Marines Want Gunship-Like Capability

Commandant Gen. James Conway says the Marine Corps has launched Harvest Hawk to provide it with a gunship-like capability aboard its KC-130J transport-tankers as a short-term fix for fire support needed by marines on the ground, according to a CongressDaily report by Otto Kreisher. Conway, speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum May 15, said the marines “have lusted for years” over the capability provided by the Air Force’s AC-130 gunships. With money tight, the marines have opted to develop a roll-on, roll-off package that comprises a 30mm rapid-fire gun and Hellfire missiles that can be installed within hours on their J model Hercules. According to a sole-source notice issued last month, C-130-maker Lockheed Martin has been asked to modify up to three KC-130Js for Harvest Hawk, including adding a targeting sensor and operator station. Conway said he expects to field at least one before the end of 2009 in operations in Afghanistan. As a longer-term fix, Conway said the marines want to employ the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships for fire support.