Friday, January 12, 2018

AGS-Zumwalt Colossal Failure

The Navy has now confirmed that the Zumwalt’s Advanced Gun System (AGS), the entire reason the Zumwalt class was built, will not be getting any new ammunition round.  After the gun’s Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) was cancelled due to the cost per round reaching $1M (see, "A Ship With No Ammunition"), the Navy indicated that they would adapt the Army’s 155 mm Excalibur artillery shell for use in the AGS (see, "Excalibur - LRLAP Replacement").  This would have provided a range of around 20 miles or so – woefully short compared to the LRLAP’s reported range of 70+ miles.  Now, even this option has been dropped by the Navy.  Instead, the Navy will monitor industry over the coming years and wait to see if some new, suitable round happens to appear.  Unfortunately, given the AGS gun barrel’s unique twist arrangement, that’s a pretty unlikely occurrence. (1)

“A year after the Navy decided to abandon the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) for the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer, there is no plan in place for a replacement round for the Advanced Gun System (AGS) the ships are built around, service officials said on Wednesday.” (1)


What will the Navy do with the Zumwalts?

The Navy’s new plan is to focus the Zumwalts on deep strike land attack (Tomahawks) and anti-surface (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – LRASM, maybe?) warfare by using the ship’s 80 Mk54 peripheral VLS cells.  I guess that makes the Zumwalt’s each an $8B+, lightly loaded arsenal ship?

Also, recall that the Zumwalt’s unique tumblehome hull form has some inherent sea keeping problems due to its shape (see, "Zumwalt Tumblehome Tests").  That was considered acceptable since the ship’s mission was intended to be shallow water littoral warfare rather than open ocean sailing.  Now, with the mission switched to largely open ocean work, the ship will have significant sailing issues to deal with.  The Navy had previously issued limitations on sailing in certain quartering seas.  This may be a mission that the ship has difficulty executing.

So, the Navy has built a $24B+ class of three ships whose entire reason for existence was the AGS and now the AGS is a non-functional, ocean-going, paperweight and the fall-back mission is one that the ship’s flawed sea keeping may render difficult or impossible to execute in common sea conditions.  Just plain, WOW !

Someone has got to be fired!  - or, as the Navy refers to it, promoted.



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(1)USNI News website, “No New Round Planned For Zumwalt Destroyer Gun System; Navy Monitoring Industry”, Sam LaGrone, 11-Jan-2018, retrieved 11-Jan-2018,




66 comments:

  1. I read that can't really say anything just what a waste 24 billion WOW the total cost of the FFGX 15 billion for 20 ships estimates and the Zummies can't do anything near what the Burkes cruisers or the FFGX are or will be doing

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    1. Think you are wildly optimistic if you think $15B will buy 20 FFGX's, will easily be $20+B. Latest Navy figure is $950M plus per ship plus additional costs for first two plus the R&D.

      Delete
  2. CNO "Someone has got to be fired! - or, as the Navy refers to it, promoted."

    Admirals are now receiving retirement pay and paid off by being on payroll of BAE Systems, Raytheon or LM.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank God the rail gun development is still going full steam ahea......What's that? They canceled it, too? Son of a.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The railgun has been in development since the early 90s when I was in engineering school, and in that time it has barely progressed beyond being a really large physics lab experiment. The concept is very simple but there are are serious engineering hurdles that still haven't been beat.

      Delete
  4. Hmmm...Zumwalts can't actually execute any useful mission. Ditto for LCS. Ford class CVNs can't reliably launch or recover aircraft...F35 flight-to-maintenance hour ratio is insane...

    Question: Who/what is going to do the actual fighting?

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    Replies
    1. You've asked the right question. Our military is supposed to be ready to fight tonight and, instead, we are far, far from ready. Our military leaders have failed the country badly and should all be fired. Civilian leadership has also failed the country, to be sure, but it's the failure of our supposedly professional warriors that's the most disappointing.

      Delete
  5. Well Don't y'all worry a bit. The new Navy's Top Weapons Buyer wants to speed-up purchases, including finding ways to squeeze cost and time-saving efficiencies out o large programs.

    From
    https://news.usni.org/2018/01/11/reliable-capable-affordable-navys-top-weapons-buyer-spells-out-philosphy#more-30539

    REALLY????? This is the answer to all of the FAILED programs the Navy has had come home to roost this century?

