USMC Squads will field loitering munitions by 2027 12/02/2024 | Fabio Di Felice

According to Travis Bowden, USMC Capabilities Integration officer for Organic Precision Fires, some of its squads will “pretty aggressively” get loitering munitions by FY 2027, with the Corps running at full speed to figure out how to operate them in congested airspace.

The intense use of drones in Ukraine has confirmed many of the Marine Corps’ warfighting assumptions regarding loitering munitions, but the TTP (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures), the combat environment and the logistic of the Marines require some additional evaluations and tests. Indeed, since the submission of the operational requirement in 2020 - after the Nagorno-Karabakh war - the USMC has stood up several loitering munitions programs, one of them is the so-called Organic Precision Fire program that will provide LM at squad and platoon-sized units. That program is split into 2 elements: Organic Precision Fire—Infantry and Organic Precision Fire—Mounted, for use on vehicles. A significant attention has been put on lithium batteries for the new weapon systems, and other elements, which require to be stored safely on ships and planes traveling anywhere in the world, as resisting to the significant temperature shift, with the Corps’ troops fighting at any latitude. The USMC has also identified that Command and Control, communications and intel collection systems also need to improve in order to ‘close the loop’ and create the conditions for the full development of the capability. Due to the risks related to the weather, and the improving capabilities in electronic and C-UAV warfare, Bodwen said he does not foresee loitering munitions “darkening the sky.”

The Marines are also fielding logistic drones, one of them, the TRV-150C model, is already providing lessons in drone deployment for aerial delivery and autonomous distribution. This kind of drone, able to fly a payload of 150 pounds for about nine miles (68 kg for 14.5) and operated by Marine logistic units, is designed to drop-off payloads to Marines deployed in areas where an enemy’s defenses prevent aerial resupply. 

Having so many flying objects in battlespace also requires a high demanding deconflicting of the airspace. The USMC-led Direct Air Support Center project will be able to provide support and additional control of the airspace.

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