Monday, January 16, 2017

Stop Building Burkes

The Navy is on a seemingly endless path of Burkes, Burkes, and more Burkes.  Yes, they’ve upgraded the design but they’re bumping up against inherent limits in internal volume, power, cooling, utilities, weight margins, etc.  The Burkes are unable to properly support the new Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) system and so we’re going to build Flt III Burkes with sub-optimally sized radars that, by the Navy’s own admission, won’t meet the desired performance.  That’s idiotic to build a brand new ship with initial sub-optimal performance and no growth margin!

We’re also bumping up against cost.  How many multi-billion dollar ships can we afford?  The fleet is steadily shrinking as we continue to build ever more expensive ships in ever fewer numbers.  The Flt III Burke is likely to be 50%-100% more expensive than the Flt IIa.

That aside, how many Burkes do we need?  Well, we have 62 Burkes currently built with up to 76 planned and no end in sight.  Let’s look at our needs and see if we can figure out how many Burkes we actually need.

Given that Burkes are intended as escorts, primarily, we can roughly calculate how many we need.  In war, let’s assume we would have six Burkes per carrier (twice what we use during peacetime).  We have a maximum of 9 active carriers so that would be a requirement for 54 Burkes.  However, even during war we would only have 3-6 carriers out on operations at a time.  That equates to a steady need for 18-36 Burkes.  Of course, some Burkes would be unavailable due to refits at any given moment so we would need a few more (the peacetime model of three ships to keep one deployed would be abandoned in war).  This suggests that we already have more Burkes than we need.  Let’s generously round the numbers up and say we have a need for 50 escort Burkes.  Compare that to the 62 built and 76+ planned and you immediately see that we don’t need any more Burkes!

Surely, though, we need more ships than a handful of carriers and 50 Burkes?!

Yes, we do – but they don’t have to be Burkes and should not be Burkes.  Okay, if not Burkes, what then?

ASW – We have a desperate need for small, cheap, dedicated ASW vessels.  While the Burkes have a theoretical ASW capability, the realities of limited training time and limited budget preclude them from being competent at ASW.  You can be good at only one thing with limited training time and the Navy chooses to have the Burkes be good at AAW/BMD.

MCM – We have a desperate need for Avenger-type MCM vessels and MCM motherships.

Strike – We have a need for a dozen cruise missile (and short/med range ballistic missile) shooters.  These can be submarines (recall that we’re retiring the

SSGNs with no replacement) or surface ships.

Fire Support – We need a dozen or so naval fire support ship to support amphibious assault operations and general land actions.  These ships can be some combination of large caliber naval guns and navalized Army rocket systems (MLRS/ATACMS).

UAV Carrier – We need a dozen small, dedicated UAV carriers to operate hundreds of UAVs in the surveillance role. 

Carriers – These are our most powerful and flexible platforms and we need to get the numbers back up to around 15.

Patrol – We have a need for a large patrol vessel to maintain control of littoral areas, mainly the Middle East.  These should be upsized and uparmed versions of the Cyclone PC’s.  These would be what the ASuW-LCS should have been.  They would be heavily armed for their size.

Logistics – We desperately need many more replenishment and supply vessels, especially if we’re going to operate in the Pacific.

Submarines – We already have a looming shortfall of subs and they are probably our stealthiest, most effective naval platform.  We need many more.

Not only do we not need more Burkes but the basic seaframe is a 1980’s era design.  It’s time to terminate the Burkes and design a new destroyer and cruiser utilizing the latest propulsion, armor, stealth, internal networks, electrical generation, etc.

The Navy has failed so badly at new ship designs that I completely understand their desire to stick with something that works but the answer is not to stick with an old design but to improve how you build new ones.


We need to stop building Burkes.

76 comments:

  1. Your analysis on the number of Burkes required omits the 1 to 2 that normally escorts an expeditionary strike group, which would likely double in wartime. Assuming 3 ESGs deployed at any given time, that is another 12 Burkes.

    Plus, the Navy will deploy several surface action groups to protect the sea lanes and fight the enemy. That's probably another 20 or so Burkes.

    That brings the total to the 76+ that are deployed or on order.

    We certainly need the ships you described, but we also need a high-end cruiser that can field that AMDR for missile defense and strike missions on land and sea.

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    1. "Assuming 3 ESGs deployed at any given time,"

      You're missing how a navy at war works. There won't be any ARGs "deployed". Ships don't "deploy" during war. Task forces (to use the WWII terminology) are formed as needed, sent to carry out an operation, and then return. In a war, there won't be any ARGs at sea unless an actual amphibious assault is occurring, in which case the required number of escorts, carriers, etc. will be surged to support the operation.

      We're not just going to scatter Burkes around the world "protecting sea lanes" and even if we wanted to, that's a job for a much smaller ship WHICH WAS THE POINT OF THE POST!

      You need to think through how a war would actually be fought, who we would fight, the geography involved and how it impacts force requirements, and the enemy's order of battle. Generic statements generally completely miss the mark.

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    2. I don't think an amphibious assault will be the only instance we'll send an ARG out. We're likely to need to reinforcements overseas at the start of hostilities and an ARG and its 1,800+ Marines will do just that. True, cargo aircraft can get there faster and move tanks and heavy equipment too. But, runways aren't always available.

      And, unless those smaller ships are operating in the most benign threat environment, they are going to need Burkes for protection. Or, at least a well equipped frigate, not what the navy plans for the LCS.

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    3. Now you're talking about supply convoys. Convoys do not generally get top of the line escorts because convoys do not deliver to the front lines. They deliver to rear area staging bases. Check out your WWII operations to get an idea of how this works. Rear area convoys can get by with, say, the small, dedicated ASW vessels I described in the post and, perhaps, a single Burke for AAW.

      As I said, you need to think through how a war will actually be fought.

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    4. Perhaps in WWII convoys later in the war could get by with a few light tin cans and an escort carrier or two, but in near future Pacific or Atlantic theater I think convoy protection would need a bit more.

      If we had to conduct a REFORGER like scenario to Korea or Continental Europe I would imagine our convoys would the PRIME TARGET for either Russian or Chinese wolfpacks and fighter-bomber regiments. Against something like that a handful of corvettes/frigates and a Burke tossed in for good measure seems woefully inadequate.

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    5. Plus, in the Western Pacific I don't believe there is such a thing as "rear area". Once you get to the first island chain (where convoys would drop off supplies to Korea, Taiwan or Japan) everything is within extreme danger of Chinese ballistic missiles, submarines, and fighter-bomber regiments.

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    6. "our convoys would the PRIME TARGET for either Russian or Chinese wolfpacks and fighter-bomber regiments."

      Have you checked the Russian and Chinese order of battle to see whether they even have the requisite submarines and bomber regiments? Have you thought through how Russia and China will use the assets they do have? Have you looked at a world map and considered the distances as they relate to submarine and bomber area coverage? Have you considered the challenge of simply finding convoys on the open ocean relative to the Russian and Chinese surveillance assets?