    How about getting some folks in there that know how to build things, follow the process, actually write a CONOPS before taking an industry spec, get realistic cost estimates, get some people in there that can tell what a realistic cost estimate is, prototype, AND REALISTICALLY TEST, and then finally build. Oh and as an improvement hold the Contractors feet to the fire for poor workmanship! How about Declassing INSURV reports?

    Oh right that slows down the Defense Contractors Cash flow and in turn the fat post retirement checks for the Admirals.

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  6. So what will it take to put 2x Mk71s on DDG1002?
    The LCS squadron needs a AAW/SW escort.

    M.Lockmart

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    Replies
    1. That's actually an interesting idea. The Zumwalt is bordering on useless so building the last one as a heavy (well, heavier than what we have now) naval gunfire support vessel might be worthwhile. If they did that, though, they should make the guns at least dual mounts for a total of 4 guns. Two guns is almost not worth it. WWII ships typically had 9 guns in three mounts.

      Delete
    2. I was thinking along the same lines but wondering if the tumblehome hull made it less suitable for gunfire support.

      Delete
    3. Mr.Texas,
      The Zumwalts have a ballasting system that was to be used when firing the AGS.
      CNO,
      The Zums have 2 hard points for the AGS, plus all the under deck magazine gubbins, just trying
      to stay in weight range. Plus Mk71s can shoot at ships, amazing technology that. ;-)

      M. Lockmart

      Delete
    4. "The Zumwalts have a ballasting system that was to be used when firing the AGS."

      I've seen the DoDBuzz article that I think that came from and it's the only time I've seen the suggestion that the ballasting was connected to the gun use. Every other description of ballasting states that it's for stealth and lower profile when operating close to shore, which makes sense. The idea of ballasting as a means of gun stability, frankly, eludes me. I can't see the engineering basis for that. It may well be true and I'm just missing the underlying explanation. On the other hand, I half suspect that the statement was misconstrued and ballasting isn't really for gun usage. If you see any other source, let us know.

      Delete
    5. "2 hard points for the AGS, plus all the under deck magazine gubbins, just trying to stay in weight range."

      scottg, I may not have been clear enough. I was referring to two dual mounts with two guns per mount. So, it would be the same two gun mount locations as now, just with dual guns in each mount for a total of four guns. Did that make sense?

      This predilection for single gun mounts is a fairly modern development. The movement in WWII was towards double and triple mounts, in general. Why we've come to believe that a single gun mount is preferable to a dual gun mount is baffling. It's likely a combination of cost savings and the incorrect belief that guns are no longer needed in naval warfare.

      Consider this, what happens when a Chinese and an American stealth ship approach each other and neither can detect the other until they break the radar horizon? You've got the potential makings of a gun duel!

      Delete
    6. WWII-era double and triple mounts had lots of men working inside them and were largely manually controlled. The modern mounts have auto-loaders that let them match the rate of fire of an old-style triple mount, while weighing considerably less. At least in the Royal Navy, there was considerable scepticism about the reliability of the new-style mounts and a lot of testing before they were adopted.

      Delete
    7. "The Zumwalts have a ballasting system that was to be used when firing the AGS."

      My understanding why Zumwalt has large and sophisticated ballasting system is different, not to say it may not be used when firing the AGS for increased stability, though a modern fire control system should be able to control the gun fire at a moving target, from a platform that is itself moving with 6 degrees of freedom and flexing as well.

      A ship pitches and heaves at sea and with the Zumwalt tumblehome designed hull instead of a normal flare you lose transverse stability as the stern comes out of the water and basically roll over as you have no righting energy/buoyancy to make the ship come back up.

      To mitigate this you need a low centre of gravity to counter the rolling making a stiff ship, rolls are short and rapid, not comfortable, stabilizers a near necessity. If tumblehome hull is breached in any compartment below the waterline and floods due to collision, torpedo, mines etc., ship will roll over very quickly and sink, so Zumwalt requires built in reserve buoyancy with fast reacting/automated numerous large volume ballast tanks spaced around hull for near instantaneous counter flooding to keep ship on an even keel.

