Thursday, January 17, 2019

Type 26 Global Combat Ship

Here in the US there is a strong tendency to view everything foreign as superior to everything native.  Foreign weapon systems often take on a near-magical degree of fame.  For example, the 30 mm  Millenium gun is seen as vastly superior to the Phalanx CIWS, despite no actual supporting data that I’m aware of.

Another example of this is the reverence with which the non-existent UK Type 26 Global Combat Ship is held.  Let’s take a look and see if the respect is deserved.

For starters, the ship is not yet built so it makes comparisons a bit difficult but we’ll do the best we can.  The non-existence of the ship probably also explains why it is held in such high regard – everything sounds good on paper!  The F-35 sounded good.  The LCS sounded good.  The Ford sounded good.  And so on.

Anyway …

Here’s a brief summary of the ship’s characteristics and how they compare to the US Burke class DDG.  Recognize, though, that the Type 26 is not intended to be a functional equivalent to a Burke.  This comparison is just to give readers a point of reference that is familiar.

                 Type 26                Burke

Cost              $1.6B(USD)(1)         $1.8B
Length            492 ft                590 ft
Displacement      6900 t                9200 t
Speed             26+ kts               30+ kts
Range             7000 nm @ ? kts       4400 nm @ 20 kts
Gun               1x 5”                 1x 5”
AAW Missiles      48 VLS                96 VLS, any mix
Strike Missiles   24 VLS                above, any mix
Radar             Type 997 Artisan 3D   SPY-1D
Sonar             Towed Array and Bow   Towed Array and Bow
Aviation          1x Merlin/2x Wildcat  2x MH-60R

The Type 26 is described as a multi-mission, “global combat” ship with an emphasis on anti-submarine warfare (ASW).  The ship is claimed to have an acoustically quiet hull, whatever that means.  One would hope that it means that the ship’s machinery is rafted and acoustically isolated from the hull, among other quieting measures.

Type 26

The ship’s anti-air weaponry consists of vertically launched Common Anti-Air Modular Missiles (CAMM), also known as Sea Ceptor.  Sea Ceptor has an advertised range of around 15 miles.  Guidance is via mid-course datalink and terminal active radar homing.  The missile is credited with a limited anti-surface capability against small craft.

The ship’s ASW fit is credible but not outstanding.  The inability to operate two large ASW helos is a drawback as is the lack of on board ASW lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes and a quick reaction Hedgehog/RBU type weapon.  On paper, the Type 26 ASW capability appears to be on par with the Burke or even a bit below since the Burke can operate two large ASW helos.

In summary, allowing for the inevitable cost increases, the Type 26 will equal or exceed the cost of a Burke and have around half the capabilities.  There is nothing that stands out about the Type 26 to warrant any special attention.  It appears to be a capable albeit overpriced ship.


(1)Royal Navy news website,,
article cites £3.7B(UK) contract for first three ships which equates to $1.6B(USD) assuming a 1:1.3 conversion rate to USD;  already this represents an increase over the $1.3B cost cited in 2016 (2)

(2)Defence Committee hearing, 20-Jul-2016,,
assumes a 1:1.3 conversion rate to USD


  1. Having VLS cells with the versatility to load different types of missiles is an underrated attribute. While in peacetime they typically carry a balanced mix, this will not always be the case during war. The inability for the enemy to know if a Burke is loaded for a strike mission or AAW means they have to plan for both. The GCS will not have the same degree of flexibility in ordinance.

    1. "The inability for the enemy to know if a Burke is loaded for a strike mission or AAW means they have to plan for both."

      I understand the point you're trying to make but an isn't going to plan differently based on weapons load. They'll simply plan to sink the ship (if they can) regardless of load.

      There's a growing school of thought among naval leaders and observers that the enemy is somehow going to be confused by distributed lethality or varying weapon loads and that, somehow, in some undefined way, that will benefit us. Nothing could be further from the truth. An enemy is simply going to attempt to sink every ship they see without ever asking any questions about it. An enemy is not going to withhold attacks because they're confused about our ship's load. They're not going to let a Burke pass untouched because they think it has a AAW load instead of a stike load (or vice versa). This whole "we'll confuse the enemy" concept is pure lunacy. An enemy is going to sink every ship they can and not care about weapon loads or whether the ship was "distributed".

    2. “An enemy is not going to withhold attacks because they're confused about our ship's load.”

      That is exactly what they will do. Or even better, they will misallocate their resources. Tactical decisions are based on the best information available. Denying your enemy the benefit of information about your composition is a tactical advantage.

      I just finished reading “The Battle of Midway” by Craig Symonds. I was continually struck by the role of intelligence and information in tactical decisions. The composition of an enemy force (i.e., the capability) was second in importance only to the location of that force, and sometimes composition surpassed even location as the crucial piece of information.

      As a simple example, the enemy knowing a surface group of three Burkes approaches is a valuable piece of information for the enemy. But what is this group able to do? Is it loaded with cruise missiles and able to strike land targets? Or, is it optimized for AAW and capable to decimate entire squadrons of attacking aircraft the enemy just sent to stop a cruise missile attack that the surface group was never capable of in the first place? A group of GCS ships can be more accurately known because the ship lacks the same versatility in loadout as the Burke.

      I can’t speak to the distributed lethality concept or its similarity to what I am saying, but obfuscating the flow of information to your enemy is of first importance. And, having ships with versatility in their loadout goes a long way to accomplishing that goal.

    3. CNOps is correct that a Burke is a priority target regardless of loadout. In fact, PLA would probably try to sink one that was nearly out of VLS, even if it were defended as part of a CVBG... as long as they were confident they could.

      The advantage we get from versatile VLS isn't in whether they will try to sink DDGs, it is in how they will do so. I think we all agree that saturation missile attacks are the gold standard for sinking modern warships, with SSNs and SSKs following closely (tied for non-urgent strikes), and large caliber gunnery following a bit further behind. There's not much point in throwing 10 missiles at an AAW-fit Burke, even 20 is questionable; if we assume AEGIS performs close to "as advertised" (PLA planners almost certainly do in most war games), then this is just a waste of precious missiles. Additionally, in many scenarios this saturation value scales linearly or with slight inefficiencies as the number of Burkes within a few miles of each other increases. Given a 4 CVN CVBG and dozens of escorts, any attack will have very poor (but probably non-zero) returns unless 200+ missiles are used in a well coordinated attack... as long as the escorts all have AAW-heavy loadouts.

      Critically, the PLA can't afford to min-max a saturation strike by assuming a few ships are AAW-deficient. If they're not, the attack consumes a massive amount of hardware for too little return - even if the interceptors are more expensive to make, they can't tactically or strategically afford to lose that capability because then their A2/AD system would critically weakened.

      Now, if this checks out, then clearly PLA will only ever conduct a true saturation attack in the 200+ range. USN can operate a major CVBG anywhere that PLA can only raid with ~100 ASMs and maintain several strike-heavy loadouts - PLAN won't know that 100 is enough until we conduct a strike (and even then, only if they determine the launch platform is the CVBG, not a SSGN), and they won't "waste" the missiles. Same goes for an ASW-heavy loadout, though I doubt 80 ASROCs is much better than 8-16.

    4. "That is exactly what they will do."

      No naval commander in history has withheld an attack because of some perceived weapon load. It might change the amount of resources allocated but EVERY enemy ship is going to be attacked and sunk, if possible.

      A Burke is the backbone of the US surface fleet. The enemy is going to sink every one they can!

    5. "No commander in history..."

      Strange comment. Not sure why you are digging in on this point. Regardless, I thought Luke C. did a sufficient job of flushing out some of the detail of why it is a tactical advantage.

    6. A flexible loadout is advantageous for the ship that has it but it does not matter at all to the enemy. They'll sink the ship even if it had no weapons loaded. Why? Because they know it could/would have weapons at some point down the road. A carrier with no aircraft on it would still be a very high priority target because it would/could have aircraft down the road. No enemy commander is going to pass on a chance to sink a Burke based on what its weapon load is or is not. Honestly, it won't even affect the choice of attacking assets. Any commander will assume the worst case and proceed accordingly.

      Why am I belaboring this? Because too many Navy leaders are buying into exactly this type of ridiculous thinking, that we'll somehow confuse the enemy. The enemy won't be confused. They'll simply sink every ship they see as soon as they see them, if they can. Navy leaders may be stupid but I expect more of my readers.

    7. “Honestly, it won't even affect the choice of attacking assets. Any commander will assume the worst case and proceed accordingly.”

      Exactly. A commander will assume the worst-case scenario. With the GCS, the worst-case scenario for strike missiles is 24. With a Burke, it is 96. Because the Burke has greater flexibility in the ordinance it can carry, it requires the enemy commander to account for it in ways not required for the GCS. That is a tactical advantage.

      I appreciate your high standards for your blog, and know you appreciate being held to the same standard.

      Your response lacked nuance and was overly simplistic. Pick it up a little bit.

