Sunday, March 24, 2013

Naval Guns

The Burke class DDGs have a single 5” gun.

The Ticonderoga class CGs have two 5” guns.

The Spruance class DDs had two 5” guns.

A WWII Fletcher class DD had five 5” guns.

For better or worse, the 5” gun is the mainstay of naval gun armament for the modern U.S. Navy.  As such, our ships are woefully underarmed.  The Navy believes that gunnery engagements are a relic of the past much like the supposed demise of the dogfight after the Korean War.  The only problem was that the Viet Nam war proved that dogfights are eternal, planes need guns, and the Navy’s all-missile F-4 Phantom was ill-equipped for aerial combat.  The Phantom’s follow on, the F-14 Tomcat, reverted to guns and every Navy fighter since has retained that valuable lesson.

Now, though, the Navy believes that ship’s guns have no place in the modern age of anti-ship missile combat.  The single 5” gun on the Burke is a token placement intended more to placate Congressmen who want to see obvious weapons on ships than it is a serious weapon.  When conflict comes, the Navy will find that its ships, much like the Phantom, will have to fight up close and personal and will be ill-prepared.  We can make all the solemn pronouncements we want about the end of naval gun battles but that won’t change the inevitability of their need and use.  And, of course, there’s always the need for guns to provide fire support for troops on the ground.

Fletcher - Lesson for the Future?

Now, I recognize that short of actually going to war and finding out the hard way about the need for naval guns, there’s no way to prove my contention.  You either believe along with me or you don’t.  I won’t belabor the need any further.

Moving on and accepting the need for guns for the sake of further discussion, let’s look at the Navy’s application of guns. 

As noted, most ships in today’s Navy have only a single gun.  Similar to the rule of thumb for the helo (if you have one, you have none) which recognizes their susceptibility to failure, a single gun represents a single point of failure.  If anything goes mechanically wrong, you have no guns.  The Navy doesn’t accept single points of failure in other areas.  For instance, there’s a reason why Navy planes all have two engines (although, the Navy is about to break that common sense rule with the JSF);  it’s to accommodate Murphy’s Law and the single point of failure.  The Navy got rid the versatile Mk13 single arm missile launcher, in part, because it represented a single point of failure.  Why, then, does the Navy accept a single point of failure regarding guns on major warships?

If you only have a single gun, wouldn’t you want to protect it to the maximum extent possible?  WWII 5” gun mounts were protected by 1-2 inches of steel armor.  While this was not proof against a direct hit by a major caliber gun, it did ensure that it would take a direct hit to incapacitate the gun.  In other words, simple shrapnel couldn’t put the gun out of action.  Contrast this to today’s 5” gun mounts which are totally unprotected.  The mount covers are simply for protection from the weather and elements.  Shrapnel or even small arms fire can put a modern 5” gun out of action.  How long will today’s guns survive in battle?  Not long.

The Navy needs to recognize the continued combat utility of the naval gun by,

  • upsizing guns on major combatants to the 8” Mk71
  • armoring all 5” or larger gun mounts
  • providing multiple mounts on destroyer or larger sized ships

The Navy needs to get serious about combat and start designing ships that can fight up close as well as over the horizon.


  1. Very true. It used to be that second or third rate ships would handle duties like shore bombardment. In WWII the old battleships focused on amphibious landing support while the new ones supported carriers.

    If we had a couple of Spruances left we could turn them into austere land-attack destroyers with a Mk 71 forward and a 5"/62 aft. The VLS could carry tactical Tomahawks and ESSM quad packs. A large hangar for H-60s and UAVs. Low cost and almost all off-the-shelf.

    1. We still have the blueprints for the Spruance class destroyers. We can always rebuild them and modernize them and at the same time sell them to friendly allies.

    2. Nicky, that is not a bad idea! The only drawback to the Spruance design is that the hull form is not considered stealthy (the sides are more vertical as opposed to the stealthy slanted shape of a Burke, for instance) although I'm not even sure how much of a real world impact that has. The superstructure could be reworked as needed.