      That's one of the reasons why Zumwalt displacement is so large at 16,000 tons and costly to build, the hull would not be cost effective basis for new future destroyer/cruiser. If Zumwalt hull had been designed with a normal hull it could have been basis of new cruiser as the Spruance was for the Ticonderoga class cruisers, another hidden future cost of the Zumwalt tumblehome idiotic decision in quest for stealth.

      Delete
    8. Considering the treblehorn design and the peripheral missile launchers adjacent to the second gun, there might only be room for two single mounts.

      Delete
    9. The Zumwalt has a beam of 80 ft (don't know the width at the two gun locations?) and the tumblehome design means that the below deck width INCREASES which means more room for magazines and turret machinery than for conventional ships.

      In comparison, the WWII New Orleans class cruiser had a beam of 62 ft (again, don't know the width at the gun locations), had below decks that NARROWED, and we managed to mount three triple turrets.

      So, lacking detailed dimensional drawings, I suspect that we could easily mount two dual 8" gun turrets.

      Delete
    10. "modern mounts have auto-loaders that let them match the rate of fire of an old-style triple mount,"

      That does not appear to be correct.

      For starters, there are no heavy guns in existence now so there is no actual comparison.

      Setting that aside, the Zumwalt's 155 mm (6") gun is rated for 10 rounds per minute. By comparison, the standard WWII 6"/47 gun on light cruisers was rated for 8-10 rpm.

      Zumwalt could put out 10 rpm x 2 guns = 20 rpm
      WWII Cruiser could put out 9 rpm (the average of 8-10) x 9 guns = 81 rpm.

      Another point of comparison is the last 8"/55 gun from WWII (mounted on the Des Moines class) which could also put out 10 rpm.

      The conclusion is that the automated AGS is no faster than the WWII guns and the single mounts throw considerably fewer shells downrange per minute.

      For 5" guns, the modern 5"/62 has a ROF of 16-20 rpm for conventional rounds and 2-4 rpm for ERGM and specialty rounds. The WWII 5"/38 had a ROF of 15-22 rpm. Same findings - modern guns are no faster and in some cases are slower.

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    11. Looking at the pictures, I still doubt there is room to replace the 2 AGS mounts with 2 twin 8-in mounts. It's not just about the beam, which is narrower where the guns are located, it is also about the available spacing between the mounts. The barrel length on the 8-in Mark 71 is 62 inches longer than the 155-mm (6.1 in) gun on the AGS.

      I agree somebody needs to lay it out on paper, I just don't see this working out.

      Delete
    12. One minor point, because of its tumblehome hull, the actual width of the deck is less than it's beam for a given location.

      Delete
    13. "I agree somebody needs to lay it out on paper, I just don't see this working out."

      You could be right. Of course, if we really wanted to add 2 8" twin mounts and needed some additional fore/aft space (your point about barrel length) we could always take some space from the massively oversized superstructure.

      The triple 8" turret on the Des Moines class cruiser was around 36 ft wide at its widest point (maybe 25 ft or so at the barbette base?). Eyeball estimating from photos, the Zumwalt has a beam of 80 ft and the deck width at the aft gun appears to be around 60 ft and the forward gun deck width narrows to around 40-50 ft. So, by eyeball, it appears that there is plenty of room.

      My overall thought on this is that I hate to see the Navy simply and unthinkingly complete the third Zumwalt with a non-functional gun. What's the point? Why not pause the construction, think about alternate uses, and eventually complete the ship as a prototype for something. Whether that prototype is as a 8" gun ship or something completely different doesn't really matter to me as much as getting some actual use out of the ship. The last think we need is another Zumwalt with no main weapon system. Let's take advantage of a bad situation and try to get some value out of it.

      Delete
    14. But, that aft gun, right in front of the superstructure, is where the Peripheral Vertical Launch System which eats up some deck space. You obviously want a mount that provides dequate clearance and aren't damaged from missiles launched from those cells.

      But, to your main point, it makes no sense to build a third Zumwalt without a main gun. An interim solution is to re-design the ships for two 5-in Mk 54 Mod 4 mounts from decommissioned cruisers.

      Delete
    15. Doh! I meant to write, ". . . where the Peripheral Vertical Launch System is located, which eats up some deck space."

      Delete
    16. "An interim solution is to re-design the ships for two 5-in Mk 54 Mod 4 mounts from decommissioned cruisers."