      Think about all these things and then reconsider your comment. Either retract your comment or, if you still think it's correct, cite some actual numbers, distances, bases, routes, surveillance, etc. and make the comment authoritative and informative.

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    7. "I don't believe there is such a thing as "rear area"."

      Oh good grief! The Chinese don't have some magical sensing capability that sees the exact location of every US ship and aircraft in the world. Once they get beyond the horizon, they're just as blind as the rest of us. A billion mile missile is useless without the targeting to go with it. Also, they don't have unlimited swarms of submarines and bombers filling the entire Pacific Ocean. They've barely begun to map the undersea Pacific and their sub force has almost no open ocean experience.

      Of course there's a rear area where convoy movement is relatively safe with a lesser escort.

      Come on, think this stuff through.

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    8. "The Chinese don't have some magical sensing capability that sees the exact location of every US ship and aircraft in the world."

      I never claimed they did. What is a safe assumption to make is that the Chinese can field HUMINT assets within our fleet at sea, ports, operations centers, and allied armed forces in order to be clued in to when and where our convoys are going and our currently located. As far as I know China's intelligence gathering skillset is geared more towards HUMINT assets rather than technical assets such as satellites, and reconnaissance ships/aircraft. See industrial espionage.

      Also, I was under the impression that our probable theater of operations was the Western Pacific (aka everything from the second island chain and West) and SCS in the foreseeable future (10+ years). Within that TO the Chinese don't need a "billion mile missile" (where did that idea come from) or unlimited swarms of submarines and bombers they just need an adequate amount; an amount which they have and are adding to year after year while our numbers either stagnate or decline.

      I'll go into more detail about current and future orders of battle, routes and fighter bomber coverage once I get back from work but until then maybe you should open your mind a bit and follow your own advice of "think this stuff through."

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  2. Don't disagree that we need lots of specialized small fry, but I'm not sure I agree about the Burke Flight IIIs. I agree with Walter Collins that we will definitely find uses for them.

    What would it take in terms of tonnage to carry the "optimal" AMDR? I'm familiar with the proposals to put it on a LPD-17 hull, but if you were to design a surface combatant around the capacity to carry a full sized AMDR,what would it look like. Are the Sejongs big enough? Would a surface combatant that was big enough be too expensive to build in the numbers required to replace the Ticos? And what exactly do we need such a capability for anyway? Is it to fight cruise missiles or ballistic missiles?

    If you are going to invest 50 billion in more carriers, an upgraded missile defense escort seems a must. What should it look like, if not based on the Burke?

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    1. We need to build AAW escorts that are pure AAW. No hangar/helo. No ASW. No 5" gun. And so on.

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    2. You caught the part in the post where I mention the cost issue? Sure, it's easy to say we can use more Burkes but they're pricing us out of the navy business. The fleet is at a modern record low in numbers because of the ever increasing cost of ships. To continue on this path is to wind up with an ineffective navy. You can argue with my solution but some kind of change is needed.

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    3. What brought the 'Burkes into existence?

      It seems to me that with the Tico/Spruance split, the Navy had a very workable system. 1 hull that can either do AAW (Tico) or ASW (Spruance). One was a cruiser, the other a destroyer.

      And if you build out that hull in 'Burke like numbers you just made everything (hopefully) a bit cheaper.

      Was it that the Spruances were considered too expensive? I know they were considered threats to the Tico's... but then what sense does it make to bring in a destroyer that does...AAW???

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    4. Jim, I'm completely missing whatever point you're trying to make. Sorry. Try again?

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    5. NP. My posts are always perfectly clear in my head... once I write them down, not so much.

      Maybe this doesn't move forward the discussion enough. But I'm wondering why the Navy went with the 'Burkes in the first place? They are a good ship class, no doubt, but very expensive. What problem was the Navy trying to solve? When the Burkes came into existence I don't see that they had a role in the fleet that wasn't covered by either the Tico's (AAW) or the Spruances (ASW, with less, but still existing, AAW had they gone with NTU).

      It seems the Navy introduced the 'Burkes as light Tico's, then over the years has gone to war on everything with a Spruance hull. First the Spruances themselves and now the Ticos.

      Had we just stayed with the Spruances and Tico's we might have had those ship classes be cheaper (block buys of one hull for 2 ships), more focused (Spruances looking underneath while the Tico's look to the sky), as well as have more room for upgrades.

      In a world where the 'Burkes don't exist and Tico's and Spruances are still built, we still have AAW capability, ASW capability, and a hull that might do a better job with AMDR.

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    6. Okay, I think I'm getting some of what you're saying.

      The Spruance/NTU (the NTU, actually - the Spruance just happened to be the ship the NTU would mainly be on) was a threat to the funding of Aegis which the Navy desperately wanted. Thus, the Spruance class was SINKEX'ED out of the picture. With the Spruance gone, the Navy needed a destroyer. They also wanted stealth. Thus, the Aegis/stealth Burke was born. That's an incredibly simplified summation but it conveys the situation.

      Why does the Navy now want to get rid of Ticos? Follow the money! The wants AMDR ships and Aegis/Tico are a threat to that funding. Thus, Aegis/Tico must go. That Ticos happen to be on Spruance hulls has nothing to do with it - that's just happenstance. Right now, a canny observer might question why we need new reduced capability AMDR ships for BMD when the Aegis/Ticos can do the the same job and already exist. Yikes! That's an uncomfortable question for the Navy so in their finest tradition, they've decided the Ticos must go.

      It's never about capability. It's always about funding. Follow the money!

      Make sense?

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    7. NTU(new threat upgrade)was installed on CG 16/26 class cruisers not Spruance class destroyers.

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    8. NTU was installed on Kidd variants of the Spruance and it was the possibility of installation on the large Spruance class that threatened the funding of Aegis and led to the Navy sinking the Spruances. The addition of modern VLS to Spruances further accelerated the threat to Aegis.

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  3. CNO I agree with you 1000%, but Burkes are the ONLY semi-cost effective ship that the Navy knows how to build that works at all. Unfortunate but true. And at only $1.8B per ship a bargain given that it works.

    The Navy tried to build a $500M ship but got the LCS. I would trade 3 LCS's for one Burke in a minute. They built a $3B Destroyer that breaks down 3 times from Maine to San Diego. They are building a $14B Carrier that can't launch aircraft, Lastly they finally got a working a $1.6B LPD class. Add to that the political cover of "maintaining" the industrial base and Congressional support and you have a misguided "winning" plan.

    The REAL point your post hints at is how does the Navy learn to build ships, THAT WORK, for less. What are your thoughts on how to do this?

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    1. "The REAL point your post hints at is how does the Navy learn to build ships, THAT WORK, for less. What are your thoughts on how to do this?"

