The commandant of the Marine Corps wants Marine Corps ground units to be able to target enemy ships without having to rely on air support.
Gen. Robert Neller has been a champion of innovation since he assumed command of the Corps in 2015, promoting efforts to integrate drones with small infantry units and to get experimental technology into the hands of quick-learning Marines. A new focus, he revealed earlier this month at the U.S. Naval Institute’s annual defense forum in Washington, D.C., involves finding a way to fire anti-ship cruise missiles out of existing Marine Corps artillery equipment.
“We’re looking at munitions and capabilities that can be fired out of existing things,” he told reporters during the conference. “I would love to have an anti-ship cruise missile I could shoot out of a HIMARS launcher. So if the Marines, for example, were to go to seize and secure an advance expeditionary amphibious base and the adversary had ships, rather attack them with an airplane, I’d like to be able to have some way to defend from the shore.”
HIMARS, an acronym for high-mobility artillery rocket system, is a vehicle-mounted light rocket launcher system used by the Army and the Marine Corps. It is somewhat portable, as it can be carried in a C-130 aircraft. The HIMARS is currently used for firing M270 artillery rockets and anti-aircraft missiles.
Neller said the Marine Corps and the Army were both looking at requirements to assess the feasibility of using the system to fire anti-ship ordnance as well.
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