      Well, that would be better than finishing the ship with a non-functional gun but, still, a $4B+ ship with 5" guns accomplishes next to nothing. Two 5" guns add almost no firepower to the fleet and we wouldn't even get the benefit of a prototype.

      There are lots of possible alternative prototypes that could be at least partially explored in a Zumwalt. If we wanted to look at the 8" gun, and it was just a matter of interference with peripheral VLS cells (which I don't think they would interfere but who knows without dimensioned drawings), I'd be completely willing to remove the affected VLS cells. As a prototype, rather than a front line warship, a few VLS cells, more or less, won't matter. So what if this prototype version has a few less cells? We already have two complete (gunless) Zumwalts with the full complement of VLS. I'd rather explore 8" guns than VLS cells of which we thousands in the fleet and know all about them.

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    17. Guns or not, three Zumwalts will have a limited impact on the Navy. Though, we need to find out how effective their radar and propulsion systems truly are.

      To complete the Zumwalts, instead of the 5-in guns suggested earlier, maybe just fill that space with additional VLS cells.

      Delete
    18. "To complete the Zumwalts, instead of the 5-in guns suggested earlier, maybe just fill that space with additional VLS cells."

      There's nothing wrong with doing that but it doesn't gain us anything. Another 32 cells, or so, added to the fleet's thousands, gain us almost nothing in terms of combat power. The fleet already has 2x-3x more VLS cells than Tomahawk inventory, for example. I don't know what the Standard missile inventory is. I think we have only a few hundred or so ESSM.

      The situation is made worse by the decision to only install half the Dual Band Radar, the SPY-3. The radar is limited in its search capabilities and, due to the lack of illuminating radars, can only provide interrupted guidance which causes more problems.

      This is an opportunity to do some prototyping that could pay off down the road. The only question being what type of prototyping.

      Delete
    19. The Zumwalts are pretty much a dead design. Its not likely that their technology will be used in new designs for surface ships. And, with three ships, they're not likely to influence how the Navy operates.

      But, getting back to the 8-in gun debate, a gun is only as it's ammunition. With an 8-in gun, one could prototype a variety of new rounds. For example, a sabot round using conventional and guided 5 or 6-in rounds with a goal of doubling their existing ranges. Other rounds might be an inexpensive short-range antiship missile, a drone round, or an anti-aircraft round based on the RAM missile. You get the idea.

      If the Paul F. Foster is still available, that would be my choice to test an 8-in gun. Or, maybe bring back a OHP class frigate for the job. The USS Hull which was used to test the Mark 71 gun is about the same size as a Perry.

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    20. The question I have is whether there even still is the need for that much naval gunfire support, given how the marines have seemingly abandoned opposed amphibious landings in favour of "lightness".

      If the navy recognizes the need to prepare to wage high-end war against the People's Liberation Navy, removing the AGS entirely for more VLS cells packed with the LSRAM might add a capability that the comparatively non-stealthy Burkes cannot perform. The removal of the AGS should improve the stealthiness of the Zumwalts to even more impressive levels, perhaps allowing a Zumwalt to sneak up on a Chinese surface group and unleash a massive salvo of LSRAM with target designation provided by X-47B swarms or (god-forbid) the F-35.

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    21. "If the Paul F. Foster is still available, that would be my choice to test an 8-in gun. Or, maybe bring back a OHP class frigate for the job."

      I doubt that the OHP has the structural strength to handle the stress of 8" gun operation. The Spruance class, much bigger, was designed and built to mount the 8" and had to be structurally reinforced.

      Regardless, half the purpose in an 8" gun evaluation is to test the munitions and gun mechanical performance. That could be done at a land based test sit, for the most part. The other half is working out operational, doctrinal, and tactical methodologies. Put the gun on a ship and put the ship into realistic training scenarios and see how to integrate it with amphibious assaults, troop support fire missions, anti-surface engagements, etc. Also, actually mounting the gun will reveal all the hidden problems like logistics, spare parts handling, compatibility issues, maintenance shortcomings, etc.

      Delete
    22. "The question I have is whether there even still is the need for that much naval gunfire support, given how the marines have seemingly abandoned opposed amphibious landings in favour of "lightness". "

      Well, that's a very valid question. It also raises a little bit of a "chicken or the egg" question. Did amphibious ops get abandoned because we had no fire support or did we abandon fire support because we had no amphibious mission? There's a lot more to it than just that - I'm grossly simplifying - but there is a bit of that question at the heart of the matter. For instance, if we still had four Iowa class battleships on active duty, might we still have a robust amphibious assault ambition? See? The chicken or the egg.

