Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Chinese Type 22 Missile Boat

Today we’re going to take a look at the Chinese Type 22, Houbei class missile boat.  It is a small, fast, stealthy assassin with massive firepower relative to its size.  The class has been built in large numbers (Wiki cites 83 boats currently built and active) which suggests that it will operate in squadrons, allowing it to mass its firepower.  Properly used, this is a formidable threat.

Let’s take a closer look.


Type 22 Missile Boat


Size - The vessel is a 140 ft long catamaran design with a 220 ton displacement and a crew of 12 (1).  For comparison, this puts it at around 1/3 the length of the LCS and a 1/16 the displacement.

Propulsion - Four waterjets give it a speed of 36 kts. 

Number - Wiki cites 83 boats currently built and active.

Range - Range is a potential issue with suggestions of a 300 mile range based on similar civilian craft. (1)

Sensors - Sensors are an issue but operating within the A2/AD zone may greatly mitigate sensor limitations.  It has a Type ESR-1 362 surface search radar plus a Fenis-ME electro-optical tracker and a Kolonika II low-light-level optical director and backup CIWS fire control director, on top of the bridge.  A mast-mounted Type 765 I-band navigation radar rounds out the sensor fit. 

Armament - It carries 8x C-802/803 anti-ship missiles with a range of 100-125 miles depending on variant, an AK-630 (30 mm) CIWS, and a small FLS-1 surface-to-air launcher for QW series missiles. (1)  The Type 22 has extensive communications and data link equipment which suggests the capability for off board control of the missiles.



As noted, this vessel is a combat vessel with firepower far out of proportion to its size.  Add to that, numbers and stealth and you have a vessel that will be hard to detect and can operate in squadrons for concentrated missile salvos – a formidable naval force, to be sure!

The number of vessels built, 83, is magnified by the small operating area that the boats will operate in.  Unlike a 300 ship US Navy which is spread over an entire world, the entire Type 22 fleet of 83 boats is concentrated in the relatively small East or South China Seas.  This has the effect of magnifying the vessels firepower because it automatically concentrates it.

This also suggests that the Chinese will use it as an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) asset to keep US naval forces out of the South and East China Seas.  This also suggests a defensive mindset as opposed to an open ocean, long range naval hunter vessel.  If true, this in turn suggests how the Chinese view the S/E China Seas – essentially, they act as a buffer zone or ‘moat’ around the mainland.  The Chinese are clearly working toward becoming a global naval/military force but this suggests that they are not there, yet, and that their current focus is defensive.

There is also some suggestion that the Type 22 has a shore bombardment role in support of amphibious operations in addition to the anti-ship role. (1)  If true, this would give the Chinese a small, stealthy, hard to hit fire support vessel – a capability that would be unmatched in the world.

It is difficult to talk about the Type 22 without comparing it to the American LCS.

The obvious conclusion is that this is one version of what the LCS could have been.  The LCS tried to be and do everything and failed to be or do anything.  Had the LCS concept been more focused, the Type 22 is one version of what might have been – a small, lethal, stealthy, fast, focused, anti-surface craft cheap enough to be acquired in large numbers and operate in massed squadrons.

The US Navy talks incessantly about distributed lethality.  Unfortunately, the LCS is a poor fit for the distributed lethality concept.  Further, many observers and some naval officers have talked about the LCS as a modern PT boat.  Again, this is utterly ridiculous, for reasons we’ve previously discussed.  The irony is that the Type 22 actually fills the role of a modern PT boat and distributed lethality asset quite well.  Again, this is a version of the LCS that could have been.

A Type 22 swarm attack against a US carrier group would be unstoppable although it is difficult to imagine how such a swarm would even get close enough to launch an attack.  ‘Swarm’ in this scenario is radically different than the Iranian type swarm.  In this case, it would amount to a long range missile swarm as opposed to a short range rocket attack.  That said, I don’t believe the Chinese view the Type 22 as a viable carrier attack asset although if the chance presented itself …

In summary, the Type 22 appears to be a defensive, A2/AD asset intended to prevent US naval entry into the S/E China Seas.  Its stealth, cheapness, and numbers make it the distributed lethality asset that the US Navy wants but has failed to develop.  This is the distributed threat that will ‘confuse and complicate’ our operational and tactical thinking just as we hoped that distributed lethality ships would confuse Chinese naval commanders.  The difference is that the Chinese actually have a suitable vessel for distributed lethality operations whereas we do not. 

The Type 22 is also a good representation of the Hughes concept of small, distributed naval forces – a concept that ComNavOps disagrees with, at least, for the US – and, again, ironically, it is the Chinese that have developed it.



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97 comments:

  1. The closest thing coming would be an armed version of the MUSV or if they could up gun a FRC. The ability to Network is what seems to be dealing the missile boat back into the game. That and its a MLRS that floats.

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  2. An impressive vessel, especially in the context of capabilities and numbers built!! Its the kind of no-nonsense craft Id want to add to the fleet!! The drawbacks being its range, and its need for transport and local support in-theatre (mothership/tender). Your citing of it as a defensive/AD asset makes it a tougher fit in our inventory, but it would certainly be a massive force multiplier if forward based en masse. They could perform the doorbreaker function along with SSGNs. Their small size would also help them be more survivable of a first-day Chinese offensive, even in port. Certainly a couple dozen in Japan, maybe S Korea (or anywhere we could possibly get basing) would complicate the SCS scenario for China significantly!!!

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    1. "The drawbacks being its range, and its need for transport and local support in-theatre (mothership/tender)."

      Not a drawback for the Chinese!!!! They operate in the home waters of the S/E China Sea where they have ready support at lots of locations and means.

      "a couple dozen ... would complicate the SCS scenario for China"

      Not even a little bit. We forget the kinds of numbers involved in WWII naval operations (6000 ship US Navy!). If we were to go this route it would have to be with 80 or so, so that we could operate in massed squadrons - that's a complication. A couple dozen is a minor annoyance, to be dealt with at leisure. We've grown used to peacetime 'war' with third world goat fanatics where a single helicopter represents overwhelming force. We need to regain our total war mindset.

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    2. I was citing the drawbacks in reference to our building and using a comparable vessel...

