28 February 2024

Optimal Taxation

Economists are not building on a strong shared foundation of understanding.
Optimal tax theory—the branch of public economics that focuses on the design of welfare-maximizing tax systems—has produced two especially stark results regarding the ideal treatment of capital. First, Anthony Atkinson and Joseph Stiglitz concluded in a seminal 1976 article that the optimal capital tax is zero and that all revenue should be raised from taxes on labor income. Four years later, Stanley Fischer analyzed a model similar to Atkinson and Stiglitz’s and concluded that the welfare-maximizing system would tax only capital—not labor—and would potentially tax capital at a rate as high as 100 percent.
From the Tax Profs Blog.

27 February 2024

Reducing Opportunity Reduces Suicide Rates

Gun control is the most effective means by which the U.S. could dramatically reduce its suicide rate.
“The bridge is sealed up.” Last month, with those words, the general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge announced the completion of a suicide barrier — stainless steel netting that extends about 20 feet out from the walkway for the length of the bridge, making a jump into the water below extraordinarily difficult.

For decades, friends and family members of people who had jumped pleaded for a barrier. And for decades, my colleague John Branch recently reported, officials found reasons — the cost, the aesthetics — not to build one.

But something is changing in the United States, where the suicide rate has risen by about 35 percent over two decades, with deaths approaching 50,000 annually. The U.S. is a glaring exception among wealthy countries; globally, the suicide rate has been dropping steeply and steadily.

Barriers are in the works on the William Howard Taft Bridge in Washington, D.C., the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in Maine and several Rhode Island bridges. Universities in Texas and Florida have budgeted millions of dollars for barriers on high structures. Scores of communities are debating similar steps.

Research has demonstrated that suicide is most often an impulsive act, with a period of acute risk that passes in hours, or even minutes. Contrary to what many assume, people who survive suicide attempts often go on to do well: Nine out of 10 of them do not die by suicide. . . .

For generations, psychiatrists believed that, in the words of the British researcher Norman Kreitman, “anyone bent on self-destruction must eventually succeed.”

Then something strange and wonderful happened: Midway through the 1960s, the annual number of suicides in Britain began dropping — by 35 percent in the following years — even as tolls crept up in other parts of Europe.

No one could say why. Had medicine improved, so that more people survived poisoning? Were antidepressant medications bringing down levels of despair? Had life in Britain just gotten better?

The real explanation, Kreitman discovered, was none of these. The drop in suicides had come about almost by accident: As the United Kingdom phased out coal gas from its supply to household stoves, levels of carbon monoxide decreased. Suicide by gas accounted for almost half of the suicides in 1960.

It turns out that blocking access to a single lethal means — if it is the right one — can make a huge difference.

The strategy that arose from this realization is known as “means restriction” or “means safety,” and vast natural experiments have borne it out. When Sri Lanka restricted the import of toxic pesticides, which people had ingested in moments of crisis, its suicide rate dropped by half over the next decade.

More than half of U.S. suicides are carried out with firearms. Guns are a reliably deadly means, resulting in death in about 90 percent of attempted suicides; intentional overdoses, by contrast, result in death about 3 percent of the time.

When an attempt fails, “these folks generally survive and go on to get past these thoughts, go on to live happy, full lives,” said Dr. Paul Nestadt, a suicide researcher at Johns Hopkins. “If you are a gun owner, that brief moment where the suicidal thoughts exceed the desire to be alive for tomorrow, that’s all it takes.”

Other countries, like Israel, have brought down suicide rates dramatically by restricting access to guns. But in the U.S., about 400 million guns are circulating in private hands, said Michael Anestis, who leads the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center. “We don’t know where they are, and even if we did, we would have no way of getting them,” he said.
From the New York Times.

23 February 2024

Upgun Everything

In modern warfare, everyone in the theater of warfare is on the front lines. The way that we arm military vehicles in the air, at sea, and on land, should reflect that reality. No manned military vehicle or system or base outside the U.S. should be considered out of harms way of hostile enemy forces, and thus exempt from having basic minimums of weapons and force protection.

In other words, everything military that isn't already optimized for primary combat roles should be up gunned, and should have some basic minimum levels of active and passive defenses. This echoes somewhat, the Marine Corps motto that every Marine is a rifleman, in addition to any other responsibilities that a Marine may have in a unit.

As an aside to save for another future post, responsibility for military homeland defense against invasions, and responses to disasters and insurrections at home, should be the primary responsibility of the Army National Guard, the Air Force National Guard, and the Coast Guard, whose organization and gear should be specialized to meet these needs rather than simply serving as a second tier group of reserve soldiers as they do today. Equipment and capabilities not necessary for homeland defense and disaster response should be transferred from the National Guard and Coast Guard to the Army Reserves, Air Force Reserves, Navy Reserves, and Marine Corps Reserves.

Upgunning In The Air

Warplanes without offensive weapons are an oxymoron that should not exist in the 21st century U.S. military.

Every non-combatant military aircraft including every transport helicopter, VIP transportation plane, manned reconnaissance aircraft, V-22, C-22 Greyhound, C-130, C-17, C-5, tanker aircraft, and light attack fixed wing aircraft in the U.S. military should have, at a minimum, a couple of bottom of the line air to air missiles and a couple of guided air to ground missiles or bombs. They should also have, at least, basic anti-drone/anti-missile electronic jamming defenses. Right now, many of these aircraft are completely unarmed or have only flare decoys, and don't even provide protection for personnel and vulnerable fuel and ammunition from small arms fire. They should also all have night vision and instrument landing capabilities.

The goal is not to make these aircraft part of the primary offensive air fleet. Instead, the goal is to provide some limited capability to engage low end interceptor aircraft or enemy civilian aircraft crudely repurposed for war, to provide some ability to engage small ground forces obstructing a landing area, and to provide an additional layer of defense against unsophisticated remote controlled or GPS guided drones and missiles, to the extent that this can be done with minimal additional weight. 

Similarly, while all aircraft mostly rely on speed, altitude, and distance to protect themselves from enemy fire, rather than armor, manned military aircraft should protect people inside them from small arms fire at least as well as an infantryman's flak jacket and helmet, and should provide a similar level of protection to fuel tanks and carried ammunition. In aircraft with a simple aluminum hull, this could be a simple as retrofitting a kevlar lining in parts of the aircraft exterior that have vulnerable targets behind it.

These basically defensive weapons won't provide the benefit of the advanced avionics and radar, maneuverability, supersonic speeds, or stealth  of fighter and bomber aircraft. But they would be better than the virtually nothing that some of these aircraft have now. 

None of this is intended to slight existing minimum standards like the availability of ejection seats, parachutes, rescue beacons, first aid kits, life rafts and personal floatation devices, first aid kits, back up oxygen sources, and small arms carried by flight crews, etc.

Upgunning At Sea

In the same vein, every ship that is in, or could be called into, U.S. Navy service (including merchant marine and Coast Guard vessels) should also meet some minimum standards, as should almost every boat (even deep sea/ocean class life rafts).

Every manned surface vessel and submarine (other than hospital ships), including amphibious force transport ships, aircraft carriers, fuel tankers, supply ships, littoral combat ships, expeditionary sea bases, command ships, rescue ships for sunken submarines, and Coast Guard cutters, should have, at a minimum:

* Some sort of air defense suitable for use against a helicopter or large drone, such as a couple of man portable anti-aircraft missiles, like the Stinger;

* Basic anti-drone/anti-missile electronic jamming defenses

* Some sort of additional anti-air drone/anti-missile weapons (a variety of systems from lasers to microwave energy bursts to small missiles to the Phalanx Close In Weapons System to interceptor drones are being explored for that purpose);

* If it has no naval guns, at least a couple of surface to surface missiles, with at least the capabilities of an army anti-tank missile, like a TOW missile or a Javelin missile, that could be used to take out a small boat or unmanned surface boat drone, carrying pirates, a small military boarding party, or the like;

* Each vessel should also have some sort of machine gun, from an assault rifle in a life raft or very small craft, to a 0.50 caliber heavy machine gun or small 25-50mm canon of the scale carried as a secondary weapon on a tank or infantry fighting vehicle, to provide a direct fire tool to respond to the same kind of threats, at the largest size that would not be a significant burden to the vessel;

* Any ship of about 500-1000 tons or more, regardless of its purpose should also have at least one or two shipping container sized anti-ship missiles that are either comparable to those found in existing vertical launch systems on frigates and destroyers, or a smaller anti-ship missile system capable of at least disabling, if not sinking, most non-warships, missile boats, cutters, corvettes, frigates, and destroyers

* all but the very smallest military vessels and vessels that could be called into military service should protect people inside them from small arms fire at least as well as an infantryman's flak jacket and helmet, and should provide a similar level of protection to fuel tanks and carried ammunition. In vessels whose hulls don't meet those standards, like deep sea/ocean grade life rafts and light aluminum vessels, this could be a simple as retrofitting a kevlar lining in parts of the hull, or select "safe rooms" walls that have vulnerable targets behind them; 

* Every military vessel should have at least one airborne drone, with a size suitable for the vessel, that it can deploy to provide visual awareness of a larger area than can be seen from the highest vantage point on  the vessel itself, and night vision capabilities; and

* Every military vessel, right down to life rafts and the smallest inflatable motorboats, should have a secure satellite phone or a satisfactory alternative (with the capacity to allow the user to call in air strikes or missile strikes as a forward observer).

As in the case of aircraft, these enhancements aren't going to turn every cargo ship into a primary surface combatant. But, it would provide military vessels with more protection than the vast majority of civilian vessels against pirates, small boarding parties, swarms of armed small boats, attack helicopters, armed drones, an isolated warship on patrol (including one that might have been disguised as a fishing boat or yacht), and small arms fire while in port or near shore.

In the status quo, some or all of these capabilities are absent from almost all non-combatant vessels and also from amphibious force transport ships, littoral combat ships, and aircraft carriers. But the cost and weight involved in upgrading the entire fleet to this military capability level would be modest, and it would greatly increase the resilience of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard as a whole, for example, allowing these ships to have some defenses if they are separated from their escort warships or if there is a need for them to deploy in small numbers without an escort. 

None of this is intended to slight existing minimum standards like the availability of life rafts, personal floatation devices, rescue beacons, medical resources, small arms carried by crews on ships, etc.

Upgunning On Land

* Every military ground vehicle that is manned or carries fuel or ammunition (bigger than a motorcycle, electric bicycle, or ATV), retrofitted if necessary, and every military base that is more than a tent to be used for one or two nights, should have areas inside them that protect personnel from small arms fire at least as well as an infantryman's flak jacket and helmet (perhaps in a safe room, fox hole, or trench in the case of a base), and should provide a similar level of protection to fuel tanks and carried ammunition. The U.S. military shouldn't have to repeat the lessons we learned from the losses to unarmored Humvees with completely unarmored logistics support vehicles;

* Every new military ground vehicle that is manned or carries fuel or ammunition deployed outside the U.S. should have a "v-shaped hull" or other design features that mitigate the risk of harm to personnel, fuel, and ammunition from IEDs and land mines;

* Every manned military ground vehicle deployed outside the U.S., other than medical vehicles, and every military base that is more than a tent to be used for one or two nights, should carry, either in easily accessible storage or an in integrated weapons system: (1) at least one anti-armor weapon such as a TOW missile, Javelin missile, recoilless rifle, or rocket propelled grenade, that can be used against unarmored or lightly armored enemy military vehicles or light fortifications (e.g. sand bags), (2) at least one man portable anti-aircraft missile, like the Stinger, for use against helicopters, large armed drones, and low flying fixed wing aircraft, and (3) the largest feasible direct fire weapon for the vehicle in question from an automatic weapon from a carbine for each soldier on the vehicle, to a remotely operated CROWS mount, to a 0.50 caliber heavy machine gun or small 25-50mm canon of the scale carried as a secondary weapon on a tank or infantry fighting vehicle; this minimum can be met, if necessary, with a modest sized additional storage bin in vehicles that lack these capabilities like supply trucks, and at forward operating bases;

* Every manned military ground vehicle deployed outside the U.S.  and every military base that is more than a tent to be used for one or two nights, should have: (1) basic anti-drone/anti-missile electronic jamming defenses, (2) some sort of additional point defense anti-air drone/anti-missile weapon or weapons (as noted before, a variety of different concepts are being explored), (3) a system to instantly identify the location of (and where feasible, to immediately fire back at, if feasible to add this capability) snipers who fire on the vehicle or base, (4) at least one airborne drone with a size suitable to the vehicle or base that it can deploy to provide visual awareness of a larger area than can be seen at ground level, (5) night vision equipment, and (6) a secure satellite phone or a satisfactory alternative  (with the capacity to allow the user to call in air strikes or missile strikes as a forward observer).

Again, these enhancements aren't going to turn every manned military ground vehicle into a primary combatant, and won't turn every forward operating base into a castle or ultra-secure bunker. But, it would provide all military vehicles and semi-permanent bases with more protection than the vast majority of civilian vehicles against small arms fire and shrapnel, and some way to fight back against unexpected threats more powerful than infantry with small arms. This is essential in the modern war zone where the entire theater of the conflict is effectively on the front lines.

In the status quo, some or all of these capabilities are absent from almost all non-combatant vehicles such as logistics trucks, which have proven vulnerable in the Ukraine War on both sides. But the cost and weight involved in upgrading the entire U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps to this military capability level would be modest, and it would greatly increase the resilience of U.S. military ground forces.

None of this is intended to slight existing minimum standards like flak jackets, helmets, first aid kits, a soldier's personal carbine, rifle or handgun, putting soldiers on patrol duty at forward operating bases, air bags and spare tires in vehicles, and ammunition carried by individual soldiers, etc.

21 February 2024

Random Thoughts

International Law

* International law should recognize a duty to give up and acknowledge that you have been defeated in a claim to territory at some point.

* The twelve mile exclusive zone in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea was probably based upon the range of naval guns on warships, allowing countries to exclude warships from the range at which they could strike their shores. But in an era where missiles have much longer ranges, no country can keep itself safe from missile attacks with distance alone. Does the existence of the ability to strike at long ranges call for reduced military sovereignty?

* International law should recognize some basis making it easier for third-party nations to depose international bad actors like the current leaders of Russia and North Korea.


* Islam isn't doing so well in Iran at the grass roots. "Barely 1/3 identify as Shia Muslims. There are now more Zoroastrian and Atheists than Sunnis. Conversions to Christianity are skyrocketing. Mosque attendance is in the gutter. Muslim baby names have dropped massively. Of course the IRI is panicking." Only 40.4% of Iranians self-identify as Muslim and more than 20% of them identify as non-Shiite, which is pretty pathetic for a Shiite Islamic theocracy. About 46.6% are some manner of "none". Apparently, about 5.4% are adherents of non-Muslim religions.

Via Twitter.

* Politically, Iran has gone from being an absolute theocracy to a flawed democracy in which voters make genuine choices about the country's secular leaders, albeit subject to significant interference by theocratic institutions. It is not a one party state, or a dictatorship/quasi-monarchy on the secular side with no prospect of replacing political leaders who have real political power. Taken together with creeping, covert secularization, and significant religious diversity, and an economy which isn't dominated entirely by oil wealth, the prospects of flipping Iran into a more democratic, less theocratic, less internationally aggressive country are real.

* This said, Iran is responsible for a lot of global mischief. It is behind the military capabilities of the Houthis in Southern Yemen, Hamas in Israel, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is a leading military exporter to Russia. It has close military ties to North Korea. 

* Iran's homegrown defense industry capabilities are, like those of Israel and South Africa, and to a less extent, Turkey, a product of international sanctions that made buying arms from third-parties harder than making its own.

Rescuing People And Mobile EMS

* The Army plans buy of about a thousand Armored Multipurpose Vehicles for medical evacuation and field hospital use. Surface combatant warships are vulnerable multiple threats and have limited ability to protect themselves from them. War games show that in a Chinese attempted amphibious invasion of Taiwan that virtually every Chinese, American, Japanese, and South Korean ship involved in the fight would be sunk in fairly short order and that many warplanes involved in the fight would also go down. This would leave the Taiwan strait full of sailors and airmen, many of whom do not have fatal injuries but wouldn't have the ability to swim to shore before drowning and would be in an area of active or imminent armed conflict. The U.S. has few capabilities dedicated to this purpose (it has one or two submarine deep sea rescue units and puts life boats on ships) and does not even seem to have given much thought to it. Some ideas that come to mind are a quasi-artillery or quasi-missile that delivers to life boats/life vests to some point in the sea, a life boat that can be transmitted by drone to specific coordinates, a submersible or semi-submersible search and rescue (SAR) ship/boat, an unarmed SAR helicopter (possibly also able to drop life vests and/or life boats), or small manned rescue boats.

* The U.S. Navy is overdue for new hospital ships. But, perhaps they should be assigned to the Coast Guard instead in peacetime.

* Motorcycle based paramedics/car accident responders still make great sense. So does drone based emergency equipment delivery (e.g. jaws of life, medicines, medical equipment).


* Objectively, the Republican Party is the stupid party. People who are aware of basic indisputable facts, like knowing what legal issues Trump is facing, knowing some medical basic facts about pregnancy, knowing that the 2020 election was legitimate, knowing the state of the economy and crime rates, knowing that immigration doesn't increase crime, etc. almost invariably is associated with non-MAGA political views. Horrible MAGA political views are tied to a significant extent to a view of what the facts about society are that is at odds with reality.

* The MAGA movement is the terrifying intersection of demagogues and natural stupidity, a problem that the Founders were well aware of and feared all of the way back to the Federalist papers, but didn't have a solution for other than virtuous voters. On one hand, this would offer hope that getting masses of people to know basic facts would save us. On the other hand, we know that lots of people and especially MAGA types with less education and high levels of distrust of reliable sources of information, are fact resistant and that just presenting information to people doesn't change their views on issues with partisan or ideological or theological relevance. People can change views to stay in line for their own leaders, at least temporarily (see, temporary GOP support for Russia and Putin), but the process is a social one not a logical-rational one.

* Republicans are also much more open to political and private violence, outright defiance of the constitution and political structures, cheating in both political and private matters, crime, and corruption. They have a herder mentality in a post-herder society.

