Naval analysis provided by ComNavOps, Commander - Naval Opinions
https://www.virtualmirage.org/a-naval-strategic-bomber/On a completely unrelated subject....the link is an article about the Navy taking over the B-1B as a naval bomber. Pretty interesting thought process and loadout data. What say you?
Thinking about the arsenal ship and similar proposals where cost per cell goes way down since you are packing so many of them onboard, made me wonder if there's not a price point where it gets too "cheap" vs a regular ship cost point? I know all the opponents of arsenal ship concept cite all the problems but it was to look at it from the pure angle of costs and remove some of the emotional arguments or even military arguements and just look at the cost point to see if there's anything relevant to learn. Is there a point where going to above 150, 200 or maybe 500 VLS just doesn't make sense? I wonder if I can make a little graph or illustration....
I'm not completely sure what your point is. Try again?It is NEVER a good idea to allow business case logic to enter into combat design.The main argument against the arsenal ship, in my mind, is the too-many-eggs-in-one-basket idea. Sure, we could build an arsenal ship with 10,000 VLS cells (twice our national missile inventory!) but if it was sunk, we lose everything.A very, very, very, very large chunk of combat design is about dispersing risk, not concentrating it. When we concentrate risk, such as with an aircraft carrier, we have to make very, very, very, very sure that the benefit is worth the risk and that the asset is extremely well protected.Does an arsenal ship offer sufficient benefit to justify the risk? I don't think so. We can duplicate the arsenal ship's benefit quite easily with Burkes, subs, aircraft, AF bombers, ballistic missiles, etc. while dispersing the risk.There is simply no need for an arsenal ship. I may have to do a post on this and squash the notion once and for all since it keeps coming up. What do you think?
Start by looking at how many missiles you need and work backwards. If you only need 10,000, then an arsenal ship doesn't make sense. If you need 50,000, then maybe it does.
Agree that "cost" should not design a warship, and it should be about tenth on the list of issues and compromises to consider when designing one. If capabilities and CONOPS are weighed properly, the cost will take care of itself and we wont have overpriced pier queens. Having said that, I think the closest to an arsenal ship we need is the SSGN, and only its extremely stealthy nature qualifies it to carry "so many eggs". In reality the Burke loadout is quite adequate for a surface ship. When the Ticos phase out, we may feel the Burkes are under-celled to replace them, but only retrospect of a properly utilized fleet in a blue water fight will tell us for sure...
"If you need 50,000, then maybe it does."A fair point! Of course, the Navy has already made that calculation and decided that an inventory of around 4000 makes sense. Whether that assessment, like most of the Navy's judgements, is valid is a highly debatable question and, in fact, it would seem ridiculously low for a peer war.
"If capabilities and CONOPS are weighed properly, the cost will take care of itself "Yes!"closest to an arsenal ship we need is the SSGN"Again, yes!
Assuming a future SSGN based on the new Columbia class SSBN with 16 tubes for 112 "VLS cells" and a unit cost of $6.2 billion each, that works out to $55.4 million per "VLS cell."
Except the SSBNs are going to cost way north of 6.2.
ComNavOps said, "A fair point! Of course, the Navy has already made that calculation and decided that an inventory of around 4000 makes sense. Whether that assessment, like most of the Navy's judgements, is valid is a highly debatable question and, in fact, it would seem ridiculously low for a peer war."What's your assessment for how many are needed?
It all depends on what strategy we pursue but a relevant data point would be the munitions usage in WWII.
We dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs during WWII. A tomahawk has a half ton warhead. So does that mean we need 6.8 million tomahawks? Seems pretty unachievable.
Did someone tell you that a peer war can be won with just a handful of bullets? If so, you've been mislead. The conclusion about number of munitions seems obvious.
Better start building arsenal ships then, and forget about these pipsqueak DDGs and SSGNs.
No, we'd better start building munitions! Also, it's not up to the Navy alone to expend all the munitions in a war. I don't have numbers in front of me but I assume that the vast majority of munitions expended in WWII were done by the Army and Air Force. I suspect that by comparison the Navy expended relatively little.We also need to evaluate what type and cost of munitions we want to wage a war with. Using multi-million dollar Tomahawks does not seem affordable. High tech, precision guided missiles certainly have their use but we need to reconsider our abandonment of dumb bombs and area munitions.