      An 8" gun would be useful in other scenarios, not just amphibious assaults. For example, bombarding Chinese artificial islands into artificial mud, providing fire support for troops in contact, engaging in surface warfare, enemy port bombardment, and so on.

      Delete
    23. LRASM is also an air-launched weapon being tested on the Super Hornet and B-1 Lancer. Instead of using a surface ship to launch such an attack, I would use my air assets first since they have more flexibility to position themselves for an attack.

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    24. It is a shame we can't build something like the Spruances, they weren't pretty but they were solidly built and well equipped.

      Delete
    25. "I would use my air assets first since they have more flexibility to position themselves for an attack."

      The problem with air assets in naval surface warfare is that they're never around at the moment you need them! That's why ships need anti-ship missiles.

      Delete
    26. I agree that ship's need anti-ship missiles. I just don't agree with the premise of a Zumwalt sneaking up on an enemy carrier group. Given she has 80 cells and her primary role is AAW, I can't imagine she can carry more than 20 anti-ships missiles. There are other ways to attack a carrier group and the B-1 is supposed to be able to carry 24 LRASMs. A few B-1s attacking from different directions would complicate an enemy's defenses and assure a better chance of success.

      Delete
    27. Who are you talking to that said anything about a Zumwalt sneaking up on an enemy carrier group? That's a ridiculous notion.

      The Zumwalt's primary role is NOT AAW. To be fair, the ship no longer has a primary role but it was supposed to be gunfire support. The VLS was for Tomahawk land attack and self and local AAW defense. Due to the installation of only half the dual band radar system, the radar has significant limitations that make it a poor AAW platform.

      Would you like to take another pass at your comment? You appear to be setting up a scenario that no one has proposed and then arguing against it! Rewrite your comment.

      Delete
    28. I was responding to Chris Bradshaw's January 14th comment, when he wrote, "The removal of the AGS should improve the stealthiness of the Zumwalts to even more impressive levels, perhaps allowing a Zumwalt to sneak up on a Chinese surface group and unleash a massive salvo of LSRAM with target designation provided by X-47B swarms or (god-forbid) the F-35."

      Even with extra VLS cells, the job of sneaking up on a Chinese carrier group belongs to a submarine.

      Delete
  7. If i was a USN Admiral id assign all the Zumwalt vessels to Europe for all they're service life.

    -Great PR and photo op opportunities with a guaranteed regular Russian jet fly by
    - No real chance of a European war

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  8. For comparisons sake: here's what the only dual gun turret in existence today looks like, the AK-130

    http://zonwar.ru/news2/news_243_AK-130.html

    And its caliber is 130mm, so you calculate what a dual turret with 8 inch guns would look like .

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  9. "Consider this, what happens when a Chinese and an American stealth ship approach each other and neither can detect the other until they break the radar horizon? You've got the potential makings of a gun duel! "

    So BuOrd need to get working on distributed aperture
    multi-spectral coincidence range finders.

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  10. What about the 2nd mount being used for GMLRS or ATACMS?

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    1. If we're going to prototype with it, that's not a bad idea!

      Delete
  11. Replacing the useless AGS mounts with 8" inch turrets reminds me of the 1950's conversion on the cruiser USS Boston, but in reverse. The Boston's aft gun was removed for guided missile launchers with the forward 8" gun turrets left in place. Combination gun and missile cruiser. I recall reading this left the ship forward heavy, so concrete ballast weight was poured aft. Unless we know the longitudinal stability numbers of the Zumwalt class, it's hard to know what gun mounts might work. As stated, 5" off a retired Tico would be easy but provide little. A couple Mk 71 mounts would be better and specs should still exist. If doable, the rapid fire Mk 16 three gun mount from the Des Moines class would be the best (example preserved on the USS Salem museum). Not aware of any 2 gun 8" mounts, but one could be designed. The Navy is PAINFULLY lacking in gunfire support. The promise of the Zumwalt's AGS was a major factor in moving the Iowa class from reserve to museum status.

    MM-13B

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    1. "The promise of the Zumwalt's AGS was a major factor in moving the Iowa class from reserve to museum status."

