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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps conducts mass air training mission – Defence Blog

Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG-24), a U.S. Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Air Facility Kaneohe Bay, conducts a mass air training mission.

Utilizing three separate flying platforms, MAG-24 successfully launched seven CH-53E Super Stallions, seven MV-22B Ospreys, and two UH-1Y Venoms, conducting the mass air mission to increase proficiency through integrated training to produce readiness and project power, a Marine Corps news release states.

Training events and combat operations aren’t much different. Both require a massive “behind-the-scenes” effort that includes command and control, maintenance, logistics and training.

The mass launch is not just for show, the majority of these aircraft go out and conduct tactical training after their launch.

The MV-22B Osprey and CH-53E Super Stallion are the two platforms that comprise MAG-24. The MV-22B Osprey was first procured in 1999 and has been a cornerstone of the MAGTF ever since. What makes this aircraft unique is its ability to combine the vertical flight capabilities of helicopters with the speed, range and endurance of fixed-wing transports. Weighing 35,000 pounds, the Osprey is capable of carrying more than 20 Marines more than 400 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 266 knots. The superb capabilities of the MV-22 translate into a faster MAGTF response in times of crisis. Those capabilities are put into practice around the world every day by MAG-24.

The other aircraft in MAG-24’s arsenal is the CH-53E Super Stallion. The Super Stallion is the only heavy lift helicopter in the DoD rotorcraft inventory. Weighing 37,500 pounds, the Super Stallion can carry more than 30 Marines or over 32,000 pounds of cargo more than 110 nautical miles. The heavy lift capabilities of the Super Stallion are crucial to supporting the six different types of assault support operations ranging from combat assault support to air evacuation.

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U.S. Marine Corps releases details of largest infantry weapons modernization effort – Defence Blog

As the U.S. Marine Corps continues to increase the lethality of the infantry squad, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons has begun the largest modernization effort in decades.

According to a recent service news release, Program Manager for Infantry Weapons (PM IW) strives to equip and sustain the Marine Corps with fully-integrated infantry weapons, optics and nonlethal systems for the Ground Combat Element.

The portfolio’s modernization efforts adhere to Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision to redesign the force to meet the challenges of a new age of great power competition. Through PM IW, the Corps plans to field numerous new weapon and optic systems over the next decade.

“This is the largest modernization of the infantry squad in the last 25 years,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, MCSC’s program manager for Infantry Weapons.

As noted by the Marine Corps Systems Command, PM IW has begun the procurement of the Modular Handgun System, which will replace all Marine Corps pistols. This striker-fired pistol includes a plastic clip-on piece, enabling Marines to change grip sizes to accommodate different hand sizes. The weapon is compatible with the pistol-aiming module used by some units.

MCSC will begin fielding the system this fiscal year.

“The MHS improves on the precision and reliability of the legacy platforms, while also bringing with it new, more effective ammunition,” said Maj. Mike Brisker, weapons product manager for PM IW.

MCSC is expanding the use of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Originally fielded to infantry units as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in 2011, the rifle received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Marines. This feedback led to the Marine Corps’ decision to field the M27 to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.

“We expect fielding of [the M27] to conclude by the end of this fiscal year,” said Brisker.

PM IW is also enhancing its optic systems. Fielded in spring 2020, the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle is a helmet-mounted system that offers improved depth perception, and the ability to detect and recognize targets in extreme low light, in inclement weather and in the presence of obscurants. The SBNVG provides additional capabilities that the legacy system, the AN/PVS-14, lacked.

Since awarding a contract in February 2020, PM IW plans to begin fielding the Squad Common Optic in fiscal year 2021. The SCO includes a magnified day optic, which improves situational awareness, decreases engagement times and increases probability of hit.

“The Squad Common Optic enables Marines to see farther and identify the enemy more quickly,” said Hough.

MCSC is collaborating with other services to field certain systems. For example, the Marine Corps will partner with the Army to procure the Next-Generation Squad Weapon system, intended to replace the M27 and become the primary individual weapon for infantry units.

