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US Marines Considering Adding Land-Based Hypersonic Weapons to Arsenal


Jun 19, 2014
United States
United States
The Marine Corps is in talks with the Pentagon’s research and development community over how a land-based hypersonic weapon could be incorporated into the smallest service’s quick-maneuver concept.

Mike White, assistant director for hypersonics in the Office of the Under Secretary for Defense for Research and Engineering, said today that “I haven’t given up on the Marines yet” for incorporating hypersonic weapons into their future operational concepts.

“The Army and the Navy and the Air Force are moving out aggressively with hypersonic systems, but we are also talking to the Marines about possible applications of ground-launched hypersonic capabilities,” he said during the Defense One Tech Summit held online this week.

Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds of at least Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound – and challenge enemy defense systems not only in tracking their path but in being able to hit and defeat them.

Asked why the Marines would be a good candidate for using hypersonics, which can be shot from greater distances and still hit their targets quickly, White said, “the Marines bring agility to the land campaign. They are an agile force; they can be in certain places with a relatively small footprint relatively quickly. And so that agility and flexibility allows for a number of different advantages. So there’s some conversations happening between DARPA and the Marines in particular to talk about the potential transition of a land-based hypersonic capability to the Marines. And it’s just being discussed as part of the opportunity space for future application of hypersonic weapons.”

The Marine Corps spent much of the last two decades with personnel and equipment flowing in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan for lengthy deployments to the ground wars there. Though routine deployments of marine expeditionary units on amphibious ships never stopped, they were certainly not the focus of Marine Corps operations.

Today, though, the service is seeing a renaissance in its amphibious force, with new thought focused on how to better employ forces and significant attention focused on how to develop small ships, unmanned vessels, new connectors, simplified logistics, new weapons and much more to support these new operational concepts that tend to focus on small groups of Marines moving from the sea to a piece of land, conducting a mission quickly and then moving away to a different piece of land. This island-hopping strategy is primarily being crafted with a Pacific operating area in mind, but it could also be used in places like the Baltic Sea.

The Navy was dubbed the lead service for developing a hypersonic weapon to serve as a conventional prompt global strike weapon – not meant to replace nuclear weapons but rather to provide another option for launching a retaliatory strike anywhere around the world in less than an hour. The Navy’s approach has been to develop a glide body that all the services could use that could withstand the harshest possible conditions: in this case, being launched from a submarine undersea. The Navy has since talked about putting this hypersonic weapon onboard Block V and later Virginia-class submarines with the Virginia Payload Module, as well as potentially the Zumwalt-class destroyer, but the topic of arming Marines with ground-based hypersonic weapons had not been publicly discussed.



Apr 1, 2014
u.s should induct such weapons before dollar crashes as circumstances are indicating it will crash in near future otherwise they will be unable to meet such expenses

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