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    3. Then you're correct! Sorry!

      Now, the question, which you somewhat raised but didn't answer, is, is such a vessel a fit for our situation and operational needs? What do you think?

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    4. A straight duplicate? No, not enough range, sensors, or weapons... but there's more combat capability in 83 Type 22s than there are in the LCS fleet.

      I think if there was anything right about LCS, it was that we needed smaller vessels, and we needed Surface Warfare, ASW, and Mine Warfare capabilities. Much like the JSF, three, or at least two frames/hulls, would have been more effective and less expensive than one-design-fits-all.

      I try to read what I can about Chinese intentions and capabilites in the open literature. The most likely war scenario appears to be an amphibious invasion of Taiwan. The rest of the A2/AD system will attept to make sure that the invasion fleet lives long enough to make it to the beach, and the Type 22 appears to play its own, useful part.

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    5. As much as I appreciate a small ship with a big bite, after looking closer,in a China scenario, their short range makes them a poor fit. Even based out of Sasebo(which is very likely a first strike target, and therefore very high risk), they couldnt get close enough to be effective, short of Chinese groups blundering north into them. If armed with Tomahawks, they could be useful, but it would probably be difficult to get targeting data for the antiship version. Maybe in a dream world with dozens of them based in Taiwan theyd be handy if they survived Day One, but...
      So after careful reconsideration, they really arent somthing to add to our inventory. The offensive possibilities are too limited by their range. Now if we could add some size JUST to increase the range, that might change things, as well as basing in countries deeper in the SCS. But I think that for now, SSGNs (each the equivalent of 20-ish of the missile boats) are probably our best asset at breaking into the Chinese front door...

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    6. "their short range makes them a poor fit."

      Of course, the short range is for the Chinese boat. There's nothing that says we couldn't develop a longer ranged Type 22. For example, the DARPA Sea Hunter is the same approximate size as the Type 22 and is claimed to have very long range. It all depends on what you choose to design for. So, the possibility exists that we could produce a 10,000 mile range Type 22. Would that change your thinking?

      This then raises the issue of force design methodology. Rather than try to make existing designs fit a strategy, which is how the Navy does it now, we should be designing the ideal force that we need (a CONOPS would give us this!) and then figuring out how to build it. If 80 or so very long range missile boats would give us the entry force we need into the S/E China Seas then we should be figuring out how to make them. Does that methodology make sense to you?

      Our current approach of building technology for its own sake, divorced from operational requirements, gives us LCSes that don't fit our needs. Whether or not a long range Type 22 would be helpful depends on what we want to accomplish which depends on having a strategy. Do we even want to enter the S/E China Seas? If not, then we don't need an 'entry' vessel. You see? Strategy and CONOPS - then you'll know exactly what you need.

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    7. Yes, it would change my thinking!! I didnt want to add too many "what-ifs"...
      Certainly, if we could build a longer ranged (4-6knm),small, heavilly armed offensive platform (that as a byproduct could be cheap-I know, "combat filter FIRST!) in large numbers, it could certainly be a way to push into/sanitize the A2D zone before heavier follow-on assets. (Note: im impressed that the type22 for its size has a CIWS, and would replicate that. No other AAW except basic chaff/decoys etc) Give it Stealthy shaping but no high dollar coatings, etc. A mix of Tomahawks and NSMs, 8 missles on each would give hunter groups a lot of bite. Gathering targeting data still is a problem for utilizing the long range of Tomahawks, but unused fuel just creates a more damaged target haha!! These missile boats would be sent out en masse to, if nothing else, intentionally blunder into opposing forces and prevail thru weight of fire. Secondarilly, the Tomahawks could be used for port/shipyard/sub pen/air defense/island garrison attacks as we roll back the defenses. A simplistic version of sea control I suppose, and a quickie 6th grade CONOP for sure. But, I envision small single purpose offensive warships that are to go very deliberately into harms way, and (hopefully)return, with empty tubes.....

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    8. I've previously posted on PT Boats and noted that they were spectacularly ineffective in their primary role of anti-ship. A long range US Type 22 would be, essentially, a PT boat. How/why would you expect them to be more effective than WWII PT boats?

      This is CONOPS again. You've tentatively identified some missions for the boats, which is the first part of a CONOPS, but you haven't identified how they would be effective at executing the mission. Hint: the failure of the WWII PT boats was their extremely short range sensors - they couldn't find their intended targets. The Type 22 also lacks sensors. So, how will they find targets? The answer is not a generic, 'off board sensors', as so many people blithely hand wave the problem away. If you think it's off board sensors then identify which sensors and how you think those sensors will function and survive to find targets.

      Or, maybe you think the sensing can come from passive sensors? Or, maybe you think massed numbers of boats can compensate for lack of sensors by 'bull rushing' the opposition? Or maybe you have some other idea? This is the detail part of the CONOPS that no one wants to be bothered with. Take a shot at it!

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    9. "Yes, it would change my thinking!! I didnt want to add too many "what-ifs"... "

      You might find the old Soviet Tarantul class missile boat (they classify it as a corvette) which is slightly larger but has a 1600 mile range and is quite impressive for its size, to be worth a look. Wiki has an entry on it.

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    10. Lots of thought n research but workin on it!!!

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    11. I think we already have built the ideal version of a US missile boat (we just built it for Egypt instead of the US Navy): the Ambassador Mk III. Small size, small crew, small pricetag (especially since the per-hull cost would come down if we ordered 40-80 of them), but plenty of range, speed and firepower.

      They wouldnt really need long range sensors (maybe just the mini-AEGIS system that is out right now), they would just need to be able to deal with anything that might be able to find them in a contested environment. Harpoons, Naval Strike's, a couple quad packed ESSMs and a RIM should more than do it.

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    12. I'm familiar with the Ambassador class and it has a lot to like about it. I'm not sure if it can quite fit all the weapons you're suggesting. Have you looked carefully at the available deck space?

      I'm assuming that when you mention ESSM, you're referring to the individual cannister launchers rather than VLS?

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  3. It's a 21th century E-boat that will make resupplying Taiwan by sea just as dangerous as resupplying the UK was in WW2 especially in conjunction with AIP subs that you can be sure China will be building in quantity.

