Monday, August 19, 2019

Naval Bombardment Philosophy

Current US Navy gun support for amphibious landings has a capability gap – we have none!  The question is, is that due to a belief that naval bombardment as a vital element of an amphibious assault is not needed or is it due to mere neglect and stupidity?  In other words, is our utter lack of gun support due to philosophy or neglect?  One would be tempted to say that it must be due to neglect because the value of naval bombardment is so incontestable as to be self-evident.  However, historically, this has not always been the case.  Naval bombardment has not always been seen as necessary for the success of an amphibious assault.

The largest amphibious assault in history, Normandy, employed only brief and perfunctory pre-assault bombardment that was intended only to suppress the defenses, not destroy them. (2)  Contrast that to the Pacific assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa where the Navy conducted non-stop bombardments for weeks prior to the actual assault.  There you have the two extremes – nearly none and almost unlimited.  Which philosophy is right?  They can’t both be right, can they?  Let’s look a bit closer at the historical basis for the two different philosophies and, with that understanding, try to assess our current naval bombardment needs, if any.

As noted by historian and former naval amphibious planner, Christopher Yung, in his book “Gators of Neptune (1), which documented the naval amphibious planning for Normandy,

Another point of departure with Pacific amphibious doctrine was the Mediterranean view of the purpose, effectiveness, and duration of a naval bombardment of coastal defenses just before an amphibious assault.  Admiral Cunningham [Command in Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, First Sea Lord] … stated that, “the Americans in the Pacific placed a high value on naval bombardment in support of amphibious assaults, particularly by battleships, much higher than I thought was really justifiable.” (1, p.38)

However, Yung further notes that Admiral Cunningham changed his mind.

Following the war, Cunningham felt he should have given greater credence to the value of naval gunfire support for an amphibious landing … (1, p.38)

Based on their experience with various Mediterranean assaults, the US Army believed that pre-assault bombardment served only to alert the enemy and ruin the element of surprise. (1, p.38)  The Royal Navy’s RAdm. L.E.H. Maund seconded this philosophy but ascribed it to the British military’s deficient resources. (1, p.39)  We see in this thinking the belief, potentially correct, that if the attackers have less than overwhelming force that the element of surprise may be more important than pre-assault destruction.  Of course, one could ask why anyone would attempt an amphibious assault with less than overwhelming force but that’s a separate issue.

Supporting this minimal bombardment belief was British data on artillery effectiveness against hardened defenses which led the British to conclude that naval gunfire could, at best, provide suppressing fire which might temporarily neutralize the defenses but would be ineffective at destroying them. (1, p.39) It should be noted, however, that there is a world of difference between artillery fire and very larger caliber battleship and heavy cruiser fire with up to 16” guns.  The British did not appear to take that difference into consideration.

Yung notes, however, that this ‘Mediterranean’ minimal bombardment philosophy was not unanimous.  VAdm. Hewitt (commander US naval forces, Mediterranean) noted that pre-assault bombardment was an essential precursor for a successful assault. (1, p.39)

It is also noteworthy that the Mediterranean philosophy was derived from early war experience with less accurate and less lethal artillery and naval guns.  As the war went on, naval gunfire accuracy and lethality improved immensely

Eisenhower, himself, weighed in on the value of naval bombardment, stating that,

Pre-assault and support naval gunfire on beach defenses and pre-arranged targets was so devastating in its effectiveness as to dispose finally of any doubts that naval guns are suitable for shore bombardment. (1, p.39)

His thoughts did not, however, wind up dictating the extent of the Normandy pre-assault bombardment which was, by Pacific standards, minimal, at best.

RAdm. Hall (Commander, 11th PHIBFOR, Force Omaha), expressed his dissatisfaction with the pre-assault bombardment after the Normandy operation was over.

It is believed that the time available for pre-landing bombardment was not sufficient.  German defensive positions were well camouflaged and strong.  It is considered that these positions should be destroyed by slow aimed fire from close range prior to the landing.  Something more than temporary neutralization is required when troops face beach mines, wire, anti-tank ditches and similar obstacles after landing. (1, p.208)

Note Hall’s call for close range naval fire (enhanced accuracy) as opposed to standoff fire (reduced accuracy).  As it happened, there were instances of individual destroyer Captains, on their own initiative and in violation of planning, moving their ships very close in to provide effective and critical point-blank gunfire.  This illustrates the element of risk in effective naval bombardment and the acceptance of that risk in order to achieve objectives.  Contrast this with today’s exceedingly risk averse Navy culture!

In contrast to Hall’s deprecating view of the bombardment effort, Adm. Ramsay (Allied Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force) thought the minimal pre-bombardment was adequate and justified.

That naval gunfire neutralizes rather than destroys is still considered to be true … the policy of beach drenching [ed. short term suppressive fire] has been fully justified. (1, p.208)

Ramsay, then, believed it preferable to momentarily neutralize (suppress) enemy defenses rather than put any great effort into destroying them.

In the actual event, post-assault observation and analysis indicated that relatively few fortifications, gun housings, and casemates were outright destroyed.  This should come as no surprise given the inaccuracy of fire control at that time and the minimal amount of time the bombardments were conducted.  Pacific experience differed greatly.

The use of high velocity guns at [Kwajalein] showed, at least according to the US Navy, that this weaponry could be effective at smashing concrete pillboxes. (1, p.77)

As the Army noted, pre-assault bombardment does, indeed, notify the enemy of the coming assault.  At that point, it becomes a race between the attackers getting sufficient force ashore to achieve their objectives and the defenders getting sufficient reinforcements to the area to ward off the assault.  For Normandy, where the potential pool of reinforcement was vast, it was feared that a prolonged pre-assault bombardment might have allowed the Germans time to reinforce beyond the point that the assault force could overcome.  In contrast, in the Pacific, the Japanese forces on a given island had no source of reinforcement.  Hence, losing the element of surprise was irrelevant – the defenders couldn’t reinforce and couldn’t leave.  They were fixed and isolated and every additional hour of bombardment meant fewer and less effective defenders and defenses.

Naval Bombardment

While the concept of minimizing pre-assault bombardment in order to minimize the enemy’s time for reaction and reinforcement has some surface appeal and, indeed, logic behind it, the larger driving force of overwhelming force ought to negate the concept.  If one has overwhelming force (and if you don’t, why are you attempting the assault?) then the enemy’s reinforcement efforts can be interdicted with air power, airborne infantry, and long range battleship gunfire.  This presents the best of all worlds: extensive pre-assault bombardment reduces the immediate enemy defenses and the overwhelming force interdicts the reinforcement effort.  Thus, both the immediate defenses and the reinforcements are attrited before the actual landing occurs.  To a large extent, interdiction of reinforcements actually occurred at Normandy, thanks to overwhelming force, although the interdiction was divorced from an extensive pre-assault bombardment.

The British view that the element of surprise was necessary to make up for a lack of resources – meaning, a less than overwhelming assault force – was not an issue for the Americans in the Pacific as every US assault did involve overwhelming force.  Thus, surprise was, again, irrelevant.

In contrast to the Mediterranean view that bombardment was ineffective at destroying defenses, Pacific bombardments did achieve the objective of forcing the Japanese to concede the actual landing and retreat to inland prepared defenses in the form of caves, tunnels, and other fortifications that could be hidden from easy observation and protected from heavy bombardment.  Shore defenses were, in fact, found to be susceptible to prolonged bombardment, hence, the relocation of the defending assets to inland locations.


From the preceding discussion we see, then, the tension between the two conflicting philosophies:
  • The desire to maintain the element of surprise
  • The desire to inflict as much pre-assault destruction on the enemy as possible

While both philosophies offer seemingly valid arguments and rationales, it appears that the Mediterranean philosophy of minimal bombardment is largely based on assault force shortcomings and failings such as the lack of overwhelming force, limited resources, and doctrinally ineffective application of naval gunfire.  Thus, for a properly resourced amphibious assault the Pacific practice of prolonged pre-bombardment would appear to be the correct choice.

Having examined the issue of pre-assault bombardment, it is important to note that the discussion has nothing to do with bombardment support during and immediately after the assault landing.  Regardless of whether the assault used minimal or maximum pre-assault bombardment there is an undisputed need for naval gun support during the actual landing and immediately after, until the landing force can get their own artillery ashore and operating.

How does all this impact our views on naval gunfire today?  As you might expect, the exact same considerations and conclusions about pre-assault bombardment still apply.  However, technology has introduced some modifications into the methodology:

Range – Today’s defenders can use cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges of hundreds or thousands of miles.  Even modern artillery and rocket launchers have ranges of many dozens of miles.  Thus, bombardment must not be limited to the immediate landing area but must take into account defending ‘batteries’ located hundreds of miles away.  These remote targets may need to be serviced by air power rather than naval guns but, regardless, they must be accounted for.

Interestingly, the potential remote range of defenses might, in some cases, mean that there are relatively fewer defenses/defenders at the actual landing site as compared to the WWII scenarios of highly concentrated, localized defenses and defenders.  If this is the case, the need for local bombardment may be reduced. 

The effect of range, then, results in a modification of the definition of bombardment to include not just naval guns but also missiles and aircraft/bombs.

Interdiction – The ability to defend from hundreds or thousands of miles away means that the concept of interdiction has to be greatly expanded.  Interdiction may have to occur hundreds or thousands of miles away.  This also leads to the possibility that there may be no interdiction in the strictest sense of the word since the enemy may have no need to physically move reinforcements to the landing site.  Still, there will almost certainly be some movement of enemy defenses toward the assault site and that movement, however far away, must be interdicted.

