond the discussion we have here.

      • Secundius

        As I recall, Two Douglas A1D’s using the “Thatch Weave” shot down a North Vietnamese MiG-17 in 1967…

        • vetww2

          CORRECT.

  • Secundius

    Not exactly “Shedding Off” by the US Military, but rather “Buying Back” by the US Congress. To be either Boneyard’d or Transferred to Other “Allied” or “Alined” Friendly Countries…

  • tiger

    No, there is option 2. Make nice with the World. Have dipĺomats and a POTUS solve issuses by talk over bombs and blood.

    • vetww2

      Notwithstanding his odiousness and egomania, it seems to me that President Trump is doing precisely, THAT.

  • vetww2

    START with the V-22 and save 80 megabucks a copy. Sell them to the army,,,, or Russia.

  • vetww2

    GOOD post, but as a WW2 (M-26) tanker, I think that the M-4 comment is incorrect. The advantages we had were quantity and tactics,

    • Secundius

      The Germans called the Sherman the “Anvil”, because of Sturdiness and Ease in Maintenance. Of the ~320 T26E3’s sent to Europe in 1945. Only 20 saw actual combat, the rest were held at Antwerp…

      • Larry Patty

        The British called the Sherman the Ronson (as in cigarette lighter) for it’s disturbing tendency to burn when hit by a German shell. The Sherman had a great drive train but it ran on gasoline. It also had very little armor compared to it’s contemporaries. The 75 mm short barreled cannon most Sherman’s were equipped with made it useless against most enemy tanks except from behind. And the Tiger was not it’s main German rival. The Mark iv panzer was the most common German tank and the models the Germans fielded by the time the U.S. hit European shores, while weighed down, had a superior main gun and was easily able to destroy a Sherman at a distance the Sherman could not hope to match. The Panther with it’s 75 mm long gun also easily outgunned the Sherman. We defeated the German tanks because we could replace the tanks and crews at a far higher rate than they could.

        • Secundius

          The Mk.IV’s mounted either a 50mm Anti-Tank Gun or a 75mm Howitzer. Very few Sherman’s with 75mm guns ever engaged Tiger Tanks in Combat. And those Sherman’s that did, were mounted either with the British “Firefly” or the American 76.2mm. And unlike the Movie “Fury”, very few Tiger’s would even try to engage a Easy Eight or Jumbo. Unless they had the Clear Advantage of a First Kill Shot…

          • vetww2

            Agree. BUT, did you know that the torsion bar suspension (critical for rough terrain) on both the German and Russian tanks, was designed by an American naval architect, Walter J. Christie, and rejected by our Army in 1933? Col. Patton was the sole vote in favor after he drove the Pilot model. Christie was allowed to sell the use of the patent, to the Russians and the Germans as a farm tractor suspension.

          • Larry Patty

            It was the mk iii that mounted the 50 mm gun. The mk iv mounted either the short 75 mm howitzer or later the 75 mm long gun. The version that was ,manufactured from 1944 on could easily knock out a Sherman beyond the Sherman’s effective range.

        • vetww2

          Pretty good, but a bit of correction.
          We had many 76 mm HVAP equipped M-4s. Not as bood as the 88s that some of the Panzers had, but we had much better Sperry stabilized gunsights, an item not always cited. I never saw combat, but was at Ft, Knox when the first 90 mm equipped M-26 and and the 76mm M-24s were delnvered there.

          • Larry Patty

            Yes, but by the time both the Pershing and the upgunned Sherman arrived in the ETO in significant numbers the Germans were on their last legs. The British had already fielded an upgunned version of the Sherman called the Firefly. Both the Pershing and the late model Sherman were good enough to see action in Korea.

          • vetww2

            One item that I remember being a terrific Panzer killer, was the
            M-10 anti-tank vehicle with 105 or 155mm rifles. Outranged the 88 by 4 miles and had a High Velocity Armor Piercing (HVAP) in open mount (no Turret)

      • vetww2

        MAN, you are great. The M-26 was never really tested in combat, but it had automatic transmission, torsion bar suspension and preset turret positioning. It was a snap to drive (ask any M-4 driver) without a 5 speed crash (double clutch) gearbox and a slow turret. It did need a sight for the “BOG”.

        • Secundius

          I thought the T26 used a Clutch Less “Electric Shift” transmission developed by Chrysler in 1936…

          • vetww2

            Mine had Hydromatic, by GM.I don’t remember what the M-24 had. The M-8 and M-20 Armored cars had 5 speed, first to second synchronised, box, as I remember.

  • Larry Patty

    We defeated the Germans in the air for one main reason. They kept their pilots in combat until they died. We would rotate pilots home for rest and use them to train new pilots.The P-51 was a mediocre fighter until someone got the bright idea of putting a Rolls Royce Merlin engine in place of the Allison engine originally used. Adding drop fuel tanks meant our fighters could stay with the bombers the entire time they were in combat.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    This seems rather odd to me…

    “The Marine Corps loses some of its electronic jamming capability by
    divesting its Prowlers, but Adams said the Corps could lean on the
    Navy’s fleet of EA-18G Growlers to complement more directed electronic
    jamming equipment mounted on land vehicles or even carried by Marines.”

    For starters, unless I’m very wrong, they are losing ALL of their jamming capability. Vehicle and/or personnel-carried jammers won’t protect AIRCRAFT, especially id those planes have to travel considerable distances to perform their missions. I realize money is tight but I never understood why the Marines didn’t acquire at least SOME Growlers to replace the Prowlers with?

    • Secundius

      Couple of years ago there were plans to Centerline an AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR pod and Wing Mount a pair of AGM-154 JSOW-A’s. And use them as a Naval/USMC “Wild Weasel’s”. Maybe they’ve decided to resurrect the idea, possibly with other Missiles/Stand-Off Weapons…

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Well, maybe. I don’t know anything about that. But ‘Wild Weasel-ing’ and jammimg are two different things. However, the Growlers are equipped to carry HARM missiles for destroying radars.

        • Secundius

          Wild Weasel took place in 1967, and the Smallest Tactical Jamming Aircrafts at the time were either the Douglass EA-3 “Skywarrior” or the Douglass EB-66 “Destroyer” and Republic F-105 “Thunderchief” carried out the Actual Attacks. Condensing two to do the job by one. With the Hype associated with the S-400, wouldn’t it be prudent to have a known aircraft (i.e. Growler) that can effectively counter the S-300 and still be sufficiently armed to deal with the S-400 as well…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            The Growler can be armed with a variety of munitions, both for air-to-air and for ground attack applications. Their guns have been removed. But again, with so few of them, and the demands that will be placed on them, being able to have the Growlers pull off BOTH jamming and WW missions might be a stretch. But, both the Air Force and the Navy (and by extension the Marines) use a variety of planes for their WW missions. They appear to have got away from developing dedicated aircraft for that.

          • Secundius

            Personally I think the US Navy should integrate Two “Growlers” into each “Super Hornet” Squadron. This gives the Growler crews familiarization of the Super Hornet squadron and the Super Hornet squadron two dedicated Growlers on demand, without pulling them off Stand By Missions…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            To me, that sounds like a pretty good idea. However, this article is about the Marines and what they have been doing with some of their aviation units. But I still don’t understand why they didn’t acquire some number of Growlers for their needs. Integrating them with their Hornet fighter/attack squadrons would make good sense as well.

          • Secundius

            I suspect that was a Political Move by the either the US Congress or the Secretary of the Navy…

            ( https : // www . marine corps times . com / opinion / 2017 / 04 / 10 / opinion/ – no – reprieve – for – the – vmaq / )

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Yep..