Thursday, November 1, 2018

Weapons Armor

We previously discussed the general need for and benefits of armor.  Now, let’s look a bit closer at the specific case of armoring weapons.  The WWII ship designers recognized that it was pointless to build a ship whose main weapons could be easily disabled.  Gun mounts, the main weapons of the day, typically had twice or more the armor protection of the rest of the ship.  For example, the Fletcher’s 5” guns were protected by 1”-2” of armor while the rest of the ship had ½”- ¾”.  Compare that to a modern destroyer whose 5” gun has absolutely no armor, just a thin weather covering.  How long will a Burke’s 5” gun survive in combat?  Yeah, not long. 

WWII 5"/38 Gun - The Last Part To Fail


I know some of you are leaping for your keyboards, already furiously typing out a snarky reply pointing out that the 5” gun of a modern destroyer is not its main weapon.  Well, hit the backspace key, relax, and keep reading.  What is the main offensive weapon of a Burke DDG?  For anti-ship work, it would be the Harpoon missile.  The Harpoons are housed in totally unprotected quad launch racks out in the open on deck.  Simple shrapnel can destroy them.  For land attack, the Tomahawk is the main weapon and those are housed in VLS cells which I think have some degree of armor protection but I’ve been unable to determine how much protection they have.  Further, the protection that the cells have seems to be designed to protect the rest of the ship from an explosion of the stored missiles rather than to protect the missiles, themselves, from incoming weapons.  Thus, the bottom and sides of the VLS pit seem to be protected but the exposed deck face appears to have little protection.

What about the Burke’s main role of AAW?  Well, the Standard missiles, like the Tomahawks, are housed in the VLS so, again, they may have a small degree of protection.  However, the Standard missiles are only usable if they can be guided to their target.  What provides the guidance?  Three completely unarmored and unprotected SPG-62 illuminators with two of them clustered within about ten feet of each other on the aft superstructure.

So, we see that the guns and Harpoons are completely unprotected while the VLS missiles are protected to an unknown degree although the illuminators are vulnerable.  Little can be done to protect the illuminators without impacting their performance although greater separation would be nice so that a single hit can’t take out multiple illuminators. 

It is also technically possible to house the illuminators in armored recesses on retractable mounts.  The illuminators could be exposed when needed and retracted if hits were imminent – for example, when incoming missiles reach the ESSM and SeaRAM range, the illuminators are no longer necessary.  The Soviets and others have used retractable missile launchers so the concept is perfectly feasible.

This is also another reason for making extensive use of SeaRAM and Phalanx CIWS with their self-contained radars.  A hit on any one unit does not disable the functionality of all the others.

While sensors and illuminators are somewhat challenging to protect, the guns and Harpoons could be easily protected.  Armored mounts for the guns would be a simple and cost effective way of enhancing their survivability.  As we’ve previously discussed, an inch or two of mount armor won’t protect against a direct hit from a cruise missile but it will ensure that a mount can’t be destroyed by simple shrapnel.  Harpoon missiles can be placed in recessed “pits” with armored walls – not perfect but better than the current situation and analogous to the VLS protection.  This would also somewhat enhance the stealth signature.  Such weapon pits have been used on various ships such as the Egyptian Ambassador missile boats and the Absalon class although the degree of armoring of the side walls, if any, is unknown.


Ambassador Mk III With Recessed Weapons Pit


To be fair, the Harpoon is all but obsolete and any further effort at armoring is probably not worth the cost assuming the VLS-capable LRASM is deployed in the next few years.  Also, the more recent Harpoon canisters are thicker walled to, presumably, provide a small measure of shrapnel protection although the degree of protection is questionable.

The overall conclusion is that the Navy no longer designs ships for sustained combat.  Today’s design philosophy seems to view ships as short-lived, offensive launchers with no sustained combat capability in the face of damage.  Indeed, the LCS is intentionally designed to be abandoned at the first significant hit!  Recent grounding, explosion, and collision experience suggests that the Ticos and Burkes are extremely sensitive to even mild damage and will become one-hit mission kills in combat.

We need to return to the WWII design concepts where the main weapons are the last part of a ship to fail in combat.  We need to design in a much greater degree of protection for our weapons and critical sensors than we currently have and there is no technical reason why we can’t.  It just requires a combat mindset from the outset.  The required changes and protections are not particularly difficult and require only the admission that our ships will take hits in combat and the determination that we should be able to keep fighting after taking hits. 