    Sure China will lose multiple of these boats and their subs for every merchant ship or US escort sunk but I bet China can sustain those losses better than the USA can.

    With the modern merchant ship building nations being China, South Korea and Japan cutting that off from the USA will be a priority.

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    1. "E-boat"

      Good comparison. I hadn't thought of that one!

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  4. Since its weapons exceed the range of its sensors, it needs to be networked with other ships and aircraft to provide targeting data in order to be a threat.

    We know its speed and range, but what about endurance at sea? Can it go to sea for week and lay in wait for a target. Can it be supported by a tender?

    At the same time, can we achieve similar results with an unmanned ship armed with basic sensors and a number of missiles? It might be possible in 5 to 10 years.

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    1. The advantage the Chinese have is that by operating in their 'home' waters, they have a very large supply of sensor platforms: land based OTH radar, SOSUS-like arrays, airborne AWACS and MPA, ships, island coastwatchers, island radars (if the Marines think they can establish secret sensor/weapon bases in Chinese territory, we have to assume the Chinese can establish bases in Chinese territory!), UAVs, etc. Conversely, we will not have most of those sensor sources.

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    2. But, we'll have a similar, though not as pervasive set of sensors too, like AWACS, MPA, drones, and ship-based radars. All of which, like the Chinese, will have to contend with an enemy's air defenses. In addition to what you mentioned, China also has a much shorter logistical train.

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    3. Our sensor set will be very limited. MPA is not survivable in the active battle zone. Neither is AWACS. We'll be limited to UAVs, although their lifespans will be short, F-35 scouts who will have very limited coverage, ship radars, and not much else. This suggests the need to develop a stealthy, survivable sensor platform which we currently lack.

      While the Chinese will have to contend with our AAW, those AAW assets will be sporadic, at best. In contrast, the entire S/E China Seas will be heavily outfitted with AAW defenses of all types: fighter aircraft, land based SAMs, ship AAW, etc. China's entire military will be concentrated in a fairly small region and we'll have a very difficult time getting any surveillance asset to survive such a concentrated AAW zone long enough to accomplish anything useful.

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    4. It depends on where you're going to fight. Lock down the Malacca Strait and starve out China's economy; even the Belt and Road Initiative, they're still heavily reliant on merchant shipping. China then has to come south to fight, which reduces the density of their sensor platforms and warships. Get Malaysia and Singapore on your side, and you've now got airbases for the USAF to stage out of and push the fight more in your favor.

      If you're trying to make this a USN-only show in the Spratlys, then you deserve all the pain you're getting.

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    5. On the plus side for us is that the whole networking thing involves radiating. If it radiates you can hear it and potentially jam, listen in, break in or my favorite send a missile in.

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  5. Fighting Irish, that sensor question is what I was wondering as well.
    How does it get its targeting data?

    I would think that best way to kill these would be with attack aircraft.

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    1. Hasn't that been true for anything that floats since WW2? The issue is that with these operating close to China any aircraft trying to sink them will have enemy aircraft to deal with first.

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    2. The advantage the Chinese have is that by operating in their 'home' waters, they have a very large supply of sensor platforms: land based OTH radar, SOSUS-like arrays, airborne AWACS and MPA, ships, island coastwatchers, island radars (if the Marines think they can establish secret sensor/weapon bases in Chinese territory, we have to assume the Chinese can establish bases in Chinese territory!), UAVs, etc. Conversely, we will not have most of those sensor sources.

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  6. The Chinese have slowed their procurement of missile boats, and have not publicized any plans for a follow up class. The Type 22 is also featured less and less in ChiCom state propaganda and sails less frequently than before. Conversely, they are rapidly accelerating their procurement of large, multi-mission DDGs, LHDs and carriers. It seems like the Chinese were forced to build lots of missile boats back when they were the only A2AD option available, but these days they seek to emulate the USN's Blue Water power projection capabilities rather than double down on fast attack craft swarms.

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    1. It may simply be that they are constructing a layered defense. The Type 22 filled its role and now the Chinese are working their way out from their own coastlines by beginning to create a viable blue-water navy.

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    2. "The Chinese have slowed their procurement of missile boats, and have not publicized any plans for a follow up class."

      I think they addressed their immediate defensive needs, first, and now they're working on their higher end offensive needs. In addition, I suspect that they'll take better care of their boats than the US Navy does so the eighty some boats they currently have will meet their needs for some time to come.

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  7. The boats are the same size and displacement as the Pegasus class PHM. The PHM had 8 Harpoon and a 76mm, 240t x 133ft.
    Isn't there an old saying "The LCS is a PHM, built to government specification"

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  8. 300 mile range or 250 mile combat radius is completely useless without friendly basing in the conflict zone. This boat sounds perfect for basic defense of an island chain, especially if it can count on the pseudo chinese coast guard made up of "civilian" vessels for resupply.

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    1. "This boat sounds perfect for basic defense of an island chain"

      What about using a US version of such a boat for counter-island chain operations - with suitable mothership support, of course? Do you see any value in that?

      If you see limited or no utility for such a boat in US service, what does that tell you about the Hughes model of naval warfare?

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    2. The Hughes Model presupposes that both parties have decided to simultaneously sail within range and engage each other. In this scenario, pure numbers and sortie rates would seem to be the deciding factor. Fighting an enemy in this manner close to his own supply lines before he has been bloodied doesn't seem smart.

      I get why "distributed warfare" is such a hot cliche idea.

      Boats of the Type 22 size with limited range, limited cost, but with potent weapons, forces the adversary to expend resources keeping track of them during a conflict. While an enemy wants to close with and destroy, they must factor in the locations of 80+ small boats before they commit capital ships to a fight.

      If we agree that the US Navy is not going to mass itself for a stand up Hughes engagement, the Navy will have to factor for the type 22 unknown every time it sales within 200 miles of an enemy resupply point.

      In fact, they also work as a deterrent to operating subs close in. Will a Virginia torp one of these boats? Is the cost/benefit ratio right? If not, Navy air will have to deal with them.

      These boats, while small like the LCS are completely different. LCS is supposed to be expeditionary. This adds to cost, size, etc. The type 22 is a potent PT boat, "expendable" as it were.