Part of the issue with munition expenditure in WW1 and WW2 (And Korea/Vietnam for that matter), is that it was partly driven by the fact that precision guided munitions were essentially non-existant.Area bombing is particularly inefficient, and that's an understatement.Having said that it's essentially a historical truism that no country goes into modern war with sufficient ammunition. In fact throughout WW2/WW1 no country every achieved ammunition production at a rate that came close to matching the preferred expenditure.Not even the Arsenal of Democracy. Armies use munitions at astronomical rates, and ammunition expenditure is often driven less by operational need and more by availability - i.e. Allied armies would have expended far more ammunition if it was available to them.What's probably even more worthwhile than simply producing munitions before a war starts, is having a plan for massively increasing ammunition production and the logistical pipeline to provide that ammunition (and other equipment) to frontline troops as rapidly as possible. The logistical train is a sometimes neglected aspect of this. You can have all the ammunition in the world, but it's useless if you can't get it to your frontline units.
"No, we'd better start building munitions! Also, it's not up to the Navy alone to expend all the munitions in a war. I don't have numbers in front of me but I assume that the vast majority of munitions expended in WWII were done by the Army and Air Force. I suspect that by comparison the Navy expended relatively little.We also need to evaluate what type and cost of munitions we want to wage a war with. Using multi-million dollar Tomahawks does not seem affordable. High tech, precision guided missiles certainly have their use but we need to reconsider our abandonment of dumb bombs and area munitions."So given all of this, and keeping with the topic of the post, do we need more ship launched cruise missiles? If so, how many? On the order of a thousand? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? A million?In WWII, massed bombardment gave us the mistaken impression that we were accomplishing something, but almost all we were doing was making holes in dirt and putting on a show.Bomber formations attacking a factory usually ended up destroying a lot of the surrounding territory and leaving the factory mostly intact. Nowadays a handful of JDAMs or Tomahawks would take it out on the first strike. So I think, in general, looking at munition expenditure rates from WWII is highly misleading as a predictor today.
"massed bombardment gave us the mistaken impression that we were accomplishing something, but almost all we were doing was making holes in dirt"You need to study the lessons of history. Our bombardments, both aerial and naval, certainly did accomplish their objectives. Perhaps not efficiently but they certainly succeeded. You also need to understand the effects of bombardments. If a factory is the target you certainly would like to actually hit the factory but even misses achieve something. The surrounding access roads are destroyed, craters impede the movement of raw materials and finished products, factory workers in the surrounding areas are killed which reduces the ability of the factory to function even if it isn't outright destroyed, and so on. The second order effects are profound."Nowadays a handful of JDAMs or Tomahawks would take it out on the first strike."Now, you need to study the lessons of today. For example, we used around 80 Tomahawks to partially destroy one Syrian airbase in response to a chemical weapons usage. Had we been attacking a peer defended base that we actually wanted to completely destroy we would have had to use several times that number, at least, to ensure success. 300 Tomahawks for one air base would be a reasonable estimate. Do the math. With an inventory of, say, 4000 Tomahawks, we could attack 13 such bases - not exactly a war winning effort!"looking at munition expenditure rates from WWII is highly misleading as a predictor today."You're correctly noting the enhanced accuracy of today's missiles (are you, though? no one has ever attempted an attach against a peer electronic warfare defended target. what happens when the missiles lose GPS guidance and their tiny radars are jammed? accuracy will go way down) but you fail to also note the enhanced accuracy of today's AAW defensive weapons. In WWII, it required huge amounts of AAW munitions to destroy a single attacking plane. Today, theoretically, it only requires a single SAM to destroy a single attacking plane or missile. The point is that enhanced accuracy works both ways and you're only considering one side of it."do we need more ship launched cruise missiles? If so, how many?"How many targets do you think there are in China? A thousand? Ten thousand? That will tell you how many munitions you need. Then you can begin deciding what type of munition you need and how many you can afford. We'll quickly realize that we need huge quantities of cheaper munitions in addition to our high tech, expensive ones.
If you get the FFG(X) up to 48 cells, then the cost per cell is the same.But even with the differential, there is some advantage to having more platforms. One, you spread the risk. Two, there is one thing that two smaller ships can do that one larger ship can never do--be in two places at once. Three, we have way too many missions where a Burke is massive overkill, and having some lower end platforms to perform those missions would be very useful.
Posted this earlier on the Zumwalt while this was getting sent out. If you assume the current high estimate on LUSV by 32 cells its 7.1 million a cell.
Let's say the cost of a new Burke is more like $2.8B, and the cost of the FFG(X) is more like $1.2B and we can build an ASW frigate for $600MM. Let's say we are looking at 80 Burkes, which is where we are going to be. That's $224B. Lets say instead we did 40 Burkes (basically the ones we have that will still be around in 2050) for $112B, 60 FFG(X) for $72B, and 80 ASW frigates for $48B. That's $232B for 180 ships versus $212B for 80. Looking at the incremental ships, that's $112B for 40 Burkes or $120B for 60 FFG(X) and 80 ASW frigates. Let's give the ASW frigates 24 cells, that's 8 ASROCs, 8 something else, and 32 quad-pack ESSMs. 80 Burkes would give us 7,680 VLS cells. 40 Burkes would give us 3,840, plus 60 FFG(X) would give us 1,920, and 80 ASW frigates would give us another 1,920, or the same number of total VLS cells, but distributed far more widely, plus you have more hulls to cover more ground and missions, and you wouldn't have to use Burkes for low-level missions like IO pirate patrol.