      If we made them ASW, land attack, and gun support (NSFS) vessels without Aegis they would be a relatively affordable vessel.

      Good thought!

    3. That's why I think the Spruance class destroyers, could be used as a GP destroyer/Frigate.

    4. It makes me cry to see wwe forgot so many leasons of the last century.

      1) The real LAS (Land Attack Spruance) had two Mk45 Mode 4, as Dreadnought taugh us the advantage of using a single sized guns.

      2) The 8in Mk-71 may be larger but carried fewer rounds than the Mk 45. And The ERGM would not fit the 8 inch barrel.

      3) Using LASM(Land Attack Sandard Missile) would provide a larger warhead with better accuracy.

      4)If possible, modify the hanger and Mk29 space tomatch the Air capable (DDH) version of the Spruance.

    5. That's why I am all for rebuilding the Spruance class destroyers and incorporate Stealth technology, APAR Radar and the Thales Nederland SMART-L long-range surveillance radar. They can be classed as GP destroyers with Land attack, Naval Gun fire support for Marines. Even install the Oto Melara 127/64 Lightweight (LW) naval gun with the Vulcano module.

    6. ERGM is dead long ago. The technology is un-workable.

      LASM is another ancient relic. Even if the concept works, the range is way too short for any practical land attack usage. I rather go with a navalized ATACMS variant.

      Spruance class destroyers and incorporate Stealth technology? Are we talking about a new hull here? You also mentioned a new radar suite. Don't forget that Oto Melara 127 light gun requires a totally different fire control system. Again that sounds like a new ship to me. It's even more riskier and expansive than Burke Flight3 proposal.

    7. Anonymous, The LAS proposal was developed about ten years ago, while ERGM and LASM were both in development. It was an real attempt to provide a short term subsitute for the then delayed DD(x). At the time there were still many Spruances active in the fleet, and it was estimate the 14 had enough hull life left to make it possible.

      Some believe that it was the LAS proposal that push the SINKEXing of the remaining Sprances. I was one of the proponents of that update at the time, and did wonder about it.

      It is highly unlikely that we build more Spruances, as they require to much manpower. A new design based on DDG-1000 would be cheaper to build and operated over the long run.

    8. Anon, the LASM has range of 280 kilometers. The ATACMS has a range of 300 kilometers. You're complaining over a 20 kilometer difference? Hell, the LASM could go even further if you made it a bit taller like the 6 meter RIM-174. Now if its warheads you're talking about then the ATACMS wins flat out. But don't pretend like the LASM was/is an ancient relic that cannot be upgraded or fielded today.

  2. Could we use the DDG-51 hull remove the forward VLS cells and install 2 Mk-71's?

    I would say use the Spruances but they have a thinner hull. I think we need to get away from that. May be worth it to just do a new hull more armor about the same length as the 51's but more specialized to close in support (in other words a Real tool to deal with swarm attacks) and NGFS.

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  4. Why waste time on 5" mounts?

    If your goal is more & better shore bombardment then go for a 155mm mount. It would be a larger shell with a lot more flexibility thanks to ammo compatibility.

    I'm sure you could borrow from the AGS and also include a large muzzle brake to lessen recoil stress.

    The move to 155mm gives you not only a larger unguided rounds, but also access to whole host of PGMs from GPS, to laser, to cluster, etc.

    All those are available now, without much further development needed.

    1. AGS has no unguided rounds. Whats more none of the rounds are in reality Shells at all. They are 7 ft missiles launched out of a tube.

      Whats more 8in MK-71 has a faster fire rate, has already been built and tested once and we have A lot of experience building them.

      Also 8 in rounds carry more power.

      The dream of 100 nmi cannon fire is insane unless its with something like a saboted 16in round. Even then the lag time from firing to impact are staggering. The AGS is 9 min for example.

      For shore bombardment the 8in and up is just a superior weapon.

