Friday, June 24, 2016

Torpedo Defense

Many people believe that torpedoes are the biggest threat to surface ships due to their combination of stealth delivery, large warheads, subsurface detonation effects, and the virtual absence of any effective defense.  Tough to argue with that although mines are equally devastating and ballistic missiles, if they hit, would be potent.

So, if torpedoes are such a threat, we must have put a great deal of research and development into anti-torpedo defense (ATD) over the years and we must, by now, have some pretty robust defensive measures in place, right?  Look at the massive effort that has gone into AAW/SAM efforts against cruise and ballistic missiles.  Surely, we must have been equally active and successful in our ATD efforts.  Well, let’s look at the Navy’s current state of the art in ATD.

There are two broad categories of defense, hard kill and soft kill.

Hard Kill

In the early 2000’s, the Navy attempted to develop a hard kill system which used a small, agile torpedo to intercept and kill an incoming torpedo.  From the Navy website comes this description of the Anti-Torpedo Torpedo (ATT) system (1).

“The Navy and Penn State University’s Applied Research Laboratory are also developing an Anti-Torpedo Torpedo (ATT) that could be launched from both submarines and surface ships to intercept and destroy inbound threats. … As currently configured, the 200-pound ATT is 6.75 inches in diameter, 105 inches long, and powered by a stored chemical-energy propulsion system similar to the Navy’s MK 50 torpedo. Advances in electronics miniaturization, significant increases in microprocessor computation rates, and sophisticated processing algorithms have overcome the shortcomings of the previous ATT program, which was cancelled in 1994. A capability to launch multiple ATTs simultaneously to defeat multiple, salvo-fired torpedoes is a required feature. Tests of the ATT have been planned for late 2006.”

The ATT system has apparently now morphed into the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) system with tests having been conducted in June of 2013.  The basic components remain unchanged and include the Nixie towed decoy and detection system, now called the Torpedo Warning System (TWS), and the anti-torpedo torpedo now being called a Counter Anti-Torpedo (CAT).  Additional testing is planned and initial operational capability is planned for 2019 with full fleet-wide adoption by 2035.  According to DOT&E, testing has, thus far, been conducted under fairly benign and unrealistic conditions (2).  Exercises were conducted at much deeper depths than the expected threat torpedoes would operate and the TWS and CAT were not, therefore, tested at the expected operational depth which would include significant surface water effects.

The CAT is an all-up round housed in a canister and ready for launch.  The round is designed for high speed and maneuverability and uses a stored chemical energy propulsion system.  The CAT safety/arming system has, apparently, encountered an unspecified major anomaly that the Navy is still working to overcome.

The overall system was, at one point, designated WSQ-11 (circa 2004) and was tested on USS Cleveland, LPD-7, in Apr 2006. 

Note that the development path has been convoluted and has intermixed with UK efforts, as well.  Some of the designations and incarnations are debatable but, for our purposes, the basic technology is correct.

Soft Kill

Nixie.  The Nixie SLQ-25 torpedo decoy is a towed device that emits acoustic signals intended to decoy and pre-maturely detonate torpedoes.  The device has been in use for decades and more recent versions incorporate add-on torpedo detection sensing devices and enhanced signal generators.  The latest version incorporates active sonar sensing.  Defense Industry Daily website reported a 2005 contract for 3 SLQ-25 sets for around $7M each.  A more recent order for 5 SLQ-25C systems was placed for a little over $1M each.  It is not clear whether that was for complete systems or just the decoy emitter, itself.

Of course, the Russian Type 53-65 torpedoes are wake homing and are not susceptible to acoustic decoys like Nixie.  Further, wire guided torpedoes are far less susceptible to decoys as the base submarine is able to use its more extensive and capable targeting capability.

A roughly equivalent system apparently exists in the Royal Navy as S2170 and is also known as Sea Sentor.

Submarine Decoys and Noisemakers.  Submarines employ various acoustic decoys such as Ultra Electronics Mk 2/3/4 Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADC) which is a 3” or 6.25” diameter expendable acoustic decoy.

The old Mk 57 Mobile Submarine Simulator (MOSS) was a 10 inch diameter, mobile decoy that was launched from a torpedo tube.  MOSS has since been replaced by the six inch EX-10 Mobile Multi-function Device (MMD), which can be fired from a countermeasures tube.