Precision Guidance – Many observers mistakenly believe that massive bombardments are no longer necessary thanks to precision guidance.  However, the reality is that precision guidance is a very limited capability in a peer defended assault scenario. 

For example, laser guided rounds are useless in bombardment because there will be no assets available to laser designate.  In a peer defended assault scenario, aircraft laser designators will be unable to loiter over the battlefield providing target designation and ground forces won’t even be available until well after the initial landing and will be too busy surviving to calmly and casually laser spot targets.  Further, the ground forces will be too localized and ‘compacted’ to designate targets more than a hundred feet in front of them even if they were willing to lift their heads above cover long enough to do so. 

Ships can, if so equipped, provide their own laser designation but that would be valid only for visible, line of sight targets and a smart enemy is not going to provide many of those.

GPS guided rounds would be effective but only against known, fixed, visible targets.  The reality is that a smart enemy will not provide many fixed, visible targets.

The reality is that unguided area bombardment is the only generally effective method.


Conclusions  
  • For a properly resourced amphibious assault, prolonged and heavy pre-assault bombardment is clearly the preferred action and is essential to ensure a successful landing.
  • Post-assault gun support is always required.
  • In order for bombardment to be effective and worth the effort, naval gunfire must employ large caliber, heavy guns of 8” or greater size.  As demonstrated by WWII experience, 5” guns simply don’t have the power to effectively destroy hardened fortifications. 
  • The area of bombardment on today’s battlefield will likely have to be greatly expanded although the bombardment may take the form of aircraft or missiles in order to achieve the required range.
  • Precision guidance is only marginally useful in an amphibious assault.  Old fashioned area bombardment is still required.


Today’s US Navy utterly lacks the capability to provide amphibious pre-assault bombardment or supporting fires during the landing.  If we continue to insist that we want and have this capability, we need to procure bombardment capability.  The Marines long ago gave up their battleship gun support in exchange for a handful of magic beans and promises by the Navy that never came to fruition and they are now left with no naval gun support, whatsoever. 




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(1)“Gators of Neptune”, Christopher Yung, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2006, ISBN 1-59114-997-5

(2)Ibid. p.80-81,
From the Overlord Outline Plan: “As preliminary bombardment compromises surprise, it should be confined to the shortest possible duration consistent with the achievement of the required degree of neutralization.”

91 comments:

  1. Sounds like the British were using their WWI land experience to model what Naval gunfire should be. The Brits were very good using relatively short heavy bombardments using different techniques, drumfire, hurricane and creeping. The Germans had countered earlier long form bombardments using deep bunkers on the reverse slope.

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  2. Great Article as usual!

    A few points:

    1. Nuclear weapons. The post-WWII USN assumed that tactical or strategic nukes would negate amphibious operations, and even forced carrier task forces to adopt very open formations. The cold war fleet initially assumed any ship to shore bombardment would be accomplished with tactical nuclear weapons like Regulus missiles; even SAMs like Talos, and later Terrier missiles were provided with tactical warheads with this secondary bombardment capability in mind. The Navy view of amphibious operations was gradually revised with the advent of Korea. It remains to be seen if conventional warfare between peer competitors will devolve into a nuclear melee; Russian and Chinese doctrine assumes tactical nuclear weapon employment.

    2. Combined arms warfare. The primary German defense at Normandy were the mobile panzer and panzer grenadier formations, not the static beach fortifications, which were maned by second rate troops (units made up of men with similar ailments like stomach conditions, foot problems, foreign troops, and so forth).

    *Every* break through operation, and forced entry/amphibious operations are break throughs, must deal with the enemy reserves, which are generally the larger or more power element of the enemy force! Fortifications are a real problem, but the proper use of static defenses is to delay and channel attackers into preselected positions favorable for destruction. Too many civilian historians treat the Normandy landings proper as the campaign objective: they were not, nor was the reduction of the “Atlantic Wall!”

    Allied paratroopers at Normandy were largely assigned the counter mobility mission to disrupt the arrival of the German panzer reserves. The Japanese never really had a combined arms force in WWII, so limited.

    3. Speed/time. Considering the enemy reserves, speed and time are interrelated and the most critical resources for every commander. Everything can be replaced except time.

    4. Neutralization fires: Yeung used the term “drenching fire(s)” to describe what is definitely neutralization fire. Neutralization fire is a deliberate method of applying artillery as a means to rapidly overcome an enemy defensive system by destroying its key elements (C4ISR, artillery, TACAIR fields, etc.) and imposing temporary psychological disruption on enemy troops, even after the guns stop firing, or are shifted onto other targets. It is orders of magnitude faster to achieve neutralization effects on an enemy compared to pure destructive fires. Neutralization also allows for operational/strategic surprise, uses a lot less ammunition, and does not disrupt the ground so it is more conducive to the attacker. No competent enemy will be surprised after hours/days of bombardment – reserves at all levels will be deployed appropriately. Neutralization effects are longer lasting and more beneficial to the attacker beyond mere suppression.

    5. Neutralization as a method of artillery engagement were a deliberate chosen at Normandy for the sake of speed/time and to preserve a measure of strategic surprise even after the landings began. Neutralization was not was selected as a because of a deficit of resources.

    GAB

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    1. "Nuclear"

      I consistently neglect to deal with nuclear weapon use, operations, and tactics because,

      1. I don't know anywhere near enough about them to intelligently discuss the topic
      2. I have a very hard time imagining the use of tactical nuclear weapons without very quickly transitioning to wholesale nuclear war. Thus, I have a very hard time imagining any side initiating the use of tactical nukes. I could well be wrong about that.

      That aside, do you have any general or doctrinal thoughts about the use of pre-assault bombardment as it pertains to our current operations and capabilities? Also, how do you reconcile whatever thoughts you might have with our utter lack of bombardment capability?

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    2. Our current professional military writing seems very rigid and nearly useless. The situation cries out for innovative strategic and operational thinkers/writers. Just saying … :)

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    3. “… I have a very hard time imagining any side initiating the use of tactical nukes.”

      Totally rational given what we know now, but in the first decades of the Cold War every service sought a range of tactical nuclear capabilities. Quite silly, except that the one place you might be tempted to use a tactical nuke is at sea…

      “That aside, do you have any general or doctrinal thoughts about the use of pre-assault bombardment as it pertains to our current operations and capabilities?”

      Method, purpose, end state: policy/doctrine first!

      GAB

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  3. Another issue is the use of artillery feints. Battleships attacking shore emplacements randomly up and down a coast line can make the main attack less obvious and force the defender to be more conservative about moving reserves.

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    1. Of course, the flip side of that is that it takes precious BBs away from the real task, requires more escorts for the BBs, exposes them to air and submarine attack, and makes the entire assault effort larger and more complex. So, while it might spread the defenders it also spreads the attackers!

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    2. The French and British used obsolete BBs in the Dardanelles for the risky bits. Maybe we should restore the Texas ?

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    3. USS Texas is so fragile they worry about her not surviving a tow in dead calm seas.

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  4. ...a worry I have is the sacred position of GPS (that seems to guide everything [from missiles to tractors])...could a lesser power use a single missile/nuclear warhead at the edge of space to disrupt GPS (EMP) and level the playing field

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    1. As a general statement, GPS is vulnerable in many ways. Are you connecting this to pre-assault bombardments, in some way?

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    2. Even in entirely GPS-denied environments, all of the weapons still have inertial guidance fall backs. They're still more accurate than unguided weapons.

      -Anon2

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    3. "They're still more accurate than unguided weapons."

      IF (note the capital letters!) you have fixed location target coordinates. No smart enemy is going to provide many fixed location targets.

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    4. "IF (note the capital letters!) you have fixed location target coordinates. No smart enemy is going to provide many fixed location targets."

      Even if a target is moving or it's position unknown, you're still trying to put the round(s) in a particular place, at a particular time.... If nothing else, GPS/INS guidance compensates for unexpected variations in internal and external ballistics that lead to aiming errors.

      How many rounds can you spare due to aiming errors?

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    5. Even if a target is moving or it's position unknown, you're still trying to put the round(s) in a particular place, at a particular time.... "

      That's called area bombardment and, since you haven't got a specific target, just a specific area, whether you hit it exactly or miss by a bit really doesn't matter. Plus, the entire idea of area bombardment is that you just cover the overall area rather than any specific pinpoint. Of course, you don't want to miss the intended spot by ten miles! However, today's fire control is good enough for pretty close results.

      "How many rounds can you spare due to aiming errors? "

      LOTS!!!! That's kind of the point of area bombardment. You use dumb shells with no guidance and they're very cheap compared to guided munitions. You can afford to blanket an area which makes up for any lack of accuracy for any specific round. Battleships carried around a thousand 16" shells. LOTS of rounds available for area coverage! 5" shell inventories were many times larger. LOTS AND LOTS of rounds available for area coverage.

      If you haven't got a specific target, who cares if your shot is slightly off? The overall area coverage will ensure 'accuracy'.

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    6. "That's called area bombardment"

      "Area bombardment" has its place for final suppressive fires and stripping top cover, but it has demonstrated limited utility throughout recent wars.

      "You can afford to blanket an area which makes up for any lack of accuracy for any specific round. Battleships carried around a thousand 16" shells. LOTS of rounds available for area coverage!"

      And yet enough ammunition wasn't available at Iwo Jima to provide the requested 9-day pre-assault bombardment, even though air spotters and accurate direct fire were used as much as possible.

