Friday, February 24, 2017

Threat Surrogates

The Navy thinks nothing of spending billions for new ships, aircraft, and weapons – even ones with questionable performance – and yet what does the Navy spend on testing of these systems?  Only a tiny fraction, by comparison.  Worse, what does the Navy spend on threat surrogates to ensure that the testing they do engage in is meaningful?  Almost nothing.  In fact, in many cases, there are no realistic threat surrogates which means there is no realistic testing possible. 

Let’s take a wander through the DOT&E 2016 Annual Report and see how widespread this problem is.

Submarines – The Navy lacks a realistic diesel submarine or surrogate which is necessary for testing the BQQ-10 submarine sonar system.

“Perform an ASW event against a high-end, diesel-electric, hunter-killer submarine …”

Torpedoes – The Navy lacks realistic, threat-representative torpedo surrogates.

“In September 2015, the Navy completed a formal study that identified capability gaps in currently available torpedo surrogates and presented an analysis of alternatives for specific investments to improve threat emulation ability. The Navy has since taken the following actions to address the identified capability gaps:

- The Navy received funding through an FY16 Resource Enhancement Project (REP) proposal and is currently in development of a threat-representative high-speed quiet propulsion system.

- The Navy submitted an FY17 REP proposal to develop a General Threat Torpedo (GTT) that is intended to expand upon the propulsion system under development and provide representation of threat torpedoes in both acoustic performance and tactical logic.”

Lack of a suitable surrogate hinders Zumwalt testing.

“The threat torpedo surrogates currently available for operational assessment of the Zumwalt-class destroyer have significant limitations in their representation of threat torpedoes.”

Cruise Missiles – The Navy lacks representative cruise missile surrogates.

“…although SeaRAM has demonstrated some capability against ASCM threats, the lack of ASCM surrogate targets to adequately represent advanced ASCM threats combined with the paucity of test data does not support a meaningful and quantitative assessment of SeaRAM’s ability to provide the DDG 51 class with an adequate self-defense against threat ASCMs.”

DOT&E’s recommendation: 

“Develop threat surrogate aerial targets that adequately represent advanced ASCM threats.”

Closely related to realistic threat surrogates is the need for realistic test bed platforms for Aegis.  As DOT&E suggested,

“Provide the necessary funding to support the procurement of an advanced air and missile defense radar [AMDR/SPY-6] and Aegis-equipped SDTS [Self Defense Test Ship] that are needed to support Aegis Modernization, advanced AMDR DDG 51 Flight III, and ESSM Block 2 operational testing.”

The lack of a realistic test bed – meaning a representative SDTS – jeopardizes Aegis modernization, AMDR/SPY-6 development and fielding, the Burke Flt III, and ESSM.  What is the Navy spending on those programs?  Billions.  What is the Navy spending on obtaining a realistic SDTS?  Zero.  The Navy is willing to risk ships and crew to save an infinitesimally small amount of money.  Here’s a thought …  The Navy is desperately trying to early retire the Aegis cruisers.   Why not convert one of them into an Aegis/AMDR SDTS?  The ship is there – already paid for.  The equipment is already mounted.  It only needs to have some simple automation added.

As a point of interest, the current SDTS is the former USS Foster, DD-964, a Spruance class destroyer.  Given that the bulk of our surface fleet consists of Aegis vessels – and soon to be AMDR/SPY-6 – the need for a representative SDTS is overwhelming.

The Navy thinks nothing of spending billions on highly questionable platforms like the LCS, Zumwalt, Ford, and LPD-17 but balks at spending the money necessary to actually test new weapons and platforms.  That’s utterly illogical.  That’s the Navy.


  1. I would venture to say that the excuse is it's too expensive to test, more likely, Navy would hate to test their beloved new toy and find out it doesn't work and news clippings of failures released to taxpayers..

    The other thing that came to mind reading your list, does USN or USAF look anymore at foreign equipment?

    For example, does the USN get to look at a new torpedo like a Black Shark or F21? Even if USN uses a M48 to test against it's own equipment, shouldn't they figure out a way to use some other country torpedo, even an older model? I don't think it's a good idea to always use USA gear vs USA gear in your testing and surrogates have some limits....even a test against an older model F21 or Spearfish could reveal something interesting....Almost all foreign manufacturers have export models that I'm sure USA could buy a few to use for testing against....

    Why hasn't USN leased a SS from Germany or some other foreign user of a SS? I have a hard time believing USN couldn't work out a deal with cost and parameters set so everybody could benefit without releasing info or endangering commercial me, this simply smacks of USN not wanting to spend the money and worried about the RESULTS!!!

    1. That's a good question. I don't know to what extent the Navy tests against foreign weapons and systems. It has happened. The Navy leased a Swedish Gotland class submarine for two years for use in ASW exercises back in the mid-2000's. I haven't heard of any testing against foreign torpedoes or missiles although that doesn't mean it hasn't happened. The precedent is certainly there. I just don't know how common the practice is.

      It's hard to believe we haven't purchased a foreign SSK for on-going ASW exercises.

    2. USS Mason conducts ASW exercise with allies..

    3. "USS Mason conducts ASW exercise with allies.."

      Those kinds of exercises are sporadic and offer little benefit. The Mason was the only US ship to participate, it appears. That's great for Mason but does nothing for the rest of the fleet. We need systematic, rigorous exercises that the entire ASW fleet rotates through at least yearly, if not more often. ASW is not a skill/art that can be practiced occasionally. It has to be lived, daily.

      The exercise was better than nothing but not by much.

  2. The answer I think is that the USN does not "want" to do those tests. They would jeopardize the programs that the brass are pushing and hoping to get rich off of someday by retiring to highly paid jobs in the defense industry.

    The system has become self-perpetuating and does not deliver quality weapons, but rather keeps the money flowing inwards.

    As for expensive to test - umm, what's more expensive, losing a few test dummies and having to do repairs for shock tests? Or losing several ships in an entire class because in a shooting war, you didn't test during peacetime to expose serious flaws in your ships, weapons systems, and other key systems?

    Compounding this problem, training is not up to par and the USN has not invested the money that it should in ship maintenance, which makes this a lot worse.

  3. Reading through previous classes of ship ... I'm thinking about just how bad the US has regressed with the LCS.

    We've brought up the Fletcher class before, but what about a high speed destroyer that specializes in underwater warfare?

    This was built with WW2 era technology:

    Displacement: 3000 tons
    Full load displacement: 4000 tons

    4 × twin 138 mm (5.4 in) guns
    2 × single 37 mm AA guns
    2 × twin 13.2-millimeter guns
    10x 550mm torpedo tubes

    40 naval mines
    32 depth charges

    Max speed
    39 knots

    4,345 nmi @ 15 knots
    1,780 nmi @ 28 knots

    Draft is 15 feet 7 inches. For a comparison the Independence is about 14 feet and Freedom is just under 13 feet.

    This was called the Mogador-class destroyer. It wasn't without it's issues - the main gun rate of fire was slower than planned due to issues, but these could have been fixed.

    The question is, when you look at what was possible with WW2-era technology, how can the LCS be so ... crappy by comparison? With modern technology, a ship like this would likely have 45 knots, far better fire control, and probably a far better AA system with more AA guns, perhaps an anti-missile system like the Phalanx too. The torpedoes, depth charges, and mines would be modernized.

    The end result would have been far better than a modern LCS.

    1. Also keep in mind, we're not talking about a much bigger ship here - the Freedom is about 3500 tons full load.

    2. That was a French ship (nothing wrong with that). One could also consider a US ship like the Buckley class destroyer escort. It was 1700 tons, a little over 300 ft, had a draft of 11 ft, a range of 5500 nm at 15 kts, and was loaded with ASW weapons (Hedgehog and depth charges) and sonar sensors in addition to 3x3" guns, a couple of 40 mm mounts, several 20 mm guns, and a triple torpedo mount.

      This puts the LCS to absolute shame. It's almost criminal what we've accepted in the LCS.