LCS Multi Function Towed Array (MFTA).  The SQR-20 (now TB-37U) MFTA is a long 3″ diameter towed array for surface ships.  It has both active and passive sonar capabilities and is claimed to have improved better coverage, detection capability, and reliability than the SQR-19 TACTAS and includes a torpedo detection capability.  This is not actually an anti-torpedo system since it is not currently coupled to any defense mechanism.  It is a detection system, only.

A May 2015 contract for seven MFTAs was issued at around $4M per system.

A Light Weight Tow (LWT) Torpedo Decoy for LCS functions similar to a Nixie.  There have been claims that it is effective against wake-homing torpedoes although I have been unable to authoritatively confirm this and the mechanism for such a capability escapes me.

So there you have it.  That’s about the state of the art in ATD.  Not very impressive for all the years that we’ve had to work on it and the enormous destructive potential of the torpedo threat.  As with mines, the Navy seems to have largely ignored the threat in favor of building shiny new ships.

So, what could be done in the way of future ATD?  Here’s some ideas, unbounded by physics or reality.  Honestly, the liquid phase (water) physics are poorly understood by most of us so some of these ideas may be completely unfeasible.  Still, they’re worth a bit of thought!

  • Enhanced Decoys – mobile decoys already exist and are used by submarines.  There’s no reason why mobile decoys couldn’t be adapted to surface ships.  They would be launched from ejector ports just above, or under, the surface.

  • Torpedo Belts/Bulges – These were effective in WWII and can be today.  Today’s threat is the under-the-keel explosion but there is no reason why the belt/bulge can’t be extended around the keel.  Similarly, collapsible voids and shock absorbing plates would seem viable.  There is much that naval engineers can learn from land vehicles about absorbing shock energies.  Vehicle designers have learned how to absorb and redirect the explosive energy from IEDs and mines from beneath the vehicle.  There’s no reason similar technologies couldn’t be applied to ships.  Remember, while it would be nice if a torpedo belt or similar structure could completely shrug off a torpedo’s effect, that’s not really the goal.  The goal of such armor and structure is to mitigate the effects of a torpedo explosion.
Torpedo Belt / Bulge

  • Anti-Torpedo ASROC / SAM – Borrowing from the old ASROC concept, how about launching a rocket borne anti-torpedo torpedo to an intercept point far from the ship.  The distance would allow multiple intercept attempts just like the SAM AAW concept.

  • Super Cavitation Darts – Super cavitation allows torpedoes to achieve very high speeds of 100-200 kts.  Why not apply the principle to small “darts” that contain only a sensor head and explosive warhead?  The ship’s launch mechanism would impart all the speed necessary for intercept and the dart would have no need for an engine or fuel.  This would be a great application for a very small rail gun.  In any event, the darts would be launched at an intercept point and the dart’s small sensor/fuze would detonate the warhead if the torpedo were detected.  The main question would be what range could be achieved before the dart slowed to a stop.
Super Cavitating Dart

  • CIWS/RBU – The RBU is the old Soviet anti-submarine rocket launcher.  It’s somewhat analogous to the old US Hedgehog system.  If that were combined with a CIWS type system, it could launch a “wall” of exploding rockets on or just in front of the torpedo.  The CIWS aspect would guide the fall of rockets to meet the torpedo just as it guides the shells to meet the target aircraft or missile.  The system would depend on sheer volume of exploding rockets to destroy the incoming torpedo.
RBU ASW Rocket Launcher

As I said, some of these ideas will probably not be viable but they're worthwhile starting points for development of new anti-torpedo technologies.

Given the seriousness of the threat, the Navy needs to be equally serious about countermeasures.  It's baffling that ATD has been ignored the way it has.  We need to quit obsessing over new ships and start protecting the ones we have.


(2)DOT&E, 2013 Annual Report

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Upgrade Versus New Design Example

Many discussions about aircraft, in general, and the F-35, in particular, wind up debating the merits of upgrades to existing aircraft versus new designs.  People wind up throwing around claims, for and against each option, with little data or facts to back them up.

For example, here’s a collection of reasons why we “can’t” upgrade existing aircraft.

  • It would take just as long to do a major upgrade as to design a new aircraft.
  • Upgrades won’t be as effective as a new design.
  • It would cost as much to do an upgrade as a new design, if not more.
  • We need to do new designs to support the industrial base.

What data is there that supports or refutes upgrades versus new designs?  Well, there’s not a lot of directly comparable data and what there is, is often subject to interpretation.  There is, however, one directly comparable, contemporary case study for us to look at:  the F-18 upgrade from the Hornet to the Super Hornet versus the new design F-35.