    2. Part of the problem though is the actual battle scenario. If you just want a lot of firepower on a beach then an MLP loaded with M777s will do that just fine.

      Both an MLP or any other naval ship within 15-25nmi range of modern defended shoreline (effectively the range of the M777 to 8 inch naval gun with unassisted projectiles) are equally dead in a non permissive environment given the realistic response times vs mobile shore fired super sonic or sub sonic anti-ship missiles.

      Even doing a beach assault in a modern non-permissive environment is basically suicide. If we don't have complete air superiority with complete anti-missile coverage, it simply isn't going to happen. A modern 25mm auto-cannon with modern ammo will chew through any of our amphibious craft with ease.

      For actual fire support, the AGS will likely largely be useless but it does provide a relatively low cost option for targeted strikes to targets in a permissive environment provided by forward operating special forces or other advanced units. If should also be possible to do a base bleed version with much larger explosive charge for shorter range engagements.

      So my basic contention, against it peer or near peer enemy, naval fire support either cannot be carried out by any naval gun or it can be carried out by basic artillery loaded on effectively a large barge. In either case neither an 8inch nor the AGS provide a great solution.

      And honestly, if you really wanted a navel fire support solution, modernizing two 16 inch gun ships and their guns would probably not beat an MLP loaded with M777s considering you should be able to fit 25-30 of them in a single line plus rather large amounts of ammunition.

      I just don't see a valid reason to be focused of new weapons for NGS given the realities of the modern battlefield. If we ever get into a situation where we have to actually contemplate a real large scale amphibious assault of a hostile peer/near peer, we're going to be in full blown WW3 territory and realistically we are going to have to mobilize the industrial base to build new ships and landing vehicle that can handle it. At that point, we'll likely see many ship designs that don't currently exist.

      We're going to need large numbers of ships with several hundred VLS slots to be slaved to AEGIS+ command vessels to provide anti-aircraft and anti-missile coverage. We're going to need large numbers of fire support ships or MLRS ships for barrage and fire support. We're going to need an entirely new fleet of amphib assault vehicles that can approach with speed and stealth in order to have any chance of reaching shore (and those vehicles will likely be semi-submersibles, think 30-40 feet underwater with snorkels for stealth and protection, no modern cannon does well with even a couple feet of water to penetrate).

      But for anything less than that, a simple gun barge should be able to meet out needs and we can actually make those pretty quickly and easily with out existing equipment.

    3. Anon, you've made some enormous statements and implied assumptions. For starters, I'm on record as saying that large scale amphibious assaults are highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. That aside, let's look at your main assumption.

      Correct me if I'm misunderstanding you. You believe that amphib assaults are not possible today due to shore launched anti-ship missiles. If that's really the case, that leads one to ask why we have a Marine Corp and why we have amphibious ships. Leaving that question for another time, you attribute, by implication, an infallible level of performance to the defender's missiles (they'll target and sink every ship) and a total inability on the part of the attacking force to defend against anti-ship missiles. I refer you to Hughes Fleet Tactics book wherein he presents data on every known anti-ship missile attack and the results. The reality is that against passively defended ships, anti-ship missiles have only a 20% or so success rate. So, the reality is that anti-ship missiles are a threat but not a highly successful one. Throw some active AAW defense into the mix and the assault force should be able to survive. Will there be damage and losses? Certainly. That's the nature of warfare. The assaulting force should be sure that the potential gains from the assault warrant the potential losses before they begin.

      Somewhere along the way, we've taken on the notion that we can't conduct an assault because there's risk. Well, of course there's risk. The Navy is supposedly built to stand in harm's way. It's part of the job description.

      Movoing on, your idea of a barge full of artillery is conceptually appealing but has some potential practical problems. Have you thought through the corrosion/maintenance aspects of Army artillery on a barge exposed to saltwater? The historical success record for adaptation of land weapons to naval platforms is exceedingly poor.