    3. The reason why I compared the French destroyer Mogador was because it is the closest direct comparison we have.

      1. It was built with anti-surface warfare in mind.
      2. Within the same size category as the LCS I'd say (3500 vs 4000 tons displacement full load).
      3. The other key factor is that it was built with speed in mind, which after all was one of the big justifications for the LCS.

      The Buckley displaces about 1/2 of the LCS, but of course has decent firepower for its size.

      Keep in mind as well the Mogador-class didn't even have a Bulbous bow and it was still attaining 39 knots in trials!

      A dedicated anti-submarine ship would probably have sonar transducer and a towed array, along with other special ASW equipment.

      The Italians built an even faster light cruiser, which was even faster, the Capitani Romani-class cruiser. She could do 43 knots in trials, but again with no Bulbous bow.

      Neither of these ships has much in the way of armor - they both opted for the speed and firepower part of speed vs armor vs firepower, but neither does the LCS. Plus I'd be more willing to bet that these steel beasts could take a bit of damage more so than the aluminum LCS.

      A modern ship would probably be able to attain similar speeds in exchange for a bit better armor. More efficient engines, a bulbous bow, and there's lots of other possibilities. Better fire rates on the main guns, fire control, self-defense systems like the Phalanx, modern sonar, etc.

      Not to mention, these ships, the Buckley, the Mogador, and the Capitani Romani all had decent range.

      By contrast the LCS ...

    4. No argument.

      Regarding speed, the LCS sacrificed much to attain it and no one has yet come up with a valid tactical or operational use for it. In WWII, speed was useful. It could allow for nightime run-in's from beyond sensor range or escape from the weapons of the day, among other uses. Today, speed seems tactically and operationally questionable. You can't outrun a missile. You can't approach a peer undetected no matter how fast. Speed is nice to have, I guess, but not if it comes at the expense of anything else, which it does. Ironic, isn't it, that the LCS' greatest remaining attribute has no tactical or operational use?

    5. Just in case you missed this on this 45knots (measured) war-proven 6-ship-class from a few days back two Threads ago:

      In a conversation recently with an original-LCS-engineer of the most impeccable credentials, it became clear that he and his brethren were of the conviction that their performance-pursuits were unprecedented and therefore so challenging.

      He was incredulous of the fact that their 3100-3300 tons twin types had been preceded in the early 1930 by that French 3400-tons stream-fired prop-driven destroyer.

      If you were to discuss design-related challenges with the 'mission-module managers' of LCS they'd likely lay out in broad details all the unprecedented if not dramatic efforts by the best to pull together each of these three mission-suites. To recollect, only one would be carried at a time !

      Here the "Le Fantasque" permanently built-in war-fighting capabilties of 1935 (plus later upgrades):

      - 5 × 138 mm (5.4 in) guns (5×1; 2 forward, 3 aft)
      - 4 × 37 mm (1.5 in) AA guns (4×1) (original)
      - 4 × 13 mm (0.51 in) AA machine guns (original)
      - 8 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns (after refit)
      - 10 × 20 mm Oerlikon guns (after refit)
      - 9 × 550 mm (21.7 in) torpedo tubes (3×3)
      - 40 × mines (some sources state 50)

      If the six ships, two were lost in WW-2.
      The last one was scrapped in 1964, some 31 years after her launch.

    6. "Just in case you missed this on this 45knots (measured) war-proven 6-ship-class "

      I saw it! Other than the general observation that we packed a lot more capability into ships in previous times, there was not a lot noteworthy about it. The main point that you seemed to focus on, speed, is not a major requirement in modern naval operations and tactics (makes the LCS speed requirement all that much more puzzling!). If the rationale for that statement is not obvious to you, ask and I'll lay it out. Or, conversely, tell me what benefit you think speed offers today.

      Or, did I completely miss your point and it's something else? If so, tell me what your point was.

    7. I was attempting to address Alt-&-Main.

      But the general point was to contrast the early-1930s measured and proven 45kts-precedence to the 'extraordinary and stunning and thus high-tech-expensive speed-advances' so often quoted by LCS-backers as unique justifications for these ship's designs.

