Wednesday, August 1, 2012


LAV-300 Fire Support Vehicle
The LAV-300 6x6 series of amphibious armored vehicles was developed by Cadillac-Gage (now Textron Marine and Land Systems) as a private venture to complement their V-150 Commando 4x4 series. Though not in use by the US military, it is offered to foreign countries. The 6x6 arrangement provides a larger troop and weapons carrying capacity and better cross-country performance than the V-150. The body is of ballistic steel plate providing protection against 7.62 mm rounds, and a variety of configurations are available. The vehicles supplied to the Marines include an armored personnel carrier version with a one man turret armed with one .50 caliber and one 7.62mm machine guns and accommodations for 9 troops, and a fire-support variant armed with a 90 mm Cockerill gun. Twelve each of both variants were supplied to the Philippine Marines.

The Marine Corps had wanted the US-built LVTP-7 (now called the AAVP-7) amphibious armored landing vehicle and 36 vehicles were offered in the 1980s but the deal was shot down by partisan political and financial interests. Instead V-150s were secured through FMS. In 1991 LAV-300s were proposed as the Corps' share in the US bases compensation package. The Marines accepted them but mandated modifications to better suit their needs. These changes included waterjets for amphibious operations (original specifications called for the vehicle to be propelled in water by its wheels) and a rear ramp for the easier discharge of troops (original vehicle had 2 hatches in the rear). A trim-vane was also added, but smoke grenade launchers and the winch were deleted to keep costs down.

Like virtually all wheeled amphibious armored vehicles the LAV 300 can only safely navigate calm bodies of water such as lakes and some rivers, which is why the Marine Corps had preferred the LVTP-7 used by the Marine Corps of the United States, Italy, Brazil, the Netherlands and many others.

Still, the Corps made full use of it, using these vehicles to great advantage in the campaigns against the MILF in Kauswagan and the clearing of the Narciso Ramos Highway, among many recent battles.

(Photos courtesy of the Philippine Marine Corps)

The armored personnel variant of the LAV-300 can can accommodate 9 troops internally and carries one .50 caliber machine gun and one 7.62mm machine gun in a Textron 1-meter turret.

The Philippine Marine Corps, together with the Floro Corporation of Tanay, Rizal, has initiated a program to incorporate the Singaporean CIS 40mm automatic grenade launcher into the 1-meter turret used in the V-150 and V-300 wheeled APCs. The grenade launcher would replace either the .50 caliber or the 7.62 mm machine gun, and will significantly increase the vehicle's firepower. The US uses the same turret in a similar configuration for its AAVP-7s, except that a US Mk. 19 Mod. 3 40 mm automatic grenade launcher is used.

(Photos courtesy of the Philippine Marine Corps)

>> PMC Armor at Gallant Warriors from the Sea

>> Armor Update

Marine Firebase with M101 105mm Howitzers in Mindanao
The M101 105mm howitzer originally carried the designation M2. In 1919, at the end of World War 1 the US Army established the Westerveldt Board to investigate their future needs and among the recommendations were suggestions for a 105mm howitzer. It was only in 1939 that the suggestions were implemented and the resulting artillery piece, the 105mm Howitzer M2, rolled off production lines in the thousands.

The M2 became one of the most widely used of all American weapons in World War 2. It was highly regarded for its overall strength, which was "built-in" to every aspect of the piece. Redesignated M101 in the post-war years it remains in frontline service with many nations, a testament to its durability. The US Marine Corps has about 248 listed in their inventory, according to Many consider the M101 the yardstick against which all other artillery pieces are measured.

In Philippine service several M101s have been upgraded with longer barrels for increased range.

(Photo courtesy of the Philippine Marine Corps)

>> M101 105mm Howitzer at

Armored Gun Truck
The Philippine Marine Corps has a proud tradition of making the most out of what is at hand and this armored gun truck, dubbed "Talisman" is a good example. Using plates salvaged from the derelict hulls of LVTP-5s, the Marine Corps' 6th Marine Batallion Landing Team "hardened" a 2 1/2 ton truck to create a very capable convoy escort vehicle in anticipation of the batallion's deployment to Sulu.

Other vehicles such as HUMVEEs have been similarly armored to serve as escorts along lines of communication threatened by guerrilla ambush.

The Americans used a similar concept during the Vietnam War.

(Photos courtesy of the Philippine Marine Corps)

Marine Corps Scout Sniper Rifle
Another example of making the most out of what is available. The Marines had a requirement for new sniper rifles to replace the long-worn out modified Garands and M-14s that they have in service. Upgrading and accurizing M-14s for sniper use would have been too expensive and required a level of expertise not readily available in the Philippines. Philippine armorers know the M-16 inside and out, though, and from it the Corps created an effective sniper weapon.

The MSSR used an unissued M-16 lower receiver, a fine tuned match trigger, and a DPMS upper receiver with a match-grade, heavy, free-floating barrel with a tubular aluminum handguard sporting a Harris bipod. To reduce cost an armored Tasco 3-9x40mm scope is used. This scope is rugged, relatively cheap compared to other models and performs well. The MSSRs need to shoot one MOA (minute of angle) or better with M855 rounds before they are issued (a minute of angle is a measurement of rifle accuracy; a 1 MOA rifle produces a one inch group at 100 yards, a two inch group at 200 yards.... etc.).

The 5.56 mm round is not a popular round for sniping but considering the limited ranges found in the Philippine countryside it is adequate, and Marine Scout Snipers can place accurate shots with the MSSR out to 600 meters.

The Marines still have a standing requirement for a proper sniper rifle similar to the US Marine Corps' M40 bolt action rifle. Once the PMC acquires the funds to purchase the rifles the the plan is for the MSSRs to be relegated to Designated Marksman weapons.

The downside of the Marine Corps' "sariling sikap" sniper rifle program was that it may have caused inter-service rivalry to rear its head. When the US delivered its military aid package in December, 2001, all weapons, including several brand new sniper rifles, were appropriated by the Army, neglecting the fact that the Philippine Marine Corps established and operates the only sniper school in the country.

>> Philippine Marine Corps Scout Sniper Page

>> Scout Sniper Page at Gallant Warriors from the Sea

>> MSSR at

A Marine Corps Force Recon commander relocates his appropriately burly machine gunner during the MNLF-Misauri Renegade Group hostage crisis in Zamboanga City, November 2001. (REUTERS/Erik de Castro)
Force Recon
As the spearhead of the Philippine Armed Forces, soldiers of the Marine Corps are "the first to fight" and elements of the Marine Corps Force Reconnassance Batallion lead the way.

GKN Aquatrack
Owing to its experience in amphibious vehicles as well as its role in disaster relief operations the Philippine Marine Corps operates the two British GKN Aquatrack amphibious vehicles of the Department of Defense Civil Defense Office.

Similar in concept to the LARCs, the Aquatrack was designed to ferry cargo from vessels off-shore to a beach or inland areas in support of Marine amphibious operations. In the Philippines its capabilities make them invaluable for rescue and disaster recovery operations in flood-prone areas around the country.

GKN derived the vehicle's tracked running gear from the US MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System). It is also equipped with a propeller for increased speed in water.

(Photo courtesy of the Philippine Marine Corps)

LARC (Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo)
The Marines also operate the older LARC, or Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo vehicle.

Like the Aquatrack, LARCs are amphibious transport vehicles used to carry cargo from off-shore supply vessels to a beach, or inland transport areas.

On land LARCs can travel at 30 mph and on water, 9.5 mph. Its amphibious capability and large cargo capacity make it invaluable for rescue missions, disaster recovery, salvage, and more.

(Photo courtesy of the Philippine Marine Corps)