The NGSW will provide a significant boost to the lethality of the individual soldier and Marine. The weapon includes an optic/fire control system that will incorporate a disturbed reticle to improve the shooter’s accuracy.
The Marine Corps could receive first deliveries of the NGSW as early as fiscal year 2025, said Brisker.

Additionally, PM IW and Fleet Marines are participating in the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision-Binocular programs to help inform requirements and programmatic decisions in the future.

PM IW’s modernization efforts mirror MCSC’s mission to increase lethality among Marines. The command is continuously striving to equip Marines with the capabilities needed to successfully fulfill missions. To meet this goal, PM IW will continue to solicit feedback from Marines and industry.

“In line with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, we’re looking to lighten the load and increase the overall lethality of Close Combat Forces—specifically infantry Marines,” said CW4 David Tomlinson, an infantry weapons officer with PM IW.

Tomlinson believes upgrading Infantry Weapon systems will ultimately enhance performance on the battlefield and increase survivability at a time when enemies are strengthening.

“These efforts show we are focused on staying abreast of advancements that are coming quickly,” said Tomlinson. “It also shows our desire to stay persistent, look toward the future, and make sure our Marines receive the best [systems] we can buy.”

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Aerospace Force of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Veterans Today

…from SouthFront

The Aerospace Forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is established on the basis and uniting of the air, missile and space components of the organization. It is tasked with launching missile attacks on ground, air and naval forces of the enemy as well as their military and economic facilities. The IRGC Aerospace Force also provides a close air support and lift capabilities for ground and naval units and operates an inventory of short and medium range ballistic missiles.

The number of personnel in the Aerospace Force is estimated at 15,000-20,000. The current commander is Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh. He has been occupying the post since October 2009.

Similarly, to the Iranian approach towards the Navy, the Iranian Air Force and the IRGC Aerospace Force are separate branches of the military. However, both of them share the facilities throughout the country.

According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, the Aerospace Force maintains a fleet that includes Su-22 Fitters, EMB-312 Tucanos, Y-12s, Dassault Falcon 20s, MFI-17s, IL-76s, and An-74s. In 2014, Iran supplied Iraq with most of the Su-25 Frogfoot and it only maintains just a few of the Russian combat aircraft.

Warplanes of the IRGC Aerospace Force are significantly dated and suffer from the lack of spare parts for a proper maintenance. An strong sanction pressure and the constant lack of resources forced the IRGC Aerospace Force to use an asymmetric approach.

The IRGC operates various unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which it uses to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as strike missions. UAVs are Iran’s most rapidly advancing air capability. Although most Iranian military services employ UAVs, the IRGCAF is the primary operator of their growing fleet.

Iran regularly conducts Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) flights along its border and littoral, including the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. The IRGCAF has also deployed various armed and unarmed UAVs to Syria and Iraq for ISR and strike missions to support counter-ISIS operations and the Syrian government. In 2018, Iran for the first time employed UAVs to conduct long-range, cross-border strike operations, using armed UAVs in concert with ballistic missiles as part of an attack against ISIS in eastern Syria.

The IRGCAF operates the following drones:

