Monday, October 8, 2018

Aviation Amphibious Assault Ships

The centerpiece of the US amphibious assault force is the aviation capable, big deck LHA/LHD ship such as the America (LHA) and Wasp (LHD) classes.  Even the smaller amphibious ships such as the now standard San Antonio (LPD) class have a significant aviation capability.

The USS America (LHA-6), for example, is a monument to aerial flexibility and power.  The aviation component can vary according to mission needs but a typical mix of aircraft might be 12 MV-22 transports, 6 F-35B strike aircraft, 4 CH-53K heavy transport helicopters, 7 AH-1Z/UH-1Y attack helicopters, and 2 MH-60S helos for search and rescue, according to Wiki (2).  The ship can also be configured to operate as a mini-carrier by dropping the helos and MV-22s and embarking 20 F-35Bs instead.

Even the smaller San Antonio (LPD-17) can operate a mix of several helos and MV-22s.

Collectively, this impressive aviation capability leads me to refer to these imposing vessels as … useless.

Wait, what?

How can that much aviation capability be useless?

For starters, I’ve repeatedly stated that there is no strategic need for amphibious assaults in any war against Russia, NKorea, and China (with the possible but unlikely exception of retaking Taiwan).  There is a slight chance of an amphibious assault against Iran but that would be more along the lines of an unopposed unloading rather than an assault.  With that said, our amphibious fleet offers no useful capability because it simply will never be needed.

For the sake of continued discussion, let’s assume that there is some undefined, non-specific need for amphibious assault.  Let’s take a closer look at the large deck, amphibious fleet of 30+ ships.  What do these aviation amphibious assault ships offer?

The Marines seem to desperately want to become an aviation vertical assault force.  By definition, that means that they can only be a light infantry force since they can’t transport tanks, heavy vehicles, etc. by air.  Worse, such a force can only be a very, very short duration force since it is not possible to sustain an assault by MV-22/helo resupply especially when the likely attrition rates are factored in. 

So, what kind of action does this translate to?  At most, it would be a low intensity, short duration raid or rescue type scenario.  This low level of combat power is simply not useful in peer combat and certainly does not justify the construction and maintenance of a 30+ ship amphibious fleet.  Really, 30+ amphibious ships to service light infantry?  Does that make sense?

Let’s look now at close air support.  Supposedly, the Marines want their “own” carriers so that they can always be assured of air support.  Okay, how much firepower does that air support provide?  A standard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) consists of three amphibious ships:  an LHA/LHD, an LPD, and an LSD.  The typical attack aircraft totals are 6 F-35Bs and 7 attack helos.  So, what kind of firepower does that represent?

An F-35B can carry a total of 6 air-to-ground weapons (2 internal + 4 external with 2 additional near-wingtip hardpoints for smaller, air to air weapons only).  Therefore, 6 F-35s can deliver a theoretical maximum of 36 weapons per attack “wave”.  Also, note that the F-35B model is limited to 2x 1000 lb bombs internally (the remaining internal mounting points are for smaller, air to air weapons).  So, assuming a maximum 2000 lb bomb on the external hardpoints (I don’t know if this is even a permissible arrangement) plus two 1000 lb bombs internally, the maximum munitions load for a single aircraft would be 10,000 lbs.  Thus, 6 F-35Bs can deliver a theoretical maximum of 60,000 lbs of munitions.

An AH-1Z can carry up to 16 Hellfire missiles or 76 unguided 2.75 inch rockets or 28 guided rockets.  This is a nice “sniper” capability to have in a low end scenario but is almost insignificant in terms of firepower in high end combat.

So, the aviation element can deliver 36 munitions (10,000 lbs) once every few to several hours.  Assuming no aircraft combat losses and minimal maintenance (an invalid assumption since all modern military jets require extensive maintenance for every flight hour), we could, theoretically, generate an aviation attack wave once every, say, six hours, at best.  Doing the math, that’s an average of 6 munitions per hour.  Does that sound like it would have the slightest effect on a Marine assault/battle? 

