I wrote a series of three blogs, one about the statistical situational of the personnel of the land forces so Land forces command and the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. The second blog is an explanation of the Dutch current lack of offensive and eventualy defensive capabilities. In it’s current form it is only able to operate in peace support or police / military training missions and with doing that depending on Airpower and support from other countries. The third piece has some suggestions of what to do to repair these deficiencies and to (re)create teeth…. of the Dutch Lion.
And this is the fun part I now give a free advise to the Dutch Land forces… and politicions working on their new goverment… where they promised during the elections to make a real effort of investing in Defense… because they see that the world isn’t that safe… if it ever was..
What the Netherlands Defense forces (on land) need is a combination of capabilities which overlap each other. If we take the worst case scenario – High intensity conflict – you need a combination of systems which are capable of supporting each other on the battlefield. Probably in a dispersed way So no high value targets of massed groupings of units as a sitting duck.
So IMO we do need a system with connected capacities to create an “imaginative” umbrella. An umbrella which is both defensive and offensive. We need:
Direct fire support systems:
- Heavy caliber = 120 – 140mm main armament (that’s what it really means😊) to be found on (heavy, medium and light) Tanks, and Tank-killers (also wheeled variants available).
- Medium caliber = 20 – 40mm main armament to be found on Infantry Fighting vehicles, Direct Fire support vehicles (also wheeled 4×4, 6×6, 8×8 and 10×10 vehicles available, so also to support Light infantry or Wheeled infantry units.)
- Small caliber = 0,5 Machine guns, remotely controlled or manual fitted as main weapon on Combat Service Support (CSS) vehicles as it is now, or as secondary armament on Combat Support (CS) vehicles.
- Multi purpose grenade launchers = 25 – 40mm remotely controlled or manual, fitted as main weapon on Combat Service Support (CSS) vehicles as it is now, or as secondary armament on Combat Support (CS) vehicles.
- Hand-held grenade launchers (for example 40mm) Infantry weapon
- Sniper rifles and in some cases Anti Material Rifles (20mm)
- Assault rifles Infantry 7,62mm standard (a higher standard than the current 5,56mm standard, because of increased range and effectiveness.
Guided Weapons against land targets:
- Short Range: with a range up to 1km, to be employed by light infantry (YES, we already have these 😊) Pantserfaust and Carl Gustav.
- Medium Range: with a range up to 2,5km, to employed by light infantry and dismounted (wheeled/mechanized) infantry (We have these as well 😊) Fire & Forget capability Spike MR.
- Long Range: A capability to be able to fire against targets within a range of 8km this would be a new capability for the Dutch armed forces. They did have the TOW missile from the PRAT YPR vehicle but it had an effective range of 4km. This capability will give maneuver unit the etch against enemy forces because you will be able to hit others while they aren’t normally capable of hitting you back. This would be a decisive capability especially for the Wheeled and light infantry because they normally lack the power of tanks. There are several interesting systems, I would suggest to take two types the Extended range (>8km) and the Non-Line of sight (NLOS) with a range of about 25km. The first one is really essential, the second one would give our forces more punch and lowers the risk. Because we (our soldiers) can strike at a greater range than the enemy would be able to do:
- Extended range: There are several capable options so there shouldn’t be a predefined option.
Multi functional LAHAT Missile – JOINT weapon system of choice!
My personal favorite however is the Semi Active Laser (SAL) guided LAHAT missile. Because of it’s “low-cost” and multi function / joint capabilities. It has a very low weight (about 13kg) and excellent range about 8km). What is needed is a sytem of “connected” sensors & shooters. Sensors can be handheld, drone, helicopter, (any aircraft with a IR targeting system / Laser Designation System), Mast mounted, vehicle mounted. So the shooter platform doesn’t really have to be the guiding one, guidance can be given by any available sensor platform. The same missile can be used to equip many different platforms:
- Helicopter: Even the lightest helicopters can be equipped with long range strike assets, a quadruple launcher weights only 75kg. So this weapon can be used on the LSH and Apache helicopters. In the latter’s case it means that our Apache can fly much further (because of lower weapon loads) while being equipped with a bigger ranged weapon then the current Hellfire missiles (which by the way outprice the LAHAT. Hellfire missiles cost about $ 68.000 a piece versus the LAHAT for about $ 20.000. Because LAHAT would be used by both Land-, Air-, and even Sea command’s it will probably mean we can buy more missiles at lower prices and with less cost for support, training, storage and other facilities. The range fired from helicopters is about 13km.
- Drone’s: there are plans underway to integrate LAHAT on Drones. Because of the weight this can be done on both fixed wing and vertical lift drones. And we even don’t have to use the Heavy and over expensive American options, the Dutch military (Air Force is favoring… as usual) The range is also about 13km.
- Tanks and NEMO mortars: Unique in its kind, it’s the only missile both capable of firing from a launcher and from a 105 / 120mm gun. The LAHAT missile is already integrated on Leopard 2A4 tanks as shown in the video here. The LAHAT missile is put in a canister which can be handled as normal ammunition onboard a tank/mortar carrying vehicle. In theory even 105mm artillery guns can be equipped with this as a direct fire solution if needed. Range about 8km.