      At the height of the fleet's proficiency with naval bombardment in WWII, direct and directed fire at known and suspected enemy position earned the naval guns their well-deserved reputations, not area bombardment:

      http://www.allworldwars.com/Iwo-Jima-Naval-Gunfire-Support.html

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WMqGYBOn9A

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcqulXiWbzc

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    7. No one is saying that direct fire at identified targets isn't the preferred method! Of course it is. However, barring an incredibly stupid enemy, there won't be many targets out in the open. At that point you can either not bombard and allow the enemy to retain the rest of their combat capability or you area bombard which is what the Navy did in WWII. It was effective enough to drive the Japanese from the beaches and deep into the island mountains and jungles.

      "And yet enough ammunition wasn't available at Iwo Jima to provide the requested 9-day pre-assault bombardment,"

      No ship has an infinite magazine. You plan for whatever length of bombardment you want and rotate ships for replenishment as needed. This was a single case of one idiotic Navy admiral being too lazy to do his job properly. At Okinawa, the pre-bombardment began in mid-Mar and used some 13,000 rounds from naval guns combine with over 3000 sorties from aircraft. The day of the landing saw another 45,000 rounds from naval guns, 33,000 rockets, etc. LOTS of rounds available.

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  5. Any lessons to be learned from WWI, surprise bombardment v days long bombardment?

    Not sure if my simplistic understanding is correct, but remember the German break out in the Spring in 1918 from the static trench warfare of WWI, Operation Michael.

    The German artillery commanded by Brechmuller, released from the Eastern front after the collapse of Russians in 1917, believed in surprise. In near secrecy concentrated his guns, 6,000?, and in five hours fired 3.5 million shells, ~120 rounds per gun per hour, to facilitate the break through. The British and French suffered 850,000+ casualties before able to stabilize new line.

    Part of the reason its said German attack ended was due the RN naval blockade of Germany since the beginning of the war and their troops were on very limited rations and when they captured the British and French supply depots the exhausted troops stopped.

    So it would appear that from above operation surprise was successful whereas in the Battle of the Somme the British used seven day artillery barrage before troops attacked and advanced only 6 miles in three months.

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    1. I am not a WWI land combat expert, at all, however, your analysis/conclusion is likely overly simplistic in the extreme. For example, in Michael, I know the Germans trained elite infantry units in new strongpoint hopping (analogous to island hopping in the WWII Pacific) whereby strongpoints were bypassed to achieve penetration and disruption. This was a completely new and, apparently, quite effective method that the Allies were unprepared for and likely had far more to do with the German success than the artillery barrage. Interestingly, this might be viewed as a form of maneuver warfare by soldiers on foot! Also, this was an all-or-noting attack by the Germans which would either achieve total victory or result in total defeat which is what happened. In other words, the extent of the captured ground was due as much to the total commitment (30-40 divisions of elite troops and 70+ divisions total !!!!) of all German resources as to the effect of the artillery barrage.

      You compare this to the Somme's artillery barrage. How many shells were fired at Somme? To be ridiculous, if the Allies fired only a thousand shells per day for several days, that wouldn't even remotely compare to 3.5M shells in 5 hrs.

      Also, my vague understanding is that the Germans had mastered pretty effective defensive doctrine, unlike the Allies.

      Side note: Sources seem to list around 250,000 Allied killed, wounded, and missing from Michael, not 850,000. You might want to verify your source.

      So, before you draw a conclusion, you might want to delve a bit deeper and analyze the surface numbers.

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    2. Thanks for reply, have done a quick review on google, major differences in the numbers quoted on different sites, need historian.

      Germans launched Operation Michael in the Spring of 1918 so as to avoid the large number of US troops before they became operational

      Think your info looks more accurate, re casualties Wikipedia quotes 850,000 on 1918 Spring Offensive page and only 250,000 on Operation Michael page which sounds more realistic.

      Guns have seen German numbers quoted as 6,473 and 3,532 mortars, number of shells fired in the five hours as one million plus as against my earlier quote of three and a half million again taken from Wikipedia, again the lower number looks more realistic, so a total of 10,000 guns and mortars, I'm sure included a good proportion in large calibers, unable in my quick search to find details or the length of short front they were spread over.

      Re the 1916 Battle of the Somme opening seven day barrage, did not find the number of guns used, comment made they were too thinly spread, fired ~one and half million shells, too many shrapnel so not effective against the strong points and ~30% failed to explode.

      My interpretation being that a surprise concentrated high fire bombardment philosophy more effective than a long drawn out bombardment? For the surprise concentrated fire bombardment to be effective though you need big, big numbers of large caliber tubes/rockets to deliver a massive shock to troops and attack before they can recover.

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    3. Interesting.

      "For the surprise concentrated fire bombardment to be effective though you need big, big numbers "

      What you're really saying is it's about coverage. When a bombardment is blind - meaning unaimed; non-precision guided - it's just area bombardment and then it's all about coverage (density). If you could land a shell in every square foot, you'd be sure of having destroyed every target and person in the area. Generally, however, that's not possible due to the number of shells required and the inherent inaccuracy of unaimed fire. The downside of unaimed fire is, of course, that most rounds will hit nothing and be wasted. What you need, lacking specific targets and aiming, is uniform coverage with sufficient density to assure an effective number of blind hits. So, yes, that translates to numbers, as you say.

      Even on the small Pacific islands in WWII, the bombardments were insufficiently dense to assure total destruction. In fact, the degree of destruction was often surprisingly low although much of that can be attributed to prepared fortifications, caves, tunnels, etc. that defied all but direct hits by large caliber guns.

      That's the other aspect not covered in this: the caliber of the guns. In the WWII Pacific, we're talking about 8"-16" shells and 500-1000 lb bombs from aircraft. What was the caliber of artillery used in WWI? In other words, it's a stretch to directly compare small caliber artillery bombardment effects against large caliber naval gun bombardment effects. The pure explosive effects are just too different. As mentioned in the post, I think this may have been one of the factors that the British failed to account for in their analysis of bombardment philosophies.

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    4. WWI saw the creation of modern field artillery and revolutionized organization, equipment, control, fire planning, intelligence, and tactics. Before WWI, artillery was generally a direct fire weapon employed the same way that Fredrick the Great and Napolean did.

      There are many lessons to be learned from WWI, the greatest was the development of fire plans designed for neutralization, to replace prolonged bombardment and brute application of fire power (what we call destruction fires).

      German artillery officer Colonel Georg Bruchmüller developed neutralization fires after concluding that prolonged bombardments (aka destructive fires) did not solve the tactical problem: the bombardments took days or even weeks, used truly massive quantities of ammunition, gave away the element of surprise, often created problems for the attacking force simply by creating rubble and craters that impeded the advance of friendly forces. Ultimately the defenders were often able to withdraw their forces reestablish defensive lines and seal off the attack the attackers. These issues for infantry, were worse for maneuver forces even in WWI. Neutralization for hours replaced artillery bombardments that have previously taken days or even weeks and were used with ruthless efficiency by the Germans in their great offenses in the East and by 1917 in the West.

      GAB

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    5. @CNO - “That's the other aspect not covered in this: the caliber of the guns. In the WWII Pacific, we're talking about 8"-16" shells and 500-1000 lb bombs from aircraft. What was the caliber of artillery used in WWI?”

      WWI saw the mass employment of larger calibers of weapons (e.g. railroad guns) and orders of magnitude greater quantities of ammunition than WWII.

      As an example, the French employed the Obusier de 520 modèle 1916, a 520mm (20 inch) weapon that fired shells weighing up to 1,654 kg (3,646 lbs.). The German “Big Bertha” 42 cm kurze Marinekanone 14 L/12, or Minenwerfer-Gerät (M-Gerät), a 42 cm (17 in) inch weapon that fired shells weighing up to 1,160 kg (880–2,560 lbs.).

      An exception was the German WWII Schwerer Gustav, an 80-centimetre (31.5 in) railroad gun, that fired shells weighing up to 7,100 kg (15,700 lbs.).

      It is imperative to understand that the largest calibers were generally of little use; modern armies have settled on the 15cm (155mm or 152mm) as the standard artillery piece.

      The USA maintained the M1 8” (203mm) guns into the 1960s, and the Russians continue to love their 2S4 Tyulpan 240mm self-propelled super heavy mortar, but these were (are) niche weapons, and for good reason.

      It is imperative to understand that the largest calibers were generally of little use; modern armies (Every army everywhere) have settled on the 15cm (155mm or 152mm) as the standard artillery piece for field artillery as the most useful caliber. If limited to HE shells in lieu of the orders of magnitude more effective cluster weapons, a 12-13cm weapon like the 2A18 (D30) is arguably the best unitary caliber.

      GAB

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    6. "It is imperative to understand that the largest calibers were generally of little use; "

      Why? What did large caliber artillery fail to do as well as smaller caliber?

      I could imagine that many of the perceived shortcomings of large caliber land artillery would not be applicable to large caliber naval guns. For example, ease of movement, shell storage and transportation, number of shells per gun, manning, rate of fire, etc. would all likely be challenges for large caliber land artillery but much less so or not at all for naval guns with their large magazines, ship movement, automated loading, etc.

      If this is true, then the conclusions drawn about large caliber land artillery may not be applicable to naval guns or only marginally so.

      So, what were the drawbacks and what was the rationale for smaller caliber artillery and how applicable is the rationale to naval guns?

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    7. I wouldn't completely agree that large caliber shells are of little use. It really depends on what you are shooting at.

      The British military historian John Keegan says in "The Face of Battle" that the lighter British 18 pd guns (84mm) were not very effective in the attack on the Somme and the heavy guns were more so. That mission was pummeling trenches and dugouts, of course.

      I believe that the decision to use 155mm as the standard modern caliber is more of a compromise than anything else.

      Calibers larger than 155mm have greater recoil. As modern artillery is more and more mobile (due to re-positioning to avoid counter-battery) the vehicle starts to become non-mobile. They still need to fit on rail cars and drive on roads and cross bridges-large and small. Rate of fire is also a consideration. These are all important factors.

      Naval gunfire is not as limited by those factors. As a scout helicopter pilot, if I had the choice in fire missions between naval gunfire with 8" or 16" rounds and 155mm rounds....the choice would be very easy.

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    8. I mean, 155mm is a 6 inch shell, vs the 3.3 in shell of the 84mm...

      I'm just not convinced 16" is ever going to come back. I mean, look at the rate of fire that Navweaps gives for the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun: 2 rounds per minute.

      If naval gunfire had to come back, I could see a bigger argument for 8", especially if you could make the 8" gun a drop in replacement for the present 5" on DDGs (and the Ticos were built with the anticipation of receiving a drop in 8" gun upgrade, although that never happened). A theoretical newbuild 8" gun would be a clear cut replacement for present 5" naval guns in terms of range and lethality from having a larger shell, and the bigger round also means more room for electronics and guidance. That said, you'd probably lose a bit of rate of fire vs 5 inch, but it'd definitely be faster than 2 rounds per minute!

      Delete
    9. 16" might never come back, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it shouldn't.

      An Iowa class in naval gunfire support is going to devastate whatever has the misfortune of being its target.

      There is no substitute for massive firepower.

      Delete
    10. @CNO - "Why? What did large caliber artillery fail to do as well as smaller caliber?"

      Artillery caliber selection is an optimization problem balancing effects, with practicality, and cost. Overkill is popular with troops and on military blogs, but really devastating to the friendly war effort. The costs and difficult of manufacture of the larger weapons was also generally found to outweigh their effectiveness.

      Large artillery calibers can be detrimental: it can be a hazard to own troops, completely inappropriate for a rolling barrage or similar close support, and it can so tear up the battlefield as to interfere with the advance of friendly troops. Example: during the Tarawa invasion fiasco some USMC tanks actually sank or were immobilized in shell holes caused by the naval bombardment.

      Not appreciated is the marginal blast/fragmentation effect of shells decrease with size – the blast wave and fragmentation pattern expands into a volume as an inverse cube, but the *area of effect* (a circle on the ground) varies to the square: e.g. doubling the shell weight (explosive amount) yields far less than double the blast and fragmentation effect.

      Larger artillery was most useful primarily due to its range (counter-battery missions), not always the weight of fire.

      Artillery pieces much above 150mm tend to overkill targets (physics), be a royal pain in the butt to move, emplace, and especially supply. Even today, 155mm is about the largest sized gun-howitzer that can be placed on a 10x10 truck or AFV chassis.

      What is not apparent to the lay person is that the issue is not simply the weight of the artillery piece, but weight and *cost* of the ammunition, and what it takes to move all that crap around the battlefield.

      Two admittedly extreme examples: The excellent Soviet 2A18 122mm howitzer weighs 3,210 kg (7,080 lbs.), has a sustained RoF of 6-8 rounds per minute, and an average shell weight of 22kg a single 2A18 could expend 10 metric tons of ammunition in an hour! An artillery battalion of 18 tubes would theoretically chew through over 8,640 shells weighing 190 metric tons of ammunition in an hour. The Soviet 2A65 152 mm howitzer weighs 6,800 kg (15,000 lbs.), has a sustained RoF of 2-3 rounds per minute, and an average shell weight of 43 kg a single 2A65 could expend 8 metric tons of ammunition in an hour! An artillery battalion of 18 tubes would theoretically chew through over 3,240 shells weighing 139 metric tons of ammunition in an hour.

      In WWII, the German and Western allies found the right mix of artillery firepower was 75-105mm calibers at the division level (~12-15,00 troops), with 155mm caliber being assigned at the Corps level (30,00+ troops) in part for counterbattery fire, with larger pieces (e.g. 8”) at the Corps/Army level, or assigned as needed.

      Today the “sweet spot” is 152/155mm largely due to cargo munitions (ICM/DPICM/cluster) because the marginal number of bomblets (effect) generally increases favorably with size.

      GAB

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    11. GAB info, a single Army artillery battalion with eighteen 155mm? tubes would theoretically deliver over 8,640 shells weighing 190 metric tons? of ammunition in an hour.

      A 155mm shell is ~ 100 lbs 8,640 shells equal 864,000 lbs / ~390 metric tons.

      Question how many Mk45 5" guns to deliver equivalent bombardment of a single Army battalion, 864,000 lbs / 70 lb 5" shell equals ~ 12,300 shells needed. If you assume the Mk45 can fire 10 rounds per minute for an hour without barrel melting, 600, you would need ~20 Mk45's with high capacity magazines, if five hour bombardment required very unlikely destroyer would be able to keep up that level fire due to re-supply problems, much less of a problem for the Army.

      Iowa class with its nine 16" guns firing at two rounds a minute, 120 an hour, if using the 1,900-pound high-capacity projectiles would deliver 2 million lbs + of shells on target, the advantage of large calibers, that's ignoring its firepower from its twelve 5" guns:)

      Delete
    12. Don't think there's a 155mm gun in existence that can sustain 8 rpm for an hour. I'd be surprised if they could keep up 1-2 rpm for an entire hour.

      A better metric is how many fire missions of a specific variety can a group of systems handle and, how long can they sustain them.

      Delete
    13. "I repost his answer below verbatim:"

      Please include a citation for any quote from another site. I would not want someone to copy my material without credit and I won't do that to anyone else. Feel free to repost with the citation.

      Delete
    14. Source: https://forums.spacebattles.com/posts/17075075/

      As I noted before, he's a former artillerymman who then class changed into armaments engineer and worked procurement for Singapore MINDEF.

      -=-

      The reason why artillery above 155 mm has been gradually phased out is because they don't have a job anymore. Back when 8" and up were still around, they were the only guns that could shoot out to 30+ km accurately. 155 mm or 6" guns only shot out to 20 km or so. The big guns were kept not because they had a firepower advantage, but because they had a range advantage. Firepower-wise, those old guns had really slow fire rates. They did still put more HE on target per minute than lighter guns but there were really strong diminishing returns, and a few big explosions causes less causalities than many smaller explosions (which is why cargo rounds and cluster bombs exist). Nowadays, modern 155 mm shoots right out to 40+ km, which is the practical limit for unguided artillery, since beyond that range dispersion makes fire ineffective. Conversely, if you are firing guided munitions, then at extreme range rocket artillery is a more efficient way deliver them than heavy and clumsy 8"+ guns (one huge guided MLRS rocket instead of lots of smaller guided 8" shells). Heavy artillery just became obsolete -- other forms of artillery did everything they could do better.

      The reason why NATO standardized on two calibers is because artillery is extremely logistic intensive. The limiting factor for artillery is the supply of ammunition. Having just two calibres in inventory really, really helps logistics. In fact, many Western armies are phasing out 105 mm now that helimobile 155 mm howitzers like the M777 are available. 105 mm will probably disappear completely at some point, since 155 mm is just about the perfect size for tube artillery. The shell is heavy enough to cut through wind well enough to achieve good accuracy out to 40+ km, big enough to carry interesting payloads like smart munitions and DPICM, yet not so heavy as to make handling hard or the firing platform too big. Russian 152 mm (6") is also in the same sweet spot.

      As for why we standardized on those particular numbers, 105mm was originally a German (?) calibre and 155mm a French calibre, both dating from around WW1, which is why they are metric. The US adopted these calibres through whatever byzantine machinations go on in the Ordnance branch (I believe in order to rapidly gear up for WW1), and from there they became NATO standards since whatever the US uses is what everyone else uses.

      Delete
    15. "former artilleryman"

      A good description of the considerations for land artillery. As surmised, few if any of the considerations translate to naval guns in any significant way.

      Delete
    16. @ Nick – my math is correct, I specified a RoF of 3 RPM for *Soviet 152mm 2A65*. Forget going with the higher RoF, the rounds are loaded by hand and even with NFL linebackers serving as gun bunnies, you are not going to sustain more than 3 RPM for an hour(s).

      The key issue is not simply weight of fire, matching ordnance against targets; *application of fire* counts more than net explosive weight.

      It is cool to site fantastic figures of millions of lbs. of explosives, but many that level of destruction did not ensure success at Verdun, Passchendaele, Cambrai, Monte Casino, Remagen and many, many other battles.

      I provided examples of situations (Tarawa) where the indiscriminate use of large caliber guns is more harmful than good; that is why there are a host of weapons (e.g. mortars, rockets…) to address a host of targets, otherwise everyone would simply build the largest artillery pieces.

      As a matter of practicality, a 152mm/155mm shell is a terrifying weapon that is *more than good enough* for 98 percent of targets. George Durham wrote an article for Field Artillery magazine, a professional U.S. Army journal, with photographic test evidence showing a 155mm HE round, which landed 30 meters away from an MBT, but still shredded the entire suspension system (‘Who Says Dumb Artillery Rounds Can’t Kill Armor?). Add in cargo weapons and the lethality approaches that of tactical nuclear weapons.

      For naval use I would seriously consider a 203mm weapon, but the reality is that a more realistic choice is a 155mm weapon because it could leverage current ammunition plant production lines and components.

      As an aside, have you ever seen an artillery fire mission first hand? Been on the receiving end?