      Further, what about the accuracy? I'm not an artillery expert, by any means, so I may be completely wrong, here, but it seems that artillery is accurate due to the firing piece being in a stable location. Aboard ship, even on a barge, the firing platform is constantly moving, not just across the surface but rolling up and down in the waves. Naval guns are gyro-stabilized to compensate. I would think that simply lining up a bunch of artillery on a barge would produce wildly inaccurate fire.

      Your thoughts?

    4. I believe that amphib assaults on modern day peer/near peer counties aren't possible unless it is already a permissive environment. That means that the vast majority of their naval forces and forward deployed aircraft have been destroyed or disabled and that their forward deployed land based anti-ship weapons have been destroyed or disabled. At that point, the purpose of an amphib assault is to secure initial harbor and runway facilities for a land warfare build up. In that scenario, the ships provides NGS are in realistically little to no danger. If its safe enough to get a amphib mother-ship in range, its safe enough for a barge.

      As far as the non permissive environment for an amphib assault, we would be facing extremely large numbers of both land based anti-ship missile, enemy bombers and fighters, conventional submarines, and various other potential asymmetrical strategies. As far as anti-ship missiles go, I'm not aware of a conflict in recent history involving large numbers of anti-ship missiles. For example, in a conflict with say china, unless we have completely air and sea dominance, it is likely that any amphib ship or destroyer within range of the shore would face several hundred YJ-8/C-802/3 missiles from both land based launchers and the various small littoral chinese FAC such as the Type 022 which they are building at a rate of over 10 per year. FYI, so far the original 20+ year old version of the YJ-8 is 2 for 2 in actual hostile live fire. Hit probability for the more modern variants is in the 90+% range. And lest we forget, numbers can make up for an awful lot (which is a lesson our military leaders tend to constantly forget to their detriment).

      There is a disconnect on the risk between you and me. For a peer/near-peer, I believe that to conduct a successful amphib (defined as putting an actual shore/land based force/base ashore), we will need to have essentially complete control of both the sea and air as well as done significant levels of bombing such that the enemy could only must a handful of anti-ship missiles. Anything less will likely result in significant combat losses of personal, almost assuredly losses of combat worthy ships, and almost assuredly failure to get a permanent footing. AKA, if the enemy has much more beyond small arms, it is highly likely that the risk isn't worth the reward.

      As far as the artillery... I believe we have a fairly large surplus of M198s that correct me if I am wrong, have been routinely transported and deployed in amphib training (being the primary artillery of the marines as well as the army until their replacement by the M777 due to its lighter weight owing to mostly titanium construction). If additional anti-corrosion work was actually required, it is highly likely that it would be more cost effective than either a rather expensive re-gunning of most of the fleet or reactivation of the 16 inch gun reserve ships.

      For accuracy, either stabilization platforms can be built or the artillery can be time fired with the ship in a level state when dead accurate fire is required. From my understanding, the majority of navel support fire has historically not been strictly contingent on accuracy with a large portion of it being wide area fire. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

      Now, maybe it will require more design work than just plopping M198s or M777 on the deck of an MLP, but for NGS, the idea of reusing the vast amount of the 155m artillery on a modular gun barge seems like a good idea. It seems like it would do everything we need it to do for the cases where we've used NGS in the last 50+ years. It certainly seems like the most cost effective solution (DDG-1000 certainly isn't cost effective, and I doubt upgrading all the Burkes to 8 inch guns would be either). So I guess the real question, is what would it cost to make a gyro-stabilization system for the M198/M777 that can be plopped onto all or a portion of the MLP deck?

    5. A barge with artillery might sound good lying on the beach on a nice summer day in Miami, but it would have been a disaster on the night of June 5-6, 1944 in the middle of a storm. And a MLP or barge might not do so well if the enemy decides to fire back. At least on a destroyer the crew is below decks protected from the weather, on a platform built to tougher naval specifications. And the ship can change its course and speed quickly if it needs to, making it more difficult to hit.

      I like the Mk 71. I think it’s the best option to rejuvenating the fleet’s naval gunfire. It can be retrofitted onto some ships whereas the AGS is too big for anything not built around it. And the 8” can use unguided rounds when volume of fire and not precision is needed. Like in harassing or suppressing.

      Since the Spruances are gone, we have by my count four Ticonderogas mothballed and available for use. Strip the SPY arrays, perhaps even cut the superstructure down to where the Spruance class was at, and turn it into a 8” & 5”/62 platform.

    6. Keep in mind; manufacturers always claim their missiles/guns are wonder weapons. The Russian claims about their SAMs and tanks didn’t live up to the reality of Desert Storm. Our weapons work as well as they do because of incredible attention to detail from design to manufacturing to employment. Something lacking in many Chinese or some Russian weapons. I’m not saying that every missile fired at the US Navy in a future conflict is going to fail or be a dud, but I don’t think it will be a 90% success rate either.

    7. WGM, you say that the Ticos are mothballed and available for use/upgrades/modifications. My understanding is that the retired Ticos are slated for scrapping and are NOT being preserved (mothballed). As documented in an earlier post, the USN only has about a dozen ships that actually mothballed (CatB) as we typically think of it. Do you have information to the contrary?

    8. Anon, you suggest that an amphib assault against a defended shore will result in total defeat and significant destruction of the attacking force due to anti-ship missiles fired from land. I suggested that that was nowhere near the case. Here are the data from Hughes book wherein he lists the results of all known anti-ship missile attacks.

      Against undefended targets such as tankers, anti-ship missiles have achieved a hit rate of 91%.

      Against passively defended warships (defense limited to ECM and decoys) anti-ship missiles have achieved a hit rate of 26% (32 hits from 121 missiles).

      The 26% hit rate can't be ignored but neither is it inherently prohibitive. Add a layer of active defense (Aegis/Standard/Phalanx/RAM) on top of the passive and the hit rate ought to drop to around 5% or less. That certainly does not suggest that amphib assaults have become impossible.

      Further thoughts?

    9. Unfortunately, in this case all known anti-ship missile attacks are irreverent. What matters is modern anti-ship missiles that our adversaries are likely to have like the Chinese C802/3 which has a 100% hit rate so far in hostile action and that was for the original design that is 20 years old. The modern ones are much better with more advanced electronics. The modern seeker for the C802/3 is suppose to be very good against jamming and ECM. There is some support for it being the best current ASM out there atm.

      So, I think that the probability to hit is higher than you are assuming and that the number used would be fairly high as well from a combination of land based launchers and the fleet of Hobei-class FAC.

    10. No, nothing to the contrary, just going by the number of Ticos stricken and not scrapped at this time. Wishful thinking. One would hope we could bring a couple back to act as 8" platforms. I know the Tico is on donation hold for a museum, so hopefully its condition is decent. I included the Port Royal, since by all accounts the grounding has irrevocably damaged the ship as an AAW asset. I don't see why it can't do naval gunfire and UAVs.

  5. Great discussion and great points, guys. Here are a few things that must be explored:

    The only 155mm system that has a chance is the 155mm version of the Mk71 proposed and redesigned by FMC (now United Defense). BAE could very well adapt the Mk45 and up-size/up-gun the mount to accommodate a 155mm/60 caliber barrel and associated support structure. The 155 is the minimum possible effective caliber for gunfire support. The Navy has already stated that 8-inch is the smallest caliber to perform all of the missions the Navy has for surface warfare (ASuW and NSFS). Five-inch has of course been acknowledged for the past 60 years to be a maximum of a secondary battery ONLY providing harassment fire. Five-inch fire is only effective if the gun/ship can deliver over 60 rounds per minute on target.

    The Mk71 8"/60caliber gun is the way to go, without question.