Our ships have, for too long, been designed for peacetime operations instead of war.  This must change.


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Note:

The common twin 5” gun mount of WWII had protective mount shields that varied from ¼” thick to 2.5” thick, depending on the shield version and the specific location on the shield.  The Mk28 shield, for example, was a uniform 2.0” thick. (1)




73 comments:

  1. "Our ships have, for too long, been designed for peacetime operations instead of war. This must change."

    That's not entirely correct. The Tin Can mentality originated after WWII and was a direct consequence of the development of Nuclear Weapons. War Planners at the time assumed any future large conflict would involve massive use of Nukes, and as such armor would be of little use.
    Strangely ignored in all of this were the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests which demonstrated that armored warships (and especially battleships) were in fact extremely resilient to nuclear weapons.

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    1. "massive use of Nukes, and as such armor would be of little use."

      This is one of those often repeated claims for which I can find no supporting evidence. Do you have any reference to support this?

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    2. There is indeed no direct evidence, but it is the explanation that makes the most sense (and actually the *only* exlanation, AFAIK). If you have another theory, I'm all ears...
      It fits into how the West intended to wage war against the USSR in the 50s and 60s. The US, Britain and France thought a conventional war against the USSR would be impossible to win and as such envisionned a nuke-heavy strategy on every level. For example, the british Buccaneer strike aircraft was developed in order to hunt down soviet surface units with nuclear weapons.

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    3. "It fits into how the West intended to wage war against the USSR in the 50s"

      That works up until after IKE. But after him JFK wanted conventional options and McNamara wanted limited war scenarios. The the long growth of the permanent standing army and navy is set. The US might oppose an attempt by China to take Taiwan by force but no US planner is going to use the 1960's version of the SIOP and nuke every potential adversary to obviation. That plan ended after the Cuban missile crisis. It might have been valid in the 60s to say armor is pointless because our plans call for massive escalation to nuclear war, but not anymore.

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    4. "it is the explanation that makes the most sense (and actually the *only* exlanation, AFAIK)."

      A much more likely and mundane explanation is simple incompetence from Navy leadership as they attempted to move from a post-WWII combat mindset to a business operation. In the business model, extra crew and extra armor are costs and serve no purpose since we no longer build for combat.

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    5. That actually makes a lot sense - it would cover both no amour and the endless drive to minimize crew size.

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    6. Then how can you explain that 1) no Cold War US warships had armor and 2) every other navy did the same thing ? Why did the Russians abandon armor ?

      The Cold War navies were clearly built for combat. Yet they already suffered from the Tin Can mentality.

      Furthermore, if the US Navy is following a business model and is trying to reduce costs, how do you explain the evergrowing presence of electronics that cost a fortune to buy and maintain ?

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    7. Read the Smart Ship papers and reviews. The technology of the Smart Ship is directly lauded for removing crew all over ship while sailing (and not actually fighting). The upfront cost is immaterial else we would not have the LCS or the Zumwalt. The mantra of reducing people sailing on ships is practically a religion. Thus nobody or the Hill or in the Pentagon seems to care if logistical support at the dockside is increased (LCS) or maintenance is simply deferred forever. I assume the presumption is that it can be handled by cheap contractors on the dock side. Not sure if they are going to stick around in Okinawa when an attack from China looks immanent. Unlike military personal or similar government personal I don't think contractors swear an oath (but maybe if you pay Fat Leonard enough?).

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    8. No, no. This is entirely the idea of, "ships are cheaper to operate fuel wise so...lets plan not to get hit."

      Basically accountants logic.

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    9. Since the introduction of gas turbines in the 1960s, ships are much more fuel-consuming, so that's not the reason either. Otherwise, the Navy would have stuck to steam and diesel propulsion.

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    10. "Then how can you explain that 1) no Cold War US warships had armor and 2) every other navy did the same thing ?"

      How can I explain any of the myriad bad decisions the Navy routinely makes? They're just institutionally stupid. We once knew how to build combat warships and then as time passed, we forgot. I'm here to remind the Navy and readers.

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    11. You're right. It doesn't really matters to know why navies have abandonned armor, what matters is to know it was a huge blunder.