* The U.S. is at a very vulnerable point and could get much worse. The abortion bans in half the states following the Dobbs decision is one example (although state initiatives and state courts applying state constitutions are rolling this back in some states) and efforts to punish people for crossing state lines to access abortion and gender care services is worse yet. Outright secessionism and nullification talk is another, exemplified by legislation in Utah to allow nullification and blatant disregard of the law in Texas with the border situation. Xenophobia and isolationism are back. We're seeing rolling back of child labor laws. Transgender people are actively being officially scapegoated and attacked in Red State America. The pro-racism movement is alive and well in the anti-woke, anti-diversity, equality, and inclusion movement, and more. Red state hostility to higher education generally is ramping up as illustrated by the hard right takeover of New College of Florida which is basically dead now. The red state opposition to zero state budget cost Medicaid assistance is a crazy, self-inflicted way to make people sicker with no legitimate policy justifications and is driven by nothing more than anti-Democrat spite. The stubborn refusal to regulate guns and to make gun violence worse with laws like Stand Your Ground laws is appalling. Yet, frighteningly, this extremism doesn't seem to be doing much to shift political polls. The intense hate of Biden and the support of absolutely repugnant Trump mystifies me, even though Biden was not anywhere near the top of my list for Presidential nominees and seems to be running a very weak Presidential campaign.

16 February 2024

Why Buy 3000 Armored Multipurpose Vehicles? (And Related Ideas)

The Army started taking deliveries of its new 27.6 ton Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) on March 13, 2023:

AMPV is the replacement for the M113 family of vehicles within the Armored Brigade Combat Team, comprising approximately 30 percent of its tracked vehicle fleet. The Army’s worldwide fleet of AMPVs will include nearly 3,000 vehicles delivered within the next 20 years. . . .
Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team [said that the] "AMPV is a more rugged, reliable and capable platform than the M113s that it replaces, bringing more capability to our ABCTs and allowing our formations to transform how they are able to fight."

There are five variants of the AMPV that provide soldiers with improvements in survivability, protection, weight, size, power, cooling and compatibility with future technologies.

The AMPV shares a common powertrain and suspension with the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the M109A7 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, which reduces logistical and mechanical burdens among ABCTs.

"The Army is transforming our ABCT through integration of improved technology with warfighting concepts across the force. These modernization efforts increase our capacity to deter adversaries and if necessary, fight and win in combat," said Col Peter Moon, commander, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "We look forward to the capabilities that AMPV will bring to the battlefield to ensure we remain lethal and ready to win the fight."
According to Wikipedia, the "five variants of the 2,907 AMPV that are planned are:
* M1283 General Purpose (522 planned)
* M1284 Medical Evacuation Vehicle (790 planned)
* M1285 Medical Treatment Vehicle (216 planned) (a small armored field hospital)
* M1286 Mission Command (993 planned)
* M1287 Mortar Carrier Vehicle (386 planned) 

There are aspects of this purchase that don't make much sense. A general purpose AMPV is just an under gunned Bradley IFV with very little weight or performance improvement. There is already a Bradley command variant as well, so neither of models, which make up half of the planned purchase, make much sense.

The 120mm mortar carrier version, which makes up about 13% of the planned purchase, has a quite narrow niche. A 120mm has a minimum range of 200 yards and a maximum range of 4.5 miles, with much less accuracy than a direct fire tank round within its roughly 2 mile range (and so is only desirable in those circumstances against an opponent not in the direct line of sight), or compared to a Bradley 25mm cannon or TOW missile, each with a roughly 2.3 mile range, or compared to the M270 Bradley with a range of 9.3-20 miles for its shortest range missile. A 120mm mortar round weighs 29 pounds, of which only 4 pounds is the warhead, so it that packs a much less powerful punch than an MLRS missile (which has a 200 pound warhead) and also significantly less than a 105mm or 120mm tank round, a 105mm or 155mm howitzer shell, a 5" naval gun, a Viper Strike bomb from a fighter aircraft, and all but the smallest anti-tank missiles. It has about the same punch as a 3" naval gun or a recoilless rifle a.k.a. bazooka shell or a Bofors RB56 anti-tank missile or  a MANPAD (like a Stinger missile), but moving slower than any of those. It's only optimally effective against targets that are pretty much limited to dismounted infantry and unarmored or lightly armored vehicles at fairly close range. At the short end of its range where it is most accurate, is vulnerable to direct fire from enemy tanks and anti-tank missiles, while at the long end of its range it is less accurate. A Humvee can tow a 120mm mortar system on a trailer (with the same number of rounds which weighs about 2800 pounds including all components and 69 mortar shells) and can reach the same terrain, but lacks the armor of the AMPV mortar carrier. It is much cheaper to buy a 120mm unguided mortar round than to buy an anti-tank missile. But, why have a 27 ton armored vehicle with such modest firepower? 

Why not get more self-propelled howitzers, like the M109A7 Paladin (which is itself partially Bradley derived) with heavier rounds than a 120mm mortar, a longer maximum range (13-25 miles depending upon the kind of shell used), and a similar minimum range (a 155mm shell has a blast radius of about 100 yards), instead? 

Or, alternately, why not develop an armored anti-tank missile launcher (sometimes called a "tank destroyer"), which would be much more accurate and at least comparably weight efficient, in at similar ranges, instead?

Medical evacuation and medical treatment, which makes up about a third of the planned purchase, is a function that is not served by existing armored systems other than the M113, and heavy armor does make sense for medical evacuation and treatment near the front lines of a battle. This is the only part of the purchase that makes much sense.

Wikipedia continues its analysis of why the AMPV was needed by stating: 

The M113 has been in service since the early 1960s and while able to take on various roles, has proven too vulnerable for combat. In the 1980s, the M2 Bradley replaced the M113 in the front-line transport role, moving it to rear-area roles. In the Iraq Warurban warfare tactics still defeated the M113, leading it to be almost entirely replaced in active service by Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehiclesMRAPs were useful on the roads of Iraq, but have less payload capacity and worse off-road performance. The AMPV aims to find a vehicle more versatile and mobile against a wide range of adversaries while having off-road mobility comparable to Bradleys and M1 Abrams tanks. 
. . .

In order to keep development costs down, the Army is requiring the vehicle be a commercial off-the-shelf design that can be incrementally improved. The vehicle would have new technologies including electronics, networking, and communications gear added onto the platform as they become available later. If the AMPV can incorporate newer satellite communications as they are developed, they could be linked to other ground vehicles that would normally require a complete subsystems overhaul for new gear after a certain number of years. The operational maintenance cost requirement of the AMPV is up to $90 per mile, compared to $58 per mile for the M113. . . .
Army leaders have rejected General Dynamics' idea of using a wheeled vehicle for medical evacuation in armored brigades, saying a tracked vehicle's superior mobility better enables it to retrieve wounded soldiers. The requirements were for a vehicle that could go wherever the tracked vehicles of an armored brigade went, which would include rough terrain and soft ground that a wheeled vehicle could get bogged down in, preventing an armored ambulance from reaching wounded soldiers in time. 
Using BAE's Bradley-based chassis allows for commonality between 75 percent of an armored brigade's combat vehicles, easing maintenance and logistics and ensuring the vehicles have comparable mobility.