      I've discussed this in previous posts. We need to reconstitute the General Board and BuShips. Look up "General Board" in the keywords and you can read the post.

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    2. As I recall, the Burkes were designed to be able to fight effectively in an NBC environment. That's why they have the "citadel" installed (is it still being incorporated in the Burkes?) As regards the smaller/cheaper combatant, no argument there. Could the National Security Cutter be configured as a cheaper ASW or ASuW type ship. This would bring down the cost to both CG and USN.
      Cheif Torpedoman

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  4. I sometimes think that the 'Burkes are there through inertia and failed planning. They are a good ship, no question. But its like Chrysler building everything off the K-car for awhile. For some things it made sense... for others, they did it because that's what they knew how to build affordably.

    Zumwalt: Failure.
    LCS: a real mess in procurement.
    CG(X): Cancelled.

    We don't have a very good plan for what we want to do, like Lehman (I think?) generated in the early 80's. So we don't have a good idea of what we need. So we go on with ad hoc solutions.

    CNO has some very good ideas. I know he has his own strategic plan.

    Until the Navy gets one, we are going to continue to see things like reflexive 'Burke construction because its one of the few things the Navy institutionally knows how to do, and it keeps shipyards working and budget flowing. I think that's why the LCS gets so much support. Its amorphous, so it can be fit into nearly any ad hoc slot, and its being built now; so it keeps shipyards in business and congress people happy.

    I really don't know why the Navy doesn't do a strategic plan. If they did, they could come up with solid ship designs, and a solid argument as to why they need them. Maybe it won't be a 600 ship Navy, but its likely to guarantee ship building and budget slice for a long time.

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  5. Here are two suggestions for filling a couple of needs on the list.

    1) License the design of the KDX III Sejongs and build two dozen to replace the Ticonderogas. That will give us a ship that can take the Air defense commander role that the Burke's apparently cannot fit. These should not be much more expensive than the Burke flight III.

    2) Build a dozen or two strike cruisers off of a Spruance hull. Give it an appropriately stealthy superstructure, retain the hanger and ASW suite to give it a secondary role as ASW commander for a task group. Delete the aft 5" gun if necessary. Cheap air defense radar and a coupe of illuminators for self defense. Plenty of room in the hull, far cheaper than a Burke, and it will take far fewer men to operate than the original version did.

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    1. I'm guessing all the tooling for the Spruance hulls is long gone.

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  6. I agree generally, to a lesser degree however.

    Va class SSNs and Burkes appear to be the only platforms with capability that "work". We need to build more. We need operable capacity....

    Any new design is problematic today for the reasons you persistently point out- LCS and Ford class especially.

    We do need more large deck CVNs though. 15 CVNs would be ideal but is tough to afford. We need a Ford class minus that works.

    What about that new Frigate sized Coast Guard ship? Perhaps that hull with more weapons could take up the slack from the retirement of OHP class.

    RE MCM and small boats that capability I leave to you surface experts.

    ARG construction and niche ships like assault "jeep carriers" for the Marines to patriotically display their F-35B panacea and other expensive aircraft are very problematic and secondary to US Navy needs and only add to severe shortcomings in real capacity.

    IMO, buying foreign hulls ain't gonna happen and rebuilding older classes of ships are also non starters...

    b2

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    1. Personally I think more roles should be switched to subs. I don't see any reason a dedicated MCM sub design couldn't be built. Consider that the LCS MCM design was to us an unmanned sub for clearing. Why not run them from a sub?

      Randall Rapp

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    2. Randall, recall that the MCM capability is 50-75% surface and air based depending on how you want to categorize it.

      Helos will be used for detection and destruction mechanism transport. Sonar will be towed by surface craft. Influence sweeping will be by helo and/or surface craft.

      It's not possible for a submarine to host and operate the range of MCM components without coming to the surface and becoming a surface vessel. Read up on the module and you'll see that much of it is not UUV based.

      Now, if you wanted to make a completely different approach to MCM that only involved submarine launched components, you probably could but the clearance rates would be so slow as to be tactically useless.

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  7. I actually like to presume what 'end result' (of a major conventional westpac war, assuming non-nuke and non-slippery to nuke) to be (as a pause for both sides to 'cease fire'), before take a look of what's required.

    I would said- if there is a major throw down, a very possible 'pause' in the conflict will be-complete (or almost) destruction of PLAN (and its rebuilding capacity along the Chinese coast), occupation of Taiwan by PLA, and substantial damages to current USN/AF (say, 2 carriers and 500 planes). And retrenchment of PLAAF (and rocket force) to further inland (say, 100-200km inland) for escalation after the 'pause'.

    I think, as is, current USN/AF can force that scenario.(and CNO, your proposal will save more American lives, but IMO, not altering the scenario of such 'pause').

    Therefore, I would think, if US wants to alter that 'pause'without risk of attacking mainland further (and risk nukes) is re-taking of Taiwan, and USN/AF?army reconfiguration of.

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    1. I'm completely missing whatever point you're trying to make. Try again?

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    2. War has 3 parts: begin, during, and end. CNO, almost all your posts are about the 'during' part; how USN can prepare/equip/fight better. However, to fight you must decide when to stop fighting. WW2 end was black & white: complete surrender and occupation of the enemies. Cold War end was somewhat black and white: USSR went bankrupt. Most other wars (US involved) are open ended (or in intermission): Korea, Middle East, etc. And because of US geographic location, the consequence of these open ended conflict do not hurt the US (i.e. fighting on other's soil with unquestioned mil.dominance).

      However, if I look from China's POV- if there is a war (A2AD and anti-A2AD), it will be fought on westpac and China's coastal inland (presumed both side agrees it is a major conventional air/sea war, without ground war on mainland- I'll leave out NK for now). That means, all PLAN assets and its rebuilding capabilities are in the war zone, which means sooner or later both will be exhausted- since there is nowhere for PLAN to regroup, and despite China's tremendous industrial capability- it can't build and sail ships from Xinjiang. USN can both 'regroup and rebuild' and come in again and again.

      Therefore, if Beijing is facing a lemon situation of total destruction of PLAN (and its shipyards) in such war- because that's what I will do if I'm in USN/AF uniform; Beijing will try to make, at least, partial lemonade out of it- that is, invasion of Taiwan and hold it by all means, before PLAN is gone.

      And there you have it, a possible 'pause (or intermission)' scenario- How does USN (or CNO) prepare for such 'pause'?

      (btw, current USN is ~2 war generations ahead of PLAN: VN and gulf-war-1, in both quality and quantity)

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    3. You're thinking about the overall picture. I like that. However, you sound like you almost think China will get into a war by accident, without a plan, and wind up desperately searching for a "pause". Isn't it more likely that they will have a well though out plan with defined goals and end conditions and will work to achieve those goals as quickly as possible? If so, a "pause" will never happen until the Chinese deem it in their best interest.