- Land vehicles: The LAHAT missile can be put on a “load” platform with several quadruple launchers (weighting about 75kg per for missiles) Or be put in special launchers which can be fired and reloaded under armour. For example in the excellent Israeli RAM MKiii AT version. Range about 8km.
- Fixed installation / compound C-RAM system: It creates a defensive shield of about 8km surrounding the compound which can react within seconds after sight of incoming enemy fire.
- Navy applications: There are several potential navy applications thinkable:
- Main weapon for patrol boats: with quadruple launchers or other form of launching system fixed to a Remotely Controlled Weapon System (RCWS) armed with a 20 – 40mm medium caliber gun or a small caliber gun 0,50 caliber.
- Amphibious fire support and littoral warfare: The Current Dutch LCVP’s and LCU’s could take quadruple launchers on deck. But in the future it would also be usefull to use Fast attack craft equipped with 120mm NEMO mortar, so such a vessel can be used in both a indirect and direct fire support function. In the Artillery list more about NEMO. The LAHAT will give a patrol-, amphibious- and littorals force hugh potential and fighting power, which also means security and protection for the soldiers. This also means the high value targets like amphibious ships and frigates can keep out of close range from the shore while giving the landing force a direct reaction capability which also safes on artillery and support weapons/munition onboard the ships.
- Defensive use: as secondary weapon in the C-RAM and “swarming boats” roles on bigger ships like frigates, replenishment ships and amphibious vessels. This option could even be used on “civil” merchant vessels in the case of anti-piracy or convoy duty.
- Non Line of Sight (NLOS): this type is somehow able to fill a gap between MLRS and LRGW functions) The Spike NLOS has a range of about 25km, is wire-guided and it is also possible to use for both strike and reconnaissance functions. While flying over / towards a target it films everything on it’s way, so it would be an interesting ISTAR asset. The missile can be re-tasked during flight. This weapon can also be made available in a helicopter version and can be used to equip vessels and small boats.
Artillery: Indirect fire support systems:
- 60mm Mortar not very much to talk about here. Range about 1km
- 81mm mortar This should become as it used to be, the indirect fire support weapon for the light infantry only. So the amphibious-, air maneuver- and para commando infantry units as well as some for special forces operations should be integrated in the lowest possible level, the fire support company of the infantry battalions (or groups). Range about 5,6km.
- 120mm mortar; These towed 120mm mortars could remain (at least in a more modern version) range 8,1km But I would want to make a strong argument to integrate a new system here in the Netherlands inventory.
I would ask your special attention for a very versatile system: the 120mm NEMO mortar
The 120mm Patria NEMO mortar. This system is unique in its capabilities. Of course there are other mortars with a little bit the same capabilities but they are lighter, slower or less capable. Here are some of the features about the turret which is light and compact and easily installable on light, tracked chassis (even like the BVS10 Viking) or wheeled armored vehicles in the 6×6/8×8 class or even boats:
- A lightweight structure, requiring little space within the platform and, therefore, adjustable for older chassis
- High rate of fire
- Rapid response
- Shoot and scoot
- Minimal crew (driver + 1 Nemo weapon officer + 2 loaders)
- Direct fire capability
- Direct lay capability
- Suitable for all standard 120 mm smoothbore mortar ammunition
- Full 360° traverse
- Joint operations between Patria Nemo and Patria Nemo Navy units
- A Range of +10km
- Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI, so shoot several rounds, and let them come on the ground at about the same time)
This weapons is really multifunctional and it’s ability to have Direct fire support is especially enhanced because it is also able to fire the LAHAT missile with a range of +8km[i].
- 105mm Howitzer Not in service at the moment, This could be a capable addition for the Dutch land forces. It’s a light system and could be deployed anywhere even under a medium sized helicopter and in an amphibious role. There are interesting systems on the market which give this weapon a range almost equal to heavier 155mm artillery pieces. One of these sytems is the Suith-African Denel Developed Lion.. (attractive name for the Dutch isn’t it😊)
- 155mm Howitzer: The current heavy (and I mean really heavy) 155mm Pantzer Houwitzer 2000 is a development from the Cold war. The Dutch army has 60 systems in it’s inventory but only uses 18 of them. (plus some for training I believe). But as I said, they are to heavy. To be honest they can only be used in support of the mechanized 43th Brigade with it’s leased tanks and CV9035 Infantry Fighting Vehciles. The other units won’t receive support from this because they will be to heavy for expeditionary warfighting. The only alternative now are the old 120mm towed mortars but these have realy limited range. So best option would be to take a proven 155mm howitzer which is able to support wheeled and light infantry maneuver verywhere. I believe that one of the qualifications should be that it could be flown into theater, that will be able to support amphibious landings.
I think every General, with or without an armchair, could understand and affirm that this situation is untenable. The time to change is NOW! Or as John Kotter puts it: