Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Ship That Couldn't Shoot Straight

The Navy has announced that the Coronado (LCS-4) has completed live fire tests of its major gun systems, the Mk110 57mm, and the Mk46 30mm.  I apologize for using the word “major” to describe a machine gun and a 2.2” gun but for the LCS, they’re considered major.  As usual, the Navy describes the tests as stunningly successful.  Given the Navy’s egregious PR spin efforts in the past, I’m not even going to bother offering a link to an announcement.  If you want to read made up rainbows and sunshine that badly, you can easily find it on the Internet.

So, why is this event of interest?  A couple of reasons, actually.

First, this is a rare sign of progress for the LCS-2 version which has, thus far, failed to deploy and failed to demonstrate any useful progress towards becoming  a functioning warship.  Again, I apologize, this time for using the word “warship” in conjunction with the LCS.  We’re stuck with these ships so it would be nice to see them at least achieve whatever functionality they’re capable of.

Second, and more important, you’ll recall that the LCS-1 version’s 57mm gun was found to be inaccurate at much above 10 kts due to the ship’s vibration.  The question is whether the -2 version suffers from the same problem.  On the one hand, you’d think not simply due to the fact that the two ships have nothing in common as far as the shape of their hulls or the way the move through the water.  On the other hand, both ships have been built extremely light with all signs pointing to woefully insufficient structural reinforcement in both classes.  The -2 version suffered cracking of structural members during heavy weather testing and has had restrictions placed on its operating envelope.

A 57mm gun is nothing to write home about.  You’ll recall that the Zumwalt program rejected the gun and switched to a smaller 30mm gun for close in protection – a fairly stunning commentary on the 57mm.  Still, the 57mm is what the LCS has so it would be nice if it could shoot straight.  The Navy certainly won’t tell us if the -2 version has gun problems so ComNavOps will keep an eye on the DOT&E reports.


Here’s hoping that the -2 version will begin to actually do something and that its gun will shoot straight!

55 comments:

  1. There ought to be a moratorium on the construction of these ships until they can be proven to meet operational requirements.

    Otherwise the USN will be stuck with:
    - Systems that don't work as advertised
    - Lots of non-standard ship designs (especially if there are problems that require future ships be modified)

    Actually, as I've said before, cancelling the program and understanding the concept of "sunk cost" might be the best option.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My question is how do you determine that progress has been made on the LCS without building test units? You need to test the changes to correct the problems to prove the correction work. And contrary to what you may think, not all such changes can be made to existing vessels.

      As for the need for future changes, that is a possibility for all new ship designs, even one as simple as a LST. when I was a child, a relative show me when\re the anchor had been moved several times on a Newport class LST, because the Navy kept changing its mine.

      Delete
    2. We've got 12 or more built or under contract. How many more do you want before you're willing to evaluate them? All 52?

      Delete
    3. We don't need to build a new ship for every change. Got a better idea for the anchor location? Modify an existing unit and try it out. It's way cheaper than half a billion dollars to build a new ship.

      Any change short of a new hull design can be made to an existing ship and for much less than a new ship.

      The Navy routinely performs major overhauls on subs and surface ships for $40M - $200M, as I've documented in recent posts, and those are for larger and more complex ships. A major overhaul and modification of an LCS couldn't cost more than $100M (which happened to be the cost of the major overhaul of the Australian Perrys) which is still way less than the half a billion dollar cost for a new ship.

      Delete
    4. Couldn't cost more than $100 million a ship?

      Given the propensity of the LCS to exceed budgets, I would cross my fingers and hope you are right, but expect the worst.

      There have been plenty of major problems discovered so far. With more extensive and intense testing, I expect to discover more.

      To be honest, I'd love to see a direct comparison of a modern Perry versus an LCS.

      Delete
  2. I totally agree.

    For the ones already in commission, suck the marrow out of them.

    With some ingenuity you might find a decent use for these. At the very least, deploy them as anti piracy vessels and test all sorts of things on them to get as much knowledge as you can.

    While you are doing that, figure out a decent strategy before you decide to build something.

    The idea that we are in the midst of a 'Pacific Pivot' while having our largest build project be range challenged, lightly armed and built ships is insane.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good news, the Mexican Navy is decommissioning the D-111 formally the USS Hurst (DE-250). It looks like its in good condition and its better armed then the LCS so maybe the USN can buy it in place of one the LCS.

    http://www.demotix.com/news/8019976/destroyer-ship-arm-manuel-azueta-d-111-retired-mexico-s-navy#media-8019968

    ReplyDelete
  4. On the 57mm: this weapon was designed as medium caliber AAA gun, specifically as a replacement for the 40mm Bofors, but for the anti-small boat mission I wonder if the French and Russians have the right idea by going with a 100mm gun.

    The 100mm puts a shell with two to three times the amount of HE on target as a 76mm, and still has a high very high ROF.

    Perhaps the right answer to SWARMs is Hellfire/Brimstone missiles (and not the vertical launched version...).

    GAB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GAB, good question. Gunfire against a small, very fast, maneuvering target is very difficult. High rates of fire and a closed loop targeting system (Phalanx) can improve the situation but the Phalanx, specifically, is very short range. Larger, slower ROFs just aren't accurate enough.

      Proximity fragmentation warheads can greatly improve the chance of a hit but also greatly reduce the lethality and increase the dwell time needed to obtain a confirmed kill (a small boat filled with tiny shrapnel holes and slowly sinking as it continues on won't be obvious as a kill for quite a while - meanwhile the rest of the swarm is closing in).

      Recall the Vincennes 5" gun performance against the Boghammers(?). Despite hundreds(?) of rounds, no hits were recorded. Some claim that modern FCS have greatly improved accuracy but I see no evidence of that.

      Is there a sweet spot between the 57mm and 5" and is it the 100mm? I don't know but the Navy could easily find out. There are plenty of cheap drone small craft intended for target shooting.

      I suspect there's a reason why the LCS' 57mm has never been put through a realistic, live fire swarm exercise and that reason is probably tied into why the Zumwalt program opted not to go with the 57mm.

      In short, hitting a small, fast, maneuvering boat, bobbing on the ocean and appearing/disappearing in the waves is a tough challenge, the more so when the firing ship is also maneuvering, pitching, heeling, and radically changing course. You know the geometry of this - a fraction of a degree variance in the fire control solution due to any of the mentioned factors means a miss at a mile or so.

      Delete
    2. Meanwhile the Russians mount AK-630s on almost everything that floats...

      Delete
    3. Stabilised gun mounts ?
      Even tanks do it, as anyone can see on youtube with the barrel tip maintaining a constant path as the rest of the tank moves over uneven ground.
      But isnt the point, against a fast moving target at sea, larger calibre guns dont have a fast enough firing rate to be able to put enough shots there to get hits. Its all down to probability and the big gun loses to the littel gun.

      Delete
    4. @Ztev

      The Russian A-190 100mm gun has a ROF of 80 RPM, as does the French weapon - they are fast enough.

      The issue of lethality is more complicated.

      GAB

      Delete
    5. Stabilization is great for compensating for low frequency harmonics such as a ship rolling. It can't compensate for high frequency harmonics like vibration. Why not? Because the weight of the gun and the motors and gears preclude (inertia - it's simple physics) instantaneous responses on the order of a second or less which is what vibration is.

      Hope that explanation helps.

      Delete
    6. IMHO, we need a layered response to the FIAC problem. We need our own FIACs that can go out and cover LCS and other ships. We need helicopters/UAVs that can find RED FIACs at range. We need guided munitions like Longbow Hellfire and APKWS on Helos, our FIACs and warships. And finally, we need guns on various platforms to backstop everything else.

      The gun should be the last link in the chain. Its effective range is too short.

      Just MHO.

      Delete
    7. Smitty, that's a very reasonable concept, however, there are two problems.

      One is that helos are limited and useful only if they happen to be up and properly armed when the attack occurs. Depending on the degree of warning, if any, that may be less than likely especially considering that ships like the LCS carry only a single helo (some reports suggest two for the -1 version but as best I can tell, flight deck structural limitations suggest that only a single helo will normally be embarked) and if the helo is part of a MCM or ASW module, it may not even have the armament for FIAC plinking. So, helos, while theoretically a valuable part of the defense, must be viewed as only sporadically available unless plenty of warning is obtained.

      Second is the problem of an attack on an isolated ship, possibly as part of a non-declared war surprise attack, Iranian harassment, or some such scenario. In this case, the ship will have only its own defenses and that's the weakness of the LCS, in particular. Unlike the original concept whereby the LCS would clear the littorals of all threats, today's LCS can't even effectively defend itself. This, of course, leads to asking how the Navy envisions using the LCS. I suspect that the Navy has already written the LCS off as part of any MidEast force other than, perhaps, MCM. At its core, the LCS was designed for the MidEast but has turned out to be particularly vulnerable to the MidEast scenarios. Ironic.