      Keep going with your thought process but now do it from China's perspective. Why will they start a war? What will be their most important objective? How will they achieve it? How will they stop the war under conditions they want? How will they keep whatever their main objective is? Answer these and you'll have a pretty good grasp of the overall issue!

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    4. Point taken..yet

      "..However, you sound like you almost think China will get into a war by accident, without a plan.."

      1. China is saber-rattling Taiwan (and to a lessor degree, Japan) pretty hard. I know the US is muzzling both Taiwan and Japan very hard (and PLA keeps its own on tight leash), but with all the PLAN 'fly bys and sail bys, up and down the ECS and Taiwan Strait)...Heck, WWI was started by a black swan accident. China got drag into Korean War because of Kim1..or 9/11.

      2. Subconsciously, both you and PLAN are already referring to each other as 'enemy'; only the muzzle and leash from Beijing & WH kept things under control.

      Or, let me put it this way: when I buy a car, I don't think about accidents; yet, I buy insurance so I can cover the unforeseeable. Shouldn't USN have an accidental policy, too?

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    5. BTW, if China wants a intentional naval war- it must take away at least front half of USN's 'regroup and rebuild' capability. That means, defeat USN in a blue water war and push it back to protect its own 'regroup and rebuild' capacity. By rule of thumb, PLAN will need to have at least 2x of USN force, or 20 big carriers (I don't know how many subs, 2x anyway).

      That's not going to happen in another 50 years; and all heck will break loose way before that.

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    6. "Subconsciously, both you and PLAN are already referring to each other as 'enemy';"

      No. I refer to China as "enemy" quite consciously because they are and because we are already at war with them. Correction, they are at war with us - we're not yet admitting it. They have a clear, long term plan and are systematically implementing it. I wrote a two part post on how/why China is at war with us. Check it out in the archives.

      One of their major war objectives, the seizure of the first island chain and sealing of the South China Sea, has already been accomplished. They are now working on the same for the East China Sea and parts of the second island chain. The saber rattling is part of that plan. They aren't going to stumble into a war. They may be the most calculating country the world has ever seen!

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    7. "PLAN will need to have at least 2x of USN force, or 20 big carriers "

      Where on Earth did you come up with that? Setting aside the fact that denying our "regroup and rebuild" capability, to use your phrase, would not part of any reasonable Chinese war plan that I can foresee, where did you get a "2x/20 carrier" number? As an example of the lack of need for 2x carriers, the Soviets planned to hit us hard and sink our carriers without any carrier of their own.

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    8. Right before Midway, Japan had about 8 or 9 carriers in the Pacifics. And the US probably planned its carrier fleet with multiple x of that in its shipyard. And Japan almost pulled it off with 2x carrier at Midway. So I would say- a 1 to 1 parity, in the absence of Chinese provocation, will not prevent USN from exerting its traditional dominating role. A 2-1 numerical advantage, again without outright Chinese provocation, might 'convince' USN back without a fight ( or, achieve possible hard won edge if there is a fight).

      In the USSR hot war case, the CSGs had to vanguard the armor divisions reinforcement for Europe. If CSGs died, and in exchange the arrival of reinforcement were able to blunt the Soviet land invasion, the dead CSGs still completed its mission. In the Pacific, live CSGs, thus control of water, is dominance/victory in itself.

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  8. The GAO Aug. 2016 report quoted program cost as $50+ billion for the planned 22 AB Flight III's, $2.3B each, one million design hours and 45% new drawings required, separate designs for GD and HII builds, originally was to be one standard.

    Navy currently pressing for fixed price from GD BIW who are refusing as too risky as design as not yet completed and want a C+ contract.

    The SPY-6 radar is heavier and the weight of TR/M's concentrated higher in the arrays. The stern beam has had to be widened 4 feet each side to maintain its service life allowance, though near not the 10% as required. The stern hull and scantlings using thicker steel, may be suggesting that current AB hulls will not last their 35 year life span without rebuild.

    As current propulsion AB GTs are gas guzzlers unless operating at optimum RPM, PMS320 Dr T McCoy initiated studies from 2007 for a Hybrid Electric Drive, HED, mod to mitigate the AB's limited range. In Sep 2015 contract placed with L-3 for the backfitting of 34 Flight IIA's with a cut down version of HED, only one Electric Machine, PTI/PTO being fitted to one of the shafts, not both, powered by the GTGs with the propulsion GTs shut down. The Fight III's will not be fitted with HED presumably due to the limited space available, its a dense ship, a CRS report questioned why the ship not lengthened as design would allow up to 55 feet.

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  9. I agree with much of the above, but it is not clear to me that the NSC can be brought up to survivability level 2, or given a quiet enough drive to be an effective ASW frigate. If both of those can be accomplished, then there is a version on paper, the 4923, that would probably meet the Navy's needs for an ASW frigate. If not, then we are left with the choice of licensing a foreign design or restarting the line on an older ship. There is nothing politically objectionable about, and the tooling can be rebuilt as easily as tooling for a new class can be built. At least the hulls and propulsion design are proven.

    In the longer term we can reconstitute the navy's design capability, but that is a decade long project.

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    1. The NSC is not really what I would consider a state of the art corvette/frigate candidate. There are much better examples such ships out there. Even if we don't foreign build/license there is no reason to accept a second rate converted NSC as opposed to a new design corvette/frigate. As long as we don't go off the deep end and try to design in non-existent technology we should be able to design and build such a ship in less than five years, as I've discussed in previous posts.

      The Navy has done far too much impossible dreaming and far too much settling. We need to hit the middle area, the sweet spot of ship design: state of the art but existing.

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    2. The other LCS is the new USCG Offshore Patrol Cutter, OPC, a planned class of 25 ships, showing the Navy how it should be done.

      It shows the possibilities of what could be built for a dedicated ASW frigate if Navy were not fixated on a LCS 1 cigarette boat with a speed of 40+ knots with max.range ~ 2,000 at 14 knots.

      Length of 360 ft, beam of 54 ft, draft of 17 ft, HED with diesels, sustained speed of 22.5 knots, range 10,200 nm at 14 knots. Concept of Operations 14 days between refueling, 21 days between replenishment, and 45-60 day patrols, ice-strengthened, ballistic protection over critical areas, crew 116, able to operate their boats and aircraft in sea state 5. The Comms, Sensors, Weapons, EW, Nav, EW very similar to LCS though may be using the smaller HH65 instead of H60.

      They have placed a contract with an outsider and not GD or HII, Eastern Shipbuilding Panama City, FL.







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    3. The OPC is slow, not very stealthy, lacks any offensive punch, ASW fit, or anti-submarine weapons, and is limited to a single -60 helos. On the other hand, it has decent endurance and range. For naval service, it would have to be almost completely redesigned to give it stealthy superstructure, sonar, towed arrays, acoustic isolation, ASROC, etc. It would be a completely new ship, sharing only a superficial resemblance in the hull.