"40 ... plus 60 ... and 80 ... would give us … but distributed far more widely, plus you have more hulls to cover more ground and missions"One can postulate an infinite number of combinations of ships and costs and that's fine but it's in isolation - divorced from strategic and operational requirements. Strategy and operations determine ship types and numbers, not cost cases. And I know you recognize this but sometimes we all get caught up in calculating fleet structures based on maximizing numbers and minimizing costs while forgetting that strategy and operations determine what we need. If you've got a strategy in mind that requires the mix of ships you put forth then great. If not, then you're just playing a game of business cases. Just a reminder about where requirements come from."plus you have more hulls to cover more ground and missions"You're really got to be careful, here. 'Covering more ground' is not the goal. If it was, we'd just build 10,000 combat canoes and really cover lots of ground. Instead, the goal is to meet mission requirements. If that can be done by 10,000 combat canoes, great. If that requires a purely high end fleet, also great.The corollary to lots of hulls with dispersed VLS cells is that each unit is individually weak and susceptible to defeat in detail by stronger units. I know you have a mix of hi and lo units but beware of the lure of many small, weak units. They can't survivably and effectively operate alone. Consider WWII. We had hundreds of destroyers but we didn't send them out to run around on their own to 'cover ground'. We used them as groups TO SUPPORT HIGHER END, HIGHER VALUE units.Again, in WWII, we had 6000 ships but we didn't even disperse them across the entire Pacific Ocean. We gathered them in useful, powerful groups.What you need to look at is not, how many of this and how many of that can we get for x amount of money, but, rather, how many of whatever type do we need for the way we intend to fight? How many carrier groups (of four carriers) will we operate at any one time and how many escorts will they need? How many convoys do we anticipate running at any given moment and how many escorts will they need. This is where your force structure comes from. The cost will be whatever it will be. This is also why it is so desperately important to conduct REALISTIC fleet exercises that mimic the war we think we'll fight with China - just as we did with our Fleet Problems prior to WWII. As a result of those Fleet Problems we knew how the Pacific war would play out and what we needed to execute it. We don't have that now. Now, we're just building whatever the Navy thinks it can get through Congress and we're hoping it will prove useful. Thus far, the LCS, Zumwalt, Ford, MLP, AFSB, and LPD-17 have proven pretty much useless because no one wargamed and exercised the need, if any, for those platforms.
ComNavOps,I think you are attributing a little bit more to my comments than I really had in mind. You started this conversation out talking about costs, so that’s kind of where I thought this was going. I agree that costs should not be the defining criterion, but costs do put constraints on what we can do. So I see the objective as creating the maximum combat power to deal with a variety of expected situations for the most reasonable cost. Put the emphasis on getting the most bang for the buck.In that context, I see something like the Ford class carriers as a total mistake. We are spending $15B a pop for a ship that does not materially outperform a Nimitz that could be built for around $9B, and not that much more than a Kitty Hawk that could probably be built for around $6B in today’s dollars. And until the cats, traps, and elevators all work, they are basically war canoes. Or take the LCSs, $900MM apiece for ships that really are war canoes. Or how many billions have we spent for the Zumwalts that have no working bullets or rockets? You take what we could have saved by eliminating those mistakes, probably pushing $100B, and you could have build some serious fighting power.I’m not saying that numbers, or covering more ground, are the sole, or even primary criterion, either. But I think we are too impressed by high-tech, high-cost systems, and we need to come up with some cheaper and more reliable platforms that we can build in greater numbers. During my time on active duty, the Knoxes were coming in and the Perrys were starting. We thought they were too slow and undergunned, and they probably were. But they turned out to be pretty good ASW platforms, and it turns out that’s what we needed to win the Cold War. I have not done a full-blown fleet requirements study. But I do know a couple of things. We are wearing the Burkes out doing things that don’t require their capabilities, and that in fact they are not well matched for. And we are woefully deficient in ASW, and you yourself have stated that we don’t want Burkes chasing submarines. So I think that some kind of purpose-built ASW ship and a cheaper version of the Burkes are two ship types that we can put to good use. Regardless of the scenario, I’d rather start planning with 40 Burkes, 60 mini-Burkes, and 80 ASW frigates, than with 80 Burkes. I’ve laid out my kind of notional fleet plan before. I’d have 20 AAW cruisers, 40 Burkes, 60 mini-Burkes, and 80 ASW frigates. They would be organized into 20 squadrons of 10 ships—1 cruiser, 2 Burkes, 3mini-Burkes, and 4 ASW frigates. They would be set up to escort 20 task groups—12 carrier groups and 8 surface action/phib groups. The cruiser would be the lead AAW ship, backed by the Burkes. The mini-Burkes would be more jacks-of-all-trades, doing whatever was needed, maybe SUW but with secondary AAW and ASW capabilities, and the frigates would be the primary ASW platforms. If we had more low-level needs, like convoys, maybe we build more frigates, or ASW corvettes. If we had more high-level AAW needs, maybe more cruisers or Burkes.As far as the individually weak units, I’m not planning to send many of them out alone. The squadron would be the deployable unit, augmented or reduced as necessary.But I agree that whatever we have needs to be tested in realistic war scenarios so we can know, “Oops, we need more Burkes,” or, “Oops, we need more ASW frigates,” or whatever. And we’re not going to build all of them tomorrow, so we have time to adapt and adjust as we learn more about how it works. So, do the paper games, figure out what that suggest we need, then play it for real, see how it works, and adjust. Right now, we are flying blind and are getting obsessed with a lot of shiny objects that don’t have much utility.