      As I said, I agree with your concept. Now, what do you propose using for our own FIACs?

      Totally agree with your comment about the gun as the last link, by the way.

      Delete
    8. 1) Helicopters/UAVs are offensive and ISR assets. 2-3 Fire Xs with maritime radars can provide persistent a OTH early warning orbit to watch for incoming swarms. In the event of offensive action against swarms, helicopters and UAVs should do the majority of the fighting.

      2) Don't be isolated! That's why I suggested FIACs. Bring your own swarm. The Navy intended to operate groups of LCSs together, but IMHO in the Gulf, a FIAC counter swarm would be better.

      As for a Blue FIAC, in the Gulf, we could use Mk VI patrol boats. Already in the pipeline. Maybe we could rig up some Longbow Hellfire launchers for them.

      Delete
    9. Persistent observation is fine but it assumes you can tell the good guys from the bad and that you have reason to believe the bad guys might attack. An Iranian scenario would quite likely involve either, or both, surprise attacks and disguised attacks. Still, it's the best we can do.

      Mk VI. OK, throw in a mothership of some sort and you've got a potentially viable option. Good thought!

      This kind of discussion really does shine the light on the Navy's lack of a well thought out CONOPS for the LCS.

      Delete
    10. @Smitty

      I concur with your concept, but note that neither helicopters, nor the Mk VI are ultimately the appropriate platform for operations in the PG/NAS.

      Helicopters are far and away the most expensive and least effective aircraft to support the anti-FIAC mission, particularly in the Persian Gulf where weather will adversely affect helicopter operations.

      A much more effective COTS solution is the fixed wing EMB-314 Super Tucano as configured for the LAS role with the appropriate sensors and armament. Fixed wing aircraft are not nearly as badly affected by weather, can sweep a larger area, or the same area faster, have better mission availability rates, higher sortie rates, lower operating cost... you get the idea, this can all be supported from allied airfields in the Arabian Peninsula.

      The MK VI looks to be a good boat, but it is not a true open ocean boat. The USN badly needs something more like the German S-Boote of WWII.

      On APKWS: love the idea, but I am dismayed to see unit costs for APKWS II now exceed $30K! Still viable, but with the roughly the same range as Hellfire/Brimestone, I might favor unguided 70mm flechette and HE backed up by Hellfire.

      GAB

      Delete
    11. Certainly fixed-wing air needs to be the outermost layer. I wouldn't bother with dinky prop trainers though. ;) The USAF has several hundred Reaper UAVs that could be inexpensively modified as small boat killers. GA has already demonstrated a maritime mode for the Reaper's Lynx radar. Couple that with a small fire and forget munition like SDB II or Brimstone.

      A single Reaper could maintain a 14+ hour orbit with 12 x Brimstones. Four could maintain a persistent orbit 24x7 searching the seas nearby friendly surface force operations. They could provide early warning further away than the LCS's Fire Scout.

      If hostilities broke out, then all land-based airpower could come into play. So surface forces just need enough to survive until the cavalry arrives.

      When suggesting the Mk VI, I was thinking Persian Gulf. Don't really need an open ocean vessel there, though one with longer legs would be nice. Perhaps a more heavily armed Sentinel class USCG cutter.

      Delete
    12. Smitty,

      1. The EMB314 is definitely not a "trainer" aircraft - the bigger point is that helicopters are definitely not the economy of force option.

      2. Drones are a supplement and not (yet) the total solution - they bring some potential issues of their own.
      3. A US "gun boat" to counter FIACs will require a platform that *maintain* at least 30+ knots through sea state 3+ over distances exceeding 700 nm; and further, the vessels must be stable weapons platforms at speed.

      The WWII German S-100 S-bootes were designed to run at 43 knots sustained speed through the North Seas in winter with a full weapons loadout over ranges up to 800nm easilly exceeded the requirement.

      Not only does the PG gets some surprising sea states, the broader anti swarm mission requires protection through the Straits of Hormuz and out into the NAS!

      Look at a good map or chart with the great circle shipping lanes displayed and you that the Iranians can launch FIAC attacks not just in the 600 odd NM PG, but also much farther into the NAS.

      Yes super tankers are slow cows, but the ability to protect fast modern container ships (22-25 knots) and warships while maneuver on station requires this speed/sea keeping/range.

