“Defense Primer: U.S. Precision-Guided Munitions” –CRS

The Congressional Research Service has issued a three page, “Defense Primer: U.S. Precision-Guided Munitions.” (Thanks to the USNI news service for bringing this to my attention.)

The remarkable thing is how pervasive these systems have become.

The U.S. military has become reliant on PGMs to execute military operations, being used in ground, air, and naval operations. In FY2020, DOD requested approximately $5.6 billion for more than 70,000 such weapons in 13 munitions programs. DOD projects to request $4.4 billion for 34,000 weapons in FY2021, $3.3 billion for 25,000 weapons in FY2022, $3.8 billion for 25,000 weapons in FY2023, and $3.4 billion for 16,000 weapons in FY2024.

What has this got to do with the Coast Guard? The Coast Guard is a military organization. We are an armed force at all times. We are armed, but we are not really armed for the realities of the 21st century.

Precision guided weapons have the potential to provide the capabilities we need on a wider range of platforms, with increased effectiveness, at lower costs, with less likelihood of collateral damage.

One of the Coast Guard’s core peacetime capabilities should be the ability to forcibly stop a vessel of any size. Earlier I discussed why I believe we are not capable of doing this, here in 2011, and in fact not as capable as we were in the 1920s and 30s here in 2012.

If we are to make a meaningful contribution in any future conflict, we need to be equipped with modern weapons.

Precision guided munitions are no longer reserved for capital ships. Littoral Combat Ships, the Navy combatants that are closest to our large cutters, were built with Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) systems and Naval Strike Missiles are being added. There is not a single class of US Navy surface combatants, down to, and including the Cyclone class patrol craft, that is not equipped with some form of precision guided munition.

It is time for an upgrade.

Guided weapons can give even relatively small platforms a heavy weight punch. Anti-ship cruise missiles and torpedoes have been successfully fitted to numerous classes of vessels of less than 300 tons full load (e.g. smaller than the Webber class).

Certainly precision guided weapons, be they missiles or torpedoes, cost more on a per round basis, but a gun system that can inflict comparable damage requires an expensive gun, a large quantity of ammunition that is expensive, heavy, and a potential danger to the ship itself, extensively trained technician maintainers and operators, and frequent live training. The launchers for smart munitions by contrast may be simpler. The weapons are most frequently “wooden rounds” that require no maintenance, and training programs are frequently incorporated in the launch system software.

Lastly, if we are going to engage targets, potentially within the confines of U.S. harbors, we want to make sure rounds don’t go astray and hurt innocent Americans. Guided weapons are far less likely to cause unintended damage.

The document briefly describes twelve systems. This is certainly not all the systems in the US inventory. I presume, only these are described, because these are the systems that are included in current budget deliberations. I am reproducing the description for the systems that I think are most likely to be applicable to the Coast Guard, preceded by comments on how they might be used by the Coast Guard. The document divides missiles into “Air Launched,” “Ground Launched,” and “Naval,” but as we know, several of these missiles can be launched from ships as well as from the air or ground.

Hellfire, a good candidate for countering small, fast, highly maneuverable surface threats. Also capable of inflecting serious damage on larger targets if multiple rounds are used. Damage is roughly comparable to a shell from a WWII cruiser. Versions are now being used to arm Littoral Combat Ships. They appear to be a good fit for vessels as small as WPBs.

Army Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) firing
(IFPC, “Indirect Fire Protection Capability”) Launching Hellfire missile

Hellfire Missile. The first Hellfire was introduced into service in 1982 on the Army’s AH-64 Apache, using laser guidance to target tanks, bunkers, and structures. Hellfire missiles have a maximum effective range of 4.3 nautical miles. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Hellfire missiles were introduced on the MQ-1 Predator, and later the MQ-9 Reaper, enabling unmanned aerial vehicles to provide a strike capability. Hellfire missiles have become a preferred munition for operations in the Middle East, particularly with increased utilization of unmanned aircraft like MQ-1s and MQ-9s. 

JAGM, a possible direct replacement for Hellfire. same size and shape:

Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM). The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile is designed to replace the Hellfire, TOW, and Maverick missiles. JAGM uses a new warhead/seeker paired with an existing AGM-114R rocket motor to provide improved target acquisition and discrimination. JAGM underwent testing starting in 2010, declaring initial operating capability in 2019 having successfully been integrated on the AH-64E Apache and AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopters.