      (LCS-backers are of course to be distinguished from those who supported the much smaller 'STREET-FIGHTER' concept for 'littoral' duty.)

      The idea of even thinking of bringing something as big and as detectable as a 3200-tons ship close-inshore into the littorals but without plausible defensive and offensive system was never a coherent idea, with or without inefficient go-fast water-jet drives that at near-any speed are a designed-in range- and thus logistics- liability.

    8. ComNavOps,
      any point in revisiting the original 'Street-Fighter' concept for more context on the LCS-saga ?

    9. "any point in revisiting the original 'Street-Fighter' concept for more context on the LCS-saga ?"

      What particular aspect of the SF-LCS relationship did you have in mind?

      Interestingly, I've been researching the lineage of the LCS concept and I've found little (nothing) that directly links SF and LCS. Most people seem to assume that LCS derived from (or deviated from) SF and that SF was the genesis of LCS. I can find nothing to directly those. My research continues.

  4. Wouldn't the comment on a lack of a surrogate torpedo to test the Zumwalt, also apply to the Burkes, Ticos, etc, etc?

    1. Yes, it applies to every platform and weapon system that is threatened by torpedoes or intended to counter torpedoes.

  5. Trudy, I think that the Mogador was actually the successor to the Le Fantasque class, carrying the 8 guns in dual turrets rather than 5 single mounts.

    As for the most "impeccable credentials" that shows what is wrong with the US ship design system. If this is what passes for good credentials, then the US does not have the ability to build and design effective warships.

    As discussed, I think that the US government needs to be able to build their own ships, aircraft, and land vehicles. Having worked in the automobile industry, there's a lot of expertise in doing things in house. They could build alongside the private sector, but there needs to be a lot of understanding.

    I think that a history lesson should be also be given to any ship designers.


    Another option may very well be to send ship designers to museums to have them see first hand.

    USS Laffey, the battleships, are good examples of what survived. They need to take notes as well.

    Also, if speed were desired, then nuclear power is an option that is seriously worth considering. Yes it's expensive to build and to decommission a nuclear reactor, but it allows for speed and range. It would mean having to make a nuclear fleet though.

    That actually makes me wonder about a modern battleship - it might look more like what the USS Montana battleship would have looked rather than the Iowa Class.

    1. "Also, if speed were desired"

      Can you come up with an operational or tactical use for speed that would justify the cost, both monetary and physical? I've been unable to come up with one other than in some kind of very contrived, unrealistic scenario. Maybe you can think of something I'm missing?

    2. Alt-&-Main: I was mostly interested in referencing the magic (80-years old) 45 knots speed-benchmark LCS-folks were excited about as an astonishing tactical advantage based on world-leading cutting-edge technology...

    3. Alt-&-Main,
      LCS should not have gotten a passing-grade as grad-school project.
      Neither should LX(R).
      Neither should LCU-1700.
      When you don't postulate a plausible design to match a known/plausible mission-scenario, you should be told to go back and reflect on actual needs versus odd fixations
      - with (unjustifiable) speed with thin-skinned LCS,
      - 'shorty' well-deck geometries that lose fpor 40-50 years 58% of well-deck capacity with LPD-17 and now LX(R) - first-&-last giving up a total of 1.3 miles (!) of well-deck capacity available to the Marines,
      - utter mismatch with USMC's amphibious mission via retread 60s-era LCU-1700.

    4. "reflect on actual needs"

      That's a great suggestion and one I would urge you to take to heart! I recently suggested that the case for the need for amphibious assault was highly suspect. You might want to address that and lay out the case for a reasonably likely need for amphib assault.

      Related to that, if you see a need for amphib assault, you might consider the example of WWII AP/APA's, the assault transports of the time. They had no well decks and yet they carried dozens of landing craft and were able to send troops and cargo ashore. The point is that well decks are not the only solution. Note, I'm not suggesting that well decks are not a good solution, only that they are not the only possible solution.