      GAB

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    17. "A good description of the considerations for land artillery. As surmised, few if any of the considerations translate to naval guns in any significant way."

      To me, the overlapping considerations are the issues of rate of fire, range and dispersion, since these issues are affected by physics and physical limitations, and you can only do so much to work around them. That said, naval guns will have the rate of fire advantage when using unitary rounds, as opposed to conventional land artillery guns, where you load the round and ram in the powder bag charges.

      The more I think about things, the more I've come around to the opinion that if a new naval gun is to be developed, it should be in 8". It definitely will have a penalty in that you'll have less rounds for the same magazine dimensions, and the inevitably larger heavier 8" round will have a lower rate of fire than 5"; on the other hand, you've got a bigger shell, which means more range, and more payload vs 5" - or you could carry the same payload as 5" and pack in electronics for your smart guidance at range. OTO Melara's Vulcano 127mmm ammo can reach out to 120km, 4 times the range of 155mm - imagine what you could do if you had an 8" shell to work with...

      Delete
    18. I guess to me, my philosophy is that I'd rather have a gun that I could fit to many ships (8" Mk 71) rather than a gun I'd need to build a dedicated ship for (16", LRLAP).

      Delete
    19. I would go for 155mm. Perhaps use the case and propellant from AGS mated to a normal (or slightly modified) 155mm projectile, if possible. Use both AGS development and ongoing 155mm projectile development.

      Delete
    20. GAB, let me ask you the same question that you are asking Nick.

      Have YOU ever been on the receiving end of an artillery barrage?

      Delete
    21. @That army guy

      Check! ANGLICO, ST3/8, military adviser in Latin America 1990s…

      YOU?

      GAB

      Delete
    22. Never.
      Called a 105mm battery fire-for-effect for training once in flight school.

      I appreciate your service and the dangers you've faced.

      But I don't think that your real, but still limited, experience with incoming fire gives you the right to try and intimidate and shut down other posters that are discussing civilly with you.

      It's in bad taste, IMO.

      Delete
    23. @That army guy

      Got it and no worries - I was short - my issue.

      From a professional standpoint, there is really no justification for the "must have large caliber guns" mentality - it really shuts down debate on realistic weapons choices, and from a procurement stand point (I did a lot of budget work, and audited a lot of ammunition accounts and stockpiles while at GAO...) it is pie in the sky.

      BTW, I witnessed the effect of 16” gunfire in Lebanon – it was awe inspiring. I never worked an 8” naval rifle; I wish I had first-hand experience working the automatic 8” guns of the Des Moines class cruisers. From an objective standpoint, a 155mm weapon will kill just about every realistic target on the battlefield. In fact, without DPICM, 155mm HE rounds are generally overkill.

      GAB

      Delete
    24. Excellent points, and coming from real experience in the field.

      But I think that the impact, both real and morale, can't be fully calculated.

      Delete
    25. "have you ever seen an artillery fire mission first hand?"
      "Have YOU ever been on the receiving end of an artillery barrage?"

      Guys, we're discussing ideas on this blog, not resumes. We are absolutely NOT going to be challenging each others backgrounds. If an idea has merit, it doesn't matter if it came from a military professional or a dogcatcher. Conversely, a bad idea isn't saved by coming from a professional or excused by coming from a dogcatcher. Discuss the ideas, not the person.

      On the plus side, you appear to have resolved this on your own, before I could get to it and I trust you'll keep it that way.

      Carry on … politely.

      Delete
    26. Just for info, the impression that the 100 lbs 155mm shell is the only artillery the Army use, they also deploy the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, GMLRS, rocket delivers a ~9" dia unitary HE 200 lbs 'shell', and to replace its DPICM round due to concerns of unexploded ordnance from cluster munition Army developed the M30E1 which contains approximately 182,000 pre-formed tungsten fragments, went into production in 2015, minimum range ~15 km, maximum ~70 km, fired from the tracked M270 ~ 25t and wheeled M142 ~16t

      The Navy Mk71 8" gun fired 240 lbs shell, weight of gun ~80t.

      The weights highlights what is possible on land and sea, why Navy and Army 'guns' can be so different.

      Delete
    27. @That army guy – “But I think that the impact, both real and morale, can't be fully calculated”

      YES! This is a huge shortcoming in military doctrine. The old cannon cockers had fewer quantitative tools, and inferior weapons, but they understood human psychology and how to employ the weapons they had to break resistance and defeat the enemy.

      There is more to combat than casualties; it is easy to kill a lot of troops, but really hard to dig out the last pocket of resistance with brute firepower.

      GAB

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    28. @CNO -"carry on … politely."

      Got it!

      That said, many folks are arguing for or against systems without understanding the target set is, what the actual effectiveness of existing systems is, where the capability gaps are, the logistics costs, the financial costs, or production/procurement implications.

      Seeing the effects of, let alone being on the receiving end of even mortar fire, say a 9lbs. 81mm round, is very instructive about just how effective these weapons are, and what is needed. It is one thing to see a movie star jump up and run at a machine gun, it is an entirely different thing to be on the receiving end belt fed automatic weapon fire, see rounds cut trees down, punch through bricks, and chop up people, and then move forward.

      For example, MLRS is a great system, but an entire army corps normal TOE was a single battalion of 9 firing units. The entire British army bought something like 60-70 launchers! That gives you some indication of need/affordability of a well-respected system.

      It is also telling that Long Range Precision Fires is the number one program priority for the U.S. Army: a conscious institutional preference for range as opposed to volume, or weight of fire.

      WWII was largely fought with artillery in the 75mm - 105mm caliber range: it was extremely effective against troops, even under light cover. A Ferrari is really cool, most people earn their meals with something less exotic.

      GAB

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    29. "It is also telling that Long Range Precision Fires is the number one program priority for the U.S. Army: a conscious institutional preference for range as opposed to volume, or weight of fire."

      It is! The question, however, is, is it wise and right? I don't need to recite the litany of top priority programs that have turned out to be wrong. You know it as well as I do. So, the mere fact that the Army is focused on range does not mean that they're right or that the focus is correct.

      So, I ask you (genuinely), is it right to focus on range over 'boom'? Each service has it's own area of responsibility. The AF is tasked with deep strike and the Army has, traditionally, been tasked with short range (0-30? miles). Does it make sense for the Army to have as its top priority the duplication of AF responsibility? Does the Army run the risk of hitting targets hundreds of miles away while being overrun by the enemy that's right in front of them? Are we (the professional military leadership) so focused on the 'wow' tech that we're ignoring the mundane volume firepower (rifles, mortars, short range artillery, etc.) needed to stop the enemy right in front of us?

      We've consciously ceded the quantitative advantage. Are we also ceding the explosives advantage in our quest for 'wow' tech?

      I'm not a land combat person. I know only enough to be concerned and ask questions.

      Delete
    30. "For example, MLRS is a great system, but an entire army corps normal TOE was a single battalion of 9 firing units. The entire British army bought something like 60-70 launchers! That gives you some indication of need/affordability of a well-respected system. "

      a) Army requirements aren't Marine requirements. If we're talking about massive, pre-amphibous assault bombardments (the subject of this post) and naval close support/interdiction, then large numbers of MLRS could fill much of the perceived shortfall. Perhaps fill it cheaper and better than non-existent large caliber guns on non-existent cruisers and battleships.

      b) This TOE was developed back when MLRS was a "Grid Square Removal System", requiring lots of large, heavy pods per strike. Now it is a 70km sniper (soon to be 140km Sniper). Might we revisit the TOE? HIMARS/M270 battery per BCT?

      c) Land-based logistics needed to support MLRS limits its value. This isn't nearly as great a concern when MLRS is sea-based.



      Delete
    31. "then large numbers of MLRS could fill much of the perceived shortfall."

      'Perceived' shortfall????!! There's nothing perceived about it - we have no bombardment capability!

      All right, that aside, it leads us into the question of quantity and launcher. Referencing the enormous numbers of naval gun rounds fired during WWII assaults (many tens of thousands), the number of launchers would need to be quite substantial and/or reloads would need to be substantial and automated. By the time one developed a brand new automated reload system, a dedicated storage magazine for reloads, an automated magazine handling system, a gyro-stabilized MLRS, and a new fire control system, one would have developed an all new weapon! Any 'cheaper'ness would have more than evaporated!

      That said, there is much to like about a naval MLRS and it might well be worth the developmental effort. In fact, one can't help but wonder why it wasn't the starting point for the Zumwalt 'gun'.

      Delete
    32. "a) Army requirements aren't Marine requirements>"

      Misses the point - you build a force to have certain capabilities against anticipated enemy forces.

      How in the world does the USMC have a clue what capabilities it needs in high intensity war having defined itself as a “middle weight” force that does not do opposed force entry operations, and certainly not against a peer competitor like China?

      The USMC rarely trains. plans, or operates at division level, let alone corps level echelons of command, which was what MRLS/GMRLS/ATACMS/LRPF were/are really designed to support.

      In recent decades, few USMC generals, and very few USMC commandants, have even commanded a division.

      Where are these USMC operational requirements coming from?

      GAB

      =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

      What people really seem to desire is a tactical, area saturation weapon and a big 16” gun, but they really cannot point to defines a hard requirement.

      The area saturation weapon is a very valid requirement that can be well satisfied by license product of *existing* MRLs built by allies like the LAR160, an Israeli 160mm rocket, or the BM-21 GRAD, 122mm rocket which has versions produced by Israel and Poland. Frankly, the Corps needs an MRL like that far more than it needs HIMARS.

