Monday, June 24, 2019

Landing Craft And Firepower

It is foolish to ignore the lessons of history - those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it - and even more foolish to ignore the lessons when those lessons were learned in combat and paid for in blood.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’re doing, right now, as regards landing craft.

Let’s take a look at our current amphibious assault landing craft capability and then compare it to what we had and how we executed assaults in WWII and see what the trends are and what lessons we’ve learned or forgotten.

Broadly speaking, today’s amphibious assault calls for an initial wave of infantry delivered via Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV).  The initial wave consists of infantry with no firepower beyond machine guns.  Once the initial wave has secured a “safe” beachhead, a follow on wave of troops, vehicles, artillery, tanks, and supplies will be delivered via high speed, air cushioned landing craft (LCAC) and LCU’s. 

One of the significant differences between WWII and now is that the military commanders of WWII understood the importance of firepower in the initial wave and constantly sought better means of delivering it.  Today, we’ve abandoned any pretense of attempting to deliver firepower with the initial wave.  Thus, the initial assault will likely wind up pitting our light infantry, with no significant firepower, against enemy armor and artillery, possibly supported by fortifications and larger guns, and backed up by long range rockets and cruise/ballistic missiles.  This will be a significant mismatch.

The initial wave will have no firepower and no rocket, artillery, mortar, and missile defense (C-RAM). 

In WWII, the main source of firepower during the assault was naval gunfire.  The initial assault force was supported by massive battleship, cruiser, and destroyer gunfire.  Naval gunfire provided days of pre-assault bombardment, suppressive fire as the initial assault waves were landing, and post-assault fire support as additional targets were identified.  Today, our naval gunfire is limited to a single 5” gun per Burke and, worse, even that meager level of gunfire has been rendered moot by our amphibious assault doctrine which calls for ships to stand 25-50+ miles off shore, well beyond the range of our 5” guns.  Thus, today’s initial assault force will not only have no heavy weapons or armor, they will have no naval gunfire support.  That means no pre-assault bombardment, no suppressive fire on landing, and no post-assault fire support.  This simply makes a bad situation worse and is a recipe for defeat.

Close Air Support (CAS - using the term generically) will only be sporadically available against a peer opponent that will likely either own the skies or contest the skies, making for an aerial no-man’s-land in which neither side can muster any useful or sustained CAS.  Helicopters will die a quick death from ubiquitous man-portable surface to air missiles.

Setting aside aerial and naval gun support issues, the main weakness of the overall assault concept is that the follow on wave is only viable and survivable in a low/no threat environment.  Marine/Navy doctrine recognizes that the LCAC’s and LCU’s are large, slow, vulnerable targets that cannot survive a contested landing.  The implied doctrinal assumption is that the initial wave will be sufficient to secure a “safe” landing area for the LCAC’s and LCU’s.  If this does not happen, and happen with sufficient speed, the assault commander will be faced with the no-win choice of not reinforcing and resupplying the initial wave or attempting to reinforce and resupply using landing craft that are unsuited for contested landings and are likely to incur massive losses which would incapacitate our follow on supply efforts.

Let’s return to consideration of the initial wave landing craft, the AAV.  The major problem with the AAV is that it is incapable of executing the Navy/Marine’s doctrinal assault concept of starting the assault from 25-50+ nm offshore.  The AAV is only capable of swimming around two or three miles.  Beyond that, the troops will become incapacitated due to seasickness.  This, however, is a mismatch between doctrine and equipment and, for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll largely ignore the issue (just as the Marines/Navy have been doing!!!).

On the plus side, today’s AAV is actually adequate, as far as dispersal of risk, in getting troops ashore.  The AAV carries around 20 troops.  The problem with the AAV is that it is a one-use vehicle.  It swims ashore and stays ashore where it transitions to a kind of poor man’s Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).  There is no option for it to return to the amphibious ships for more troops or supplies.  Thus, the follow on waves are strictly dependent on LCAC’s and LCU’s.  If the beach has been secured, this is fine.  However, if the beach is not secured then the LCAC/LCU will be entering a contested combat zone for which they are not survivable, according to the Marines/Navy themselves.

So, we seem to be at an impasse.  An initial assault wave of AAVs simply lacks the firepower to definitively secure the beachhead which means the follow on firepower can’t be delivered.  We have a classic Catch-22, here.  We can’t secure the beachhead without firepower but the only way to get firepower is to secure the beachhead.

How can we get the firepower we need in the initial wave?  There are two ways to go about it.

  • Develop small, reusable landing craft capable of delivering a single tank, artillery piece, or heavy equipment/vehicle.

  • Develop an amphibious tank.

Tank Landing Craft

For the initial wave, we need to bring tanks and heavy vehicles/artillery ashore in individual landing craft as opposed to, say, a large LST.  The initial risk is too great for an LST and we would risk too many tank losses from a disabled LST.

There are some landing/transport craft available that somewhat meet the need to transport a single tank but they don’t really meet all the requirements.

Here are some characteristics of an ideal tank landing craft:

  • Sized for a single tank or heavy vehicle/artillery and no more

  • Two-way, reusable.  The assumption that we’ll be able to use LCACs and LCUs after the first wave is likely to be incorrect.  The beach will, quite likely, still be contested and inappropriate for the LCACs and LCUs.  

  • Should ride low in the water and present as flat a topside as possible with as much armor as possible (think Russian Hind helo in the water).  Such an arrangement would present little target area and what there is would be so slanted, relative to the incoming round’s trajectory, as to greatly negate incoming rounds.  The craft should be able to rise for unloading as it beaches, of course.  

  • As high a speed as reasonably possible.

  • Active protection similar to the Israeli tank mounted Trophy system

We Need A Tank Version Of The Higgins Boat

Amphibious Tank

WWII demonstrated conclusively that tanks or some form of heavy gun must go ashore with the initial wave.  The history of WWII landings in the Pacific was a steady movement towards ways to get heavier firepower (tanks) ashore in the initial wave.  It was found that getting actual tanks ashore was a very difficult task and, as a stopgap measure, the amphibious Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) was developed and armed with heavy firepower.  Specifically, the armored versions, the LVT(A), were fitted with various guns and weapons including a 75mm howitzer (the M8 Gun Motor Carriage turret), 0.30 and 0.50 machine guns,  a turret mounted 37mm M6 anti-tank gun, and Ronson flamethrowers. 

LVT(A) Amphibious Light Tank

Thus, an amphibious light tank, the LVT(A) was created that, while lacking in armor, provided the immediate heavy firepower needed to defeat infantry, obstacles, and fortifications.  Being tracked, it was able to climb over the ubiquitous coral reefs that sometimes stymied other landing craft.

Conceptually, as discussed, we need a landing craft that can carry a single tank to shore.  Failing that, we need a modern fire support LVT(A).  The Marine’s AAVs could possibly be modified to mount heavy guns, howitzers, and mortars.  I don’t know if it can be done but it’s a straightforward engineering exercise and ought to be doable – we did it in WWII so surely we can do it today.