Don't get me wrong. Your force structure vision is worlds better than the Navy's but it still lacks that direct connection to strategy and operations. You even sort of confirm this by referring to a given number of carriers and amphib groups as determining your ship requirements without any rationale about where the number of groups comes from (it should come from a strategy and operations!). I notice you also neglect to allocate any escorts for convoys. You make no allowance for independent surface action groups. And so on.Hey, now let me be fair … you're not an admiral running the Navy so for me to expect you to have done detailed strategies and operational plans is unreasonable. You've put more thought into this than most and that's commendable - very much so!I'm just offering a gentle warning against falling into the same trap that the Navy has which is substituting technology for strategy. Envisioning a certain number of a certain type of ship with a certain number of weapons is technologically appealing but has no basis in requirements beyond a generic hope/expectation that it will prove useful at some point - exactly how the Navy designs and build ships!What I'd love to see you do is solidify a victory strategy in your mind (please not the 'containment' strategy that accomplishes nothing!) and then decide what assets are needed to achieve it. Do you even need carriers? Why did you pick 12? Why not 8 or 34? How many subs do you need? Do you need thousand mile-plus strike or is shorter range sufficient? Are mines a threat or will you not be going into mine-able areas? Can you reasonably anticipate amphibious assaults or, like me, do you see no realistic need for them (so why do you have amphib fleets in your fleet structure?)? And so on.Ponder all that and come up with some answers and then you'll have a solid plan for a fleet structure. I know you've put a lot of thought into what kinds of ships you like and don't like and what they cost but I haven't seen you tie it into a requirement - only into a vague hope that they'll be useful (or more useful than the current Navy which I'll grant you!). You've clearly been putting a lot of time into this topic so make it productive and EFFECTIVE time! I'd love to see what you come up with if you tie back to strategy.Here's a sample question: what, specifically, is a carrier going to do for you in a war? I've stated what I think the role of a carrier is and it's not a popular vision but I've clearly laid out the requirement and how it links to my victory condition. Do the same!
In regards to victory strategy. 2 groups North and South. North goal is to prevent China from taking Taiwan. South goal is to roll up South China Sea making it more and more politically costly for China to stay in war.Prewar group North would have a helluva easier time if we can get Taiwan a force of modern SSK. Would also help if Taiwan spent money on its own defense...
"Would also help if Taiwan spent money on its own defense..."In 2018, Taiwan military spending was 1.8% of GDP which puts it around average or slightly higher than other countries in the world.
Taiwan spends higher than average amounts on her defence.Approx. $13 billion US in 2020, which represents approx 2.3%. of GDP.As CNO. points out, that's higher than most countries as a perentage.Taiwan, for a small country, has a significant military, with real teeth.The problem is that no matter how much Taiwan spends, it will always be dwarfed by Chinese military expenditure.Added to that is the intense political pressure that China exerts on potential exporters of military equipment when it comes to Taiwan - Taiwan has been attempting to buy new diesel submarines (one of the best potential deterrent capabilities to a Chinese invasion) for decades, but cannot find anyone who will sell them.So now she is going to spend billions creating a domestic diesel submarine industry from scratch, which is massively uneconomical, but her only option.But the reality is Taiwan could spend 20% of her GDP on defence, and all it would do is cripple her economy and would not be enough to deter a Chinese invasion on it's own.It's the Fifth Fleet that has always represented her best deterrent.The rest of her military is simply designed to blunt a potential invasion, delaying and costing China lives and money, to make it less worthwhile.
