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Those days are long gone

Amphibious warfare changed irrevocably on 12 June 1982. On that day an Exocet missile was launched from an improvised trailer that even the Argentinians felt was an unreliable piece of junk. The missile struck HMS Glamorgan in her hanger deck, killing fourteen sailors and heavily damaging the ship. Had it not been for a stellar job of maneuvering by the officers and men of Glamorgan, she would have been hit broadside and likely suffered the same fates as HMS Sheffield or the USS Stark.

There was an instantaneous recognition in both Newport and Quantico that anti-ship missiles had rendered dry-nets and mike boats obsolete when assaulting a hostile shore. The amphibious group would have to maintain a respectable distance from the beach, and placing them so far offshore (OTH, over the horizon and out of radar coverage) meant that landing the first wave would be an all-day affair using the technology of the day. Unfortunately, a successful amphibious assault requires the RAPID build-up of power ashore.

LCUs were supplanted by LCACs, high-speed hovercraft, and the V-22 was developed from an older design that really had no purpose prior to the Falklands "revelation" and never went into production. We needed (desperately) to replace the old CH-46, and any replacement would have to move much faster to keep the assault moving and project seapower ashore quickly.

As far as the V-22 birthing problems, few aircraft roll out without a few bugs that need to be worked out. And yes, sometimes men die while those bugs are worked out, but they give their lives for this nation just the same as if they had died in battle. For example, I call your attention to the AV-8 Harrier. By 1975 there was a standing joke in the Marine Corps:

Q: How do you get your own Harrier?
A: Buy an acre of land in North Carolina and wait.

What we learned from the AV-8 however, led to the AV-8B and we then had a fantastic aircraft that has proven itself in close air support missions hundreds of times since then.

Rotary-wing aircraft still provide our heavy ship-to-shore lift (I'm sure CH-53Es fly over your home as well) but until you can design a rotary wing aircraft that can bring a platoon of Marines ashore at over 300 mph, the Osprey is our best hope.


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