After demonstrating its ability to fire artillery rockets from decks of U.S. Navy ships, the U.S. Marine Corps now says it is interested in a similar, but super-compact mobile weapon system small enough to fit inside its MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotors or its future CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopters. Such a vehicle would greatly increase the capabilities of Marine expeditionary elements, but even the service itself acknowledges it might just not be physically possible.
U.S. Marine Corps Major General David Coffman, presently serving as the U.S. Navy’s director for expeditionary warfare, explained the basic requirements to Military.com on the sidelines of the National Defense Industry Association’s (NDIA) annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference, which ended on Oct. 26, 2017. The officer described a weapon that would have a “competitive” range and capability compared to the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, and its GPS-guided 227mm rockets, but on a vehicle smaller than a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee, all of which could fit within the main cabin of an MV-22 or CH-53K.
“I don’t know what’s in the art of the possible, physics-wise, to get a vehicle that can withstand the recoil of rockets firing, and be a stable enough platform, and still be light enough to be lifted in a helicopter, and all that.” He told Military.com. “So I don’t know what industry can do, whether that’s possible or not … [but] that’s what we need.”