via USNI News
The Marine Corps intends to add improved sensors and precision-strike capability to its entire KC-130J Super Hercules tanker/transport plane and MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor fleets, applying the “Harvest Hawk” concept to make both aircraft more multi-mission, the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation told USNI News this week.I'm not a fan, but I'm trying to give him (Davis) the benefit of the doubt on this one but I keep coming up blank.
Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said the Marines’ next aviation plan would include upgrading all 79 C-130Js into Harvest Hawk-capable platforms. The Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) includes both modifications to the plane – the installation of a new MX-20 sensor ball with a laser designator on the nose of the plane, and the Intrepid Tiger electronic warfare pod – as well as a supply of Hellfire, Griffin and Viper Strike missiles for precision strike. The Intrepid Tiger pod is already installed on the AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18 Hornets, and the Marine Corps intends to put the pod on the C-130Js, V-22s and H-1 attack helicopters. Davis said the pod is a “great capability, gives us a jamming capability, an electronic warfare capability for not only [self]-protection but more importantly that people on the ground can manipulate and operate. It’s open architecture so they can control the weapon system from the ground.”
Davis said 10 C-130Js had already been modified with the initial Harvest Hawk kit and would receive the upgraded sensor ball, and the rest of the fleet would go through the full Harvest Hawk modifications under the Marines’ next aviation plan, which is being developed now.
The aviation plan will also outline what Davis called an “Osprey Hawk,” which would provide the same improved sensor ball with laser designator, jamming pod and laser-guided munitions, as well as the V-22 Air Refueling System (VARS) to allow the Osprey to refuel other aircraft in the air.
Davis said the strike capability will be important for the V-22, which is in high-demand and being used in ways its current configuration is not optimized for.
“We have a weapon system called Switchblade, which is a gravity-drop system (with laser-designation guidance), and guys were throwing that out of the back of the V-22 and get a precision hit on a target out there from a V-22,” he said of a previous demonstration. “So if I’ve got a sensor ball with a laser designator, I can throw something like a Switchblade out the back. Right now we have a belly gun, I think the belly gun is relatively ineffective for what we’re trying to do, but you could put a laser rocket like the APKWS (Advanced Precision-Kill Weapon System) on the V-22, or a precision-drop weapon, gravity drop weapon like a … Viper Strike.”
Follow the bouncing ball guys.
The USMC has the F-35, F-18, AV-8B, AH-1Z, and UH-1Y that are all weaponized...hell their main mission is to put steel on target except for the UH-1Y and it can even be argued that light attack is really why we have it.
So considering all the dedicated strike aircraft that we have, why do we need to start strapping weapons onto the few dedicated logistics/troop transport airplanes that we possess in order to carry out strike missions?
We keep hearing that the MV-22 is a high demand airplane but why? If its in such high demand as is then why in God's name would we want to add more tasks to its "to do" list? The same thing can be said of the KC-130. Outside of the nightmare that was Afghanistan why would we want to take a dedicated tanker/transport and turn it into a part time gunship (and don't be confused...this isn't close to being a gunship in the vein of the AC-130)?
I don't quite get this...hopefully Davis will flesh out his thinking without more of the buzz words and a bit more facts.