Smith: Marine Corps Looking for Air Defense ‘Sweet Spot’

June 9, 2021


The U.S. Marine Corps is trying to solve the challenge of providing air defense for its future anti-ship cruise-missile forces that will be helping the U.S. Navy to maintain sea control in a contested expeditionary environment. 

“Those forces that are distributed to launch anti-ship missiles, to sense what is going on, to pass data, have to be protected from air threats,” said Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, deputy commandant For Combat Development and Integration, testifying June 8 before the Seapower subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the proposed fiscal 2022 budget, noting that the Marine forces “haven’t had a real air threat since World War II. 

“Our challenge is: we have to be highly mobile,” Smith said. “If we’re not internally, organically transportable, by our C-130s, our CH-53s, our [MV-22] Ospreys, our L-class Navy ships, and the future Light Amphibious Warship, then we lose value to the combatant commander. So, the balance for us is the range of [an anti-air] missile system and the size. When you start getting into a missile system that is, let’s just say, beyond 13 feet, that’s a challenge…”

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