Naval Strike Missile, chosen for the Littoral Combat Ship and new frigate, this would seem to be a natural fit for the National Security Cutter and Offshore Patrol Cutter. I would prefer the LRASM because of its longer range and much larger warhead, but this system does have a smaller foot print so might fit where the LRASM could not. This is the first time I have seen a maximum range of 300 nautical miles quoted.

A Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is launched from the U.S. Navy littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS-4) during missile testing operations off the coast of Southern California (USA). The missile scored a direct hit on a mobile ship target. 23 September 2014.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary D. Bell

 Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The NSM is an anti-ship low observable cruise missile capable of flying close the surface of the ocean to avoid radar detection. The NSM is designed to fly multiple flight profiles—different altitudes and speeds—with effective ranges of between 100 and 300 nautical miles at a cruise speed of up to 0.9 Mach. The Navy has integrated the NSM on its Littoral Combat Ship, which deployed to the Pacific region in September 2019.

 

LRASM, this would be my preferred option to arm the NSC and OPC. It has sufficient range to almost guarantee that if there were a terrorist attack using a medium to large ship, we would have a vessel underway, ready, and within range to engage it. Its warhead is almost four time the size of that of the NSM, so it would be much more likely to get a mobility kill with a single round. It, like the NSM, can be launched from deck mounted inclined canisters.

US Navy photo. A U.S. Navy Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) in flight during a test event Dec. 8, 2017 off the Coast of California.

Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). LRASM was conceived by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, using a JASSM missile body to replace the AGM-88 Harpoon. Flight testing began in 2012 with the B-1B and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. LRASM uses radio-frequency sensors and electrooptical/infrared seekers for guidance.

 

If you want to dig deeper into this, the Congressional Research Service has done a much more in depth study of the procurement issues.

34 thoughts on ““Defense Primer: U.S. Precision-Guided Munitions” –CRS

  1. There’s a distinct difference between Civilian GPS which is accurate within 3-meter and the Differential GPS that the US Military uses (~<10cm). Even FAA GPS is only accurate to within 1.891-meters (~6.2')…

  2. Against a peer enemy expect the GPS satellites on their fixed trajectory would be no problem for Chinese and/or Russians to take them out, result no GPS,

    Procuring long range anti-ship missiles relatively easy, NSM/LRASM, you just need the funding, but how do you find target info for missiles to attack ships at ~25 plus miles range if reconnaissance aircraft under attack and comms being jammed, not easy.

    Assume you do receive positive target info and launch NSM/LRASM within ~5 minutes at enemy ship at 100 nm range, will take the sub-sonic missiles (Mach 0.9) another ~10 minutes to reach 100 nm, total ~15 minutes, in that time target ship at 20 knots can be anywhere within an area of ~ 20sq nm, if successfully found by missile target ship will then launch its soft kill decoys/jammers and then use its CIWS eg Pantsir-M, equivalent if not more powerful than RAM/Phalanx, as said not that easy.

  3. The Hellfire and NSM solution for the LCS ships seems to be the most promising solution for the Coast Guard. Navy has decided to invest in the NSM for light surface combatants, reserving the more expensive LSARM for heavier vessels. Not sure of any combat system compatibility issues, but outfitting the Bertholf-class national security cutters would seem to be a logical first step. As the Coast Guard is increasingly being asked to perform overseas security patrols and take part in multi-national operations the lack of offensive capability is a glaring weakness. To be truly effective this will need to be paired with Navy MQ-4 assets, for on ship longer range targeting capability. But that is for the future.

    Beyond the NSC fleet I’m not sure their is much appetite for adding combat capability to the OPC of smaller cutters. My perception is that the national security apparatus doesn’t see these vessels as offensive vessels. Exception fro that might the forward deployed Webber-class vessels (5th and maybe 7th fleet), which should be up armed. One relatively easy option would be the Griffin missile which is almost plug-and-play, and would equip them similar to the Navy Cyclone-class patrol vessels. Or even better replacing the Mk25 with some version of the Moog RIwp with being developed with Leonardo for the Army.

    • If the Coast Guard were to get any precision weapons, they would come out of the Navy budget, just as our guns do. No indication of that happening, but that is why I am advocating for it.

      I think the Griffin, as a surface to surface missile is a dead end. Hellfire seems to be filling the small missile niche.

      I see our need for precision weapons on OPC, WPCs, and even WPBs as a Ports, Waterways, Coastal Security requirement, defensive in nature.

  4. This topic has been posted many times and I agree with Chuck: The USCG is severely underarmed for this day and age. It is in essence, a “Gunboat Coast Guard” that relies on direct fire weapons where even the 57mm cannot sink a civilian tanker ship. I doubt it even has GPS RAP 57mm guided shells.