      The MKVI has neither the range or sea keeping ability - it is a good platform, but it was not designed to meet the operational requirements.

      GAB

      Delete
    13. Why bother with a new aircraft type, with very limited payload, speed and range, when we have plenty that can fill in?

      After a conflict starts, we could bring all manner of tactical aircraft to bear.

      What we need is an ability to keep an eye on Iranian activities, short of war, and be able to respond quickly in the event of conflict escalation. Armed Reapers can do that. If we want a manned platform, armed King Airs would be preferable, IMHO. There are already maritime variants out there. Heck, they are even looking at adding ASW.

      Actually, a few JLENS aerostats based in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman could cover the entire Straight of Hormuz area, and most of the Persian Gulf. This is probably the cheapest way to get persistent small-target, radar surveillance.

      Note on sea states, the Iranian FIACs are just as impacted by sea states as ours. That being said, it's nice to have some larger ones, sure, so we can be there when the Iranians can't.

      Delete
    14. Smitty,

      Past behavior is no guarantee of future behavior, but my read is the Iranians will continue to avoid direct conflict, while pursuing a prolonged, draining campaign to annoy and stretch us and our allies.

      I see a role for few squadrons of LAS aircraft, in large part because the USA not only intervenes too often; we cannot seem to do so with a reasonable cost, or a light footprint. The British administered the entire middle east with ~5,000 troops. The USA needs to risk invaluable F-22s to drop bombs on goat herders - see the issue?

      Aerostats indeed- excellent point!

      The Iranians are out to damage huge commercial hulls ranging from 200-500 thousand tons and critically, they can select the timing of their attack. Our forces will need to escort every convoy, or task force and that is an entirely different prospect. In any event, are existing boats are not sufficient.

      GAB

      Delete
    15. These days, we mostly use Reaper/Predators to drop bombs on goat herders. We only break out the F-22s when the goat herders have SAMs. ;)

      I'm fine with some LAS aircraft, I just don't see the value in Super Tucanos. King Airs, bizjets or even Scorpions would be better investments.

      Delete
    16. Smitty,

      I am not wedded to any particular platform - I just highlight that the USA needs a cheap, deployable LAS capability that can operate from austere airfields (or no airfields).

      Turboprop float planes will work just fine!

      GAB

      Delete
  5. Looking back at the published data that supports your claim that the 57mm is badly affected by vibrations on LCS-1. Naturally you would have based it actual tests.

    Ship operations at high speeds cause vibrations that
    make accurate use of the 57 mm gun very difficult.
    Insufficient operator training and proficiency also appear
    to have contributed to the poor performance of the
    57 mm gun.
    Which was in the DOT&E evaluation results for the LCS
    http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2012/pdf/navy/2012lcs.pdf
    That seems to be draft version ??
    Vibration and operator issues seem to be a fixable problem and first of class often have a lot of 'shaking going on'

    So if we look at 2014 DOT&E reports for LCS3 we get this

    "The ship’s Mk 110 57 mm gun system performed
    reliably during operational testing, and the ship was
    able to demonstrate the core capability for self-defense
    against a small boat in two valid trials. The Navy
    attempted to collect additional data from swarm
    presentations, but the data were invalid. The 57 mm
    gun failed to achieve a mission kill during one swarm
    presentation, and the target killed by the 57 mm gun
    during a second swarm presentation had previously been
    engaged by 30 mm guns"

    Seems better , but not perfect ,as DOT&E are usually a glass half empty crowd. Whats the bet a 100mm would be this capable.?
    I would chose 220 rpm on a gyro stabilised mount than a 60rpm ( or 90 on the chinese version) 100mm

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is the 10Kt thing accurate, all I can find is "high speed" and given the LCS's top speeds and small \ light size I could understand that this might overwhelm a "standard" 57mm stabilised mount.

    Is this inaccuracy outside the reasonable CEP for the nature of the round \ target ?

    This is no real excuse as this should have been designed for. I was just wondering about the exact conditions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The original report was vibration at 'high speed', so would interesting to find out how this become over 10kt. Ships vibration is difficult to design for, except submarines where its a core design criteria. However once the first of class is built,analysis and remedies could be made. Doesn't seem to be a problem anymore- but not in the minds of many- and they have moved on to looking into is it able to be effective against a swarm attack. I would have thought that air bursts would be the way to go- something the 57mm with its programmable fuses could be effective. What would others think?