Beyond that, we also need an amphibious anti-air defense vehicle and, again, a suitably modified AAV could provide AAW and C-RAM variants.

Of course, all of this discussion is pointless given the nonsensical 25-50+ mile standoff doctrine.  The maximum time troops can be in a landing craft is an hour, and that’s pushing it.  Any longer and the troops will be rendered combat incapable.  So, unless we can develop a first wave, infantry landing craft that can travel at 30-50 kts, the starting point must be moved back in to the horizon or closer.  The Marines have tried for decades to develop a high speed landing craft and failed miserably.  The conclusion is that the requisite technology is simply unattainable, at this time although, notably, the Chinese have developed a 15-17 knot amphibious light tank very similar to the WWII LVT(A).


  1. Not arguing against any of this, but what's the reason the AAV can't make multiple trips between ships and shore? Assuming, of course, that the distance is reasonable.

    1. There's no technical reason, it's just doctrine. If the AAV dumped the Marines and left, they'd have zero armor protection and not even the 0.50 cal MG as fire support.

      Doctrinally, the Marines seem to view the AAV as a poor man's Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).

    2. The Amphibious Combat Vehicle or ACV is a wheeled vehicle that transport a 13 man squad, is slow on the water at 6 or so knots but can do 45mph or better on land and thus keep up with Abrams tanks and is a successor to the AAV and only has a .50 caliber machine gun and may mount a 40mmm grenade launcher. USMC is studying more powerful armaments and a 30mm unmanned turret is possible as was done with the USA Stryker Dragoon that mounts an unmanned 30mm turret. These turrets do not penetrate the vehicles hull and are remotely operated by a gunner in the hull though spare 30mm ammo may be stored in the hull. The 30mm guns fire at 200rpm and are dual feed with one feed being HE and the other being AP with a couple hundred rounds in the turret ready service magazine.

    3. "ACV … 30mm"

      Even that is woefully lacking in firepower when trying to combat enemy armor and fortifications. The Marines seem not to appreciate the need for initial assault firepower - as was demonstrated throughout WWII. If all we ever want the Marines to do is low end, almost unopposed landings, then fine. But, if we want a forcible entry capability against a peer defender, as Marine doctrine claims, then we desperately need firepower. All the digital, 3D printing, sensitivity training, female interaction teams, hand held mini-UAVs, etc. isn't going to make up for a complete lack of initial firepower. The Marines have lost their focus on their core mission (which should be port seizure but that's another topic).

    4. Even if we assume the AAV can sustain 5mph, which is unlikely, and the assault ship is 5 miles off shore, which it won't be, that's a 2 hour round trip.

      The assault is going to be over one way or another long before reinforcements arrive

  2. Along with landing tanks, the Marines need Funnies, mines and Czech hedgehogs are cheap and effective anti landing defenses.

  3. The Invasion of South Georgia during the Falklands War was a very small unit action, but it had some interesting lessons in it in regard to amphib raiding operations and ship Vs Shore battle.

    Especially interesting was how a group of 20 Royal Marines successfully suppressed an Argie Corvette with light weapons because it's bridge and gun positions were all either exposed or unarmored against even rifle fire.

    A helicopter was shot down and another one should have been shot down, but wasn't due to British restraint and ROE confusion. All without ATGMs or MANPADs.

    There were only 20 Marines on the island, their CO had stated that they only intended to put up a respectable and otherwise symbolic resistance before exfilling or surrendering. They put a severe hurt on what should have been an Argentinian milk-run.

  4. The Finns already have a great landing craft in the M14 Jurma class. can carry 20 troops at an average speed of 35kts and with a range of 250 km. They already have a fire support version with the 120mm NEMO. The fire support version could cruise at high speed off shore for close in gun fire support. The troop carriers could have a RWS 30mm cannon. Would be a great assault boat for the initial wave.

    1. The Jurmo class is nice but it's overbuilt for pure landing operations. It's built as a multi-function patrol/landing boat. Similarly, the follow on Jehu class is larger and even more overbuilt. Stripped down versions might prove to be effective landing craft.

      The one thing I don't see from a quick look on the Internet is how the troops disembark. Any idea? If they can't easily and quickly land over the bow/sides, then it's more of a transport vessel than a landing craft.

  5. They disembark via a bow ramp. The fire support version retains the ramp also.

    1. I've had a chance to look at some videos of the craft. It's clearly intended for a multi-role patrol and raid craft as opposed to a pure assault landing craft. For example, it has radar, comm gear, etc. which a pure landing craft would not.

      Also, the bow ramp is not the best design for an assault landing since it's a single file disembarkation. If the narrow opening gets blocked by a body or damage, there is no other easy, rapid way out. By comparison, the old Higgins boats could be disembarked over the side along the entire length of the boat and the bow ramp was about three soldier-widths wide for rapid disembarkation.

      I'd also be a little leery of the survivability of the troops if the boat was hit. Again, no easy rapid way out although the overhead panels that open might allow egress - I can't tell from the videos.

      So, it looks like an excellent patrol/raid boat but a bit sub-optimal for pure assaults. Still, with a little redesign and stripping down, it might be possible to make a good landing craft out of it.

    2. There's also the CB90 and some others in the same category. Great for small scale landings but perhaps not with enough capacity for a Normandy size landing. On the positive size they are incredibly fast compared to other landing vessels and they have at least some support, mostly in terms of machine guns. To be honest I would rather be in one of these than a slow but perhaps better armoured landing craft.

      But I am a bit curious, having no experience in amphibious tanks and troop transports. How seaworthy are they actually? From pictures they seem to withstand at least some waves but how do they behave in higher waves and under heavy fire? Do you have to wait for a sunny day with moderate winds and calm sea in order to conduct a landing?

    3. Forgot, CB90 is called RCB in the US Navy. With more gun mounts than any other navy!

    4. "CB90 ... Great for small scale landings"

      This craft is overbuilt, overly expensive, multi-function, and a poor design as a pure landing craft. It looks fine for patrols, special ops, and the like.

      "they have at least some support, mostly in terms of machine guns."

      If you're involved in an opposed assault and you're depending on machine gun fire from a landing craft, you're probably already dead. Fire support comes from large caliber guns (battleships, cruisers, and destroyers) and lots of them.

    5. Agree completely. That's what I meant by comparing them to the Jehu and Jurmo classes.

  6. Check out the u tube video on the FLC (fast landing craft) tri bow mono hull from BMT defence industries.

    1. I've seen that one. What's your assessment of it? What problems does it solve? What advantage does it offer over existing LCAC and LCU?

  7. Your idea of modifying the AAV is for more fire power is great except for one thing. It's aluminum. The moment you fired anything with any real recoil you would immediately start developing stress fractures in the hull. Of course clean sheet designs shouldn't be a problem.

    1. No stress problems if its a missile firing tank like this guy suggests.

    2. There are plenty of "low recoil." guns, even (not quite) recoiless guns
      The CVR(T) Scorpion (8000kg aluminium) had a 76mm, later 90mm, low velocity cannon, theres a whole mess of recoiless rifles, even autoloaded 120mm mortars

    3. Point taken. I stand corrected and humbled.

  8. The Army just recently inked a contract with Vigor, here in Vancouver, WA, to build 36 replacements for their old LCMs... They will hold one M-1, two Strykers, or three of the JSLVs. They seem a bit big for the task at around 100ft in length, but illustrations show an M-1 with evidently not quite enough room for a second. I believe theyll be built of aluminum. Maybe a scaled down version would be ideal, and hopefully cheaper, as the contract for 36 was valued at around $975M. Certainly its somthing the Marines should be looking at...

    1. $25-$30M each for a pedestrian landing craft - yikes!!! Admittedly, that cost includes the development costs (seriously, how much development is there for what's more or less a copy of the existing LCM?) but the costs are real.

      This is another example of trying to make every asset do everything. We're trying to make this new LCM a patrol, landing, 'high speed', long range, intra-theatre transport. Even the new name shows it: Maneuver Support Vessel. Drawings seem to show satcomm antenna and other electronics. It's vastly bigger than the legacy LCM.

      Come on, pick a single role and do it well and CHEAPLY! Alternatively, add a flight deck and 16" gun and make it a true single-handed war-winning miracle machine.

    2. Oh I agree... We should pribably gut the current design. Keep the engine, props n rudder(s??) Add a CB radio. Design complete...send to the builders!!! Im sure that we could build adequate craft for under half that $23M...
      CNO... You really didnt think this through. If we put a flight deck and 16" guns on it, were not going to have room for the railguns. Or enough power generation for the electromagnetic bow door.... :)

    3. Is the Spearhead class at all intended to be a "connector" between LHAs and the beach?? Could it be?? At $200M each theyre certainly not "landing craft", but besides being suggested for hospital ships or drug ops, whats their purpose?? Im not finding any definitive CONOP for them. With a 1200 nm range, and no defensive armament, I assume they arent meant for use in significantly hostile environments, but as medium cargo haulers to previously secured ports.
      Im not suggesting these as an answer to our need for landing craft, but since we seem to have a bunch of them, Im wondering about utilizing them to bring heavy loads of Marines and equipment to the beach in a later wave (after the beach is secured by initial assaults of cheap landing craft...)

    4. The JHSV (or whatever new name they're being called this week) had no CONOPS, as best I can tell. They seem most suited for intra-theatre transport of small loads. I'm not sure how useful that is but …

      As currently crewed (civilian) they're forbidden, by law, from front line combat, hence, no landings.

      They're ill-suited for landings as they have no over the bow ramp. They could, with a Navy crew, be used for ship to dock connectors, I guess.

      They've been suggested as a 'drop off' vessel for AAVs but no one has actually attempted that as far as I know.

  9. Careerism is a problem here. If you give a j.g. a single-function landing craft to command, how can he shine? He can do exercises well, but that will only get him praise from the Marines. He can't do stuff that matters to the fleet with it, so he won't get promoted quickly enough to stay in the service.

    One answer would be to let the Marines man and command landing craft, but the USN won't willingly go for that. If the USN has a plan for this at all, it's to build these craft during a war and have hostilities-only officers command them, but it's not clear there will be time for that in a war this century.

    1. "build these craft during a war"

      There's nothing wrong with that. We had no significant numbers or types of landing craft at the start of WWII but we developed and built them. The key, however, was SIMPLICITY. Instead of multi-function, do-everything, win-the-war-single-handed landing craft, we'll need to develop and build very simple, very cheap, expendable, easily produced craft and that's something that we're not very good at. Further, now is when we should be developing such craft so that we have the plans on hand and ready to go when war comes. We should have built prototypes, scouted out production facilities, ascertained needed production supplies, figured out the logistics, and have the entire effort ready to go. Instead, we're wasting time trying to build do-everything vessels that will be too expensive to use or replace in war.

    2. "Careerism is a problem here. If you give a j.g. a single-function landing craft to command, how can he shine?"

      Don't make them named "ships" with crews
      Make them "equipment" manned as needed
      All it really needs is a driver, marines can man any guns on the way in

    3. 'Don't make them named "ships" with crews.'

      That requires the Navy to resist the temptation to inflate their ship numbers.

  10. I know how you like to use WWII as a reference point, but a later model tracked vehicle, the LVTH-6, itself a variant of the LVTP-5, both of which saw action in Vietnam, was equipped with the M49 105mm howitzer. In amphibious landings, it carried 100 rounds for its main gun. And, like other tracked vehicles of that time, it was slow making about 5 knots in the water.

    1. Yep, good reminder! Of course, that old 5 kts is put to shame by our latest AAV and ACV with top water speeds of 8 kts!

  11. "We should have built prototypes, scouted out production facilities, ascertained needed production supplies, figured out the logistics, and have the entire effort ready to go. "

    A particularly telling comment when much of the large scale means of production, including production of the materials required, is controlled by the potential enemy.

    I looked up Polyester Resin and Aluminum production. Interesting numbers.

  12. "Should ride low in the water and present as flat a topside as possible with as much armor as possible (think Russian Hind helo in the water). Such an arrangement would present little target area and what there is would be so slanted, relative to the incoming round’s trajectory, as to greatly negate incoming rounds. The craft should be able to rise for unloading as it beaches, of course."

    That kind of design would work against direct fire coming from ahead of the landing craft, but not very well against top-attack munitions like guided missiles, rockets, mortars, and artillery rounds. This is where a C-RAM sytem would come into play. But, being low to the water, a C-RAM system might not be able to see what it's supposed to see, thus limiting its reaction time. Plus, the sea spray might obscure the C-RAM's sensors. The sensors could be mounted on a mast, but that would increase its frontal profile.

    1. " This is where a C-RAM sytem would come into play. ... The sensors could be mounted on a mast,"

      And this is how we wind up with unaffordable systems. The next guy wants to add a 30 mm gun. Someone else wants to add electronic countermeasures. Maybe a SeaRAM? And so on. Now, that $20K, throwaway landing craft has become a $200M, exquisite, multi-purpose vessel and we can't afford it.

      We constantly insist that every platform be capable of every aspect of warfare, preferably able to win a war single-handed. This is wrong. Our fathers had it figured out in WWII. Let each asset do one function and do it well.

      That cheap, easy to build landing craft that is vulnerable to various enemy fires is not protected by its own defenses but by battleships and heavy cruisers whose job is to provide heavy suppressive fire (we've forgotten what that is and why we need it) from battleships and heavy cruisers (which we've unwisely abandoned) so that the enemy can't readily target the vulnerable landing craft. And so on. Each part, doing one job well, and all interrelated. We tend to forget the interrelated part and wind up trying to make every asset a self-contained, do-everything asset instead of letting the individual pieces all do their individual parts, contributing to the success of the whole.

      We had it right in WWII and now we're just screwing it up because we've forgotten and think history is beneath us.

    2. My bad. You wrote about adding a Trophy-like system for self protection and I mentioned C-RAM, which is much bigger and scales up the cost and adds complexity.

      I wonder about the effectiveness of a Trophy-like system on a craft that is moving at high speed in the water. On land, its one thing, but on the water, the craft is bobbing around and then there is sea spray and water flowing over the craft to contend with.

      On one hand, you want to maintain a low profile, but at the same time you want to be high enough above the waterline to see and respond to different threats.

    3. I'm not sure I ever mentioned Trophy-like systems or, if I did, it was along the lines of, sure, let's look at it but I don't recall ever saying let's install them, right now. Regardless, that's beside the point.

      A landing craft's protection isn't supplied by itself, it's supplied by the massive battleship and cruiser suppressive fire that prevents an enemy from raising their head or exposing their sensors and weapons to target the landing craft. Now, sure, if you can install an effective Trophy-like system for $10 and it adds less than one pound, why not? However, the reality is that it will be expensive and, likely, impractical.

      A landing craft that is surrounded by other landing craft, soldiers in the water, etc. is going to cause more harm than good by firing off an active protection system.

  13. If the Army can mount a 105mm tank gun on a Stryker, it can probably be put on an ACV.
    The real solution is volume fire suppression from a battleship; if we cannot get a proper battleship, can we get a civilian cargo hull and load 18 howitzers 155mm or larger (preferably in turrets) with HIMARS pods for longer range before it comes into cannon range? 18 howitzers are the equivalent of an artillery battalion and should provide sufficient fire support to get a Regiment ashore.

    1. 18 SPGs would carry 50 shells each, approximately 90 shells, delivered over 20 minutes or so

      UTAH beach alone was hit with 5,000 5" rockets in the 2 minutes before the troops landed and 18 warships including the USS Nevada battleship provided shore bombardment.

    2. "18 howitzers are the equivalent of an artillery battalion and should provide sufficient fire support to get a Regiment ashore."

      We've completely forgotten what effective suppressive fire support entails!!! A typical Pacific assault involved sustained fire from dozens of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers for days prior to the assault. This was followed by intense suppressive fire during the actual landing craft landing. Finally, fire support was provided post-landing as long as was needed.

      Do the arithmetic on the number of guns (noting the caliber!) and shells being dumped on the assault area in the pre- and suppressive fire periods. We're talking many thousands of shells per hour and even more during the suppressive period. The equivalent of an artillery battery is NOT sufficient in anything other than an unopposed landing, in which case you don't need anything!

    3. Caliber needs to be 155 or larger because 5 inch or 105mm has minimal effect on armor. Bigger calibers have slower the rate of fire. IMO, 155mm or 8 inch / 203mm is ideal.
      155 fires 2-3 rounds per minute and can be maintained for 1 hour. We can stock a lot more than 50 rounds per gun, but to maintain fire past 1 hour requires rotating crews. Providing berthing for an extra 5 men per gun (90 men for 18 guns) and additional Fire Direction types (12 men) allows us to rotate crews and maintain 24 hour firing.
      For every hour we shoot all 18 guns, we are delivering 2160 rounds of suppression. Allowing for AAVs to 1 hour to transit to shore 1-2 hours of suppression is all that is needed. Typically, an Artillery Battalion of 18 guns is the fire support for a whole Regiment (3000-5000 Marines). For a Brigade size landing force, we would need 2-3 Battalion size ships.

    4. "Typically, an Artillery Battalion of 18 guns is the fire support for a whole Regiment"

      Fire support for an engaged unit with visible targets is completely different from suppressive fire against an area target (for instance, blanketing an entire Pacific island. Despite your belief about fire needs, I would suggest you refer to the fire support for the Pacific island assaults and note that, despite the incredible levels of firepower delivered, vast numbers of enemy forces still survived! So, if anything, the Pacific fire support was too little!

  14. I think the real problem is what you've alluded to many times before, CNO. We let technology drive strategy. We built these handy dandy LHAs and LHDs with all these fancy gadgets, but they cost so much that we can't risk them close in, so we have this 25-50 mile standoff plan, and that pretty much precludes any ship-to-shore movement vehicle that can haul any heavy firepower. We need a massive rethink.

    I say go back to my gator days with a bunch of smaller and less expensive ships with a bunch of different ways to move stuff ashore. You need an LSD/LPD type that can carry helos and large landing craft, something like the RN’s Albions. You have previously mentioned an APA/LPA type with lots of boats. I would actually try a combination LKA/LPA with a couple of cargo holds and some bigger landing craft to handle something like half the heavy cargo of an LKA and half the troops that of an LPA. As an old LST sailor, I would definitely include a T—there are just things it can do that nothing else can, like beaching for one, and that allows delivery of really heavy stuff to the shore. I would go with a conventional LST bow instead of the Newport clipper bow and over-the-bow ramp. That means a max speed of around 18 knots instead of 20+, since it takes unrealistic power to drive T hull through the water faster, but I would give up 2 knots of speed for the ability to get a dry ramp on more than 3% of the world's beaches. I wouldn't beach the T until the area is secured, but if you put a stern ramp on it, then it could offload some stuff in the stream to an LCM or LCU and/or carry LVTs. I would also include an LPH type, maybe something like a French Mistral that would also have a well deck. And maybe an LHA/LHD type, but a smaller version like the Spanish Juan Carlos/Australian Canberra. Based on historic costs, you could build all 5 for about the $3 billion that one LHA/LHD costs (Canberra $1.3B, Mistral $600MM, Albion $500MM, LST and LKA/LPA $300MM each). And you could haul almost 4,000 troops (Canberra 1,000, Mistral 900, Albion 700, LST 450, LKA/LPA 750), or a little over twice what the LHA/LHD carries. You’ve got less risk per ship, so you can afford to bring them in closer, and a lot more flexibility, for about the same money.

    Without the 25-50 mile standoff limitation, you can look at a lot of landing craft options. There are some good ideas here. I would like to have an amphibious light tank, with more speed in the water and bigger firepower. The one that China has, which was referenced in an earlier thread on here, seems to be a good conceptual starting point.

    As for fire support, you need big gun battleships and cruisers. I’d look at the old battle carrier concept from the 1980s, with 6 16-inchers plus lots of missiles, STOVL aircraft and drones, and a 12-15,000 ton Ticonderoga replacement with more VLS cells, better command and communications, and upgrading the 5-inch guns to at least 8-inches.

    What to do with the LHAs/LHDs and San Antonio LPDs? This was one source for my idea to convert the LHAs/LHDs to STOVL light carriers. A CVL is not a match for a Nimitz or a Ford (although with the current state of catapults, arresting gear, and weapons lifts, a Ford might not put up much of a fight). But they’re not going up against any Nimitzes or Fords, and they can pretty much handle anybody else’s carrier. They are a cheap way to add a bunch of flight decks, like WWII CVEs/CVLs. There is an article about it in this month’s Naval Institute Proceedings. As for the San Antonios, there was a proposal to build a large ABM platform on the same hull. They would have room for a big radar and a bunch of missiles, and the ability to stay on station, and that’s what is needed. Phase in both conversions as the new amphibs come in. Both ships are probably better in these roles than trying to do phib ops from 50 miles out.

    Funny how much of this is going back to WWII ideas.

    1. "Funny how much of this is going back to WWII ideas."

      Through lessons paid for in blood, we pretty much mastered amphibious operations in WWII. Why we've chosen to ignore/abandon those lessons, today, is utterly baffling. Sure, we need to make some adjustments for changes in technology but not all that much. Firepower is still firepower. Suppressive fire is still suppressive fire. Risk dispersal is still risk dispersal. And so on.

    2. "I say go back to my gator days with a bunch of smaller and less expensive ships with a bunch of different ways to move stuff ashore. "

      There are two issues in play, here, and you're addressing one of them. You're addressing the sustainment portion of an assault. With a secure beachhead, how do best get follow on supplies ashore? By doctrine, and for very good reasons, an LST, for example, is not an initial wave landing vessel. It's a follow on, sustainment vessel.

      The other aspect is the initial wave. How do we get as much heavy firepower (tanks, artillery, heavy mortars) ashore with the initial wave, as we can, when it's most needed? The only viable answer to that is to move the launch point from 25-50+ miles to a few miles, as was done in WWII. This issue remains the weak point in our assault doctrine. Right now, we simply cannot execute our own assault doctrine. Our doctrine is total fantasy - pure and simple.

    3. Umm, I thought I was addressing both. Obviously the T is essential for the sustainment phase. But the mix of smaller and different ships, instead of all the eggs in one or two baskets, is key to getting punch in the initial wave. The only way to get tanks, artillery, and heavy mortars into the first phase is to move the launch point closer to shore. And the only way to do that is to spread the risk. We can't bring an LHA/LHD close in because the risk is too great. Lower value ships mean less risk for each one, and thus less penalty for going in harm's way.

    4. What you haven't addressed is how to get the tanks, artillery, etc. from the hold of the ship to the shore. We can have a ship sitting 100 yds from shore and still have no way to move a tank over that 100 yds.

      Currently, our entire initial assault wave is purely AAVs. We have no means to transport tanks that we consider survivable. LCACs and LCUs are doctrinally relegated to follow on sustainment due to lack of survivability. That's Navy/Marine doctrine, not merely my opinion.

      You've addressed how to disperse risk and move in closer but how do you get the tank from that close ship to the beach?

    5. That's where you need boats that can get them ashore, at least until you have secured the beachhead enough to bring in the T's. I thought that was what this thread was about, and as I indicated I've seen some interesting ideas. But none of them work very well with an LHA/LHD 25-50 miles offshore. And I made the point earlier that the APA/LPA concept that you like is great for getting a bunch of troops on boats to the shore, but it really doesn't provide a way to haul heavy equipment. I was going to combine the LPA with the LKA with some bigger boats and some heavy cargo lift, and also have boats to move some big stuff off the LPD/LSDs.

      I'm not quite sure where you are finding difference with me. If we can move the launch point close in, then we have ways to do it. Those ways just don't work that well from 50 miles out. I think the problem with landing craft can be solves if the problem with amphib ships and gunfire support can be solved.

    6. You're correct. There's not disagreement. My focus and 'sensitivity' is the actual landing craft because we currently have none capable of initial wave heavy transport and the Navy/Marines are just hand-waving the problem away. They've focused on sea basing, new LCUs, new LCACs, upgunned LAVs, new AAVs … but no actual landing craft to get firepower ashore with the initial wave.

      All of your suggestions will be wonderful IF WE CAN DEVELOP THE NEEDED LANDING CRAFT! Without it, we've just got infantry with rifles.

      Yes, there are a few landing craft out in the world that have some of the required characteristics but none that are ideal. It's not that tough a challenge but we need to get going on it. Alternatively, or as a complement, we need to develop an amphibious tank, as described. All of that will then be able to take full advantage of all the changes you've described.

    7. OK, agree. My only point is that as long as we are going to have to do it from ships standing 25-50 miles offshore, I don't see a solution. Of course, part of the current dearth of landing craft is probably because the Marines have pretty much abandoned going ashore by any means other than helo. I wouldn't give up helo capability, because there are situations where they can be very useful as a delivery means.

      But you're totally correct, for success in any possible opposed scenario, we need a quality amphibious tank and we need reusable landing craft that can take a tank to the beach and return to get another one. And that problem is impossible from 50 miles offshore but gets doable if you can work the gator ships in closer.

      While we are at it, we also need ships that can provide fire support with larger caliber guns: 16-inch and 8-inch and/or 155mm.

    8. "I wouldn't give up helo capability, because there are situations where they can be very useful as a delivery means."

      Very few and even less in a peer war because it means you're pitting light infantry with no armor support or firepower against a defender. The number of scenarios where light infantry constitute an effective fighting force are few and, in a peer war, even fewer.

      Toss in the extreme vulnerability of transport/assault helos to enemy fire and you've got an assault mechanism that has very little use or value.

    9. Not to nitpick but when talking about these “amphibious tanks” you’re really talking about assault guns. None of them have the protection of a tank. At best they are armored vs auto cannon fire.

      They are still valuable for reducing battlefield fortifications but they’re not a substitute for MBT level protection.

    10. "Not to nitpick but when talking about these “amphibious tanks” you’re really talking about assault guns."

      Of course. They are mobile, slightly protected, heavy firepower. Their purpose is anti-infantry and reduction of fortifications and obstacles. They are not toe-to-toe tank fighters.

    11. It’s not just toe to toe tank fighting. Armor allows a tank to advance against a prepared defense which would be suicide for a lighter armored vehicle.

    12. "Armor allows a tank to advance against a prepared defense which would be suicide for a lighter armored vehicle."

      It does! But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about lightly armored tanks (gun platforms, really). Their job isn't to advance into the teeth of prepared defenses. Their job is to stand off and provide longer range fire support. Destroying heavy fixed defenses is the job of heavy caliber naval guns (oh yeah, I forgot that we don't have any!).

  15. You're assuming that CAS will only be sporadically available because of a lack of air superiority. Can you provide some examples of amphibious assaults where this was the case? With effective CAS many issues of heavy firepower in the initial waves seem like they could be addressed.