    8. Be nice Joey, even when you're right.

      CNOps, Joey said exactly what I was going to. To add to that, my major point was that the worst case AAW loadout is some 100 missiles with a fair split between SM2, SM6, and ESSM, plus a few SM3. Even if it's empty, as long as the PLA isn't fully aware of said, they need a good 24 missiles per hull to be confident in success. They won't ever not shoot if they can saturate... but the ambiguity makes them question when they can. I maintain they will not shoot 50 missiles at a group including 10 DDGs and CGs, they'll wait until they think they *can* sink the ship, as opposed to trading essential A2/AD assets for expensive but replaceable missiles. That opens up wide sections of ocean that the GCS might not be able to traverse unassailed. All the while, the CVBG escorts don't actually have to maintain that hypothetical AAW-heavy loadout to reap some of its benefits.

      I agree that "confusion" won't result from this (that's what the strike campaign against enemy C4ISTAR is for), but forcing the enemy's worst-case contingency planning to look even worse is no small boon.

    9. I think both of you are failing to grasp how a naval engagement is going to proceed. If you (the enemy) think you need 20 missiles to sink a given ship, you're going to use 40-50 just to absolutely, overwhelmingly sure. The only thing worse than wasting some missiles is using 20 missiles that fail to do the job.

      No commander is going to sink a ship and then moan because it turned out he used 10 more missiles than he had to.

      The loadout of the ships being attacked is absolutely meaningless. Do you grasp how many missiles the defending ship will be able to launch? I've done posts on this. If the attacker launches, say, 50 missiles timed to arrive simultaneously, the defender will be lucky to get 30 defensive missiles off before the engagement window closes. It doesn't matter how many VLS cells or what the allotment of strike versus AAW missiles was. The engagement window is simply too short to get many defensive missiles off. That's one of our major vulnerabilities and, as I said, I've done posts on it. Go back and check them out and do the engagement time frame calcs yourself.

      The VLS mix is immaterial to the attacker. The attacker just has to figure out how many missiles are needed to exceed the defender's engagement time window. Once you exceed that, it doesn't matter how many more defensive missiles are sitting, unfired, in VLS cells.

    10. Okay, it makes more sense to me why you see it the way you do based on the assumptions you explained. If what you say is true, then I think the benefits of versatility in VLS loadout for AAW is mitigated somewhat, though not completely. The advantage for strike missiles still stands, as it requires enemy targets to prepare for 96 possible cruise missiles per Burke, compared to only 24 (or to be fair, 1/3 of total VLS cells) with the GCS.

      I read your last two AAW posts and would like to better understand your assumptions. I totally agree the detection envelope is approximately 20 miles (assuming no AEW) for sea-skimming missiles. I also agree that gives approximately 2 minutes before the attacking missiles intercepts the ship (assuming the missiles are sub-sonic). But, why do you think ESSM missiles will only get one salvo per incoming missile (i.e. "shoot-shoot-look")? Also, what probability of hit are you assuming in your modeling?

      p.s. Since we are switching topics somewhat, I can repost this in one of those AAW articles if you prefer.

    11. "I read your last two AAW posts and would like to better understand your assumptions. ... But, why do you think ESSM missiles will only get one salvo per incoming missile"

      Having grasped a bit of the general nature of a naval engagement, you now need to think through the specific mechanics of a missile engagement.

      The ideal, of course, is to detect an incoming missile the split second it crosses the radar horizon. The reality is that detection, classification, and reaction will require time. For a high subsonic or supersonic missile, even seconds translate to significant distance traveled.

      At Mach 1, a missile will travel 20 miles in 94 seconds. Faster missiles in less time. That's a small engagement window. However, the window is shorter than that even. There is a minimum distance from the ship below which you can't engage both because the missile has a minimum travel distance to arm and because the missiles launch vertically, have to reach an apex, tip over, acquire the target, and then travel to the target. That takes time, particularly the vertical launch and tip over. So, a missile that's, say, one mile out can't be engaged because it will cover the distance in 5 seconds and we can't vertically launch and intercept in less than 5 seconds. I don't know what the minimum time/distance is but I'd guess it to be around 5 miles. So, the actual engagement window is actually between 5-15 or so miles depending on how quickly you can detect, classify, and react.

      A window of 5-15 miles is 10 miles travel time which is 47 seconds for a Mach 1 missile. There's your realistic engagement time frame. Less for a supersonic missile. A Mach 2 missile engagement time is 23 seconds.

      You can't just shoot off a non-stop stream of defensive missiles. You have to shoot, wait for the hit/miss explosion to clear from the radar and then shoot again, in needed. I don't know what that wait/clear period is but it's likely 10-20 seconds. You can see where this is going, right? You're only going to get one or two shots in the engagement window and then you've either killed the incoming missile or it's killed you. Those 1000 extra AAW missiles you have in your 1000 VLS cells are absolutely useless and absolutely immaterial to the attacker. Now, if you survive the attack and have to face a second attack then you'll need another few defensive missiles but you can see that the odds on needed 50 or 100 defensive missiles are almost non-existent.

      Of course, if you can detect the attacker 100-200 miles out then you can steadily launch long range Standards all the way down to minimum engagement range but most modern anti-ship cruise missiles fly sea level as the approach so it's very unlikely you'll get that 100-200 mile buffer zone to engage.

      No one knows what the pK for a defensive missile is because they've never been tested under realistic conditions. My best guess is that the individual pK is around 20% depending on the incoming missile's particulars of speed, countermeasures, maneuverability, altitude, etc.

      Is this beginning to make sense to you?

      Are you beginning to grasp why vertical launch is a double edged sword? It's highly inefficient as opposed to a direct launch, trainable launcher.

      The other issue is that Burkes only have three illuminators. They can time slice control but it's still a limited capacity and another reason why a ship can't just burp-launch all its defensive missiles at once.

      Very few people bother to dig down into the nitty-gritty of combat when they talk about VLS and whatnot. I commend you for your interest and willingness.

    12. “If you (the enemy) think you need 20 missiles to sink a given ship, you're going to use 40-50 just to absolutely, overwhelmingly sure.”

      I think in reality, the tasking of assets for effects is a lot more complicated than merely the statement of coordinating 50 missiles onto a moving target. Firstly, targeting a USN DDG with 50 missiles is not merely an attack on a DDG but an overt act of war against the USN and the US of A. Regardless of the degree of success of such an attack, the consequences is much wider. Setting that aside, targeting a mobile and capable DDG is a complex exercise requiring significant chain of assets to execute. On record, no one has demonstrated such capability to execute such a complex tasking and the outcome is far from certain. The USN would be significantly challenged to demonstrate such a task and I doubt the Chinese has the necessary assets to carry it out. For example, a typical Luyang destroyer carries 8 ASCM. A coordinated salvo of 50 missiles would require at least 7 such vessels acting in a coordinated manner. In western military literature, target development and the development of target folders involve both deliberative targeting and time sensitive targeting. This means weaponeering and tasking of assets would necessitate reserve allocation of ASCM for follow up attacks based on real time ISR feed. Therefore in practice at least 14 Chinese destroyers would be needed to execute the plan. This is besides the support assets needed for C2 and ISR.

      It would be instructive to examine a real world example to understand the complexities and the spectrum of assets involved to undertake a coordinated missile attack. The most recent example would be when a coalition coordinated a missile attack on Syria in 2018. In this particular case, it was against fixed land targets and is a much easier proposition than against a DDG or a CBG.

      The assets involved were :

      Pre planning ISR
      4 X P-8A Poseidons
      1 X P-3C AUP Orion

      Planning ISR
      1 X U-2S
      2 X RQ-4Bs
      1 X Sentinel RI

      French Navy strike group in the eastern Mediterranean comprised of :
      1 X Cassard-class destroyer
      1 X Georges Leygues-class frigate
      1 X Durance-class tanker
      3 X FREMM multi-purpose frigates

      The FREMM vessels fired 3 Missile de Croisière Naval (MdCN) land attack missiles

      5 Rafales launched 10 SCALP cruise missiles with 4 Mirage 2000 providing CAP.

      Minutes after the French Rafales dropped their weapons, 4 RAF Tornado GR4s launched 8 Storm Shadow cruise missiles with 4 RAF Typhoon’s GR4’s providing CAP.

      AWACS support came by way of 2 Armée de l’Air E-3Fs over a nine-hour mission.

      …. part 1

    13. Part 2 ....

      Submarine USS John Warner (SSN 785) launched 6 Tomahawks. 7 Tomahawks were fired from the USN USS Laboon (DDG 58) and 30 from the Ticonderoga-class
      cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61). USS Higgins (DDG 76) fired 23 Tomahawks.

      2 B-1Bs launched 19 AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-of Missiles. CAPs to secure the airspace were conducted lasting 6 hours using F-15Cs and F-16Cs supported by KC-135Rs and KC-10As. The fighters flew in three different cells with
      4 F-15Cs with 4 F-16Cs; while the second comprised 3 F-16Cs and 4 F-15Cs, and the third consisted of 4 F-16Cs.

      Air support came by way of a single E-3G (AWACS), and a single electronic warfare support from a EA-6B. A RQ-4B flew a 22-hour mission over the eastern Mediterranean throughout the operation. This provided a live intelligence feed that was sent directly to the E-3G via datalink. An RC-135V Rivet Joint provided signals intelligence (SIGINT) and an RC-135U collected intelligence on threat radar emitter systems.

