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out-of-the-box solution: LAHAT missile & NEMO mortar!

the continued reliance on close air support – a capability that kept ground troops safe in Afghanistan and Iraq – was a “flawed assumption” for future campaigns.

In my last post I wrote about the necessity to repair the teeth of the Dutch Lion. I argued that the Ministry of Defense often “brags” about number of “Main Weapon Systems” (in the sense of the platforms” but in fact these systems/platforms lack weapon systems, and are often only armed with self defense turrets/guns. The Dutch armed forces – especially the land forces lack offensive capability and depend completely on others and “Airpower” which is an illusion.

Last week these claims I make for years now (to death mans ears some officers are laughing it away, and politicians… well they are just that…) But now a British active duty Brigadier acknowledges these claims….

“Brigadier Simon Humphrey said budget cuts and an over-emphasis on low-end insurgency operations have left Nato forces at risk of being “overwhelmed in the early stages of a high-intensity conflict”.
….
He added that the continued reliance on close air support – a capability that kept ground troops safe in Afghanistan and Iraq – was a “flawed assumption” for future campaigns.

….

An accompanying video presentation declared that “Nato’s rocket and gun platforms are outnumbered, outranged and outgunned by all their likely peer adversaries. The enemy would overwhelm our forces with greater range, volume and access to large-calibre munitions.

“A rocket engagement with a mix of sensor fuzed, thermobaric and proximity munitions against dispersed Nato battle groups would be devastating.” ”

Normally our officers won’t listen, they are proud of their work. They have (when there is money left) some exercises where they “show- off” that the units and Main Weapon Systems” (namely the Boxer, Fennek in it’s strange configurations) Perform well. Their scenarios are met…. Don’t ask how they do it… but they say they do. Well I’ve read some reports about it.. they create a scenario where there (limited) “capabilities” for offensive operations fit in… the scenario… “beautiful weather” scenarios they are. If all goes well, all goes like they planned it… the mission will be accomplished… Sort of Battle of Arnhem scenario… but what if there is a SS Pantzer division in the neighborhood? But now a British respected high ranking (and responsible) Officer claims the same…. So will they believe and act now? (I hope for the best, but expect the worst……)

With this post I want to deepen the concept I foresee with an out-of-the-box approach. This approach is needed in my opinion as a measure to give especially the light infantry forces a defensive and offensive system to decrease dependence on Combat Air Support and third nation capabilities. A combination of the NEMO and LAHAT missile.

Feasibility

In my latest post I mentioned two specific systems: NEMO and LAHAT and the combination of them which is possible…. I asked IAI (a couple of years ago) for this possibility and they replied that since the missile is designed as a Multi-role system it will be possible.

Excerpt from my email questionnaire to IAI:

LAHATlauncerquad

Q: “Could the Nemo (from the Finnish company Patria) fire the LAHAT? Because that would be very interesting to give the Nemo a multi-purpose function. 

A:  “The LAHAT in the canister version may be launched from any platform including the NEMO. The LAHAT in the canister only weights 16 kg, the length is 1 meter and the diameter 12cm. The electrical interface of the LAHAT Interface Unit (LIU) and the platform is very simple. The LAHAT firing envelope is very wide and tolerant and doesn’t request very accurate positioning of the vehicle or complicate operations by the operator”.

Patria, the creator of the NEMO mortar probably wasn’t aware of this but I received this reaction from them:

“I’ll pass the information you sent to our engineers and let’s see what comes out of that. And many thanks!”

Unfortenately I never received any response from the engineers… But the reaction of IAI is clear: Since this is cleared out: the other decision-making factors not included factors like:

  • Political willingness,
  • industry interests
  • The will to do things differently out-of-the-box (imo a real problem in the military). I once had a discussion about the Fennek… to better arm some of the vehicles (with a 25-35 RCWS) to have more Direct-Fire Support firepower for light infantry, recce units etc. the discussion and arguments moved from it isn’t technical possible (definetly wrong-it is why should they otherwise develop the Fennek Stinger WP with a weight of 1500kg?) to >>> There wasn’t a “political” request to do this.. so according to this officer the politicians are leading in what is needed to equip our forces… While imo the military should show to politicians – this is wat’s needed – if not these are the consequences > for your responsibility (towards the soldiers lives and people. But it seems to me the military is lacking the capability to think outside of the box…

It is possible and a real viable solution for countries who currently lack the firepower generated by medium combat vehicles, tanks, a lack of non-availability of Long Range Guided Weapons (LRGW). This combination offers a multi-role solution for several shortfalls. This system can be used in the

Direct Fire-Support function and Indirect Fire-Support function combined from one platform!