    The Spruance-class hull is an EXCELLENT hull to start with to produce a future surface combatant. There is a modernization available for the Ticonderoga-class CGs (Spruance-class hull) where the beam would be increased by 10' to provide for greater mine and cruise missile protection. The extra beam would not only increase survivability but would allow for the angle required to make an RCS reduced super structure without reducing the internal volume enjoyed by the Spruance-class DDs. The Spruance-class hull can support a Mk71 forward most, 48-cell VLS between the super structure and the Mk71, a Mk71 in place of the weapons module aft of the helo pad (Mk29 launcher on Sprucans and aft Mk41 VLS on Ticos), and a Mk45 gun furthest aft. This would provide a ship with 2 8" guns, a 5" gun, 48-cells of Mk41 VLS, 2 H-60 helos/UAVs, and everything a Spruance provides.

    No problem, feasible, and ready to go. Get to it. Make it happen.

  6. Forget about those legancy weapons. The navy ought to focus on the future, that's directed energy. A practical railgun is within the reach my friend.

    1. And within reach being defined as past the retirement age of any navy ship either in service or being constructed. Still quite a ways to go for an actual deployable one.

  7. A 36 megajoule rail gun projectile can reach target hundreds of miles away with effective lethality of a half-ton high explosive warhead (Tomahawk class). You can have so many rounds on board and restock them quickly if necessary, unlike missile canisters sitting inside VLS. One weapon can handle multiple missions: naval gun fire support, land attack, anti-surface warfare, air defense. The potential is huge.

  8. According to various sources, cruiser modernization includes the replacement of 54cal Mk54Mod2 gun with longer barrel 62cal Mk54Mod4. But looking at pictures of Bunker Hill which already went through the upgrade, I can't tell it has new guns, or at least the gun mounts are un-changed (the old style "non-stealth" structures are still there). Is that possible to replace the gun itself without changing the gun mount? Anybody can comment on that?

    1. Bunker Hill has MK 45/Mod4 Guns residing in a Mod2 enclosure. The larger shell on Mod4 guns allows the maintenance man to access the upper gun from the weather decks, instead of from only inside the mount via the intrusion barrier. It was seen as an unnecessary upgrade to the weapon system.

  9. Advocates of railguns have not explained how they will deliver a solid-body unguided round accurately at several hundred miles distance. CEP has not gone away simply because the projectile is moving at hyper-velocity speeds.

    They have not provided evidence of what the useful life of a railgun barrel will be in actual service.

    They do not have a defensible set of technology maturity studies which indicate just what a truly useful railgun's total shipboard footprint might be for a reliable system which can deliver precision-guided high-lethality munitions in high volumes at long ranges.

    Last but not least, they do not have a basis of testing experience which is sufficiently robust to predict with any reasonable certainty how much more development work remains before a truly useful railgun can be fielded.

    Advocates of railguns have not come anywhere close to demonstrating that their much- touted EM-launch technology could achieve the kind of combat performance that a properly funded 8-inch MCLWG program could achieve, if it were to be given near-term funding priority.

    As things stand today, the railgun development effort is nothing more than a window-dressing program which allows the Navy's senior leadership to claim they are working diligently on a long-term solution for NGFS needs, while in fact they continue to ignore the many possibilities afforded by using the latest and greatest in conventional NGFS technology.

    1. The ballistics actually work out that they are fairly accurate given their velocity and hence time to target. Given the realistic velocity required for an actual deployable weapon, 200 mile time to target is in the range of 1 minute. Due to their velocities, flight time, and flight paths, they are much less susceptible to atmospheric interference. So it really comes down to normal artillery field ballistics and correction.

      Do I think we are anywhere close to being able to deploy a useful military grade railgun? No. But considering the funding cost and the ancillary uses for the experimental devices out there, it is likely worth the funding. Would I design any near term Navy ship around the deployment of one? Hell no.

  10. Going with a ballistic only 8” gun is equivalent to going back to dumb bombs on jets.

    There is a reason why most bombs dropped are PGMs. Smaller bombs that can be aimed at specific targets are more effective.

    The same holds true for shells.