      The OPC cost is $100-$200M. The navalized version would likely cost $500M, I'm guessing.

      I'd prefer a purpose designed ASW vessel.

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    4. Do agree with your comments about the OPC, saw mention of $438M fully equipped with GFE. Though would like to see an evaluation of VLS 12nm ASROC vers stern launching heavyweight torpedoes as in the new Italian PPA as said submarines now operate deeper than the Mk54.

      My point being Navy should be able procure a dedicated and effective ASW frigate for ~ $500-$600M if not less if stringent cost controlled as with the OHP class, 3 or 4 ships for the cost of one AB Flight III.

      Talking of sonars, in the news December was the Dutch showing what is possible with newer systems in the more difficult sonar environment of littoral waters.

      DUTCH NAVY EVALUATES LFAPS
      The Royal Netherlands Navy has recently completed an operational evaluation (OPEVAL) of its new Low Frequency Active Passive Sonar (LFAPS) aboard HMNS VAN AMSTEL, an M-class 3,300T frigate.
      Conducted over several days in conjunction with a WALRUS-class submarine and an NH90 helicopter fitted with low frequency dipping sonar, the OPEVAL demonstrated LFAP’s capability to detect and track a diesel-electric submarine, both mono- and bi-statically, in challenging conditions in littoral waters. Marine Corps Lt.-Gen. Rob Verkerk, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Navy, used Twitter to express his opinion that the testing represented a “quantum leap in the field of submarine warfare!”
      Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems developed the hardware for LFAPS, while the processing software was developed by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO.)

      Delete
  10. As much as I agree with the post, as B2 noted( I think), the only 2 weapon systems that "work" are the Burkes and Virginias, everything else is pretty much worthless. I would like to see something new THAT WORKS come along before we stop building Burkes.

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    1. Sadly, we won't build something new until we stop building something old. We need to terminate the Burkes in order to provide the impetus for building something new. What you're asking for, I think, is a prototype and I'm all for that.

      Delete
  11. Re the PRCs unpreditability:
    The PRC is the only power I can remember that once went to war to "punish" another. They did it to Vietnam over their common border back in the late 70's. I haven't forgotten that. Amazing.
    They should have been stopped from exploiting the Spratly's back in the late 80's..who would a think?
    B2

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    Replies
    1. I really have a hard time believing the US will do anything to really stop the Chinese from taking over South China Sea. At best, new administration will let Japan and South Korea deal with China....

      Delete
  12. For the submarine fleet, I'd recommend some smaller conventional powered submarines with AIP. They will be much cheaper and for coastal waters, much better. Nuclear submarines will mostly be for the blue water fleet and for the ballistic missile deterrence.

    I think that the USN needs a small fast attack craft. There should be 2 versions:

    - Small patrol boats <300 tons for riverine warfare
    - A larger Cyclone-like ship as you propose


    Agree with the above. If there are larger vessels built they should carry some armor.

    As far as the aircraft carriers, you know my thoughts on smaller carriers, but one other consideration is that they will need as many air wings.

    A cheap A-10 like attack aircraft should also be made and navalized.

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    1. The problem with small fast attack craft is basing. They may work in the Mid East but would be problematic to operate in the Pacific during war. The reason why so many foreign countries have gravitated to FACs is that they operate in their home waters, near basing.

      Alternatively, we could operate motherships but the Navy has shown no desire to do that.

      The other problem with FACs is that they are highly vulnerable to aerial attack, having little or no AAW capability. Trying to use them in war under an enemy's airspace would likely be unsuccessful. Again, most countries will use theirs as home water defensive assets as opposed to us trying to use them offensively.

      Delete
    2. A small craft would likely be forced to island hop and/or use motherships.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Would a new ASW ship really require a totally new design?
    As discussed in the earlier post about "transformation", a new scratch-built 3000+ ASW would probably end up costing more than an LCS. But what about new build of an older but updated design?
    The Perry design (3,700 ton ASW) could be bought by the, updated, then sent to multiple competing yards.
    They have survived genuine hits in combat-the Stark took 2 Excocet missiles and the Sam Robers survived a horrible mine explosion. It's Lm2500 engines are still being used and supported, and we know all their strengths, weaknesses, and can even have experienced retirees who can provide valuable input on the update. These new builds could last 30+ years and to shut up the LCS supporters could be built at some of the LCS yards as well as other yards. And we know the hull and basic systems will survive real testing.
    Yes, it's not stealthy, but that every time we add stealth that seems to add hundreds of millions to the price tag. The millions saved on a stealthier design could be put into new sensors, more automated systems for the update. The old SM-1 would be replaced by an 8 cell VLS, update/replace the 76mm & CIWS with newer systems. If need be we could add some radar absorbent plates or angle off some sections.
    We could even do a proof-of-concept on the new elements of the design by refitting a retired Perry, including any added stealth.
    A totally fresh design would be proferred, but is it what we need?
    Or is a cheap, proven, reliable, design updated and built at multiple yards a workable route?
    What do you think ComNavOps? Could this be the new DE?

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    Replies
    1. Would this ASW ship have anti-air capability? I'm not against this in principle, but I don't think the ship you suggest will be as cheap as it first seems. Adding VLS and anti-air missiles requires other systems to actually work (air radar, Fire control, etc.), and therefore increase the cost.

      Design costs for a new ship only make up a small portion of overall ship costs. Those higher initial costs can usually be mitigated by increased efficiency in design (similar to how new cars today get better gas mileage). IF that is the case, it means using older hulls have negligible benefit.

      The largest contributors to cost are the size of the ship and the number of systems (including the crew to operate the systems). The surest way to make a ship cheaper is to make it smaller and have it specialize in one type of warfare. If you want to to engage threats in other ways (air, surface, land, subsurface), you are going to have an expensive ship.

      Delete
    2. "every time we add stealth that seems to add hundreds of millions to the price tag"

      You're conflating two different factors. Stealth (and I'm only talking about basic, structural stealth - slanted sides and the like, not exotic coatings) is just a different shaped superstructure. It seems like it costs a lot because when we've added it to a ship or aircraft we've also added a boatload of other non-existent, high tech stuff that is what's actually run up the costs. The basic stealth actually contributed relatively little. Now, that wasn't completely true for early stealth aircraft but it is for ships, as far as I know.

      What none of us know is how much basic stealth shaping contributes to radar signature reduction. Is it worth the effort and price tag? The only "data point" we have is that fact that every new design ship around the world is built with pretty extreme stealth shaping so countries must think it's worthwhile.

      Basic stealth shaping is just an exercise in frameworks. You need to build a frame for the hull and superstructure anyway. Whether it is vertical like old ships or slanted to be stealthy doesn't really affect the cost much.