      Tanker support for the operation involved 24 refueling aircraft, 10 KC-135Rs, a KC-135T and 6 KC-10As from the USAF, 6 French C-135FRs, and a single RAF Voyager KC2. AWACS were refueled by 2 USAF KC-135Rs. The 3 packages of F-15Cs and F-16Cs were supported initially by 5 KC-135Rs and then handed over to 3 KC-10As. At least 3 more KC-10As supported the pair of B-1Bs and the E-3G over Iraq and the northern Persian Gulf. 4 further KC-135R/Ts supported the RAF packages besides the single Voyager KC2.

    14. "targeting a USN DDG with 50 missiles is not merely an attack on a DDG but an overt act of war against the USN"

      Uhh … what else did you think we were talking about?

    15. "It would be instructive to examine a real world example to understand the complexities and the spectrum of assets involved to undertake a coordinated missile attack."

      What's your point? Is it that we (and you) and our military leaders have totally forgotten the sheer scale and magnitude of real war? You seem to think that the operation you cited is somehow a large, unusual, unlikely effort and that nothing larger or more complex than that is possible. I would remind you of the immense size and complexity of almost any noteworthy operation in WWII. Any of them dwarf the example you cited. When real war comes, we'll have to rapidly relearn how to fight large scale wars and conduct large scale operations. The Battle of the Philippine Sea (Turkey Shoot) involved 15 carriers, 7 battleships, 21 cruisers, 68 destroyers, 28 subs, and 900 aircraft and yet we managed to control and coordinate the elements of the battle and did so at a local level as opposed to a massive, high level, Pentagon controlled effort.

      You're simply, unintentionally, making the very relevant point that we've forgotten what war is and what it takes to fight one. Good job pointing that out, even if you didn't mean to!

    16. My point is simply to contest your notion of an “overkill” approach as a tactical engagement option upon detection of a DDG in a conflict situation. The tasking phase is basically a follow on from the planning phase driven by the outcome of having detected a known threat in the form of a DDG. The ISR data does not provide any information on other possible known threats within the contested zone like the presence of maybe of other DDGs operating as part of a larger surface group. Expending 50 ACSM as an insurance policy is not how tasking for effects is realistically undertaken for a number of reasons. Firstly, “overkill” depletes inventory that might be needed for subsequent engagements. Secondly, the sizing of such a salvo dictates the engagement of multiple assets and increases C2 complexity and coordination while diminishing the window to engage a time sensitive mobile target. Thirdly, such an approach exposes the fleet to its own location. Tasking for effects is to go with what is considered sufficient to achieve the desired effects. A typical kill chain process will undertake an assessment phase after the engagement to determine whether a follow up strike is needed. Real time reconnaissance strike against a moving target in conflict conditions is very difficult to sustain and as part of the tasking effort would include a time sensitive target matrix to adjust for changing conditions. The challenge is securing real time targeting data in the kill chain and throwing outsized salvo where the fix on a target is far from certain is not best practice and is supported by research studies.

    17. Oh good grief. When possible, every commander in the history of warfare eagerly chooses overkill. Beyond that simple truism, you're just arguing for the sake of argument. This is over. Move on.

    18. Lots of good stuff in your response CNO. I have actually done the calculations before so most of this is not new to me.

      One place we may differ though is that I feel confident a defending ship is going to get two salvos with ESSMs instead of just one in most circumstances, at least when the inbound missiles are subsonic.

      Also, are you using statute or nautical miles in your calculations? 94 seconds at Mach 1 would mean statute miles. My understanding is a surface-based large radar can reliably detect sea skimming missiles at 20nm. That might seem trivial, but as you say, a few seconds makes a big difference.

      One other thing is the speed of the inbound missile. None of the sea skimming subsonic missiles I know of actually travel at mach 1. They travel slightly slower than that (.9 to .95), which again adds precious seconds.

      Even with the two points above, the numbers still say you are going to get two salvos.

      It is interesting to me you estimate the probability of hit at 20%, not because I think it’s wrong, but because if you really believe it to be that low, you have to fire more defensive missiles than one or two in each salvo. Assuming two missiles fired in rapid succession each have a 20% chance of successfully intercepting the attacking missile (in reality the odds for the second missile will largely overlap those of the first), that gives you a 36% chance one of those two missiles will successfully intercept the incoming missile. That is simply too low, even if you are guaranteed to get two salvos. Firing two salvos of two missiles each would only give you a 59% chance of successfully intercepting the missile.

      At 20% PoH, you would need to fire approximately 5 missiles in both salvos for a 90% chance of successfully intercepting the missile. And that’s only for a single inbound missile!

      So, if you really believe in your 20% estimate, you’re going to need a lot more missiles…

    19. One salvo or two salvoes per engagement - it doesn't matter to the overall main point. Two salvoes also assumes a very fast reaction time on the part of the defender. Unless we're operating with Aegis in full auto mode, I can see the defender failing to get off any shots because the reaction time is so short. Consider the Vincennes incident and their poor and incorrect reaction despite having several minutes of reaction time! But, I digress …

      So many people seem to think that no missile is going to get through because, hey, I've got 1000 missiles in my super-VLS cruiser. They don't realize that the number of missiles is irrelevant - it's the number of missiles per engagement window. The attacker doesn't have to apply 101 missiles to overwhelm your 100 defensive missiles, they just have to apply 3 missiles to overwhelm your 2 missiles in the engagement window (or 6 missiles to overwhelm your 4 - you get the idea)! You seem to now grasp that concept. Good.

      Regarding pK, you're now beginning to understand why the US Navy's unwillingness to mount more point defense weapons is so unwise. WE WILL HAVE LEAKERS AND LOTS OF THEM!!! Instead of a single CIWS on a Burke, we need several. I'd have four on any threat axis (like, 2 centerline and 2 on each side for a total of 6). I'd also include 2-4 SeaRAM launchers. Now you're giving yourself a fighting chance to survive!

      I've also done posts on the need to tailor our defenses to the close in missile battle. Aegis/AMDR is wonderful for long range engagements but those aren't going to happen. We need radars (and EO!) that are optimized to deal with short range aerial clutter. The sky is going to be filled with debris from previous hits and misses and we need radar that can "see" all that and still pick out the real targets. We don't have that currently. Read the following post for more on the subject:

      Detection and Engagement Range

      Our entire defensive concept is flawed and is based on long range detection and engagement. It stems from the Cold War need to detect and engage high flying Bears and Badgers and their missiles. Today's threat is the supersonic, sea skimming missile with a very short detection and engagement range and yet we're still pursuing ever longer Standard missile engagements. It's wrong!

      Part of the problem is that the Navy refuses to test under realistic conditions. Take one of those Aegis cruisers that the Navy is trying so desperately to early retire and park it in the middle of the ocean with Aegis on full auto, remove the crew, and then launch 50-100 real missiles at it and see what happens. Then we'll know what works and what doesn't and what we have to change. But, the Navy refuses to sacrifice one ship (that they don't even want!) to enhance the defensive capability and safety of the entire fleet. Baffling.

    20. "Also, are you using statute or nautical miles in your calculations? … One other thing is the speed of the inbound missile."

      Now we're into the realm of quibbling. Understand, I'm addressing a wide audience, many of whom just want the basics, so I try to keep the discussion as simple as possible. Someone who grasps the finer points can work out the details for themselves, as you're doing. The nuances don't change the overall premise or conclusion.

      Since you want to account for the finer details, and seem to be suggesting that those details will favor the defender (more time), you'll probably also want to account for wave clutter. We're not going to pick up that sea skimming missile the first second it crosses the radar horizon. It's return will be buried in wave clutter. For several seconds we'll just see occasional returns - not good enough to launch on. Depending on weather and wave height we may not get a launch lock until 15 miles or 10! You'll also want to include terminal missile maneuvering and missile ECM. Of course, the defender also has ECM and decoys.

      You probably also want to include engagement angle. As you undoubtedly know, pK is a function of engagement angle. You have a better chance to hit a missile coming head on than a crossing one. If the defender is guarding a higher value target like a carrier, the engagement is likely to be a crossing engagement to some degree and then the pK drops precipitously.

      And so it goes, factor after factor. Without having access to classified data, we can only deal in generalities and semi-informed supposition. Too many people try to treat this as an exercise in precise mathematics - we're going to detect the missile at 20.0568 miles so we'll exactly xxx seconds and … We're not! We'll be lucky to detect, identify, and begin reacting by 10 or 15 miles unless we have pre-knowledge of the attack and are sitting at our consoles with our fingers poised above the launch button just waiting for the first flicker of a return (of course, that's a good way to lose a friendly helo!).

      It would take a near-book to account for every minute detail in a missile engagement. I write posts that are several paragraphs long. A lot has to be simplified or omitted.

    21. I've also been using a radar horizon of 20 miles as a starting point but depending on the actual ship and its radar height that horizon may be a good bit shorter. The horizon calculation is readily available on the Internet if you want to look at the horizon as a function of radar height. Is that Burke fully loaded and riding a bit lower in the water? Every inch makes a difference in the horizon calc! ………… But it doesn't actually change the overall premise or conclusion - it just makes for an arguing point for those who are inclined to argue rather than to grasp the overall premise and its implications. You seem to be going for the overall concept so good for you!

    22. "Today's threat is the supersonic, sea skimming missile with a very short detection and engagement range and yet we're still pursuing ever longer Standard missile engagements. It's wrong!"