    The problem I see is the lack of funds, facilities, storage, motivation, and training for guided missiles. I recall job hunting and the same USCG civilian job post came up, “Write the technical manual for the 20mm Phalanx CIWS on the NSC.” The job was posted again and again and again after the deadline expired. Apparently, no one wanted a manual job that has already been done for all ships on the U.S. Navy….go figure…as most U.S. Navy warships have some form of 20mm CIWS. Eventually it was filled, I guess.

    But can you imagine how much training, manuals, and obstacles adding guided weapons would be on the NSCs and OPCs if no one wants the jobs to write the manuals and train the crews on guided missiles? The mentality and politics isn’t there, unfortunately, and the USCG isn’t actively seeking out the people to remedy the issues. The logistical tail of “Make it so” just doesn’t seem so and more like, “I’ll believe it when I see it on deck.”

    I still think that the easiest way to up-arm the OPCs and NSCs is to have HiMARS inside cargo containers, embark some Stinger SHORADS and M4 Carl Gustavs with guided laser rounds, buy GPS RAP 57mm shells, buy 2.75″ APKWS pedestal launchers, and buy some small USCG helicopter gunships, be they MD Helicopters or VTOL UAVs armed with missiles, APKWS, and gun pods. Something has to be done, ASAP.

    • The Coast Guard is slated to get the ALAMO course corrected rounds for their 57mm guns. The 57mm guns on LCS, NSC, OPC and FFGX are all expected to use ALAMO.

      • @Malph, Thanks, that is certainly a step in the right direction. Unfortunately our NSCs and OPCs are unlikely to be within 57mm range when the Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security capability is required. An ASCM could extend their reach. Would require some relatively sophisticated targeting.

      • I do think that Chuck has the right idea with the U.S. Army MML photo and its variety of missiles that it can carry, including Longbow Hellfire, AIM-9X, Iron Done, Tamir, and Miniature Hit-to-Kill. The AIM-9X has been tested against surface targets with mixed results. It can probably launch SPIKE ER and Griffin too if it can launch AIM-9X. SPIKE NLOS has a range of 16 miles.

        The problem I see is that the NSCs unfortunately don’t have a lot of open deck space to mount things. Behind the 57mm is probably the best place, or before the bridge superstructure. Mounting at least 15 to 30 cells of MML would REALLY give the NSCs some offensive and defensive hitting power, even if close range.

        https://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2011/05/from-the-bridge-of-the-bertholf-a-word-from-the-commanding-officer/

  5. @Chuck Hill, my suggerstion

    The Navy has at its disposal ~ 11,000+ VLS cells either Mk 41 for Tico/Burkes plus future FFG(X) plus its sixteen deck launch tubes, Mk 57s in Zumwalts and the Trident tubes which fit seven Tomahawks, in the four Ohio’s, 154 Tomahawks in each sub, and in Virginia subs two Trident tubes (Tomahawk numerous but un-stealthy missile but some to be fitted with a new anti-ship seeker head). In addition Air Force B-1Bs now qualified to fire the LRASM, can carry 18 ea? x 100 B-1Bs in fleet, the F-18E/F now in trials with LRASM plus mention P-8A might have future capability to carry the LRASM. Though Navy ships operational ships availability not high would have thought Navy has more than enough cells and deck launchers to fit say ~15% with ASCMs, question has the Air Force/Navy enough missiles to fill all its VLS cells/deck launchers/aircraft. Possible that in future the Navy F-35Cs may fit the air launched version of the NSM the JSM, developed by the Norwegians and sized to fit their F-35As internal weapons bay

    The above would suggest Air Force and Navy have more than enough launch capacity for ASCMs, then why then fit them to USCG cutters. Would argue what Navy is severely lacking is ASW ships, destroyer escorts, in which role USCG operated in WWII. Burkes have a large HMS and MFTA but guessing its the lowest priority mission after BMD, AAW, Land Attack and Anti-Ship operations, not that many ships will be available for ASW.

    Submarines are becoming harder to detect in the noisy environment of the sea, the new gen subs are fitted with sound absorbing anechoic coatings, perforated rubber tiles about 1 inch thick, and with a shrouded propulsor plus using prop shaft electric motors to reduce self generated noise eg the new Columbia SSNB, prop shaft motors quiet as not powering shaft via a noisy gearbox (gearboxes introduce tooth contact noise at a frequency which may easily propagate through the propeller shaft to the propeller and provide a source of underwater radiated noise, flexible shaft couplings can be used to mitigate).