  • The HESA Ababil: a single-engine multirole tactical unmanned aerial vehicle manufactured by Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA).The Ababil comes in two main lines, the Ababil-2 and the Ababil-3, of which the former has a number of variants. It is considered a long-range, low-technology drone.
  • The Qods Mohajer: a single-engine tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built by the Qods Aviation Industry Company in four main variants from the 1980s to the present day. The Mohajer family is primarily used for reconnaissance, and is among the most mature and well-known Iranian UAVs.
  • The HESA Karrar: a jet-powered target drone. The Karrar uses a rocket assist system to take off and is recovered by parachute. It is also claimed to be capable of air launch. The Karrar can carry one 500lb Mk 82 general-purpose bomb, with claimed precision guidance, on its centerline hardpoint. Alternatively, it can carry two Nasr-1 anti-ship missiles, two Kowsar anti-ship missiles, or two 250-pound Mk 81 general-purpose bombs on the underwing stations, or (since 2019) a Balaban satellite-guided glide bomb.
  • The Shahed 129: it is capable of combat and reconnaissance missions and has an endurance of 24 hours; it is similar in size, shape and role to the American MQ-1 Predator and is widely considered the most capable drone in Iranian service. Originally, the Shahed 129 carried Sadid-1 anti-tank guided missiles, also known as Sadid-361 or Fat’h 362 missiles. Later, this was replaced by the Sadid-345 precision-guided munition.
  • The Qods Yasir: a light tactical surveillance and reconnaissance UAV. The Yasir has swept back wings and a large payload bubble under its nose. Unlike the Scaneagle, it has an inverted V-tail and a twin-boom empennage. The Yasir has a single, unidentified, two-bladed propeller engine. It resembles the US Boeing Insitu ScanEagle suspiciously much.
  • The Saegheh-2: a turbofan/piston-powered flying wing unmanned combat aerial vehicle. Also known as the Shahed 191, it carries two Sadid-1 missiles internally and lands on retractable landing skids. It has reportedly been used in combat in Syria.

Another pillar of the IRGC Aerospace Force’s power is short and medium-range ballistic missiles. As of January 2020, Iran possessed an array of them.

The liquid-propellant Shahab 3 is the main-stay of Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile force. Iran has modified the Shahab 3, which is based on the North Korean No Dong, to extend its range and effectiveness, with the longest-range variant being able to reach targets at a distance of about 2,000 kilometers.

The Emad 1 variant of the Shahab 3 has the same range with near-precision accuracy. Later variants, such as the Emad 2, were expected to have greater range.

Iran’s liquid-propellant short-range ballistic missiles — the Shahab 1Shahab 2, and Qiam-1—are based on Scud technology. The Qiam-1 has a range of at least 750 kilometers, and variants of the system have been used as part of Iranian strikes on ISIS in Syria.

Iran’s solid-propellant close- and short-range ballistic missiles primarily consist of the many variants of the Fateh-110 family of missiles. Most of these systems have ranges up to about 300 kilometers, but Iran has unveiled a variant called the Fateh-313 with a 500-kilometer range. Iran has also advertised several variants of these missiles configured with different terminal seeker technologies, including electro-optical and antiradiation homing, which makes them capable of targeting ships. These systems—which include the Khalij Fars, Hormuz 1, and Hormuz 2—reportedly have ranges of about 300 kilometers.

In September 2016, Iran unveiled the new Zolfaghar short-range ballistic missile, a solid-propellant system with a 700-kilometer range. Iran used these missiles in its 2017 and 2018 strikes against ISIS in Syria.

A part of the arsenal is land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs). In 2012, Iran announced the development of its first LACM, called Meshkat. In 2015, Iran displayed what it called the Soumar LACM, a ground-launched system that appears to be based on the Russian air-launched AS-15. Iran claims the Soumar has a 2,000-kilometer range. LACMs can provide Iran with a precision-strike capability up to medium-range ballistic missiles’ ranges that could further complicate missile defenses.

The space technologies development is one more priority of the IRGC Aerospace Force.

Since 2008, Iran has launched multi-stage space launch vehicles (SLVs) that could also aid Iran’s development of longer-range ballistic missiles because SLVs use inherently similar technologies. Iran has conducted multiple launches of the two-stage, liquid-propellant Safir SLV, a mix of successes and failures. It has also launched the larger two-stage, liquid-propellant Simorgh SLV, which is designed to carry satellites higher into orbit and could also serve as a test bed for developing ICBM technologies. The Simorgh could be capable of ICBM ranges if configured as a ballistic missile, according to the US.

