5 Weapons The US Marines Would Use To Crush China Or Russia In A War


The U.S. Marine Corps prides itself on being America’s 911 force—a fire brigade that the president can call upon to fight the nation’s battles in an emergency. Though the Marines have largely been treated as a de facto second land army over the past dozen years, the service is an integral component of the Department of the Navy and is primarily a maritime force. Therefore, the Marines—as a specialized amphibious force—argue that they need unique hardware to conduct their unique missions. While the service has many different types of weapons, here is a selection of their five key systems:

Marine Rifleman


While not a “weapon system” in the traditional sense of the word, the Marine Corps warrior ethos and superb training make the service what it is. Every single Marine, from the lowest private to the Commandant himself is trained first and foremost as an infantryman.

Even the Marines’ naval aviators undergo nine months of infantry training as part of Officer Candidate School and the Basic School before they go off to flight school. The shared experience of fighting alongside Marines on the ground gives the service a level of cohesion that the other branches lack. Ultimately, it is the Marine Corps’ people that make it arguably the most effective branch of the armed forces.

With the United States theoretically ending combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the service will shrink to a total strength of 182,000 Marines by 2017. But even at that reduced manning level, it will be nearly as large as the entire active British military.

M1A1 Abrams


While the Marine Corps prides itself on being a strategically mobile medium-weight force, there are times when it needs the brute force of heavy armor. That brute force is provided by the General Dynamics M1A1 Abrams.

While not quite as advanced as the U.S. Army’s M1A2 SEPv2, the Marines’ M1A1 Firepower Enhancement Package suits the Marine’s purposes of supporting the service’s infantry. The Abrams is armed with a 120mm cannon and is protected with an armor matrix that incorporates depleted-uranium armor. With a 1,500hp Honeywell gas-turbine engine, it can move at more than 45 miles per hour.

The Marines are not a heavy, mechanized force in the mold of the Army’s heavy brigade combat teams. The entire Marine force has only three tank battalions—and the service has just shy of 400 tanks in total, most of which are stored in pre-positioned stocks.

AH-1Z Viper


The Bell AH-1Z Viper is the latest iteration of the Vietnam-era Cobra attack helicopter. While outwardly the AH-1Z looks like its predecessors, it is basically a completely new machine.

The AH-1Z is powered by a pair of 1,800shp General Electric T700 turboshaft engines that is coupled with a new four-bladed composite rotor system that gives the helicopter exceptional agility. It carries a suite of advanced sensors including a Lockheed Martin target sight system and can carry the Longbow radar system. Like the Army’s AH-64E Apache, it can carry sixteen Hellfire missiles, but also adds an air-to-air punch with its ability to fire AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

The AH-1Z also shares many common parts with the Marines’ Bell UH-1Y Venom version of the UH-1 Huey, which helps with the services logistics. However, on the downside, the Viper and Venom are unique platforms with the Defense Department, and have not been built in huge numbers like the Army’s Apache or UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. That means the Marines have a more difficult time keeping their machines up-to-date with the latest advances—and it costs more.

Boeing AV-8B Harrier II


The AV-8B Harrier jump-jet affords the Marines’ expeditionary units their own organic fixed-wing air support. For the Marines, who can’t always afford ready access to heavy artillery, aircraft act as mobile fire support.

While the Harrier is not the best fighter or strike aircraft—until the Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter becomes operational—it is the only short-takeoff, vertical-landing aircraft that can operate from amphibious assault ships. The subsonic attack aircraft, though perhaps a compromise in many respects, is essential to the Marines’ unique concept of operations.

The Harrier will be replaced in favor of the Joint Strike Fighter over the coming years. The service hopes to retire the venerable jet by 2025, reversing an earlier plan to keep the AV-8B in service past 2030. Instead, the Marines will keep their Boeing F/A-18A/B/C/D aircraft until the F-35B replaces those jets also.



As a highly mobile, medium-weight force, the Marines don’t want to be weighted down by heavy armored vehicles. However, some mechanized forces are necessary.

For the Marines, many of those needs are met by versions of the General Dynamics Light Armored Vehicle series (LAV). A Marine light-armored reconnaissance battalion includes many variants of the LAV, including the LAV-25 LAV-AT, LAV-L, LAV-M, LAV-Rs and LAV-C2s, which all have their individual functions, ranging from anti-tank and anti-air to command and control.

Fast and agile, the most common LAV-25 is packed with a 25mm automatic cannon and a pair of 7.62mm machine guns. It can move at speeds exceeding 63 miles an hour.

This first appeared in 2015. 

More from The National Interest:

Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."

Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read More Show Less

Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

Read More Show Less

D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.

"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."

Read More Show Less