In the cold war US spent 5% GDP on defense. I would say that is far more comparable to Taiwan's situation than that of an average country. This would imply a doubling of their military spending. Their goal isn't to defeat China. It is to make invading Taiwan very difficult which provides 3 benefits.1. Make the invasion less tempting.2. Give world opinion/diplomacy time to work a conculsion before they are invaded.3. Give the U.S. time to come to their defense.There is no scenario where China lands a force then is forced out. Taiwan needs to be tough enough that an amphib invasion takes months to pull off.
Perhaps.Personally I find measuring budget against GDP fairly crude.GDP rises and falls based on the various vagaries of the marketplace, and military budgets are usually locked in as specific dollar amounts years ahead of time.GDP isn't even a particularly good measure of an economy, let alone a military budget. In addition, increasing military expenditure as a percentage of the GDP could conceivably harm a country's economy, so that costs may increase as a percentage of GDP, but not in commensurate dollar terms.Also a $ spent in one country can be worth more or less in terms of actual military output based on various efficiencies or lack thereof. For example, Taiwain will spend much more money on domestic submarine production than would be necessary if they could buy off the shelf designs or buy second hand subs. So dollars spent will be higher for less capability.What would be more useful would to talk about where you think Taiwain can improve their military capability and work backwards from there to determine the cost of that and if it's feasible.
Hard to get into much depth with a 4000-character limit, but here are some scatter shots.“Your force structure vision is worlds better than the Navy's but it still lacks that direct connection to strategy and operations.”Thank you. There is more connection than I can express here but I’ll try. “I notice you also neglect to allocate any escorts for convoys. You make no allowance for independent surface action groups.”I have 8 surface action/HUK groups including a battleship and ASW helo carrier. Their missions would be primarily to eliminate enemy subs and ships from open ocean areas and secondarily to support amphibious assaults. 12 carrier groups plus 8 SAG/HUK groups are the baseline 20 groups I plan to screen. I don’t think you’d send a phib group anywhere in combat without a carrier or SAG/HUK group, so I have not planned to screen them separately. Some ASW frigates could be detached to convoy duty and I also have ASW corvettes for such duty.“generic hope/expectation that it will prove useful at some point - exactly how the Navy designs and build ships!”Except 1) I don’t think I’m doing that, and 2) if I am, I’m doing it better than the Navy. “victory strategy in your mind (please not the 'containment' strategy that accomplishes nothing!)”Containment plus a bribed-up alliance plus economic superiority won the Cold War without firing a shot. “Do you even need carriers? Why did you pick 12? Why not 8 or 34?”Keep in mind I’m talking 12 carrier groups, each with 2 carriers, so 24 carriers—12 large and 12 smaller, but more than a match for anybody else’s carriers. “How many subs do you need?“12 SSBN, 20 SSGN, and 90 attack boats. All Virginias for the attack boats is cost prohibitive, so I would go with a mix of Virginias, some smaller, cheaper nukes, and even some AIP boats to get the number, maybe 30-30-30 or 40-30-20.“Do you need thousand mile-plus strike or is shorter range sufficient?”At least a 1000-mile strike range, plus stealth and weapon load, is essential if we are going to strike land targets. I see missile subs as major strike platforms. “Are mines a threat or will you not be going into mine-able areas?”Mines are a helluva threat, and we don’t have the foggiest idea what to do about them. Mine warfare and ASW are two areas that need way more attention than we are giving them.“Can you reasonably anticipate amphibious assaults or, like me, do you see no realistic need for them (so why do you have amphib fleets in your fleet structure?)?”I could see an opposed landing against a lesser opponent (like Iran) or a threatened landing as a decoy (like Desert Storm). In a peer war I see administrative landings in support of a threatened ally. That probably needs a lot of armor and artillery to be effective—exactly what the USMC is going away from. And in peacetime I see a lot of presence to reassure allies.“I haven't seen you tie it into a requirement“I see three hot spots—Eastern Europe, Mideast, and South China Sea. Worst case would seem to be peer or near-peer wars with Russia and China and a lesser conflict in the Mideast. I want 4 carrier groups and 3 phib groups for each major war and 2 carrier groups and 2 phib groups for a lesser war. That gets me to 10 carrier groups and 8 phib groups, and I want 1 of each on each coast for surge. I would see 2 SAG/HUK groups for sea control in each major ocean—Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian, again with 2 in reserve for surge.“what, specifically, is a carrier going to do for you in a war?”I don’t know how much air strike a carrier can do against land targets with 500-mile strike ranges. I think we need a strike aircraft with stealth, longer legs (1000+ mile strike radius), and bigger payload. Until we get that, the carrier has some strike capability against a lesser opponent (Iran?) but against a true peer it’s going to be mostly sea control (strike against enemy shipping).