      Repurposing old TLAMs as brigade/division echelon weapons (assuming it is ever is replaced with a better cruise missile) to kill FARPs and artillery is a more than acceptable substitute to welding MRLS launch pods to ship hulls.

      If the USN really needs to punch holes in 30-meter thick concrete wall bunkers, it does not need a 16-inch gun. A much better solution is to put a kinetic energy penetrator on a large, high Mach speed missile along the lines of SM-6, or better, a short or intermediate range ballistic missile. The penetrating power of 500 kg kinetic energy warhead impacting at 514 meters/second (Mach 8), a UGM-27 or MGM-140 sized missile; absolutely overmatches a 16” Mark 8 AP shell ~1225 kg AP impacting at 514 meters/s by a factor of 11! The range capacity of ballistic missiles is x46 greater!

      The simple fact is the principal striking arm of the Russian and Chinese armies are *maneuver forces* based on tanks and mechanized infantry. The real fight is not the Russians or Chinese building some imaginary *Atlantic wall*, it is how to deal with those tank/motor rifle brigades rolling right through assaulting marine infantry, which has no real combined arms capability, or effective anti-tank defenses, and weak armored combat engineer forces.

      Seriously, the Marines need to bring back many missing FMF capabilities to be viable, starting with SP howitzers, before they demand other services do anything related to fire/air support.

      GAB

      Delete
    33. Mach 8 is ~2720 meters/s, not 514 meters/second.

      GAB

      Delete
    34. "If the USN really needs to punch holes in 30-meter thick concrete wall bunkers, it does not need a 16-inch gun. A much better solution is to put a kinetic energy penetrator on a large, high Mach speed missile along the lines of SM-6, or better, a short or intermediate range ballistic missile."

      Yes, no, and maybe. There are other factors. For example, the cost of a SM-x or ballistic missile is on the order $3M versus the cost of a naval shell which is, by comparison, free (neglecting the cost of the ship that carries the gun mount!).

      Further, shells are not susceptible to ECM, jamming, GPS denial, or AAW defense. They are, for practical purposes, unstoppable. Missiles are susceptible to various types of countermeasures.

      Shells are useful against a wide range of targets. Missiles, depending on the type and range, may not be as widely useful. For example, a ballistic missile is not useful for close range (<100 miles?) anti-ship combat.

      On the flip side, naval guns have limited range, as you point out.

      I also fear that the overall discussion is conflating land artillery warfare and naval gun warfare. They're intended for two different purposes and, to a large extent, two different target sets though with a degree of overlap in the case of assault bombardment. Land targets on a mobile battlefield would consist of infantry, think-skinned vehicles, and armored vehicles whereas naval targets would consist of ships and significant, largely fixed, land bases, fortifications, and facilities. It is not unreasonable to expect two different types of weapons to service two different target sets.

      I would see a need for a balanced mix of naval guns across the fleet. Even in WWII, we didn't have all that many 16" guns! A mix of 5" (155mm?), 8", 12", 16" across various ship types would be useful.

      The Navy has been in a rush to abandon naval guns (and armor!). We should remember though, that we also rushed to abandon dogfighting only to find out that we were premature. We're basing a lot of our military development on missiles without much evidence that they'll be appropriate in high end combat. I'm not saying that missiles are useless. I'm saying that we may find that the traditional combat needs of cheap, plentiful, high explosives and armor may not have vanished despite thinking they have.

      Finally, your overarching point is, I think, that there are other, existing, alternative weapon types to accomplish the desired task(s). Quite right, and we should be exploring them!

      Your observations about the Marines are spot on!

      Delete
    35. "For example, the cost of a SM-x or ballistic missile is on the order $3M versus the cost of a naval shell which is, by comparison, free (neglecting the cost of the ship that carries the gun mount!)."

      The relevant cost is the cost of providing the capability.

      The cost of providing a hardened target destruction capability by modifying an in-production bomb or missile is *trivial* compared to the cost of a building a new 16" gun, building a ship to carry that weapon, setting up the production lines for ammunition, and of course the rest of the life cycle costs to include O&M(fuel, spares), personnel, and disposal. The bomb or missile can sit in a bunker at one of the ammunition plants, or airfields awaiting use as little cost.

      Two conflicting facts can be true: the per unit cost of a munition can be orders of magnitude greater than another, while the life cycle cost (total cost of ownership) for the more expensive weapon can be cheaper.

      GAB

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    36. GAB said, "Misses the point - you build a force to have certain capabilities against anticipated enemy forces.

      How in the world does the USMC have a clue what capabilities it needs in high intensity war having defined itself as a “middle weight” force that does not do opposed force entry operations, and certainly not against a peer competitor like China?

      The USMC rarely trains. plans, or operates at division level, let alone corps level echelons of command, which was what MRLS/GMRLS/ATACMS/LRPF were/are really designed to support.

      In recent decades, few USMC generals, and very few USMC commandants, have even commanded a division.

      Where are these USMC operational requirements coming from?"

      This is a good point. The current USMC leadership has all but given up on the major assault mission.

      However, this is really a broader question: do we as a country still need a credible forcible entry capability, and specifically a credible opposed amphibious assault capability?

      If so, then this discussion is worthwhile. If not, then this is all just mental self-gratification.

      And if so, perhaps the Marines aren't the right organization, given their current focus on being the nation's Swiss Army knife?

      Maybe the Army needs to take the lead.

      Delete
    37. "The current USMC leadership has all but given up on the major assault mission."

      Quite right. The new Commandant's guidance document all but eliminates amphibious assault as a mission while, contradictorily, not calling for the elimination of the amphibious fleet and, increasing it albeit in different forms!

      Delete
    38. "The relevant cost is the cost of providing the capability."

      A good and valid point, to an extent. You're completely correct if the goal is to provide that specific capability, one time, right now. However, if the goal is to provide that capability plus all the other capabilities it brings, on an indefinite on-going basis, then the cost comparison is not quite so straightforward. Yes, the immediate cost might be greater to provide large caliber (a range of calibers and ships, not just 16") capability but the gain in ships and missions brings capabilities not possible from a 'mere' modification of an existing missile. The 'presence/deterrence' mission, which I scoff at but which the military is so enamored of, benefits greatly from new naval gun ships whereas modified missiles do not contribute to that mission.

      So, yes, there is an immediate, short term cost benefit to simple modifications but after that, the production costs of shells versus missiles completely favors shells. Is it worth the initial cost to set up a new naval gun capability and all that entails? Well, that's what a comprehensive geopolitically based military strategy would tell us, if we had one.

      This may sound like I'm arguing for a one-or-the-other choice and I'm absolutely not. If we can quickly gain a harder hitting capability by modifying existing weapons, we should do so! We can then study the issue of naval gun support (and amphibious assault needs, if any) and add that capability down the road, if we deem it worthwhile.

      Delete
    39. "If so, then this discussion is worthwhile. If not, then this is all just mental self-gratification."

      Spot on! To be clear, I fall on the amphibious assault is not needed to any great extent side of the argument. I see no reasonable, realistic, strategic need for significant amphibious assaults - not because they're not doctrinally or technically achievable (they aren't, currently!) but because they're not strategically needed.

      So, where do you sit on the amphibious assault 'need' question and why?

      Delete
    40. I think we need to retain a forcible-entry capability. We can't rely on having friendly ports to unload ala Desert Storm. Airborne and air assault just can't bring enough combat power. Therefore amphibious assault is the only way to go.

      How big of a capability is an open question. The Marine metric of a 2 brigade landing seems about as good as anything. It's more than a token landing force, but not Normandy. It's also large enough for us to retain some level of proficiency in large landings if we need to scale it up during wartime.

      That said, we can't afford this size of amphibious assault the way the Marines do it (requiring 30+, multi-billion dollar amphibious ships).

      Delete
    41. "I think we need to retain a forcible-entry capability."

      Okay … why? Not a generic answer but specifically, why? What enemy and what piece of land do you see needing a forced entry, amphibious capability for?

      I ask because I've looked at our enemies and thought about reasonable and realistic war strategies and I can't come up with many (any?) forced entry points that would benefit us sufficiently to be worth the effort.

      So, specifically, where/whom do you see an amphibious forced entry operation in our future?

      I'm not mocking or even arguing with you. Instead, I'm trying to nudge you to think strategically. Where do you see a realistic need?

      Delete
    42. "We can't rely on having friendly ports to unload ala Desert Storm."

      Quite right! Presumably, you're suggesting that we need a port seizure capability which is a completely different capability from over-the-beach amphibious assaults. Have you thought about where, specifically, we might need to do this? Again, nudging you to think strategically!

      Take China, for example. Unless we want to invade their mainland (and no sane person would want to do that!) what ports do they have they we would want to seize? There kind of aren't any, that I can see. Now, do the same for Russia, Iran, and NKorea. Is there a realistic need?

      Too many military discussions are abstract and fail to take realities into account. I'm trying to get people to think about those realities.

      Delete
    43. "Okay … why? Not a generic answer but specifically, why? What enemy and what piece of land do you see needing a forced entry, amphibious capability for?

      I ask because I've looked at our enemies and thought about reasonable and realistic war strategies and I can't come up with many (any?) forced entry points that would benefit us sufficiently to be worth the effort. "

      How often have we accurately predicted where future wars will be fought or what types of actions will be required?

      Did we anticipate the need for a massive cross-Channel amphibious assault in the 1930s?

      We don't have a good track record predicting these things.

      However, our wars have often required amphibious assaults.

      I think it's prudent to retain such a capability, even if we don't see where it will be used at this very moment.

