Marine Armor
Date Updated: Saturday June 10, 2006


Air Force | Navy | Marines | Army | General Headquarters

The Marines have long relied on 3 types of armored vehicles.  The LVT5 and 6s, the V150s and the V300s. 

V300/V150

Currently, the Marines have modified and deployed in 2003 40mm CIS automatic grenade launchers (AGL) in it’s V-series vehicles.  The modifications have substituted the .50 cal mg with the 40mm grenade launcher though according to Floro International, the  40mm would be interchangeable with the 7.62mm machine gun as well.  In addition to mounting the AGL in the turret, the modification also involves changes to the periscope and sighting system to reflect the ballistics of the AGL and enable the gunner to fire accurate shots.  A wide range of 40mm ammunition is available to the PMC LAV units including high explosive, smoke and canister developed in conjunction with Floro International and loaded with 300 shotgun pellets to be used in the close-in anti-ambush, anti-personnel role.

Interestingly enough, the modification looks cleaner and neater than those found in USMC AAVP-7s which use the M19 Grenade launcher with the ammunition feed extending on the outside of the left side of the 1-meter turret.  The USMC installation is not as flexible either since it isn’t interchangeable. 

The pictures above shows the V-300 MKII APC version while the picture below shows the V-300 MKII Fire Support Vehicle armed with the 90mm Cockerill gun.  The armor of both vehicles is designed to defeat 7.62mm ball rounds from any direction fired at point blank range while the 60 degree frontal arc of both vehicles will defeat 7.62mm AP rounds fired point blank.  The engine is the same as that fitted to the MOWAG Piranha Gen III (Cummins diesel).  Note the stern shot of the V300 MKII APC above showing the shrouded propellers that propel the vehicle through the water.  Also note the stern ramp which incorporates a door.  The ramp itself is one of the modifications made to the original product requested by the Marines from the manufacturer which contributed to the delay in delivery.  Another modification is the incorporation of the bow vane and the deletion of the winch on the bow as well as the deletion of the smoke grenade launchers on the turret flanks.

The V150/V300 1-meter turret has manual 360 degree traverse and +45 degree elevation and -8 degree depression.  It can carry 900 rounds of 50 cal ammunition with 200 in the turret ready for use.  It can also carry 2,400 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition with 400 ready use rounds.

The FSV turret on the other hand is designed to defeat 14.5mm shells on its frontal arc and 7.62 mm for the other areas.  It has 360 degree powered traverse at 30 degrees/second.  It can carry 42 rounds of 90mm ammunition with 8 rounds ready use as well as 300 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.  The two man turret has a co-axial 7.62mm mg fitted internally.   Like the APC version, it also has a high intensity searchlight fitted.  When deployed, it also has a .50 cal mg fitted on top of the commanders station together with a gun shield.  The shrouded water jets are just visible behind the rear wheel.  Both versions have radial tires with run flat inserts which means that it retains its mobility even when shot out.

There is one documented and acknowledged loss of a V300FSV as well as another unconfirmed loss during recent combat operations in the island of Jolo.  The acknowledge casualty occurred during operations along the Narciso Ramos highway in 2001.  The V300 had gotten past its supporting elements and had taken an RPG round in the rear which in turn detonated the stored ammunition.  [RIP to the fallen, ed.]

The 90mm gun is highly valued in operations against the rebels, though unlike the LVT6’s and their 105mm howitzers, it is not as capable of indirect fire.  Furthermore, its longer barrel has also proven to be a disadvantage in tight quarters (i.e. when operating inside coconut groves and tightly confined jungle terrain) since the turret cannot use its full traverse. 

When deployed, PMC LAV FSVs also come equipped with a pintle mounted .50 cal heavy machine gun mounted by the commanders hatch  to supplement the co-axial 7.62mm mg.  The Browning HMG also comes equipped with a gun shield to help protect the gunner.  This setup and gun shield were also taken from retired PMC LVT6s.

Protection Improvements to both types

Aside from improvements to firepower, the PMC has initiated a program to improve protection of PMC LAVs against the threat posed by RPGs acquired by the various rebel groups from various sources.  An armored cage is in the process of being developed for both the V-300 and V150 similar in concept to the armored cage developed by the US to enhance the protection of its Stryker armored vehicles. 

V150 APC at the head of a Marine convoy.  This V-150 is armed with the .50 cal and 7.62 M60 combination. 

V150 taken in PC [Philippine Constabulary Hill] Cotabato City.  Note the patch on the left hand side (right side of the picture) of the hull. 

Recent photo of the V150 taken during an inspection of the Philippine Marine Ready Force.  Like it’s LVTH6A1 cousins, this V150 also sports Berlin Brigade colors reflecting is primary urban operational tasking.

V150 Improvement Program (11 Feb 2006)

The Marines are taking cupolas from retired V100s and grafting them onto the rear hatch of the V150s.

