Taking Marine Artillery Into The Twenty-First Century AUTHOR Major J. R. Murphy, USMC CSC 1988 SUBJECT AREA National Military Strategy EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: TAKING MARINE ARTILLERY INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Introduction: The Marine Corps has spent over two billion dollars over the past decade to upgrade artillery fire support. It is time to step back and see what improvements have been made and what it should mean to the supported infantry. Part One: Marine Artillery Ten Years Ago. In order to appreciate what we now have, we must look at what we had ten short years ago. The FO was equipped with only a map and compass. We had voice communications and firing data had to be manually computed. It was difficult to account for non- standard conditions and there were only six 105-mm howitzers in a battery. Artillery had to be adjusted on to a target and high explosive (HE) was the primary munition. Part Two: Marine Artillery Today. The FO is now equipped with laser range finders and a direction finding gyro (MULE and AN/GVS-S). The FDC has a computer to figure firing data and a backup computer if the first one fails (BCS and BUGS). We have digital communications from the FO to the battery (DGT). We can automatically determine and compute meteor- ological corrections and muzzle velocity corrections (MDS and M-90). Survey has been improved in speed and accuracy (PADS). We now have eight 1SS-mm howitzers in a battery and more lethal ammunition (M198 and DPICM). We have ammunition that can lay mine fields and destroy tanks or other point targets (FASCAM and COPPERHEAD). We can now find targets that would have eluded us before (FIRE FINDER and RPV). Part Three: The Future. Just around the corner are other improvements. The Army has already fielded a rocket launcher with the fire power of a howitzer battalion; it can move about the battlefield independently and shoot at targets more than 30,000 meters away (MLRS). Enhancements to the M1O9 will give it the same independence as the MLRS (HIP program). Digital communications will bring the fire support coordinator, and the artillery battalion in the loop with the FO and the battery (FIRE FLEX and AFATDS). Artillery propellants will be more efficient and push rounds to longer ranges (liquid propellants and electromagnetic propulsion). Finally we will have a fire and forget tank killer round (SADARM). Summary: In order to employ artillery, it is important for all Marines to know the new capabilities of Marine Artillery. TAKING MARINE ARTILLERY INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY OUTLINE Thesis statement. Over the past decade the Marine Corps has spent a lot of money to improve every aspect of artillery fire support; it is time to step back and see just what those improvements are and how they all fit together. I. Part One: Marine Artillery Ten Years Ago. A. Forward observer and his equipment. B. Communications. C. Fire direction center and equipment. D. Metro/survey equipment. E. Radars. F. Howitzers and munitions. G. Organization. II. Part Two: Marine Artillery Today. A. Modular Universal Laser Equipment (MULE). B. AN/GVS-5 Laser Range Finder. C. Digital Communications Terminal. D. Battery Computer System. E. Gun Display Units. F. Back-up Computer System. G. Meteorological Data System. H. M-90 Chronograph. I. Position Azimuth Determining System. J. M-198 Howitzer. K. Munitions. 1. Improved Conventional Munitions. 2. Field Artillery Scatterable Mines. 3. Copperhead. L. Structure changes. M. AN/TPQ-36 Fire Finder Radar. N. Remotely Piloted Vehicle. III. Part Three: The Future. A. Multiple Launch Rocket System. B. Howitzer Improvement Program for M109A3. C. Enhanced Digital Message Device. D. Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System. E. Liquid Propellants. F. Electromagnetic Propulsion. G. SADARM. IV. Part Four: Summary. A. What all the improvements mean to the supported infantry. TAKING MARINE ARTILLERY INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Marine artillery had changed little for a half a century, then about 1980, years of development and a more liberal defense budget brought about some needed improve- ments. Over the past decade the Marine Corps has spent a lot of money to improve every aspect of artillery fire support; it is time to step back and see just what those improvements are and how they all fit together. Before we look at what we bought, we should review what we had. The discussions that follow on the past, the present, and the future of our artillery system will follow the same format. We will start with the forward observer and follow the fire request through the transmission to the fire direction center, computation of firing data, actions at the guns, and the effects of the rounds on target. PART ONE: MARINE ARTILLERY TEN YEARS AGO Prior to 1980 the FO