For starters, both actually happened and they occurred at about the same time.  Here’s a quick review of the chronology.

Super Hornet F-35
Contract Award 1992 1996
First Flight 1995 2006
Low Rate Production 1997 2007
Full Production 1997 waiting
Entered Fleet 2000 waiting

The Super Hornet entered the fleet 8 years from contract award and has been serving on the front line of carrier aviation for the subsequent 16 years. 

In contrast, after 8 years, the F-35 was still a couple of years away from its first flight and has yet to enter the fleet, 20 years after contract award!  It’s 20 years since contract award and we have yet to get any service from the F-35.

During those 20 years, and counting, the Hornet has evolved, gained capabilities, provided actual service, and an even more advanced design, the Advanced Super Hornet, has been developed by the manufacturer without cost to the taxpayer.  Even better, the Hornet accomplished all this at a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost of the F-35. 

In short, the Hornet has dropped bombs in combat.  The F-35 has simply bombed.

What is it that we’re waiting for from the F-35 that is supposed to make it so special?  Apparently, it’s the 360 degree sensing.  Had that been implemented and in operation 15 years ago, it might well have been special for that time.  Today, though, retrofits, add-ons, and pods are providing every aircraft with that capability to greater or lesser degrees.  In fact, the F-35’s EO/IR sensing is now considered to be behind the technology curve and will be solidly mediocre by the time the aircraft enters service in another five years or so (if then!).  This is what happens when a design, however good, takes 20-25 years to implement.  What was cutting edge technology when the design was first envisioned becomes pedestrian over [extended] developmental time.

What will be the result of the F-35 program when it eventually enters service?  The result will be an aircraft that is behind the technology curve, is matched or exceeded by enemy aircraft, is an ill fit for the intended mission (for the Navy, at any rate), and is rapidly approaching obsolescence.  The Navy is already looking for alternatives and the Air Force is already pushing the next generation aircraft. 

The F-35’s time came and went while it languished in development.

This is a clear case of the upgrade having proven to be the far superior path.  The latest Super Hornet provides 80% or so of the F-35’s theoretical capabilities and it’s been in service for 16 years.  I’d much rather have 80%, in service for 16 years than 100%, in service for zero years.

We talk about perfect being the enemy of good enough.  These two aircraft make up the poster for that saying.

This also illustrates quite clearly the wisdom of restricting non-existent technology development to the R&D realm.  Had we concentrated on the Super Hornet upgrade path and restricted the F-35 to R&D, we would have saved enormous sums of money, had an even more functional Super Hornet, and still could have had the F-35 if it ever pans out or we would have been willing to cancel the F-35 because it would have been just another R&D program that didn’t work out rather than a world wide jobs program that became too big to fail.

This kind of common sense wisdom is painfully obvious to most of us and it really speaks poorly of Navy leadership who not only made bad decisions but, unbelievably, continue to make the same bad decisions over and over again, in the face of all evidence that the decisions are wrong, regarding concurrency in production and the dependence on non-existent technology as the foundation of a production program.  Navy leadership is proving, on a daily basis, that they are truly incompetent on a scale that defies belief.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Our Networks Will Work - For 13 Minutes

This is slightly off topic but it’s too good to pass up.  The Pentagon apparently hosted a “Hack the Pentagon” event in which friendly hackers were invited to attempt to hack certain Pentagon computers and networks.  Hackers who successfully found vulnerabilities would be paid a bounty.

“Within 13 minutes of launching the first U.S. Government commercial bug bounty program we had our first submission. Just six hours later, that number grew to nearly 200. Hack the Pentagon shattered initial expectations for participation and vulnerability report submissions. By its end, more than 1,400 hackers were accepted to the program, and in total 138 [unique] valid bugs were resolved in Pentagon’s systems.” (1)

In total, 1189 bug reports were submitted with 138 being verified as unique.  The Pentagon paid out over $72,000 in bounties to 58 hackers as a reward for their efforts.

So, 1400 hackers found 138 holes in the Pentagon’s network security in just a matter of minutes and hours?  So what will Chinese, Russian, and NKorean military professional hackers be able to do by working full time on hacking Pentagon networks and with the resources of entire countries to back them up?  A lot more I would imagine!

I heartily applaud this effort by the Pentagon to find and fix network vulnerabilities but I really have to question the wisdom of basing our entire Third Offset Strategy on networks of various types.  It seems foolish in the extreme.  There is no such thing as a secure network.