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    3. To answer you directly: I do not see utility for the US Navy in a counter island chain operation. To kill the island chains, we need to neutralize the runways and the sensors, that is it. Both can be accomplished with air.

      Because I see no utility of the type 22 in the Pacific for US purposes, that tells me the Hughes model is obsolete in a distributed world.

      Now if we switch theaters to the North Sea, Indian Ocean, or Persian Gulf, the type 22 could make a lot of sense because friendly supply basing is always nearby.

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    4. Very nice analysis and summary. I have severe problems with the Hughes concept for a number of reasons. Hughes basically ignores the sensor limitation issue and the total vulnerability to air attack, among other issues. I view Hughes work as a sort of introduction to naval warfare. It's a somewhat useful basis for further understanding of naval combat but is not, itself, a viable model.

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    5. "In fact, they also work as a deterrent to operating subs close in. Will a Virginia torp one of these boats? Is the cost/benefit ratio right?"

      Great observation. This is the basis for my repeated call for a small, cheap, no-frills ASW corvette. Smallness confers a degree of invulnerability since a sub will not want to waste a torpedo and/or reveal its presence via flaming datum.

      The LCS traded expeditionary for firepower. In other words, it can get to the fight (expeditionary) but has little firepower to offer once it's there. Do you think the addition of NSM missiles to the LCS significantly changes the value of the LCS? If so, does the limited number of LCS, as opposed to massed squadrons, negate any potential gains in firepower?

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    6. 300 mile range is worthless for the US, but this was a Chinese design choice. Even a Mk VI patrol boat would be a better starting point.

      We could build a relatively small missile boat that did have useful range.

      Technically, Hughes' model of naval warfare emphasizes numbers. It says nothing about range, speed, or even size of combatants. Now Hughes and Co. often talk about "small, fast combatants", but the salvo model says nothing about this.




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    7. "To kill the island chains, we need to neutralize the runways and the sensors, that is it."

      Agree completely! The islands are a simple Tomahawk strike matter. They serve no high end, peer war purpose. Their function is to support the near-war (or operations other than war) creeping annexation type of effort the Chinese are currently engaged in.

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    8. "We could build a relatively small missile boat that did have useful range."

      Quite right. There are examples of such craft out in the world. The old Soviet Tarantul class had a range of 1600 some miles, as I recall. The Ambassador class missile boats we built to Egypt have a range of 2000 nm or so. And there are others.

      What kind of range would you consider useful for US operations?

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    9. "Technically, Hughes' model of naval warfare emphasizes numbers. "

      Again, quite right. Of course, numbers infers affordable which, in turn, infers small size.

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    10. "What kind of range would you consider useful for US operations?"

      It depends on their operating area's proximity to forward basing locations. In the Pacific, it could be a thousand miles or more each way.

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    11. "It depends on their operating area's proximity to forward basing locations. In the Pacific, it could be a thousand miles or more each way."

      Do you see motherships as a viable alternative to land bases?

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    12. "Do you see motherships as a viable alternative to land bases?"

      Temporarily, perhaps, or to enable austere bases. But it doesn't negate the need for range.

      If the mothership has to stay too close to the combat zone, due to the combatant's lack of range and endurance, then it becomes the weak link. Kill the mothership and all of the combatants starve.

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  9. I admit it is a great focused design doing exactly what the Chinese need right close to home. A comparison to the LCS is certainly valid. The US ended up with unfocused boat with no participial role it can fill adequately and its over priced for any of them.

    I still think the US counter in the region should a lot of Sōryū type AIP boats(*). They have very good range, are far cheaper than a Virginia (at least built in Japan). China stills lags at ASW by all accounts. The type 22 are probably sitting ducks to a sub (assume a mix of torpedoes and the NSM). We simply really don't have enough SSNs to really cover the area very tightly. More smaller and less expensive subs would a better fit for mine laying.

    * I would say even more of the Updated Gotland types, but the USN will never bite such a small sub.

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    1. "I still think the US counter in the region should a lot of Sōryū type AIP boats"

      I agree that there is some use for such a submarine. Curious, though, where would you operate them from? What base?

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    2. Obviously you would have to operate out of Japan. Probably Okinawa. Maybe you could swing it by moving the Marines elsewhere. Guam I suppose with tenders maybe? We would have to invest a lot more in hardening Guam however.

      Yes that raises the issue of having to depend on an ally but you can't really get much closer than Japan. The thing is if everything has to be US based you end up with SSNs and lack numbers and pay a lot more. In any case having some would seem like good way to rattle China by playing games and having something that could spend a lot of time snooping about China's coast in numbers. And be a lot less likely to end up like a grounded P3.

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  10. The Navy has two good prototype designs if they would get creative with them. M80 stiletto is a fast stealthy shorter range boat comparable to the type 22 in size/speed. FSF-1 Seafighter is a larger ocean going stealthy/fast design with moderate range (4400nm). All these could be armed with anti ship missles and networked. Make them cheap enough to deploy in squadrons with a support tender and you would have a good forward based force.

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    1. Good reminder about those prototypes. The FSF-1 is quite a bit larger which might push its price beyond the 'cheap' point but it's still worth looking at.

      Do you think the M80 could take the weight of 8 missiles/launchers?

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    2. They had lengthened hulls proposed for the M80 but the company is now out of business. I think for comparisons you will see that Ambassador III, Sea Fighter, and EPFs are in that 200 million range. I'd prefer a new design, but I think if you took the hybrid power train from a Sigma 10514 and put it in catamaran hull like the newer large Incats and you'd really have something. A hull that can take slamming, long range, great aircraft capacity, and slower but still as fast or faster than monohulls. You could have VLS instead of canister launchers at that point.

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    3. "A hull that can take slamming, long range, great aircraft capacity, and slower but still as fast or faster than monohulls. You could have VLS instead of canister launchers at that point."

      Just to note, we built exactly that ship (less the VLS) - the Independence class LCS and it wound up costing around $700M each.

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    4. LCS is way from exactly the same. My propellers are cheaper than waterjets and I'm minus 2 LM2500 at over 10 million each before integrating them into the ship. My electric motors dig into that, but I save in gas over the ship's lifetime. Plus your cost listed is the high end even with an MCM mission module.