      Delete
    3. "The Perry design (3,700 ton ASW) could be bought by the, updated,"

      By the time we finished completely redesigning the superstructure to provide basic stealth, we'd essentially have a new design ship and it still wouldn't have a stealthy hull. Why not just do a new design instead of trying to compromise fit a Perry?

      I know, we've all gotten so wary of the runaway costs and failures of new ships that we keep wanting to go back to proven designs for safety and security. That isn't the answer. The answer is to improve how we design and build ships. I've discussed this at length. The short version is to build using nothing but EXISTING state of the art technology and hold with 100% fidelity to the CONOPS and design - no changes. That's how you build an affordable new ship in minimal time.

      Delete
    4. "The surest way to make a ship cheaper is to make it smaller and have it specialize in one type of warfare."

      Spot on. An small, cheap, dedicated ASW vessel doesn't need area air defense. A modest ESSM fit, at most, for medium range self-defense or just RAM/CIWS for short range self-defense.

      For escort work, it will have a Burke nearby for area AAW and for working on its own, it will likely be in areas of lesser threat that don't justify area AAW.

      We've been brainwashed by the Navy to believe that every ship must be able to fight and win a war single-handed. That's just ludicrous.

      Delete
    5. "By the time we finished completely redesigning the superstructure to provide basic stealth, we'd essentially have a new design ship and it still wouldn't have a stealthy hull. Why not just do a new design instead of trying to compromise fit a Perry? "

      The NSC reminds me of a new build Perry; minus the lvl2 build.

      Question: Were the Perry's quieted like the Spruances to improve their sub hunting ability?

      For a new build frigate to take on the ASW/Escort role I could see 3 things we want:

      A) A sustainable high cruise speed. If we want these things to also be able to do ASW work for a CSG, they have to have some speed.

      B) Reasonable stealth. We don't need composite superstructures. Just maybe some intelligent shaping to make them less of a target. 'Burkes have this with their raked mast, etc.

      C) Hull quieting of some sort. We may not have the waves of soviet subs out there; but with the proliferation of quieter AIP subs, the sonar suite and the ship itself should be optimized for ASW.

      I'll add legs as an addendum. If we are going to 'pivot to the pacific' that has to be a base requirement.

      To me this means a ship that is going to be decently large to hold enough fuel.

      Without Uber AAW, what does the cost of this look like?

      Delete
  15. For baseline escort level AAW, you are looking at 8-16 VLS cells, a decent 3-D radar, and two illuminators. A Perry class sized ship can carry that easily. She will fit 16 Mk 41 cells in place of the Mark 13 launcher (roughly same space and weight), a good 3-D radar will not weigh much more than the sps-49, and she carries two illuminators already. You MIGHT even be able to move the 76mm up front.

    I agree that reshaping the superstructure to provide some stealth should be cheap, and it shouldn't actually take much redesign. One problem with a Perry era ship is that the hull sides tended to be perpendicular.

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    1. Illuminators are not needed with ESSM Blk II and SM-6, so scratch those.

      I rather propose a GP FFG for those navies that (still) want to build warships:

      AEW support exogenous
      2 medium helicopters with dipping sonar
      LFASS
      TRS-3 radar
      2 Mirador

      plenty IR and radar decoys
      towed decoy

      2 "unsinkable" rescue and boarding boats
      helo pad with beartrap, suitable for heavy helo

      16 VLS Mk 41 (ESSM Blk 2, a ASW-SOW like missile and NSM VLS version)
      2 76 mm STRALES
      2 triple 324 mm (more for large decoys and hardkill anti-LWT than for LWT)

      electrical engine-driven pump jet
      top speed 27 kts
      6,000 nm @ 18 kts

      estimate; possible at 4,000-6,000 tons with steel hull

      Delete
    2. "Illuminators are not needed with ESSM Blk II and SM-6, so scratch those."

      That's not quite my understanding. In both cases, the missiles have BOTH active and semi-active homing. My understanding is that they will rely on semi-active homing using shipboard illuminators to get them into the area and then use their own active homing to complete the intercept. Also, the active homing is intended to enhance their ability to respond to maneuvering targets.

      Admittedly, I am not 100% clear on this. The technical descriptions do not make clear the likelihood of use of each of the guidance modes. If you have documentation that differs, I'd love to see it.

      Delete
    3. Regarding the rest of your GP FFG design, I note the heavy emphasis on foreign (to the US) equipment!

      I would also point out that the US Navy does not, in my opinion, need a frigate as much as it needs a dedicated ASW vessel. The characteristics of an ASW vessel would differ from those you propose.

      As a GP FFG, your proposal is fine.

      Delete
    4. Well, an ASW FFG for distances such as San Diego-Hawaii or Norfolk-Brest would not differ much. Maybe the 76 mm redundancy (and 350° coverage) would be skipped. Note the similarity to the F123 Brandenburg class.

      Current active radar (terminal) homing missiles have a radio downlink in order to update the intercept course till the terminal homing radar begins to emit.
      http://www.deagel.com/Surface-to-Air-Missiles/ESSM_a001158001.aspx
      There's also little reason to expect a SARH missile to be better against manoeuvring targets than an ARH missile, and I'd like to point out how many major European navies trust Aster or hope for ESSM Blk 2.

      I called it GP FFG because ESSM Blk 2 adds some area air defence capability - other than that it's an ASW FFG with the ordinary ASuW capability.
      There's a thing called armed merchant cruiser, and any ASW ship should be capable of defeating an AMC and its ASuW capability. Super-dedicated ASW frigates without anti-ship firepower are a poor choice.

      There's no U.S. alternative to 76 mm, and 127 mm is both too heavy and offers little CIWS capability, particularly if but one is installed.
      NSM/JSM is way ahead of Harpoon, ahead of LRASM development and not as gold-plated (expensive) as LRASM.
      U.S. manufacturers have not developed equivalents to Mirador or TRS-3, and the latter is already in service with USN and USCG. The large SPY-1 series radars are unnecessary if there's AEW support and offer rather lesser than better performance than (a higher-mounted) TRS-3 against sea skimmers.

      I did imply one thing that's alien to the USN, though; the existence of naval AEW helicopters. The Italians and British chose AW101 for AEW duty, and the Russians have their Ka-31. The USN can so far not provide AEW to convoys without a CVN nearby - a bad omission for transoceanic convoys.

      ---
      Here's my own blog post that explains why I think GP FFGs are the future of non-auxiliary, non-carrier surface combatants:
      http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2016/01/naval-air-defence-of-2020s.html

      Delete
    5. S.O. - I like AEW helicopters but I don’t think it is feasible from anything other than amphibious assault ships or similar. Even ship-based radars of modest ability can detect aircraft out to 100 miles. An AEW helo increases that to around 200. Is that increase worth the cost of having one less ASW helo? Not only that, but a single helicopter will only give you AEW coverage for a short amount of time each day (meaning most of the trip will still lack the ability)

      It is hard to see such a specialized helo bringing the necessary value to be utilized by single ships that operate independently.