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)

Picture 811

What to choose for the Dutch Armed forces?
Well, the best option would be the AMV from patria itself. But unfortunately, the Dutch military burdened our country (and thus their own operational soldiers) with the Boxer 8×8 vehicle which is even in it’s unarmed configuration overweight, to slow and to expensive. Since these units are intended to support the “light” infantry units (if I had anything to say) My pick would be the BVS10 Viking version. But besides that there is another option… a containerized version…….(isn’t that awesome?) This option could fit on Trucks, Amphibious landing boats (for example LCVP or even faster boats like the Watercat M16, and ofcourse as a base security guard C-RAM system.  I believe the BVS10 Viking would have my preference above the armored truck since it will be better suited for the working environment.

BVS10VikinNemo

Nemo_BvS10

Some of the options this containerized version will give a defense force…… I can tell you It opens a lot of potential… for C-RAM, Base defense, Amphibious and Littoral warfare, Special Forces support…

Patria-Nemo-Container-6 

Nemo_container

 

  • 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:
  • 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.

Lahat_Firing_Leopard_2A4

This out-of-the box solution needs to be arranged also in a organizational way.. These kinds of systems aren’t just “artillery” “Indirect Fire-Support” capabilities but in reality, direct fire-support solutions. This requires that the way of operating, organizing and supporting these units needs, from the bottom up, a maneuver oriented organization.

I believe it should be directly under the battalion commanders control. (through the Combat Fire Support Company (or how the RNLMC thinks it should be called… 😊) It should fit within the DutchForce21 infantry battalion structure. And I promise, I will create a TOE for this…

DutchForce21 plans for:

  • 4 Light Infantry bataljons (marines and air maneuver)
  • 1 Paracomando bataljon (taking NEMO with them is not an option, lightweight vehicles with 81mm mortar and LAHAT launchers will (something like this? RAM KM3)

LAHAt Launcher 2quad

  • 4 Mechanised Infantry bataljons… Yes they can have the NEMO mortar as well….

The Fire Support Companies for both Mechanized and Light Infantry will be different. I come later to that.

Part 3: How to repair the teeth of the Dutch Lion

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).
  • Lahat_Firing_Leopard_2A4

    The LAHAT missile launched from a German Leopard 2A4 tank..

  • 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!

LAHATlauncerquad

 

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.
    • strb2010_20100224_1563248721

      For Amphibious operations and Littoral operations the RNLN / RNLMC team need more and better equiped small vessels like this Alucraft Watercat M18

    • 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.
  • images

 

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

Picture 811

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)
BVS10VikinNemo

the BVS10 amphibious Amored vehicle could be operational in more roles than currently available. There is this 120mm NEMO mortar version for example.

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.
  • MLRS

 

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:

 

[i] https://www.dropbox.com/s/pg7rbqpzxuugv8s/lahat%20%281%29.pdf?dl=0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAHAT

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Offensive capabilities: Toothless = useless!

I write 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. Here is part two.

Part 2: Offensive capabilities needed: Toothless = useless!

Besides looking at the “numbers” or to be more specific: “number of soldiers” in fighting and support functions, one other very – not to neglect area – are the weapons and systems they need to fight. We can be short of the capabilities of the Dutch Army and marines to fight (battles not Peace support missions): almost none. And then I’m not talking about the lack of reserve parts, lack of training hours/days and the lack of oil/fuel (and in this case personnel).

The Dutch armed forces lack the capabilities to fight. They can do peace (support) missions, “police” or “training” missions but they can’t do what they are meant for. Especially the Land forces. There is one Brigade which has some form of fighting power, the 43th Brigade with their CV9035 vehicles with 35mm canons. we lease a couple of tanks, and they have support of 120mm (oldies) and 155mm Artillery pieces. On paper… very posh paper (of the Dutch Ministry of Defense) they also have Fennek MRAT, Fennek Mortar and Boxer 8×8 vehicles but all of these aren’t able to fire on the move or only have defensive weapons…. Our Fennek MRAT can only deploy in ambush.. were the soldier have to leave the vehicle to fire his or her missile (1 launcher 2 vehicles with total 10 missiles….) run back to safety… and move on.. This isn’t ofcourse what the army is telling our parliamentarians. (if they even care about it….) If parliamentarians and their political assistants where smart AND interested they would have noticed that while first the Boxer was the only vehicle capable for the MRAT role, but then suddenly the Fennek was capable as well. In between, sort of secretive they changed the specs… and there you have it, the Fennek MRAT was borne. No instead they are only creating lists of “Hoofdwapensystemen” hmmmm.. a Dutch word and I tell you what it means: “Main Armament/Weapon systems”.

