Marine Armor

Date Updated:
Saturday June 10, 2006




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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
LVTH6
A1

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.