      It's about maintaining illusions. Many Americans believe that their military is so far ahead of any other that challengers are irrelevant. They also get their ideas about engineering from Hollywood. The politicians who represent them don't want to contradict them, because that will cost votes. They also really like the money they get from defence contractors.

      So the parts of the Navy that know better need to keep their mouths shut, and the parts that don't understand the problem prosper. Nobody dares rock the boat; they just hope the problems will never be exposed. It's a classic case of perverse institutional incentives, on a very large scale.

    23. "None of the sea skimming subsonic missiles I know of actually travel at mach 1."

      The BrahMos is a sea skimmer that uses a terminal pop up and steep dive attack at supersonic speed. So, this may not be sea skimming during the terminal phase, it is certainly supersonic!

      The P-800 Oniks is credited with a speed of Mach 2.6 at altitude and Mach 2 at sea skimming.

      The 3M-54 Kalibr (SS-N-27) is a sea skimmer that cruises subsonic and goes supersonic during terminal approach.

      The Chinese YJ-18 uses a subsonic cruise mode and then initiates a supersonic (Mach 2.5-3.0) terminal attack speed. I don't know the terminal altitude.

    24. "... you estimate the probability of hit at 20%, ... if you really believe it to be that low, you have to fire more defensive missiles than one or two in each salvo."

      There's the heart of it. How many missiles can you EFFECTIVELY fire? Here's some of the problems:

      - When the first launched missile explodes, the radar picture becomes obscured to a greater or lesser extent and control of the subsequent missiles becomes problematic. We could launch 17 missiles in rapid succession but we wouldn't be able to control them. How many missiles can we EFFECTIVELY control?

      - Once the first missile explodes, the following missiles now see large targets from the debris and are likely to home on the debris field rather than the real target. The fewer missiles we launch, the better for target discrimination but the worse for coverage saturation. There's a balance point somewhere.

      - The more missiles we launch, the less we have available for subsequent engagements.

      - The missiles we launch, the harder it is to time slice and control them. If we launch them too closely together, we can't time slice rapidly enough to EFFECTIVELY control them.

      Weighing all these factors, the Navy has settled on a shoot-shoot-look sequence as optimum. Whether that truly is optimum or not is an open question that will only be answered by combat or realistic testing. The Navy hopes to avoid the former and refuses to conduct the later. Still, the shoot-shoot-look sequence suggests that launching too many missiles is counterproductive which, again, leads to my conclusion that we'll only get a few shots per engagement window and that those enormous VLS magazines are of limited value.

      Yet again, this suggests that "overwhelming" the defense involves not hordes of incoming missiles but just enough to overwhelm the small engagement window capacity.

    25. I totally agree with increasing efforts closest to the ship. Every ship should have one or more Phalanx, and as you say, with redundant coverage if possible. Every ship needs defensive measures that can engage inbound missiles at any/every distance of the engagement envelope. If the ESSM missile from a VLS has a minimum range of 5 miles, and if the Phalanx has a max range of 1.5 miles, that leaves 3.5 miles where the inbound missile has free pass. That is crazy. The engagement envelope is too small to have sections of it giving free pass to inbound missiles (especially 3.5 of the last 5 miles!). SeaRAMs work well for this, and why they are not replacements for CWIS but complimentary.

      I disagree though about increasing ranges being the wrong direction to go. It is wrong in that it is incomplete, but it is an essential aspect of the total picture. Increasing the range increases the engagement envelope. Because of the clutter you mention, you have to begin engaging inbound missiles as soon as possible to give yourself as many informed shots as possible.

      I will also say the effectiveness of your defensive missiles is also an essential piece. I did the math and if each missile for different distances in your defensive envelope (SM, ESSM, RAM, Phalanx) has a realistic Pk of 20% as you suggested, we need to turn the ships around and park them in port until we can figure out how to get it up to at least 30%. That percentage is simply too low to make the economics of defending surface ships from anti-surface missiles plausible. It would mean allocating approximately 10 defensive missiles for every inbound missile.

      In fact, if I assume a carrier group carries around 400 AAW missiles of various kinds, and assume the Navy desires that their carrier groups can fend off two different attacks of 20 sub-sonic missiles each, or one attack of ~37 missiles, with an 80% confidence level of success, it means the Navy believes their AAW missiles to have an average Pk of 40%.

    26. "it means the Navy believes their AAW missiles to have an average Pk of 40%."

      If you believe what they say, the Navy thinks the LCS is capable of winning wars singlehanded. If you believe what they say, the Navy thinks the Ford and Zumwalt are commissioned warships, ready for battle. If you believe what they say, the Navy is fully trained and ready - despite the tendency to collide with giant cargo ships. And so on.

      My point is that what the Navy believes is rarely ever the same as reality. So, what does the Navy believe the pK is? I have no idea but I'm pretty sure they're wrong.

      The missile manufacturer's claim 90%+ pK's, of course, and that's just ludicrous.

      What the Navy believes is almost irrelevant. It's reality that matters. There is not much actual data on naval AAW and what there is, is not encouraging. The best data set is the British Falklands experience and their missiles achieved around a 25% hit rate.

      The next best data set is the land-based surface to air data from Vietnam, Falklands, Israeli experience, India/Pak, etc. and there is LOTS of data and it is very clear that surface to air (SAM) missiles have a very low pK, on the order of 5%.

      With that kind of historical data, across many generations of technology, do you see any reason to believe that the pK will be much above 20% or so?

      Now, before you start concluding that we can't stop incoming missiles, you also need to account for passive defenses. Here, there is a fair amount of data and Hughes summed it up in his book and I've repeated it on this blog. The finding is that passive defense has a pretty good success rate (80% or so, if I recall).

      Finally, you're also neglecting the incoming missile effectiveness. Incoming missiles aren't 100% effective if they don't get shot down - not even close! Again, there is a fairly substantial data set for this and it shows that incoming, anti-ship missiles are not the 90%+ wonders that the manufacturers claim. Against, undefended ships, incoming missiles have only a 75%(? I'm trying to recall off the top of my head) chance of hitting. For example, the Israeli ship that had a couple of C-80x missiles fired at it a few years ago was totally undefended and unaware and yet one of the two missiles missed completely and the other barely hit a rail or some protruding piece of equipment and did only minor damage.

      So, as you assess the attacking/defending missile situation, you have to factor together all these things. Are you starting to get a feel for how complex the "calculation" really is?

      While I put the pK of ESSM at 20%, I put the "pK" of passive defenses at 70% and the pK of the attacking anti-ship missiles against an undefended ship at 50% or so.

      And, of course, we haven't talked about ship stealth and strength of target lock by the attacking missiles. For example, a spread of, say, 6 attacking missiles will against an undefended ship will likely see 2 of them fail to acquire the target (outside their seek field of view) so there's a 33% failure right there! Remember, missiles that appear over the horizon don't have a target lock - they just have a general location within which to search. Some will find a target, some will not.

      The factors, positive and negative, just keep piling up!

      All of this reinforces why it's so important to conduct realistic tests and makes it all the more baffling why the Navy refuses.

    27. "SeaRAMs work well for this, and why they are not replacements for CWIS but complimentary."

      Very good observation!

    28. Those are great points, and you are right, it is much more complicated than at first glance.

      I appreciate you taking the time to engage. Maybe you could help with with a couple of things I still don't understand about illumination/radars.

      1. Why are our ships designed for AAW limited to 3 or 4 illuminators? This is because Standard and ESSM missiles are semi-active homing right? I have heard before the AAW missiles we fire are too small to carry a meaningful transmitter, and the target we are shooting at is too small to be picked up by that same small radar anyway. Doesn't the Aster family of missiles have active radar in the missiles? I think I'm just trying to understand why are ships designed for AAW (and presumably some of the best in the world) have this limitation. Is it a decision on our part, or something inevitable in small targets at long distances? Also, why only three or four? What is the bottleneck to installing more of these where this would no longer be an issue? Does the illuminator have to be on the ship that fired the missile? or can any ship (or potentially plane with a big enough transmitter) illuminate the target for the missile?

      2. What prevents a SeaRAM from firing at defensive fighters or fighters coming back to land on the carrier? How can it distinguish between the types of planes we might want it to shoot down versus our own planes? I know it primarily shoots down missiles, but my understanding was it will shoot at planes as well in auto mode.

      Any insight would be much appreciated.

  2. Well in CIWS systems I think type 26 looks better: 2 30mm DS30Ms [if they really are credible anti rocket weapons]and 2 Phalanx does look like a better CIWS kit than the one spot on the Burke for 1 Phalanx. The spot for the DS30M looks like it mount a Rolling Air Frame if you wanted.

    1. The DS30M is not a CIWS and, to the best of my knowledge, has no credible anti-rocket capability. It is an anti-small boat weapon, pure and simple. It is also not a radar directed weapon. It uses an EO sensor and I'm not sure to what degree the fire control is automated, if at all.

      Burkes has 2x 25mm guns which appear functionally identical to the 2x 30mm other than the difference in caliber.

      So, as far as comparing CIWS fit, the Type 26 has 2 and the Burke has 1.

    2. Notably, CIWS is one of the few systems that can be installed without the kind of crew, berthing, and galley space expansions that many other systems require. Additionally, the deck space that the forward CIWS occupied in Flight I is apparently empty in flight II & IIA, and the 2 bushmasters could probably be replaced with an additional 2 CIWS as long as the USN decides that the PLA is a more credible, important, and urgent threat than Iranian small boat swarms. Then again, a lot of oil flows through the Persian Gulf, so we'll probably always keep the Bushmasters on a significant number of Burkes in addition to some dedicated anti-surface-swarm ships.

