USMC seeks to boost LAV firepower with precision missiles or swarming drones

The USMC wants to boost the aging LAV’s firepower with long-range precision fires capabilities, by using either loitering munitions or missiles that could have swarming attributes.

This is part of the Corps’ plan to provide a mounted organic precision fires capability within light armored reconnaissance, or LAR, battalions.

On Feb. 22, the Corps submitted a request for information (RFI) on the US government’s business opportunities website known as FedBizOpps, seeking input from industry leaders on available technologies to build the organic precision fires capability within the LAR battalions.

The Corps is relatively wide open with what it may want.

The Marines are looking for “what is out there” and “whether that be a loitering munition or that be a missile,” Lt. Col. Bradley Sams, Marine Corps Systems Command’s program manager for fires, said during a media roundtable Monday. The Marines want to see “what’s in the realm of possible,” the USMC officer noted.

The Corps wants the new precision fires system’s range to go a beyond the 81mm mortar systems that already are part of the LAR company. Ranges of the new system could span between 7 to 100 km.

The Corps wants to mount the new system on an LAV within an LAR company to augment 81mm mortars, which will support the LAV platoons when they move forward. Munitions could include a combination electronic or kinetic attack.

The plan to add an organic mounted precision fires system to LAR came as a result of testing and experimentation conducted by Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) over the past couple of years.

MCWL has been working with a number of vendors and experimenting with controlling swarming drones.

As of July 2018, the Corps has managed to successfully test a single Marine operator controlling a swarm of six drones — the goal is to eventually manage 15 with minimal operator burden.