"Containment plus a bribed-up alliance plus economic superiority won the Cold War without firing a shot."You're drawing a parallel that I don't think is valid. The Soviet Union, after establishing their boundaries, showed no interest in taking over the rest of the world. They were not expanionistic. Yes, they engaged in proxy wars and supported anti-American interests around the world but never with the goal of acquisition or control of territory. It was, from their perspective, simply countering the West.In huge, huge contrast, China is bent on annexing territory and shows no foreseeable limits, having already started laying the groundwork for claiming the second island chain. China's entire culture and psyche are wrapped up in the conquer or be conquered mentality which means conquer the globe.While the SU made war plans it was, again, only in response to perceived threats from the West and were only intended as contingency plans. China is actively planning global conquest and makes little secret of it though you have to read between the lines a little bit - they're not dumb enough to come right out and flatly state it but the evidence is clear for anyone with an objective mind."more than a match for anybody else’s carriers. "He said, gently: that's exactly what I'm talking about in the disconnect from strategy. It's utterly immaterial whether or not any given weapon is a match for any other country's similar weapon. What matters is whether the weapon supports our own strategy and operations."I think we need a strike aircraft with stealth, longer legs (1000+ mile strike radius), and bigger payload.."We already have it. It's called a Tomahawk missile. So, what does that leave your carriers to do?"Mines are a helluva threat"Really? Only if you plan to sail where they might be employed. They're not an open ocean weapon. You've declared you only want containment which means no need to enter the first island chain. Therefore, no need to pass through mine-able waters. Therefore, mines are not a threat in your strategy. Again, this illustrates what should be the constant connection between weapons and strategy."I could see an opposed landing against a lesser opponent (like Iran) or a threatened landing as a decoy (like Desert Storm). In a peer war I see administrative landings in support of a threatened ally."Does that sound like justification for an entire Marine Corps and 33+ ship amphib fleet?"against a true peer it’s going to be mostly sea control "Sea control requires 24 carriers???? $15B carriers for sea control?
ComNavOps, responding:“You're drawing a parallel that I don't think is valid. The Soviet Union, after establishing their boundaries, showed no interest in taking over the rest of the world.” I think the Soviets were going to push it as far as they could. They took over the Iron Curtain countries, from Stettin to Trieste as Churchill noted. I think that had Western Europe rolled over for them they would have gone as far as the Algarve. We bribed the Europeans into having at least some guts because we were worried about that. I think the Berlin blockade was a test. And when we responded with the airlift, and then with the formation of NATO, I think we drew a pretty clear line. I think the Soviets wanted to get every bit that they could get, but they didn’t want to fight us. After 1949, I think they looked around and said, “Hey, for centuries we had to defend the whole width of the European plain. Now we only have to defend a relatively narrow gap between the Alps and the Baltic. We can live with what we got.” With the fall of the Berlin Wall, that has changed. With all the countries that got out from under their yoke, they are back to having to defend the whole width of the European Plain. And yes, I think they’re a lot more defensive and reactionary these days. I think China is kind of the same way. They want as much as they can get without fighting us. So far, we’ve been easy. It’s time to stop. “It's utterly immaterial whether or not any given weapon is a match for any other country's similar weapon. What matters is whether the weapon supports our own strategy and operations.”Navies have three general missions, control the seas, deny the enemy control of the seas, and project power ashore. I think we control the seas beyond the first island chain, contest their control inside the chain, and project power by assisting our allies to hold the chain. In controlling the seas beyond, how well our assets match up with their comparable ones is a significant consideration.“We already have it. It's called a Tomahawk missile. So, what does that leave your carriers to do?"You’ve got more carriers in your proposed fleet than I do (27 versus 24), so what do you propose that they do? I would plan to make huge use of Tomahawks as strike assets, and to develop new and better strike missiles. One role for carriers would be providing air cover so the Tomahawk launchers can get close enough to attack.“You've declared you only want containment which means no need to enter the first island chain. Therefore, no need to pass through mine-able waters. Therefore, mines are not a threat in your strategy.”I am not talking about containment OUTSIDE the first island chain; I’m talking about containment INSIDE the first island chain. I plan to contain them inside the chain by holding the chain, with our allies, and not giving them unrestricted passage through. If we control the chain, mines can be a huge factor in restricting passage. And if we lose part of it and want to take it back, we will need mine countermeasures.“Does that sound like justification for an entire Marine Corps and 33+ ship amphib fleet?”Yes. I’ve got 50 amphibs in mind, 60 counting the fire support frigates, enough to haul 10 of my upgraded MEUs.“Sea control requires 24 carriers???? $15B carriers for sea control?”First, they’re not $15B carriers, they’re $4B and $9B carriers, 12 of each. So a 2-carrier TG costs less than one Ford. And they are sea control only until we come up with a strike aircraft with long enough legs to make a difference. Then carriers split the strike responsibility with Tomahawks or whatever we come up with to replace Tomahawks.I’m enjoying this, but I’d like for you to show some of your cards. How do you plan for this to go?