    1. Can you provide examples of amphibious assaults where CAS was the main fire support. CAS shapes the landing area (which HIMARS can also do) and provides fire support once you are ashore; most aircraft don’t have the hours of time on station required to support an assault if the aircraft are loaded with bombs. Aircraft bomb load is also too limited to provide suppression volume of fire; how many aircraft does it take to provide 2000+ bombs to equal an Artillery Battalion every hour?

    2. "Can you provide some examples of amphibious assaults where this was the case?"

      Well, D-Day Normandy springs to mind. The Allied air power was tasked to establish and maintain local air superiority and was not used for any significant ground support.

      "With effective CAS many issues of heavy firepower in the initial waves seem like they could be addressed."

      This is not even remotely realistic. Do the math on the sheer volume of firepower needed. Aircraft have no hope of providing it. Against a peer defender, all available aircraft will be tied up trying to establish local air superiority. Any CAS that might become available will only be sporadically available and, given a peer defender's anti-air capabilities (MANPADs, SAM, etc.) the CAS that is available will be significantly degraded and ineffective due to their own fight for survival.

    3. Looks like I was a bit unclear with my initial statement. There are three pieces that should be separated to address.

      Air Superiority: this part is solely about domanance of the air domain. You questioned whether we would have air superiority during an amphibious assault of a peer opponent. The counter point is that this might not ever be the case. In my limited research so far, I've yet to find a successful example of a water borne invasion where air superiority wasn't already achieved or wasn't contested. If that holds true, then it would be safe to say that an invasion shouldn't even be attempted without gaining control of the airspace.

      Naval Fire Support: I didn't actually intend to imply that air assets would be capable of replacing naval gun fire. However, that being said, I don't think the amount of naval gun fire used during WWII is needed anymore. Fixed shore defenses, once identified, can be neutralized by precision guided weapons and the U.S. has a lot of experience with precision air strikes. This follows out of the first point that air superiority should be assumed. You also said earlier that suppression fires have not caused many casualties against an entrenched enemy. This leads me to believe that the true value of naval gun fire is in suppressing enemy land maneuver during the assault until artillery batteries can be established ashore.

      CAS: lastly, with air superiority again assumed, there are a multitude of close air support assets that can be used during the initial assault. With a surge of CAS there is no need for tanks during the landing.

    4. "safe to say that an invasion shouldn't even be attempted without gaining control of the airspace."

      That would certainly be a wise approach. On the other hand, against a peer defender, it may not be possible to achieve air superiority. Does that mean you concede the battle before it's fought and don't even consider offensive actions? That's not a war-winning strategy! The alternate approach is to settle for air parity and learn to operate without air superiority. I've discussed this in previous posts. Guadalcanal was an example where did not have air superiority and yet managed to operate. We've grown so lazy in our military thinking because we've had nothing but totally uncontested air superiority that we've forgotten how to fight under less than perfect conditions. If you resign yourself to waiting for perfect conditions, you'll likely lose the war.

      "Fixed shore defenses, once identified"

      YOU CAN'T FIND AND IDENTIFY THE BULK OF AN ENEMY'S FORCES!!!!!!!!! It's not possible. We can't identify enemy combatants in Iraq and Afg with any regularity. We can't see giant tankers before they crash into our ships. Every battle ever fought involved the majority of forces being unseen and untargeted. Nothing has changed today. Yes, if we can see a target we can kill it but we can't see more than a small fraction of the enemy unless they stand out in the open holding signs identifying themselves. I suspect China won't do that. They'll be dug in, hidden, camouflaged, electronically screened, obscured by multi-spectral smoke, etc. WE WON'T HAVE TARGETS!

      "CAS: lastly, with air superiority again assumed"

      This is exactly the kind of hand-waving away of problems that the current military engages in. Don't you think China is also assuming air superiority? We can't both have air superiority. Someone (or both) is wrong.

      "With a surge of CAS there is no need for tanks during the landing."

      Every Pacific landing in WWII proves this statement false.

      I beg you, read and study your history.

    5. As you stated Guadalcanal did have air parity between combatants, but the landing and subsequent capture of Henderson Field saw token resistance. You don't seem to think that a current peer would grant such a luxury so I don't see this as a great comparison to your proposed scenario.

      Air superiority doesn't mean one side has all the planes and the other has none. In effect it is about creating a temporary overmatch to allow other ground forces better opportunities for maneuver. Can all opponent air assets be stopped, no. Can air assets provide the necessary amount of suppressing fires, no. What CAS can provide is a temporary substitute for the amphibious tanks or tanks carried via landing craft used during the initial landing that were so necessary during WWII. Some will get shot down without a doubt, but that shouldn't mean you should be too afraid to use them at all. Tanks will still be needed to expand out from the secured beachhead, but those can be supplied by current landing craft and connectors.

    6. "What CAS can provide is a temporary substitute for the amphibious tanks or tanks carried via landing craft used during the initial landing that were so necessary during WWII."

      Not even remotely correct from any of several perspectives: insufficient volume of weapons delivery, inability to provide effective targeting, inability to maintain coverage, a veritable cluster* of aircraft stacking up to wait their turn (talk about a target rich environment for the enemy!), insufficient number of aircraft for the mission (do the math on the number of aircraft required to simultaneously defend the fleet/beach and provide the requisite volume of weapons delivery - yikes!), ineffective ground control during the highest stress moment of an assault (total chaos!), and so on.

      There is nothing even remotely realistic about such a scenario. If there were, we would have done it in WWII when we were desperate to get tanks into the initial wave.

      I repeat, please study your history and consider the scenario with actual data calculations.

    7. It couldn't possibly have been done in WWII. Attack helicopters and the plethora of precision guided weapons didn't even exist yet. And how targetable these CAS assets are is missing the point when the much slower landing craft are even easier targets. Plus, there should still be overwhelming NGFS as you've discussed. If an area is so full of targets then by all means continue shelling away.

    8. "a temporary substitute for the amphibious tanks"

      Consider the characteristics that make an amphibious tank tactically useful:

      -Proximity. The tank is intermingled with the troops, is seeing what they see, experiencing what they experience. It is literally within spitting distance of the target.

      -Accuracy. Referring to proximity, the tank can engage targets 20-100 ft away at the drop of a hat, often with no troop guidance or cumbersome control mechanisms. Accuracy is assured by proximity.

      -Availability. Again referring to proximity, the tank is instantly available regardless of whether, loss of comms, jamming, enemy SAMs, etc.

      -Endurance/Persistence. The tank has 24/7 endurance. It's always there.

      -Coordination. The troops can literally point to the target or talk to the tank. There is no need to go through convoluted control mechanisms.