On April 22nd, 2020, Iran successfully launched its first ever military satellite with a new Qased space launch vehicle. The Qased is a three-stage rocket, using a Ghadr liquid-fuelled missile as its first stage, a solid propellant Salman motor as its second stage, and an unknown small kick motor as its third stage. There is little novelty in the choice of a Ghadr as the Qased’s first stage: an improved version of the Shahab 3, the liquid-fuel Ghadr is a standard workhorse of the Iranian missile force and has already served as the basis for the Safir rocket in the past. G_8 (A) – Done.

The successes of the Iranian space program is especially valuable because the country has been for a long time existing in the state of the besieged fortress, and suffering from the sanction pressure and technological blockade. The space program successes in such conditions inspire respect. Even North Korea, which has been successfully developing its ballistic program, has an easier access to technologies than Iran. The North’s public and non-public cooperation with China is an example.

The United States argues that the Iranian space program is just a cover-up for the development of medium- and long-range ballistic missiles. It’s an open secret that any state that develops a space program will use the obtained engineer and scientific gap to increase its national defense capability. In own time this was done by the United States, the USSR, China, France and other powers.

The Iranian space program has own features that differ it from others. As in the case of the IRGC Navy and the usage of swarms of drones, the Iranian space program focused on the most cost-effective approaches. This lead to the practical minimization of the employed technologies and the usage the most sophisticated (among accessible) informational models of the management of systems.

It may sound strange but it is possible that Tehran will, in some kind, follow the path of SpaceX copying some of its approaches. SpaceX as a formally commercial structure seeks to minimize its spending and maximize the revenue focusing on reusable technologies and building a network of micro satellites.

Iran also works to minimize its spending and maximize the results, but with even with higher motivation. In its case, the failure of the space program is the matter of the national interests and even the survival of the state. The prospect directions of the development of the Iranian space program is the creation of a large-scale distributed multistatic radar antenna array or global electronic-warfare system based on micro satellites, the creation of own geo-positioning system, or event the deployment of suicide micro satellites.

Another format of the Iranian space program progress is the low-cost asymmetric approach, like the one employed by the Soviet Union when it was forced to compete with the huge-funded space program of the United States. An incredible thing is a usage of a bucket with bolts as an ultimate weapon to damage any sophisticated and costly space system. Additionally, the modern level of technology does not require pricey space systems to deploy on the orbit a strike suicide satellite equipped with a dirty bomb.

The Iranian space program is shaped by two factors – the country’s reasonable desire for the peaceful space exploration and the need to guarantee own interests amid the further militarization of space by the United States, Israel and other countries.

South Front: Analysis & Intelligence (SF) is a public analytical project maintained by an independent team of experts from four corners of the earth. SF focuses on international relations and crises working through a number of media platforms. They provide military operations analysis and other important data where crisis points affect tensions between countries and nations. They dig out truth barely covered by states concerned and their mainstream media. SF does not receive any funding from corporations or governments. They are supported by reader donations. *All posts on behalf of South Front are made by Gordon Duff
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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps conducts check up on its long-range radar system – Defence Blog

U.S. Marine Corps has released several photos of a routine check up on an AN/TPS-59 radar system on Cannon Air Defense Complex at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

The AN/TPS-59 Radar is a Marine Corps’ only long-range, 3D, air-surveillance, theater ballistic missile (TBM)-capable radar.

According to open sources, the AN/TPS- 59 is a transportable, solid-state L-band radar that serves as the Marine Air-Ground Task Force’s (MAGTF) principal air surveillance radar and is integrated into the AN/TSQ-263 Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S) and the AN/MSQ-143(V)1 Composite Tracking Network (CTN). The radar uses active beam steering in elevation and mechanical steering in azimuth.

The 3D radar system is optimized to detect and track air-breathing targets and TBMs that constitute serious threats to MAGTF operations. The radar is employed by the Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) during sustained operations ashore and is part of the joint theater air and missile defense architecture.

The radar supports the MAGTF commander in anti-air warfare operations and control of aircraft and missiles to a distance of 300 nautical miles for ABTs and TBM surveillance to 400 nautical miles.