      It also provides a cadre of expertise that we can expand upon if a future conflict requires a larger capacity for amphibious actions.

      Lose that cadre and you have to reconstitute the entire capability from scratch.

      Call it risk management.

      Delete
    44. "How often have we accurately predicted where future wars will be fought or what types of actions will be required?"

      Fairly often and accurately, actually. We almost 100% predicted the entire Pacific war with Japan (War Plan Orange and Fleet Problem exercises, for example), we completely predicted the course of a Soviet war in Europe (which never happened, fortunately!), we completely predicted and planned for the invasion of Europe (D-Day) and defeat of Germany, etc. If you dig into the history, European assault planning and amphibious assault planning dates back to the 1930s in various forms. This is why a good knowledge of history is so important! We predicted the Soviet pattern of peripheral/proxy expansion efforts (though our response was poorly though out and poorly executed!). Before America's entry into WWII, FDR and the military was actively planning for our operations.

      Any competent professional warrior (sadly, we have few of those today) can predict with fair accuracy the major wars and events of that war. It's harder to predict the little brush wars but they're also less of a threat or concern unless we mismanage them ... as we've been doing.

      You're making the 'what if' argument: you never know with 100% certainty what might happen so prepare for everything. Well, that's the comfort of the incompetent military thinker: I'm not smart enough to make accurate predictions so I'll just say, "what if", and call for every capability. The problem with that, aside from the lack of competence, is that it is unaffordable.

      What if China somehow sinks all our carriers on day one of a war? I guess we'd better build 50 carriers, then, just to cover the what if. Except that we can't afford that.

      What if China seizes South American? I guess we'd better build a South American invasion fleet, just to cover that possibility. Except that we can't afford that.

      What if … and it goes on and on. There is no end to 'what if' thinking and, therefore, no end to 'what if' spending.

      Hey, I apologize. This sounds like I'm attacking you, personally, and I'm not. I'm trying to highlight the lack of competent professional military thinking today and the flaws in 'what if' thinking.

      Delete
    45. I'll give you War Plan Orange. We did largely predict the themes of the war in the Pacific, even if we didn't get all of the specifics right.

      But how we can say we successfully predicted the course of a war with the Soviet Union in Europe that never happened? I'm not following you there.

      I wasn't aware of any cross-channel planning that happened prior to around 1940-1. I'm interested to learn more. Have anything I can read?

      No, you're right, I'm not a professional military thinker.

      As someone looking in from the outside, I see that we've used amphibious assault numerous times, in many conflicts. The geography of the world hasn't changed. History has show repeatedly the need perform forcible entry operations. Our options haven't changed (much).

      There is much talk about the strategic value of First and Second Island Chains in the Pacific. The Chinese view them the same way. Controlling the islands aids in controlling the seas around them.

      There are naval choke points at the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz, and the Suez Canal. Controlling the land around them allows you to control those choke points.

      We may need to invade Iran. We may need to quickly land forces to support the Baltic states.

      I'm not a professional, but from where I'm sitting, there appear to be plenty of potential opportunities to use amphibious forces in future.

      Obviously, professional opinions may differ with this armchair admiral.


      Delete
    46. "But how we can say we successfully predicted the course of a war with the Soviet Union in Europe that never happened?"

      Post-Soviet reports and revelations plus monitoring the Soviet-based actions by other countries who mimic the Soviet way all confirm that we pretty accurately predicted their plans for war.

      "cross-channel planning that happened prior to around 1940-1. I'm interested to learn more. Have anything I can read?"

      The "Gators of Neptune" is a good starting point.

      "The geography of the world hasn't changed."

      Ah, but it has! At least the RELEVANT geography for the enemies we now face. The geography you're referring to was for Europe, Germany, and Japan. Now, we're looking at Iran, China, and NKorea (Russia, too, but I don't consider them a realistic war threat).

      Unless we're stupid enough to invade mainland China, there are no Chinese holdings that we would want to invade. The artificial islands are not invasion candidates, they're just cruise missile targets because they're so small and exposed. NKorea would be a total land war, in terms of access. It will be fought by ground forces flowing through South Korea. There is simply no reasonable strategic need for an amphib assault on the North. Add to that NK's vast mine inventory and out complete lack of MCM and we'd be idiots to attempt an amphib assault. Iran is the one place where we might consider an amphib landing but that would be an unopposed, administrative landing not an assault.

      Placing missiles on chokepoints might be useful but that's not an amphibious assault. That's just an unloading of a small unit.

      So, yes, the relevant geography has changed greatly. Too many people want to think generically instead of taking into account the ACTUAL geography of our potential enemies.

      Delete
    47. The Chinese may see the need to secure those choke points too, or points in the first/second island chains. They have their own growing amphibious forces. Perhaps they will get there first.

      I'll take a look at that book, thanks!

      Delete
    48. "Perhaps they will get there first."

      Why did we invade Iwo Jima and Okinawa? It's because by doing so we would gain useful air bases to conduct further offensives and attacks against Japan from. These chokepoints are minor spots of land whose only (questionable) value would be to place some anti-ship missiles on. We can accomplish the same thing using submarines, aircraft, or mines to seal the chokepoints without needing to invade an island. If the Chinese are there first, we'll simply Tomahawk them into oblivion as we will the artificial islands.

      There is simply no need for any assaults. Why risk ships and troops when we can accomplish the same thing with a handful of missiles? Think operationally! Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do it.

      Delete
  6. Why have all modern combatants chosen to build 5" guns on new ships? Is there a tacit agreement to do so? If I were china I would build minimum 8". Why are they not?

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    1. The 5" gun is an all-around compromise gun that is able to do a bit of everything (though nothing well). It packs a bit of punch without taking up too much space or weight. It can provide a degree of anti-ship capability though it is not a ship-sinker. It can provide some gun support for ground forces. Manufacturer's claim it can function in the AAW role although they're totally ineffective against modern missiles. It's small enough to carry a large magazine inventory but big enough to have a bit of punch. It has a reasonable rate of fire.

      In short, it's a decent compromise especially for navies that (mistakenly) believe guns are no longer necessary.

      Guns should be sized for the role of the ship. Since most modern navies don't see a role for cruisers and battleships, that only leaves small guns for 'small' ships - ignoring that today's destroyers are often bigger than WWII cruisers!

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  7. The Navy could piggyback on the Army 1000 mile supergun program. The ammunition developed for the program could be used for both the land and sea based guns. A dedicated naval bombardment ship with a tanker or containership hull could provide a degree of deception from counter battery fire (shoot and scoot from 1000 miles makes counter battery fire dependent on target discrimination by the projectile/missile). Hainan is within 1000 miles of the Malacca Strait, it would be nearly impossible to discriminate between the 100's of tankers in the Strait if the naval bombardment ship looked like all the other vessels in the Strait.


    https://breakingdefense.com/2018/10/army-builds-1000-mile-supergun/

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    1. Why? We already have thousand mile cruise missiles, deep penetrating B-1/2 bombers with stand off weapons, SSGNs with 150+ cruise missiles each, etc. What's the point of another thousand mile weapon that has no thousand mile target sensor?

      The various services each have their own area of responsibility but the latest budget game seems to be trying to muscle in on another service's responsibility. In this case, the Air Force is responsible for deep strike with the Navy also having some deep strike. Why does the Army feel a need to intrude in that? The Army's job is to 'win' the 0-50 mile war in front of it. They have huge problems doing that and yet they want to spend time and money trying to do the AF and Navy's job? I don't get it?

      Why would the Navy want to spend R&D money developing a thousand mile gun when we already have operational thousand mile cruise missiles? It's not as if the thousand mile gun will have ten dollar shells. If the 70-100 mile LRLAP/AGS gun 'shell' cost nearly a million dollars each (and got cancelled because of the cost) I shudder to think what a thousand mile round will cost.

      " it would be nearly impossible to discriminate between the 100's of tankers in the Strait if the naval bombardment ship looked like all the other vessels in the Strait."

      You know what's even harder to distinguish? That's right, a submerged submarine with 150+ Tomahawk cruise missiles!

      In an all out war, which is presumably what a thousand mile gun would be used for, do you really think there would be hundreds of tankers sailing the straits? In a war zone? Of course not! There will be one tanker - the bombardment tanker.

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    2. As I understand it, LRLAP suffered unacceptably high unit costs because we only planned to procure a handful of guns to fire it from, so we split the R&D cost between a small number of rounds. If we committed to building a fleet of superguns to mount on every island and container ship we can defend (note; get more of both) within 1000 miles of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and the other axis powers, the unit cost would almost certainly fall well below that of a comparable range and payload missile. Then again, if we base them on islands at all, they're vulnerable unless heavily defended and the gun itself would *not* be a comfortably attritable asset. Overall I agree that it's probably no better than buying more missiles and launchers - especially now that we can opt for cheaper land-based launchers for INF range missiles. In some hypothetical protracted war with Iran or NK where we refused to use nukes against heavy fortifications and could realistically defend a few dozen superguns at sea, it probably would be a useful asset.

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    3. "What's the point of another thousand mile weapon that has no thousand mile target sensor?"

      Range and feasibility of such a weapon aside, fixed targets, like air bases, command and control sites, communicaton centers, and beaches, don't require a target sensor.

      Delete
  8. This topic had to come up just as I started reading: Sea Battles in Close Up #10: "Operation Neptune" by Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield!!! So far, what is really astounding is just how much preparations and how huge it was, with just so many moving parts! I think we forget today just how much was done to keep it secret and the Germans guessing. I also didn't know there was a dress rehearsal and actually practice landings before D-Day where quite a few soldiers died and they had to find replacements on the double.

