In September 2006, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the United Arab Emirates official request High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (M142 HIMARS) as well as associated equipment that included GPS-guided missiles with a 300 km reach.
Subsequent years have seen that request fulfilled, and additional requests have been placed for rocket, missiles, and now a second set of HIMARS systems…
Tanks often decide battles, unless aircraft are around. Iraq had a lot of unfriendly visits by the USAF from 1991-2003, which left the largest armored force in the region looking to rebuild their armored corps from zero. Early donations and salvage fielded a small set of Soviet-era weapons, but after tangling with the Americans one too many times, the Iraqis knew what they really wanted. They wanted what their opponents had.
On July 31/08, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Iraq’s formal request to buy M1 Abrams tanks, well as the associated vehicles, equipment and services required to keep them in the field. The tanks will apparently be new-build, not transferred from American stocks. With this purchase, Iraq became the 4th M1 Abrams operator in the region, joining Egypt (M1A1s), Kuwait (M1A2), and Saudi Arabia (M1A2-SEP variant). A similar December 2008 request was confirmed to be additive, and deliveries have now finished on the initial order. So, what’s next?
Control of the air isn’t a cornerstone of Finland’s defense, as it is for a country like Australia. Instead, Finland needs to make its airspace dangerous enough to deny enemies full air dominance, while its difficult terrain and mobile land forces bleed any Russian invasion until it quits.
That thinking fed into Finland’s recent decision to upgrade its medium and long-range air defenses, Russian 9K37-M1 Buk (SA-11 ‘Gadfly’) intermediate range anti-aircraft missiles, and radars with NATO-compliant solutions. The move was Finland’s largest single defense purchase since it bought its current fighter fleet of over 60 F/A-18C/D Hornets. The next step is to replace some of its man-portable, short range missile systems.
In 2006, Britain started purchasing a trio of very different vehicles intended to helps their army patrols in high-threat areas. Their “Urgent Operational Requirement” orders were part of a general trend among Western militaries toward blast-resistant vehicles, in response to the widespread use of explosives by enemies in Iraq & Afghanistan. BAE was arguably the global leader in this area, but the beneficiary of Britain’s awakening was an American firm: Force Protection.
Britain originally chose Force Protection’s Cougar vehicles over BAE’s RG-33 family, and elected to continue that trend by adding the 4×4 “Ridgeback” patrol vehicles, 6×6 “Wolfhound” cargo variants, and now the modular 4×4 “Foxhound” light patrol vehicle. Specific figures weren’t given initially, and orders developed via ad-hoc additions rather than a long-term plan. Those figures emerged over time, along with field experience to back up the initial pros and cons of Britain’s modified Cougar design. Other urgent orders spread work to Navistar and Supacat. Now, many of these UOR buys are being folded back into the general force…
DID will cover WBR’s Defense Logistics conference on Dec. 3-5 in Alexandria, VA. The following entry gives a quick sense of the massive scale of US military logistics, for background context. It aims to provide orders of magnitude and key datapoints, rather than extremely precise and detailed data.
The US Department of Defense is well known as one of the largest organizations worldwide, with its sprawling physical footprint across the world and massive needs for storage, transportation, and distribution. How big of a logistics user and provider do they turn out to be? Let’s find out.
The U.S. Marine Corps sees the 120mm Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS) mortar as the 3rd leg of its expeditionary fire support triad. EFSS will be the short-range but easily transportable counterpart to the reduced-weight M777 155mm towed howitzer, and the truck-mounted M142 HIMARS rocket system.
Accompanying Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) in expeditionary operations, EFSS will be the heliborne Ship-To-Objective Maneuver (STOM) force’s primary fire support, before the larger and longer range systems can move into position. As such, the EFSS launcher, its Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) carrier, a portion of the basic load of ammunition, and a portion of its crew, must all be transportable by a single CH-53E Super Stallion or future CH-53K heavy lift helicopter, and/or a single MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The program’s path has not been smooth, and its vehicle choice in particular has come in for criticism, as it heads toward full-rate production.
In late November 2008, Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) announced its intention to combine 3 programs into one general set of upgrades to its armored vehicle fleets. The C$ 5 billion meta-program would include:
(1) “Close Combat Vehicles” that perform as tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles or Armored Personnel Carriers, alongside Canada’s new Leopard 2A6 tanks. Canada’s wheeled LAV-IIIs showed limitations in Afghanistan. Canada’s old M113 tracked APCs were a successful supplement, but the Canadians appear to be leaning toward a heavier vehicle for their future CCV. (2) A new “Tactical Armored Patrol Vehicle” that’s similar to the blast-resistant vehicle buys in other NATO countries. (3) LAV-UP upgrades to the existing LAV-III 8×8 wheeled APC fleet completed the set. July 2009 saw the roster expand to add (4) “FME”: dedicated Armored Engineering Vehicles based on the Leopard 2 tank, and engineering-related attachments for Canada’s new Leopard 2 tanks.
The “Close Combat Vehicle” appeared to be the most urgent purchase, but Canada’s procurement approach wasn’t structured to deliver urgency, and CCV has suffered the most from that failure. CCV is now the last unresolved contract, but all 4 sub-programs failed to deliver vehicles in time to help Canada in Afghanistan. Even so, all 4 programs continue to move forward.
It takes more than tanks to make up an armored division. Iraq’s purchases of M1 Abrams tanks has attracted a lot of attention, and SIGIR reports of a deal for M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicles were noteworthy. But Iraq’s DSCA export requests for its tanks also included a wide variety of other necessary accompaniments: tracked APCs, artillery, heavy transport trucks, and transport. Most were sold as “Excess Defense Articles”, and Iraq received additional equipment beyond those requests.
That equipment is necessary to round out Iraq’s armored formations, and make them a viable force. All of it has be checked out, refurbished as necessary, and then supported in the field. Other items, like M1135 Stryker vehicles for detecting weapons of mass destruction, occupy their own special niches. DID covers the associated requests, contracts, and developments.
Why are trucks a big deal? Because they are the unglamorous but very necessary backbone of any mobile military force. The US Marines certainly fit the description of a mobile force, and Oshkosh Defense supplies their MTVR medium trucks. In 2006, the Marines took the next step, and chose a winner to replace a worn-down Oshkosh LVS heavy truck fleet that has served since 1985.
Like their predecessors, these new “Logistic Vehicle System Replacement” (LVSR) heavy trucks will usually find themselves transporting heavy equipment, or basic supplies such as ammunition, fuel, and water. The LVSR winner was also an Oshkosh design.
The global trend toward mine-resistant patrol vehicles actually added India back in the late 1990s, when it began to buy used South African Casspir vehicles. India ended up buying 165 Casspirs from 1999-2001, and they have seen extensive use in Jammu and Kashmir. The Casspir can be thought of with some justification as “the original MRAP,” and still serves with a number of national armies (South Africa, Djibouti, India, Indonesia, Namibia, Peru) as well as with private firms like Mechem De-mining.
The Casspirs India bought began production in 1979-1980, however, and many have served for a long time now. Even refurbished vehicles won’t last forever, and India’s Maoist Naxalites have demonstrated both signs of both informal co-belligerency with Islamist terrorists, and signs of cooperation further up the supply chain. With bomb-making skills spreading globally, and IED land mines a growing choice around the world, might there be an opening for an Indian MRAP program? BAE Systems thought so, hence its DLSI joint venture with Mahindra.