      Delete
    6. AEW offers several huge advantages;
      - serving as picket on the main threat axis
      - surface ships don't need to emit themselves
      - horizon is much farther than feasible with superstructure-, mast- or even kite-mounted sensors

      Furthermore, please note I proposed a SASW-SOW equivalent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UUM-125_Sea_Lance
      This frees helicopters from the need to carry LWTs themselves and thus increases the endurance of ASW helos. This reduces the need for ASW helos a bit (despite constant maintenance hours per flying hour).

      Concerning quantity of helos; the background for my opinion is that I'm endeared by ARAPAHO and think that the helos can operate from a replenishment ship or even a auxiliary warship (freighter). In fact, I think a convoy of cargo ships could self-defend without escorts if equipped for it (the payload and volume of a FFG or DDG pales in comparison to what freighters offer). Dedicated escort ships are superior only if the screening works really well (= probable only if many escorts are available; sub-launched missiles can attack from rear, but VLFASS sweep needs to be up front. Long endurance torpedoes are also too small for reliable detection with VLFASS.) sweeps).

      A convoy protection scheme of container modules for installation on the ships that need protection is almost unthinkable to every naval bureaucracy; they want officer careers, ship hulls, something to play with and show off in peacetime.
      The USN as of today is as uninterested in cargo convoy security as the USN of early 1942. There's no way they would accept an answer for convoy security that doesn't serve the navy's self interests.

      Delete
    7. SO, I'm fascinated by your self-escorting convoy concept. I'll have to give it some thought. That said, I think you're vastly underestimating the scope and complexity of what's needed to self-escort. To be fair, you addressed the concept in a couple of sentences so I can hardly blame you for not covering every detail!

      A self-escorting convoy would need a robust AAW and ASW capability as well as a modest ASuW (that threat being far less likely for a generally rear area convoy).

      AAW would need not only a decent radar (for sake of discussion, let's say that the helo AEW is sufficient) but a communications suite and data link to transmit data to the "shooters", whoever and whatever they are. The comms/data link would need to be secure, robust, and encrypted which requires highly sophisticated equipment on both ends. It also requires a command and control capability (a commander and whatever staff might be necessary) with the ability to view an overall air, surface, and subsurface picture from which to make decisions. The targeting data would need to be linked to VLS/Mk29(?) shooting ESSM(?). It is unclear to me that we can actually completely forego illuminators but let's say we can for this discussion. These launchers are not readily modularized so I don't know how you intend to field them. Maybe you're thinking only short range SeaRAM? That, too, while modular to an extent, is not something that can be slapped on a ship and expected to function in a few hours. Regardless, it needs a control capability as well so that the unit can be placed in its various operating modes, as appropriate.

      I can go on (and ASW is even more complex) but you get the idea that these capabilities are not something that can be built into a module box and craned aboard a ship and expected to immediately work.

      Simple things like mapping out electronic interference and dead zones due to the host ship are necessary but very time consuming.

      Keeping the helos operating over the many days of a convoy will require extensive shops, spare parts, tools, computerized diagnostics, munition magazines, lubricant tanks, fuel storage, and umpteen other things. The crew to operate them will require berthing, heads, showers, a galley, food storage, potable water, utilities, etc.

      My overall point is that by the time you've added all that to a cargo ship and integrated and trained up the crew, you've basically created a warship, albeit a substandard one. What have you really gained?

      As I said, a fascinating concept and one I'll think on but my initial reaction is skepticism that it's hugely oversimplified.

      Feel free to tell me more about it.

      Delete
    8. The difference is that containers with electronics can be produced quickly - even quicker than 1,000 ton ASW corvettes in WW2.
      The U.S. has three real shipyards, all used to milking the taxpayer and not to real competition (none of them score on the export market). The U.S. shipbuilding capacity is second to Croatia's and Poland's on some metrics.
      http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2014/05/global-shipbuilding-industries.html
      Other Western countries don't have much more shipbuilding capacity either (though the German one is at least competitive in niches including large cruise ships, SSI and FFGs).
      Western shipbuilding capacity is dwarfed by South Korean and PR Chinese capacity. I strongly doubt that SK shipyards would be of much help if the PRC decides to arms race at sea.

      The Chinese could launch a conventional warship arms race any time, and win it in less than a decade. By that time the USN might have reacted with ten Burkes and maybe a LCS module design finalised given its incompetent procurement.

      So a containerised approach of self-defending convoys is really the only one that works for securing transoceanic trade against SSIs and AMCs.

      All what it takes can be containerised. I actually think that towed sonars might be the most troublesome item for containerisation (especially if the ship has no suitable area at the stern). AAW, helo, ASuW, C4 and decoys of all kinds can be broken down into container-sized packages fairly easily.
      Salt water spray issues are likely more severe challenges than electromagnetic interferences.

      Land-based area air defence is done with heavy-truck sized components. Russians have shown containerised AShM already.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbJ2nZWc1BA
      Furthermore, the British have already gained some experience with what it takes during the Falklands War.

      There's another charm to the approach: Many non-mil-industrial complex companies would be eligible for tenders. There would be real competition and some competitive markets-proven project management skills available. With new warship designs you're bound to grab into the dung again and again for you have non choice. To import a ship is almost twice as expensive as it sounds for buying domestically means about 40-60% of the expense returns as tax revenue etc. The U.S. as net arms exporter does not agree to offset deals, so there's no way around the rotten ship design and rotten shipbuilding problem other than getting bids from non-rotten companies.

      Delete
  16. I'm not sure I understand your reasoning in how you count the need for Burkes.

    It seems like you are saying A) only carriers will require escort ships capable of engaging in warfare in the air, sea, and subsurface during times of war. And B) non-carrier ships requiring escorts will not have to deal with multi-dimensional threats, so their escorts will not require multi-dimensional capability. Therefore, we should stop building more Burkes and reallocate that money for more specialized ships that have been neglected.

    Do I have you right?

    The part I am struggling with is the idea that an effective escort doesn't require the ability to engage threats from the air, surface, and subsurface. The Burke is unique in the Navy inventory because it can operate independently and still provide area air defense, OTH surface engagement, and credible ASW prosecution. If it is true most escorts don't require multi-dimensional weapons systems, then why do we need Burkes at all?

    In my view, if we are serious about reducing the number of Burkes, we would need a ship that replaces their ability to operate independently (albeit with reduced range and sustainability). I think a ship like the Formidable class of Singapore fits the bill nicely. It displaces 3200 tons and requires a third of the crew as a Burke. That would translate to roughly a third of the procurement and operating costs. If we were to acquire two dozen of these ships as a one to one replacement for Burkes, we would free up money for more specialized ships without compromising our ability to operate a high number of ships independently.