Of course, the numbers cited are for a Marine Expeditionary Unit and they values would scale up as we move to a MEB/MEF but the relative contributions would remain unchanged.

Now, just for fun, let’s look at a Burke class destroyer providing fire support with its single 5”/54 or 5”/62 gun.  The gun can fire 68 lb shells at a rate of 20 rounds per minute with a magazine of 680 shells (1).  Thus, a single Burke with a single 5” gun can provide 46,240 lbs of munitions and can deliver that amount in 34 minutes, firing at a rate of 20 rpm.  Further, the naval gunfire is always on call, cannot be jammed or decoyed, is impervious to weather conditions, and puts no pilot’s lives at risk.  Of course, this assumes that the Navy is courageous enough to risk a Burke within a few miles of shore and that the targets are within range of the ship’s guns!

At this point, the astute military analyst should be asking, why do we even bother with amphibious aviation ships given the very marginal firepower support they can provide?  Wouldn’t all that aviation money be better spent on naval gun support?

To be fair, we should note that amphibious aircraft can offer weapons delivery further inland than current naval gun support.  Of course, the further inland, the fewer the number of attack waves (sorties) we can generate so that’s a double-edged sword.  Again, the astute military analyst should be asking, wouldn’t all that aviation money be better spent on long range, amphibious, self-propelled artillery that the Marines can bring ashore with them?

Wasp Class LHD

We should also note that much of the amphibious aviation element is geared towards transport rather than weapons delivery.  However, given that current aircraft can’t lift/transport tanks, engineering vehicles, artillery, or any other heavy equipment, the Marines are, by definition, limited to being light infantry when using aviation as the ship-to-shore transport mode.  The astute military analyst should be asking, is it worth the incredible expenditure to build and maintain a 30+ large deck, amphibious fleet just to provide light infantry combat capability?  Couldn’t the Army/Air Force combination provide light infantry anywhere in the world for a lot less money?

So where does that leave us and what can/should we do?

There are several possibilities.

  • In recognition of the Marine’s (now) light infantry capability combined with the unlikelihood of major amphibious assaults in the foreseeable future, eliminate the bulk of the amphibious fleet.  We can retain around 9 ships (3 ARGs) for training and core competency retention or for use in low end scenarios.  Turn the rapid response light infantry role over to the Army/Air Force.

  • Greatly increase our naval gun support capability.  As we have no effective naval gun support, currently, this would entail designing and building a new class of naval gun support ship.

  • Greatly increase the Marine’s organic self-propelled artillery capability.  The challenge with this approach is to get the equipment ashore quickly and early in an assault.

  • Figure out a way to get the current heavy equipment, armor, and firepower from ship to shore in a faster, more survivable way that can put the equipment ashore from outset of an assault.  Since it’s highly unlikely that aircraft could be developed that could provide the necessary lift, this means designing landing craft that are small (sized for individual tanks as the maximum size requirement), fast, and reasonably survivable as part of the initial assault wave.

  • Eliminate aviation-capable amphibious ships and transfer the aviation responsibility to the regular aircraft carriers.  This would greatly streamline aviation maintenance and efficiency.  It would also eliminate the need for the F-35B since the carriers can operate the “C” model.  This would also have the effect of increasing air wing size and employing the wing more effectively until that rare moment, if ever, when we need amphibious air support.  Hand in hand with this would be the relocation of the ground element to smaller, cheaper, pure transport vessels (Attack Transports – APAs, to use the WWII terminology).

Considering that we’re maintaining a fleet of 30+ multi-billion dollar aviation-based amphibious ships for a marginal aviation capability, one has to wonder if the expense is worth it.  Our big deck amphibious ships simply don’t offer high end combat capability sufficient to justify their existence.


(1)NavWeaps website

(2)Wiki, “USS America (LHA-6)”, retrieved 7-Jun-2018,


  1. With regard to the F-35, i've seen images of it carrying 4x 2000 lbs JDAMs externally, so that's doable. The pylons are also spaced far enough that you can use double ejector racks on the external pylons (which is planned for future intergration), so theoretically if you drop down to 2x1000 lbs JDAMs on each rail, an F-35B can drop 10 JDAMs on 10 targets; 6 F-35Bs could theoretically drop 60 weapons and service 60 targets in a single sortie.