    3. "deck space that the forward CIWS occupied"

      One of the problems with modern ships is that they have very little deck space for installing weapons and sensors. Check out this post about the negative impact of stealthy superstructures:

      Ship Superstructures

    4. As you noted recently, Burke stealth is already outdated at best, and significantly worsened by the addition of new equipment in the various modernization programs. Of course a new design which included an integrated defensive suite with stealthy housings would be better if we had the good sense to include it (looking at you, Zumwalt), but bolting some CIWS and/or seaRAM back in those empty spots on the Burke would almost certainly do more good for short range AAW than harm to stealth.

  3. Hey I did a cursory look and the manufacture had some drivel to that effect. Maybe anti rocket just means shooting the rocket launcher?

    In any case there seems to be little data on the Burke beyond two 25mm guns. So it still looks like the 26 has a better overall light gun load. But I assume one can slap a 50 cal non automated weapon just about anywhere so.

    1. I have to admit, Ive wondered why, if this small boat swarm is such an issue, we didnt just add a half dozen or so more .50cal to each side of the ships... At main deck level they can reach most of the way to the horizon. So why do we need high dollar fixes to combat low dollar threats?? Adding 10 mgs and some storage boxes seems like a cheap no-brainer...

    2. "if this small boat swarm is such an issue, we didnt just add a half dozen or so more .50cal"

      A couple of reasons:

      -0.50 cal MG won't stop a small boat or, if it will, it will take a long time (dwell time) before the gunner can be sure the boat is stopped. MG can kill crew but if the boat continues running, the gunner won't know that and will have to keep engaging. All the while, the rest of the swarm continues to approach.

      -The small boats are armed with rockets and having a bunch of crew standing exposed on deck during an engagement is a good way for the crew to be killed.

      -Aiming a 0.50 cal MG at a small, bouncing, maneuvering target and getting hits is next to impossible. You'll get a few random hits but that won't stop a small boat.

      Effective defense against a swarm of small boats requires a fire-and-forget, one hit, certain kill weapon, like a Hellfire or similar.

      Read Swarm Attack

    3. "Effective defense against a swarm of small boats requires a fire-and-forget, one hit, certain kill weapon, like a Hellfire or similar."

      What I find odd here is that Hellfire testing for the LCS seems (for the USN) to be robust. Rapidity firing multiple missiles to hit multiple targets outside of 57mm gun range. The Griffins mount on the Cyclone shows you can retrofit on small missiles.

      Yet the Navy prefers to highlight stuff like lasers with a massively non realistic test on the Ponce.

    4. "Hellfire testing for the LCS seems (for the USN) to be robust."

      ?? I'm aware of only a single engagement test which occurred in May 2018 and involved four missiles. The test was declared a success (what Navy test isn't?) but no details were released to allow us to evaluate how realistic the test was. Odds are it was pretty staged, as all Navy tests are.

      Unless you know of additional testing, I don't consider four missiles with unknown conditions to be "robust" testing.

    5. I could be wrong, and probably am. I'll have to dig through my history to find the link I was thinking about when I posted.

  4. The Merlin ASW helicopter is a pretty big bird, comparable in size and capabilities to the Sikorsky S-92. A Merlin can carry 4 Stingray torpedoes vice the Seahawk's 3 Mk 46/50 torpedoes. If indeed a Type 26 can carry 2 Merlins, it would give the Type 26 a slight advantage in this regard.

    Also, according to Wiki, there is an extended range CAMM missile called CAMM-ER with a range of 45+ km which puts it the range of the ESSM, though it probably has a smaller warhead due to its lighter weight.

    1. Everything I read indicates that the Type 26 can carry only a single helo in the hangar. Ships don't normally carry helos on the flight deck so that limits the Type 26 to one helo. It appears that it can also accommodate a single UAV. Thus, the Type 26 has room for one ASW helo and the Burke as two.

    2. But, your table reads "2x Merlin/Wildcat" for aviation.

      However, the images of the Type 26 show a single hanger door unlike the two hanger doors on the Burkes. So, I'm guessing they can support two helicopters with one on the flight deck and the other in the hanger. But, that would be cumbersome with maintenance and flight operations. I agree that one helicopter is practical.

    3. I haven't come across any suggestions that the Type 26 can only carry one helicopter, that would be very disappointing if true as the Type 45 (which is a similar size, although with a greater displacement) can carry two.

      While it is some time ago and the design may have subsequently changed, the Secretary of State for Defence stated that the Type 26 would be able to carry two Wildcats (rather smaller than a SH-60) or one Merlin (significantly larger than a SH-60), with the possibility of a second Merlin in the mission bay "in extremis" (

    4. "I haven't come across any suggestions that the Type 26 can only carry one helicopter, that would be very disappointing if true"

      "or one Merlin"

      You just said it! It can carry two small helos or one large one. The large one being more capable at ASW.

  5. Hi CNO,

    A few points about the Aussie version of the Type 26 aka Hunter Class.

    I checked the wiki for Type 26 and Hunter class and have followed an Aussie focused naval forum for a little while.

    - Oddly enough, the T26 does not list any torpedoes amongst it's weapons, but the Hunter Class does (MU90 Impact Torpedoes).

    - While the ships officially carry x1 helocopter, apparantly there's a large door between the helo hanger and the multi mission bay, allowing a second one be carried.

    - There's no official number of VLS cells for the Hunter, though models tend to show 32 MK 41 cells. Looking from the outside (I haven't seen a cutaway of the ship yet so don't know what else fills the nearby missile area) eg could even have 40-48 cells. In addition, imho, there's no reason they couldn't put some in the multi mission bay, in the middle lengthwise,becoming a second VLS area with the RHIB's on the side.

    - Australia is different from the US and UK- I think they have no desire to put cruise missiles on their ships. This means there's more space for SM2, ESSM and ASROC's, and the VLS number is less of an issue.

    As an aside, every time I mention VLS numbers on that Aussie forum, the regulars shoot me, and anyone else down. They say that Aussie ships rarely sail with a full missile load- saves fuel, saves on potential loss of limited missile numbers, some missions don't need every cell filled.

    (my instinctive expectation is a warship would be fully loaded and supplied when it sailed. Seems they're quite happy to not do that)

    Do Burke's sail with, say, just a quarter of their VLS's filled?



    1. "Do Burke's sail with, say, just a quarter of their VLS's filled?"

      No one outside the Navy knows and I'm sure it depends on where they're going and what they're doing. For example, Burkes that are deployed near the Middle East and that might be called on to conduct Tomahawk strikes probably carry more missiles than a Burke that's conducting a goodwill tour of South America. My guess is the "average" ship deploys with around 2/3 cells loaded.

      That said, I've done posts on the number of VLS cells required for a warship and it's nowhere near the 100+ that everyone seems to want. So, I don't see partial VLS loads as an issue and certainly not during peacetime - war is another story.

      This also gets back to my ongoing question about what Australia sees as the role for its military. Local defense? Global commitments? Anti-Chinese? Anti-American? Neutral? Pacific regional engagement?

      I've never gotten a good sense of what Australia wants its military to do. Maybe Australia doesn't know what it wants?

      You bought some F-35s. Great. What for?

    2. "No one outside the Navy knows and I'm sure it depends on where they're going and what they're doing. For example, Burkes that are deployed near the Middle East and that might be called on to conduct Tomahawk strikes probably carry more missiles than a Burke that's conducting a goodwill tour of South America. My guess is the "average" ship deploys with around 2/3 cells loaded."

      If they don't sail full than that makes US missile stockpiles look rather poorer than assuming we had full ships (and Likely NATO worse).

      That being said, any sense of the cost of carrying a missile on the ship in terms of were and tear and reduced shelf life? In this if you don't really expect to fire a missile is better to have them in the in some perfect environmentally controlled bunker?

    3. VLS missiles are cannisterized so, in theory, they are sealed. The only wear and tear is from the ship's motion.

      Our VLS inventory far exceeds our actual missile inventory. Best estimate is we have around 3,000 Standard AAW missiles while we have around 7,000 VLS cells in the fleet. Of course, there's also Tomahawk missiles and, again, we probably have around 2,000-3,000. ESSM we probably have 500-1000.

      NATO inventories are probably good for about one sizable engagement, I'm guessing. The Libyan fiasco from a while back was eye-opening with the NATO countries running out of munitions in short order.

    4. "The Libyan fiasco from a while back was eye-opening with the NATO countries running out of munitions in short order."

      To some but for a time I was bidding my collage degrees toward Foreign Service at the state department. And I can recall at least 2 or more late 80s papers I read bemoaning how tiny US ammunition stocks were and how you could count in days (not weeks)the ability of Germany to sustain significant combat operations (including just rifle bullets).

      The innovatory gap is something I find rather bad. I see no reason not to have more.

    5. "I've never gotten a good sense of what Australia wants its military to do. Maybe Australia doesn't know what it wants?"

      This has been a long standing issue for many many decades. I heard this even when I was about 10, from my dad.

      Australia is a far away, wealthy country with no real enemies. Enemies make goal setting easy. But being a distant, yet wealthy country makes policy making ....spongy.

