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.
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:
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)
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.
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…
- 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.
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)
- 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.