The radar system is currently deployed in direct support of MAGTF operations.

The AN/TPS-59 is used by the United States Marine Corps, Egypt, and Bahrain.

Photo by Lance Cpl. John Hall
Photo by Lance Cpl. John Hall

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U.S. Marine Corps to equip its new combat vehicles with medium caliber turret – Defence Blog

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Kongsberg’s PROTECTOR MCT-30 medium caliber turret, selected for the U.S. Army’s Stryker Dragoon infantry carrier vehicle, will now be used for the Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicles.

Jane’s has reported that the PROTECTOR MCT-30, the latest extension to the Kongsberg’s PROTECTOR RWS family, selected for the U.S. Marine Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).

The ACV highly mobile, survivable and adaptable platform plans to be outfitted with MCT-30 remotely operated turret.

The MCT-30 weapon system provides highly accurate firepower for combat and armored vehicles. It is remotely controlled and operated from a protected position inside the vehicle compartment. The turret is accessed and reloaded from under armor.

The main armament is a 30mm automatic cannon equipped with a linkless ammunition handling system for increased reliability compared to traditional link fed cannon systems.

The advanced version of ACV will be called the ACV-30.

The ACV will come in four different variants derived from the armored personnel carrier base. There’s a recovery variant, a command and control variant, and an up-armed variant to engage enemy armored vehicles.

The ACV powers through high surf, traverses over trenches and trucks over sloped terrain. The ACV’s significant protective assets make it resilient to direct attacks and allow it to operate with degraded mobility in an ever-changing battle environment. The vehicle possesses sufficient lethality to deliver accurate fire support to infantry, whether stationary or on the move.

The ACV also has a unique V-shape underbelly to deflect the blast of improvised explosive devices. Since IED’s were the most lethal weapons used against AAV’s, the new ACV was designed to take a blast from an IED, continue the mission and bring Marines home safely.

Earlier this year, U.S. defense contractor BAE Systems said that it had got a $113.5 million order for delivering additional ACVs to the .S. Marine Corps. This award brings the total vehicle orders for the ACV to 116, and moves the program closer to full-rate production.

In a tweet, Editor of Jane’s Armoured Fighting Vehicles yearbook and defense journalist Sam Cranny-Evans added that the total number of ACVs to be procured is expected to be lowered with the force posture revision by 2030.



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U.S. Marine Corps simulates anti-ship long range fires in Japan – Defence Blog

Video and photos released Monday by 1st Marine Aircraft Wing show U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 participated in the Harpoon training exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

According to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, during the exercise, Marine Aircraft Group 12 squadrons focused on naval missions and simulated anti-ship long range fires in order to enhance the Marine Corps’ ability to effect sea control and denial in the Indo-Pacific, in-line with Force Design 2030.

Also noted that U.S. Marines loaded AGM-84D Harpoon missiles onto an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets aboard Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS).

Photo by Sgt. Akeel Austin

The Harpoon missile is the world’s most successful anti-ship missile and is in service with the armed forces of more than 30 countries.

The Harpoon is capable of executing both land-strike and anti-ship missions. To strike targets on land and ships in port, the missile uses GPS-aided inertial navigation to hit a designated target aimpoint. The 500-pound blast warhead delivers lethal firepower against a wide variety of land-based targets, including coastal defense sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft, port/industrial facilities and ships in port. For conventional anti-ship missions, such as open ocean or near-land, the GPS/INS improves midcourse guidance to the target area. The accurate navigation solution allows users to discriminate target ships from islands or other nearby land masses or ships.

According to The Drive, the F/A-18C/Ds that participated in the exercise, which took place on Apr. 28 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, came from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) and Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA[AW]-242), also known as the “Silver Eagles” and “Bats,” respectively. VMFA(AW)-242 is forward-deployed to Iwakuni, while VMFA-115 is presently on a rotational deployment there. Both are assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12), which is part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

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