was equipped with only a map and compass. It was up to the observer to map spot his loca- tion. He then had to determine a target location from his map and a direction to the target using his compass. A good FO was supposed to locate a target to an accuracy of 100 meters and a direction to an accuracy of ten mils. More often the FO was lucky to be within 400 meters and 50 mils. He then had to compose a call for fire and transmit it over a voice radio net to the fire direction center (FDC). The FDC received the mission and plotted the target location on a chart. Using a range deflection protractor and pins in the chart representing the battery position and the target, a relative direction and distance to the target was determined. After comparing the elevation of the target and the battery, a graphical firing table was used the compute firing data. The firing data was transmitted to the guns over a land line. All six howitzers received the same data. Often at least one of the gun crews would make an error in transcrib- ing the message and the data would have to be repeated. Since all the guns fired the same data, the rounds impacted on the ground in the same relative positions that guns were located in the battery position. This did not produce optimum effects on target and it made emplacement of the howitzers more difficult. In addition to target location errors, many other factors contributed to inaccuracies.1 The most important correction factor is weather. It is not uncommon to have the affects of wind, temperature, and air density, move a round 400 meters from its intended target. Calculating the 1See Chapter 2, FM 6-40, for a detailed description of artillery ballistics. affects of weather was not easy. The most common method was to send a balloon aloft and track it manually with a theodolite. After lengthy computations a "met message" was sent over the radio to each battery. The met message con- sisted of up to 16 lines of 12 digits each. The message took a long time to transmit and errors were common. After the message was received it took an additional 15 minutes to compute and apply corrections to the graphical firing table.2 To confirm the location of the battery, manual survey teams were employed to locate battery center and provide direction control so that all the howitzers would be pointed in the same direction. Battery center could be located to the nearest meter and direction was accurate to the nearest ten mlls. Survey teams were slow and manpower intensive. Survey had to be accomplished before to occupying a posi- tion. Each howitzer has its own unique muzzle velocity error.3 A radar chronograph was used to determine the muzzle velocity error for each howitzer. Annually each regiment conducted an exchange of howitzers among the batteries to keep the "long shooters" and "short shooters" 2See Chapter 10. FM 8-40, for a detailed description of meteorological computations. 3See Chapter 11, FM 6-40, for a detailed discussion of muzzle velocity errors. together. This helped keep a better sheaf4 for each battery. Trading howitzers was never popular and with some batteries always deployed it was difficult to ensure that the howitzers in each battery were properly matched. Direct support battalions were organized into batteries of six 105-mm howitzers. High explosive was the ammunition of choice although variable time fuse could be used to enhance the effects on target. The effects on target would be minimal unless all the factors described above were accurately computed and the target location was very precise. The most common way to account for all the nonstandard conditions5 was to register.6 A battery had to register every four to six hours to keep up with the changing meteorological conditions. An observer was needed to conduct a registration. Because of poor target location or old registration data the rounds usually had to be adjusted on to the target by the observer. This was time consuming and usually took three to five rounds to accomplish. The enemy who was thus being bracketed was hardly surprised and the affects were less than if an accurate, surprise, mass mission was 4See Chapter 13, FM 6-40, for a detailed description of types of sheafs. 5Standard conditions are described in FM 6-40, p.10-2. 6Registration techniques are described in Chapter 12, FM 6-40. launched. 