(1)hackerone blog website, “What Was It Like To Hack the Pentagon?”, Marten Mickos, 17-Jun-2016,

Rail Gun Projectile Cost

Wait, what now?  I thought the rail gun was supposed to be able to fire rocks that cost pennies apiece?  Now we’re being told that the rail gun projectiles, filled with tungsten pellets, will cost $25,000 - $50,000 each (1).

One of the selling points of the rail gun was that the projectiles would be much cheaper than any existing munition because the projectile would be an inert lump.  Now, it seems that’s not the case

We’ve already talked about the limitations of a rail gun, chief of which is that it doesn’t explode which makes it useless as an area bombardment weapon.  It’s limited to pinpoint impact on fixed targets.

A second limitation is that the projectiles are unguided although a guidance package is being studied.  Thus, the projectile can’t track moving targets and can’t accept laser guidance.  The targets must be fixed and the co-ordinates known.

Now, we have another limitation and that is munition cost.  At $50,000 per projectile (it’s always the higher cost and you can safely assume that cost will go even higher) we can’t just go flinging these things around.

Could it be that rail guns not quite the miracle we were led to believe?


(1)Wall Street Journal website, “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet - A First Look At America’s Supergun”, Julian Barnes, 30-May-2016,

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The End Of The Marines

The Few.  The Proud.  The Marines.

An elite fighting force that only wants the toughest and best fighting men.  Their recruitment advertising basically said that they didn’t want you because you probably weren’t tough enough for them.  Their reputation was legendary and well earned.

And then they accepted women. 

And now they’re placing women in combat units. 

So much for the Marine Corps’ reputation.  You can’t claim to be the best, now, can you?  Even the Marines admit they’re just going to be average.

“The [gender equity] trainers often ask him [Lt. Col. Larry Coleman, integration branch head with Manpower Plans and Policies] why the service is opening all combat jobs to women if mixed-gender teams did not perform as well as their all-male counterparts during the service's Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force experiment.

“We tell them that, yes, the majority of the tasks they performed at a lower level; however, their performance was not unsatisfactory,” Coleman said. “Their performance and the attacks that they executed were not failures. They just were potentially slower, maybe it was less accurate – whatever the metric that was being used for that particular task.” (1)

Well, there you have it in a nutshell.  The Marines are now content to be “not failures” and “not unsatisfactory”.  Wow.  That’s a high bar to meet, huh?.  Not unsatisfactory.  Few people can rise to the level of not unsatisfactory.  Will medal citations now include the phrase “not unsatisfactory”?  Will our next generation of heroes be not unsatisfactory?

A proud fighting force brought down.  Not by the Chinese or Russians but by social engineering.  Someday I’ll tell my kids about things they’ve never seen and probably don’t believe ever existed like rotary dial phones, record players, floppy discs, and Devil Dogs. 

It’s getting harder and harder to see what the Marines bring to the table that the Army and Air Force don’t already have.  This is really sad.

The Commonplace.  The Not Unsatisfactory.  The Marines.


(1)Marine Corps Times website, “All Marines to undergo 2-day training as women join combat units”, Jeff Schogol, June 16, 2016,

A Lesson In Complexity

The Soviet Union was often criticized for having less technologically advanced weapons and systems than the US.  There were various reasons for this including less skilled maintenance personnel, poorer quality control in manufacturing, looser tolerances in design specifications, and, perhaps, a conscious desire to make systems more rugged.  In any event, the result was systems that were less finicky and better able to tolerate the dirty conditions of combat.  It was said that the Soviet aircraft engines didn’t care about foreign object (FOD) ingestion whereas US carriers are constantly conducting FOD walkdowns looking for the tiniest piece of debris that could destroy an entire engine in an instant.  Similarly, the iconic AK-47 is said to be impervious to mud, water, snow, or whatever whereas US rifles have, historically, needed to be meticulously cleaned and cared for.

As a general statement, complex systems are harder to construct, cost more to build, need more maintenance, require better trained personnel to maintain and operate, are more prone to breakdowns, are harder to repair, and less likely to be maintainable in combat.  The other side of the coin is that they offer greater capabilities. 

The trick in system design is to balance capability against maintainability.  It does no good to have the most advanced system in the world if it can’t be kept running.  Conversely, it does no good to have an utterly reliable system that is so lacking in capability that it adds nothing to combat capability.