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    5. "LCS is way from exactly the same."

      I didn't mean an exact rivet for rivet duplication. I meant a basic functional duplication of what you described.

      "cost listed is the high end"

      No, actually. The contract costs that the Navy publicizes are just the basic seaframe construction. The Navy also supplies a great deal of GFE with unspecified costs but likely in the $100M+ range. Also, the LCSes have historically been delivered in a partially completed condition and additional funds have been used to complete construction after delivery and trials. This is separate from and in addition to normal trial related fixes. Finally, the advertised costs do no include the mission modules without which the ships are just Coast Guard boats.

      The 2014 Navy SCN budget submission listed a cost for 4 LCS of FY19 $450M ea. Add $100M for GFE plus $50M-$100M for a module (if we had any fully functional modules, which we don't) plus $50M-$100M for post delivery construction completion and you wind up somewhere in the $700M range.

      So, a realistic, completed, outfitted cost is $700M.

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    6. I think they are very expensive. For the same price tag or a bit more are build full Aegis frigates in other countries.

      Maybe they are not a Bourke, but probably quite more capable than a LCS.

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  11. "Do you think the M80 could take the weight of 8 missiles/launchers?"
    Different sources have different payloads ranging from 20 to 37 tonnes. If the missile load is the Kongsberg naval strike missile then it should be easy to install 2 four pack launchers at 8,600 pounds each for a total of 9 tonnes of missiles and launchers. Some mass could be saved if the launcher is integrated into the boat hull, but it would limit the boat to a specific missile payload.
    If the official program cost is to believed, the ship and its development cost $12 million. The missile load out would likely be $6 to $8 million for a missile boat version.

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    1. Good info. Thanks. The missiles are cannisterized and launched from a box structure bolted to the ship, as I understand it. Care to speculate what impact that assembly would have on the stealth signature of the boat? Do they offer a stealth box launcher?

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    2. I don't know how stealthy the M80 really is. I don't think it is a stealth ship at all.

      https://www.wearethemighty.com/navy-testbed-is-fast-sharp

      "....members of the Stiletto program explained that the ship's radar cross section is about what you'd expect for a ship of its size."

      Putting box launchers on the hull would increase the radar cross section. If they were all oriented in the same direction similar to the Type 22 layout you could at least bury the openings for the launcher on the upper surface of the ship similar to the way the inlet for the engine on the MQ-25 stingray is hidden. Which would be good for minimizing detection from surface radar but not likely to be much help from aerial sensors.
      A realistic stealth design would be shaped like the Sea Shadow or the Zumwalt.

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    3. Visby corvette would also be a realistic stealth design that could be turned into a missile boat.

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    4. A half sized Visby would be a similar size to the Type 22.

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    5. " I don't think it is a stealth ship at all."

      Hmm... That's interesting. Someone went to a lot of trouble to produce a slanted, faceted shape - very similar to other stealth platforms. Why would they do that, if not for stealth purposes?

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    6. My take on the stiletto is that the slanted shape is more for reducing drag so it can go fast. It's for streamlining, not stealth.

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  12. Taiwan navy needs to copy this.

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    1. I just read about a Taiwan counter-missile boat. I can't recall the name off the top of my head or where I read it. Maybe you know?

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    2. Now I remember. It's the Tuo Chiang class missile corvette. Not exactly a duplicate of the Type 22 but something along that line. A bit bigger. Good weapons fit for the size. Stealthy. Good vessel. Cost reported US$72M each.

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    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuo_Chiang-class_corvette
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hsiung_Feng_III

      That's Taiwan's latest: ship and missile. For close quarter (and probably one chance only) combat, the ship IMO is still too big and valuable.

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    4. Don'r miss this little guy. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2019/03/17/2003711662

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    5. "the ship IMO is still too big and valuable."

      That sounds like my take on Fords and Burkes - that they've become too expensive to risk in combat which leads one to wonder why we're building them if we won't use them.

      So, what would you propose for Taiwan? What kind of naval force structure do you see as being useful?

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    6. An improved version of the Iranian fleet (Hormuz strait is about the same width). Lots (say, several hundreds) of fast boats (able to hide and launched from ramp anywhere along Taiwan's coast) with couple strapped on missile containers (point & shoot, self-targeting in confine water of Taiwan strait).

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    7. "Lots (say, several hundreds) of fast boats ... with couple strapped on missile containers"

      Fascinating! I've actually got a post coming on this or something very close to it. I think you'll like it.

      Now, how, if at all, is that better than an equal number of land based anti-ship missile launchers? Do you see an advantage for the boats over land launchers?

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    8. Don't forget they replaced their Dvora's mounted with missiles with Kuang Hua IVs which are smaller than the type 22.

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    9. If they (boats) are cost effective and numerous enough, they can complement with land launchers to increase the depth of battle front from which to shoot and make it harder for the enemy to search and destroy.

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  13. If the U.S. were going to deploy this kind of weapon in the western pacific, I would think it would be the kind of thing that would require us to have bases at Subic and Cam Rahn Bay. Then they might be useful in challenging China in the South China Sea.

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    1. Gonna need a bit more range than 300 miles though, esp given the assumption that these boats are being built in the CONUS and sailed to Subic.

      Otoh, in an Alternate Universe where the Phillipines becomes the 51st state*, thus forcing US to have more permanent interests in SEA... sure, I could see investment being poured into Phillipine shipyards to be able to build coast guard cutters, missile boats and corvettes, because then the US would have a need for AD/A2 assets and strategy, and for patrolling the Phillipines, because using destroyers on patrolling the literal thousands of Phillipine islands is way overkill.


      *Given how large the Phillipines are, you could easily get at least 3 additional states, maybe even 5.

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    2. "require us to have bases at Subic and Cam Rahn Bay. Then they might be useful in challenging China in the South China Sea."

      You're absolutely right that small boats would require some kind basing for support. Do you think that using motherships could be a viable substitute for actual bases? We used motherships (called them tenders) extensively in WWII for PT boat, submarine, and destroyer support. Or, is that not a viable concept today? What do you think?