As a practical matter, however, there has been surprisingly little use of the U.S. military's tracked armored vehicles in an off-road capacity in the post-Korean War period.

In part, because this takes more fuel (an M1 Abrams has a range of 265 miles on the road with 504.4 gallons of diesel fuel, but only 93-124 miles off-road), and is slower (an M1A Abrams can go 42-45 miles per hour on road and only 25 miles per hour off-road). Other tracked vehicles has similar reductions in speed and fuel efficiency off-road.

The Gulf War demonstrated the strengths of tracked tanks off roads in open flat deserts and plains. The Ukraine war demonstrated, however, that heavy tracked tanks and armored vehicles still get bogged down in mud even on flat terrain, and also don't perform off road well in heavy forests. Vietnam demonstrated that heavy tracked tanks performed poorly in tropical, wet, jungles and swamps. Kosovo and Afghanistan demonstrated their limitations in narrow mountain passes. The Iraq War demonstrated their limitations in urban environments with narrow roads.

The wheeled Stryker Armored Personnel Carrier has a range of 310 miles and can go 60 miles per hour on roads, is 18.2 tons in its standard version and 20.7 tons with its mobile gun system (a 105 mm tank gun).  It also has V-shaped hull versions.

Also, the wheeled Humvee (which is superior pretty much any wheeled civilian vehicle off-road, including the jeep which it replaced). As noted in a previous post at this blog:

Its low center of gravity, wide frame, four wheel drive and other features allow it to climb steep hills (60% grade), drive with a right side much higher than its left (40% grade), or visa versa, and its undercarriage is designed to give it exceptionally high clearance (16 inches) of rocks and tree stumps and debris that may be in its way, and ford shallow streams (30 inches in a standard configuration). In short, it is designed to be able to carry modest loads of cargo and troops anywhere tracked military vehicles, like tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, could while getting fuel economy at about 12 mpg, which isn't great, but is far better than a tank, 0.5 mpg, or a Bradley, at about 1.5 mpg. (A Stryker gets about 6 mpg.)

The wheeled JLTV also performs well off-road (and is armed with .50 caliber M2 machine guns, 40mm Mk 19 automatic grenade launchers, and TOW anti-tank missiles, much like the original Bradley IFV, and will have a modified version that will carry intermediate range anti-ship missiles).

The standard version of the JTLV via Wikipedia

A Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System launcher [based on the JLTV] deploys into position aboard Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2021. The NMESIS and its Naval Strike Missiles participated in a live-fire exercise, here, part of Large Scale Exercise 2021. (Maj. Nick Mannweiler/Marine Corps). From here (in an article noting the development of a semi-submersible drone designed to stealthily deliver two missiles at a time for this system).

The eight wheeled the Stryker is modestly inferior to an M1 Abrams tank off road. As one source notes:

“The main difference between a Stryker and a Bradley is that a Bradley is far more maneuverable than a Stryker.” On roads, Strykers and Abrams tanks could move at about the same speed, but maneuvering off-road in rolling desert terrain, the wheeled Strykers were far slower than the tracked tanks.

Still, this is a pretty modest performance reduction that comes up only quite rarely, compared to a great performance enhancement on road, in circumstances that are the predominant norm in actual use.

Also, unless the entire logistics train is tracked, a entire unit can't deploy travel across extreme terrain that tracked vehicles can manage but wheeled vehicles cannot, for more than temporary excursions by the tracked vehicles into the extreme terrain.

Stryker Infantry Carrier Version (ICV)

While the AMPV is indeed more modern than the 13.6 ton M113 armored personnel carrier which entered service 64 years ago in 1960, that they replace, "the M113 series have long been replaced as front-line combat vehicles by the M2 and M3 Bradleys, but large numbers are still used in support roles such as armored ambulance, mortar carrier, engineer vehicle, and command vehicle. The U.S. Army's heavy brigade combat teams are equipped with approximately 6,000 M113s and 4,000 Bradleys." 

An M113 Armored Personnel Carrier

The replacement turretless Bradley, however, is based on a design that entered service in 1981, which is still 43 years old, and is on the verge of being replaced. This is woefully outdated for a new major military system that the U.S. plans on buying 3000 of over the next twenty years, at which point the design will be as old as the M113 is today. The Army is on the verge of replacing the M2/M3 Bradley right now with an XM30 family of vehicles:
In July 2021, the Army awarded contracts to five teams: Point Blank Enterprises, Oshkosh Defense, BAE Systems, GDLS and American Rheinmetall Vehicles. The total value of the contract was $299.4 million. Teams will develop concept designs during the 15-month long phase. All entries had to meet three general criteria: a tracked vehicle with a hybrid-electric drive; an unmanned turret housing a 50 mm autocannon, or a 30 mm turret with the ability to upgrade to the larger caliber; and a reduced crew of two with space to carry six infantrymen. The Army planned to pick three teams, reduced to two teams upon contract award, to move on to building prototypes by mid-2023.

In June 2023, the Army downselected American Rheinmetall and GDLS to go forward in the competition. These two teams will now move on to the next phase of the program and split a $1.6 billion development fund to develop a total of eleven prototypes each, seven being for a contract award with an option for four more. They will also develop two ballistic hulls, turrets, armor coupons, and digital model twins during this phase of the program. The Army also announced due to the initial design stage of the OMFV being complete that they would be redesignating the program as the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle.
The AMPV, however, does have some innovations relative to the original Bradley M2 from 1981:
For the U.S. Army's Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program to replace the M113, BAE offered a variant of the Bradley. The AMPV submission is a turretless Bradley chassis, providing greater cargo spaceincreased armor, and upgraded engine and electrical systems. For increased protection, V-shaped bottom replaces the flat base. The AMPV has several modular roof sections to adapt to each role. For fuel efficiency, BAE is considered using a hybrid-electric drive. . . . Underbody blast tests demonstrated that AMPV survivability requirements could be met with a Bradley platform. BAE projected their AMPV submission to have similar operating costs to the M113 and lower costs than an M2 Bradley, as the platform's most expensive components are related to the omitted turret. To better accommodate modern electronics, the turretless Bradley has 78% more internal space than the M113, and two 400-amp generators.