    I haven't read all these books, there's an entire little series of them about sea battles, IAN ALLAN books are quite old today, not always easy to find in the USA compared to UK and maybe a little dated BUT they are still packed with info!

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  9. "In order for bombardment to be effective and worth the effort, naval gunfire must employ large caliber, heavy guns of 8” or greater size. As demonstrated by WWII experience, 5” guns simply don’t have the power to effectively destroy hardened fortifications. "

    Do we really expect hardened fortifications, within range of naval gunfire, to be a major problem nowadays?

    Maybe dug in tunnels in certain situations, ala Hamas or Viet Cong, but doubtful anything approaching the Atlantic Wall.

    And for deep tunnel networks, naval gunfire, even high-caliber, has a spotty track record. The pre-landing bombardments of Iwo Jima, for example, weren't very effective.

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    1. "Do we really expect hardened fortifications, within range of naval gunfire, to be a major problem nowadays?"

      Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? If we think we might ever invade mainland China then, yes, they'll undoubtedly build massive fortifications. On the other hand, I've stated that I see no strategic or operational need for large scale amphibious assaults in the foreseeable future so, if I'm correct, then no.

      The guiding principle in these posts is that, regardless of my opinion, the Marines claim major amphibious assault to be one of their core missions. That being the case, you have to plan for the reasonable worst case, so yes.

      I would also note that the Chinese are MASSIVE practitioners of hardened fortifications like bunkers, hangars, dumps, etc. at their bases so that would be another likely target source.

      "The pre-landing bombardments of Iwo Jima, for example, weren't very effective."

      The bombardments were very effective at destroying any defenses not buried inside a mountain. The pre-assault bombardments were so effective, in fact, that the defenders were forced to abandon water's edge defense and concede the assault while hoping to defend further inland, inside mountains. Contrast Okinawa and Iwo Jima where the actual landing was almost uncontested versus the earlier assaults like Tarawa where we applied insufficient pre-assault bombardment and were pinned down on the beach and incurred large casualties just trying to get ashore.

      Naval bombardments proved their worth many times over. That they couldn't level actual mountains is hardly a weapon fault.

      Delete
  10. ComNavOps,

    First, I don't think we would ever do an opposed landing in China. Quite frankly, I think any conflict between them and us would likely go nuke before anybody invaded anybody else's territory.

    I think there is a chance that we could have to make a landing on the back (east) side of somewhere in the First Island Chain (Philippines, Taiwan, maybe even Japan). I would hope that in any of those cases, things would not have deteriorated to the point that they would be opposed, but there are no guarantees in this world.

    That being said, I don't think we should take any capability off the table unilaterally. Both you and I have have proposed the re-inclusion of battleships and gun cruisers into the fleet. I envision them a bit more multi-purpose than you do, with the battleship more along the lines of the battlecarrier approach with some fixed-wing air, and the cruiser capable of Ticonderoga-level or better AAW plus serving as a UAV platform. But either way we have to get some heavy (12-inch and 16-inch) naval artillery back into the picture, and not just for amphib assault, either.

    A friend who was an F-4 pilot once told me that half the aircraft we lost in Vietnam were attacking targets that could have been hit by the New Jersey operating in international waters. Considering the price tag on an airplane these days, that makes a huge argument for battleships on a simple dollars-and-cents basis.

    Murphy's Law implies that the battle you will have to fight is the one you didn't prepare for. Ask the Brits about the Falklands. I think we need to have big guns and mine warfare capabilities.

    And I think we need to forget the idea that we can do amphib assaults by air from 25-50 miles offshore. I would guess that, when we do amphib exercises, the reason we practice conventional assaults instead is that everybody knows what a clusterflock a long-range, exclusively airborne assault would be, and nobody wants the proof to become obvious.

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    1. Use MLRS ships instead. 70km going to 140km with just GMLRS. ATACMS to 300km and PrSM to 500km+.

      Most of the capability we need without developing any new munitions. GMLRS-U warhead is close to an 8" gun projectile in weight with twice the HE filler.

      Delete
    2. I liked the old LSMRs in VietNam. In my proposed fleet, I have included two land attack frigates in every amphib squadron, to include 2-3 5-inch guns and the rest of the ship devoted to rocket launchers. The idea is that these ships would be somewhat expendable and could therefore be risked to work very close in, right with the landing force.

      Delete
    3. "close to an 8" gun projectile in weight with twice the HE filler."

      You know that lbs of explosive is not the only factor in determining the destructive power of a projectile, right?

      I have no idea how a MLRS/GMLRS compares in destructive effect to an 8" shell, do you? If you do, I'd love to see some data.

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    4. @CNO – “I have no idea how a MLRS/GMLRS compares in destructive effect to an 8" shell, do you? “

      Apples to oranges: different mission, different level of control, and different cost.

      According to the USA FY19 budget book (missiles), the unit cost of a single GMLRS rocket is $104K a pop.

      There are no in production 8” shells, so for comparison: the unit cost of a single 155mm M795 HE shell is $1,374 a pop according to the USA FY19 budget book (ammunition).

      I have 1990s era casualty radius and other effects data for weapons up to 16” shells, including MLRS, but that crap is buried somewhere in the basement…

      GAB

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    5. @GAB Correct me if I'm wrong - it's my understanding that MRLS gets its reputation as the Grid Square Removal Device because it's typically carrying DPICM submunition rockets, not a pure heavy explosive warhead - the latter role is reserved for ATACMS. What DPICM bomblets lose in individual explosive power, they make up for in spread and coverage.

      Delete
    6. "Apples to oranges: different mission, different level of control, and different cost.

      According to the USA FY19 budget book (missiles), the unit cost of a single GMLRS rocket is $104K a pop. "

      And the cost just to develop a new warship and gun system is around $10 billion (DDG-1000). That's enough to buy around 100,000 GMLRS rockets on R&D alone.

      Plus you get a 70km weapon (soon to be 140-150km) with near precision accuracy, vs an unguided 20-30km range, 8" shell. Add guidance to the artillery shell (Excalibur) and the cost difference drops significantly.

      You don't need a big, fancy battleship or cruiser to carry MLRS. Convert inexpensive oil platform support vessels. The base ships can be had for $20-40M each, especially if you buy a lot. I bet we could build an all up rocket ship for under $100M.

      Delete
    7. "According to the USA FY19 budget book (missiles), the unit cost of a single GMLRS rocket is $104K a pop.

      There are no in production 8” shells, so for comparison: the unit cost of a single 155mm M795 HE shell is $1,374 a pop according to the USA FY19 budget book (ammunition)."

      A better comparison to M30/M31 GMLRS would be M982 Excalibur at around $68,000 per round as of 2016. M31 can place a 90 kg warhead at 70 km versus a 48 kg all-up M982 at 40km.

      To a rough approximation, M31 gets you 2x the boom at 1.5x the range for 2x the cost compared to M982. That's a fair trade.

      Keep the guns dumb and the rockets smart.

      Delete
    8. "Keep the guns dumb and the rockets smart. "

      I agree with that, with the exception of PGK, which adds some smarts for under $10k per shot.

      -Anon2

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    9. "To a rough approximation, M31 gets you 2x the boom at 1.5x the range for 2x the cost compared to M982. That's a fair trade. "

      Irrelevant: MLRS objective requirements were designed to counter specific Soviet systems and provide specific capabilities:

      Specifically, Excalibur does not provide the range necessary to destroy forward FARPS/airfields and counterbattery fire.

      Excalibur (really USA 155mm howitzers) is outmatched by modern 155mm artillery systems from Germany, Korea and other nations, which have longer barrels (52 calibers), and larger chambers (for more propellant). Some of these systems exceed 60km in range and significantly out pace U.S. 155mm, 39 caliber howitzers.

      GAB

      Delete
  11. "Contrast this with today’s exceedingly risk averse Navy culture!"

    Pretty much says it all. Saw the Navy Times 'Summer 2019 Edition' this morning, gave a guy a ride to the VA Primary Care. Skipper, with all the things the Navy concerns itself with in this day and age I can tell you, the equipment, ships and budget issues are completely and utterly dwarfed by the personnel issues. I won't go into them (we all know them), but they render the stuff we talk about nearly moot. It is a very, very different time from mine in the 70s/80s. Dunno what the Hell they're gonna do.

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    1. "dwarfed by the personnel issues."

      There are so many aspects to this. What, specifically, are you referring to? Tell me more.

      Delete
  12. @WIld Goose “… it's my understanding that MRLS gets its reputation as the Grid Square Removal Device because it's typically carrying DPICM submunition rockets, not a pure heavy explosive warhead - the latter role is reserved for ATACMS.”

    MRLS carried cluster munitions in several variations, but the Army is demilitarizing or re-manufacturing the weapons into missiles with unitary warheads GMLRS (M31 rocket). The Army’s FY19 budget requested funds for de-militarization of MRLS.

    Similarly, ATACMS was modified from a cluster warhead to a unitary warhead.

    Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) will replace ATACMS.

    GAB

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    1. One thing we could do with all the de-militarized M26 rockets is turn them into GLSDBs.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmUU1SUDeAo

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    2. Or strap Alternative Warheads to them and use them as cheap, dumb area bombardment munitions.

      Delete
  13. I think there is a "best of both worlds" here.
    A battleship carries roughly 120 rounds per gun, and fires 2 rounds per gun per minute

    A week long bombardment is a sure fire of telegraphing where you are landing, but, with modern GPS (I know, jammable) and nght vision, theres little reason the bombardment cant start at 3am and the first wave land at 3:05

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