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    3. 110 million people in the Philippines guys. More than 7000 islands.

      That's a lot more than 5 additional states. There are 81 provinces currently...

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    4. "Then they might be useful in challenging China in the South China Sea."

      I assume you're referring to peacetime challenge? If so, how would you see them 'challenging'?

      We do so-called Freedom of Navigation exercises that accomplish nothing in challenging China so what would smaller craft do? What rules of engagement or degree of engagement would you advocate that you think would result in an effective challenge?

      This has been the US' problem. We have powerful ships but we don't let them do anything to effectively challenge Russia/China/Iran/NKorea.

      Do you advocate a return to 'gunboat diplomacy'? Something else?

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    5. "Do you think that using motherships could be a viable substitute for actual bases? We used motherships (called them tenders) extensively in WWII for PT boat, submarine, and destroyer support. Or, is that not a viable concept today?"

      @ComNavOps: Not in favor, from the operational standpoint. I'd rather upsize the patrol boats to something in the 600-800 ton range, like Korea's PKG or PMKR boats; 2000 nautical miles at 15 knots is a pretty good range IMO. My aims are operational independance, tethered from a tender, and greater endurance at sea.

      IMO the tender represents a point of vulnerability, esp when you need to use comms to coordinate with the tender and arrange rendezvous, which is not going to be a sure thing if you assume all satellites are going down, denying you satcoms, and radio transmissions are electronic breadcrumbs for ESM to find you with.

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  14. Shove it wild goose.

    I'm just trying to conceive of some way that we would be able to utilize something like that type of craft.

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    1. Let's keep it impersonal and respectful. I don't think wild goose's comment was sarcastic. I think it was an attempt, albeit a very strange one, to identify how a small boat could be used.

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    2. Sorry, I see what you're saying.

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    3. @that army guy:

      I'll try unpack a bit more what I was saying:

      1. Needs More Range: assuming basing in Subic or Cam Rahn, I don't agree that 300 miles is enough range. I would prefer to have double, or even triple that range, in order to provide more operational flexibility and at sea endurance, so that I could use these missile boats as additional missile shooters to support a CVBG's desron or air wing. I'm not in favor of having tenders because that introduces a point of vulnerability to the operations of my missile boats, and also because holy shit the Phillipines has a lot of coastline that needs patrolling.

      2. Getting missile boats built: The elephant in the room is that the USN's shipbuilding infrastructure is all based stateside. Sure, maybe LockMart could build a small 300-mile missile boat. But then you've got to sail that missile boat all the way to the Phillipines, which makes no sense to me. The only way short ranged missile boats make sense to build is if you're going to be using them near where you're building themm, but Congress will scream bloody murder about how the USN is spending American dollars in a foreign shipyard to build boats for the USN to use in those foreign nations. This is before we get into how the USN's focus and doctrine is on the blue water fight on the open seas. So how do you get that to change?

      3. A Scenario where the USN has a need to build missile boats: Thus, the Alt History scenario where the Phillipines becomes an American state. Now that PH is American soil, the USN now has a greater need to defend the Phillipines. They no longer have the moats of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, they now have American soil that can be threatened by its neighbours. The USN spending money in Phillipine shipyards to build missile boats is now the USN spending American dollars in American shipyards, so Congress would make less fuss. This, plus the wider coastline of the Phillipines that needs patrolling, is the only scenario I see that would force the USN to develop and A2/AD strategy of its own, and shift to building more missile boats and corvettes.

      tl;dr

      The only scenario I see where the USN would have a want or need for missile boats would be if the Phillipines was American soil that absolutely had to be defended. Given how much water needs to be patrolled, as well as seeking operational independance from tenders, I'd prefer to upsize the boats somewhat, maybe something like Korea's Yoon Youngha-class PKG patrol boats, or the Patrol Medium Killer Rocket. 44 knots sprint speed, plus 2000 nautical mile range at 15 knots is pretty respectable.

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    4. That's a really good answer, thanks.

      When I made my answer I was only trying to invent a way that this style of missile boat could be put to use.

      To expand that idea, they could be useful if the US was trying to assert itself in the South China Sea.

      The US would need to have basing rights in Subic Bay and Cam Rahn Bay, which I don't think is far-fetched. These bases should be hardened to force the Chinese to attack these first and put Guam in the second or third level of attack for the Chinese.

      Then fleets of these missile boats could supplement blue water task forces that enter the South China Sea.

      This would necessitate having tough blue water ships. I'd have new Des Moines style heavy cruisers, new Alaska class battle cruisers, updated and recommissioned Iowas, Ticonderoga replacements with Cleveland class hulls, new Perry class frigates focused on ASW, and drone carriers built on the Alaska class hull design with 4-6 drone radar planes to do some of the tasks of the E-2, 4 S3 Vikings, 2 ES3 Viking ELINT planes, 2-4 ASW helicopters, a dozen or more X-47B drones set up as strike aircraft.
      Those task forces would be backed up by land-based air power and aircraft carrier planes.

      With this type of fleet I'd supplement them with the missile boats out of the Philipines and Vietnam.

      That's what I'd use to challenge China in their backyard.

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  15. Found an excel spreadsheet of warships you might be interested in over at DeviantArt. Made by a user called Tzoli who is part of DeviantArt's warship line drawing community.

    https://www.deviantart.com/tzoli/art/Excel-Database-of-Warships-of-the-World-542952468

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    1. Wow! That's a pretty amazing effort. Clearly a labor of love by whoever that is. Thanks for the link.

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  16. The thing that strikes me as an interesting comparison for the Type 022 isn't a ship or boat at all, but tactical aircraft. Going by the rough estimated costs on wikipedia, a single Type 022 ranges from a third less than a J-10 to maybe twice the price of a J-10.

    The estimated combat radius you listed isn't far off that for a tactical aircraft either, and in terms of both firepower and manpower put at risk, both are about on par with a small strike package. Say, 4 JH-7s with 4 J-10 escorts, but at something like a quarter the cost and with sailors instead of expensive pilots.

    There's also the training benefits of all these small craft - that's a lot of captains getting real life experience commanding and coordinating real naval craft, even if they have tiny crews.