It doesn't appear, however, that the hybrid-electric drive made it into the initial version of the AMPV. 

The AMPV's greater weight compared to the M113 also means that while the M113 could be transported with a C-130, that an AMPV cannot, and that a C-17 can carry only three AMPV's while it can carry six M113s, which in turn carry twice as many soldiers each. One C-17 load of AMPVs or Bradleys can transport 6 crew and 18 passengers for a combined 24 soldiers. One C-17 load of M113s can transport 12 crew and 66-90 passengers for a combined 78-102 soldiers. Again, this argues for limiting the AMPV to the specialty medical evacuation and treatment role, to reduce the number of them that need to be deployed.

The M113 is 15' 11.5" long, 8' 9.7" wide, and 8' 2" tall, and carries 2 crew together with 11-15 soldiers. 

The AMPV and the Bradley are 13' 2" to 13' 6" long,  10' 6" to 10' 9" wide, and 9' 9" tall. The AMPV carries 2 crew together with 6 soldiers in its general purpose version, like a Bradley but with less firepower. Thus, the AMPV is less suited than the M113 for use in narrow streets and mountain passes.

By comparison the most advanced version of the Abrams main battle tank, the M1A2 SEP v.3 Abrams is 26.02 feet long (32.04 feet with its gun forward), 12 feet wide, 8 feet tall, has four crew, and weighs 73.6 tons.

Official dimensions of the M10 Booker with a crew of 4 (and a range and speed similar to other U.S. military tracked vehicles) are hard to come by, but one source estimates that it is about 23' long (31' 2" with gun forward), 11' 6" wide, 10' 10" tall, and weighs 42 tons. If correct, it has only modestly smaller dimensions than the M1A Abrams and is the tallest armored vehicle, wheeled or tracked, in U.S. military service. I suspect that these estimates are on the high side in all dimensions. For example, in a side by side photo, it appears to be quite a bit less tall than a JLTV which is 8' 6" tall. It is also supposed to be significantly smaller than the Abrams, as discussed in this larger analysis:
The Booker would prove a valuable platform in a Taiwan ground fight, the armor expert explained to us. About two-thirds of the island is mostly rugged mountains. It features flat to rolling plains in the densely populated west, which faces mainland China. The M10’s smaller size compared to an Abrams would allow it to better maneuver through the tight, restricted urban areas where much of the fighting would take place. It would be able to pass over bridges an Abrams might not be able to cross due to weight concerns and operate, as previously mentioned, with a much lighter logistical footprint.

Its 105mm main gun, he added, “is powerful enough to handle most Chinese equipment.”

The vehicle would also theoretically be helpful to Ukraine, particularly in urban areas like those in and around Avdiivka and Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast. A lot of fighting there takes place in rubbled settings like the remains of the Avdiivka coke plant.

“I can see the Booker being used in conjunction with Ukrainian infantry as they're moving in restricted terrain,” said the expert.

The more open terrain found in Ukraine, like in the Robotyne-Verbove salient of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, or even in farmland outside of Avdiivka’s urban areas, would be even more difficult for the Booker, he said.

“The infantry would have to move up first and assess the situation and call in the Booker or place it in an area where they have an increased level of survivability when engaging targets that the infantry wants destroyed.”

Those situations are proving a difficult challenge to both Ukrainian and Russian tanks and other armor, which are unable to mass without drones either spotting them and correcting artillery fire or directly attacking. For Ukraine, there is the added challenge of having to breach the massive layers of dense minefields built up by Russia.

Still, in both the Taiwan and Ukraine scenarios, as well as Israel’s tough urban fight in Gaza, the lighter-protected Booker will be more vulnerable than Abrams or the Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) Merkava tanks. The various types of rocket-propelled grenades Hamas is using against Israeli vehicles have highlighted that threat, and the expert we’ve talked to said having the Bookers equipped with ERA and MAPS is essential in any urban fight.

The M10 would be able to stay on the battlefield longer “because it doesn’t consume as much fuel,” said the expert. However, “if it starts acting like an M1 Abrams and the force that has the M10 Booker considers it more of a tank in the traditional sense, then we might see issues with it because of its level of protection. It is there to provide fire support and mobility for the infantry.”

So while the Booker may fill an Army need, thinking of it as just a smaller M1 is not the right mindset.

“The M10 Booker Combat Vehicle provides infantry forces organic, highly mobile, well protected, and large-caliber precise direct-fire capabilities,” Norman said. “M10’s will enable our light infantry forces to attack and maintain momentum in the face of enemy heavy machine guns, prepared positions and field fortifications, and light armored vehicles. In the defense, the M10 provides light infantry forces protected, direct-fire large caliber capabilities to defeat attacking enemy forces.”

“In all cases,” he added, “M10-equipped quick reaction forces can respond to situations requiring highly protected, fast-moving tracked mobility, employing large-caliber cannons to support U.S. and partnered forces.”
The wheeled Stryker Armored Personnel Carrier is 22' 10" long, 8' 11" wide (just 1.3 inches wider than the M113), and 8' 8" tall, and carries a crew of 2 and up to 9 passengers.

The 11.32 ton wheeled Joint Light Tactical Vehicle replacement for the Humvee and many MRAPs,  has a length of 20' 4", a width of 8' 4" (5.7" narrower than an M113), a height of 8' 6", and has a crew of 1, plus 3 passengers and an optional gunner. It has a range of 300 miles at a speed of 70 miles per hour.

  • M1283 General Purpose (GP): Replaces the M113A3 APC. Requirements are for 2 crew and 6 troops, be configured to carry one litter, and mount a crew served weapon. Tasks include conducting logistics package escort, emergency resupply, casualty evacuation, and security for medical evacuation. 522 planned.
  • M1284 Medical Evacuation Vehicle (MEV): Replaces the M113 AMEV. Requirements are for 3 crew and able to have either 6 ambulatory patients, 4 litter patients, or 3 ambulatory patients and 2 litter patients. It must also have medical equipment sets and environmental cooling. Tasks include conducting medical evacuation from the point of injury to an aid station and medical resupply replenishment. 790 planned.
  • M1285 Medical Treatment Vehicle (MTV): Replaces the M577A3 Medical Vehicle. Requirements are for 4 crew and one litter patient, as well as medical equipment sets and environmental cooling. Tasks include serving as the forward aid station, main aid station, and battalion aid station. 216 planned.
  • M1287 Mortar Carrier Vehicle (MCV): Replaces the M1064A3 Mortar Carrier. Requirements are for 2 crew and 2 mortar crew, with a 120 mm mortar and 69 mortar rounds. The task is to provide indirect mortar fire. 386 planned.
  • M1286 Mission Command (MCmd): Replaces the M1068A3 Command Post Carrier. Requirements are for 2 crew, 2 operators, and a mount for a crew served weapon. The task is to serve as a command post. 993 planned.