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    12. Armour declined as missiles were introduced.
      Historically, there was a more or less direct link between ship size and weapon size, with the exception of a few specialist vessels, small ships carried small guns, they couldnt mount big ones.
      Missiles changed that.

      Small ships mounted small guns and were armored against small guns
      Medium ships carried medium guns and were armored against medium guns.
      Big ships carried big guns and were armored against big guns.

      Missiles changed that,
      The 60t Komar carried a very big missile, not the sort of thing you could easily armor a 600t ship against, or even a 6000t

      There was, and is, a hefty belief in the infallibility of missiles, and its easy to imagine that armour is useless against dozens of certain direct missile hits.
      But even under realistic conditions, the second hit is going to be a lot easier than the first, heat from the flames and radar returns from the existing damage will make any soft kill defenses radically less effective.

      But no, fear of nukes was not the driver, if it was, tank armour would have been dumped as well.
      The British Tank went from 51t, to 55t, to 62t, to 75t during the nuclear age.

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    13. Missiles are largely innefective against armored warships due to having next to no penetration. That's because the forward part of the missile has to accomodate guidance systems rather than the penetrating warhead.

      Tank size increased in part due to the threat from the shaped charge which indeed could be carried by a missile. However, shaped charge missiles are useless against ships due to multiple compartiments layouts.

      Also, the Tin Can mentality emerged in the 40s and 50s -when nuclear weapons first became available- while AShM only appeared in the 60s and really became practical in the 70s. So they're NOT the reason armor was abandonned.

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  2. Its a very odd mindset of modern ship design. Its as if a cop were to say well a bulletproof vest won't help if I run into a guy with a AK47, or a head shot nor a stab wound, best not bother at all.

    Armor for MBTs and sundry other vehicles has evolved so much that it could at least be used in experiments. But when I see objections to armor on ships its always framed as a such and such amount of steel that won't do anything. Mostly because it usually a discussion about bringing back the BBs

    I've never come across anyone talk about say what using Boron Carbide Ceramics or Aramid and Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene. They are light enough to armor Helicopters so its like you bolting on tons of steel.

    In the Gulf war CIWS when used managed to rake an own side ship In a real large scale missile attack especially where seaRAMs and CIWS was used in not hard to imagine a lot shrapnel and stray bullets. It would beyond bizarre if all the defenses worked but ships were rendered nonfunctional or degraded by the fallout of intercepts and defensive fire.

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    1. "Its a very odd mindset of modern ship design. Its as if a cop were to say well a bulletproof vest won't help if I run into a guy with a AK47, or a head shot nor a stab wound, best not bother at all."

      There is a vast amount of work showing that personal armour is counter productive beyond a fragment resistant steel helmet.

      It increases the survival rates of individuals who are shot, but it also increases the likelihood of being shot by a greater degree.
      40lbs is a phenomenal weight to carry around, and it has a massive impact on the ability of infantry to aggressively manoeuvre.

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    2. "There is a vast amount of work showing that personal armour is counter productive beyond a fragment resistant steel helmet."

      That doesn't sound believable. Do you have a reference for that?

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  3. Additional armor for the gun sounds nice, but would bringing protection back up to WW2 standards significantly increase the traverse time?

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    1. If you are looking for a comparable to 2" of steel. The equivalent out of Boron Carbide Ceramics would be lighter. Its not like a 5" gun is expected to serve as AA or anti-missle fire anymore. You probably could not armor a CIWS mount but that just argues for more than one and not close together.

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    2. "would bringing protection back up to WW2 standards significantly increase the traverse time?"

      I assume you mean mount train rate? The current 5"/62 mount has a train rate of around 30 degees per sec. WWII 5"/38 mounts had train rates of 25-35 degrees per sec.

      So, armoring the mount has no impact on train rate although it would likely require a heavier train motor.

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    3. "2" of steel. The equivalent out of Boron Carbide Ceramics would be lighter"

      Do you have any reference directly comparing steel thickness and equivalent ceramic performance, thickness, and weight?

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    4. That's not easy. Working from manufacturer pages based more on armor kits aimed at bullet proofing vehicles and light helicopters you can get some ideal of the weight difference.