The costs for the Burkes and FFFG(X) appear to be per unit production costs. But, does the $9 billion per Zumwalt include R & D money? Last I knew the Zumwalt's per unit production cost were about $5 billion each, still an obscene amount of money.
Yes, the Zumwalt cost includes the R&D money since, you know, we actually spent it on the Zumwalt. Each Zumwalt cost us $9B.Too many people want to ignore developmental costs and that's just delusional. If you spend a dollar on development of something, that's part of the total cost.
ComNavOps,You've certainly given me a lot to think about. It will take me a while to respond to all of it.But I want to kind of set the stage for a bit of it. I'm not really thinking of a mano a mano peer war with China. Obviously, if it comes to that, we have to be ready to fight it. But I'm thinking more along the lines of a geopolitical solution.We basically bribed up an alliance to win WWII. We'll give you access to our markets, and our navy will protect your supply lines, and in return you have to be on our side against the USSR. That was basically a containment policy, and we succeeded in containing them until their economy couldn't keep up.I think we can do something similar against China. I've run through my British Commonwealth scenario before. If we get India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia onboard, we can give the Chinese oil supply chain fits. Not so much because they have huge fleets, but because of location, location, location. If China has to start escorting oil tanker convoys from the Gulf, that pretty much uses up what Navy they have. I don't think it will get that far, but it's a threat that they are going to have to deal with. There's going to be a lot of pressure to move US business interests out of China in the wake of CV-19. A big hunk of that will come home, but a big hunk needs cheap labor to be economically viable, and countries that share a common language (at least nominally) and a common legal system (English common law) that respects intellectual property rights would be excellent locations to move that stuff. If we get Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to come along, then we can basically cut off their oil if they start a fight. How do we do that? Same as we did in the Cold War. We'll give you access into our markets, we'll commit to back you in any scuffle with China, and in return you agree to back us. One thing we are going to have to do to sell this is to maintain a pretty significant WestPac presence, kind of like we did with 6th Fleet during the Cold War. That's one reason why I am keeping PhibRons. If China sends an LPD out toward any of its neighbors, we need to be able to send a Phibron as a show of force. China can buy friendship by building infrastructure. So can we. But China doesn't have anything like the US consumer market to offer.So I think we can make a containment strategy work if we get the geopolitics right, just like we did after WWII. One thing that I do think is that in order to make this work, we have to get out of all the winless wars that we are fighting in the Mideast. The money we are spending there could buy us a ton of friendship and alliances that make more sense against China. Heck, if we pulled out now, the biggest loss would be China, because we are defending their oil supply.
" I think we can make a containment strategy work if we get the geopolitics right"There's one huge, gaping, yawning hole in your concept and that is that your containment strategy only works IF THERE'S A WAR! At the moment, China is expanding beyond your containment boundaries without firing a shot! They've basically annexed the E/S China Seas and are currently laying the groundwork to annex the surrounding countries of Vietnam (forcefully), Thailand (cooperatively), Philippines (willingly), Malaysia (passively), and so on. China has made public claims on the territories of Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, etc. and have begun hinting that the second island chain is also theirs by historical right. The point is that China is going to expand well beyond your containment strategy before you ever have a chance to implement it!Your containment strategy also seems to count inordinately on cutting off China's oil supply. You might want to investigate the sources of China's oil. In addition to significant domestic oil production, China has implemented multiple pipelines from Russia. In a war, China could become nearly oil independent with a little careful rationing (the burden of which would be borne by the common people who don't matter in the Chinese scheme). So, before you bet your entire strategy on oil strangulation, you might want to check China's oil sourcing.
Absolutely they have. While we are messing around with unwindable wars in the Mideast, and effectively securing China's oil supply in the process. That's why I said we have to get out of those ASAP.Are we going to do that? Looks like not. And then we will be in the scenario you describe. China hasn't done anything to date that we can't reverse. But we better get doing it or it will be too late.I think we need to contain them at the first island chain. And we had better have a presence inside the China Sea to make that effective. Can we do it? Yes. Will we do it? Who knows?As far as China's oil supply, it imports roughly 75%, per https://www.forbes.com/sites/judeclemente/2019/10/17/china-is-the-worlds-largest-oil--gas-importer/#553ec40b5441, and domestic product is declining. As for imports the sources for 2019 appear to be as follows, per http://www.worldstopexports.com/top-15-crude-oil-suppliers-to-china/Below are the top 15 countries that supplied 90.1% of the crude oil imported into China during 2019.Saudi Arabia: US$40.1 billion (16.8%)Russia: $36.5 billion (15.3%)Iraq: $23.7 billion (9.9%)Angola: $22.7 billion (9.5%)Brazil: $18.5 billion (7.8%)Oman: $16.4 billion (6.9%)Kuwait: $10.8 billion (4.5%)United Arab Emirates: $7.3 billion (3.1%)Iran: $7.1 billion (3%)United Kingdom: $6.3 (2.7%)Congo: $5.54 billion (2.3%)Malaysia: $5.5 billion (2.3%)Colombia: $5.4 billion (2.3%)Libya: $4.8 billion (2%)Venezuela: $4.4 billion (1.9%)So roughly 60% of their imports come form the Mideast and Africa, 15% from Russia, 12% from South America, and the rest from wherever. So 60% of 75% is roughly 45% of total consumption. I'd call that pretty significant dependence on Mideast oil. All but the Russia oil has to come by sea.