7 PART TWO: MARINE ARTILLERY TODAY In late 1986 the Marine Corps began fielding the Modular Universal Laser Equipment (MULE). The MULE is a laser range finder/designator. It consists of three modules. The designator/range finder module (LDRM) is a rifle like device that contains the laser components of the system. The tripod (STTM) provides a stable platform to track moving targets and a base to mount the North Finding Module (NFM). The NFM can orient the MULE to one mil accuracy in less than two minutes. The LDRM can range targets to ten meter accuracy or designate point targets for attack by laser guided munitions. At a unit cost of $380,000 it is not cheap, but it is the only manpackable laser designator in the inventory. With the MULE the FO can use the capabilities of range finding and direction finding to accurately self locate by resection. Once his position is known, the FO can locate targets to an accuracy of ten meters. In addition, if a registration has not been conducted and the first round has no effect on target, the FO can laze the burst. This information, called "did hit" and "should hit" data8 a when 7Field artillery effectiveness is discussed in Chapter 1, FM 6-30. 8This method is described in FM 6-40, p.12-2. computed in the FDC should produce a second round hit. This method eliminates the lengthy bracketing, saves rounds, and produces rapid effects on the target. The MULE can range targets to 10,000 meters, and designate targets out to 3500 meters. The MULE can also be equipped with a thermal imaging sight, the AN/TAS-4D. The AN/TAS-4D give the FO the ability to see into the night to a range of about 3000 meters. The system weighs 41 pounds without the night sight. All observer teams9 are equipped with the MULE as well as selected reconnaissance teams. A hand held laser range finder, the AN/GVS-5, was fielded in 1984.10 This device looks much like a pair of binoculars, but it contains a range finder that can range targets to an accuracy of ten meters at ranges out to 10,000 meters. It does not have any direction finding capability, but it is a very useful device when the MULE cannot be carried. Again the distribution is one to every observer team plus other selected units. At a unit cost of over $5000 the prudent FO would not want to lose it. The Digital Communications Terminal (DCT) has already been fielded, however the fire support software is still in development. There is no current projection for the 9Observer teams are artillery forward observers, forward air controllers, naval gunfire spot teams, and ANGLICO teams. 10See Chapter 6, FM 6-30, for artillery uses of the AN/GVS-5. fielding of the software, but when it is available, the FO will have the ability to transmit his fire request over a digital net directly to the Battery Computer System (BCS). The DCT is compatible with the MULE so the information readout of the STTM11 can be electronically transmitted to the DCT. With a range and direction reading from the MULE and a preformatted fire request in the DCT, the FO can rapidly and accurately transmit his mission to the FDC. The most dramatic improvement at the FDC will be the fielding of the Battery Computer System (BCS) later this year. The BCS replaces the aging Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer (FADAC) and manual gunnery techniques. The BCS will mount in the back of a HMMWV which will add more mobility to the FDC. The BCS can receive digital messages directly or the fire mission can be manually entered. The BCS can store muzzle velocity errors for each howitzer, meteorological corrections, observer locations, preplanned target locations, fire support coordination measures, and locations of each howitzer in the battery. When a mission is computed, the BCS determines separate firing data for each howitzer. A circular sheaf is plotted around the target and each howitzer is given a different aiming point. This produces the better effects on the 11The STTM has the electronic interfaces that provide a digital readout of range, direction, and elevation. target. The BCS transmits the firing data to each howitzer over a land line to a Gun Display Unit. The section chief's display is an interactive unit so the section chief can inform the FDC when each round is fired and the ammunition status of his section. The deflection and quadrant are displayed for the gunner and assistant gunner as well as for the section chief. This helps prevent errors in relaying numbers. The BCS also comes with a printer, the AN/UGG-74, to record missions. This $25,000,000 program provides dramatic improvements over the old manual system. Each battery level FDC will be equipped with a BCS. Because there is always a possibility that the BCS will go down, a Back-Up Computer System (BUCS) was fielded in 1986. The BUCS is a hand held computer with of most of the same capabilities as the BCS. The biggest deficiency of the BUGS is that it does not have any communications capability. it cannot receive digital messages nor transmit data to the guns. It is a big improvement over manual gunnery and a relatively cheap investment. The BUCS program cost only $650,000 and provided 20 computers and printers to each artillery battalion. The BUCS can also be used to solve manual survey computations. As mentioned earlier, knowing the effects of meteoro- logical conditions is a major factor in getting rounds on target. The Meteorological Data