      Delete
    2. Ben, DOT&E reported issues at speed without specifying the details. Sailors I've talked to from the Freedom have given me the 10 kt figure.

      As far as being a problem anymore, we have no idea. I haven't seen a specific follow up from DOT&E on the vibration issue.

      Air bursts are not effective. See my reply to GAB above. It's all about dwell time and how that's related to bursting munitions.

      Delete
    3. Hadn't thought of that aspect. Does tent to point to a hit to kill effect required.

      OTO Melara 76mm has some interesting beam riding rounds for anti-air (DART)

      And the upcoming VULCANO round will eventually come with a SAL and IR head.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OTO_Melara_76_mm

      Is this 57mm being chosen for the possibility of Excalibure S development do you know ?

      Because otherwise this seems a big head bang moment ?

      Delete
    4. Ben, if you're asking why the 57mm was originally chosen for the LCS, I don't know. Clearly, the Navy bought into the manf's wildly exaggerated claims hook, line, and sinker. Even so, a few minutes logical though would reveal the fallacy of using a 57mm gun with airbursts as the primary anti-swarm weapon. Now, to be fair, the NLOS was probably seen as the primary anti-swarm weapon. Sorry, I don't have any hard info on the rationale.

      Delete
    5. Youtube shows how effective a 57mm airburst can be, enhanced by the high rate of fire, can produce an effect similar to moving barrage with the right fuses.
      On light open decked vessels such as speedboats it would devastating to crew and deck equipment

      Delete
    6. Ztev, think this through. If you're going to attack a ship, let's say the LCS, with small boats, you'd know about the airburst, right? So, you'd probably Kevlar armor the cockpit of the boat and give your operators flak vests or body armor. You might also lightly armor the engine and throttle cables and whatnot so they wouldn't get shredded too easily.

      What this means is that we won't achieve instant, one-shot kills. We'll have to hammer at each individual boat for several minutes in order to ensure it's killed. Heck, even if the crew were instantly killed the boat would continue on and we'd have to keep engaging. This is what's called dwell time.

      Several minutes dwell time per boat is a losing proposition for us. While we're taking several minutes to definitively kill one boat, the remaining boats have approached and are firing RPGs or whatever weapons they have.

      As a very sobering and enlightening exercise, pick a swarm size, and do the math on distance versus dwell. For any reasonable assumptions, it doesn't turn out well for us.

      You might also want to watch some of the youtube videos of small boat drone live fire exercises and note how long it takes the boats to actually stop moving. And this is for drone targets that are not armored, are at very close range, aren't maneuvering, and are being engaged under absolutely optimum conditions.

      Don't accept a staged firing test as indicative of anything real world. Develop the habit of thinking critically about these things under actual combat conditions. Learn to think as the enemy would and ask yourself what their counters will be. Don't be like the Navy which tends to think the enemy will happily cooperate in their own destruction. When combat comes we'll be rudely surprised at how little the enemy cooperates.

      Delete
    7. That's the thing - in combat, your enemy gets a choice too in what will succeed and fail.

      They make mistakes too, it's true. But they'll do what they can to survive. Small fast attack craft are quite agile and historically their size has proven an advantage.

      To be honest, a fast attack craft with good damage control - a swarm of them if you will, I suspect would fare very well vs the LCS in its current form.

      Delete
  7. Kevlar body armour is normally only used for vital regions, cant see them being like medieval knights head to toe.
    A fully armoured speedboat ? A naval architect would be horrified with all that extra weight up top. You have to think like your enemy does, and the cultural baggage that goes with it.
    You guys are thinking like the US navy traditionally did, over designed, over weight and over budget.
    Good luck with getting direct hits with the alternative 100mm, they will have to go via air burst as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ztev, I didn't say a fully armored speedboat. Read it carefully. I suggested some degree of armor around the cockpit. I also did not suggest head to toe personal armor. Again, read it carefully. I suggested flak vests.

      I'm also not talking about armoring the cockpit to be able to withstand a direct hit by a 16" BB shell. I'm suggesting enough Kevlar type armor to reduce the effectiveness of shrapnel from airbursts. That doesn't require huge amounts of armor.