One note, Russian oil historically came by one pipeline. They completed a second pipeline, late last year IIRC. So the Russian share could double. That would still leave them relying on the sea for roughly 50% of their total oil consumption.
Numbers I've found as of 2016 show domestic oil production of 5M barrels per day and consumption of 12M BPD. The Russian pipeline produces around 1.6M BPD and my understanding is that a second line will double that. That would provide 8.2M BPD of the 12M BPD they consume. With a little wartime rationing, that's approaching oil independence and is certainly enough to stave off any oil strangulation for many, many years. Containment with oil as the key component does not seem like it can work.
Their economy is growing rapidly, and with it consumption. They were at 13.5 mmB/d in 2018 and 15 mmB/d in 2019. With the CV-19 slowdown, they're back to about 12 mmB/d but that's probably about as low as they can go.Their domestic production is also declining, per the Forbes article and per Wikipedia. They were just under 4 mmB/d in 2019. So the gap is a little bigger than the 2016 numbers would suggest.7.2 mmB/d with 15 mmB/d consumption leaves them getting a bit over 50% by sea. At 12 mmB/d consumption, that's still 4.8 or 40% coming by sea.
"Their economy is growing rapidly,"There's necessary oil consumption such as producing power or fueling the military and then there's 'discretionary' oil consumption such as recreational travel, entertainment, and comforts. During war, the discretionary oil consumption would be all but eliminated. The question is what fraction of the total does the discretionary represent. Given that that just a decade or two ago China was nearly energy independent that suggests that much of the growth in oil consumption has been discretionary and could be pared back. Again, I see nothing to indicate that an oil blockade would produce and significant effect during a war.
Rapid economic growth requires rapid increases in necessary oil consumption. I doubt there was ever much recreational travel, entertainment, or comfort going on in a communist regime. You didn't pack the kids in the car and go for a week to the beach or to the mountains. To the extent there was, I think that was pretty heavily curtailed, and probably also some production that would be essential to maintaining a war, in response to CV-19. So I would tend to believe that the rollback from 15 mmB/d to 12 mmB/d is a pretty reasonable estimate of what might happen in wartime. That still leaves a heavy dependency. There is actually reason to believe that their first wartime target would be Siberia, the Tom Clancy scenario, to get control of 100% of the production there.Their domestic production is also falling. One of the reasons that they are so interested in the South China Sea is that there are expectation that it may contain huge oil and gas reserves, and they really don't have many great domestic production opportunities. Unless and until they get something going in the South China Sea, my guess is that they are going to remain around 50% or more dependent on oil that has to come in by sea. That means it has to come in through the first island chain somewhere. And that makes them vulnerable. Keep in mind that if we truly controlled the first island chain, we could threaten not only their imports but also the exports upon which their economy depends. But like the mice who wanted to hang the bell around the cat's neck, first you have to do it. And that's the opportunity that we are seeing slip away. Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and to a lesser extent Thailand all have significant discomfort over China's actions to control the entire South China Sea. An ally who could and would help them push back, and whose economy could also be a buyer for whatever their economies could produce, would be valuable to them Right now, that's not us. It could be.So I guess what my goal with China would be is to gain control of the first island chain, diplomatically but with a military backup to help retain control, and thereby corral China until their economy ultimately collapses, which it must because it is built largely on a house of cards--shoddy production of cheap export goods, and using the proceeds from those exports to issue way overextended credit to initiate make-work projects with little economic vitality (remember the empty cities) just to keep people too occupied to revolt, all the while hugely dependent on an oil supply chain that they cannot protect. It's a house of cards built on a Ponzi scheme. Pull one card at the economy craters and they have mass starvation.It's Russia all over again. All we need is a Truman or Reagan (trying to be even-handed politically) to step up to the plate and lead what needs to be done. My ideal strategy is like with Russia, we never fire a shot but we hold them in place and put pressure on their economy until it all comes crashing down. Containment won't win a war, but it could prevent one and win the peace. It has once, famously, and can do it again. But the way we are doing it won't get it done.
CommNavOps related kinda related Fremm is the FFGX winner
Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.