System (MDS) will be fielded in 1989. The MDS has the capability to sound the atmosphere every two hours. The on board computer automati- cally tracks the balloon and radiosonde in any one of three ways. The radiosonde can be tracked by navigational aids, by signals transmitted to a large dish antenna, or manually with a theodolite. The first two methods are the most accurate, however navigational aids are not available in all parts of the world. In any of the methods, the computer calculates the meteorological message and transmits it digitally over radio net to the BCS. The BCS then applies the necessary corrections to each round fired. The MDS is not small or cheap. The entire MDS section requires three five ton trucks, each with a towed load. The unit cost of $1.4 million does not include the trucks or generators. There will be three MDS sections per division. The MDS will replace the old RAWIN set12 and the manual meteorological stations. The addition of the MDS will finally give the division and deployed MEBs the meteoro- logical capability that was never really used before.13 The single radar chronograph that was used at the 12The RAWIN is a semi-automated meteorological station that can track and record data from radiosondes, but it has no communications link other than voice radio. It is so old that there are no records in existence to tell when it was fielded. For a complete description of artillery meteor- ology and the RAWIN set see FM 6-15. 13There are only seven RAWIN sets in the inventory and the average availability in the Marine Corps is only two. regimental level to determine muzzle velocity errors, was replaced in 1981 by the M-90 radar chronograph. The M-90 was distributed to each battery. The old chronograph had to be surveyed in next to a howitzer and the howitzer had to fire at least six rounds at a quadrant of 300 mils to get a good reading. The M-90 mounts on a bracket on the howitzer and can take muzzle velocity readings from any round fired. This means that fire missions do not have to be interrupted to update muzzle velocity errors. The muzzle velocity errors can be stored in the BCS and are applied to each howitzer on every mission. The unit cost of the M-90 is $23,000. Survey speed and accuracy has also been improved. The Position Azimuth Determining System (PADS) was fielded in 1986. PADS is a self contained inertial gyroscope that is mounted in a HMMWV. The PADS is initialized over a known point just as manual survey teams begin their measurements. The PADS then simply drives to the next battery position and the team marks the battery center and puts in stakes to mark directional control.14 The unit cost of $253,000 sounds high, but since a manual survey team consists of seven Marines and a PADS team consists of only two Marines, the savings of 120 billets made the procurement very cost effective. Each battalion received two PADS and two were assigned to each regimental 14Field artillery survey is described in FM 6-2. headquarters. One manual survey team remains with each battalion. The enhancement in accuracy and response time will mean that artillery will be better equipped to keep up with the fast moving battlefield of the future. Most of the enhancements described above deal with speed and accuracy; its time to look at the business end of artillery, the effects on target. The Marine Corps began fielding the M-198 in 1981. The primary reason the Marine Corps changed from 105-mm direct support howitzers to 155-mm was the ammunition. The 105s fired only high explosive (HE), illumination, and white phosphorus (WP). While beehive and anti-armor rounds were available they were they were only for close in defense. The 155s provided a larger carrier so other rounds requiring more room could be developed. The round that we depend on now as the primary round, over the HE, is the Duel Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM). The DPICM round contains 88 grenades, some of which explode in the form of a shaped charge when they hit a hard target such as a BMP, others explode in the air after bouncing up off a soft target such as the ground. The affect is that there is a greater chance of killing vehicles with light armor. The affect of soft target kills such as troops is enhanced over conventional HE. Half of all 155-mm rounds that the Marine Corps buys is DPICM. The next capability that is only possible with 155-mm or larger rounds is the family of Field Artillery Scat- terable Mines (FASCAM). There are two types, Area Denial Munitions (ADAMS) and Remote Anti-Armor Munitions (RAAMS). ADAMS dispenses 32 anti-personal mines and ADAMS dispenses nine anti-armor mines. Only the imagination limits how these two rounds can be employed. Copperhead is a laser guided round capable of destroy- ing a tank or other point target. With the MULE as the designator the artillery now has the capability