       

Comparison of the V150/V300 Series vehicles against the Simba.

The Army offered the Marines the Simba LAV when the Marine V-300 program was delayed.  The Marines declined the offer for the following reasons – commonality of parts with existing Marine V-150s, better mobility compared to the Simba (6×6 against 4×4), the V-300 could swim while the Simba could not.  The turrets on the V300/150 series was more flexible and could in the future be modified to take on newer weapons like the AGL.  The Simba turret is simply too small and cannot be modified (the size of the turret ring determines what you can put in it, bigger is better). 

Marine armor together with Army armor.  Nicely shows the differences and similarities in detail between the British product and the US product not to mention the different camouflage patterns. 

LVT5A1 and LVTH6A1

In addition to the V series of vehicles, the PMC has kept 5 LVTH6A1s in reserve with 4 vehicles fully operational.  32 of the LVT5A1s are also held in storage though these are no longer used or operational and are being kept as spares sources to keep the remainder of the LVTH6s running.  On a related note, the Taiwanese Marines have offered their upgraded LVTH5 and 6s to the PMC for the cost of transporting them to the Philippines.  No decision has yet been made on the offer.  It is worthy to note that the Taiwanese machines have already gone through several upgrades to various systems over the years including replacing tracks and new diesel engines. 

The two pictures of the LVTH6A1s below show two of the fully operational units.  A fifth LVTH6A1 is in running condition but does not have a working 105mm gun.  Still pretty impressive looking machines.

Some of the stored LVTH6A1 units used to support the working ones.  Note how the two units in the background still have their turrets but without the 105mm gun. 

New Developments

In December 2005, the Marines are bringing back two units of LVTH6A1 to provide additional firepower to the Philippine Marine Ready Force based in Manila.  The two will be tasked as Urban Fire Support Vehicles.  Their amphibious capability will not be restored but the two operational units will receive additional frontal armor to assist them in their new role. 

A third LVT (the Engineering Version) is currently being overhauled for reintroduction into service. Equipment used for the Line Clearing charge will be removed and additional armament installed.

The LVT6Hs have the most powerful gun mounted on any armored vehicle in the Philippine armed services.  It is meant to operate with the support of other marine units and as such will never operate alone.  It carries the most powerful gun of any armored vehicle in the AFP and is capable of both direct and indirect, high angle fire.  Its armor is also thicker than any of the current armored vehicles in the AFP.  Frontal Turret armor is 1" (25mm), sides are 19mm, top armor is about 7mm.  Hull armor is 16mm.  In addition to it’s 105mm gun/howitzer, it also carries a .30 cal co-axial machine gun and one pintle mounted .50 cal machine gun.

The refurbished units are painted in Berlin Brigade Camouflage urban camouflage.  The LVTH6s belong to the Combat Service and Support Brigade which in turn has chopped them to the Philippine Marine Ready Force.  The Berlin Brigade Camouflage is similar to the camouflage adopted by the Philippine Presidential Security Group.  This reflects the main mission that the Marines envision it to be utilized in – urban fire support. The photo below was taken during it’s refurbishment and return to service. 

The photo below taken on 16 December of shows one of the newly refurbished PMC LVTs taken during an inspection of the Philippine Marine Ready Force.  The photo below shows the high angle with which the howitzer is capable of. The Marines are still exploring ways of improving these units including but not limited to replacing tracks and road wheels.  It is likely that the type will be retained even with the arrival of newer equipment since the 105mm gun really has no direct equivalent at present.

By 24 December 2006 two units have been made operationally ready.

As of January 2006, reinforcing the frontal armor is under way.  Other modifications have also been undertaken to improve survivability including reinforcing fuel lines and other internal mods.

Test

AAV7P

The PMC is already preparing to acquire AAV7Ps from the US, which would make the acquisition of more LVTH5/6 units from anywhere highly unlikely.  It is not known when these will be acquired and delivered.  It will be interesting to see whether PMC vehicles of this type will receive the same turret as used by the USMC with the MK19 AGL or have the same Textron 1-meter turret like those used on the V series and then have CIS 40mm installed on them.  Ideally, in the interest of commonality it should be the latter since it would make absolutely little sense to have two types of turrets and 40mm guns in a very small armored fleet.

While these are ideal vehicles for delivering troops and equipment to the beach, their huge size, high silhouette, and relatively thin armor makes them highly vulnerable (just imagine trying to use these vehicles during last year’s operations against the MILF – the PMC would have lost more than 1 vehicle had these been used).  They are not ideal APCs or Fire Support Vehicles.  There are also no FSV models available – the USMC or the US Army no longer has any armored vehicles used in the direct fire/assault gun/fire support role.  For this reason, the PMC will still keep it’s V300/V150 fleet (much like the USMC uses its LAV25s) and is most likely looking to expanding this fleet further as funds permit or at least get attrition replacements.

Thanks to MC-5, Philippine Marine Corps for the excellent photographs.