US Marines Re-establish Mid-Range Air Defence

MRIC Tamir
The Tamir interceptor.

On 12 January 2024, the US Marines showcased its Medium Range Intercept Capability (MRIC). MRIC is designed to defend expeditionary fixed locations against air and cruise missile attacks.

RTX (previously Raytheon) and Israel’s Rafael are working together to provide MRIC, which is derived from the Iron Dome, which was initially deployed in Israel in 2011. It gained notoriety here for effectively fending off rocket assaults on Israeli populated centers by Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Tamir interceptor, which RTX is manufacturing as the SkyHunter and which may be equipped with a kinetic or proximity fused fragmentation warhead, is utilized by the Iron Dome and MRIC. The Tamir has steerable fins and an electro-optical sensor. The range of the present interceptor is 70 kilometers, although Israeli officials have suggested a 250 km range version may be in development.

Since the US Marines sold off its last MIM-23 Hawk missile batteries in 1997, they have been without a mid-range air defense capability for more than 20 years. According to official Marine pictures, MRIC is utilizing a trailer-mounted launcher that can hold up to twenty missiles total—four levels of missile pods, each holding five missiles.

An Israeli Iron Dome battery consists of a command shelter, an Elta EL/M2084 3D AESA radar, and typically three or four launchers.

MRIC

According to reports, the Marines intend to purchase three MRIC batteries, presumably making use of their present G/ATOR AN/TPS0-80 radar and a command shelter built by the US. Northrup-Grumman has a thirty-unit production contract with the government for the multi-mission radar known as G/ATOR. The battery’s components are connected via a secure wireless connection.

An Air Defence Battalion is traditionally made up of three batteries (note the Marine Corps had four air defence battalions in 1980). A single battery can reportedly protect an area of approximately 150 square kilometres.

MRIC certification is being conducted using two prototype systems at this time. After the program is finished, it is expected to switch to a rapid fielding acquisition of the three batteries in early 2025, which will equip units in 2026, 2027, and 2028. The Marines will once more have a full air defense capability for their forward deployment with the introduction of MRIC, something they haven’t had since the 1930s.

The Medium-Range Intercept Capability is set up during a static display at General Raymond G. Davis Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, January 12, 2024. The MRIC has been tested by Marine Corps Systems Command for fielding beginning in fiscal year 2025. MRIC provides a tactical solution and symbolizes the rebirth of the Marine Corps’ air defense capability for the 21st century.

by Stephen W. Miller