      The point was that our enemies are not going to come to us ready to be slaughtered. They'll have their own countermeasures and we would do well to think about those as we select our weapons and devise our tactics. The 57 mm gun seems a poor selection for this specific task.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for that feedback. As I was saying kevlar is for rich western countries not the sort of semi pirate attacks you find in coastal waters. As for a possible armoured speedboat, its an interesting theory but Im sure their doctrine would say large mass attacks would be the answer and a quick look at the available sources is thats how they train. Add to that the 'suicide' cultural beliefs and you can see Revolutionary Guard doesnt follow normal western thinking.
      Even if they do up calibre with your favourite 100mm, whats the methodology with getting a direct hit on an armoured speedboat at over 40kts, or would you be thinking airburst ?

      Delete
    3. Ztev, to pigeon hole Iranian military thinking into a single cultural bracket that doesn't include anything other than suicide attacks is overlooking a great deal of recent history and setting ourselves up for epic failure.

      Consider, as one example, the use of IEDs. Under your theory, IEDs would never have been developed beyond a single suicide attacker carrying an explosive. In reality, IEDs were developed by the very culture you describe to the point where they were remotely detonated using a variety of means including cell phones. I guess cell phones are not just a rich western item? Neither is Kevlar.

      You're aware that the Iranians are now using drones? Again, another rich western item being used.

      I'm not belittling your thought on this, just trying to get you to broaden your view. Whether Iran opts to use Kevlar or chooses some other means, it's certain that they won't simply sail right up to us, neatly lined up and waiting to be slaughtered. They'll have some type of counter(s) and we need to try to anticipate them and be prepared. And, yes, suicide may well be one of the attack methods.

      Delete
    4. I have wondered if a larger scale motorized boat attack (something like the USS Cole) but with more boats and supported by fast attack craft might be very dangerous indeed.

      The thing is, even if it results in a mission kill, the nearby boats can attempt more attacks, damaging the already damaged boat.

      Delete
    5. The counter to all this FIAC nonsense is to simply not play the game at all - that is to sink the damn things in their ports, to blow up their barracks (with them in it), and to pack any perpetrators that we capture off to court.

      We are way past that barbarity of course, except that it worked and worked rather cheaply.

      GAB

      Delete
    6. GAB,

      I totally agree, assuming we get the opportunity. However, since we won't normally fire the first shot, the Iranians would have opportunities to hit first with their FIACs. Once hostilities start, we can hit every port, boat slip, barracks, and storage area with JDAMs, and hunt the rest down with air power.

      We shouldn't put high value units in the area (e.g. Burkes, Ticos, amphibs, carriers) before hostilities start. Put more numerous, low value units in the area, so if some are lost or heavily damaged, it isn't a national tragedy.

      Of course any US "warship" sunk or damaged is a major propaganda win for the Iranians. Even if it's a patrol boat, LCS, or frigate.

      Delete
    7. Smitty, you're right. All of our multi-layered, high tech, persistent ISR, supreme awareness and defense won't do any good until we've gotten to the point of unrestricted combat. Until then, we have to absorb the first shot. That suggests one of two courses: we, right now, write off the first lost ship as the cost of doing war the American way or we design ships that can absorb that first hit, survive, and fight back. The LCS suggests that we've opted for the first option which is accepting the loss of the first ship.

      We still have a problem even when we reach the combat phase. Our ROEs won't allow us to wage unrestricted warfare in regions crowded with civilian craft. Is that small boat civilian or civilian with an RPG operator? That tiny blip on the radar is a small craft and it's moving toward us but, again, it may well be civilian so we can't apply our multi-layered defense to it. Think about it. When was the last time we fought with a shoot anything you can see ROE?

      Too many people want to design combat systems that won't be applicable in the real world - like the multi-layered defense against small craft.

      This gets back to an BVR/VID post I did a while back. BVR is a great capability but our way of warfare (rightly or WRONGLY) does not generally allow BVR and certainly not in a crowded MidEast scenario. That means that, on a practical basis, we wage war at the VID level and we should adjust our equipment and tactics to accomodate that. That multi-layered sensing and defense maybe needs a whole lot more VID capability (small boats, small UAVs, etc.).

      Delete
    8. "We shouldn't put high value units in the area (e.g. Burkes, Ticos, amphibs, carriers) before hostilities start."

      Now that's an interesting statement. I'm not sure whether you mean that generally or specifically in the case of the MidEast. Regardless, that implies that you favor a home-based Navy which will surge to a crisis. Our forward presence, then, is limited to patrol boats which we deem expendable. That's a lot cheaper way to run a Navy and many have proposed just that.

      Delete
    9. Our ROEs haven't been that restrictive. BVR has constituted most of A2A victories since 1990, including our actual MidEast wars.