    5. Are you proposing to launch 1xMBT 70+-tons-loaded LCTs via meaty davits or just a few cranes, booms, some cables ?

      At what sea-state are you proposing this ?

      And how close-in would your fleet of AP/APAs want to come, as that would be directly related to the LCT's characteristics.


      Since you are implying that you may not see any reasons for amphibious assault, I would propose that you formulate an extended response-report to
      - STOM,
      - OMFTS,
      - EF-21
      - MOC etc.
      or just the reasons for the existence of USMC.

      And, as you've preferred on various occasions, I would assume that there would be no 'defections' of the serious matters laid out in these documents around Amphibious Assault across just the more recent decades.

      You may end up with a stout challenge to the core business-model of the Marine Corps. At least, that is what I assume you have been suggesting across several postings recently.
      I look forward to your study.

    6. "Are you proposing"

      I'm not proposing anything. I merely note that amphib assault has been done in the past via methods other than well decks and, perhaps, there is something we can learn from that.

    7. "how close-in would your fleet of AP/APAs want to come"

      Our current doctrine of 50 mile or so standoff is non-functional with any existing Navy connectors, as you well know. So, we currently do not have an amphib assault capability that can match our doctrine! That's an idiotic state of affairs, to say the least.

      Given our current equipment (AAVs and then LCAC/LCU for follow on), we have no choice but to move the amphib ships to within two miles of the beach. That's not my opinion, that's the reality of AAV limitiations and has been recognized by Marine leadership. For example, one of the Marine concepts was to look at a "linking" ship (like the JHSV) that could transport the AAVs to within 2 miles and then drop them in the water for the remaining travel. The Marines clearly recognize the 2 mile limit (they're the ones who have stated it) of the AAVs.

      If we can't bring the amphibs to within a couple miles of the beach and protect them, then our vaunted Aegis system is a colossal failure and our hopes for amphib asault are doomed.

      Of course, if someday we develop a 100 kt landing craft/AAV then we can move the assault point further offshore but, as of today, we don't have such a craft. That's the simple reality.

      Please don't launch into a rehash of the magical LCU-F. That's a fantasy and this comment is addressing reality.

    8. "I look forward to your study."

      Don't hold your breath. I've laid out my rationale for the unlikelihood of amphib assaults against China, Russia, Iran, and NK. If you'd care to tell me why an amphib assault seems likely, I'm all ears. Failing that, I'm quite comfortable that my position is solid.

      That leads into the need for the Marines. There is a need but it isn't amphib assaults as its major foundation. I'll have posts on this in the future.

  6. I count 5 'deflections' within 3 posting across 12 minutes. So, no addressing the issues raised then in the challenge ?!

    While this is a USN-centric forum, I'll have to point out that 27-tons AAV-7s with .50cals are not quite comparable to a 70-tons 120mm smooth-bore M1A1/2.
    Any way get to these heavies to the shore in your world of hard 'realism', versus 'magical...', 'fantasy'..., etc.

    I think those LCS designers were all very 'solid' in their understanding of context, technology, feasibility, fiscal realities, reliability and overall strategic utility as well. Similar phenomenon of 'comfort-levels' beyond that LCS-universe ?

    As you begin to open up these documents I referred to above, some of that 'position-is-solid' certitude may erode... or not.

    In EF-21 of 2014, the MARINES clearly outlined OTH-65,with public discussions kicking around scenarios up to over OTH-200, on the record. Three years ago ! Bears studying. It will be interesting to see the results of your exploration of the USMC universe.

    Since you are comfortable with your perspective, you are likely reflecting the thinking of other USN-centric folks. And while that perspective feels 'solid' in its conceptual and thus tactical stagnation across several decades now, that is why a major USMC-headed effort is underway to ignore all that and push well beyond OTH-65.

    Since LCU-F seems so obviously useless to you, why would their leaders examine her amongst a range of options ?

    1. "I count 5 'deflections' within 3 posting "

      I am exercising great patience with you. Please recall that this is my blog and I'll discuss, or not, the issues that appeal to me. If you wish to expound on other issues you might consider starting your own blog. It's fun and you might enjoy it.