      -Safety. The tank has no danger zone related to its weapon delivery because, again, proximity. It sees the same target the troops do. No mix ups. No errant bomb drops. No 'danger close' concern.

      -Cost. The tank costs something on the order of $20M or so. It's a light tank (mobile gun, really). An aircraft costs $80M - $100M+ and requires a pilot who needs multiple years of training to be effective.

      I can go on but it's obvious that the characteristics that make an amphibious tank useful are not met by aircraft.

    9. Let’s not confuse CAS with preparatory bombardments. CAS involves troops in contact, prepatory bombardments doesn’t. Often CAS strikes do have detailed targeting and direct observation of the enemy. It’s easier to find the enemy when they are shooting at you.

    10. "how targetable these CAS assets are is missing the point"

      It's the only point! CAS aircraft, without targets, are just observers.

      You've seen real footage and realistic movies like Private Ryan, I assume. During an amphibious assault, no one is sitting on the ground calmly spotting targets and feeding target data to CAS aircraft - they're hunkered down trying to survive the next ten feet in front of them. You seem to have some vision of video game type war with calm, fully equipped, intrepid spotters, apparently immune to enemy fire and with zero fear for their own lives, targeting for aircraft. Nothing could be further from reality. Troops on the ground are going to be focused on their ten feet, when their heads aren't buried in the ground, not standing up observing for aircraft.

    11. Troops have managed calls for fire in many trying situations throughout history, from the Battle of I Drang Valley to Op Anaconda. Often under intense fire, with difficult to spot targets and danger close distances. The tools, tactics and technologies are far different from where they were 75 years ago.

  16. Virginia National Guard has practiced firing 105 howitzers from an old LCM at Camp Lejeune recently. Not effective against opposed landings IMHO.

    ACV program is also looking at 40mm as a possibility, NOT just 30mm. And ACV can do 12 nm from ship to beach. Still does not meet the 25 to 50 miles per doctrine though.

    Best bet would be to completely re-invent the WW2 LCS (Large Mark 3). They had more firepower per ton than any other USN ship. Or get an updated version of the WW2 Beach Barrage Rockets, they were much better than mortars.
    How about MLRS on a barge?

    1. All of that is good but do you grasp the sheer volume of firepower that was applied during a Pacific island assault? The LSM(R) rocket ships could apply enormous pulses of firepower but that was just a punctuation mark for the true heavy volumes supplied by the battleships and cruisers. No gimmick of rockets, mortars, MLRS, or whatever is going to even remotely equal that. Those kinds of things are just attempts to cobble together something because we refuse to provide the heavy naval gunfire that's actually needed.

      Does that make sense? If you have any doubts, still, read about some of the volumes of fire used in a Pacific assault. They're staggering!

    2. I agree. Unfortunately our industrial capacity is now a long way from building fleets of ships that can carry 16-inchers, or even 8-inchers.

      So I have to wonder what today's thermobaric munitions would do for beachheads? And precision targeting that 1944 ship Gunnery Officers could only dream about?

    3. "And precision targeting that 1944 ship Gunnery Officers could only dream about?"

      The problem for WWII gunnery was not precision (they didn't care about precision because 2000 lb, 16" shells only have to be moderately close!), it was target location and identification and that hasn't changed. Consider our recent conflicts in Iraq and Afg. We've had all the precision weapons we could want. What we didn't have was target location and identification so that we could make use of them.

      It's been proven from ancient times to today that under the best of circumstances you'll be lucky to 'see' 10% of the enemy forces. For the rest, good old fashioned are bombardment is the only recourse.

      Consider the Desert Storm conflict and the SCUD hunts. We had lots of precision weapons but we couldn't find the SCUDs despite hundreds of aircraft scouring the region 24/7.

      "Unfortunately our industrial capacity is now a long way from building fleets of ships that can carry 16-inchers, or even 8-inchers."

      Bilgewater! If we want it, we can reconstitute the ability to build battleships, large guns, and whatever else we want. We didn't have the ability to build Zumwalts before we started but we developed it. We didn't have the ability to build Fords with EMALS, AAG, weapon elevators, etc. but we quickly developed it (some would say we still don't!). We didn't have the ability to build F-35s when we started but now we do. We had zero ability to build LCS when we started but now we do (the worthlessness of the design is a separate issue). We didn't have the ability to build Aegis radar arrays when we started but now we do. Stop me when I've offered enough examples …

      If we want to build battleships with 16" guns, we can rediscover how to do it. We're not a long way from being able to do it, we're just a contract away. Offer a contract and someone will build it!

    4. I agree that we need our target location and ID to be just as accurate as the precision weapons they support. I think we have learned an enduring lesson about that over the last seven or eight decades and have improved. The Iraqi Scuds were never a game changer regardless of the ineffectiveness of the Great 1991 Snipe Hunt. But todays SRBM and MRBM systems in Iran (and elsewhere) are a lot more accurate and correspondingly more deadly. I've been out of the game myself for several decades. But I would bet that someone somewhere has a list of every known Iranian SRBM/MRBM location, and potential deployment sites for the mobile ones (which is most of them), and their command radiosonde freqs, and that they will be high a priority in the event of hostilities.

      Re BBs being: "a contract away". Sure, but show me the money.

    5. comm freqs and radiosonde WX freqs I meant to say.

    6. "Sure, but show me the money."

      And that's the key. What do we choose to prioritize? LCS with no combat capability? Fords that can't launch and recover aircraft? ... Or battleships that have immense value?

      Currently, we're prioritizing all the wrong things. We need to change that.

    7. "our target location and ID to be just as accurate as the precision weapons they support."

      That's one approach, and it's valid to an extent. The other approach is to acknowledge that we'll never be able to achieve 100% targeting success and focus on highly effective area bombardment that doesn't require precision targeting.

      We need both approaches. Currently, we're only focused on precision weapons without recognizing the inherent inability to provide concomitant targeting. We're totally ignoring heavy area bombardment firepower.

      In a real world scenario, you'll 'see' maybe 10%-30% of the enemy targets and you can destroy them with precision weapons but the remaining 70%-90% are going to require large caliber, large volume, area bombardment because you'll be shooting blind and depending on statistical likelihood to achieve results. With overlapping 50 ft craters from 16" shells, accuracy and precision targeting are no longer issues!

    8. CNO, I agree that volume of fire is critical but not duration. Iwo Jima was the greatest naval bombardment in history involving 8 battleships and other smaller cannon platforms but all that still did not reduce the Japanese defense sufficiently.
      Look up WW1 artillery tactics: at the start of the war, they used massive preparation fires with troops following later; by the end of the war, “creeping barrages” with troops following closely were the norm.
      ”Creeping barrages” are called “danger close suppression “ and still widely practiced today. The duration of the fire only needs to last long enough for maneuver elements to close with and engage the enemy; once the enemy is engaged target location becomes easier and fires change to call for fire onto identified enemy locations which requires far less volume of fire but may require high precision because of the proximity to friendly troops.