    Several areas of future research ongoing to make subs harder to detect, US and French looking at a new generation of stealth coatings to replace anechoic tiles with ~4 mm silicone rubber coating with 2mm bubbles that could absorb more than 99 percent of the energy from sonar, cutting down reflected sound waves by more than 10,000-fold, or about 100 times better than was previously assumed possible (empty spaces, bubbles, in an elastic material when hit by sound waves can oscillate in size to dissipate the energy).

    Think CG should be part of Navy and their ships designed and funded to take on the destroyer escort role with Navy’s new VDS and MFTA in war scenario, with the cutters using a less costly design than full fat ASW frigates eg IT FREMM / RN Type 26 and hopefully the new FFG. The Fincantieri diesel corvettes for Abu Dhabi showed what is possible, designed a single-resilient mountings with proper associated rigidity, reduction gears are rigidly mounted on foundations carefully treated by means of appropriate viscoelastic materials and doubling plates, aimed to dampen frequencies considered critical to the sonar’s performance.

    Still do not understand why ships so costly, the three Danish Iver Huitfeldt class 6,600t AAW frigates cost less than a 1 billion$ in 2008/11, the new Brit Type 31 OPV based on the Iver Huitfeldt HM&E will be FP contract for five ships at $325 million each including GFE, perhaps a basis for future OPC to replace the ESG OPC ?

    • The Navy apparently thinks they need additional ASCM launchers because they are talking about putting them on Amphibs and auxiliary ships, but I agree that the Coast Guard’s most probable wartime role should be ASW, and perhaps MCM, but our peacetime Ports, Waterways, and Coast Security role argues for a robust ability to get a mobility kill on any ship regardless of size. There are several ways to achieve that.

      It might be lots of geographically distributed small units using short range weapons.

      It might be a few units with long ranged weapons.

      The weapons might be launched from ships or from ashore.

      They might be organically Coast Guard or we might be able to call on DOD units.

      But right now that none of those things seem to be in place.

    • Some of those ~11,000 VLS launcher are earmarked to be placed near Land Based SPY Ballistic Missile Defense Radar Installations World Wide (i.e. the USA, Australia, Japan and NATO). There aren’t enough ship’s in either the US Navy and the USCG combined to place ~11,000 VLS launcher on them…

  6. Chuck, I agree the 57mm ALAMO is a positive step but falls falls short in the scenario you describe. It should make the 57mm more effective though in small craft engagement role. A small step but a step.

    SeaRam is perhaps another area where the Coast Guard and Navy could find common ground. A purely defensive system, it’s a step up in effectiveness and would help the NSCs and OPCs operate more safely when used in national security roles.

    • “MAD-FIRES”! “MAD-FIRES” is a 57mm Bofors munitions developed by Raytheon in conjunction with DARPA, which is a AAW Interceptor Round. Designed specifically to intercept incoming missiles. Efeective range is ~14.8-kilometers. The British Type 31 Frigate is expected to be the First Royal Navy Ship equipped with them, but nothing yet about any US Navy deployment…

      • I thought MADFIRES is still a few years out? It’s still more of an R&D effort I thought. Its news to me that the RN has committed to it.

        If it works it will surely be a step forward for the 57mm when being used in the AAW role. I am happy to see investment being made in increasing the effectiveness of the weapon.

      • @ Malph.

        Raytheon started testing MAD-FIRES as early as 16 January 2017, with production starting in March 2018. And first mass production order ordered in 2 April 2018 for ~$22.7-Million USD. Newest projected scheduled deployment date with US Navy is in May 2020. Raytheon is also expected to produce a 50mm variant for the US Army XM913 50mm IFV Gun. There are also rumors that Raytheon wants to reduce the size even further to accommodate the Mk.38 25mm…

      • Thanks Secundius for passing that information along. That is certainly new info to me. Seems like the 57mm continues to get more versatile.

        Chuck’s scenario calls for something heavier though. Perhaps if a 57mm “deep penetrator” round was available it would alleviate some of his concerns. Something that could penetrate deeply into the interior spaces of a medium to large merchant ship.

        Compared to development and procurement costs associated with ALAMO and MAD FIRES, the cost to develop and procure a 57mm penetrator would be trivial. The technology needed to build such a round is well understood and mature.

        Chuck makes a good case that the CG’s ability to stop or sink a modern merchant vessel is subpar and is less than it was decades ago.

