US Marines Criticized For Growler Contract

Quoted from CNN:

Marine jeep contract under fire
Newspaper says the Corps is harshly criticized for new vehicles that cost $100K each.
December 29, 2005: 8:45 AM EST

NEW YORK ( - The Marine Corps is paying $100,000 apiece for a revamped military jeep that some critics call a rip-off of taxpayers, according to a news report Thursday.

The Marines budgeted to buy more than 400 vehicles, called Growlers, under a contract that could total $296 million including ammunition, USA Today said, citing Pentagon records.

Built by Ocala, Fla.-based American Growler, the Growler is made partly from salvaged M151 jeep parts and is available in several versions.

Four years ago, the Dominican Republic paid $33,000 for a version of the Growler, the paper said citing U.S. Export-Import Bank records.

A commercial version of the jeep costs just $7,500.

The Marines and the contractor, General Dynamics, said the vehicle has been thoroughly revised with modern automotive parts and adapted to fit on the hybrid airplane-helicopter V-22 Osprey, according to the paper.

"Yes, it did start off with jeep technology, and it does look like a jeep in a lot of ways," John Garner, the Marines project manager, told the paper. But he says it's now "state of the art."

The Marines' version has considerable upgrades from the commercial and Dominican models, the Corps and contractor said, including a turbo-diesel engine, disc brakes and other systems adapted from modern vehicles.

But some critics charge that the unarmored vehicle makes no sense for today's missions, the paper said.

Under current military safety rules, the Growler would be barred from service in Iraq except as a utility vehicle that doesn't leave the security of a base, according to the report.

"In a time of war, we should not be wasting money on a junker which will not protect our troops," Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit group that monitors Pentagon contracts, told the paper.

The Growler is expected to be deployed with the V-22 in 2007, the paper said.
This is another sad example of Marine Corps thinking. Remember their current motto: "230 years of tradition undisturbed by progress." I'm so proud to see that my beloved Marine Corps will never change. Remember that they were the only purchasers of the M-103 Heavy Tank. An amphibious force with a tank that couldn't be transported on anything except a cargo ship makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Two piece 120mm round not used by any other US AFV, you get the idea.

Actually, there is something else about this that may be indicative of a much more serious problem. Notice they say that the Growler needs to be modified to fit into an OV-22? Now I may be more paranoid than I think, but I seem to remember, in 1984, being able to load two M-151s into a CH-53D without any preparation other than folding up the troops seats in the helo. If an M-151 needs to be modified to fit into an V-22, does that mean that the Osprey's cargo compartment is significantly different from the CH-53's? If so, what other equipment will need to be modified to fit. Remember that the CH-53 cargo compartment was dsigned around the vehicles/cargo it would need to carry.
Umm. No, US Army bought the M103s first. They then very quickly decided that it was a waste, and gave them to the USMC.

Looking at pictures of the thing, it even looks like a stripped down M151. I seriously doubt it's worth two HMMWVs.

i think the contract incules big 120mm towed mortars and ammo and stuff so may not actually be all the pricey
although building the humvee that can't be airlifted by any helo is funny. us rangers ended up buying landys
Osprey’s Cargo Capacity Driving Weapon Designs

By Sandra I. Erwin

As Marines get closer to begin operating the V-22 Osprey, they are finding that making weapons systems small enough to fit in the aircraft’s undersize cabin can be a formidable challenge.

A case in point is the so-called “expeditionary fire support system,” which is intended to let Marine units fly V-22s deep into hostile territory and engage in combat autonomously, without the backing of rear echelons.

The expeditionary fire support system, or EFSS, is the third leg of a triad of weapons that the Marine Corps considers essential to its new doctrine, known as “ship to objective maneuver.”

According to this thinking, Marines would deploy from a ship and, rather than assault the beach, they would fly aboard V-22s or CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters all the way from the ship deck to the combat zone inland, bypassing coastal defenses that the enemy may have positioned.

The other two systems that make up the triad are a mobile rocket launcher that can reach targets beyond 45 kilometers, and a 155 mm howitzer that covers an area of 10 to 30 kilometers. The EFSS, which consists of a 120 mm mortar and a light truck that tows the mortar and the ammunition, would support the close-in area from 0 to 20 kilometers.

The Marine Corps has been working on EFSS concepts in one form or another for nearly a decade. Invariably, the sticking point has been the relatively small size of the V-22 cargo compartment, which is five feet wide, five feet tall and nearly 17 feet in length.

One reason for the limited space is that the tilt-rotor Osprey—which takes off and lands vertically but flies at much higher speeds than conventional helicopters—was designed in the early 1980s to transport troops, not vehicles, noted Robert Work, a retired Marine officer and military analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The Osprey’s primary reason for being was to replace the CH-46 helicopter, so it was “optimized to carry people, rather than cargo.”