Main Armament/Weapon systems Lists

With the word “Armament” or “weapon” you create the illusion that it is about some form of deadly overwhelming and of course hyper modern piece of art… system. (Because that’s also what they claim, for our boys and girls only the best is good enough….. we don’t want to bring them into dangerous situations now do we?)

The use of these words put politicians (and civilians) on the wrong track. They read the number of main armament/weapon systems and think… owh do we have that much? No problem… The parliamentarians do look at the “availability” numbers (which are shockingly low), but there isn’t a list that measures effectiveness and “capabilities”.  So we have to consider that most of these systems on these lists don’t really have offensive capabilities. The tooth has fallen out of the lions mouth.

The Dutch Toothless Lion

What do I mean with: ‘the tooth has fallen out of the mouth of the lion’? (Yes we have an Orange Lion as a mascot😊)? Let’s briefly go down the list:

Capacity / weapon system availability Observations
Tanks (direct firing range 3km Some, only for 43th brigade with some tanks leased from the German Bundeswehr. We sold ours (about 100 directly after modernizing them to the 2A6 standard) for peanuts to Finland.
Close range air defense /(PRTL/Cheetah 35mm) Sold to Jordan (directly after modernizing them to the newest standard) ncluding all 35mm cartridges which where initialy the reason for buying the specifacly adapted CV90 “35” with extra costs.Instead of the standard available 30mm or 40mm as the Sweden have themselves.
Multiple Lounge Rocket System (MLRS) We had some good systems bud sold them because we thought we didn’t need it. These we also sold for peanuts to Finland.
PH2000 155mm Self-propelled Howitzers YES, finally we have a lot of them, 60, of which only 18 in use.. Oh, and they are so heavy they probably can’t support the 11th, 13th Brigades and the RNLMC…They have to do with old 120mm mortars..
Long Range Anti Tank / PRAT (TOW) The Dutch Army doesn’t have these Anti Tank weapons anymore. There currently is no capability of firing on-the-move + firing (and reloading) from under armor! We do have the small Fenneks with Spike missiles (placed on an imperial on the Roof.. for goodness sake☹) but they only have a range of 2,5km. And they go in small numbers. So no, we don’t have any relevant capability anymore.
120mm mortars Low availability, the whole ground forces Army and Marines have to share the same small number of mortars. So limited availability and I have to say, limited range.

These weapons form the backbone of Dutch Artillery while they used to be the heavy weapons of infantry battalions. No smart ammunition. Also no direct fire capability.

81mm mortars Reasonably available within infantry units, no smart ammunition available.
Medium caliber weapons  – only CV9035 There are only 2 battalions equipped with these vehicles. This means that only the 43th Brigade has these offensive capable vehicles. The other “wheeled” Brigade has to do with unarmed  or lightly armed (say 0,50 caliber) machine guns. What about the fighting capability of the Wheeled and Airmobile units?
Small caliber weapons These are normally fitted to a lot of the “Main Armament/Weapon systems” BUT purely in a defensive / supportive role. And this is the main problem for the Dutch land forces.

only one comment for the pictures here… (lose) promisses nothing more…

In my opinion this is a very scary situation. In a realistic and modern combat scenario we… the Dutch… won’t have a chance, without the help of others. It’s not even so we don’t have enough… we don’t have it!

Dutch armed forces need tooth ‘and’ tail

I write 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.

Part 1 Statistics and ratios: tooth-to-tail

A comparison of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps(RNLMC) and the Land Forces Command (CLAS) is in my view appropriate. Since both organizations operate on “land”, and provide most of the fillings / units in the framework of international missions. One other reason I would like to do this is because, how “well meant” the use of military for peace building is, the real purpose of the military is to be a “security” instrument in the hands of the democratic elected government… with my own words added … in the best interest of the people. In short military are there to fight… and win, when the situation and circumstances are unknown. So a military which can only be “employed” under normal or best calculated circumstances, is not able to do the job.