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    1. " interesting comparison for the Type 022 isn't a ship or boat at all, but tactical aircraft."

      It is an interesting comparison and it emphasizes the point that these things aren't 'one or the other' but, rather, complementary systems of various types of assets.

      One aspect of the boats to keep in mind is that they can provide significant persistence as opposed to aircraft which have fairly short loiter times. Again, though, it's not a 'one or the other' issue.

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    2. You get some, you lose some. The boat takes longer to get to the point, but can stay there longer; the aircraft arrives faster to the point, but has short loiter time.

      My understanding of the chinese model is that within the Taiwan Strait, the gameplan is that MPA and AWACS will serve as spotters, the missile boats will be the tripwire, and fighters and bombers will be surged to support the missile boats - note the new supersonic rocket drone they displayed, which basically looks like it's meant to quickly cross the distance and give a sensor picture for terminal guidance for a supersonic ALCM salvo.

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  17. @anon. Great thought, you got 80 captains getting lots of experience and probably can survive a screw up or 2 and still be able to progress their careers. Would be a great way too to find out who's the real aggressive ones to further promote....

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    1. "Would be a great way too to find out who's the real aggressive ones to further promote...."

      Of course, that assumes that you allow your captains to be aggressive. We may well have aggressive by nature Captains but they orders are clearly to be non-confrontational and to appease and de-escalate. With those orders, it doesn't matter how many command slots we have, we'll never see an aggressive Captain.

      We need to change our philosophy and that only comes from the top.

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    2. "We need to change our philosophy and that only comes from the top."

      Absolutely. We need to start promoting warriors and quit promoting paper-shufflers. But that direction has to come from POTUS and SecDef in no uncertain terms, and I'm not sure either one really understands the depth of the problem.

      As for the littoral warfare thing, here's what I'd do. I'd plan on 30 corvettes, 30 patrol boats, 30 mine warfare ships, and 30 AIP submarines. I'd use the MEKO CSL as the basis for the corvettes, the Swedish Visby class for the patrol boat, the Swedish A26 for the AIP submarine, and the mine warfare ships would include minehunters like the UK Hunt class, and a mothership for drone and helo sweep operations, basically like a small LSD.

      I'd pick 15 ports--something like San Diego, LA/Long Beach, San Francisco, Puget Sound, Anchorage, Honolulu, Guam, Houston/Corpus, New Orleans/Pascagoula/Mobile, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Miami/Jacksonville/Mayport, Norfolk, New York, Boston. Put a reserve squadron in each of them with 2 corvettes, 2 patrol boats, 2 mine warfare ships, and 2 AIP subs.

      I'd have them work together on developing and perfecting littoral tactics in their home port areas. What works in one area, we'd try in another, and another. They could deploy as a squadron to support littoral operations. Maybe we'd let them sail on their own, or maybe we'd use heavy lift ships to haul them there.

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    3. Agree with CDR Chip.

      Would add some general thoughts-rant:

      Just tonight, image of Chinese bomber in wind tunnel emerged, surprise, it looks like a B2. Apart from the obvious spying and always people saying China can only copy, really think about it, what's so wrong if you copy???? Save money and time. Avoid some mistakes. My thought though to this particular topic of Type 22 is, I'm sure I'm not only that noticed, that everybody, myself included!, thought immediately of changing stuff on Type 22, we need more range,more sensors, more speed, do we need it, maybe yes maybe not, more weapons, etc....is that really the best option, the right way of thinking? Why not just design and buy something SIMPLE like the Type 22 BEFORE we go crazy on requirements??? WESTERN military and thought have gone crazy on always wanting to gold plate and stuff everything imaginable on a platform. Example: Do we need more than 300 miles range? Maybe but are we sure? Does every location a deployed US TYPE 22 need range? If you are in a Persian Gulf, 300 miles might be okish...if stationed in Philippines, maybe you need double. Same really applies for weapons and electronic fit. I don't know, maybe for ONCE, we start with a SIMPLE BASE and build out or NOT from there...on such a small design, maybe plug and play, modular might be easier. Sometimes you add an extra fuel tank, sometimes you add more weapons, maybe you beef up or not the electronics...lets just buy the simple no frills TYPE 22 and go from there! Having a CONOPS would be better but since USN threw that out years ago, let's just buy simple and actually use it and see what works or not. Maybe we don't need a Type 22 after all and avoid spending billions like LCS...

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    4. My other thought was what @anon and myself alluded to: training ships and advanced training, new concepts CDR brought up. With such simple design with today modern electronics, these Type 22 or similar offer great opportunities. I've been saying LCS could be used as training ships or concept ships but for close to a cool $billion a ship, they are too costly and admission of USN errors but I think a Type 22 or little bigger ship would be really valuable tool. Not only you could train for littoral and new concepts like CDR mentioned but as training ships, you could practice some simple ASW and MCM missions,just need to install some software to emulate/replicate a SSK and have fun, if you have a real SSK,even better. Can you practice large formations of 20 or so ships, why not? Practice convoying and escorting,why not? Practice attacking a US TF going out of deployment?sure, hit them with everything you have. Nobody dies and great practice, brings reality home that somebody out there wants to kill you. As I mentioned before, great way to spot the aggressive captains or the innovators. Last but not least, anybody worry that with new generation, millennial's and next ones, don't care much for military? I don't blame them, they only see long deployments and sand BUT they never really see anything up close to get them interested when they are young....my solution? Every service should have 1 SIMPLE WEAPON SYSTEM to demonstrate, bring young high schoolers aboard, sign them up for a couple of weekends and let them run some stations, the best ones get to "command" a Type 22 (under obvious supervision), the services need to get back to giving the younger gen a taste of some of these weapons, my idea isn't new, how many kids during Depression just hung around airports hoping to get a flight, fill up gas, maybe look at an engine and sparked interest in aviation? Germany had flying youth clubs where they flew gliders to start getting them into aviation...we need to get back to that, get at least some kids hooked on military, if not, we will only get the ones with no other options or only when economy goes bad, you need to get a few that want to be there....as a plus, you could put some Type 22 for reservists to maintain currency, something else I'm afraid US Military use to do but not really anymore.

      Rant over....