      You bring us a vivid reminder of one of the major rationales for the retirement of the Iowas. What does the Navy/Marines have to say about fire support now?

      If we can't provide fire support for an amphibious assault, one has to ask why we would retain amphibious assault vessels, MEU/ARGs, and even the Marine Corps!

      The Marine Corps should be in a full scale riot/revolution mode over this debacle and yet I hear nothing from them.

      Delete
    2. Real amphibious assault requires naval support fire. The current trend with the Marine Corps is "air assault" operations which merely originate from a ship. The only maritime part of it is being a passenger on a ship. What is so special about it that an Army air-assault unit couldn't do it. The USMC earned itself a reputation as an indispensable American institution, but now they are trending in a peculiar direction. In a couple decades, what will make the Marines special other than they are "the Marines". What mission will they fill that can't be easily covered by the other branches?

      You're right, the Corps SHOULD be in revolt on this issue but yet I hear nothing.

      MM-13B

      Delete
  12. ""The promise of the Zumwalt's AGS was a major factor in moving the Iowa class from reserve to museum status."

    Not that it matters, but as far as AGS is concerned, the Navy is getting a track record of truthfulness similar to that of the Air Force with the A-10. They don't want it, they don't want to do it, so they'll just flat out lie to get what they want.

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    1. I assume your references to AGS and A-10 are really about the missions of Navel Surface Fire Support and Close Air Support. The A-10's and the whole CAS mission should be given to the Army, especially considering it supports Army operations. But every time that's discussed, senior Air Force leadership gets defensive. They claim it's an Air Force job, but yet they don't act like they really want to do it. It really comes down to not wanting to loose budget shares. The A-10, one of the best CAS planes ever, came about because the Air Force was afraid of loosing CAS budget.

      One plausible idea I have heard for a compromise between the Navy and Marines for NSFS is to have a large cruiser or battleship with the entire weapons department manned by a special Marine artillery branch. Cost for NSFS ship would come out of budget of Navy and USMC. Anyone have thoughts on that?

      MM-13B

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    2. "compromise between the Navy and Marines for NSFS is to have a large cruiser or battleship with the entire weapons department manned by a special Marine artillery branch."

      It sounds nice but is insignificant. Consider that modern weapon systems, presumably to include any new, heavy gun, are designed to be manpower-minimal. The AGS, for example, was designed to be operated fully automated. Thus, there would be very few actual weapon operators. Out of a large cruiser or battleship crew of, say, 700-1500, perhaps 30-50 might be weapon operators and even that might too high an estimate. Thus, the personnel savings by having Marines operate the weapons is miminal and insignificant.

      Of course, if we brought back exact duplicates of the WWII big guns then, yes, we'd need lots of crew to operate them but I don't think anyone believes that would happen, given the example of the AGS zero-manning.

      Finally, the overall cost is the same whether it comes out of the Navy's budget or the Marines. It's just an accounting line manipulation. Further, the vast (98%??) majority of the ship's lifetime operating cost, overhaul costs, maintenance costs, upgrade costs, etc. would all come from the Navy budget so the Navy would see almost no savings.

      Delete
    3. The Air Force doesn't want CAS but they don't want anyone else to have it either because then their budget would decrease.

      I don't want my toy but I'm not going to let anyone else have it!

      Delete
    4. Manning... Even for WW2 technology, the ships were over-manned. In war, extra bodies are an asset. Today, we see the opposite extreme. The AGS was intended to be fully automated but I have my doubts about it actually working well. Heavy sustained fire under combat conditions will stress an automated system to the point where it will require human interaction. I think your estimates are too low for weapons department personnel; your numbers suggest only 3-4% of the total crew.

      Are there any better ideas on how to bring back naval support fire? Sadly, if the Marines don't demand it, there's little chance of it happening.

      MM-13B

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    5. "I think your estimates are too low for weapons department personnel; your numbers suggest only 3-4% of the total crew."

      Given the example of the zero-manned AGS, how are my numbers too low? If anything, they're too high! The Navy would attempt to build every gun with zero-manning.

      Now, personally, I think we need to return to more basic, robust engineering which means more manpower. At that point, you're correct that the numbers should be greater.

      Delete
    6. "If we can't provide fire support for an amphibious assault, one has to ask why we would retain amphibious assault vessels, MEU/ARGs, and even the Marine Corps!

