Monday, April 18, 2016

Naval Gunfire Reminder

ComNavOps has often lamented the loss of institutional memory from WWII regarding the conduct of amphibious assaults.  On a closely related note, ComNavOps has also noted that our military has forgotten what real war is and just how destructive and indiscriminately destructive it is.  As a reminder, here is what appears to be a detailed, contemporary report of the Iwo Jima assault after action report and lessons learned for the naval gunfire support component of the assault (1).  The source is not listed but the report seems clearly to be a headquarter’s after action report.

As a brief reminder, the preparatory bombardment of the island lasted for 70 days and included the expenditure of 6800 tons of bombs and 22,000 shells.  The Marines assaulted with three divisions (70,000 men) against around 20,000 Japanese.  The invasion fleet consisted of around 500+ ships of all types.

Here is a partial list of major ships that provided bombardment support for the assault and the quantities of shells fired on D-1 (the day before the assault landing), alone.


Tennessee BB (14”)    249
Nevada BB (14”)          112
Idaho BB (14”)              215
Texas BB (14”)             242
New York BB (14”)        261
Arkansas BB (12”)        357
Tuscaloosa CA(8”)       431
Salt Lake City CA(8”)    344
Pensacola CA(8”)         227
Chester CA(8”)             223
Vicksburg CL(6”)          225


Over 1400 14”-12” shells were fired, 1400 6”-8” shells, and around 5400 5” shells in just one day of pre-assault bombardment – and this is just a partial list of participating ships.  Several other battleships and cruisers also participated.  The immediate pre-assault bombardment lasted three days and the post-bombardment lasted for the rest of the ground combat.  So, in just one day and in just a partial listing, the Navy fired over 1400 large caliber, high explosive shells.  Given that each shell is loosely equivalent to a Tomahawk missile, the Navy expended the equivalent of a third of our total inventory of Tomahawk missiles in just one day of one island invasion and this is only a partial listing!

Here’s some data for a few of the bombardment ships for the three day period immediately prior to the invasion.  Note the totals and note that those are for main battery rounds only.  

Nevada                              467
Tennessee                          812
Idaho                                 656
New York (one day only)    582

Total ...                             2,517


The report offers some interesting observations and conclusions about naval gun support.

a)     Average expenditure for target destruction, at short ranges (under 3,500 yard's) = 9 rounds

b)     Average time necessary to shift fire at short ranges from one target and identify the next target = 09 minutes

c)      Average time for target destruction at short ranges (under 3,500 yards) = 15 minutes

d)     From (b) and (c) above it may be concluded that a ship can execute maximum of 2.4 destructive missions per hour against sizeable material targets (blockhouses and pillboxes) at short ranges (under 3,500 yards).

The report also directly and indirectly discussed various fire support missions.  We’ve forgotten exactly what fire support was supposed to accomplish.  We’ve come to think that fire support is only a highly precise targeting of specific, known, clearly identified targets.  That’s nice when it can happen but that’s not the main purpose of naval gunfire support as this report makes clear.

Night Harassment.  Fire support was used to disrupt enemy night activities and prevent respite by enemy forces under the cover of darkness.  Here is a sample of such a mission for the cruiser Santa Fe.

Santa Fe given harassing mission for the night by 4th Marine Division. Fire to be delivered on 234, bivouac area on road net, and cliffs in 216; 10 rounds main battery per hour.”


Area Coverage.  We’ve completely forgotten the value of area fire.  Most targets are not readily detectable and area coverage with large caliber shells is required to destroy unseen targets, remove covering features, reshape terrain, and strip camouflage.

“It is realized that most of the firing on DOG MINUS THREE Day was directed toward area coverage because of lack of visibility, but such area coverage was of value to strip camouflage, a requirement in any preliminary bombardment.”


Night Illumination.  Naval guns supplied vital night illumination.

"The old problem of demand exceeding supply in star shells was again prevalent.”

Suppression.  Suppressive fire was conducted as the landing force approached the beach.  Nothing keeps an enemy’s head down like 16” shells!

Reading reports like this makes us aware of just how much we’ve forgotten about amphibious assault conduct, in general, and naval gunfire support, specifically.  The tiny handful of 5” guns on today’s surface ships are completely inadequate to support combat operations ashore.  Even the Zumwalt’s few hundred 155 mm rocket shells are woefully insufficient to support ground combat in addition to the fact that they are intended as precision strike weapons rather than being large caliber, high explosive area munitions. 

The Navy urgently needs to rethink its entire amphibious assault doctrine and reconsider the role that naval gunfire plays. 


_____________________



47 comments:

  1. Although technology has come on a log way since then, the end results have changed little for area bombardment.

    On land, a fire support request takes about 6 minutes to be actioned, and that could be significantly faster were it not for the ludicrous requirement to send requests to a 25* general to be approved.

    A ship, with organic spotting drones, a target list and a GPS receiver *should* be able to switch targets in seconds.


    If we look at those values a little closer.

    It took 9 minutes to locate a target, and I assume generate a firing solution, IE, work out where you are, where the target is, what relative velocities are and how to get a shell from A to B.
    I think we can cut that back a lot


    9 Rounds over 15 minutes sounds like they are firing, awaiting impact, awaiting damage assessment, retargeting to account for where the shell actually landed, and where the ship has moved to, and repeating.
    Organic spotters and better positional information would trim that, but I think we have come up against the real problem

    A ships gun, because of its weight limit free carriage and autoloader can launch a phenomenal number of shells in a short period, but the barrel heats up just as quickly as a land barrel, so once the first barrage is launched, its down to 2rounds per minute.

    9 rounds at 2 per minute, well, call it five minutes per target
    Again, you might be able to trim that a little bit by being more accurate sooner, but its not like theres much fat to be trimmed.

    You are probably emptying a magazine over 6 or so hours.
    More guns is the best solution I can think of, or bigger guns.
    The simple reality is a 5" gun isnt that big, its fine for killing people in the open, and functional for killing people in fox holes, but any well built structure is going to shrug off even direct hits.


    Its hard really
    Part of me wants to say you need 8" or 10" guns, but part of me also thinks that a super hornet can carry 17,000lbs of boom, and daisy cutters are 12,000lbs

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    1. Your comment is interesting but it also contains a bit of one of my common warnings and that is that we've forgotten what war against a peer will be like. We've come to believe that the enemy will let us do whatever we want with no resistance.

      For example, you mention that a ship with an organic spotting drone and GPS should be able to switch targets in seconds. Of course, this assumes that a peer enemy won't simply shoot our drone down (those things aren't fast, aren't particularly stealthy, and have no self-defense capability and little maneuvering), jam or disrupt our GPS signal, disrupt our comms, etc. The reality is that we're probably going to wind up using a radio and spotters on the ground walking fires onto a target just like in WWII, most of the time.

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    2. "Part of me wants to say you need 8" or 10" guns, but part of me also thinks that a super hornet can carry 17,000lbs of boom, and daisy cutters are 12,000lbs"

      This isn't an either/or choice and I'm not about to argue that it is. Both naval guns and aircraft have their strengths and weaknesses. As a general statement, I think naval guns will be far more useful than aircraft, just as was found in WWII. Our aircraft will, undoubtedly, be occupied trying to establish aerial parity or supremacy. Other factors like enemy aircraft and AA, weather, loiter time, ECM, and targeting difficulties will further erode the usefulness of aircraft. Again, though, I'm NOT arguing against aircraft! Just, pointing out that our current "doctrine" (to the extent that we have any) is almost exclusively based on aircraft and we'll find in a peer war that that's a mistake. We need large caliber naval guns.

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    4. ""Part of me wants to say you need 8" or 10" guns, but part of me also thinks that a super hornet can carry 17,000lbs of boom, and daisy cutters are 12,000lbs""

      The 17,000 pounds of boom is a theoretical maximum, which the aircraft would never carry under operational conditions.

      As for the Daisy Cutter, its actually 15,000 pounds and there is no way a Super Hornet could carry one. It doesn't have any pylons that can handle anywhere near that much weight and there wouldn't be enough ground clearance to fit one under a Super Hornet.

      Also, in response to the part of your comment about rates of fire, many modern naval guns, including most of the newer designs, have water cooling systems to permit higher rates of fire over longer periods of time than land based artillery cannons can sustain. The Russian 2S35 152 mm SP gun-howitzer, which is a state of the art land based artillery system and uses a water cooling system for the barrel, is credited with being able to sustain 16 RPM for extended periods of time and 20+ RPM for short bursts. A naval version could probably achieve even higher rates of fire because the space and weight constraints in a naval gun turret aren't as severe as those faced by the designers of an SPG.

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  2. This link
    http://www.g2mil.com/ERGM.htm

    includes this excellent summation:

    "Unfortunately, the USA lost most of its shore bombardment firepower since the retirement of the four Iowa class battleships, along with their 16-inch (406mm) guns. This was because US Navy officers think that thousands of naval rounds were fired during World War II because the guns lacked the accuracy to hit targets. They believe that expensive precision-guided munitions can destroy targets at a lower cost. This is false, naval guns usually had no exact target, they just fired into areas occupied by a concealed enemy knowing that some rounds would hit something of value. This may seem wasteful, but each round that hit the enemy saved lives in the landing force.

    Such is the nature of naval gunfire and artillery support, firing large numbers of rounds to saturate a target area occupied by enemy forces."

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  3. > Even the Zumwalt’s few hundred 155 mm rocket shells are woefully insufficient

    ... especially if considering their price tag of half a million per shot:
    LRLAP (EX-192) Guided Projectiles: Unit Cost $476,946.67
    PROPELLING CHARGE (EX-181): Unit Cost $18,353.07

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    1. Correct! The several thousand large caliber rounds fired in a WWII amphibious assault would quickly become cost prohibitive. Of course, given their price tag, we'll never have more than several hundred rounds in our entire inventory, I would guess. The cost makes for a built in limitation in naval gun support using the Zumwalts.

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  4. The problem is not so much ignorance as much as it is willful ignorance. There seems to be this mentality that precision bombs and guided missiles can resolve everything.

    This is just not true. The enemy will try to conceal and the costs of precision weapons (along with missiles) will make them cost prohibitive in a sustained war.

    The other big consideration that people don't discuss here is that gunnery has improved too. Technology doesn't just allow for better bombs - it allows for guns to improve too.

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    1. "The other big consideration that people don't discuss here is that gunnery has improved too. Technology doesn't just allow for better bombs - it allows for guns to improve too."

      I assume you're referring to conventional guns and munitions rather than laser guided. That being the case, you would think that modern radar and whatnot would have resulted in vastly improved naval gunnery but there is nothing I've seen to actually support that contention. For example, in the Vincennes incident the ship fired 70-100 5" shells at Boghammer type boats and achieved no apparent hits. I've seen nothing to indicate that the Navy's 5" guns are fundamentally any more accurate than they were in WWII. You'd like to think they are but I'm still looking for evidence. Do you have any data that supports the improved gun claim?

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  5. Interesting story here about what the 'other side' could do with its well positioned long range guns against an amphibious landing. Covers in some detail Anzio Annie ( a pair of german 11 inch rail guns which were bale to even sink ships close offshore)
    http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol133lw.html

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  6. Is an amphibious assault even possible against a near peer? Any decent near peer is bound to have an effective air force and navy equipped with long-range anti-ship missiles, satellite and maritime surviellance, and an integrated air defense.

    For what it's worth, the Army is looking at doubling the range (to about 70 km) of their M777's by extending the barrel length by 6 feet. Not sure how this affects the rate of fire. A navalized version of an extended range M777 might be an option.

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    1. We discussed that a lot on OMFTS topics recently.

      Much as "we" lack a million Tomahawks we can use for area bombardment, "they" lack a million S/LRBMs that they can fire off at every feint and radar ghost.

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    2. Quite true and good reminder.

      What they will have is a "million" artillery rounds that we don't have a good counter for. A good counter would be large caliber naval guns tied to a counterbattery fire control radar and/or a navalized CAS aircraft.

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  7. The the thing is, that having a fletcher class destroyer, or similar, 3500 yards away from a hostile shore, would be suicidal in this age of guides missiles. So the navies instead build hyperexpensive missile-armed ships, that are so valuable that they need to be kept at 50 nm stand-off.

    I really dont see an obvious solution. Maybe contested amphibious landings against a peer advesary are just not possible anymore?

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    1. It's possible. It just requires the proper doctrine and equipment. The doctrine starts with not standing off 50+ miles. Missiles aren't going to care about an extra 50 miles anyway. We've talked about all the rest of the doctrinal issues.

      Equipment wise, we need large caliber guns and lots of them. We need to stand in shore which means Aegis ships earning their money. Aegis was built to handle saturation missile attacks. If it can't do this then we've wasted enormous sums of money. We need C-RAM weapons on inshore ships. I can go on but we've covered the needs in previous posts.

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    2. I wouldn't discount the use of artillery rocket systems like the Army's GMLRS or ACTMS.

      The M31A1 GMLRS has a 200-lb unitary warhead and a range of 84 km. Lockheed Martin is developing an air bursting 200-lb warhead for the GMLRS with 160,000 preformed tungsten penetrators.

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    3. If you're suggesting GMLRS as a complement to conventional naval gunfire, I agree completely. Note, though, that the M31 round costs $100,000+ which makes it cost prohibitive as a high volume, area munition. By comparison, a 5" round costs $2,000 (?), if I recall correctly.

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    4. "Aegis was built to handle saturation missile attacks. "

      Very true. But the Aegis ships have a magazine limitation too. How many saturation attacks can they take before they have to withdraw with empty magazines?

      our main Aegis ships, the 'Burkes, are going to be likely tasked, in a peer conflict, with ASW escort, AAW escort, and theater defense for an amphibious landing. We may not have as many around as we'd like to double or triple up for a landing. The LCS in such a conflict won't be doing much, most likely. Though maybe they could cruise off shore with radar reflectors to make them look like 'phibs.

      I'm wondering if there is a way to switch, or mitigate, the cost equation on an opponent.

      The Aegis ships will have to be there. But instead of a few big 'phibs maybe many smaller ships like attack transports.

      For NGFS create, and use, smaller monitors. Something like the Erebus class the English used in both world wars. 8000 tons with 2 15 inch guns. (I doubt we could do that again, but some sort of decent artillery load. 155mm? could we make 10 inch guns?).

      Yes, these ships would be as vulnerable to anti ship missiles as a phib, but if the Aegis vessel(s) are earning their paychecks, you present the enemy with many more targets for his million dollar anti ship missiles.

      One more thing we might need is a small, cheap anti mine ship to clear the way before any of the other ships come rolling in. Again, a $700 million LCS isn't ideal for that.

      There will be losses. But we have to just accept that. Iwo landed 70K (a bit less than half of our current corps strength) marines and took 7K killed and 20K wounded.

      To pull off a peer landing in the future we have to anticipate taking alot of losses and dealing with it. To that end I don't believe we can put all our eggs in a few, really expensive baskets.

      Just a thought. I'm not all that knowledgeable about amphibious operations.

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    5. Jim, as is my common theme, you've forgotten (or not absorbed from history) what an amphibious assault would entail. Your concern about one (or a few) Aegis ships, for example, is cause to chuckle. If we ever actually attempt an assault against a peer we'll have dozens of Aegis ships involved. Look to history. We used 500+ ships for that. We had a dozen BBs and dozens of cruisers and destroyers. We had carrier task forces and fast BBs roaming around to provide naval interdiction. And the list goes on.

      We've come to believe that two Aegis ships constitute a naval force. That's hilarious!

      As another commenter pointed out, we don't have a bottomless supply of missiles but neither does the enemy.

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    6. Well, I admitted my ignorance.

      But yes, if we are going to do an amphibious assault, we'll need tons of resources. We don't currently have them.
      From what I can see, honestly, given what you've said, we won't be doing any near peer amphibious assaults.

      Dozen(s) of Aegis ships? 24 is going to be over 1/4 of the aegis fleet. We'd need all of those filled to the brim with Standards. Do we have enough Standards to fill the cells for all the ships, plus reloads for subsequent deployments?

      Plus, we'll need Aegis ships to escort CVN's; CLF's, do ASW.... LCS isn't going to be doing ASW.

      So if a near peer conflict breaks out tomorrow, we may well not have enough 'Burkes and Tico's from the get go. That's not even accounting for attrition. And this isn't WWII. We can't just build more. We have an upper limit to the number we can build per year.

      So I guess given our current acquisition environment, our current budget, and our current industrial base, I don't see how we pull it off now, or in the future against a near peer.



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    7. "Dozen(s) of Aegis ships? 24 is going to be over 1/4 of the aegis fleet. We'd need all of those filled to the brim with Standards. Do we have enough Standards to fill the cells for all the ships, plus reloads for subsequent deployments?"
      The US has given up on fighting two full scale conventional wars at once, IE the European and Pacific theaters of the second world war.
      A real war would see almost the entirety of the USN deployed.

      For the Falklands war the RN deployed 27 surface vessels and 6 submarines.
      And probably twice as many support ships, I couldnt be bothered counting.

      Thats more than a third of the fleet at the time, and more than half of the available fleet

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    8. And there you've summed up the problem. I don't believe we can do assaults now which leads to the question why do we have a Marine Corps and 30 some amphibious ships?

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    9. @ComNavOps

      1) An AEGIS ship like the Burke can engage four targets simultaneously. In fact, head-on it can only engage two.

      2) There are other ships that are much more capable, such as the Daring-class destroyer or Huitfeldt-class frigates. But at 3500 yards they would still struggle to survive fire exchange with a battery of mortars or grad rocket launchers.

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    10. Anders, a Burke has only 1 5" gun and only three illuminators (1 forward and two aft) so I'm not sure what four or two targets you're talking about.

      Please read the other comments. I've addressed the folly of discussing ships in isolation.

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  8. Very impressive stats.

    A very good point you make about less than precision fire having Advantageous effects. See Russian munitions in Syria recently. Very effective.

    NGS is still conducted today to some extent. A vessel can put down the levels of rounds you describe. Just not the size of rounds.

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aftermath_Cardiff_NGS.JPG

    I think something in the region of 1000 shells expended that night.

    Also see several deck gun engagement in Lybia.
    (Operation Unified Protector)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Liverpool_(D92)

    Of course to do this you need to pull your frigates and destroyers very close in. Dangerously close.

    Doing this against Russia with shore launched supersonic anti ship missiles would be suicide, unless the littoral had been previously sanitised by fixed wing I would think.

    I don't know the detail but I expect the same thing happened to Iwo Jima prior to NGS to remove the airbase etc ?

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    1. "Dangerously close."

      That's what war is!!!! That's what I'm trying to remind people. We've gotten lazy and come to believe that war is dropping a few precision bombs and calling it a day. That's not war - that's a live fire training exercise.

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    2. "Of course to do this you need to pull your frigates and destroyers very close in."

      Having remembered, now, what war is, of course we'll have ships close in. And now you suddenly realize that our trends of the last few decades towards little armor, aluminum instead of steel, small caliber guns, minimal manning, poor redundancy, overly complex equipment, etc. have been unwise in the extreme.

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    3. "Doing this against Russia with shore launched supersonic anti ship missiles would be suicide ..."

      Horse manure! Aegis was built to do this. Put it an full auto and let it do its job. If it can't do the job then, yes, we have problems.

      Also, have you thought through an enemy's use of land based missiles? Are they likely to have their missiles lined up at the water's edge? NO!!! That would make them insanely vulnerable and they'd be destroyed as step one of an assault plan. Instead, the missiles will be set well back from any likely attack point. I would guess 50+ miles would by a typical scenario. That gives an Aegis system in full auto more than enough time to act. This also suggests that the Navy's fixation on longer and ever longer range Standard missiles is a mistake. I've said that we should be greatly reducing our very long range AAW missiles and focusing on medium to short range missile defense - wouldn't that come in handy during an amphibious assault?

      Our warship design philosophy for the last several decades has SUCKED. The Navy has been building for the wrong kind of war.

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    4. "... unless the littoral had been previously sanitised by fixed wing ..."

      We keep wanting to discuss weapons and systems in isolation but that's not how they'll be used. Of course, you're right that the first phase of an assault would be to roll back the defenses from a distance. We'll need to clear mines, establish ASW boundaries, and a hundred other things long before the first landing craft (whatever that is) goes ashore.

      Everyone moans that a single Aegis ship can't stand close in to shore against hundreds of land based anti-ship missiles. That's probably true but that's not how the scenario will play out, as I've described in these comments. We need to think through the overall amphibious assault operation and how the various pieces fit in.

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    5. "NGS is still conducted today to some extent. A vessel can put down the levels of rounds you describe. Just not the size of rounds."

      A 5" gun is good for anti-personnel or soft-skinned targets. Unfortunately, or likely enemies are building heavy armored divisions and 5" guns will be of very limited effectiveness against those kinds of targets.

      5" is also not terribly effective as an area bombardment tool. It just doesn't make a big enough crater and can't penetrate hardened targets.

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    6. "Put it an full auto and let it do its job. If it can't do the job then, yes, we have problems."

      As you've mentioned before, we have no idea if it can do the job or not.

      When has Aegis ever been put in automatic and allowed to handle a saturation raid? When have multiple aegis systems acting close to one another been tested? What would the enemy do with multiple Aegis ships acting in shore? CAPTOR type mines? AIP subs attacking from the seaward?

      What about the Marine General's response with small suicide boats?

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    7. I think generally we are in agreement. I had fathomed that we are proberbly talking about a conceled 50 mile deployment of trailer launched SS-N-XX missiles.

      How good is Aegis at discriminating against ground clutter. I know ARTISAN on Type 26 is specifically better than UK's previous radar at this and its anti jam capabilities, which again will be extream in this environment.

      ESSM and ( British Sea-Ceptor ) again are going to be best here as we are talking about proberbly a 20 mile response time max.

      My specific interest in this is the Excalibur Naval round (N5), not for its pinpoint accuracy, but for its range extension, and for the possibility of a IR seeker, this could improve effectiveness on shoot and scoot shore batteries.

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  9. Not sure I agree -- I don't see doing close-in NSFS without local air supremacy, and if you have air supremacy then why are you using ships to deliver shells instead of planes/bombs?

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    1. Because a gun can fire 600 shells in 4 hours, a plane can drop 6 bombs in 4 hours.

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    2. Because a shell can't be grounded due to weather, it can't be spoofed by ECM/jamming, it's available 24/7 with a couple of minute response time, it can't be shot down by SAMs or AAA, it can provide sustained fire. I can go on but you get the idea.

      Please don't fall into the either/or discussion trap. No one is suggesting that we go exclusively to one or the other. I'm simply pointing out that we have almost totally abandoned naval gunfire and will come to regret it. The purpose of the post was to offer a historical reminder of why we use naval guns to support amphibious assaults.

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    3. Because getting aerial supremacy means keeping birds in their air in Air Superiority Configuration, not in Strike Configuration.

      A peer opponent is going to contest any landing with deep-inland aircraft, and they will be bringing more of those to bear than any navy can throw based purely on flight-deck/hanger space.
      Meaning those Strike Aircraft you sent up get shot down in quick order, because their Air-to-Air configured brethren have been overwhelmed.

      And, even today, Fighter-Bombers perform a lot worse than Air-Superiority Fighters, so, you can't just have your cake and eat it too.
      In a peer-to-peer conflict, this is going to become more and more evident.

      Meanwhile, a Shore Bombardment battle group is designed to go into harms way and react to the enemy bombers, albeit for relatively short amounts of time, and otherwise maintain a constant force against the enemy land installations (that does not really care about air power).

      Just my thoughts.
      - Ray D.

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    4. "Because getting aerial supremacy means keeping birds in their air in Air Superiority Configuration, not in Strike Configuration.

      A peer opponent is going to contest any landing with deep-inland aircraft, and they will be bringing more of those to bear than any navy can throw based purely on flight-deck/hanger space."

      Well thats one of those known unknowns.
      Can the enemy air be lured in to battle and destroyed, or severely degraded on, will they follow the Iraqi model and try and win a decisive battle at the outset, or will they follow the Yugoslavian model and try and preserve their forces as a "threat in being" that can be used to force the enemy to limit their actions.

      "And, even today, Fighter-Bombers perform a lot worse than Air-Superiority Fighters, so, you can't just have your cake and eat it too."
      I'd question this, an F15 isnt an F15, there are differences between the Strike oriented strike eagle and the Air Supremacy oriented Eagle (E to C) but these arent exactly huge.

      But, the F22, Typhoon and Rafale are quite different, the F22 is the F22, load it with ASRAAMs, AMRAAMs and ALRAAMs, its Air superiority, load it with Paveways, HARMs and Brimstones, and its a strike aircraft.

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  10. Further musing

    That we used to employ huge pre landing bombardments is not in doubt.

    Did they accomplish anything?
    I'm aware of concrete results achieved by the big 16" guns in harrassment fires, they were repeatedly used during the end of the Vietnam war to force the NV back to the table, and there employment in the first world war was hugely important in the collapse of Germany on the western front, where they could be used to destroy transport links in to sectors about to be attacked.
    I have some knowledge of small guns (going back to napoleon here) being used at night as harrassment fires, but they were targeting sections of wall, to prevent repair teams repairing specific areas.

    The suppressive nature of smaller guns is not in doubt during a battle (?), but there was precious little to show for all the artillery thrown at Iwo Jima before the troops actually went in.

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    1. "Did they accomplish anything?"

      Let me answer this a couple of ways. First, simple logic. Blanketing an area with large caliber, high explosive shells has got to destroy a significant percentage of enemy assets in that area. That's simple statistical probability combined with high explosives. When an area looks like the surface of the moon, covered with giant craters, you know whatever was there was probably destroyed.

      Second, as you already pointed out, the enemy has told us what they most feared in Vietnam and that was the battleship's big guns.

      Third, the bombardment actually cleared the beaches for the Marines to land unopposed at Iwo Jima. The Japanese had learned that standing at the water's edge would only get them killed and that hiding under a jungle canopy of leaves was no protection from bombardment. Instead, the Japanese adapted and moved to the interior of a mountain. So what did the bombardment accomplish? It allowed the US to land unhindered and it forced the defenders into a small, isolated area, albeit a very difficult one to attack. I have no doubt that the bombardment collapsed many tunnels and sealed many entrances. The problem is that the mountain was honeycombed with far more tunnels and entrances than anyone could have guessed. To fault the bombardment for not bringing down an entire mountain is unrealistic.

      Also, note that the Marines wanted 10 days of pre-bombardment and the Navy only grudgingly agreed to 3. Would the extra 7 days have made a difference? Who knows?

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    2. If I remember my first world war correctly, a man ducked down in a trench was 500x harder to kill than a man standing in the open.

      If we stick with the 22,000 shells number, Iwo Jima is 21 square kilometers, my maths may very well be wrong, but I get that to be a single shell in a 30x30 meter box.
      A 5" shell should kill anyone stood up in that box, but once you start to add in entrenchment, that shell kills people in a much smaller box.

      Not running down artillery, just number crunching

      "I have no doubt that the bombardment collapsed many tunnels and sealed many entrances. The problem is that the mountain was honeycombed with far more tunnels and entrances than anyone could have guessed. To fault the bombardment for not bringing down an entire mountain is unrealistic."
      Perhaps faulting them is the wrong word, but I wonder if it could have been, or could be today.
      An earthquake shell?


      I wonder if an LCS could mount 3x5" guns, two rounds per gun per minute gets you 360 rounds per hour, 30 LCS gets 10,000 rounds.
      Obviously they would have to rotate so you would probably have 10 on station at any one time?

      Never happen of course, but its the sort of thing those of us who supported OMFTS were thinking when we did.

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    3. Wasnt the only accuracy of that era was a grid square level, and that only with spotting. Now you can put a salvo say 3 on a larger bunker.
      Good detailed look at Iwo Jima here
      http://www.allworldwars.com/Iwo-Jima-Naval-Gunfire-Support.html

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    4. "Good detailed look at Iwo Jima here"

      Did you happen to notice that that's the exact link I cited as the basis for the post and appears in the reference link? C'mon, you gotta read the posts! Don't just jump in to the comments.

      Delete
  11. The USMC's written requirements for Naval Surface Fire Support have been posted on the Navweaps.com forums here:

    http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.com/reply/462282/REACTIVATION-MEMORABILIA#reply-462282

    The requirements are contained in a letter sent from the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps addressed to the Chief of Naval Operations, dated 19 March 2002.

    The requirements described are very substantial in their scope and breadth, especially in regard to NSFS range, NSFS volume, and NSFS sustainability requirements.

    OMFTS/STOM doctrine depends for its success on greatly reducing the ashore logistical footprint of an amphibious assault, especially during the earliest phases of an operation, thus enabling faster response time and greater mobility for the maneuver elements.

    The written NSFS requirements call for tens of thousands of 155mm equivalent projectiles to be rapidly delivered to their identified targets within a relatively short period of time.

    Years ago, the Congress passed a law requiring the Navy to certify that the USMC's NSFS requirements have been met, once the Navy believes that the USMC's current requirements have been fulfilled.

    We should expect that once IOC has been formally declared for the Zumwalt Class, and a few hundred 155mm LRLAP rounds have been loaded aboard the first Zumwalt hull, the Navy will then certify that all of the USMC's fire support requirements have been achieved.

    It's my expectation that once this certification has been made, no further improvements to the US Navy's conventional gun systems and their associated ammunition types will be forthcoming.

    Any and all budget resources which might have been spent on NSFS improvements will be spent on the F-35B and the F-35C instead.

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    1. Sadly, you are quite likely correct.

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  12. This is all fantasy. Ballistic NGFS is caput against a peer or near peer adversary and soon against third tier adversaries. WW2 models don't apply. Modern radars linked to modern processing can back calculate the location of a ship at sea from its shells ballistic trajectory in seconds. Modern ASMs need only be launched to the vicinity of a ship to find and attack it. There is no such thing as NGFS anymore except under the least challenging conditions.

    The Marines know this, the Navy knows it and our adversaries know it. Its why there is no pressure from any sector with any influence to put any substantial money into anything resembling
    traditional NGFS. Its partly why DDG 1000 is a 3 or less ship class.



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    Replies
    1. Any counter battery radar would be detected. To hit it the best thing to use would be naval artillery, TLAMs etc would be lucky to nail it before it repositioned.

      Sure it might get a fix on the ship, and then what? Land batteries hitting a moving target whilst themselves coming under barrage? NGFS isn't conducted whilst at anchor..

      It also doesn't operate alone in a vacuum. Sure ASMs and SSMs are a threat but a robust NGFS and reconnaissance capability means they aren't going to be sitting on the coast, as a previous poster said they'll probably be 50 miles inland, be priority targets and need to be protected by an IADS.

      By extrapolation it isn't NGFS that is obsolete by your logic but surface ships in general. Aegis and other western anti missile defences either work or they don't.

      " There is no such thing as NGFS anymore except under the least challenging conditions."

      Your historical proof is?

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