    (My impression is that it's the 1000lbs Mark 83 that's the Navy's bread and butter bomb, vs the 500lbs Mark 82 thst the Air Force seems to prefer).

    You've got a point with the weight of munitions, but not every target is going to need a ton of bomb dropped on it.

    1. "not every target is going to need a ton of bomb dropped on it."

      And that makes it worse in terms of weight of munitions delivered. Then we're dropping six 250 lb bombs or whatever and the munitions weight delivered is even less. The point is that ARG aviation simply can't generate enough firepower delivery to justify the multi-billion dollar, big deck gators.

      As far as any future capabilities, given the F-35's development track record, I'll consider those when they actually exist.

  2. " this would entail designing and building a new class of naval gun support ship."

    Mr. Zumwalt in the corner has his hand raised....
    Or we could buy ammunition for the DDG1k we already have,
    and maybe a new seeker for the existing missile-shell, imaging-i/r, inertial.

    1. But LRLAP was the second go around at failure. So it doubtful the Navy can pull yet try another rocket assisted attempt any time soon. The Excalibur seems to work well and N5 variant for the 5" gun is supposedly developing fine. Why not just retrofit a 8" gun to Burkes? and N6(?) for a 8" shell would presumably have the same range gain effect. At somewhere around only ~70,000 dollars hey its a 'cheap' weapon compared to the LRLAP (Million+).

    2. "Or we could buy ammunition for the DDG1k we already have,"

      No, we can't. You know that the AGS cannot fire any other type of munition in the world, right? It was designed for a unique munition, the LRLAP, and when that failed there was no other option.

    3. "But LRLAP was the second go around at failure. So it doubtful the Navy can pull yet try another rocket assisted attempt any time soon. The Excalibur seems to work well and N5 variant for the 5" gun is supposedly developing fine."

      It's actually more than just the second go around. There were also ANSR,BTERM I, and BTERM II. I don't recall the specific source, but I've read that many of the issues with the previous 5" attempts were with the reliability of the rocket motor, which makes sense to me. Making G-tolerant solid-state electronics and actuators isn't really all that hard, as demonstrated by Excalibur and even Copperhead way before it. On the other hand, I can see how developing a relatively tall (much taller than base bleed motors), relatively "squishy" rocket motor with one or more, potentially complex, holes running its length that can endure several tens of thousands of G and then reliably ignite and burn is extremely difficult.

      As to AGS and LRLAP, the simplest solution would be replace the rocket motor with more explosives and/or ballast while maintaining essentially the same shape. Along with some propelling charge adjustments, it should be able to use AGS's unique twist rate and ammunition handling system. But with only six AGS systems, perhaps even such a modest program isn't worth it.

      Personally, I think our railgun technology is way more mature than we're letting on. Work done at the University of Texas and Monterrey, among other locations, dating back to the 80s and 90s showed that an augmented railgun with tungsten or copper-tungsten rails and firing molybdenum armatures was perfectly feasible. The latest iterations of railgun programs only needed to prove that the power conditioning and storage technologies have advanced enough to make one viable. This might also explain why we've not heard more about full power shots from the BAE and General Atomics railgun prototypes because full power shots aren't indicative of rail life in an augmented rail gun where generally at least half the electromotive force is supplied by the augmenting coils. Full power shots are only needed to test the control and cooling systems, which need to be able to hand the same amount of power and heat regardless of whether the railgun is augmented or not. At least that's the glass-half-full version.


    4. Just a thought, but is it possible for the AGS to fire a saboted 5-in round to make use of existing ammunition? Of course, the sabot would have to be compatible with the AGS ammunition handling system and the gun itself, as well as being economically feasible to make the idea viable.