The V-22 cabin is slightly larger than a CH-46’s. The narrow floor is a significant limitation in trying to fit a vehicle, Work said in an interview. “When you lay a requirement to go inside this, the vehicle by necessity has to be small and narrow.” A Humvee, for example, is seven feet wide.

Making the EFSS small enough to fit inside the V-22 could be described as a “monumental physics problem,” according to Jason Burkett, a program manager at General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. The company became the EFSS prime contractor in 2004, after it beat two other competitors: Lockheed Martin and United Defense.

The V-22 cabin comes with many constraints, Burkett explained in a presentation to an industry conference. Not only is the space limited, but whatever cargo is loaded in the aircraft must leave enough room for at least three passengers and for crews to enter and exit unencumbered. Without any cargo, the Osprey can hold 24 passengers.

The Marines specified that the EFSS — including the mortar, the prime mover, a load of ammunition and a small crew — must be able to travel 110 nautical miles in the V-22. The weight of any vehicle to be flown on a V-22 cannot exceed 2,450 pounds per axle. By comparison, a Humvee weighs 4,500 pounds in the front axle and 6,500 pounds in the rear axle.

The mortar is a 120 mm rifled towed weapon that currently is used by several NATO countries and Japan’s military forces. It was chosen for its precise targeting, but, at 76 inches, it is too wide for the V-22, and requires design modifications. To tow the mortar, the Marines had envisioned buying a commercial off-road vehicle, but none was available that met the technical specs. The truck selected, the American Growler, is sold commercially, but will require substantial reengineering and upgraded components before it can be deemed suitable for military use. The Marines also intend to place a machine gun operator in the back of the truck, so the vehicle will need a gunner station to support the shooter when he is firing the weapon.

The American Growler is an updated version of the M151 Jeep that the U.S. military retired in the early 1980s. It is narrow enough to fit in the V-22, but needs to be more stable, Work said. “Narrow vehicles cause rollover problems.” For that reason, the Growler is being redesigned with a “lower center of gravity,” said Work. “Any time you have a small vehicle that is relatively narrow you are going to have potential mobility problems.”

Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Landis said it is misleading to portray the Growler as a rebuilt Jeep. “While the vehicle bears a similarity in appearance to a Jeep, none of the critical systems are ‘old Jeep parts,’” Landis said in written responses to questions. “The engine, transmission, differentials, drive line, electrical and cooling systems, suspension, brakes and all other critical components are current technology parts from some of the top manufacturers in these areas.”

Responding to concerns about sending Marines to fight in an unprotected vehicle, the Marine Corps Systems Command recently posted a solicitation for industry proposals for armoring the Growler.

Among the technologies being evaluated is a blast-mitigating seat developed by the Office of Naval Research, Landis said. It would offer some protection against explosions under the vehicle. “This seat will also enclose portions of the occupant’s lower body and torso and we are investigating ways to use it to provide fragmentation protection.”

Other options may include spray-on armor coatings for floorboards and other areas, an underbody skid plate that will resist penetration, ballistic windshield glass, and a variety of composite materials that can be applied as part of an armoring kit, Landis said. “The final solution will probably include a mix of permanently installed features that do not limit transportability or mobility and add-on kits that can be applied when needed.” Because the Growler has no doors, an add-on armor kit would be the only way to protect the occupants.

Jim Mills, an industry expert who helped manage the armored Humvee program, said it would be quite difficult to protect a small vehicle such as the Growler from landmine blasts. “You can provide fragment protection but a mine blast would toss the vehicle in the air … You could install Kevlar in the underbody for fragment protection, panels behind the seats.” Armoring the cab, he noted, would add too much weight and compromise its transportability.

The performance of the EFSS will be assessed by the Defense Department’s office of operational test and evaluation in September 2006. Before that, the Marine Corps will run its own drills at the Nevada Automotive Test Center. “Over the next 10 months, the vehicle will be extensively tested in all appropriate areas, to include safety and stability,” said Landis.

If the system passes the required evaluations, the Marine Corps could buy up to 60 mortars and 450 Growlers, at a cost of nearly $300 million, during the next six years. That amount does not cover the cost of the ammunition. Congress is expected to add anywhere between $5 million and $13 million to the EFSS program in fiscal year 2006 to fund modifications to the rifled mortar rounds, which currently are produced in France and are not qualified to be carried on U.S. Navy ships.