The Bradley chassis is also "the basis for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, the M4 C2V battlefield command post, and the M6 Bradley Linebacker air defense vehicle. Armed with a quad Stinger surface-to-air missile launcher in place of the TOW anti-tank missiles, but maintaining the 25 mm autocannon, the M6 Bradley Linebacker Air Defense Vehicle (no longer in service) possessed a unique role in the U.S. Army, providing highly mobile air defense at the front line."

The light wheeled M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARs) multiple rocket launcher system, which is C-130 transportable and uses the same missiles as the Bradley based M270 (6 MLRS missiles with a range of 20-28 miles (minimum range 9.3 miles), 1 ATACMS with a range of 186 miles, or 2 Precision Strike missiles with a range of 310 miles) except that the M270 can carry twice as many missiles at a time and comes with a reloading unit. HIMARs, introduced in 2010, has proved more attractive in modern warfare than its more heavily armored but slower counterpart, in part, because given the range of its missiles, its easier deployability and 53 mile per hour speed v. 40 miles per hour for the M270, are a better fit to a shoot and scoot strategy far from the front lines and it doesn't need to be in extreme off road locations. The 18 ton HIMARs with a crew of 3 is 23' long, 7' 10" wide, and 10' 6" tall. The 26.5 ton M270, which has been in service since 1983 (the last one was produced in 2003), and requires a crew of 3 is 22' 10.5" long, 9' 9" wide, and 8' 6" tall with its launcher stowed.

The M142 HIMARs via the Wikipedia article on it.

The M270 via the Wikipedia article on it.

Exiting from the back of an armored vehicle while under fire, securing dismounted command and control and responding in real time to fast-emerging new threat dynamics, are merely a few of the tactics now being explored and refined by Army soldiers preparing to deploy in a new, next-generation service infantry carrier.

The Army’s now-in-development XM30 Combat Vehicle Program has been the focus of intense evaluations referred to by the service as “Soldier Touchpoints,” experiments and analyses wherein infantry squads practice combat operation in the new platform to further inform and improve its ongoing development. Referred to broadly as a “Bradley” replacement, the XM30 is being engineered with a new generation of advanced technologies intended to expand the tactical envelope and introduce new concepts of operation for nine-man infantry squads closing with an enemy in combat. . . .

the soldiers will be testing the ease, fluidity and pace of how soldiers dismount from different vehicle design configurations, placement of key sensor technologies and panels and hands-on-practical maintenance questions such as how the engine will be accessible for field-level sustainment.

The Soldier touchpoint included a number of practical drills, such as timing how long it took a team of Soldiers to dismount from various possible vehicle design configurations. It also included more nuanced discussions about access and placement of panels that provide exterior situation awareness for the Soldiers, and how the engine will be accessible for field-level maintenance.

Previously referred to as an “Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle,” the Army’s Bradley replacement is referred to by weapons developers as being engineered with a “soldier-centric” design intended to change and improve soldier lethality in a new threat environment. Many of the specific technologies are proprietary to competing vendors or unavailable for security reasons, yet there are several key areas of technological focus as the service further refines its requirements. The vehicle is being engineered with an ability to operate autonomously and unmanned, meaning it can navigate and transit complex terrain, transport infantry and perform sensing missions without needing human intervention. The vehicle can also function in a “semi-autonomous” fashion, meaning it can receive command and control input from human decision-makers, operate air and ground unmanned systems and conduct high-risk reconnaissance missions under enemy fire. Not surprisingly, much of the innovations being built into the vehicle relate to establishing the fire-control technologies, sensors and optics, protections and maneuverability necessary to support future formations.

Several years ago during an earlier phase of development for the OMFV, senior Army weapons developers told Warrior that initial concepts for the vehicle included engineering a new infantry carrier that was powerful, lethal and precise enough to "out-range" an enemy with fires and also be light and maneuverable enough to cross 80-percent or more of bridges, narrowly configured urban areas and other challenged, high-threat transit areas.

As for weapons applications, the two variants and US Army lead weapons developers are likely exploring a range of cutting edge requirements, to include a Short-Range-Air-Defense like counter drone capability such as a Stinger missile and an ability to launch and recover advanced drones. One possibility for American Rheinmetall could involve the integration of a counter-drone-counter air vehicle-launched drone made by one of their XM30 teammates, Raytheon's Coyote. Raytheon has been developing an advanced Block2 Coyote which includes what developers describe as a larger, optimized warhead with advanced tracking. Specific solutions being integrated are likely still being determined, yet both General Dynamics and ARV are likely to be integrating and testing a wide range of cutting-edge weapons systems such as drones, cannons, sensors and counter-air weapons. General Dynamics Land Systems, for example, has engineered several armored vehicles with an ability to launch and recover surveillance and attack drones.

A November 2023 Concept Image of an XM30

Another report about the XM30 from June of 2023 notes that:

The Army’s next armored personnel carrier . . . which the Army is now calling the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle, will replace the decades-old M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle as the service’s primary armored troop carrier. . . . Defense officials said Monday that, despite the “optionally manned” title of the program, the vehicle is unlikely to operate without a crew or be remotely drivable.

Soldiers who eventually ride in or operate the XM30 will find it similar to the Bradley, officials say, but with some key differences. The heavily armored vehicle will carry six soldiers, the same as the Bradley. But while the Bradley has three crew members, automation will cut that number to two.

The vehicle’s main weapon will be the XM913 50mm chain gun developed by Northrop Grumman, which the Army says has twice the range of the Bradley’s 25mm gun [i.e. about 4.6 miles]. The gun will be wired to a system that should allow soldiers to fire it remotely, reducing the exposure of a dedicated gunner to incoming fire.