to engage tanks successfully. The Marine Corps buys of Copperhead have been postponed by Congress due to budget constraints, but each year the Marine Corps has requested money to buy this capability. The Army has already fielded the Copper- head. The 155-mm howitzer is a nuclear capable launcher. With an all 155-mm or 8-inch force, the enemy will have a more difficult time isolating nuclear capable units and engaging them. Deploying the 155s as the direct support weapon of the MEU gives the Nation a forward deployed tactical nuclear capable unit. This is quite an added punch to the power of a MEU. One other change that took place during this time is that the direct support batteries increased from six to eight howitzers. This coupled with the change to 155s, improved the target coverage from 210 by 50 meters to 400 by 75 meters. That is quite a difference when planning final protective fires. I can't leave this topic without acknowledging some of the problems in the move to 155-mm. First is the obvious increase in lift requirements. The 155s are larger and take up more room on ship. Tactical mobility is decreased because the only helicopter that can lift the M-198 is the CH-53E. The M-198 also requires a larger crew. I believe, however, that the increase in range, flexibility of ammuni- tion type, and firepower more than offset these difficul- ties. There are two other enhancements to locating targets that must be mentioned before we move on to the future developments. The AN/TPQ-36 Fire Finder Radar was fielded in 1985. It replaced the AN/TMQ-4. The Q-36 increased the range to which we can detect enemy indirect fire units to 24,000 meters. It not only increased the accuracy to which we can find enemy batteries but it can also relay that information digitally over radio net to the BCS for rapid engagement. Borrowed Army BCSs and Q-36s were used in Lebanon very successfully. The other procurement with artillery applications is the Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV). The RPV does not belong to the artillery, but with its long range eyes, the artil- lery can be more effective. Artillery is only as good as our ability to find and engage targets. The RPV extends the range that we can find and engage targets. PART THREE: THE FUTURE We have come a long way in only ten years, but there are still many improvements just over the horizon. Below is a sample of some of the systems that are under development or already fielded by the Army, but not yet budgeted for by the Marine Corps. The Multiple Launch Rocket System is a tracked vehicle, somewhat smaller than the 8-inch howitzer, that carries twelve 9-inch rockets. The rockets come in two six-pack pods that can be reloaded in ten minutes. Each rocket carries 640 DPICM grenades. The rockets can be individually aimed or barrage fired at one target. The twelve rockets can by fired in less than one minute. The effects of one launcher load is about the same as a 155-mm battalion three round barrage. The MLRS requires only three crewmen. It has its own on board fire control computer and a self locating gyro. This give the MLRS the ability to move independently around the battlefield, stop to fire a mission, and move out again in less than five minutes. A counter battery attack against the MLRS would be almost impossible. The MLRS has already been fielded by the Army, but its program cost of over a billion dollars15 has kept it out of the Marine Corps budget. Because of the personnel savings 15Includes the cost of ammunition. of 1500 billets and its fire power, it is an attractive program. In the early 1990's, the Army plans to product improve the M-109A3 self propelled howitzer. The program is called the Howitzer Improvement Program (HIP). The Marine Corps has been following this program with interest because it offers many survivability improvements as well as personnel savings. The-HIP is to have the same type of independent fire control equipment as the MLRS. It will have a crew of three or four and have a semi-automatic loading capability. It too will be able to move independently about the battle- field, self locate, and engage targets much the same as the MLRS. The difference is that in order to mass fires the fires of all the howitzers in the battery will be co- ordinated centrally. One enhancement that is in the POM this year is the Enhanced Digital Message Device. This program will be called the Flexible Fire Support System (FIRE FLEX) by the Marine Corps. It is a product improvement of the Army DMD. It is a four pound battery operated computer which will be used by fire support coordinators to monitor and coordinate fire missions and fire support at the fire support coordina- tion centers of the battalion, regiment and division. The FIRE FLEX will also be used at the artillery battalion FDC to coordinate the fires of the batteries. It will put the FSC