    2. "I'll have to point out that 27-tons AAV-7s with .50cals are not quite comparable to a 70-tons 120mm smooth-bore M1A1/2."

      Huh???? They're not comparable to battleships or B-2 bombers, either. Who claimed they were comparable to M1 tanks? Stick to what's actually written.

    3. "Any way get to these heavies to the shore"

      No, there isn't. At least not in the first wave which is when they'll be most needed. This is yet another reason why our amphib doctrine is not feasible!

    4. "Since LCU-F seems so obviously useless to you"

      You have a nasty tendency to read things that haven't been written. Where have I said the LCU-F was "obviously useless". It's quite irritating to be taken to task for something I haven't said.

      What I said was, relative the the specific comment I was making, the LCU-F was a fantasy. It is non-existent. It is a design concept, not reality. I have no particular opinion about it one way or another. It offers some potential benefits but also contains drawbacks inherent in its design and use. Without better data/information on it, I have no opinion.

      Stick to what I actually say.

    5. Apologies for reading your comment too literally.
      "What I said was, relative the the specific comment I was making, the LCU-F was a fantasy. It is non-existent. It is a design concept, not reality. I have no particular opinion about it one way or another. It offers some potential benefits but also contains drawbacks inherent in its design and use. Without better data/information on it, I have no opinion."

      Since USMC's future depends in good measure on reasserting and consolidating its signature amphibious capability
      - USN-owned
      - USN-manned Connectors organic to USN-owned and manned Amphibs,
      a thorough discussion seems in order.

      For starters:
      - How would USN offer adequate well-deck capacity to begin to coherently support USMC's prime required capability ?

      - What have been USN's best efforts to attract from without plausible CONNECTOR-concepts ?

      - What are USN's internal efforts to define and present a plausible USMC-correct Connector ?

      - What are LCU-F's projected strengths ?

      - What are LCU-F's projected weaknesses ?

      - Beyond the series of NAVSEA-internal and then outside perspectives on LCU-F, such as the USMC-innovation-hierarchy up to the Commandant, what would it take for ComNavOps to deem a 'concept' as adequate for discussion ?

    6. "what would it take for ComNavOps to deem a 'concept' as adequate for discussion ?"

      The LCU-F is a non-existent concept. I have little inclination to devote a post to a non-existent concept that has so little foundation in reality. The claims made for it border on ludicrous. That's not a fault of the concept but of the claimants. The concept itself has both good and bad characteristics. The claimants offer such a one-sided view that a rational discussion of the concept is not possible. With that said, I have presented many posts on amphibious assaults and will continue to do so in the future.

      You ask what my criteria are for deeming a concept adequate for discussion? Number one is the ability to discuss it rationally, in an objective and balanced manner, recognizing both good and bad points. The LCU-F, because of the exaggerated claims made about it, does not fit that criteria.

      In short, ratchet down the zealotry, add a bit of objectivity, and it would be a topic for consideration. I don't see that happening.

    7. From NAVSEA over the PROCEEDINGS to QUANTICO we've only seen zealots, devoid of 'objectivity', incapable of rationality ?

      So we are looking at a display of exactly what of the mounting number of professional assessments between 2005 and now ?

      What would make your vantage point more advanced that those folks who have put their standing on the line in print, in public, online, and by other means ?

    8. Thanks! You just proved my point.

    9. Another course-adjustment away from the objective ?

      The irresistible attraction to reinterpretations of hard realities.

      "Data and Logic" ?

      Good thing that folks are actually doing this design- and programmatic work anyway.

  7. "Our current doctrine of 50 mile or so standoff is non-functional with any existing Navy connectors, as you well know. So, we currently do not have an amphib assault capability that can match our doctrine! That's an idiotic state of affairs, to say the least."

    Hence the pursuit of plausible connectors to haul heavy GCE-ear. Since that mismatch has been on the record across decades, where has been the effort out of your camp to successfully address it ?

    Lot's of aggravation expressed about USN incoherence in your lead-stories to so many threads. And yet no solutions on offer to address this decades-old challenge ?