      Any civilian vessel blindly venturing into a war zone is taking a huge risk. Sure we can try to ascertain friend from foe, but commanders will shoot first and ask questions later if missiles are flying.

      I don't favor a home-based Navy. We need to be forward-deployed.

      I favor keeping HVUs out of constrained, FIAC-infested waters like the Persian Gulf and Straight of Hormuz. Keep them in the Arabian Sea, where there's room and depth to maneuver, and where FIACs don't venture as much.

      This may also apply to the South China Sea. Keep HVUs away from places where the enemy can get easy kills early in a conflict.

      Delete
    10. CNO wrote, "That suggests one of two courses: we, right now, write off the first lost ship as the cost of doing war the American way or we design ships that can absorb that first hit, survive, and fight back. The LCS suggests that we've opted for the first option which is accepting the loss of the first ship."

      I feel like we could have our cake and eat it too, here.

      Survivability is multifaceted. Not all facets have to cost a lot. Can we develop an inexpensive ship that can still take a hit or two?

      For example, take a frigate's combat suite and put it on a tanker or AOR hull. It will be largely empty, but emptiness enhances survivability. These hulls don't cost that much, so it probably won't be that much more expensive than a frigate.

      Might be somewhat slower. :) But zipping around at high speeds seems to cost more than it helps.

      Delete
    11. Smitty,

      A Panamax container ship complete is about $60-80M USD - it would be far cheaper than a warship.

      Delete
    12. Smitty, buddy, you're really having a bad week. Are you feeling OK?

      "Our ROEs haven't been that restrictive. BVR has constituted most of A2A victories since 1990, including our actual MidEast wars."

      You left out one tiny part of the puzzle, here. How many kills have been passed over due to BVR friendly fire fears? Desert Storm is the poster child for this topic. You recall the mass migration of the Iraqi air force to Iran and elsewhere? We saw it and yet we failed to shoot for fear of BVR friendly fire. Several books about Desert Storm discussed this incident and noted that despite being 98% certain of our targets we still held our fire.

      So, if you're going to discuss BVR kills, you need to be intellectually honest and complete and discuss the kills that didn't happen due to our obsessive desire for absolute certainty.

      "Our ROEs haven't been that restrictive."

      ??!!!! How many times have we held fire during ground firefights due to the possible presence of civilians or the fear of collateral damage to buildings, mosques, shrines and whatnot? Our ROEs are very restrictive!

      Delete
    13. "I don't favor a home-based Navy. We need to be forward-deployed."

      So, forward deployed but scared to risk anything? Isn't the whole idea of forward deployed with HVUs that they will provide deterrence? If we're not going to put them where they can be seen, why have them forward deployed. If they're not going to be seen anyway, they may as well not be seen while tied up dockside at home.

      I'm not advocating this. I'm playing Devil's Advocate because your logic is inconsistent.

      Delete
    14. "For example, take a frigate's combat suite and put it on a tanker or AOR hull."

      Shame on you. You take that back, right now. Don't you know that not even a frigate is the equal of the mighty, shallow draft LCS? Putting a frigate's weapons on a cheaper, more lethal, and far more survivable vessel doesn't make the vessel a littoral combat vessel. How dare you even hint that anything could replace a frigate-ized LCS. That's blasphemy. Begone, Satan.

      Delete
    15. "But zipping around at high speeds seems to cost more than it helps."

      Ahhggg! Wash your mouth out you vile speaker of unholy lies.

      Delete
    16. We have certainly held fire if we felt there was a risk of Blue on Blue. That's only prudent. But that's very different from saying BVR is worthless because we require VID. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. It's situation-dependent.

      Note, we also shot down a civilian aircraft while in the heat of battle. We didn't get VID there. There's ROEs, and then there's what a commander feels he/she has to do to protect the ship.

      Delete
    17. Smitty, I didn't say BVR is worthless nor did I say that we require VID. I said that as a practical matter we don't allow BVR in areas crowded with civilians (be it land or sea) and the practical result is that VID is generally required to ensure the degree of certainty we seem to want.

      I further said, he said repeating himself, that the implication of this is that our multi-layered sensors and weapons will not be anywhere near as effective as they might be because we will artificially hold ourselves back due to fear of civilian casualties and collateral damage.

      The attack on the Cole was a microcosm of this phenomenon. The Cole had multiple layers of weapons and sensors but out of refusal to risk civilian casualties allowed an unknown boat to approach right up to the hull. Even today we're willing to risk another Cole in order to avoid civilian casualties.

