So far, we've covered what the Army, Navy, and Air Force would probably like to find under their Christmas trees this year, but what about the Marines? Well, we think they're looking forward to a few good gifts this year, too. These aren't exactly Toys for Tots, if you know what we mean.
7. Super Hornets to go with Lightnings
The Marines' Hornet fleet is so old that they needed to be bailed out by the boneyard earlier this year. While the first squadron of Marine F-35B Lightning is deploying, there's another way to modernize Marine Corps aviation: Give 'em the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, too. This would let the legacy F/A-18 Hornets coast into a well-deserved retirement.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, bottom, and an F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Blacklions" of VFA-213 fly in formation above the Atlantic Ocean during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Capt. Jim McCall)
6. More amphibious ships
We put the A-10 on the Army's wishlist, even though it's an Air Force asset. Along those same lines, we think more amphibious ships would make a great present for the Marine Corps, even though they're Navy equipment. Marines are meant for amphibious warfare, but they can't do that if the sealift isn't there.
U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263, Marine Aircraft Group 29, prepare for flight on the deck of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary L. Borden)
5. More operations and maintenance funding
According to the Heritage Foundation, only 41 percent of Marine aviation assets are capable of flying if needed. This is clearly not a satisfactory situation, and it places both aviators and Marines on the ground at risk.
An F/18 Hornet at "The Boneyard" in the Arizona desert outside of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. (Photo by RedRipper24 on Flickr)
4. Resume the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program
The Marines are trying to replace the ancient AAV-7 with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle and the Marine Personnel Carrier. Problem is, the ACV doesn't quite live up to the "Amphibious" part, per the Heritage Foundation's Assessment of U.S. military strength. Why not scrap those programs and bring back the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle? The EFV was a superb design that was inexplicably cancelled — a replacement the AAV-7 and the LAV-25 would look good under the tree.
A prototype of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, planned for deployment to the United States Marine Corps before it was cancelled. (USMC photo)
3. A few good aggressors
The Marines currently use the F-5 Tiger for aggressor training. That's not a bad plane, but when Marine pilots could be facing Su-27/30/33/35 Flankers, a Tiger may not be enough plane to do the job. The Navy once had F-16s as aggressors — perhaps the Marines can get some late-model Falcons to supplement or replace the Tigers.
Two U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps General Dynamics F-16N Viper and two Douglas A-4F Skyhawk of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School ("Top Gun") flying over Lower Otay Reservoir, Chula Vista, California. (U.S. Navy photo)
2. A lot more Ospreys, Lightnings, Cobras, King Stallions, and, well, everything…
The MV-22 Osprey, once targeted for cancellation by former Vice President Dick Cheney, is now in high demand. The problem is that procurement's not keeping up with said demand. The same can be said for a lot of other airframes in the Marine Corps inventory.
Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys fly over the Arabian Sea. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Keonaona C. Paulo)
1. Put the SAW back in the fire team
The Marines have been replacing the M249 SAW with the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. We're not saying that the M27 is a bad rifle, but the SAW just brings more ammo capacity to the fight. So, why not put the SAW back in the fire team, but keep the IAR as well to replace the rifleman without the M203. Win-win, right?
A U.S. Marine fires an M249 light machine gun. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)
What do you think the Marine Corps needs to see under its tree for a Merry Christmas? Let us know in the comments.