In my opinion there are two important factors for an effective fighting force. I deliberately not talking about others like, training, doctrine, organization command&control, logistics (in the sense of how to organize it). The two factors I want to talk about now is the Tooth to Tail ratio and the offensive capabilities of the Dutch armed forces as it is. In my last blog I already mentioned an overall vision for what is needed for an expeditionary capable force. In this blog I want to focus on the land forces capability especially. There is some overlap.

‘With the word “Armament” or “weapon” you create the illusion that it is about some form of deadly overwhelming and of course hyper modern piece of art… system’.

Tooth to Tail ratio

To calculate the tooth-to-tail ratio I look at some numbers/details of the ministry of Defense below. If we share the other units by the number of personnel assigned to the maneuver units, for the CLAS we see a ratio of 1 to 3.8, and the RNLMC 1: 0.87 or in other words behind each “individual” combat Army/CLAS soldier (tooth) there are 3,8 supporting soldiers (tail). While with the RNLMC the ratio is 0.87 supportive soldier. Of course we have to note here that the RNLMC are supported (on operations) by Army supportive soldiers as well.

 

2013 overview

Maneuver units in 2013 Formation formation% Battalions % of battalions
CLAS 3841    72,6% 7    77,8%
RNLMC 1452    27,4% 2    22,2%
Total 5293 100,0% 9 100,0%

 

I have looked into figures from 2013 and 2014. I didn’t have time to look into newer numbers but we can imagine that it will be significantly harder after the implementation of cuts and the number of soldiers leaving the armed forces.

 

2014 overview

Maneuver units in 2013 Formation formation% Battalions % of battalions
CLAS 3325   69,6% 7    77,8%
RNLMC 1452   30,4% 2    22,2%
Total 4777 100,0% 9 100,0%

 

But if we look at the proportions of the armed forces as a whole … then something is still not right. The CZSK has around 7914 soldiers with about 2,800 Marines. The CLAS has around 18,546 troops … If we want to know the right operational output, we see that only ¼ of the maneuver units among the 21,346 soldiers are belonging to the Tooth of the military. 75% or ¾ of the military operates within the CS, CSS, administration, training and so on. I deliberately not looking into the figures of the civil staff, the MOD and it’s services and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) and Royal Marechaussee (Military Police force a semi military unit with mostly civil security tasks like protection of the Airports and borders).

Totals Maneuver vs Other

Operational Command Total servicemen % Maneuver % Other %
CLAS 18546   86,88 3841 72,6 14705 92,12
NAVY(RNLMC) 2800 12,12 1452 27,4 1258 7,88
Total 21346 100,0 5293 100,0 15963 100,0
25%   75%

 

But there is more, If we look at the individual components, we see that the CLAS scores lower than 25%, with only 20.71% and 51.86% for the Marines (RNLMC). That makes you wonder doesn’t it? Of course I know the Land forces have a lot more, Staff, Special Forces, CS and CSS units. Beside CLAS has a lot of nonmilitary tasks and is responsible for the (civil) security regions and the National Reserve. But still…..

Totals CLAS vs RNLMC

Operational Command CLAS RNLMC
  Serviceman % Serviceman %
Maneuver 3841 20,71 1452 51,86
Other 14705 79,29 1348 48,14
Total 18546 100,0 2800 100,0

 

Oh yes, the reaction of the military and politicians will be… yeah but look at how other countries do it! Well that’s not going to help us when we need military units with accompanying capabilities.

 

 

Submarine Ahoy: Good news for both Sweden and the Netherlands!

This morning the press releases from both Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding and Saabgroup (through its subsidiary Kockums Saab Naval systems) revealed a teaming agreement:

Swedish defence and security company Saab is teaming with Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group to explore future opportunities in the international submarine market. The companies have signed an exclusive teaming agreement to work together in pursuit of the potential Walrus-class submarine replacement programme for the Netherlands. In addition to this project, Saab and Damen will also explore ways in which they might bid jointly on other submarine procurement programmes.

Read the full Press releases @ Saabgroup and @ Damen Naval.