    5. "is it possible for the AGS to fire a saboted 5-in round"

      You pretty much answered your own question. A custom made sabot would have to be designed. The entire munition would have to be redesigned to be compatible with a one-of-a-kind, totally automated munition handling system or the handling system would have to be completely redesigned, torn out of the existing ships, and rebuilt. Either way, that would be a LOT of money for three ships and only six guns. The 3/6 issue was one of the factors that drove the price of the LRLAP up to a million dollars per round. There just wouldn't be enough rounds produced to make it economical.

    6. So why build the 3rd one? The money is already sunk. If the argument is keeping yards open just accelerate upgrades to the oldest Ticonderogas. Anyway I see they going to bolt on the AN/SPY-3 radar to it. To help make it a surface missile boat I guess. retrofitting the 2 built might be too expensive but I would think they could alter the 3rd to carry more missiles it that is the plan.

    7. Since a sabot is basically a machined part, I was thinking the 3/6 issue would be less of a concern. I don't know how many rounds a 5-in gun fires a year, I'm guessing its between 100 to 150 rounds a year for training. You would then need about 15,000 sabots for 20 years of training plus some number, maybe several thousand more, for wartime use.

    8. Maxis. Recent testing and common sense has proven the rail gun concept a failure, for the tenth time. Here is a good summary:

    9. "Recent testing and common sense has proven the rail gun concept a failure, for the tenth time."

      One of the problems we have, today, is that if something isn't an instant success, we deem it an irretrievable failure, forever. Consider the airplane. It experienced nothing but failure for many years/decades but eventually, through lots of trial and error and experimentation it became a gradual success until it is what it is today. Had we applied the instant success criteria to the early airplanes we'd still be land-bound.

      There is no reason to believe rail guns can't, someday, be successful. Some things just require more time to develop.

    10. @Anon:

      Mr. Meyer does not appear to have a good understanding of railgun physics or aerodynamics. For starters, his ballistic calculations are not valid because the proposed railgun projectiles, like the HVP, are not accurately modeled by a G7 drag function and the G7 drag function is not valid at hypersonic speeds. Second, current only needs to flow through the armature. The projectile is usually electrically isolated and so can contain any explosive and electronics that can survive the launch and be shielded against the EM field. Third, most proposed projectiles like the HVP have a "dispensing" charge to create an area, shrapnel-like effect. Such a warhead would be about as effective against thin-skinned targets, sensors (e.g., radars), and most airborne targets as a conventional HE-frag warhead. A unit of mass needs to impact at approximately mach 4 to deliver the chemical energy of an approximately 23% TNT, by mass, artillery shell (assuming all of the chemical energy could be delivered to the target). Supposedly, an HVP launched at Mach 7.5 and reaching an apogee of 500,000 feet will impact at Mach 5 at a range of around 200 nm. At shorter ranges the apogee will be higher and thus the impact velocity even faster. Projectiles like the HVP are also GPS-INS guided and conceivably command guided for direct-fire applications.

      I believe that Mr. Meyer has an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of the state of the art in railgun technology and scientific principles. His opposition to the technology appears to be rooted in a belief that other weapons systems are more worthwhile, which is a reasonable position. Unfortunately he seems to have convinced himself that a "fraud" must exist to justify his position rather than taking an objective view of the advantages and disadvantages of railgun technology.

      Of course there are significant challenges to overcome before a railgun can be fielded for the envisioned roles, and a railgun is not appropriate for all targets, but there are significant advantages over conventional guns and missiles when it comes to magazine depth, ease of magazine replenishment, and responsiveness in terms of time of flight if not rate of fire given current technology.


  3. Maybe the US Navy can increase it's surface attack capabilities by getting in on the attack helicopter game by buying Apaches or Ah-1Z's

    1. Only at the very low end of the combat spectrum. Helos have very short range radars compared to surface ships. If the helo can see the ship to target it, the ship has long since seen the helo and killed it.

    2. I would think it would be easier just to buy a lot of Harpoon II+ER and more NSMs. Make sure everything from A LCS (if they ever go anywhere) to a Ticonderoga has 4 of each and you would significantly improve surface attack ability. Expand the order for the upgraded Tomahawk and I would think in 2-3 years would looking pretty good surface warfare wise. I not sure what you gain Ah-1Z by loosing a MH-60R

    3. Look at the advances in Helicopter such as the Sikorsky S-97 Raider. That could give LHA/LHD some mean teeth for Surface Strike and CAS in the future.

