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Comments on the RNLN plans

In the first blog I pointed to the JSF and reasoned that I don’t believe the positive quote ‘Now it is our decade’. In the second part I tried to look into the plans which where shown in an article.

The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) is planning the replacement of its mine countermeasures (MCM) vessels, its M-Frigates and replacement of its four Walrus class submarines.

With this third blog I will write something about the problems (which I already talked about in a previous blog) the delusional High technological – high cost (mostly poor quality (you won’t believe it) but high budget and high results for shareholders of the MIC) part which is meant for intervention, stand-off ranges… in short best described as the Joint Strike Fighter concept. In this blog I will focus on the implications for the RNLN. In order to do this I will point out that the Navy has good quality ships(units) but in to small numbers.

Concessions not capabilities
People who have read my blog know that I’m not a fan of the OPV (Holland class) and JSS (karel Doorman class). And that’s because I believe that these were more political and industrial oriented concession projects. First of all, I believe that we should have kept the incredible robust MP frigates as they where. The ministry of Defense (while it should be a political decision) used this argument that they where to costly with big manning costs.. but these costs – on the total cost of sailing a (big) vessel are peanuts. And that’s the same for an OPV or a frigate. The MP Frigates could sail with a smaller crew of about 80 people on “coast guard missions” instead of about 150 people in full war configuration> This ability is lost with the great OPV’s.

The OPV’s are solutions for tasks and have a performance profile that could have easily been done by less costly ships. They are classes of ships full of concessions. I said it many times before. The Dutch (and you can fill in most of the NATO member countries except US but included the UK) have created a split in two parts of Defense:  the High technological – high cost (mostly poor quality but high budget and high results for shareholders of the MIC) part which is meant for intervention, stand-off ranges… in short best described as the Joint Strike Fighter concept….and the second part is the “good for peace & security operations” forces.. called UN peace keepers… they (the soldiers believing in these concepts) imagine to be capable of warfighting… for the public and the politicians.. but they can’t… Why because they depend on the ideal (calculated) scenario’s if everything goes as planned…. Neglecting Murphy”s law.  Just read my last blog and the quote of Brigadier Simon Humphrey (British Army/UK)

“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.” ”

Remember what is really wrong with the Dutch armed forces:

What I mean is that the Dutch armed forces – especially the land forces lack offensive capability and depend completely on others and “Airpower” which is an illusion. But also the Royal Netherlands navy lacks capabilities.. 

I am aware that it isn’t the same “problem” as the Army has which has a complete lack of offensive weapon systems.. No the Netherlands navy indeed has capable frigates, it’s Submarines are very good: unmatched in capabilities and quality, they form a special class on their own, since most of the other submarines are much smaller and the Walrus class ships are capable of transiting much greater distances on their own without any help. The current class of Mine Counter Measure (MCM) ships are also very good. The problem with the navy is especially that the force mix is to small to have enough ships available for the “four stroke” which is needed to be able to train for the worst… that’s what our fighting forces are for. Units need to be able to do peacekeeping (and other secondary role) missions, but also train for worst case scenario’s and that’s the point, there are to few ships, and to low on crews to do that. This in combination with the policies of the governments since 2008 have been disastrous for all branches (even the Air Force with their continued focus on ALL AMERICAN (in)doctrine, equipment and their fight on (terror and money for the MIC).  There used to be a capability mix of different kind of systems which together formed a system of systems… It was called a layered defense. That’s all gone now. We have just one layer with offensive capabilities and some disguised / fake layers without any capacities what so ever. Back to the Navy, we came from a force structure with lots of fighting ships – support vessels – Mine Counter measure vessels – integrated Marine units – maritime patrol aircraft – naval helicopters… a complete and cooperative layered team effort.

In a blog from a couple of years ago (2014) I reflected on the Dutch navy situation compared with 2004 >  Focusing on the key area of Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW).

  The last couple of years… well almost 10 to 20 years, many European governments, like the Dutch government seem to have forgotten why we need a well-equipped war fighting capable navy. A new trend have arose where full fletched destroyers, frigate’s and corvettes have been replaced by so called Ocean capable  (a term also used: Offshore) Patrol Vessels. These vessels are mostly capable of operating in a coastguard role, with some weaponry and sensors and often helicopter facilities.  One of the main area’s which this “rebalancing” of fleets have led to is a large diminish of Anti-Submarine warfare capabilities. The European navies decreased the number of submarines, submarine hunting vessels, Anti-Submarine Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Helicopters capable of these important tasks.  Besides that navies tend to invest less in training hours for these kind of operations. Why? The threat of the Soviet fleets have disappeared right? To give you an example: The Dutch Navy in 2004 (ten years ago) had:

  • 13 (around 2004 it where 10)P3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft in the latest modernisation standard. These aircraft where capable of searching and destroying submarines and surface vessel at great range and long endurance. Also capable of Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. Later some were improved for operation over land (EW and SIGINT operations)
  • 24 owned (during 2004 they had 22)SH-14D Lynx naval helicopter These helicopters where integrated on naval frigates and surface ships to help defend and hunt enemy submarines to secure the vicinity of own and friendly ships, both military and merchant vessels in convoy. These helicopters were also used for SAR, Special Forces Insertion, Transport and security operations (like Operation Atalanta)
  • Surface vessels: The Dutch Navy had several types of surface vessels which are capable of Anti-Submarine warfare, with or without naval helicopters.
    • 2x Replenishment ships capable of carrying 2 Lynx helicopters and loads of Aircraft fuels, spares and torpedo’s
    • 1x Air defence frigate with Torpedo tubes, and sonar
    • 7x Multi purpose Frigates with Torpedo tubes, and a bow sonar and equipped with one Lynx helicopter. Besides the hull mounted sonar these frigates are also fitted with a special towed sonar specifically intended for Anti Submarine Warfare. (Anaconda DSBV-61A towed array sonar)
    • 2x Landing Platform Dock ship with the secondary capability of operating as an ASW command and support ship with room for 6x naval helicopters.
    • 4xAir defence and Command Frigates. These are armed with hull mounted sonars
  • Submarines:4x Walrus class submarines armed with torpedo’s and if necessary armed with Harpoon Anti Ship missiles (never bought by the Dutch Navy though).

If we look at the current status of the Dutch Navy… don’t fall of your chairJ I start with the actual decrease/increase (if there is any) by – xx! or + xx!

  • – 13!No more MPA; all sold to Germany (8) and Portugal (5). These aircraft replaced older/other aircraft so in the end EU/NATO decreased this important capability.
  • – 8!ASW capable helicopters; as a cost-cutting measure all flying Lynx helicopters stood down on September 2012. At that time there were a couple of new NH90 in service. But this project has many problems so these where scaled down versions, not full Operation capable. Also the number of ASW capable versions are scaled down, 12 are planned as ASW naval helicopters, the other 8 where intended as naval transport helicopters for marines support operations.
  • Surface vessels:
    • -1! only 1 Replenishment ship operational; 1 Joint Support ship in construction, but because of the broad tasks it is supposed to fulfil it couldn’t always function as a replenishment ship. Besides that it is expected that the purposely build Replenishment ship Zr.Ms. Amsterdam (A836) will be sold around 2014. Effectively this means that the capability will be decreased more than just -1. Say -1,5!
    • Frigates:
      • -1!The Air defence frigate was effectively out of service around 2005.
      • -5/6!Originally there have been 8 Multi-Purpose frigates serving the RNLN. These ships where the backbone of Dutch Submarine hunting capacity. During the year 2004 Hr.Ms. Abraham van der Hulst (F832) was sold. Therefore I speak of a loss of 5 frigates compared to the current situation. The Dutch navy has only 2 of these specialized submarine hunting frigates left. Ofcourse we can count in the 2 Belgian ones because they are integrated within the Admiral BENELUX. But for EU/NATo thise meant a loss because they replaced their 3 frigates with two former Dutch MP frigates.
      • 0!The 4 Air defence and Command Frigates still remain in service.
    • 0! The 2 Landing Platform Docks still remain in service.
  • Submarines: 0!The 4 Dutch submarines eventually survived numerous “attacks” of politicians who wanted to get rid of the submarine service. One quote in particular is very interesting because it’s from the current Dutch minister of foreign affairs Timmermans:

Timmermans (Labour), “Yes, but it’s not the answer I want to hear I want to hear that there were no life-sustaining investments would be done in the submarine service.”. When (minister of Defence) Kamp stuck to his point, the parliamentarian Timmermans decided to break with: “Then this decision wil be the nose of the camel and I predict that we will never get rid of the submarine service.”

The Dutch submarine service has lost a lot of “fat from the bones”… it’s a very tiny service with very few personnel. But the effects it can generate is very interesting. They do a far more better job than the Canadians, Australians and many other countries operating the same or more ships with a lot more personnel. All those other services deliver fewer hours at sea at larger cost.

We can say that the RNLN now has a half replenishment ship. A half ship because the Netherlands has a Joint Support Ship, it also has to be used for transport tasks, It can be used as a marines landing ship besides this the Netherlands has to share this ship for several days/hours per year with the German navy.  But as I suggested before there seem to be plans now for a dedicated “simple” Combat Support ship…like the LOGISTIC SUPPORT VESSEL REPLENISHER 20000 off-the-shelf…. So Navy / MoD please buy a “simple” ship and don’t try to develop it yourself…. Other surface ships are still the same at the moment.