      You're right , CNO. Australia really doesn't know what they want their military to do. They definitely need patrol ships to keep sea lanes safe, but beyond that?....I assume that's why Aust only has 59 tanks, for a nation the same size as all of Europe.

      However, I think things will change, with China's expansion. If Australia is unlucky, and New Zealand too, they may genuinely face direct military issues for the first time since WW2.


    6. Australia needs to face up to the Chinese threat and choose a side. Some day, down the road, China will come knocking with its (at that time) massive military and Australia will have to either become a Chinese state or fight. The sooner Australia decides which they want, the sooner they can begin preparing to either speak Mandarin or build a credible military and forward engage. The walking the fence, neutral posture they seem to be adopting never works.

    7. "ESSM we probably have 500-1000."

      I'm sorry, but that number seems low given we have 88 Burkes/Ticos and 20 carriers/amphibs equipped with ESSM. Even if each ship averaged 16 ESSM, that works out to 1,728 missiles. The Burkes and Ticos probably carry more, maybe 32 rounds each. I'm betting the number is closer to 2,500 instead.

    8. The number is based on monitoring yearly purchase requests from the Navy and the manufacturer's stated total production quantities and distribution around the world. ESSM is a popular missile and it's being sold to many countries. I have no doubt the US would like more but they simply aren't available in the desired quantities. So, my number is semi-authoritative. Unless you have better sources, we'll stick with my figure. If you do have better sources, please share.

      I accept your apology.

    9. Raytheon produced their 2000th ESSM in 2014, with USN and 11 operators world wide, unlikely USN has a lot more than 1000 in inventory. Couldn't quickly find yearly production rate....

    10. If we do indeed have 500 to 1,000 ESSMs, which I doubt, then our ships are woefully underarmed. A 1,000 missiles for over a 100 ships doesn't make sense.

    11. I stand corrected. I checked the FY2017 weapons request for the Navy and prior to FY 2015, the Navy had procured 743 ESSMs. Between FY2015 and FY2018, the Navy procured another 237 rounds bringing the total to 980.

      I apologize.

      As the need seems to exceed the supply, I'm guessing there are a fair number of Sea Sparrows still around.

    12. "I stand corrected."

      Believe it or not, I actually do research and when I offer information, it's pretty reliable. I also try to offer an assessment of the degree of reliability associated with the information. Sometimes I offer speculative information and, when I do so, I try to indicate it as such. The point is that, at some point, I would hope readers say, hey, ComNavOps has been right the last 38 times I double checked him and then they would begin to accept the information as reliable without having to double check.

      Note, though, I have no problem, whatsoever, with anyone checking my information but when a doubter posts a comment disputing my information, I have to spend time defending it - time I could better use elsewhere. I can't just let the doubting comment stand because then other readers can get confused or mislead. So, what I would ask of you is, next time, feel free to double check me but do so before you post a contrary comment. If you check me and can find data showing my information is incorrect then cite it and I'll welcome the correction. Even ComNavOps can be wrong - well, theoretically - it hasn't happened yet!

      This has been a long winded way of saying, do your homework before commenting rather than after. It will save everyone a lot of time and effort.

    13. " I'm guessing there are a fair number of Sea Sparrows still around."

      Now that, I have no idea about. I'd guess there's not much of an inventory left (shelf life) but that's pure guess. Let me know if you find any real data.

    14. CNO. Of course your blog is authoritative. But. When you state you don't believe the RQ 180 is real it hurts your cred. Off topic: On the missile discussion and how many war fighting days we have, I believe we all know we could run out of most inventory in 30 days?

    15. "don't believe the RQ 180 is real"

      The RQ-180 may or may not exist in any usable form. I have no doubt that someone planned and/or developed a design or prototype. As far as I know, no one knows if it's gone beyond that point. We could have a fleet of them or it could have been dropped and we have none. I don't follow AF matters that closely so I'm not up on this. If you have any definitive information, please share it and I'll happily acknowledge your information and thank you for increasing my vast storehouse of knowledge. I'd be particularly interested in knowing how many we have and what their capabilities are (speed, range, endurance, weapons capacity, sensors, etc.). I look forward to your references!

    16. Australia isn't going to "forward engage" against China, at least not independently. Australia only has 25 million people.

      The main role of the Australian Defense Force is securing the maritime approaches and cutting supply lines and the ADF is capable of doing that against anyone other than the US itself. The RAAF is heavily oriented around maritime strike and there are many bases in the north that the RAAF can forward deploy to if needed.

      The Navy's main job is securing trade in the immediate region. The surface fleet could be larger, but all future ships will be Aegis ships (including the Type 26/Hunters). The sub force will be gradually doubled from 6 to 12 vessels by around 2040.

    17. "The main role of the Australian Defense Force is securing the maritime approaches and cutting supply lines … oriented around maritime strike and there are many bases in the north that the RAAF can forward deploy to if needed."

      Northern Australia is 1000 - 3000 miles from likely Chinese supply routes depending on exact locations. Does Australia really have strike aircraft that can conduct useful strikes at those distances?

      So, Aus plans to sit back and protect maritime approaches while the US fights the war? This is my problem with so many countries in Europe and throughout the world. They're all quite willing to let the US bear the brunt of fighting and dying while they reap the benefits. How about planning to take a place in the forward battle?

      I understand that Aus isn't large enough to take on China singlehanded but this why Aus should be coordinating with the US on force structure, capabilities, and anticipated war operations. The US has plenty of combat capability gaps that other countries could ably fill but few seem to have the desire to do so.

      Aus is trying to walk the neutrality tightrope. Sooner or later, they'll have to choose a side.

    18. A few things:

      The role is not to cut Chinese supply lines, the role is to cut any enemy supply lines into our own maritime approaches. During WW2 Japan made the decision not to invade Australia because they realized they could not manage the supply chain to do so, so they limited themselves to air strikes in an attempt to prevent Australian forward bases being used as a staging area. The RAAF likewise was preoccupied with attacking Japans shipping and forward bases and the Army with denying access to basing in PNG. Today the force structure is based around countering the same threat.

      Almost the whole north of Australia is unoccupied with few roads. Even if an enemy was to land troops the RAAF and RAN would simply need to keep attacking the maritime resupply vessels and wait for the enemy to run out of supplies. In recent years there has been significant investment in ISR (Jindalee OTH Radar, E-7A, P-8A, EA-18G) and the amphibious force has been upgraded with a couple of LHDs and an LSD to allow assaults on regional islands to prevent enemy basing. We have some C-17s as well which is a big mobility upgrade.

      Along with the F-18F, F-35A (72 of them which makes the RAAF one of the biggest buyers), AEGIS and US combat systems being selected for the submarines, there is actually a lot of buy in to US systems.

      As for sitting back whilst the US fights "the war" the US has no treaty obligations to protect Australia and did not in WW2 until Pearl Harbor happened making Japan a mutual enemy. Australia isnt a NATO partner and there is no explicit or implicit spending agreements.

      Further China is an important trading partner for Australia. Whereas the US wants to protect its manufacturing, Australia wants more trade with China. They buy loads of stuff from us: coal, natural gas, iron ore, primary produce, service sector consumables, amongst others and Australia is not going to kill off an economically advantageous relationship because of US-Chinese tensions. Much of that US hardware we buy is basically bought with Chinese money.

      Essentially Australia is not the USA and whilst we share similar strategic interests, they are not the same. Like Japan we have aligned ourselves with the current maritime power: the USA, because it makes the most sense.

      You know, the USA doesn't need to confront the Chinese in the South China Sea. If you don't want to spend US taxpayers money maintaining the worlds largest navy, withdraw from the Western Pacific and let other nations take reponsibility for themselves. If you are not prepared to do that and want to remain the hegemon...other nations will leach, because its the smart thing for them to do.

      Which do you want?

      Good forum by the way, I enjoy reading the discussions.

    19. " there is actually a lot of buy in to US systems."

      There is a world of difference between buying US systems and meshing with the US force structure. For example, a few dozen F-35s are US systems but offer little of benefit to the US in the event of a war. We already have F-35s. What we lack is ASW assets (and MCM and …). As an example, Australia could opt to provide ASW assets which would fill a US capability gap. That's what I mean by meshing with US force structure.

      That doesn't mean that Australia can't buy anything other than what the US lacks. By all means, buy some F-35s for general use. It just means that if Australia wants to take their place beside the US and contribute in a useful way, they need to coordinate with the US. Of course, this requires that Australia decide who their enemy is and who their friend is rather than straddle the fence.

    20. " the US has no treaty obligations to protect Australia"

      Correct. However, if China were to attack Australia, I'm sure Australia would be howling for US support. This is what frustrates Americans about so many countries in the world - they all want US protection but aren't willing to step up and take a full part in that protection. Consider NATO which can't even get its member nations to pay the agreed upon 2% GDP.

      From the US perspective, we are trying to contain China with the spectre of a future war looming. Simultaneously, Australia is helping China by enhancing trade with them and allowing major port facilities in Australia. Australia wants, and depends on, America's help but won't help contain China. Australia needs to pick a side.

    21. "withdraw from the Western Pacific and let other nations take reponsibility for themselves."