  4. The elephant in the room is the strong Congress pork barrel support for HII and Marines to keep buying amphibs.

    Need a plan to counter this and can see none on horizon, one option being Navy bribed/bought off HII with being a second source shipyard for FFG(X) if they do not win contract by increasing build numbers, will need to convince Congress the priority/urgency to transfer funding from amphibs to try to match the massive build up in Chinese warship numbers.

    1. "to match the massive build up in Chinese warship numbers. "

      Not just building the PLAN seems fine with extending its older ships...

      Its interesting the Chinese don't seem to see the need to retire their Sovremennyy-class destroyers in order build new ships as well. They willbe 38 years old now. Apparently you can have shiny a new 055 and upgrade an older ship as well.

  5. If close to shore gun support is the name of the game, how feasible would it be to put a couple of 5" or 8" guns on an LCAC? Keeps the big ships from those dangerous, close to shore, waters, and gives the guns their maximum range by getting them directly onto the beach.

    1. An LCAC could not support a 57mm gun. Too much recoil and the MK 110 on the LCSs is being shaken too much for reliability. Eight inch guns are a heavy cruiser weapon, trying to fit them on ships under about 7000 tons becomes difficult. They are producing 6 times the recoil of the 5" gun, which has not been on any ship lighter than 1400 tons.

      The Navy needs a dedicated, low cost (compared to the AB) gun ship.

    2. The Pegasus class had a OTO Melara 76 mm. The real question is why the LCS don't have such and the newer extended rang ammunition. Operating in brown water providing gun support should be their job.

    3. "how feasible would it be to put a couple of 5" or 8" guns on an LCAC?"

      Structurally impossible.

    4. "LCS ... Operating in brown water providing gun support should be their job."

      Even a 76 mm is not gun support in any meaningful way. It was determined long ago, from actual experience, that anything less than 5" is useless in the gun support mission and even the 5" is of limited use. The 8" is the smallest "good" gun support.

    5. Good to know. What about just using some updated M115s, instead of a full on naval gun? Surely an LCAC could handle a couple of those mounted to it.

      Also, I think the hull cracking that supposedly went on during the Mk71 testing was cracking that that entire class of ships experienced due the their aluminum hulls and already overweight bows. Surely if the Navy had any balls they could have designed a 4000 ton sized ship capable handling multiple Mk71 mounts.

    6. "What about just using some updated M115s, instead of a full on naval gun?"

      A howitzer, sitting on a barge (LCAC), is subject to continual rolling, pitching, and movement - not exactly conducive to accurate shooting! You'd need an entire naval fire control system integrated into the artillery and the artillery would need to be modified with gyroscopic stabilization. Then there's issues with corrosion control from the salt environment. Where would the magazine be located - just rounds piled on deck since the LCAC has no below deck?

      The list of challenges is nearly endless. It's simply not possible to do what you're trying to accomplish.

      It is possible to design a smallish vessel that can handle large caliber guns but it has to be specially designed from the outset. Monitors are an example of such a vessel.

    7. "Even a 76 mm is not gun support in any meaningful way."

      Hold on maybe that came across wrong. 76 is better than 57 and and OTO seems to have some decent guided and glide extended range ammunition available. I did not mean fire support in say the classic amphibious attack sense. In the LCS context when you are supposedly inserting Special ops it would at least be a gain more range and HE fire power for cover if insertion goes south. Also you have to admit to would give the LCS a better range in fight with small boats. Nothing can save the LCS but given it size it seems bizarre that they did add a 76mm gun and at least 4-8 Harpoon type missiles as part of there basic kit. I can't find another 'corvette' or small 'FF' as expensive that is not at least a potential threat to large ships one way or the other

      The 8" gun seems like a lost cause. The Navy would seem to prefer to spend money a missile expensive ammunition for any high tech gun but rather than cheap effective one.

