The Commandant of the Marine Corps last week said that potentially arming the Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) would be secondary to initially focusing on getting its mobility use ready first.

Earlier in May, Gen. David Berger told the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee in written testimony that LAWs operating with containerized missiles could effectively compete and deter, although he noted it was not part of the currently envisioned program (Defense Daily, May 3).

However, Berger said this addition may involve higher costs “so we will have to study the benefits and make resource informed decisions about tradeoffs in capabilities and capacity,” he said at the time.

Speaking at the annual FY 2022 McAleese Defense Programs Conference on May 13, Berger said “the lethality part of it, missile mounted on a Light Amphibious Warship, I would put behind the value of getting the organic mobility now, fast. The lethality part of it, in other words, we have other means to provide the lethality if we need to.”

“It would perhaps, at some point, would make sense to integrate some type of naval strike missile on a Light Amphibious Warship. That’s not the driver. The driver is to give a captain and a gunnery sergeant, a first sergeant the ability to organically move that force around in a littoral environment without it coming from 2000 miles away. Give them an air means, a surface means, give them multiple ways to move that force around.”

The LAW aims to support the Marine Littoral Regiment by transporting up to 75 Marines at a time up to 3,000 to 4,000 miles while also holding extra cargo and fuel. The service plans for the vessel to be 200 to 400 feet long with speed, draft and beachability requirements.

In February, Vice Adm. James Kilby,  deputy Chief of Naval Operation for Warfighting Requirements & Capabilities (OPNAV N9) said the team was working through the second revision of top level requirements for the LAW and was trying to make sure the requirements do not drive the price up too much (Defense Daily, Feb. 5).

In January, Marine Maj. Gen. Tracy King, director, Expeditionary Warfare (OPNAV N95) said the Navy and Marine Corps were hoping to start research, development, test and evaluation in one year and buy the first LAW by late fiscal year 2022 (Defense Daily, Jan. 14).

“So my focus is on the mobility of it, with a shallower draft, with the lower signature and its organic that we can press and lean forward so that they can distribute that force. The lethality part, we’ll have that discussion but it’s not the primary driver today,” Berger reiterated.