    Of course, 'we can't do it, therefore we should not think of doing it, and since nobody thinks of doing it, we can't do it... or so much of the language goes I've heard over the years in print and online. Sort of circular, if you ask me. And persistently evading the task to 'get it done'. No leadership to be fond in this approach.

    Hence USMC's ongoing and broad-scale effort to sideline that worn-out mind-set. Lots of homework though...

    1. "your camp"

      "My camp"????? What "camp" do you think I'm in? The only camp I'm in is logic and data. I observe, I analyze, and, on occasion, I suggest alternatives. I'm not in any camp.

      I note the Marine/Navy inability to execute their own doctrine of 50+ mile standoff. That doesn't put me in any camp except logic and data.

      Regarding the "how" of conducting amphib assaults, I've addressed it many times over many posts and will continue to do so in the future. Do some archive reading!

  8. The USN does -due to its size- even a little more than other navies to simulate threats. Meanwhile the European navies benefit a bit more from the diversity of their naval neighbourhood and proximity to real-life Russian subs and planes. I suppose the Japanese and PR Chinese are probably in the worst position regarding testing among the great powers.

    IIRC the USN purchased Kh-31s to simulate supersonic seaskimmers, but found out that either these missiles were monkey models (who da thunk that?) or not as great as advertised. Nowadays the USN could make use of Taiwanese Hsiung Feng III, which are way ahead of what the USN has. It appears that the most challenging tests against AShMs so far were
    - above mentioned Kh-31s
    - the JSM/NSM tests (more meant to test the missile)
    - the tests with standard missiles as threat simulator (no seaskimmning)

    The USN also learned a great deal by having one of the (IIRC) Swedish AIP subs with its fleet for a couple months or so. At least the 6th Fleet in the Med should have enough contact with allied SSKs and AIP subs (such as the Greek ones, though they seem to be poorly maintained and thus at times much louder than necessary) to benefit from this experience.

    1. "USN purchased Kh-31s to simulate supersonic seaskimmers"

      The USN was happy with the missile's performance but Russia terminated sales. The missile was bought as an empty shell into which US manufacturers inserted their own electronics. Thus, it was never a true representative of the actual anti-ship missile.

      Following termination of sales, the USN standardized on the GQM-163 Coyote. This is a serviceable drone but it only simulates two specific threats. Other threats vary in terms of size (radar signature), speed, maneuverability, flight profile, and, most importantly, on board electronics which determine the seeker emissions and ECM. Suitably modified, the Coyote could probably adequately simulate many more threats but the Navy has been slow to spend any money (the point of the post).

      Your point about proximity to Russian forces for real life training is an excellent one. During the Cold War, the USN became quite proficient at ASW because Soviet subs were constantly shadowing US naval groups. The USN lacks that proximity today. During the encounters that we do have with the Russians (Russian aircraft buzzing our ships, for instance) our main goal seems to be to remain as passive and inoffensive as possible. A better approach would be to treat the incidents as actual attacks in all respects except firing a weapon. Taking evasive maneuvers, locking on radars and illuminators, launching chaff and flares, and employing ECM would offer a highly beneficial training opportunity. If a Russian plane happened to become disoriented and crashed, well that would just be an added benefit.

    2. The problem with reacting as if it was real is that the training would be better for the potential adversary.
      That's also the reason why many radars have different wartime modes that must not be used in peacetime in order to deprive adversary ELINT of valuable information gains.

      It actually makes much sense to intentionally react incorrectly (such as with randomly chosen additional reaction lag) in order to preserve uncertainty for deterrence value.

    3. Well, that's one theory. Another is that you don't really have any secrets given the extent of hacking and spying today. China seems to have detailed plans for everything we have almost before we do! In addition, any secret you do have will become instantly obvious the moment a war starts.

      So, is it better to try to maintain some small, secret (or maybe not) advantage to use for a brief period at the start of a war and deprive yourself of outstanding training opportunities? Or is it better to train as you'd fight and maybe even demonstrate to your potential enemy the folly of trying to fight you?