    8. With the Army doing impressive work with 155mm Projectiles to include Scram Jet equipped extended range and precision guided projectiles, as well as work on Hypersonic Projectiles, what hasn’t the Navy embraced 155mm instead of trying to make its own proprietary things? Is their a revenue stream in the Navy threatened by guns? I’m just confused why we have Billion Dollar ships without a main battery because of mismanaged development, when a suitable weapon system, that already exist could likely have filled the role.

    9. @Dustoff Doc: The Navy's choice to stick with 5" is, IMO, probably due to inertia. the 5"/38 gun was basically *the* DP gun of the WW2 USN, and that inertia carried on (in much the same way as US Army Artillery standardising around 105mm and 155mm guns in WW1 which carried on until today). As a general purpose gun, 5" is basically a compromise gun balanced between range, rate of fire, and lethality. 57mm has crazy rate of fire but is short ranged and low on lethality; 76mm has more ROF than 5" but lesser range and lethality.

      The Germans did try to run a 155mm artillery gun on a warship. The tl;dr of the MONARC experiments, in their experience:
      - 155mm gives a lot more range vs 5" (40km vs 24 km) as well as more lethality
      - however you basically need to develop new stabilisers, turrets, systems, etc because you can't just put an SPG turret on a warship, that leads to issues with salt water corrosion and waterproofing
      - 155mm is great for shore bombardment but not quite as good as 127mm for ASuW or AAW work.

      Now, that's with bog standard 155mm.

      With the Zumwalts, they were going to new 155mm guns because they wanted to fire rounds 190km inland - existing army 155mm can't do that. They wanted to shoot so far inland because 1) it's the 90s, DDGs are shooting TLAM at someone every other week, 190km lets you shoot inland into the Balkans from the Adriatic, and 2) 190km range means you can comfortably bombard the shore outside of range of SSM trucks trying to counterbattery your Zumwalt. But then the program cuts happen, and when you look at the price of LRLAP rounds... okay sure, maybe mass production would drive the costs down somewhat, but if you're gonna blow a million bucks on a gun round, maybe it might be better to blow that million on TLAM instead, which gives you a lot more capability vs LRLAP.

      Basically standard 155mm reaches out to 40km, 155mm AGS was supposed to be able to hit 190km, or almost 5 times the range. *shrug* But that didn't pan out, costs were an issue, and the meta changed.

  6. "Possible options for big deck amphibs.."

    Stop building them. This seems to be another ship looking for a mission. Air lift is never going to be viable against a hostile foe. Surface connectors are the only way to get Heavy equipment ashore. Amphibious vehicles need to be close to shore to compensate for their slow speed, not 30 plus miles out to sea. LCACs can work IF the Navy has enough LCACs to lift 50% of the total load (people and equipment) at one time. Given a 25-30% attrition, 3 waves will be needed to move everything ashore.

    LCACs will need about 45 minutes to travel 32 miles, 10 minutes to unload, and 45 minutes back to the ship. Let's say loading the LCACs will take another 90 minutes and the second wave is off in just over 3 hours.

    An alternative is the LST. Carrying about 12 MBTs, 8 Bradleys or artillery, plus 200 infantry, and other heavy equipment, 10 LSTs could add a lot of firepower quickly. They could also be armed with 57mm and 30mm guns as well as 120mm mortars to assist the Marines.

    Either way, a dedicated gun ship is needed for close fire support missions. If the Navy is unwilling to provide the tools necessary to make a successful amphibious assault, then they should stop spending money just for the sake of appearances.

    1. "LCACs can work IF the Navy has enough LCACs"

      The problem is that the MEU/MEB/MEF has barely enough LCACs to minimally sustain an assault assuming zero attrition of LCACs. LCACs are doctrinally considered non-survivable and not part of the initial assault waves. They are logistic sustainment craft rather than landing craft. The loss of even a few will see the assault grind to a halt in short order. See Amphibious Assault Attrition

      Similarly, the LST is considered non-survivable. In WWII they were part of the follow on rather than the initial assault. Doctrinally, if the LST is committed, it means that the landing area is reasonably secure which means that guns and mortars are not needed.