      Delete
    18. Ok, I agree, at least during the transition from peacetime to conflict. After a conflict starts, the civilian traffic will mostly vacate the area.

      Delete
    19. "... vacate the area."

      ??? Unlikely. Consider the example of Iraq/Afg. Despite widespread and sometimes fairly intense fighting, the civilian population has continued to go about their business.

      When war with China comes do you really think that the thousands of fishing boats in the S/ECS will stay home? Unlikely. We'll be faced with the prospect of inadvertently sinking civilian boats and killing civilians or not employing the full capability of our BVR weapon systems.

      Not convinced? Consider the example of the various MidEast gulf wars like the Tanker War or any of the various mini-conflicts and minings. Did commercial shipping vanish? No. Did civilian boats disappear from the area? No.

      Still not convinced? Consider Desert Storm and the days of Tomahawk bombardments. Did the civilians in Baghdad leave? No, they went about their business.

      Still not convinced? What are you, stubborn? How about the various Israeli-Hamas conflicts. Did the civilians up and leave? No.

      I can do this all night, if need be. I'm going to assume that at this point you're convinced by my overwhelming logic and data so I'll stop.

      Now, I'm not claiming that no civilians left the combat zones but it's hard to find an example in modern conflicts where civilians weren't extensively intermingled on the battlefield.

      It's almost certain that civilian traffic will persist and that takes us right back to my premise that BVR will be far less useful than we think because our concern for civilian casualties and the need to VID will result in self-imposed handcuffs on our combat capabilities.

      As if all this weren't enough to support my premise, there's always the friendly fire aspect. We're supposedly going to be conducting deep penetrations of enemy territory using AF bombers, F-35s, BAMS, and whatever else. Will we really take the chance on unrestricted BVR when there's a chance, however slight, that some distant target might be friendly? Oh, you say, we'll have flawless communications so every friendly unit will know where every other one is. Yeah, that's what they said before every friendly fire incident. Remember the shootdown of the friendly helos that were flying a filed flight plan?

      I'm sorry, but it's obvious that BVR will be limited to certain special scenarios and circumstances. My premise not only stands, it's irrefutable!

      Delete
    20. CNO, you're all over the place. Air warfare, strike, naval warfare.

      The "crowded" mideast airspace isn't all that crowded. It has commercial airliners that fly regular and timely flight patterns with aircraft that have recognizable signatures and emissions. Not many commercial 737s take off from a military airfield, climb rapidly to 20kft, and emit x-band radar waves like an Irbis-E radar. There are plenty of ways to weed out the civilians. In some cases a "civilian" flight might need a VID to ensure it's not a military ruse, but the opposite is never true. There are never civilian flights that attempt to look like military traffic.

      We do have IFF systems and AWACS to help is weed out friendly military contacts from enemy contacts. It's not perfect, but it works.

      On various conflicts where people in cities were involved, in many cases they had no where else to go! Civilians have always attempted to hunker down and weather out the storm.

      Yes, we probably won't indiscriminately fire artillery into cities without valid targets, but we did fire plenty of arty and mortar missions into Baghdad and other Iraqi cities during OIF.

      Your Tomahawk example actually refutes your original argument! :) We used our BVR weapons in spite of the high density of civilians nearby. Yes, they didn't leave, but we still fired into the thick of them.

      At sea, we can use a combination of techniques to eliminate many contacts as civilian. That 1,000,000m2 RCS target traveling at 14kts on the radar is probably not a Chinese fast attack craft. It's probably a tanker.

      Fishing vessels and other small, local cargo ships will prove an interesting challenge, as they have in other wars. They can be used for various military purposes, so we will need a robust ISR and VBSS capability.

      We can expect the Chinese will use their vast fishing fleet as part of naval operations to hide combatants, launch jury rigged missiles, drop mines or as ISR assets. Yet another reason not to put HVUs in the thick of this. And we can't really win the numbers game with them. They will always have a hundred times as many fishing vessels as we have VBSS ships.

      Delete
  8. about the Vincennes-Montgomery engagement: 72 rounds the Vincennes, 47 the Uss Montgomery. No boat hit.

    But machine gun fire on the USS ships.

    Here the report.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:VUzrgS2zjskJ:handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA203577+&cd=6&hl=it&ct=clnk&gl=it

    ReplyDelete