      The Marine Corps should be in a full scale riot/revolution mode over this debacle and yet I hear nothing from them. "

      Conspiracy hat Part II:

      The marines aren't complaining because they got the F-35B, and the Osprey. And their winning there forced the Navy to not have a true fighter, and now a true COD.

      Delete
    7. Given the state of the 'phibs, and the plans we have, I wonder if the Marines every truly plan to be doing the forced amphibious invasion gig again.

      Delete
  13. "Now, personally, I think we need to return to more basic, robust engineering which means more manpower. At that point, you're correct that the numbers should be greater."

    That is more in my line of thinking. What does a modern version of the Newport News guns look like? Auto loading, but not un manned. And enough room to work around things if the auto loader fails.

    Do we have any ships or hulls that could take a dual 8" turret? Or even a 10" that could shoot sabot rounds to get extra range if needed?

    IIRC Ray D had some interesting doc on 11" submunition rounds planned for the Iowa's that had impressive range.

    If we can do it, it seems like a good compromise way of getting good range, good durability/"robust-ness", and not relying on uber expensive tech like rocket propelled shells.

    Back to a car analogy. You can make a car with 3 timing belts and super tight tolerances and get the extra 5 horsepower for another $1000, increase risk of failure, and massive cost of repair if failure happens. Or you could forgo all that and just use a conventional set up.

    For a BMW maybe it makes sense to go uber high tech. It's almost always going to be on a crazy maintenance plan and that's what the customer wants.

    For a military device, I'd rather have the simple iron block V8 that isn't as efficient, but doesn't break often and when it does it's easy to fix by normal guys.

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    1. "Auto loading, but not un manned."

      You're on the verge of a revelation, I think. Why don't you want an unmanned mount? Conversely, if you want a manned mount, why? Don't shy away, this isn't a trap. I think you're about to hit on something fundamental. If not, I'll tell you my reasoning but I'd like to hear your "uncontaminated" thoughts first!

      Delete
    2. "11" submunition rounds planned for the Iowa's that had impressive range."

      Why? I saw some statements once upon a time (long gone, now, can't cite them) that 90% of all worthwhile military targets are within 20 miles of shore. If that's even remotely true then why are we so obsessively focused on greater range? Heck, we threw away $25B+ on the Zumwalt in pursuit of the illusive range prize. Why? What does another ten, twenty, or thirty miles of range get us? Is our goal to have a naval gun that has intercontinental range?

      We seem to have forgotten that we have all kinds of weapons in the military. We have ATACMS with 300 mile range. We have long ranged artillery that can be moved as close the enemy as necessary. We have all manor of aviation assets with huge ranges. We have cruise missiles. And so on.

      Why are we so obsessed with a few more miles of range from naval guns? Wouldn't it be wiser to just build a reasonable, rugged, powerful, lethal, reliable gun and accept whatever range it has and let the other military weapons fill in?

      Why does every ship have to fight and win an entire war single-handed? Can't they just fill their own little mission area at an affordable price?

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    3. "11" submunition rounds planned for the Iowa's that had impressive range.

      Why?"

      The why for that is pretty simple: the 11" sabot rounds for 16" guns were originally designed for nuclear warheads. Being able to toss those a long way makes using them more practical.

      So given you already have the capability to send stuff that far, looking at other things you can do with it is reasonable, and dispensing submunitions is one way to get round the lack of accuracy at very long ranges.

      Note that these submunition projectiles were planned, not deployed. Doing a little planning on an idea can help you tell if it's any good.

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    4. John, that nuclear naval shell was a program back in the 1950's. I'm asking why we are so obsessed with a few more miles of range today. It's an obsession that led us to spend $25B+ building a class of ship that could fire a few dozen more miles. What a colossal waste of money, even if it had worked. That amount of money could have, for example, doubled our B-2 bomber fleet size and they have unlimited range. We could have bought 24,000 more Tomahawk missiles with a thousand mile range. We could have bought a gazillion ATACMS with a 300 mile range. We could have ... well, you get the idea.

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    5. "John, that nuclear naval shell was a program back in the 1950's. I'm asking why we are so obsessed with a few more miles of range today. It's an obsession that led us to spend $25B+ building a class of ship that could fire a few dozen more miles."