      As you note, fire support is the key missing element (well, one of the key missing elements!). However, that support is not going to come from LCACs or LSTs unless we're prepared to lose a LOT of them - which we're not. We do, indeed, need heavy naval guns in some form.

    2. Isn't this a persuasive argument for something light and expendable that can approach shore with a large cannon? A modern day monitor or an LCS variant sans 180 ton module.

  7. In order to avoid the ASCM threat it is estimated that an ARG must operate 70 to 100 nm offshore of an objective area. Therefore,prior to deployment, an ARG must demonstrate that it is capable of putting all necessary equipment and manpower ashore. If the ARG cannot do that it should not be certified to deploy.

  8. You just pinned the tail on the donkey CNOPs... Spot on!

    BTW, even your Taiwan possibility is far fetched in our national interest..

    The bottom line is, in order to have amphibious capability for big conventional war(now called peer adversary...) you first must have real Naval power as the enabler...

    In this resource driven world the USN CSG capability must come first, before amphib capability. That means more CVNs, supporting surface ships, SSNs and carrier fixed wing WAS and power projection aircraft.

    This tactical niche they tout w/F-35B now, that replaced the historically insignificant AV-8B, is a anomaly that has been allowed to grow in a vacuum. Even USMC leaders must see their shortcomings near peer.. You would think. Seems like they want to supplant the Army-Navy and USAF all at once.. by making claims about capabilities. Sort of like their great recruiting commercials..

    For the USA to be successful need to stay in their own lane, alongside the strategic requirements of the US Navy. Got to love their persistence to win (procurement ain't a zero sum game Commandant...) but they must be corralled. However, they control the debate it seems with CoS potus, SECDEF, (2) CC's, etc.....

  9. "Figure out a way to get the current heavy equipment, armor, and firepower from ship to shore in a faster, more survivable way that can put the equipment ashore from outset of an assault."

    Alternatively, we could lighten up some of the heavy stuff to allow more equipment to be brought ashore in a single lift. For example, removing 10 tons of armor from an Abrams tank would allow an LCAC to carry the lighter tank and an M777 cannon and its prime mover. Granted removing armor makes the Abrams more susceptible to enemy fire, but that might be worth the risk to land more firepower.

    Substituting Bradley IFVs for Abrams is another option. A Bradley weighs about half as much as an Abrams and can defeat most armored vehicles with cannon fire alone and tanks with its TOW missiles. Six Bradleys would be enough to move a full Marine infantry platoon.

    1. "would allow an LCAC to carry ..."

      That's still missing the main sticking point - the LCAC is doctrinally not survivable and not part of the initial assault. Thus, regardless of whether it's a full Abrams, a light Abrams, a Bradley, or whatever, it won't be part of the initial assault when it's most needed.

    2. The Bradely has reliability and robustness issues it wouldn’t survive Marine Service. It’s also got a gun that’s widely viewed as insufficient, hence the competitors for replacing the Brad all mounting 40mm or bigger guns.

  10. It’s a shame we haven’t invested in containerized ASM systems like the Russians and Israelis have. I bet one of these small flat tops could carry quite a few containers as a deck load and that would be far more potent than 6 F-35’s.

    1. Containerised SSMs are nice things, but you still have the problem of feeding the targeting data; that requires the launch ship to have radar good enough for ASuW detection and targeting, which LHDs don't have. I see them as being more relevant for quickly upgunning smaller ships that may not necessarily sail with AShM loads in peacetime - for example the Italian PPA light configuration, or Malaysian and Singaporean Littoral Mission Ships.

    2. Data-Linking is very capable of separating the ship shooting the missles and the targeting of the missles. It’s the whole thing that makes the F35 special. One of the current trends is “lock-after launch” where missles are fired in a general direction and the supplied targeting data in flight from a 3rd Party Sensor.

  11. >current aircraft can't lift/transport...artillery

    The ARG's VTOL aircraft can transport their 155mm M777s.


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