      America has a fairly strong, inherent isolationist tendency and would like nothing more than to withdraw and let other nations take up their responsibilities. We sort of saw that, to an extent, under the Obama administration when the US ceased leading the world and took a back seat and scaled back worldwide actions. The result was a marked rise in terrorism (ISIS and others), a marked rise in aggression by Russia, Iran, NKorea, and China, and NO increase in activity from other "allied" countries.

      The Libyan fiasco a few years back where the US sat out and the European countries ran out of munitions in a couple of weeks illustrates just how little other countries are willing to contribute to their own or the world's defense. Disgusting.

      Australia is in a position where they could be a strong ally and deterrent to China but, at the moment, are not.

    22. "Essentially Australia is not the USA and whilst we share similar strategic interests, they are not the same. Like Japan we have aligned ourselves with the current maritime power: the USA, because it makes the most sense."

      The best "alignments" are not matters of convenience or what makes sense financially but, rather, are matters of ethics, principles, and beliefs. Align with someone because it's right not because it's profitable.

    23. I respect all of your points and can understand your frustrations, but you are viewing Australian interests through a US lens and geopolitics isn't about ethics, principals and beliefs, it's about tough realities...for any nation.

      The fact is Australia has benefited greatly from increased trade with China and China accounts for about 33% of all exports. China has no need (or capability for now...ballistic missiles aside) to attack Australia nor is there any reason they have for blocking our ability to trade with them via the South China Sea.

      Australia likewise has nothing to gain from increased tensions in the South and East China Seas that will disturb our ability to trade with all three of our biggest trading partners.

      Why should we risk a 33% reduction in national export income because of a dispute that Australia has no skin in? If anything being overtly antagonistic to China is going to make us more of a strategic liability for them. Japan went on the war path when they couldn't get the natural resources they needed...

      We already saw the UK walk out on us and put up trade barriers when they joined the EU. That's why we turned to Asia.

      Do I 100% trust China? No of course not, they are in the game for themselves. But so is everyone else and not everyone has the same needs. US hegemony has worked well for Australia, but if China wants to trade and the US is looking more isolationist, why wouldn't we hedge our bets and sit on the fence, especially when China is economically more important to us.

      If the shit hits the fan and China attacks the US Fleet, I have no doubt Australia will side with the US, but if the US is gunning for a confrontation that is clearly economically detremental to Australia things will not be so clear.

      Expect to see Australia engage a lot more with India in comming years and a post Brexit UK. India is seen as a counterweight to China and a UK return to the east will provide another factor adding to the balance.

      If you want change, you need to change your congressmen, not expect other nations to do what you think is in their interest but actually isn't.

      I don't mean this to be antagonistic, just an honest dialog.

    24. "I don't mean this to be antagonistic, just an honest dialog."

      You're doing fine and this is good material for readers.

      "Why should we risk a 33% reduction in national export income because of a dispute that Australia has no skin in?"

      This reveals a profound failure to grasp the realities of a Chinese controlled Pacific region. Given the opportunity, China will ruthlessly suppress other countries (ask Vietnam or any of the nations that have competing claims with China for territory), dictate trade agreements, regulate and impose fees on international shipping, demand control of other country's ports (oh, wait … they already did that to Australia), and turn countries into tributary states. You do have skin in the game - you, apparently, just don't realize it, yet.

      Australia has the option to redirect its trade to/from the US instead of China. As the US pulls its manufacturing back from China, there will be many more opportunities for trade with the US.

  6. As a Brit, the idea that the T26 is the equivalent or better than a Burke is ridiculous. The ships use the same basic technologies (gas-turbine engines, 3D radar, vertically-launched solid-fuel missiles) and the Burke is substantially larger.

    The T26 electronics are likely to be more modern, and that, plus the much smaller production run, is why it costs about as much as a Burke.

    1. John, you caught this sentence in the post, right?:

      "Recognize, though, that the Type 26 is not intended to be a functional equivalent to a Burke."

      As far as cost, as I stated in the post, the Type 26 is going to have half the capability of a Burke at nearly the same cost. Wouldn't it have made more sense to just buy a Burke from the US? Same cost, twice the capability? Was that ever considered?

    2. The answer, of course, is "politics". When the ship was being designed, the Labour party was in power, and the constituencies where the ships will be built were very important to them. Cancelling the project to buy US ships would cause a political outcry whatever the remake of the government.

      Also, British doctrine and usage is different from American. The Burkes would not be a good fit, and the Royal Navy is terrible at co-operating over ship designs. They've dropped out of several projects in the past few decades that involved compromises with navies that needed ships much closer to RN requirements.

    3. I have no doubt that you're absolutely right.

    4. I think you are underestimating the value of the quietness of the Type 26 design. While Type 26 is flawed in many ways, the Burke probably can't fully use its onboard ASW sensors at any speed due to its noise. Comparing SH-60s to Merlin is also underselling Merlin's endurance, loadout etc so in my mind Type 26 is a better ASW platform. That said, Burkes aren't primarily ASW platforms and it would be embarassing if Type 26 couldn't do better!

      Type 26 could certainly do with torpedoes and a RBU/torpedo hard-kill system and I would fit Spearfish rather than Stingray (there are plenty of spare launchers about, but maybe not that many spare torpedoes). i understand the US is working on a hard-kill anti-torpedo system and that should be a program the Brits join.

      Quad-pack CAMM in the Mk.41 VLS would be a sensible option to have as 24 probably isn't enough and Phalanx really needs looking at as its capability is marginal now. (I'd like to see a post on that!).

      Type 26 is an enormous ship for the weapons capability and a second Merlin could have been designed in on that tonnage but the fact is that the Royal Navy doesn't have any spare - there are 25 operational and a single carrier takes 14 of them!

    5. "underestimating the value of the quietness of the Type 26 design."

      Absolutely not!!! Quieting is mandatory and priceless in a ASW surface ship. The Burke has such quieting built in along with Prairie/Masker. I don't know what Type 26 has beyond the vague statement that it has quieting which I assume is acoustic isolation/rafting. I don't know if it has Prairie/Masker. In short, I highly value quieting but I see no indication that Type 26 is quieter than a Burke. It may be just as good (or may not). It's conceivable that it might even be better but there is no evidence of that.

      Regarding helos, what makes you think I believe the SH-60 is superior to the Merlin? I made no such comparison. I merely noted that the Burke can carry two helos and the Type 26 appears to only carry a single Merlin.

      If you're going to disagree with me, make sure it's about something I actually said!

      In summary, considering all factors, I see no evidence that the Type 26 is better than the Burke at ASW. They seem to be roughly on par with each having a few advantages the other doesn't.

  7. No way disagree with your assessment of the fighting capabilities of the two warships, though will add the following points re. the very, very expensive Type 26 FWIW, Navy targeting $800M for the FFG(X)

    The Australian Hunter version, using exactly same hull is quoted at 8,000t FLD, 8,800t EOL, so not sure why the Type 26 quoted 6,900t, light or standard?
    Minor points Type 26 sonar includes VDS, none carried by Burke and designed with quiet hull and hybrid propulsion with shaft mounted electric motors so no noise generated from a MGR and diesel gensets rafted and in enclosed sound proof enclosures for ASW ops.

    My understanding the Burke $1.8B excludes cost of Aegis which is funded by MDA, not the Navy.
    That is small beer to life costs. Navy do not give O&M figures per class of ship, cost drivers crew and fuel, but USCG does, its 2.4 for the NSC, crew 129 per ship, Burkes an old design and would not be surprised if looking at life O&M costs of five/six times procurement cost with its gas guzzling GTs and crew of 330 per ship. Would expect that crew numbers fuel economy of Type 26 similar to a NSC. Should have noted source but read recently average direct costs of sailor ~$100,000, with all additional costs total ~ $0.3M per sailor per year.
    The downside of the low number of crew numbers is numbers not there for damage control.

    ROM figure for cost of procurement and O&M thu life

    Type 26 $1.6 + (1.6 x say 2.5 for O&M) = $5.4B
    Burke $2.0B + (2 x say 5.5 for O&M) = $13.0B

    If semi-accurate Navy could operate 2.4 Type 26s for every Burke, presume why now Navy may rely more on highly capable frigates and therefore need fewer large combatants – a notion that is changing how the Navy looks at its requirement for a future large surface combatant.

    The director of surface warfare Rear Adm. Ron Boxall (OPNAV N96) repeatedly noted that relying more on a highly capable frigate or small combatant would be a better use of the Navy’s funds, allowing more ships to go more places and reserving the large combatants to focus on things that only they can do: haul the largest of radars into theater, launch the largest of missiles, and so on.

    From Seapower, FFG(X) Program cost estimates trending downward &
    USNI Navy honing in on requirement for nexy large combatant

    1. You're just about purely making up the O&M costs for the Burke so your conclusion is suspect, at best.

      Setting that aside, we noted that the Type 26 has half the combat capability of the Burke. Thus, conceptually, we need two Type 26 to equal one Burke. Therefore, the true Type 26 operating cost to achieve equal combat capabilities is 2 x $5.4B = $10.8B versus the $13.0B for the Burke (even using your suspect cost figure). Thus, the "benefit" to using smaller frigates is only 0.4 ships. And, as I said, that assumes that your O&M costs are semi-accurate.