The US has opted for the far, advanced end of the technology spectrum with systems that are mind bogglingly complex and often have poor reliability.  The Navy’s Aegis system is an example of this.  It offers stunning capability but suffers from fleet-wide degradation.  The F-22 is exceedingly complex and has great theoretical capabilities but the availabilities are around 60% and the goal is only around 70% or so.  Further, the aircraft has oxygen supply/contamination problems that have proven unsolvable, as yet.

So much for a general discussion.  Let’s look at a recent specific example.  The LCS uses a very complex propulsion system that utilizes both gas turbines and diesel engines to power water jets.  The selection and routing of the power source is regulated through a complex set of combining gears and accompanying lube oil system that has proven to be quite prone to breakdowns.  The most recent casualty due to this highly complex system is the USS Fort Worth which destroyed its combining gear in an in-port accident while conducting maintenance.  The ship is returning to the US for several months of repairs.

Is the turbine/diesel combination system with a very complex combining gear worth the gain in cost/performance?  The evidence thus far would suggest not.

If a system can’t operate reliably, can’t be easily maintained, and can’t be easily repaired then it’s not really a good choice for a combat system, is it?

Regardless of the rationale, the Soviets had the foundation of a better system that was based on simpler, more rugged designs that could stand up to the stress of combat. 

Do you recall what happened to the USS Port Royal (Aegis cruiser) when it gently nosed aground?  A WWII ship would have gently reversed engines and continued on its way, no worse for the wear.  Port Royal, in contrast, suffered apparently permanent damage to the radar arrays and VLS cells due misalignment from the gentle rocking of the ship while it was grounded.  Remember that the Navy tried to early retire Port Royal despite it being the newest Aegis cruiser and one of the ballistic missile defense-capable (BMD) ones.  That tells you everything you need to know about the severity of the damage the ship suffered.  Imagine what will happen to an Aegis cruiser that suffers an actual missile, bomb, mine, or torpedo hit and the ship is whipsawed violently.  An Aegis cruiser is a one hit mission kill waiting to happen.  The lesson is simple.  Complex systems can’t be maintained or repaired and certainly not during combat.  Would you rather have an old fashioned rotating radar that is rugged and might be repairable during combat or an Aegis system that is degraded going into combat, can’t tolerate any vibration, and can’t be maintained aboard ship?  Tough choice, huh?

We need to stop choosing the most complex, most delicate systems and start trying to balance capability and complexity.  A system that is simpler than the LCS combining gear would prove far better in the long run.  Who cares about a little fuel efficiency?  In combat, we should care about reliability.  A radar system that offers reasonable performance and rugged reliability would prove far better in the long run. 

The first combat design goal should be ruggedness and ease of maintenance.  Actual performance, oddly, is a secondary, though important, goal.  We need to find the proper balance point and, right now, it’s not where we’re currently designing!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Past Is Prologue

The science fiction classic, Dune, set in a far distant future with weapons of unimaginable power, hypothesized a personal force field so effective that it forced a return to primitive knives and swords for combat (yeah, I’m glossing over a lot of stuff in the book but it serves to make the point).  ComNavOps has previously suggested that future naval combat with all its vast networks, omni-present sensors, data sharing, long range missiles, etc., will all too often devolve into WWII style gun battles.  Battles for which neither we nor our enemies are well prepared given that modern ships lack large caliber guns and armor.  To say that readers have been skeptical of this belief is to put it mildly.  That’s okay.  My purpose is to offer data and conclusions that are logical regardless of whether readers agree with them.  I’ll let my record of predictions stand for itself.

So, is ComNavOps alone in the belief that future warfare will devolve into more basic, primitive modes despite all our wonder-tech?  Well, the Army, at least, seems to be coming around to my way of thinking.

The Army desperately wants to regain relevance in the face of the Pacific Pivot’s seeming lack of use for ground forces (Russia, however, is making the Army relevant at a furious pace!).  One way to do that is to be able to provide long range, land based strike and anti-air weaponry.  Breaking Defense website offers an article on this Army vision (1).

“The crucial element of this vision isn’t any specific missile, McMaster said, but the joint network that connects the different services so they can assist each other.”

The goal is a network so flexible and all-encompassing that, for example, a US or allied aircraft can spot an enemy ship, then pass the targeting information to a land-based missile battery to sink it.”

However, as we’ve often pointed out, belief that our networks, distributed sensors, and data sharing will function flawlessly and seamlessly in an electromagnetically contested environment is foolish, at best.  As Breaking Defense says,

“In such a conflict, of course, the invisible war of electrons to deceive sensors, jam transmissions and to hack computers is at least as important as the physical battle. You can’t count on your network always working against a sophisticated adversary …”

Even upper levels of the civilian military leadership seem to be grasping at least a little of this.