      So far I found a couple companies that sell standard plates for vehicles. The highest rating I can find easy is for proof against 7.62 NATO standard AP rounds.

      For steel that would look to be 1/2" plate at 20.4 lbs per sq/ft

      A manufacture of high tech plates claims the same protection at 6.55 - 9.0 lbs be sq foot. I have no ideal why they provide a range but they do cite multiple different materials and you have to email for a quote and specifics. On their Helicopter page they say they have kits that rate up to resisting .50 cal AP rounds but no specifics on weight. Also nothing on thickness.

      Steel:
      http://www.bulldogdirect.com/steel-armor-plate/

      High tech:

      http://smgroupindia.com/naval-armour

      The navy page makes it seem like synthetic plates are fairly durable in a naval setting.

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    5. To be clear that was the basis of my post. When I have time I can see if i can find anything academic or war college on cost and thickness, etc. But the fact the MBTs are not using steel anymore does seem to suggest ceramics, synthetics, combinations etc. can do a better job at less weight. Cost more likely, probably. But when you are buying a 2 billion dollar Burkes a 100 million more in ceramic plate if its the only real ship you plan to build sees irrelevant.

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    6. Main Battle Tank armor is designed to stop very specific threats, namely shaped charge (High explosive Anti Tank - HEAT) warheads and hyper-velocity penetrators. The modern techniques used will not translate to ship armor as the threats are quite different.

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    7. That is a fair point. But three things are true. Very many amour options are now available. Second many of these are lighter than steel. Third no attempt seems to have been made to consider if any old or new style amour might useful to maintain ship effectiveness. I evoked MBTs because even though they can been knocked out or rendered damaged nobody has stopped putting armor on them or said well the war with Russia in nuclear so why waste the time.

      Back to ships it is I think a bit silly that 2+ billion dollars could see much of its exposed weaponry damaged by a couple guys in a small boat with an AK and and RPG. Sure the guy on watch a the 25mm station will deal with that - just like the guys on watch who were supposed to notice they were running into ships, reefs, etc.

      I don't think we should slap on 5" of depleted uranium and chobham on every ship everywhere. But it not unreasonable to at least test and try some.

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    8. @Arnim - on Second thought. "Main Battle Tank armor is designed to stop very specific threats, namely shaped charge (High explosive Anti Tank - HEAT) warheads and hyper-velocity penetrators."

      Just two? What about grills to stop simple RPGs? Various detectors to indicate if you should be looking for a LASER targeted weapons or a guy with a wire guided missile. The reality is a first line MBT in combat has a whole array of defenses, amour of varying kinds designed to stop at minimum two very different types of attacks ,add ons like the aforementioned grills, reactive armor, active defense systems...

      Ships face a different types of attack, but the types are discrete, and yet they relay on just active defense. Do you really think for Example thenext Merkava tank Israel makes will just have active defense systems and decoys? Just kevlar around the ammo?

      Simple question what would an Exocet do to the latest M1A1 for all its spending has the pentagon every asked that question. We have 700+ or more laying about in the desert.

      Although the question could be asked if amour is red hearing - sort of. Lack of looks it to be be part of design for not durability in any way.

      The Stark is a fine example. It took two hits and survived. Its clear I think that the comparably reduced crews of a Zumwalt or LCS could not likely save the their ships. But more importantly the Stark could not fire back its systems failed, just as seemingly grounding at low speed did for a Destroyer. Similarly the LCS has not been shock tested or the Navy simply admits it is no better than a commercial ship and it went to the mat to try and not shock test the Ford (although the value of those test given real world results seems pointless)..

      The navy is not building durable ships that can still function at some level after an attack. Lack of armour is just an element of that. That is fine and maybe its realistic. But its not realistic to accept that and build a fleet of 2-5 or 7 billion dollar ships that you think will not survive a single attack or have any ability operate after such an attack.

      Back to the MBTS aside from some that drove off brides in Iraq many may have been rendered inoperable or needed repair, but the number truly destroyed is at best down to no more than 2 hands. That is after 2 wars in Iraq and the forever war in general.

      By comparison US Ships are not looking half so durable.

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    9. You can't armor your way out of inattentiveness or incompetence.

      Yet I do concur, there is probably a happy medium. Splinter resistance for weapon mounts and (to the degree it is possible) sensors, at first blush, appears to have value, even in the face of anti-ship missiles and bombs.