    9. "all that still did not reduce the Japanese defense sufficiently."

      Actually, it accomplished a great deal, if not the total destruction of the defenders. It forced the Japanese into mountains where they were contained and doomed. Because of the bombardment, the actual landing was unopposed. It was only after we were landed and moved to the mountain that we had to face significant defenders. The bombardment ensured that there was little in the way of surviving defenders or defenses other than buried in the mountain. We also don't know how many defenders were killed, even in their mountain, by the bombardment.

      Had Iwo Jima not had a mountain to hollow out and retreat to, the defenders would likely have been largely destroyed by the bombardment. So, any assault we do that doesn't involve attacking defenders who have had years to build hollow mountains will likely benefit hugely from sustained firepower.

      It's simple statistics. If you drop enough shells over a given area for a long enough time you'll kill almost everything in the area. Only when the defender can retreat to a secure area (inside a mountain) will the bombardment be negated to any degree and, even then, it will achieve the purpose of isolating the enemy.

      Creeping barrages (suppressive fire) is not intended to destroy the enemy, just make them keep their heads down while you maneuver. When you come into contact and the barrage lifts, you'll still have to face all the enemy. Sustained area bombardment, on the other hand, IS intended to destroy the enemy and the longer you can sustain it, the more the enemy is destroyed - simple statistics.

      Duration is critical - simple statistics.

      Consider the examples where we did not employ sustained bombardment: Normandy, for example, and the early Pacific island assaults. By not applying sustained bombardment we wound up facing active and vigorous resistance right at the beach and paid a huge price. The later Pacific assaults had easy landings.

  17. "focus on highly effective area bombardment that doesn't require precision targeting."

    Which is where thermobarics come in. If you are going to re-invent battleships, then make those 16-inch shells thermobaric.

    And turn the 16-inch guns into gun/howitzers. I saw plenty of 16-inch furrows thrown by guns from the USS New Jersey back in Viet-Nam. But I never saw a 16-inch crater. Those furrows tend to make a friendly on the ground nervous. Although the Big J did a good work north of the DMZ.

  18. Anonymous, CAS requires air superiority, not air dominance. Air superiority means that you have a designated area where friendly aircraft can operate free from anti-air threats for a required stretch of time. The anti-air threat may be SAMs, not aircraft. Suppression of radar and SAM / anti-air sites is performed with artillery or naval guns because most of those locations will not emit or make themselves known before aircraft show up.
    Therefore, it is difficult to achieve air superiority without guns or cannons in support.

  19. Pop up SAM sites are certainly a problem, but it is not an unsolvable one. And if a defender chooses to turn radars off they are potentially making a huge strategic mistake. They are gifting the attacking force a hole through their defenses. I would not expect the US Air Force to pass on it either, that is exactly what they will be looking for.

    1. CAS aircraft are also quite susceptible to MANPADS and old fashioned barrage fire like the Soviet ZSU series.

      That aside, the biggest problem, which no one has yet explained how to overcome, is how to provide useful targeting for CAS aircraft in a peer defended amphibious assault. Troops will be fighting for survival in their ten foot circle when not burying their heads in the ground, not calmly conducting targeting exercises. CAS without targeting is just an observer.

    2. Google Desert Storm Wild Weasels.
      Saddam used long range radar stations deep inside Iraq protected against cruise missiles by ZSUs.
      Iraqi radar warned called SAM sites and targeting radar sites when they saw Coalition aircraft in the vicinity. This resulted in many “surprise SAMs” and flights had to be escorted by Wild Weasel aircraft with anti-radiation missiles.
      Saddam’s technology was primitive compared to others; amphibs don’t have Wild Weasels on deck, so we either sacrifice aircraft or suppress with cannons and naval guns.

    3. "no one has yet explained how to overcome, is how to provide useful targeting for CAS aircraft". The US Marines now include a Forward Air Controller (FAC) or Joint Terminal Attack Controller in every deployed company for this reason.

      I'm not going to disagree with you that a contested landing will be orderly and calm, without a doubt it will be one of the most terrifying moments in that person's life. But everyone there has a job and the FAC and CAS pilots are no different in this regard. For the FAC, in his 10 foot circle is coordinating air support.

    4. Plus, FACs are immune from enemy fire so they'll never be killed and their equipment is indestructible so they'll never lose their equipment!

  20. SurfGW, thanks for the reading tip. I wasn't aware of that tactic used in Desert Storm, will definitely be checking it out.

    I see both Wild Weasel airframes and suppressive fires being used. This operation would be priority one (and two and three...) so every available asset from the escorting carrier battle group plus anything the Air Force can throw in will be tasked with shaping the airspace surrounding the landing zones.

    CNO, so THAT'S where all those super soldiers have been hiding!! ;)

  21. What is your take on the Chinese Type 05 amphibious fighting vehicle family? I have always found it to be interesting. It honestly appears they looked at our failed EFV attempt, scrapped the parts that did not work and incorporated that which did into a family of vehicles that include:
    Type 05 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (ZBD-05)
    Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) variant.
    Type 05 Assault Vehicle (ZTD-05)
    Assault Vehicle variant.
    Type 05 Command Vehicle
    Equipped with communication and battle management system.
    Type 05 Amphibious Recovery Vehicle
    Equipped with a crane for emergency vehicle service.

    With the top speed of the ZBD-05 variant having a road speed of 65 kph/41 MPH and 45 kph/28 MPH in the water.

    The 105 version has the ability to fire its main weapon while in the ocean.

  22. "today’s ... will have no naval gunfire support."

    Make the sealift ships flattops and use 155mm artillery from em. Hell, go for broke: 300 ships, 50 SPAs per ship and modern 10 rounds per minute turrets for 150,000 strikes in the first minute. They could also use the newer guided 155mm ammo to intercept enemy munitions.

    Alternatively, purchase a million ship-launched powered parafoils capable of carrying a single 1 ton bomb each. A megaton of conventional explosives could solve a lot of problems, right?

    "How can we get the firepower we need in the initial wave? There are two ways to go about it.

    * Develop small, reusable landing craft capable of delivering a single tank, artillery piece, or heavy equipment/vehicle.

    * Develop an amphibious tank."

    Ehh, I think I'd prefer to secure beachheads via Abrams driving to beaches on pontoon rafts powered by propellers geared to their own engines. Or large amounts of small unmanned vehicles meant to draw fire so as to fix enemy positions. Why use half measures? 30 rafts per ship would mean up to 9000 Abrams in the first wave. That'd be fun.

    Anyway, you mentioned seasickness. Note from history on Rhino ferries vs Higgins on that: "The third team got ashore on D-day. The men left the transport Dorothea L. Dix on LCVP's, which looked something like iron bathtubs. They were faster than the barges but less steady; most of those aboard were desperately seasick." -


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