      I'll put on my semi conspiracy theory hat.

      Congress wanted an NGFS platform. The Navy wanted the BB's gone; but wasn't really serious about the NGFS role. They did want some sort of crazy stealth follow on (see obsession with technology, US Navy), and by adding/creating the AGS they get Congress to sign off on killing the Iowa's and they get the fancy ships they want.

      Then the price goes sideways. And goes farther sideways. And the death spiral starts. Congress loses faith in the Zumwalts as a do anything platform at a ridiculous price and starts questioning them. The Navy starts cutting back to keep the fancy toys.

      When the Burke line was restarted the writing was on the wall.

      Long story short.... they didn't care about NGFS really. But they did want to lose the Iowa's, and CERTAINLY didn't want the money to go to the Air Force.

      Why not Tomahawks? My conspiracy breaks down at that point. Maybe it just wouldn't have made congress happy enough to kill the BB's.

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  14. " Why don't you want an unmanned mount? Conversely, if you want a manned mount, why?"

    My reasoning, based on just what I have read, is basically that I believe a manned system has an advantage in terms of being able to take damage and keep fighting. Keep systems simple (hydraulic rams, etc.) and maybe have backups. Or a manual backup to the simple auto loader. That way if shock damage jams the autoloader you can still use the mount, if with a degraded rate of fire.

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    1. Exactly right! We've completely forgotten that in combat, ruggedness and reliability is more important than a few percent more effectiveness - ask the Germans about their tank designs. A "new" heavy gun should be as rugged and rock solid reliable as can be even if that means some manual operation is required or some performance is lost. No delicate, exquisitely tuned electronics, no fiddly, balanced on the edge of not working automated loader, no fire control that can be lost if the ship is bumped, no ... well, you get the idea.

      You've got it exactly right. Now, apply that same reasoning to aircraft design, and Aegis/AMDR radar design, and everything else we do that will see combat and I bet you'll wind up concluding that we've got a lot of systems that aren't optimized for the rigors and mistreatment of combat. We've got a peacetime, third world fighting, truck plinking military force not a peer-to-peer combat force.

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    2. I am reminded of discussion about whether it was better for a tank main gun to have manual or automatic loading. A sergeant who had lead a tank crew said without a doubt he would prefer manual loading because that would give him one more soldier on his crew. There are plenty of ways one more soldier comes in handy for tasks other than loading the main gun. One more guy for helping with maintenance or pulling guard duty. Same situation on a ship.

      MM-13B

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  15. "Why? I saw some statements once upon a time (long gone, now, can't cite them) that 90% of all worthwhile military targets are within 20 miles of shore. If that's even remotely true then why are we so obsessively focused on greater range?...

    Why does every ship have to fight and win an entire war single-handed? Can't they just fill their own little mission area at an affordable price?"

    fair point. My thought for the mount is that the radar horizon of a ship is ~ 20 miles from what I've read. I've also read the valuable targets mostly being within 20 miles of shore.

    The Mk 16, even as modified to the Mk 71 major caliber light gun mount, had a max range of 16 miles. I'd like the two to match if possible.

    But don't use rockets, electronics, or hypermagnets. Use submunitions we already know about for that extended (20 mile) punch, then as you come into range switch to regular munitions.

    My thought being that we can have a ship that can target things at the max range of its native sensors.

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    1. There's nothing wrong with developing some longer ranged munitions. The problem is when you spend $25B+ on a ship whose only purpose is to shoot a few dozen extra miles longer. Heck, for $25B+, we could have doubled our B-2 bomber fleet and they have unlimited range!

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    2. I totally agree.

      My premise, and maybe it is false, is that submunitions have been developed before, and that they can be useful in extending range without great expense.

      My sub premise is that this range would be useful and worth the limited cost.

      So, basically, my ideal gun for a ship is going to be 8" or maybe 10", with submunitions options. The role would be A) being able to shoot at other ships which it's own radar or even optical sights can target, and do enough damage to mission kill them or maybe sink them. B) a secondary role would be NGFS; with enough range to hit a reasonable percentage of that 20 mile limit.

      I'd also like some armor, but that's another discussion.

      I think that the single 5" mount on current Navy ships doesn't have a huge amount of utility given it's hitting power and single barrel.

      But in a near peer conflict with targeting sensors compromised to some degree it might be the main thing going.

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