      However, a wise warship designer recognizes that excessive weight is the enemy of survivability. It does no good to armor a ship only to see it capsize or sink because it is armored to instability.

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    10. 'You can't armor your way out of inattentiveness or incompetence. '

      True but no armor and low durability and reduced crew size and lack of redundancy all leave less room to cope with inattentiveness or incompetence.


      'However, a wise warship designer recognizes that excessive weight is the enemy of survivability. It does no good to armor a ship only to see it capsize or sink because it is armored to instability."

      Yes but WW2 cruisers did not capsize or lack range or speed. If durability and some amour are part of design from inception I see no reason why that would make a ship unstable.

      I have no doubt to be fair that there is little that could be done to alter existing hulls that are what they are made. Franky I can only feel a lot more CIWS needs to be bolted on. Perhaps also clearly designating some of all of a now endless fleet of Burkes for one primary role and paying for the that training.

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    11. @Kath

      "Simple question what would an Exocet do to the latest M1A1 for all its spending has the pentagon every asked that question. We have 700+ or more laying about in the desert."

      I do not follow the rationale for this question. A direct hit from an Exocet would render any tank nothing more than bits of scrap metal scattered across the area of a football pitch.

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    12. OK that was hyperbole. [But I'm not so sure anyway at least 2 crew members walked away from a IED attack on M1A1 in Iraq that was supposedly ~500kg and included artillery shells in the mix, won't swear on that its hard to track down info on an event from over 10 years ago I can't say I have a good source for that and a road side bomb is not a 300-400kg warhead traveling at speed.]

      But I guess the question I rather intended was two fold. Nobody has to my knowledge tried to ascertain what some package of modern armor would do vs a typical sea skimming missile.

      An M1A1 is rather small, but its amour (or a similar mix for the expected weapon) on the side of Ticonderoga class ship - would a typical anti-ship missile penetrate? They are not shaped charges - anti ship missiles as far as I know. For all practical purposes they are designed to hit a flimsy target and expect fuel and possible enhanced fragmentation or just traveling very fast to add to the job of a simple explosion..

      Maybe it would be a lot of weight, but if we can build a 610 for cruiser pretending to a be a destroyer that has no guns for 5,6,7 billion and then desperately add new radars to it so it can be a poorly armed destroyer. I would think we could bolt on a pile armor to a one of our last Perrys and see how things turn out after two Exocets. Maybe Armour and more structural strength and more redundancy might see a ship that can still shoot back while its doing damage control.

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    13. "The modern techniques used will not translate to ship armor as the threats are quite different."

      While any specific MBT armor scheme may or may not be directly applicable to a ship, the concepts most certainly could be. Reactive armor, layered armor, ceramic armor, spall lines, v-shaped armor, etc. are all valid armor concepts that could be adapted. I'm not saying that all would work but some certainly can with appropriate modifications.

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    14. "However, a wise warship designer recognizes that excessive weight is the enemy of survivability. It does no good to armor a ship only to see it capsize or sink because it is armored to instability. "

      This is nonsense. We built all manner and size of ships with armor and none ever sank because of the weight of the armor.

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    15. Please forgive my opinion. I do not wish to offend and have my comments removed.

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    16. "Please forgive my opinion."

      Don't worry. You were just mistaken. Do a quick Wiki check of US WWII ships and you'll see that they all carried very heavy armor by today's standards and none ever sank or capsized due to the armor. The amount of armor varied according to the size of the ship, of course.

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    17. There is some merit to Armin's concerns - there was the 4th Fleet Incident in 1935, where the IJN's 4th Fleet was caught in a typhoon during maneuvers: Hatsuyuki and Yugiri had their bows torn away; Myoko, Mogami and Taigei developed serious cracks in the hulls, nearly all the fleet's destroyers suffered damage to the superstructures. The Admiralty's conclusion was that they'd built their ships too top-heavy, and so weight reduction measures were initiated.

      That said, @Armin, being top-heavy is something that you can mitigate during the design phase: if you know how tall your superstructure is going to be, and if you know how heavy the ship is going to be, you can then design your hull to accomodate those factors. There's the planned increase in hull size for the Flight III Burkes over the predecessor ships, in order to accomodate the larger superstructure and weight.