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  17. A surfeit of Burkes definitely means that the Navy has no excuse for not taking some of the flight II's and have them train and focus primarily on ASW.
    If we only needed say 40 for the present size of the force then out of the 62 built , we could have over 20 available to be ASW-centric in their training and deployment. I am not talking about rebuilds or new ASW builds just a new focus. Rather than token ASW practice spread over the fleet, this would be their bread & butter with commanders focused on it and perhaps even some personnel who have previously worked on subs themselves.

    Should the USN ever come to its senses and introduce a true ASW platform (such as the new DE often discussed here) then the ASW-centric trained Burkes could act as command ships coordinating ASW operations, while providing them with AAW cover.

    As a somewhat crazier suggestion, I remember reading in "Electronic Greyhounds" how the Spruance hull was once proposed for a sea lane control ship. If the Navy (and the contractor's friends in Congress) insist on continuing production regardless of common sense, perhaps an SlCS variant of the Burkes could be made. Removing the aft VLS, torpedo room, etc could allow an 4-5 helo hanger, and then the flight deck could be slightly enlarged. This would leave it with roughly the same overall size but with enough extra helos to increase ASW coverage without making the ship so large as to be a bigger target like the amphib carriers usually talked about for a Sea Lane Control Ship.

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting idea! It looks like you could fit four SH-60s side by side, and perhaps squeeze in a second landing zone if you placed the hanger just abaft the aft funnel. Removing the VLS would save enough weight to carry the extra fuel for expanded ops. Not sure where the extra tanks go, though

      The biggest headache would probably be moving the ship control center, which occupies the space that the Hanger would take. You could perhaps move it down one deck, aft of the Engine room, where the bottom of the VLS now sits. You may also need to fit extra living space for the added air and chopper maintenance crew. Still for a major mod, that's not a huge amount of redesign.

      Delete
  18. "You can be good at only one thing with limited training time and the Navy chooses to have the Burkes be good at ASW/BMD."

    I think you meant "AAW/BMD".

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    1. Oops! My mistake. I've corrected and updated the post. Good catch. Thanks!

      Delete
  19. I wonder what's your definition for "we need to", for it's certainly not the same as for "we need to in order to deter war and defend ourselves if deterrence fails".

    Your "we need to" sounds like "we need to in order to become better at bombing very distant countries".

    No other country only even has 4 aircraft carriers, why would the USA "need" 15 (in addition to the amphibious warfare flattops which by themselves are more carrier power than the rest of the non-allied world has)?

    How is there a "shortfall" of submarines when no other navy has as many, and NATO as a whole has much, much more subs than the rest of the world combined?

    I mean, when is it "enough" ability to bomb very, very distant countries? 1,000 more cruise missiles launch tubes and 500 more carrier planes? Or do you "need" 2,000 more tubes and 1,000 more planes? Maybe 3,000 and 2,000?
    Where's an objective "enough" and how is it defined?

    In my book, the only actual "defense" need for an aircraft carrier is for providing a fighter defence for transoceanic convoys. There's no defensive need for carriers if the action is within practical range of (much more cost-efficient) land-based combat aviation. All other uses outside of such a range are about offensive actions.

    Was there any measurable benefit to the ordinary American from bombing a Sudanese fertilizer factory, Libya multiple times, Lebanon, Iraq multiple times, Vietnam for many years, Yemen?
    Who got healthier, who got a job that wouldn't have been created by civilian spending, who had this property protected?

    Your "we need to" sounds to me like instructions of a football fan who discusses what pros his favourite team should hire. For games. Not for essentials or even only his own well-being. Only for entertainment.

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    1. Setting aside the political aspects of your comment, since this is not a political blog, the answer to what we "need" lies in our global responsibilities and missions. You can agree or disagree (clearly you disagree) with America's role in the world but that role requires a degree of military strength that is not required by any other country. When (not if, but when) the next world war comes, the US will bear the bulk of the fighting. For that, we will need all the assets I've mentioned and then some. Consider the lessons of WWII in terms of military size and force structure.

      The US generates various military analyses that examine our missions, strategies, and force requirements. That's where the "enough" gets defined and that's where my data, suitably modified by my own analyses, comes from. The numbers are not arbitrary. They are based on military operational analyses. As I said, agree or disagree but the numbers are based on factual analyses. That's your answer.

      Caution: If you opt to reply, bear in mind that this is not a political blog and I will not allow a purely political discussion. Yes, there is an interconnection between politics and military but I'll only allow a very limited degree of politics. Keep it military, in general, and naval, in particular!

      Delete
    2. Even assuming all those responsibilities actually generated "needs" that may be spelled as "needs" without always mentioning under what very specific assumptions those are needs...

      The quantities "needed" under such assumptions are a function of the decision to patrol in very distant waters, the % of time the ships are at sea and the cruise speed.
      The "needs" would be MUCH smaller than that if the patrolling was given up and the navy instead concentrated at West and East Coast, with but a few ships cruising for exercises with Europeans, Japanese and Australians.

      The wartime demand would be smaller than the peacetime patrolling demand (because patrolling in other places than the warzone would suddenly and mysteriously become dispensable), and that's the wrong way around.

      Besides, "demand" is actually a very fine word for expressing what you meant. "need" without any specification of assumptions is pretending a strength of legitimacy and an absoluteness that is not supported.

      I blog myself (including political), and I think to treat an armed service as the bureaucracy with self-interests that it is isn't really political. The very nature of an armed service is first and foremost that it's an bureaucracy. Every insider experienced this, I suppose.

      Delete
  20. CNO,

    "The Navy has failed so badly at new ship designs that I completely understand their desire to stick with something that works but the answer is not to stick with an old design but to improve how you build new ones."

    So instead you're going to rely on the Underpants Gnome theory...

    1. Stop Burke Construction
    2. ???
    3. NAVSEA will design to low cost highly capable suface combatant of the future.

    This argument makes since in the context of several of the Naval Reform articles that you've posted previously or if cancelling DDG's would make way for the alternative missions that you've listed above. But in a world where such change isn't on the horizon and the Navy still requires addition FF/DD/CG type hulls, terminating the Burke's without an alternative design is premature.


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    1. If your concern is that we don't have a new design ready I'd fully support developing the design before we actually stop production of the Burkes. The key point is that until we commit to stopping production, there won't be any incentive to make a new design. I have no problem with announcing that we will stop Burke production in one year (or two or five or whatever). That will provide the incentive to quickly come up with a new design and still continue production in the meantime. I think you're taking some of this way too literally.

      We should be producing design studies for new ships on a continuous basis. Stopping Burke production should be a simple matter of taking the most recent design study and moving forward to production. It should be no big deal.

      I've already and repeatedly described how we should be able to go from design to production in five years so it's really no risk to our overall fleet size.

      Are you aware that we already "stopped" Burke production? We ended production in 2011 under the belief that we would build new design ships. Of course, that never happened and we restarted production four years later. The point being that even an abrupt termination in production is not a catastrophic event!

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