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    5. If there's one thing the US Navy (or any navy, really) can learn from this, it's scope control. Everything else follows from that.

      The Type 022 is cheap (for a weapons system) and it's important to recognize that the causality here is that it's cheap because it's limited in scope instead of being limited in scope because it's cheap.

      First of all, it isn't designed for long endurance missions. That means it doesn't need many spares. It doesn't need bunks. It doesn't need the crew for multiple watches. The mess is probably a microwave and a case of MREs. It doesn't need laundry facilities. It doesn't need an infirmary. It doesn't need water distillation or state rooms. Cut all that out and the ship can be a lot lighter and smaller. It's perfectly acceptable to design around the expectation that all maintenance will be done at pier-side if the boat is never going to be more than a day from port.

      Second of all, the speed is good, but not great. That means it doesn't need exotic motive systems like a hydrofoil or a hovercraft. It doesn't need a gas turbine with exotic single alloy turbine blades.

      A couple of diesel engines with waterjets are conventional, mature technologies. Hell, they may even be COTS. That cuts costs for R&D, manufacturing infrastructure, spare parts availability, technical training...

      Third of all, all the weapons are off-the-shelf. It doesn't introduce any new logistical elements to the fleet, and the skill sets are transferable between ships. A sailor trained to operate the missile system on a Type 022 could conceivably do so on a Type 054A frigate as well.

      This is in contrast to the corresponding failings in many projects (not just military projects, and I'm sure the Chinese are subject to this issue as well, given the original protracted development of the J-10 and the ambitious design of the Type 055)

      1) Scope creep. It's inevitable that some details will change over the course of a project, but that is meant to fix oversights and deficiencies uncovered during development - not carte blanche to make major design changes or add new capabilities mid-development. All such changes are risky, so hard to justify outside of a life-or-death total war scenario (under which condition no one had designed a major weapon system in nearly 75 years)

      2) Over-ambitious technological/performance requirements. US Army Ordnance is infamous for this, but they're hardly alone. Over-emphasizing a single performance metric at the expense of other considerations lead to odd and impractical weapons. Zumwalts, anyone? It's like people keep forgetting how much good those Nazi wonder weapons did them in World War 2. (Somewhere between negligible and outright detrimental)

      3) Overspecialization. This is less a reference to the Type 022 and more to the Type 056 corvette/Type 054A frigate. Sometimes, all you need is a generalist that's passable good at many things even if it isn't phenomenal at any one thing. There's no way to know all the possible missions that may need to be performed in the future, and having well-rounded capabilities mean a platform will always be useful (and the crews able to gain useful experience to feed into the training of the next generation of crews and design of the next generation of systems)

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  18. So, in looking at usage of a similar vessel in a China scenario, wed have to clear a massive amount of the Phillipine sea. And while PT boats were notoriously unsuccessful,I think that a longer ranged vessel, even sensor range hobbled, when used in groups could be successful. Our ability to operate battle groups in a triangle formed roughly by Guam, Manila, and Sasebo is paramount to tackling the inner chain. The distances from potential bases dictate a minimun 3500nm range, realistically 4500 for maneuvering margins. Using groups of 15-20 would give each sufficient combat power. The sensor limits are a challenge,but generally these offensive groups would be sent to areas predetermined by satellites to hold targets. Of course that capability may go away rapidly. More selective info could be provided using SSNs as the off-board sensors. There would have to be a full plan in place. They can help detect the surface units, and direct the missile boat packs towards them, staying uninvolved short of some exceptionally juicy targets of opportunity, a lack of groups reasonably close, or if the missile boats are at a decided disadvantage. That way they can focus on the subsurface enemy. The idea is to literally sail these groups towards the enemy until they find them, using as much offboard info as possible to get them in the appropriate neighborhood. At that point, small passive only UAVs (slingshot launch/net recovery, or disposable?) could help gain some local sensor range for the group, using LOS distances. There is the risk of "cruiser Tone seaplane #5" issues, but redundancy and the proximity of ships in the skirmish line minimizes it. These groups would operate out of Guam and Japan, although Okinawa would be great but probably not surviveable if in port on day one. Phillipine basing would be of help also, if at all possible.
    The threat of detection by enemy subs is present, but the small size makes them barely worth targeting, and the group size and spread of the formation minimizes loss.

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  19. I was wondering if we could pair up an independence LCS and Arleigh Burke destroyer ,asa and use the Indy Class as a missile barge by adding 40 NSM on the sides of the flight deck, close to the hanger doors ( 5 quad launchers each side, 20 missile each side). This is within its 170 ton weight allowance and is far more ASM than a typical Arleigh Burke destroyer carries. The Arleigh Burke, in turn, would provide air defence, sensor data for the missiles of both ships, and some submarine defence.

    I'd considered having the missile carried by a LRASM, but regular readers if this blog know that ship to ship detection is unlikely to be further than 100nm, so the NSN has adequate range. In addition, it's lighter weight will affect the LCS less. Perhaps extra fuel can be added below decks to balance the above weight addition.

    Imagine a small flotilla of sat 5 AB and 5 Indy LCS armed as above. With ESSMs, that's surely enough to survive an enemy barrage, while we can launch hundreds of our own.

    I know, pretty amateur what if scenario. But I'm looking at a couple of Google pics with both ships in the same photo, and since the LCS still can only do light patrols, I like what my imagination has wrought.

    Andrew

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  20. Just a question from someone who doesnt know better - would the Sea Hunter ship (which itself always reminds me of Pete Bethunes Earthrace boat) be an un-manned equivalent to this potentially?

    I know theres obvious issues around comms with unmanned vessels - I've read your recent post about a hypothetical attack using these, but putting on my 'what-if' hat, would a group of these with different armament be an option?

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    1. Now that I've written that, I think that platform would probably be much too small.

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    2. "would the Sea Hunter ship … be an un-manned equivalent to this potentially?"

      If you're asking whether the Sea Hunter could perform the Type 22 missile boat function, the answer is an emphatic no. The Type 22 is fast and stealthy - requirements to enable it to survive long enough to attain a firing position. The Sea Hunter is slow and non-stealthy.

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    3. Thankyou - that seems obvious now that you say it! Enjoy your blog, keep going!

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