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    18. "There is some merit to Armin's concerns "

      Not quite. Top heavy is a different issue than pure weight. Top heavy is a weight distribution issue.

      Armin's contention was that the weight of armor would cause stability issues. However, armor is mostly applied low on a ship which actually helps mitigate stability issues, in a general sense.

      Top heaviness is not solved by simply removing weight. For example, removing ballast weight from the bottom of the hull would decrease the total weight but worsen the stability, making the ship even more top heavy.

      Cracking and structural failure is a strength issue arising from too light of construction. Modern navies are constantly looking to cut corners to save a few pennies and lightening the strength of the framing is a common but foolish attempt.

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  4. ..."would bringing the protection back up to WW2 standards signifcantly increase traverse time?"

    There are a couple of way to answer this. First, no, the WW2 ships had as much speed and more range than current ships. Additional weight requires additional HP and transit speeds are typically 15-16 knots. At such speeds, there is very little added HP that is required. Top speeds will need bigger power plants but, transit speeds will not.

    Second, We are not really trying to get up to WW2 standards with belt armor equal to main battery and several inches of armor on decks, bridge, etc. WW2 ships had as little as 10% of their total weight in armor and as much as 40%, in the case of BBs.

    Also, As Kath says, there are lighter armors available today that would be as effective as cold rolled armor. We just need to have the leadership in the Navy join the rest of us in the 21st century and demand warships be built.

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  5. Always heard that story too that we got rid of armor because it was useless against nukes. Seeing pictures of ships having survived nuke blasts in Pacific tests, maybe the problem was the crews? Sure the ship survived but would have the crewed survived the blast,heat and especially radiation? How long could the crew operate on a ship heavily contaminated/damaged? Although you think the extra armor would actually help with radiation shielding....curious.

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    1. Maybe not but it still implies a false dichotomy - you assume either never firing a shot in anger or total nuclear war.

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    2. I guess in early 50s, (wasnt personally around) everybody assumed it was going to be all out nuclear war? Wonder if the mind set got set in stone that "what's the point of armor" if USA-USSR are firing megatons at each others fleets and now, decades later, nobody has bothered with armor on ships?

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  6. The armored protection of the SeaRAM and SeaCIWS should be of concern too. Though adding armor to either would require more powerful motors to achieve the same slewing rates.

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    1. I not sure it worth it. They are both bolt on weapons like the Typhoon mount as well. I would think more on ships and more in stock at ports for quick replacement would be the better route.

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  7. Be interesting to see future Chinese development. Will they just stick to small evolutionary changes or will they go in different direction and have a big breakthrough? Bringing back armor on Chinese DDGs or CGs would force USN to take a serious look at armor again.

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  8. We watch about 83 of the hundreds of shipyards in china. As an amateur cratologist who has access to DigiGlobe I have not seen any armoring yet. If you look at black and white photos of their shipyards its like going back in time and it looks like the 1940's in the US.

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    1. I used to post on Virtual Globetrotting website, was pretty decent to find military sites on Google Earth. Too bad Google kind of gave up on Google Earth...

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  9. Not sure what ever came of it, but before I retired in 1992 there was a shipalt approved to add some Kevlar armor protection the the Torpedo magazines on the Spruance class destroyers. The Aegis cruisers share the same hull and torpedo magazines and the
    Spruance calls destroyers. Anyone know it it was implemented?

    Cheif Torpedoman

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  10. Protecting the weapons is about more than armor. If a ship is hit, the shock damage could easily take out the electrical system. Since Phalanx and SeaRam need power (if nothing else) to work, maybe we should also invest in battery backups for those systems.

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    1. Yes a solid point it does not have to all about amour but if you are really building a durable ship. If the USN ships were less expensive you could I suppose argue they are 'expendable' in that you are aiming for the first shot and that is all you can expect. But with a base price for a real ship at 2 billion dollars I would like to think you have some durability built in.

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    2. Since we have become a throw away society, kind of normal that we have gotten to the point where our military systems have become throw away too...lessons of the past have been forgotten.

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    3. That might be true. I reuse even the cheapo bags I get from the Wally Mart. I don't toss my expensive compact aluminum luggage after one use. If the navy built anything that cost wise and crew wise was expendable I could see the the logic such thinking as a strategy.

