Thursday, September 30, 2021

Large Scale Exercise 2021

The Navy recently conducted what they labeled as Large Scale Exercise 2021 (LSE) that supposedly involved massive numbers of ships, aircraft, and personnel spanning the globe.  Wow!  This sounds like the pre-WWII Fleet Problems.  Could it be that the Navy is finally conducting massive, realistic, useful training?!


LSE 2021 will include approximately 36 live ships underway ranging from aircraft carriers to submarines, over 50 virtual units and an unlimited array of constructive units in addition to the Sailors, Marines, Government civilian and contract employees assigned to command and training staffs providing support to the exercise. Participating units will span 17 time zones to include six naval and Marine Corps component commands, five U.S. numbered Fleets and three Marine Expeditionary Forces.(7)


Oh, oh … ‘span 17 time zones to include six naval and Marine Corps component commands, five U.S. numbered Fleets and three Marine Expeditionary Forces’.  That sounds suspiciously like the description of the F-35 program where the main purpose was involve as many states as possible to ensure Congressional funding.  This exercise description sounds like someone is trying to impress with statistics rather than actual, useful training.  I have a bad feeling about this … but, let’s continue and keep our fingers crossed.


What’s the purpose of the exercise?  According to the Navy, LSE is,


… designed to refine how we synchronize maritime operations across multiple Fleets, in support of the joint force.  (6)


Oh, no …  Could that be any more of a meaningless buzzword vomit?  I’ve got a bad feeling about this.


Let’s take a closer look.





The LSE is, presumably, supposed to mimic the Fleet Problems of the pre-WWII era.  Those exercises, as you’ll recall, were massive live exercises with entire fleets going at each other.  They were the closest thing possible to actual combat and, in at least one case, involved dropping sacks of flour on battleships at Pearl Harbor to simulate bombs!  So, what does the Navy envision for its LSE?  From a US Navy press release about LSE 2021,


LSE 2021 is a Chief of Naval Operations-directed live, virtual, and constructive, globally integrated exercise that spans multiple fleets.  LSE 2021 is designed to refine how we synchronize maritime operations across multiple fleets in support of the joint force. The training is based on a progression of fleet battle problems and scenarios that will assess and refine modern warfare concepts, including distributed maritime operations, expeditionary advanced base operations, and littoral operations in a contested environment. (1)

Yep, that’s some outstanding buzzword bingo that says nothing.


We also note that the exercise is not like the actual, physical, real Fleet Problems of the pre-WWII era.  Instead, it is a combination of live, virtual, and constructive (computer generated?) units.  In fact, it appears that most of it is virtual and simulated.  You noted the reference to ‘over 50 virtual units and an unlimited array of constructive units’?  I’m not quite sure what the difference between a virtual unit and a constructive unit is but it’s clear that the vast majority of the ‘participating’ units were not real.



Data Over Firepower


More cringeworthy noteworthy is the following,

“We have shifted focus from the individual Carrier Strike Group to a larger fleet-centric approach, challenging fleet commanders' abilities to make decisions at a speed and accuracy that outpaces the adversaries,” said Adm. Christopher W. Grady, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “LSE is more than just training; it is leveraging the integrated fighting power of multiple naval forces to share sensors, weapons, and platforms across all domains in contested environments, globally.” (1)


We see again, the shift from firepower (carrier groups) to information:  ‘commanders' abilities to make decisions at a speed and accuracy that outpaces the adversaries’.  We’re going to think circles around our enemies and defeat them with information, not firepower.  Of course, our intel and decision making speed and accuracy couldn’t even execute a simple drone strike in Afghanistan but we’ll defeat China with our decision making speed and accuracy.  Riiiiight …





Here’s some delusion to go along with everything else:


“LSE will test our commanders' abilities to deliver coordinated effects, from all directions, any time or all the time.  It will help us build the necessary muscle memory to do this routinely at the operational to strategic levels of war,” said Adm. Robert P. Burke, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe. (1) [emphasis added]


For anyone who’s not familiar with the phrase, ‘muscle memory’ is what athletes use to perform tasks such as shooting a basketball.  The concept is that one performs the task thousands upon thousands of times so that the muscles become locked in to the position and movement required to successfully perform the task routinely.  The key is that it requires tens of thousands of repetitions to lock in the muscle memory.


So, looking at the analogy, LSE is a triennial exercise – once every three years.  How is an event that occurs once every three years developing any kind of mental muscle memory?  Do these people actually believe the delusional things they’re saying?  Mental muscle memory comes from doing a task on a daily basis.  That’s why athletes practice every day rather than once every few years!