      All that said, I have no problem with speculating about costs and I commend you for doing an analysis. Now, see if you can find some accurate cost figures to back up your analysis. The Burke construction cost breakdown is given in the Navy SCN budget books which are readily available on line. I have seen O&M costs for different classes of Navy ships, including the Burkes. Unfortunately, I haven't saved any of those reports but, while not common, they are available on line. GAO and CRS are the two most likely sources.

      If find better data, let me know.

  8. You know for me what seems odd is that in nominal supposed claimed combat power neither of these ships are necessarily all that much better than an Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate. I doubt there is any good way to compare Russian spending to US/NATO because they are two closed eco systems but if project 22350 ships real cost only ~300 million. Somebody is getting a bargain at it does not seem to be the US or UK.

    Inflate the Russian numbers to 500 million and still I think given the one shot mission kill nature of everyone seems to building and maybe 3 of them is better.

    1. " Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate"

      I'm very impressed with Russia's frigate and corvette designs, at least on paper. Their actual construction quality is, historically, pretty poor so who knows about the actual performance but on paper they are very good designs.

      As far as costs, there is no way to even remotely ascertain the true, comparative cost of Russian shipbuilding. Between lies, fraud, creative accounting, and subsidies it's just not possible to get a real number and it doesn't matter what Russia can build a ship for. It only matters what we can. If Russia could build a ship for free, it wouldn't change the fact that it costs us $2B or whatever.

    2. @Kath. One thing about the Soviet/Russian ships, they almost always seem to pack more punch ton for ton than Western ships, at least that's the appearance to me. From what I know, they aren't as comfy as Western designs and probably don't have the general "endurance" of Western ships BUT it's also by design and operation. Personally, I like what they do compared to some of our Western designs, IMO, the only "western" country that packs a lot in their ships are the Israelis, their ships are a lot smaller BUT they seem to always pack a heavier punch too.

      Would be interested to know if there's something in the CNO archives about what's the appropriate "punch" of a ship? Why are some ships considered under or over armed?

    3. " Why are some ships considered under or over armed?"

      I don't think it's possible to be overarmed! A ship can be underarmed or inappropriately armed, though.

    4. @NICO

      I am surprised they opted for a 'western' style single main gun mount with only one gun.

  9. I might add from what I can find I have no ideal of what to make of Russian unit cost figures that are floating about. Do they include any research background /program costs or what?

  10. US costs - Type 26 v Burke comparison

    The very, very expensive and large Type 26 frigate, partially result of adding on additional missions, an amphib capability for special ops, flight deck sized to take a Chinoock CH-47 and disaster relief with a large mission bay to take 11? 20 foot containers. If you want a world class benchmark, check out the following two frigates, from Japan and Korea, 3rd and 2nd in world shipbuilding respectively.

    The new Japanese Future Multi-Mission Frigate, 30FFM, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) awarded contract August 2017, ~6,000t FLD, 130m LOA, 16m beam, CODAG with RR MT30 and with two MAN 12V28/33D STC diesels, speed in excess of 30 knots, ~ 100 crew. Construction of the first of the class will begin this year, with entry into service expected 2022.
    The scale model at Euronaval 2018 fitted with a MK 45 5" gun, 16x Mk41 VLS cells for SM-2 and ESSM, 8x anti-ship missiles Japanese supersonic XSSM?, SeaRAM on top of the helicopter hangar, LWT launchers, torpedo and decoy launchers. Fitted with a MFR GaN radar in an integrated mast, EO sensors, VDS and passive TAS as well as a hull mounted mine countermeasure sonar with SH-60K, UUV, USV and sea mines.

    Japanese budget for the frigate estimate 40 to 50 billion yen, $365M to $455M.

    South Korean Daegu frigates 122m LOA, 14m beam, depth molded 7.4m, draft 4.15m. The standard and FLD 2,800t and 3,600t. CODLOG hybrid-electric drive for quietness, same propulsion system as Type 26, powered by a single RR MT30 36-40MW and two shaft mounted 1.7 MW DRS Permanent Magnetic Motors powered by 4 x MTU 12V 4000 M53B 1,650 kW diesel gensets, cruise 17/18 knots; max 30 knots; range: 4,500 nm; complement: 120.
    Weapons; 16-cell K-VLS cells, possible load outs, Cheolmae-2, MR-SAM, max. range 40 km-25 miles/altitude 15 km-49,000 ft, Haeseong II VL supersonic; said to be Land Attack and Anti-Ship; operational 2019, Hong Sang Eo (Red Shark) ASROC; 19km range, Haegung K-SAAM (4 per cell); 2 X quad deck launched Haeseong I subsonic anti-ship missile launchers or the new 2 X quad deck launched SL(ant)- Haeseong II supersonic; Mk 45 Mod 4 5" gun; 2 X 324mm triple-tube Mk-32 launchers for K745 Chung Sang Eo (Blue Shark) LWT; 1 X RAM Block 1; 1 X 20mm Mk-15 Phalanx Block 1B; 1 X AW159 Wildcat or Super Lynx.

    Last November Daewoo Shipbuilding and Engineering awarded a $558M contract to build the fifth and sixth in class, December Hyundai Heavy Industries contracted to build the last two of the eight in class for $563M order. The first of class launched by DSME June 2016 and delivered Feb. 2018, last to be delivered 2023, eight ships to be delivered in six years.

    Dr Regan Campbell, in charge of PMS515 at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which has responsibility for the evaluation and initial procurement of FFG(X) estimated that GFE will total to one-third of the build cost of the ship eg Enterprise Air Search Radar, Mk110 57 mm gun, Mk41 VLS cells, Block II of SLQ-32 SEWIP (Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program), with space reservation for SEWIP Block III.

    Applying a one third uplift for GFE to the Daegu shipbuilding costs looking at ~$380M per frigate

    Campbell now suggesting that the FFG(X) [now spec'd with 32 VLS cells], said cost now trending down to $800M, if, a big if as do not know their system the Japanese budget figures realistic for the 30FFM would estimate if modified to take 32 VLS cells looking at say ~$500M, that would suggest approx 60% cheaper to build in Japan than US, it looks a very high mark up, though again if Korean figures believable would suggest Japanese figure may be accurate?

  11. Nick:

    Two figures have been given for the Japanese 30DX project you alude to, 3900 tons and 6000 tons. Given the dimensions of the hull, I strongly suspect the former is correct. If that is true, then upgrading to a 32 cell VLS probably isn't in the cards.

    1. Displacement

      Japanese Navy normally quote ships displacement in light tons and as you say 3,900t, it was Mitsubishi themselves who quoted 6,000t when talking to Navy Recognition at SAS 2018.

      Surprised by the difference of ~50%, thought would be more likely a third from empty to FLD, though Mitsubishi didn't specify what the 6,000t figure was, may have been EOL displacement which if 10% allowance built in for normal future life growth would give ~ 5,450t FLD, still 40% over light displacement.

      Type 26 quoted 6,900t, Australia with the Hunter and exactly same hull quote 8,800t EOL.

      With the FFG(X) Navy spec'd only 5% weight growth margin, though there own standard calls for 10% for surface combatants, Admirals sop to both LCS builders as they been weight limited, so making it easier for them to compete for the FFG(X) contract.

    2. @Haz: Another thought ref your thinking 3,900t vessel maybe too small to take 32 VLS cells.

      A few days ago at SAS 2019 Austal showing model of their FFG(X) Independence extended by 38 feet to fit the 32 VLS cells.

      If memory correct GAO stated LCS Independence's Naval Architectural Limit / EOL 3,188t (metric), a 38 foot extension may push displacement to ~3,500t+, but unlikely 3,900t, so 32 VLS cells should be no problem, but would suspect they have had to take out fuel tankage to compensate to meet the requirement, Navy FFG(X) spec only 3,000 nm LOL, Austal quoting range of 4,000nm+ still too short a range especially in Pacific.

    3. Nick:

      You can't estimate the payload of a conventional hull at a given displacement by comparison with the trimaran/semiplanning hull found in the LCS. It just isn't a valid comparison.

    4. As for the displacement of the 30DX, The length and beam numbers suggest a displacement between 4500 and 5000 tons.

  12. Is it just me or does the term “global combat ship” indicate that the USN is no longer the only Navy who has to make up a new title because no one knows how to define destroyer, cruiser, frigate, or corvette any more?
    It stated main purpose- ASW - should make it a frigate. A truly overpriced frigate but nonetheless a frigate. Our LCS is simply a patrol craft when one looks at its lack of armament and short range. The most overpriced, oversized, and pathetic patrol bat ever made but LCS is meaningless and wouldn’t every armed long range RN ship be a global combat ship?

    1. If the UK MoD is to be believed, they call it Global Combat Ship because they're trying to sell it worldwide, to convince Cmmonwealth natuons that this British ship fits their needs. Within rhe Royal Navy itself, it's called the Type 26 frigate, aka City-class.

    2. It's frigate!

  13. Type 26 sold to Australia and now Canada.Also stalking horse candidate for U.S. Navy Frigate program.
    You seem to be the only one who thinks it's a dud.
    I'll carry on reading your blog just to see what else you are wrong about.

    Lots of love

    The Royal Navy

    1. "You seem to be the only one who thinks it's a dud."

      You seem to be the only one who can't read. From the post,

      "It appears to be a capable albeit overpriced ship."

      Lots of love

      The Public School System


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