      Finally, if you do "reveal" your capabilities would the enemy's reaction not reveal as much to you?

      Hey, I'm all for keeping secret some super powerful capability that you think no one else has even dreamed of and that can tip the tide of war in your favor but, really, how many such things have there ever been?

      When you consider the extent of detail that our military puts out in the public domain, to say nothing of hacking and spying, I really don't think we have many secrets!

    4. ++It's been a tactic to probe and probe and probe (in wartime), learn the reactions, work out a plan and when the attack happens for real the attacker is one step ahead in the tactical-technical attack-defence spiral.

      I don't think espionage is all-effective as you imply here. The Chinese for example did reverse-engineer a lot from imported copies. Outright copies without license or reverse engineering from a copy at hand has only been proven in cases where the copying is about easily observable shapes.

      There are occasional espionage successes (famously in nuke programs), but details of electronics and software are likely mostly secret.

      The U.S. doesn't publish terribly much actually. I read field manuals about at times the very same topic from up to four different countries and the conclusion was that all armed services merely write superficialities into field manuals. The real essence is communicated verbally and by example, not in written and easily copied form.

      Highly technical manuals aren't published anyway; or can you point me at a USN manual describing sonar operations in such detail that the Chinese could calculate the effective active sonar range against a specific perpendicular steel plate?
      How about the sensitivity (antenna gain) of the tiny ESM antenna that subs push through the sea surface before daring to do so with the periscope?

    5. "I don't think espionage is all-effective as you imply here."

      This is impossible to prove or disprove. You're welcome to your opinion and I'll stick with mine. The [circumstantial] evidence I see are things like the speed and ease with which China has created anti-stealth detection technology, implying a detailed knowledge of our stealth, the ease with which they've created their own Aegis-like arrays, the physical similarity of their aircraft to ours, the speed with which they've created their own stealth aircraft. Of course, whether all those things actually work is unknown but if they do then it's obvious that they had a leg up in development because they've duplicated in a few years what took us decades.

      "Highly technical manuals aren't published anyway"
      Detailed technical manuals do exist, just not in public form. They're still available to be stolen or cyber-stolen. Aegis radar techs aren't trained just via word of mouth! More to the point, the academic background papers that produced the military technology are published in great detail. Yes, for anyone with the expertise and willingness to wade through reams of academic papers, all the details of pulse rate, frequency, beam steering, signal strength, etc., the details are there.

    6. Many if not all the observed Chinese stealth and anti-stealth efforts are at the level of a single physics doctor who specialised on radio physics.
      There's hardly any pointer that the "stealth" stuff that the U.S. wanted to keep secret has become known to anyone else.
      Some companies retain a competitive edge for decades by keeping their experts satisfied and never publishing their trade secrets (processes), even in face of economic espionage. The best way to keep things secret is to never print them and to keep the qty of people who know small, them unknown and loyal. That's fairly easy with software, since much of it was and is coded in rare programming languages like Ada that hardly any programmer still understands.

      Besides, "AEGIS-like" arrays are nothing special at all. That's 1970's technology, and in fact the first crude AEGIS antenna was built and used in the second World War (because the engineers concluded that the thing was too big for reliable mechanical rotation). AEGIS is little more than the combination of phase shift and constructive interference concepts.

      Let's say a radar is capable of using an entirely different band than published, or may mimic IFF or commercial navigation radar emissions. You wouldn't want to show this off in peacetime.
      The best course of action would be to on the one hand demonstrate competence, but on the other hand create enough uncertainty that a potential aggressor doesn't grow confident in its ability to overcome your military power.

      To go all-out warlike save for killing isn't advisable. It would eliminate the uncertainty, including uncertainty about your incompetence.

      BTW, I have found that rather unofficial tactics course materials (booklets, posters) are often much more informative about doctrine than the corresponding official field manual, and this includes field manuals from countries that do not publish theirs.

  9. I'm surprised that we don't do extensive, realistic testing of ASW warfare with our allies who have diesel-electric submarines, especially since those subs are so common nowadays. Japan and Germany have them and I'm sure would be willing to participate in exercises.


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