      If the US N was building 200,000 - 300,000 million ships in volume with say 120 crew people I could believe the logic of accept a successful hit is a done ship. Of course that would mean 7 or 8 ships for a Burke collectively a ton more decoys and CIWS and and just better odds that you don't loose everything in one ship.

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    4. "Protecting the weapons is about more than armor."

      Quite right! Armor is, however, a good starting point.

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  11. The Russian Admiral Gorshkov frigate demonstrates the concept of a weapons pit. Protection is probably minimal, but at least its something.

    Admiral Gorshkov Class Frigate

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  12. The Israeli Trophy system might be relevant in an armor discussion.

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  13. But that functionality is is what the seaRAM and Phalanx provide.

    The question to be asked is why a 2 billion dollar ship like Burke only has one of either instead of 2 of each and as Son of Sailor noted completely self sufficient in power so they keep working.

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  14. I agree on the functionality. The Trophy is so cheap and simple. The Raytheon system is expensive.

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  15. I have no idea how to independently power those key systems?

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  16. What happens when the Sea Ram shoots all 11 of its missiles? Then What?

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  17. "What happens when the Sea Ram shoots all 11 of its missiles? Then What?"

    Then you are out. Now if you advocating for just one. That could be a problem. Seeing as I think a ship of the expense of Burke or more should have 2 and 2 Phalanx systems... It would be a very heavy saturation attack or waves of them them depleted the CIWS.

    Re: the Trophy system is simply no a comparable. Its shotgun designed to knock down comparably speaking small anti tank round at very short range. Not a problem if you a buttoned up MBT - but a shotgun hit on a Exocet at the Trophy range is still probably a kill of a ship.

    The CIWS phalanx and SeaRam are more expensive because to effective they have to successfully engage at a longer range against much more significant weapon. The P-270 Moskit weighs almost 4500 lbs a modern Russian anti Tank missile weighs 27 KG. 27 KGs of shapnal and a bit of fuel will not mean much to Merkava, 4500 kgs of fuel and mach 3 sharpnal engaged at a shot gun rage will not be fun for a modern ship.

    If you were buying a CIWS for a modern version of a monitor were all the crew was buttoned up like MBT than maybe a very short range intercept system would work but flack and fuel and broken missile detritus would still see your sensors obliterated.

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    1. oops I meant 4500 KG above

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    2. Good point though, between the speed and weight of Russian and Chinese hypersonics ASMs, you better hit those suckers way out there, even if not direct hit, all the shrapnel flying towards the ship could impact the soft radar and other systems. How well does AEGIS really degrade when slightly damaged?!?

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    3. "What happens when the Sea Ram shoots all 11 of its missiles? Then What?"

      The same thing that happens when Trophy fires all its charges. :V

      You're also forgetting, by the way, that SeaRAM is a point defense weapon. Ideally you will have SM-6 for long range interception of AShMs (with either E-2 providing look-down picture, or you detect AShMs in the high altitude phase before they dive down for the sea-skimming terminal attack), you have ESSM for interception at the radar horizon, and then SeaRAM as the last resort. Layered defenses are a thing, @Peter G.

      @Kath: let's not forget the P-700 Granit, the boogeyman of the seas. A 7 ton missile travelling at Mach 1.6 - even if the warhead doesn't detonate, that's still a helluva impact force.

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    4. I also did not note the BrahMos. It a hypothetical saturation attack unless a navy has optimal beyond the horizon detection - its not difficult to see a scenario where last ditch CIWS and or decoys will be called into service at minimal not maximum range.

      This it seems to me is one of the best arguments for armor - durability in the face of the results of near ship intercept(and or the possibility of own side hits from lots of ships firing). Also a lot more CIWS. And various other hardening and perhaps a lot more automatic fire suppression.

      I think the Phalanx has so many potential uses and are cheap any destroyer ship should have 2, but for missiles as fast as the BhraMos they are not really going to do the job. More and improved seaRAMS seem to be required. Faster and more range if possible w/o loosing agility. But given the need to likely fire 3 missiles to make a kill, I can't see just one per ship.

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  18. Its the F-35 conundrum. Mighty plane, mini arsenal. We need cheap and plentiful responses. When you see what china is building I'm not confident that even your 2 + 2 config is enough.