and the battalion fire direction officer (FDO) in the digital loop with the FO and the BCS. This capability was lost to the Marine Corps when the Marine Fire and Air Support System (MIFASS) program was cancel led last year.16 The unit cost is just over $100,000. It is expected to be fielded by 1992. The Marine Corps is also following the development of the Army's Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS). This is a replacement system for the TACFIRE17 system that the Army has used for a number of years. It will be used at the same locations as the FIRE FLEX, but it will be able to handle more communication nets and it will have a graphic map display. The graphic map display will give the FSG a visual picture of the battlefield to include friendly locations automatically updated by Position Locating Reporting System (PLRS). Experiments have been underway to explore new methods of launching artillery rounds. One such method is the use of liquid propellants. A 55 gallon drum of fuel will be used to replace the powder propellant bags now used. The advantage of this method will be a more efficient use of propellant. The liquid propellant would be precisely injected in to the howitzer chamber. Extra powder bags 16MIFASS was cancelled because it failed operational testing. 17Tactical Fire Direction System (TACFIRE) is described in detail in FM 6-1. would not be wasted or have to be disposed of after missions not requiring a full charge. Also being looked at is electromagnetically launching rounds from rails. It is estimated that ranges of 45,000 meters can be achieved using this method of propelling the round. The problem yet to overcome is finding a strong enough power source that is small enough to transport easily. One exciting new development in ammunition technology is Search And Destroy Anti-armor Munition (SADARM). The SADARM has been under development for over ten years and is expected to be in the inventory by the mid 1990's. SADARM is a fire and forget anti-armor munition. After launch the round senses heavily armored targets and fires forged steel projectiles down through the top of tanks or armored vehicles. Each round will be capable of attacking three armored targets. The rounds can be fired without the requirement of a observer or designator. With this round artillery can be a true tank killer. PART FOUR: SUMMARY Artillery has come a long way in just ten years. The FO has the equipment for accurately locating targets and rapidly transmitting his fire request to the battery. The battery has a computer system to figure firing data that will incorporate all non-standard conditions for each round fired, not just an aggregate of the battery's errors. With the use of the MDS and the M-90, non-standard conditions can be measured, computed, transmitted, and applied in a timely manner. Survey will be accomplished more rapidly. The TPQ- 36 and RPVs will find targets that would have eluded us before. Targets can be engaged more rapidly at longer ranges with more powerful and sophisticated munitions. Artillery can lay mine fields, destroy tanks, and add greater lethality to soft targets such as infantry. Digital communications will tie the whole system together providing faster and more accurate communications. This all sounds great for the artillery, but for the infantry this means better support. The infantry should expect and demand faster response time, better effects on target, and an artillery system more able to keep up with the fast pace of the modern battlefield. This is a vast improvement over the six 105-mm HE rounds that could be expected to land near a target just ten-years ago. It is now up to us to learn how to best exploit the range,18 flexibility, and speed of today's artillery. We all must know the capabilities of the equipment recently fielded in order to be able to integrate artillery support into the modern battlefield. l8The range of the M-198 is over 18,000 meters (30,000 rocket assisted) compared to the M101A1 range of 11,000 meters (17,500 rocket assisted). BIBLIOGRAPHY Department of the Army. Field Artillery Tactical Fire Direction System. FM 6-1. Washington D.C. 1979. Department of the Army. Field Artillery Survey. FM 6-2. Washington D.C. 1978. Department of the Army. Field Artillery Meteorology. FM 6- 15. Washington D.C. 1978. Department of the Army. The Field Artillery Observer. FM 6- 30. Washington D.C. 1978. Department of the Army. Field Artillery Cannon Gunnery. FM 6-40. Washington D.C. 1984. Department of the Army. Field Artillery Cannon Battery. FC 6-50. (Coordinating Draft) U.S. Army Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, OK. 1986. Department of the Army. Field Artillery Target Acquisition. FM 6-121. Washington D.C. 1978. Department of the Army. Field Artillery Radar Systems. FM 6-161. Washington D.C. 1984.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|