Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pic of the day. Israeli Armored Reconnaissance

A fighter from the Armored Brigade's Reconnaissance Unit levels the way for the following tanks during an exercise of the Armored Brigade's Headquarters.

Africa's the new hotspot. 26th MEU trains for its deployment.

Photos by Lance Cpl. Adwin Esters

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 Marines, from 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, fire M40 sniper rifles at 1,000-yard targets during a training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2012. The training was a part of their pre-deployment exercises preparing the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Africa.

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 Marines, from 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, fire M40 sniper rifles at 1,000-yard targets during a training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2012. The training was a part of their pre-deployment exercises preparing the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Africa.

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 Marines, from 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, fire M40 sniper rifles at 1,000-yard targets during a training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2012. The training was a part of their pre-deployment exercises preparing the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Africa.

A Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 Marine, from 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, fires M40 sniper rifles at 1,000-yard targets during a training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2012. The training was a part of their pre-deployment exercises preparing the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Africa.

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 Marines, from 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, fire M40 sniper rifles at 1,000-yard targets during a training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2012. The training was a part of their pre-deployment exercises preparing the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Africa.

Maj. John Brown, engineer officer, right, and Capt. Thomas Waller, a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 team leader, fire a M40 sniper rifle at 1,000-yard targets during a training exercise aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2012. The training was a part of their pre-deployment exercises preparing the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Africa.

NOTE*
They're not even hiding it anymore.  26th MEU is heading to Africa as part of its upcoming deployment.  It appears more and more like the secret war in the horn of Africa is becoming public.  My only question is why is it necessary for an MEU to provide support to SOCOM's operations?  They have a Division (-) of personnel in house.  

F-35s at NAS Patuxent River




General Dynamics Land Systems...the 500 pound gorilla in the Marine Personnel Carrier Contest.

US Army Stryker ICV
Piranha V, failed entrant in the UK FRES competition
Piranha III, in service world wide most notably with the Canadian Army, the Spanish Marine Corps and the Brazilian Marine Corps.

A 500 pound gorilla.

That's about the best description of General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) if they decide to jump with both feet into the Marine Personnel Carrier Contest.

THEY ARE NOT GIVING OUT ANY INFO!

Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.

I have written everyone I can think of in their outfit and they must hit delete without thinking about it.  BAE and Lockheed were cautious but were forthcoming with as much info as they thought reasonable.  It is after all a competition.

GDLS.  The info on what they're going to be presenting is password protected, and marked eyes only.  I have a feeling it has to do with the tremendous burn that they received from the British when it came to their FRES contest.  From the outside looking in they had a much better product than the ASCOD, yet were shot down in a weird cost shoot out (we keep coming back to that factor instead of the best vehicle winning).

With that being said I'll list a few bullet points on what will make GDLS a formidable opponent in this contest...even though I'm not quite sold on their offering in comparison to what BAE and Lockheed are putting forward.

1.  They could attempt to make the Stryker amphibious and push commonality with the US Army.  As a matter of fact if they can make the Stryker surf ready and keep many of the components the same then they're well on their way to winning....but...

2.  Number one in this depends on what the Army does with its M-113 replacement program and whether the Marine Corps will wait for them to decide.  If the Stryker wins that contest then the first option becomes even more attractive.

3.  Eyes will also be on the contest in Canada for a close combat vehicle.  GDLS was at one time going to enter the LAV-V with the Lancer turret in that contest.  If the Canadians get their act together and make that buy then the Marines could be tempted to go with that setup.  The LAV-V though has not been touted as an amphibious vehicle and I don't know if it swims or could be made to.  What I do know is that the Lancer turret is an outstanding looking piece of gear.  The Canadians will be running ballistics tests and the LAV-V supposedly is an uparmored variant of the LAV-III.

4.  The Piranha III is in service world wide with a number of forces.  The Marines on the east coast did a training evolution with the Spanish Marines (I believe it was the 24th MEU) and got an up close look at the beast.

5.  A major down fall of this vehicle is its troop carriage.  Its limited to a crew of 3+6.  Not competitive.

6.  If this does turn into a price war then GDLS should have it going away.  They already have manufacturing set up.  A supply chain already in place. NSN setup for ordering parts, etc...

To sum it up.

I have no idea what GDLS is going to do.

If they offer the Piranha III and if its compatible with the Stryker as far as drive train, components, parts etc...are concerned then they will win a price war.  All they'll really have to do is meet requirements.

We're in the unfortunate place of having the air wing gobbling up a tremendous part of the budget (not bitching, just pointing this out).  With the F-35, AH-1Z, UH-1Y, MV-22 and the CH-53K all gobbling up funds, it looks like the ground side is just going to have to gut it out.

A side note to all this is you can bet that the only reason why the JLTV is still alive in Marine Corps planning is because the US Army is basically subsidizing the buy.

But back to the Piranha.  I just can't put my finger on but I'm just not warm to this vehicle....


Note*
My buddy Grim tells me I might have flubbed the issues that GDLS has in the FRES competition. He's probably right. Between the European, US and Canadian divisions its hard to keep up with the vehicles, how they're designated and what competitions they're involved in and heck, even the vehicles designations are confusing.