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    1. There are 2400 F-35s alone on order for the US, with another 700~ aircraft confirmed for foreign orders. And while the F-35 is a fair bit more expensive than it's predecessor F-16C, it's also got a whole host of systems that the F-16 never have or carries seperately in external pods. At 85 million apiece for the LRIP 13 batch it's par with the Rafale, and *cheaper* than the F-16E with all the modern bells and whistles (quoted price of 100 million for the F-16E).

      When you look at what China is building, they're building 4th generation fighters - the J-10, J-11 and J-15 are all Flanker variants - and they're trying to catch up to the F-35 and Rafale in terms of electronics, because the new hotness is AESA radars and AESA ECM, because modern ECM like what the F-35 and Rafale have can defeat pulse-doppler radars and keep them from getting a lock. The bulk of China's air force are still using legacy radars and are going to be at a disadvantage (which is why China's been concentrating its AESA development efforts on AESA radars for its Flankers and AWACS birds, since those are going to be the backbone of its air force).

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  19. My history loving heart as always wondered about bringing an updated version of the sailing warships broadside. Instead of a VLS that might be vulnerable to air burst munitions, we could have an armor belt around the ship with simple armored sliding doors and an exhaust channel. Harpoons or LRASM or other missiles fire and the door slams shut. Each weapon compartment has a blowout panel so that if struck most of the explosion diverts to empty air above the deck.

    So both crew and weapons are equally armored without extra deck weight. And unlike the peripheral VLS of the Zumwalt, the launch profile starts as sea- skimming horizontal before going vertical. So ther is isn’t dozens of missile smoke plumes and radar tracks right above the ship for all to see. Starting horizontal should also give a quicker response for ESSM as they don’t have to do a 90 degree maneuver before locking on.

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    1. Hopefully, your physics loving heart recalls that missiles have no wings to generate lift. Until they develop sufficient post-launch speed they can't actually fly! A horizontal launch ten feet or so above the water might not allow enough time and altitude to achieve flight.

      Still, the idea is, conceptually, not without merit.

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    2. "give a quicker response for ESSM as they don’t have to do a 90 degree maneuver before locking on."

      Although the MK29 offers that already. You might just argue that a 'capital ship' should have one for maximum response time to compliment the VLS.

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    3. "Although the MK29 offers that already. You might just argue that a 'capital ship' should have one for maximum response time to compliment the VLS."

      A very good thought!

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    4. Horizontal missile launch.

      The Norwegian navy says on the Skold Corvette the NSM is housed in "two popup quad launchers." I thought that I had seen video depicting this, but can't find it now.

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    5. "Although the MK29 offers that already. You might just argue that a 'capital ship' should have one for maximum response time to compliment the VLS."

      It's more of a space issue, I feel. With a Mk 29 you gotta make sure your backblast clear, you have to have it pointing directly at the missile; meanwhile with VLS you fire the missile up and it turns and orients and then dives to intercept the missile. With Vertical launch, at least no matter which direction from which VLS array you launch the missile, it can go. There's pros and cons and tradeoffs to all things.

      -Whiskey

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    6. @KH

      They flip up in the back at an angle away from the superstructure. Reminiscent of the Armored box launcher for the Tomahawk.

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  20. I read that the Kirov-class cruisers have their machinery spaces protected by 80 mm of armor. Don't remember where, though.

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  21. A belated post on armor. I ran across a pretty good CG blog that feels the same way you do about armor or rather lack of on US ships. The context is USCG so more aimed at rifles and machine guns (but would seeming be applicable to vulnerability to fragments as well) There is a couple good points to be had in linked study on the weight of adding Kevlar to more than just engineering but guns, bridge etc in a case study. And a demonstration about just how easy basic construction is to shoot through.

    Blog post:

    https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2019/07/13/protecting-the-gunner-protects-the-ship-protects-the-mission/

    Study link:

    https://www.alternatewars.com/BBOW/Ballistics/Term/CG-D-05-89.pdf

    It seems relevant in that we are seeming set up for a some sort of Tanker escort on going situation in the Gulf that will not see exclusions declared. Instead rather with the odd destroyer and asking patrol boats to deal with their Iranian equals with highly restrictive ROEs. But not with as much Kevlar as they if they have to wait to let the other side shot first.

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