Why the Marines Want to Carry and Use Their Own Anti-Ship Missiles

Why the Marines Want to Carry and Use Their Own Anti-Ship Missiles

Michael Peck

Security, Americas


A good idea?

Key point: The Marines want to help secure the seas but also to protect themselves and their bases. In the next major war, it is likely that a lot of anti-ship missiles will be needed.

Land-based, anti-ship missiles have not been America’s friend. They keep the U.S. Navy from operating close to hostile coasts, such as Russia, China and Iran. And just as important, they make it much harder for the U.S. Marines to conduct amphibious assaults in vulnerable landing craft.

But irony of ironies, now it’s the U.S. Marine Corps that wants anti-ship missiles. The Marines have put just published a request for ideas on how to develop weapons for a coastal defense system.

“The Marine Corps is interested in readily available shore-based, coastal defense capabilities designed to provide precision kinetic fires against ships at ranges of 80 miles or greater,” according to the request posted on the FedBizOpps contract site. “A complete coastal defense system would be composed of a command and control center, and a surveillance and Over the Horizon (OTH) target acquisition capability, in addition to the kinetic launch system.”

The concept is rooted in the 2016 Marine Operating Concept, which envisages a more aggressive maritime role for Marine Air Ground Task Forces. Instead of the Marines just being cargo for the Navy to transport across the seas, they can actually help to control the seas. “Marine forces can also support sea control through anti-surface warfare missions and counter-fast attack craft /fast inshore attack craft missions,” urges the Marine Operating Concept.

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