A Naval Strike Missile streaks out to sea before striking a naval target ship aboard Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Hawaii.
A Naval Strike Missile streaks out to sea before striking a naval target ship aboard Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Hawaii.

US Marine Corps Views NMESIS Anti-ship Missile System As Key to Force Design Modernization

The Marine Corps’ top modernization priority is fulfilling the requirement for a ground-based anti-ship missile capability. The operational requirement for this ship-killing capability is a relatively new development stemming from the Commandant’s Planning Guidance and the Corps’ Force Design 2030 efforts. When integrated into sensor and communication networks supporting a naval or maritime kill chain and synchronized with the employment of other missile systems, the Marine Corps’ medium-range missile battery will serve as a component of the Naval expeditionary force’s stand-in force in support of the naval sea control effort.

MCSC plays a critical role in equipping Marines with the next-generation, modernized capabilities needed to meet and defeat an evolving threat. In two years, the Long Range Fires program office at MCSC has acquired Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS), an anti-ship missile capability meeting the GBASM requirement. Medium-range missile batteries serving as part of Marine Littoral Regiments conducting expeditionary advanced base operations will employ NMESIS. In a nutshell, NEMSIS is the ground-based launcher that gives the Marine Corps’ ability to fire the Navy’s latest anti-ship missile, the Naval Strike Missile, or NSM.

A U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion from Assault Craft Unit 5 delivers a Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System launcher, a command and control vehicle and a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to U.S.S. San Diego, Aug. 16, 2021.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Luke Cohen, released)

While the GBASM requirement can encompass multiple materiel solutions and systems under the GBASM requirement, NMESIS is the first system for the Marine Corps providing that ground-based, anti-ship missile capability. While the Department of Defense possesses ships and aircraft with anti-ship missile capabilities, the NMESIS uniquely complements these efforts. Marine Corps bringing a ground-based solution complicates the adversary’s ability to counter U.S. anti-ship capabilities since ground-based launchers, as we’ve found in previous wars, are hard to find. This is what NMESIS brings to the fight—a launcher that is survivable inside the enemy’s weapons engagement zone

A key element of the system’s survivability is its teleoperated transport vehicle, called the Remotely-Operated Ground Unit for Expeditionary Fires. Marines can control the ROGUE-Fires with a gamelike remote controller or command multiple launchers to autonomously follow behind a leader vehicle. The ROGUE-Fires vehicle, built on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle platform, provides the Corps with a robust expeditionary system capable of operating anywhere. Maneuverability and mobility are critical components of NMESIS, and Marines’ ability to operate ROGUE-Fires in both autonomous and teleoperated modes provides the operational commander with strategic options in his battlespace.

Artillery Marines from 1st Battalion, 12th Marines provide security as a Marine KC-130J loadmaster deploys a Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System launcher aboard Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Hawaii, Aug. 15, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Luke Cohen, released)

The program office selected the Navy’s NSM after extensive market research and analysis on options within industry and the DOD. McPherson noted that missile development is a costly and potentially risky endeavor. The program office used a proven missile solution to eliminate that extra cost and mitigate risk. The Marine Corps successfully demonstrated NMESIS during Large Scale Exercise 21 in August. The system launched an NSM that flew a non-linear flight path covering over 100 nautical miles before successfully hitting two targets. Though the NMESIS launch at LSE 21 was not an official test associated with MCSC’s acquisition of the system, it provided an opportunity for MCSC and CD&I to gain valuable user feedback from the Marine community who will use the system in the future.

In October, the program office plans to send NMESIS assets to Marines in Camp Pendleton, California, so they have additional opportunities to familiarize themselves with the system. They’ll be exercising with the system continuously for the next two years, so they can gain user feedback and develop all of the technical techniques and procedures for this new operational conceptThe program office anticipates deploying their initial set of launchers to a Marine Littoral Regiment by the end of 2023, achieving a significant milestone for Force Design. Ultimately, Marines are slowly transitioning into getting the system in their hands and getting an understanding of it.

A Naval Strike Missile streaks out to sea before striking a naval target ship, Aug. 15, 2021, aboard Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Hawaii. The missile flew more than 100 nautical miles before finding its mark. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dillon Buck, released)