    Instead of relying on a new 8” shell (still to be developed), from a new gun (still to be developed), that has to depend and a new supplychain, how about using an existing shell (155mm AGS shells), from an adapted gun (AGS-L), that can use an existing supplychain.

    Turns out BAE has proposed an adaptation of AGS for DDG-51. It weighs half as much as an AGS ans uses the same shells. Btw, the big LAGP is not the only shell for AGS as they plan on an adapted 155mm shell called Ballistic Long Range Projectile (BLRP). It looks to have an extended base-bleed cap and a range of 24nm. This puts it well below the horizon for shore ops.

    1. Marketing gimmick. The navy's latest official presentation on Burke FlightIII keeps the 5 inch gun, not a single mentioning of AGS-L.

    2. What marketing gimmick? It's a viable option to adapt an existing gun system in order to upgrade an existing platform.

      btw, there are MANY more rounds available for the 155 platform (both guided and unguided) than for the 127mm.

    3. My point is, every body can make up a PPT presentation. blah blah big deal. To make it into reality is another matter. Moving 6 inch caliber gun into the deck of a ship is not trivial. Germany tried and failed. The Brits thought about it and wisely gave it up. Given US's recent record of developing new weaponry, I have my doubts.

    4. They also tried, and gave up on the idea of a 8" gun on a destroyer for inaccuracy and other issues.. yet some are still pushing for it.

      My point is that the AGS is a known commodity (for the most part), is funded, has a supply chain, has a diverse field of shells to draw from, etc. This is why BAE proposed AGS-L as it would be easier to do than a 8" mount. An AGS would also have a much smaller recoil footprint than an 8" gun.

    5. Mr. SpudmanWP, do you have any information as to why the full size 155mm AGS is strictly limited to the 155mm LRLAP round -- which is actually a gun-launched gliding missile, not a true projectile -- while the AGS-L can also handle the smaller 155mm ASuW round, which appears from BAE's brochure to be a true projectile?

      Why can the smaller system handle the smaller 155mm ASuW round, while the larger system apparently cannot?

    6. SpudmanWP, you state that there are many more rounds available for the 155 AGS but to the best of my knowledge, the AGS is only capable of firing a single munition, the LRLAP. None of NATO's vast assortment of 155 mm rounds can be fired from the AGS (who's bright idea was that limitation???). The LRLAP is GPS/INS only which is why the AGS can't be used in an anti-surface mode against other ships.

      The AGS-L is claimed to be able to fire the LRLAP and a currently non-existent ballistic round.

      The AGS is an extremely limited gun, hence the interest in the more versatile 8". The AGS-L is purely a marketing proposal at this point and the Mk71 is developed and tested.

      Am I mistaken about any of this?


    7. I'm pretty sure they can do an ASuW ballistic round for both the AGS and AGS-L. The issue with NATO round compatibility seems to be that the AGS is smooth bore while the 155m is rifled. Haven't seen it explicitly stated that the AGS is smooth bore but it isn't stated to be rifled and fully fin stabilized ammunition design without a sacrificial band is consistent with a smooth bore design.

      The ASuW round is just a dumb round with the addition of fin stabilization which they could make rather easily rather quickly and as such haven't done it yet as it isn't part of the primary require for the contract.

      As for 8", we would need to create ammo and actual modern systems and infrastructure to support the 8" gun unless we wanted to put in an old school style 8" in which case that is increased manning requirements plus the new ammo. And to do the mission of the LRLAP would require a new advanced ammunition.

    8. The ballistic round for the full size AGS was cancelled a decade ago in 2003 for cost control reasons. As far as I know, 155mm LRLAP (or some variation thereof) will be the only ammunition type the full size AGS system will ever be able to handle.

      The full-size AGS gun mount and its automated ammunition handling system would have to be much more complicated in order to handle the two significantly different configurations of ammunition while still operating in fully automatic mode.

      The AGS-L is advertised as having a manual ammunition handling capability. Let's guess that it is the AGS-L's manual handling system which allows use of a 155mm conventional ballistic projectile as well as a 155mm LRLAP, but at lower ROF for both.