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On July 30th 2014 I wrote the following:

Business case JFS: part 1

You think I misspelled that? Well your wrong. It stands for a new project called: Joint Future Submarine (JFS). No not again…. You could think! First let me explain the used terms:

Joint – A submarine is a strategic asset important for the whole defence force. It will gather intelligence over sea, and over land, it will insert and extract Special Forces, it will influence warfare on land with land-attack missiles and act as a (satellite) communication relay, between forward / expeditionary positioned land and air forces, if necessary.

Future – this one should be clear, a submarine design must be compatible for future uses. Just like the Walrus class we may expect them to operate for long lifetime. They must be built in a modular way to insert future technology at the moment not even available.

Submarine – yes ofcourse, the vessel is a submarine. They will be of the non-nuclear type. But must be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion systems. The type, just as the Walrus class should be able to operate independently on long ranges and without any direct support vessels.

Well we can learn from past mistakes now do we? So if some projects failed in the past because they had the program management wrong, they put new demands into the program in between, and they produced aircraft while testing had not been finished… yes than such a project is bound to fail…. Again. But if we get this the right way… well than such a project can be very promising.

This wasn’t the first time I mentioned this option though, I already had this in mind years ago when I was still developing the DutchForce21 concept for the reorganization and reequipping the Dutch Armed forces.  Read some of the other posts on my blog, about the future Submarine need and about (future) Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) needs for the Netherlands and Europe.

  1. Business case JFS: part 1
  2. Joint Future Submarine: part 2
  3. Future need for Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilies in European context – Part 1
  4. ASW capabilities: the European context – Part 2
  5. Business case JFS: short addition

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How things can change over a year isn’t it? I remember it was December 2013 when the news arose about problems at Kockums with their greedy mother company TKMS / HDW. I received some information and found others through my network of defense experts worldwide.

Maybe that the naval domain can show the “air domain” how a cooperative project must be done. Both Damen and Saab know how to build vessels on a modular way. within budget, within technical scope so the products they build can be used what they were meant for.  No paper planes … eh… submarines i mean, but real ones, operational available and enough of them to operate properly.

I will keep an eye on this Joint Future Submarine project.

Business case JFS: short addition

Remembered the new project proposal I called: Joint Future Submarine (JFS)? A project to replace the current Dutch Walrus-class submarines with new ones in a joint cooperative program… because the Dutch lost their full capabilities to deliver new submarines themselves.

class_walrus2_2

 

Joint – A submarine is a strategic asset important for the whole defence force. It will gather intelligence over sea, and over land, it will insert and extract Special Forces, it will influence warfare on land with land-attack missiles and act as a (satellite) communication relay, between forward / expeditionary positioned land and air forces, if necessary.

Future – this one should be clear, a submarine design must be compatible for future uses. Just like the Walrus class we may expect them to operate for long lifetime. They must be built in a modular way to insert future technology at the moment not even available.

Submarine – yes ofcourse, the vessel is a submarine. They will be of the non-nuclear type. But must be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion systems. The type, just as the Walrus class should be able to operate independently on long ranges and without any direct support vessels.

In short just look at the new Kockums A26 propsal from Sweden’s Saab Group!

download (1) kockums_a26_468

ASW capabilities: the European context – Part 2

I previously wrote :

kockums_a26_468

I will contiue with some conclusions regarding the detailed numbers i wrote in part 1.

Numbers, people and training
Not only do numbers matter, people to operate the systems, and training… for ASW does matter. The number of people available have declined, and because there are less ships (and people) to do more operations (other than ASW) their availability for dedicated anti-submarine operational training is at a very dangerous low point. The last factor will be: the wearing out of the ships, because all ships will be at a high level of operational availability for low intensity operations… like anti-piracy  in the horn of Africa or on station.  Ships and systems aren’t available for what they were intended for… but are available for operations they are too expensive to operate for. Even the OPV’s are relatively high cost because of the High tech sensor suite and the high load guns on board. (compare it to the French Gowind L’Adroit OPV, or the Spanish BAM for instance. Or take the very expensive NH90 naval helicopter which may be very good for Anti-Submarine warfare and other military operations, but way over the top for SAR, training, Drug and law enforcement operations.

Imbalance
This imbalance isn’t only visible in the Netherlands. The whole of Europe, at least the modern Western-European armed forces have suffered the same decline in ASW capabilities.  The Netherlands and other EU-member states should rethink the decline of (their) relevant capabilities!