However, while an Air Force C-17 can fly three Bradleys at once, the cargo plane will be able to fly just two XM30s, officials say [i.e. it will be more than 27 tons but not more than 42 tons].
Raytheon/Rheinmetall, one of the two finalists, has the following concept XM30 vehicle (which will feature "the new Multi-Mission Launcher which can fire the company’s TOW™, Javelin, [and] Coyote® Block 3 loitering munition"):

The other finalist, from General Dynamics Land Systems, based upon its Griffin III, would be about 42 tons like the Griffin II which became the M10 Booker, but "while similar in weight to Griffin II, scaled down the main gun from 105mm caliber to the 50 mm XM913 gun system. It is equipped with the IMI SystemsIron Fist Active Protection System (APS) and AeroVironment’s Switchblade loitering munition system") looks like this:

Developing an "optionally manned" ground warfare system makes lots of sense. Unmanned aircraft, ground vehicles, ships, boats, and submarines are clearly a key part of any future military force.

But, why would one pick an infantry carrier, of all things, to be optionally manned? 

An optionally manned tank, or tank destroyer, or mobile artillery system, or multiple rocket launcher, or air defense systems, or transport vehicle, or reconnaissance vehicle, whose core mission does not involve having people in the vehicle, could make plenty of sense. 

But a vehicle that is "optionally manned" doesn't make sense for an infantry carrier, whose whole reason to exist is to have real live soldiers in it, like the 18 ton Stryker, or the 27 ton Bradley and AMPV, or the Marine Corps' 35 ton Amphibious Combat Vehicle (whose introduction has been delayed by some late stage deadly mishaps until sometime later this year).

It isn't necessary for a vehicle with soldiers in it anyway. And, one of the benefits of a drone is that an unmanned vehicle can be smaller than a manned one with the same capabilities, because it doesn't need to meet the needs and protect the safety of the crew. But this benefit is eliminated in an optionally manned infantry carrier.

A U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle

15 February 2024

Palletized Anti-Drone Missiles

The Ukrainian Navy’s press service recently released footage showcasing the combat effectiveness of their air defense units, marking the confirmed debut of a new Counter-Unmanned Air System (UAS) weapon system developed by L3Harris for Ukraine.

The video captured the moment when a Russian kamikaze drone, identified as the Shahed-136, was successfully shot down by an Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket launched from the Vampire weapon system.

The Vehicle Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment (VAMPIRE) system is a compact and palletized rocket-launching platform equipped with modern sensors and four-shot APKWS launchers designed for installation on flatbed trucks. Initially utilized by the U.S. Navy and Army for engaging air-to-ground targets, the VAMPIRE system introduces a laser-guided rocket capable of effectively countering unmanned aerial threats.
The Vampire is a low-cost and easy-to-assemble weapon compared to other counter-drone measures, such as electronic warfare technologies or surface-to-air missile systems.
From here. According to the Wikipedia link above:
The AGR-20 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is a design conversion of Hydra 70 unguided rockets with a laser guidance kit to turn them into precision-guided munitions (PGMs). APKWS is approximately one-third the cost and one-third the weight of the current inventory of laser-guided weapons, has a lower yield more suitable for avoiding collateral damage, and takes one quarter of the time for ordnance personnel to load and unload.

APKWS missiles entered service in 2012. Each missile costs $22,000. Each missile weighs 32 pounds, is 6' 1.8" long, and is 2.75 inches in diameter. It was originally designed to be launched from helicopters and ground attack fixed wing aircraft. It has a range of 0.68 to 3.11 miles (1.1-5 km) when launched from a helicopter and 1.2-6.8 miles (2-11 km) when launched from a fixed wing aircraft. Its top speed is about Mach 3. The WESCAM MX-10 RSTA sensor turret that goes with it weighs 43 pounds. It isn't clear exactly how much the launch tube, mount and power supply weighs, but the entire package is in the low hundreds of pounds. The entire system costs $1.6 to $2.9 million U.S. dollars each based upon the $40 million U.S. dollar price paid by Ukraine for 14-24 four missile launch systems (it isn't clear how many missiles are included in each system). As a laser guided weapon, it is probably quite accurate, at least within a line of sight from the delivery point, making it basically a one-shot, one-kill system, unlike cannon artillery.

The big deal, in this case, is that you can drop the system in any commercial off the shelf pickup truck or flat bed truck or in a Humvee (or for example, the deck of any boat or ship or train or stationary air defense battery on a rooftop or in a parking lot or plaza or lawn) without having to have a dedicated vehicle designed to use the system. The defense contractor that manufactures it claims that:

* Installation can be completed in approximately two hours by two people using common tools.

* Everything is on the pallet. Power supply eliminates the need for a 24-volt alternator on the vehicle.

You could probably mount it on a large speed boat that could escort other watercraft that lack that capability, or on a merchant ship to give it its own air defense system against armed drones (and perhaps also to eliminate small pirate speedboats that engage the ship as well), or even on a yacht. It also makes sense for military transport ships and amphibious transport ships that otherwise like significant offensive or defensive capabilities. 

While these missiles were designed as low end air to ground missiles, the VAMPIRE system is intended for air defense and can be used to provide ground to ground capabilities. They can also be used as air to air missiles for attack aircraft or light ground assault aircraft that would otherwise lack that capability entirely.

The missile payload is probably too small to be very effective against tank, infantry fighting vehicles, bunkers, armored personnel carriers, but would probably be sufficient to seriously disable, damage or destroy a large armed drone, helicopter, low altitude ground attack aircraft, mobile artillery piece, speed boat, unarmored ground vehicle, a sniper's nest, an unfortified storage unit (perhaps for ammunition or fuel), or an unfortified aircraft hanger.

This system has much in common with Iran's shipping container ballistic missile system that holds two long range missiles, that provides easy to set up, powerful, accurate, modern missiles in a delivery system agnostic manner. Iran's system can be put on a ship, a train car, a truck, or in a parking lot, and is small enough to be delivered by a C-130 short range military transport aircraft or the equivalent (but probably not by helicopter).

These palletized or shipping container based weapons system would be very hard to interdict. And, the range of the weapon itself also makes interdiction hard. In the case of the Iranian system, it is sufficient to get the shipping container anywhere within a thousand miles or so of the target. 

The VAMPIRE system, at least, can operate from outside the range of a tank's main gun, or a sniper's rifle.