“So our networks must be designed to degrade gracefully, Work [Deputy Secretary of Defense, Robert Work] said, and our minds must be able to cope with losing them. Local commanders must be ready to fight in the dark on their own initiative, guided by a common understanding of the mission and a deep trust in their comrades. “You can configure your network in different ways,” he said, “but you have to be ready for the network to kind of disassemble, and then people to operate on a local level.”

So, DepSecDef Work recognizes that our networks are vulnerable and we must be prepared to revert to basic, close up combat.  Of course, that leads one to question why we’re basing our entire Third Offset Strategy on exactly that belief in flawlessly functioning networks, data sharing, unmanned vehicles, and autonomous weapons but, I digress ...  The point is that the Army and senior military leadership can see the possibility (I call it a certainty) that combat will devolve to local levels, divorced from the grand, all-seeing, all-controlling network of co-ordinated, precision fires that we like to believe we will have.

Are we ready for such devolved combat?

“Right now, we’re not ready for such scenarios, McMaster [Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster] made clear. ‘We’ve developed systems that are exquisite and could be prone to catastrophic failures’ instead of degrading gracefully, he said. The fragility and complexity of existing networks is such, he added to rueful laughter, that some of them don’t need an enemy to break them. They just go down in day-to-day operations without facing hostile action of any kind.”

And yet we’re basing out entire Third Offset Strategy on these networks???  But, I digress …

Is that the limit of the devolution of combat?  No …

“ ‘Many existing systems also broadcast continually in all directions at high power, he [McMaster] said. Against a sophisticated enemy, that’s basically putting up big flashing neon arrows labeled “WE ARE HERE.” We need to relearn techniques for concealment, camouflage, and deception — in the visual, infra-red, and radio frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum — that our adversaries have been refining for years.

McMaster warned that, ‘our enemies have become more and more elusive, and we’ve become almost transparent.’ “

So, we need to relearn the age old basic techniques of warfare like concealment, camouflage, and deception. 

So, our networks are vulnerable?  I’d like further proof, please.  OK …

“Inspired in large part by Russian successes against Ukraine, McMaster said, ‘we’re doing a vulnerability assessment on our force. What are we vulnerable to? — (and) topping that list is cyber and electronic warfare.’

That vulnerability means you can never be sure your sensors won’t be blinded or your intelligence deceived — which means, in turn, that your long-range precision-guided weapons will sometimes go to precisely the wrong place. Then you need to send in the ground troops to ‘develop situational awareness in close contact with the enemy [and] the population,’ McMaster said. Even with the most advanced long-range technology, he said, at some point, ‘you’ll probably have a close fight.’ “

So, the Army sees a vulnerability in our dependence on networks, intricate sensors, data sharing, and so forth?  Isn’t that what ComNavOps has been preaching for years?

You caught the part about, “… at some point, ‘you’ll probably have a close fight’”?  For all our standoff, precision fires, Gen. McMaster believes we’ll wind up having close up battles?  Shades of WWII !!!

Having established that the Army believes it likely that we’ll lose our grand networks when combat starts – so why are we basing our Third Offset Strategy on networks? – we can pretty reasonably extrapolate that the Navy will also lose their networks, data sharing, co-operative engagement, distributed sensors, etc. which means that the Navy will find itself fighting much like our WWII fathers did:  mostly blind with only short range sensing and awareness.  Opposing naval forces will literally stumble upon each other at shockingly close range (remember to factor in IFF issues when your situational awareness only extends to the horizon).  Missiles will be spoofed by ECM.  Missile guidance signals will be disrupted.  In short order, the opposing forces will be within gun range and the result will be a WWII-style naval gun battle.  That’s a battle that the US Navy is ill-equipped to wage.

The Future Of Naval Warfare?

There’s nothing wrong with having missiles and networks and data sharing and co-operative engagement.  Hey, it may work some of the time!  However, we should be prepared for the inevitable high tech failure and have a basic, low end combat capability to back it up.  We need to re-equip our ships with larger caliber guns, heavy torpedoes, and armor.  We need to be able to wage a gun battle and win.

The Army agrees with me.  Now, I just need to get the Navy on board.


(1) Breaking Defense website, “What Lessons Do China’s Island Bases Offer The US Army?, Sydney Freedberg Jr., 5-May-2016,