        Even if the CG’s leadership is hesitant to take on anything that might make the CG appear aggressive, certainly they must see the ability to stop a merchant ship deemed dangerous is a core capability.

      • Back in August 2015, the Canadian Navy tried to sink the hulk of the exCanadian Navy Ship “HCMS Athabaskan”, by gunfire. First by a pair of Canadian Air Force CF-18C’s, then by the 57mm Bofors, and lastly by the Oto Melara 76.2/62 SuperRapid. Even the “SuperRapid” required more than 6-rounds a nearly point blank range to punch enough holes into the single hulled hull to allow enough water in to sink the vessel. Against a Double Hull Supertanker, extremely doubtful, even with the Mk.75 76.2/62 “Rapid”…

      • >>>Back in August 2015, the Canadian Navy tried to sink the hulk of the exCanadian Navy Ship “HCMS Athabaskan”, by gunfire.<<<

        Yes, that is the CADSINKEX I often refer to and it's very telling how the diameter of a cannon can dictate whether it's a lethal "shipstopper" or not. Some NATO navy supporters say that machine guns or the 57mm-76mm can rake the bridge or other parts of the superstructure to stop sailing, but when two ships are steaming towards each other and coming alongside, it's iffy if one can target specific nodes of a target when passing at full speed and rotating the turret(s).

        I don't know why the trend to (all) 57mm Bofors for NATO. Sure, if fires rapidly for AAA and limited Anti-Surface and Land Fire Support, but against enemy capital warships, it can't do much damage to hole a hull. A 57mm Deep Penetrator round may hole a hull, but does it have enough explosives to set fire damage and cause water to pour in? Seems like a 84mm M4 Carl Gustav or 23-round MLHS APKWS would be better for specific targeting.

        I still believe that the USCG opting for all 57mm Bofors on the NSC and OPC is a mistake. The 76mm should have been retained.

        Another option would be to base the USN's LCS with NSM and hopefully 8-cell VLS Mission Module at some of the USCG homeports. That way, the NSMs, SeaRAM, Hellfire Longbow, 30mm turrets, HH-60 for ASW, and maybe VLS cells for ASW, ASuW, and ADW can balance the weak USCG ships' CONUS defense and also provide RHIBs and 40+ KTS speed.

      • Keep in mind the US Coast Guard uses weapons provided by the US Navy. The Coast Guard is extremely unlikely to go off the reservation so to speak and purchase weapons i.e. the 76mm Oto on their own.

        There are plenty of suitable weapons already in use by the US Navy. The problems inherent in upgunning the Coast Guard are mostly not technical.

  7. Secundius, Everything I have found so far indicates this is still in DARPA, meaning it is not ready for production, with a DARPA contract awarded Sept. 2019. Do you have links indicating otherwise?

    • ( https : // www . militaryaerospace . com / unmanned/article/16725971/raytheon-to-build-prototype-smart-bullets-to-protect-surface-warships-from-swarming-attacks )

      ( https : // www . defenseworld . net / news/22266/Raytheon_Wins_22_7_Million_MAD_FIRES_Program_Modification_Contract#.Xcw3JYxOmf0 )

      • Secundius, thanks, but I think you may have misinterpreted.

        The first of those is from January 2017 and talks about the intentions for the program.

        The second, which dates from April 2018, is also a development contract for DARPA. It calls for development to be completed by May 2020..

        That they were looking at the Mk38 for this was something I had not seen before. That might be important for the Coast Guard.

        No production contracts issued yet. DARPA just does research and development. Money for production comes out of a different pot

  8. There are some avenues forward that are obvious. These would include:

    Integrate and test Hellfire with the FRCs. At least do the engineering and testing. Not all FRCs would need to carry the missile but some FRCs would clearly benefit.

    SeaRam for the NSCs. SeaRam is the more effective and less maintenance intensive upgrade path. SeaRam is a purely defensive system. With NSC’s increasingly being tasked with operating closely with the Navy, this just makes sense.

    Develop the ability to interoperate Navy helicopters from the NSC. The ability to operate weaponized Navy-manned helicopters from NSC flight decks increases operational flexibility and utility while performing those National Security missions.

    Integrate and test NSM from the NSC. I’d advocate for NSM as it has already been selected by the Navy for use on the LCS and FFGX. It is the easiest path forward. The Navy seems to want to standardize on many items which will be common between FFGX, LCS and NSC. NSM and SeaRam would just be following that trend.

    As has been pointed out many times, NSN would have utilization to the CG in allowing it to recapture the ability to stop dangerous shipping if the need arises. There is also the obvious wartime “distributed lethality” role for an NSM armed NSC.