Read about it in this indepth special report from a workshop from 2008: DV C. Parry Maritime developments and their

 

 

Read all the answers to questions like: Why is it important? Where do we need it for? But first let me start by elaborate on the necessity for a European approach to our maritime security. Personally I think it is possible to do this in a manner that both respects the sovereignty of (our) nation(s) and create an effective European force if necessary. Besides that it will be necessary to better control our borders, surrounding waters and Exclusive Economic Zone’s (EEZ) both in times of peace (coastguard operations) and war (military naval operations Sea Control / Sea Denial)

“Although the interests of European countries can also be differing, we have one big shared interest: We all live on the European continent.”

Not alone but in partnership
In my opinion a European approach to Security & Defence is a very important thing to do because Europe will face imminent threats in the years to come. At the same time we see the forces of the NATO split into the United States (80%) and the rest. European countries are lacking many important capabilities and the Armed Forces of the United States are (re)focusing on the South East Asian and Pacific theatres of operation. Besides that we see that the United States interests aren’t always the same as European and European countries interests. In contrast even, sometimes the interests of the United States and European countries are diametrically opposed to each other. Both Russia and China are following a more aggressive stance while Western (especially European) countries take a more avoidant stance. At the same time we see the West giving priority on short term financial benefits by decreasing defence spending and trying to secure for example (defence) export deals with both countries (thus selling them high tech weaponry and technology transfer) while ignoring possible future conflict situations with both countries. We see a lot of developments in our back- and front yards:

threats to europe

  • Russia: Ukraine, threat full maneuvers in the Baltic Sea, claiming territories in the North pole area, an aggressive stance against some of the Visegrad group of counties and (other) Baltic states e.g.

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  • China: claiming territories and islands in the South China Sea area, setting up no fly zones over other countries territories (Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia)  the same for Taiwan, South Korea and Japan areas.

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  • Turmoil in several Mediterranean countries: With lots of refugees and civil war in Syria, Iraq and many problems surrounding the whole Southern European (Mediterranean) borders.

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Common interests in Europe within NATO
My conclusion is that Europe and the European member states should do more to become more independent from the United States, within NATO structures if necessary, and act as fully responsible and as an assertive (group of) countries. Although the interests of European countries can also be differing, we have one big shared interest: We all live on the European continent. Eventually this also benefits the United States and NATO but on our own terms.

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One continent, common threats
European countries share one continent, they thus share common threats to their borders and to their common interests in regard of flow of goods, fuel, raw- and rare materials. Al these interest depend on open and (European) controlled seas. But what if we (Europeans) do not have the ships, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and people to secure those Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC)? Ships with all the things we need (and that’s a lot because many things we can’t make ourselves because its cheaper to buy in Asia….)   sail from Asia to Rotterdam. For example its about 9.343 NM from Singapore to Rotterdam if you take the Suez canal. What if there is a chokepoint, lets say the Suez canal is closed? Ships have to re-route to sail around Africa which means a trip of 14.181 NM. What if there are problems around Africa too? And the northern passage to go round Russia and China isn’t possible? Can we defend our merchant vessels? Against pirates? Ok, but can we defend our merchant vessels against, submarines, enemy fighter attack, long range anti-ship missiles? Is this really a delusional idea? Who would have thought that Russia would be waging war against a country with borders to Europe? Is it really unthinkable that China will wage war against small ASEAN countries like the Philippines, Vietnam e.g.? Does the Netherlands have (or even needs) the capability to perform these kind of operations all by itself? No, that won’t be possible unless it would arm all of its merchant ships… But the European navies together can make a very impressive capability to secure our SLOC. But then we need to cooperate.

No to full integration, Yes to full cooperation
A fully integrated European Armed Force and additional overhead is totally unnecessary in my opinion. This would build a water head without any muscles. I see possibilities for mutual respectful cooperation and standardisation using NATO standard procedures, training, doctrine, (modular) weapon and sensor systems, fuel and spare parts. This will also improve the cooperation with our US allies. Burden sharing with the US will benefit both. We can secure their interests: merchant vessels on route from Asia to the US, and they can secure European merchant vessels en route to Europe. But there is even a broader possibility there are other countries to cooperate with. Brazil, India, South Africa (BRIC countries…. Without China unfortunately) could be security partners too.

Malacca-2

Read about some of the current and proposed Maritime Patrol Aircraft market.