Logistic_Support_Vessel_Replenisher_20000.jpg

Yes I didn’t mention the Ocean Going Patrol Vessels… we have 4 of them, and they are being sold to the politicians and to the public as a great success. I don’t agree. I didn’t mention these ships because I was talking about ships with ASW capability. And there you’ll have it.  This is what I think about these ships – which to be honest – look beautiful and decent.

My critical views on the OPV short sum-up:

  • Tasks for a coastguard like ship which have could be done by less advanced and smaller ships like the Belgians opted for. 2 ships for € 26,6 milion.
  • A civil duty ship but with a heavy canon armament of 1 × 76 mm, 1 × 30 mm Oto Melara Marlin WS, 2 × 12.7 mm Oto Melara Hitrole NT, 6 × 7.62 mm FN MAG machine guns. Yes…… for a Coastguard tasked vessel)
  • A sensor /radar suite (I-mast 400) which normally equips full fletched Frigates… instead of a “civil / coastguard tasked” patrol ship.
  • A large and relative heavy ship like this was needed to accommodate the NH90 helicopter.. and that is just because the navy didn’t want the (leftist polictical) arguments… oh, you need less helicopters because you have less ships to equip…
  • A ship like this wouldn’t be bad if it was designed as a ship that was ‘fitted for, but not with’ which means that the ship could be (up or re)-armed from a simple Coastguard suite up to a heavier (equipped) ship which could function as a corvette. What it has meant to be in the original navy ship study of 2005.
  • Also this ship is to slow to be used for military tasks, And this issue isn’t really an option to do anything about, technical specialists told me that it just isn’t possible to squeeze more knots out of this vessel… and that’s what the political left wanted and get thanks to Mr. Hans van Baalen. (yes, that one, shouting from Maidan square, selling his soul to the big car industry e.g.)
  • There is one positive note: because of these ships the frigates can be dedicated for other roles. But as I said earlier, this could have been done with other, smaller, less expensive and less advanced vessels. And no, I don’t believe the OPV’s will ever be used in the South-China Sea, the gulf or the Horn of Africa, since this could be the result for that unfortunate OPV. so claiming these ships will be used for global roles is not a reality and not necessary, smaller ships will be faster, and helicopters could be made available from the near land bases. But even Damen has designed and build several patrol boats. One of the bigger alternatives would for example be the

That’s it for now, stay tuned!

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Why then talk of a “navy decade”?

In the latest blog I went into details of the material project of the JSF an it’s “related’ projects which first were part of the JSF project and it’s budget…. Why does the RNLN expect a “navy” decade? As you can see, I have my questions about this, but ofcourse I would like to give my views on it as well.

The  the glorious navy decade to come!

….

The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) is planning the replacement of its mine countermeasures (MCM) vessels, its M-Frigates and replacement of its four Walrus class submarines.

The replacements for the M-Frigate are scheduled to be delivered between 2024 and 2029 with the first two to be sent to the Netherlands. The project began two years ago with requirements and specifications completed and the new frigates will be optimised for anti-submarine warfare.

Models of the frigate designs shown during the presentation, revealed ships between 4,500 and 6,000 tonnes.

Some of the RNLN’s weapon systems are also scheduled for upgrade or renewal. Hofkamp said that the replacement of the Harpoon ship missile system will begin shortly, while the Netherlands is also looking into a new torpedo defence system for 2024 and beyond.

The MCM vessels will incorporate more unmanned systems, as is the trend with the renewal of MCM platforms.

‘We will build a ship to operate with all that unmanned gear… and launch and recover it up to sea state three or four,’ said the captain.

It is likely that the MCM vessels will be equipped with two USVs, up to 15m in length, and Hofkamp said the vessel itself will be around 80-90m.

The requirements for the MCM have been completed and the project is now in the specifications phase.

The nation is also looking at a fast replacement for its combat support ship with a new design. ‘We need it quick,’ said Hofkamp, ‘It should be in the water around 2022.’

Lees verder

The Royal Netherlands Navy decade…..?

Yes, there is news from the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) that they hope to build new vessels. Well after all Air Force projects have been finalized and budgeted… This blog takes you from the drama queen: JSF (and it’s lobbyists) to the new building plans from the navy – for Frigates, Submarines, Mine Counter Measure vessels and even a new Combat Support ship…. Dedicated. Ofcourse the OPV and JSS will get some incoming fire from my side… but start your read here.

Good news… or to early?
A couple of weeks ago there was an interesting article where RNLN captain Sebo Hofkamp was quoted saying : ‘Now it is our decade’. He meant that after all the (troubled) RNLAF projects (with the focus on All American (except the tanker from Airbus which doesn’t fit to the DutchForce21 plans) JSF and CH47F main weapons systems projects it will be the turn of the Navy. Well, in theory yes… in practice no! Why because of the JSF and all projects which the Ministry of Defense put on top of the current budget. In fact you could say it’s a scam to our parliament and our people.

Lees verder

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.