    Experiment with the LSC ASW and MIW packages. Can these packages be used with the NSC and OPC? Do the testing and integration. Develop a concept of operation. Perhaps staff with Naval Reservist?

    For the most part, what I’m advocating for is doing the engineering, testing and planning now. This would give the ability to deploy these capabilities where it makes sense and scale up rapidly in case of a major naval conflict.

    I’d welcome constructive criticism of the proposal. To me, it seems low risk and not overly aggressive.

    The overall themes are leverage kit which is already in use or planned to be used from the LCS and FFGX.

    Do the engineering and testing now. Deploy the capabilities where it makes the most sense.

    Continue to improve interoperability with the Navy which would better allow for a rapid wartime “surge” capability.

  9. Some of the solutions to the lack of cutter missile armament issue is so straightforward that it’s practically embarrassing because they are available COTS right now.

    If the USCG can’t up-arm its cutters with missiles and more potent weapons, then take to the air and buy HH-60s with Direct Action Penetrator (DAP) stub wings with four hardpoints for mounting of Hellfire, rocket pods, gun pods, and chaingun, all of which are in the US Navy’s inventory.

    And then buy the (K)C-130J “Harvest Hawk” aircraft for stopping power against ships, armed with four Hellfire missiles and 10 Griffin or Viper Strike ATGMs. While these light ATGM missiles might lack the punch to stop a ship in ones and twos, the “Harvest Hawk” can fire a lot of these small ATGMs for maximum damage, enough to deter the approaching vessel. In theory, I would think that with FLIR, the Harvest Hawk can even drop a Paveway Laser Guided Bomb from the wing pylon.

    • I don’t know if the Coast Guard needs it’s own attack helicopters. If they CG could interoperate with existing US Navy armed helicopters we’d get most of what you are asking for less I think.

      There should be fewer challenges in being able to interoperate with the folks already trained and equipped than with the CG procuring and operating their own attack fleet.

      I would not see Navy helicopters operating from CG ships all the time but as a capability to be used in time or war or significant threat.

      • Chuck should know much more about this concept than I do. The USCG VBSS Team…how well armed and trained are they for land warfare? Could they act as raiding Marines, SEALs, special forces, and so on in the Drug War in South America or going ashore to train or enforce in Africa? Or are they just maritime police?

        I agree with you, Malph; however, I think that the USCG and DoD could definitely benefit with a USCG helicopter that isn’t a HH-60. SEALs ride the MH-60R or 60S. The USA is so enamored with buying and flying helicopters and aircraft that I think a MD-969 or MD500 would be ideal for USCG land raids as it’s a combo gunship and troop transport helicopter. The USN’s MH-60s are more ASW helicopters and lack the pylon plank for land warfare armament. Yes, the Navy’s MH-60s will do fine as attack helicopters, but why borrow when the USCG can get their own attack gunship transports? None of the USCG helicopters are dedicated attack missile carriers…they just have M240 or 50cal sniper rifles…and that is what I’m advocating for. More dedicated armed USCG helicopters would help in the Drug War, even if just a small fleet. If the USCG wants to go “heavy attack,” the MH-60 with DAP wings is the answer.

        Is one reason the USCG don’t conduct Anti-Drug lab raids because of the lack of a VBSS armed helicopter transport with CAS? Or the VBSS team doesn’t raid on land because of lack of heavy body armor and heavy small arms, leaving that to the US Navy and DEA?

      • @Locam, You will note on press reports of seizures, that they always say the seizures were made in international waters.

        Apparently, a couple of decades ago the Coast Guard did have people in country, but other than perhaps liaison officers in embassies, and visiting training teams, I don’t think we have any one in country now. Have not heard of the Coast Guard doing special forces type operations at least for the last decade, probably longer. If we had people participating in a drug lab raid, it would be as advisers, and would be conducted under the auspices of the host country.

        Latin American countries tend to be very sensitive about having US military in country. Can’t imagine we would have a Coast Guard helo landing armed Coast Guardsmen in a Latin American country.

  10. The problem is simple. Until terrorists actually use a ship to attack us, the attitude will be, ” It ain’t gonna happen, so why waste money?”

  11. @ Locam.

    The reason that Counties allow the USCG to operate freely within their Territorial Waters is because the USCG doesn’t do Surgical Strikes (i.e. Offensive Missions). Why do you think countries like Honduras are resisting attempts by the Trump Administration to preposition US Troops within their country…

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