The rifled 120 mm mortar, Landis said, can fire U.S. Army or any NATO-standard smoothbore 120 mm ammunition. But the Marine Corps has directed General Dynamics to produce the rifled mortar rounds at the Army-owned ammunition plant in Iowa. “General Dynamics has been licensed by [mortar manufacturer] TDA to produce the 120 mm rifled ammunition in the United States, and is in the process of establishing that production capability,” said Landis.

“The 120 mm rifled solution was selected because it offers significant improvements in range, accuracy and lethality over 120 mm smoothbore mortars. … Rifled rounds are spin-stabilized and much more accurate.”

Making the Growler compliant with the Marine Corps specifications will require significant changes to the commercial version of the vehicle. Each truck is expected to cost about $100,000, which, critics argue, puts it in the price range of an armored Humvee. A commercial Growler truck, by comparison, retails for $12,000.
Systems such as the EFSS raise questions about why the Marine Corps is having to pay a premium price to design weapons systems around the “limitations” of the V-22, said Bill Cowan, a retired Marine and military analyst.

“To me, we [the Corps] bought into the V-22 without clearly looking at its limitations,” Cowan said in an interview.

More broadly, he questions the wisdom of delivering fire-support systems aboard the $70 million-a-piece aircraft. The Marine Corps expects to buy more than 300 Ospreys over the next two decades.

During the Vietnam War, Cowan recalled, “I was at Khe Sanh in the opening days when Marine helicopters wouldn’t fly medevacs because of the risk of losing CH-46s. A pilot there told me ‘they’re too expensive to put into that kind of risk; we can’t afford to lose them’ … Why should we expect anything different with the V-22?”

The EFSS, Cowan said, is an example of a system that is being built only to fit the V-22 mission while it would make more sense to build the transportation assets to meet the firepower needs.

The 120 mm mortar is a good idea, Cowan says. But the limited payload of the V-22 will restrict how many rounds Marines can bring to the fight. The trailer that the Growler would tow holds a pallet of 24 mortar rounds.

“Ground forces inserted far from the amphibious ships are at risk until they’ve got adequate fire support.” Cowan said. “While they’re waiting around for V-22s to make a couple of runs to get the Growler, the 120 mm mortar and the ammo onto the battlefield, they are exposed to an enemy who already knows the terrain and quite possibly controls it.”

Work argues that while the EFSS is probably the only system that can meet the strict transportability requirements of the V-22, “there is a lot of debate within the Marine Corps on whether or not this system is the right system.”

One school of thought is that the Marine Corps should have opted for a 105 mm howitzer like the one used by U.S. Army airborne troops. But that weapon most certainly would be too large to fit inside a V-22. The Osprey can carry a howitzer externally with a sling, but that limits its top speed to 110 knots, compared to 270 knots when the load is carried internally. By comparison, an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter cabin can accommodate a Humvee together with a 105 mm howitzer and a gun crew.

Even though Marine officials say their analysis justifies the EFSS, “still, it all really boils down to internal transportability on the V-22,” Work said. “That is driving everything about this system. It has to be small enough, has to have a prime mover.”

Marines view the EFSS as a means to achieve a long-standing goal of improving their mobility by air. “Since the helicopter was created, there has been a desire for deep aerial maneuver by helicopters … taking armored vehicles so you can have tactical mobility at the other end,” said Work.

The proliferation of air-defense weapons and shoulder-fired missiles could put a damper on these concepts, however, Work said. “When the V-22 comes in, the Marines will try to figure out what is the best use of that system, and the jury is still out.”
They could always take the approach the Russians did with the Mi-26 Halo - build a helicopter which can carry what a C-130 can.


No way! They've seriously called this thing "Growler"?

We should buy some. Then we could use them with our Snatch.
V-22: currently near the top of my list of "Aircraft nothing short of an Extraordinary Rendition would get me aboard", duking it out with the Tu-134 and the Aztruck. There's just too much stuff to go wrong in a catastrophically final way...mind you, imagine if we'd finished the Fairey Gyrodyne. Now that would have been a capability (even though it was almost as scary).

There is a nasty look of "we've got this incredibly expensive wiggly heliflopterplanethingy at, we'd damn well better find a use for it!" about this. And does anyone else have the suspicion that "Sea-to-Objective Manoeuvre" involves targets about 110 miles from the sea because that's the radius of action of a V22?
No offence intended.

But the way things are going we seem to be a short step away from christening MRAV "Vag" or FRES "Minge" when they come in to service. What are the chances of Panther being officially shortened to "Pussy"? :p
The current LR is a couple of inches too wide, but I reckon the Lightweight would fit the bill perfectly.

Do you want to tell the USMC or shall I :lol:
So in fact all it needs are Coillies and difflock added to it, about a grand should cover that. Ex army lightweights must be lying about in someones motor pool. Ill do it myself!

Do HSBC do bank loans that size?

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