      Given that there will be very limited quantities of 155mm LRLAP ammunition actually procured, you have to wonder what advantage the full size AGS has over AGS Lite, other than a higher ROF.

    9. Both variants of the AGS are capable of firing ballistic ordnance in surface and AAW modes of operation. This change came about with the bastardization of LCS and the loss of CG(X) platforms. With it came access to the wide variety of ordnance already available to 155mm platforms.

    10. Anon, you state that both variants of the AGS are capable of firing ballistic rounds in surface and AAW modes and that each can fire existing NATO 155mm munitions (I think that's what you're saying). Every source I've read states that AGS has only one ammo type, the LRLAP. You're going to have to provide a source to support your statement.

  11. The other option is going for a superior 5 inch gun, Oto Melara 127. It has a longer barrel (64cal vs. Mk54Mod4's 62cal thus better ballistic performance and longer range), significant higher rate of fire, and a guided round for this gun already exists!

  12. I have to take issue with the statement that amphibious assaults are a thing of the past. After World War One’s Gallipoli campaign experts proclaimed that the use of indirect-fire howitzers and modern machineguns would wipe out any landing before it had reached the beach. Machine guns especially would “chew through” any craft that came within range. And in one sense the naysayers were right: LCVPs and LCMs could be devastated by machine gun fire as they were open-topped, slow, and thinly armored. But if naval gunfire and air support were coordinated tightly with the waves of incoming amtracs and landing craft, then you could get enough men and material ashore to make it worthwhile. Not painless, as places like Normandy and Tarawa showed, but possible.

    There are three big differences I see with any future amphibious assault: Helo and hovercraft usage, greater standoff from the ships to shore, and a greater area of the shore must be suppressed.

    Standoff in an age of cruise missiles is only sensible for the ships. But if you want to keep the rate of flow of vehicles and supplies the same, faster means are needed. That’s where the helos, tilt-rotors, and LCAC come in; but they also expand the amount of coastline accessible for landing. An LCVP or LCM can only land on about 20% of the world’s coasts; with an LCAC it’s more like 80%. That makes it much harder for the enemy to prepare and dig in where the assault will be. The reason Normandy was so well defended was precisely because the Wehrmacht knew it was one of the only good beaches for a large scale LCM landing.

    Helos also allow that first wave to land beyond the beach, behind enemy troops dug in “Atlantic Wall” style. One could look at each V-22 as nearly equal in troop lift as a LCVP; each CH-53E as a surrogate for an early LCM. That’s a lot of people hitting the ground in a large, coordinated mass behind the coast.

    With modern artillery and guided munitions there is a need to expand the area ashore that needs to be sanitized or suppressed than during WWII. But Marines back then didn’t have Cobras and UAVs; nor did they have spy satellites, AEW, and SatCom.

    Again, this is not to say that any future assault, of any size, will be easy. But it will be possible if the NCA demands it.

    I'm really tired of the straw man of Normandy/Inchon. If an F-16 can do what multiple B-17s did, why is only a multiple division sized landing World War Two-style the only justification for the USMC? Of more recent history is how the equivalent of a Regimental Landing Team tied down several divisions of the Iraqi army on the Kuwaiti coast in 1991, without a single Marine going ashore. The Iraqis honored the threat because the Navy/Marine Corps team spent decades working on doing amphibious assaults. I believe Sun Tzu would approve of that.

    Yes, there hasn’t been a large landing since Inchon, but neither has there been an atomic bomb dropped in anger since Nagasaki. Yet no one is seriously suggesting that nuclear weapons need to be scrapped - deterrence is what they provide. It’s the same with amphibious assault. Any planner in Beijing, Tehran, or Pyongyang is VERY aware of what the USMC is capable of, along with other unique assets like the 82nd. That becomes a real wild card when trying to plan something like an invasion of South Korea or Taiwan. All without firing a shot.


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