Piecemeal Exercise


One aspect that stood out about the exercise was its piecemeal nature.  The LSE, unlike the Fleet Problems, had individual units operating in an unrelated fashion and scattered around the world.  For example,


-Marines in Hawaii exercised some aspect of expeditionary advanced base operations (EABO) by deploying small units to Oahu and Kauai. 


One unit loaded up rucksacks with supplies, weapons and needed surveillance equipment and marched across Oahu.  The second was transported to an Oahu shoreline via amphibious hovercraft.  The third unit, flown to Kauai, experimented with an intelligence-gathering system called Network on the Move-Airborne, which provides data in real time collected by the entire joint force. (2)


-A 50 person group from 2nd Fleet staff operated an expeditionary Maritime Operation Center (MOC) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia.(3)


-The Aegis cruiser, San Jacinto, idled pierside in Norfolk while undergoing a maintenance availability, participated by simulating AAW actions.(4)


-The exercise involves some 25 ships both in port and underway.  The Navy has not provided information on the number of ships in port versus at sea during the exercise.(5)


-A simulated carrier strike group ‘operated’ off Norway.(5)


-F-18 simulators provided some of the ‘aircraft’.(5)






I’m sorry but there is simply no substitute for real units performing real actions – just ask the highly trained CIC watchstanders aboard the Vincennes in 1988 who found that training and simulations did not match reality.  Or, ask the highly trained watchstanders aboard the Burkes who collided with merchant ships.


There’s nothing wrong with virtual exercises, per se, unless they take the place of real exercises which this does.  The annual Fleet Problems have been replaced by largely virtual exercises.


The exercise was highly disjointed and, for most units, involved nothing more than a small, isolated exercise.

This exercise accomplished little or nothing.


Unfortunately, like most of what the Navy spews forth, the claims about the recent Large Scale Exercise 2021 (LSE) are full of exaggerations, spin, and outright lies. 



















Monday, September 27, 2021

The Future Carrier Air Wing

The Navy is only marginally interested in the F-35 and, to their credit, they have never really gotten on board with that aircraft.  All indications are that they have been forced to accept the ones they’re purchasing.  Current plans call for only one squadron of F-35 aircraft per air wing.  It appears that the Navy is viewing the F-35 as a stopgap while they await the next generation fighter.  If true, this is a rare case of wisdom being demonstrated by the Navy.


ComNavOps has repeatedly stated that the primary mission of the carrier, today, is to escort Tomahawk shooters and Air Force bombers and to establish localized air superiority in support of other operations (see, “Aircraft Carrier – What Future?”).  Thus, the main function of the air wing is aerial combat and the main asset should be a very long range air superiority fighter. 


Long range strike is no longer a carrier mission because it can be better performed by cruise missiles.  Of course, this calls for a stealthy, supersonic, Tomahawk replacement but that’s another topic.  Carrier strike should be limited to short range, lower threat scenarios.


So, with that understanding of what the carrier’s proper role is, we can now begin to visualize the proper, future air wing as shown in the table below.




No. of Squadrons

Squadron Size

Total Aircraft

























Total Air Wing =





The air wing is heavy on fighters since that is its role.  The strike aircraft are there for those occasions when a small, low threat strike opportunity arises.  Of course, the air wing composition could be adjusted, as needed, to fit the mission, and would likely consist of all fighters (72) most of the time.  Thus, a proper carrier group of four carriers could muster a fighter complement of 240-288 aircraft which compares favorably to WWII assemblies and is a vast improvement over today’s air wings of 40 or less semi-fighters for a 4-carrier group strength of around 140 semi-fighters.


It is also noteworthy that the proposed air wing has no helos.  The only use for a helo on a carrier is for the very rare search and rescue (SAR) of a downed pilot and SAR helos can come from the escort ships or a dedicated ASW/helo carrier (more on that below).


As noted, the WWII air wing of 90+ combat aircraft dwarfs today’s air wings of 40 or less combat aircraft and even surpasses the proposed air wing of 72 combat aircraft that we just discussed.  One of the problems is that the number of non-combat aircraft has increased from zero in WWII to near half the air wing, today.  Of course, when I say non-combat I mean non-direct combat.  Electronic warfare, AEW, and the like are vital supporters and enablers of the combat aircraft but the fact is that they take up precious space on the carrier.  What can be done about this?


Beefing up the air superiority numbers on a carrier cries out for transferring some of the non-combat aircraft to a dedicated ASW/helo carrier.  This would be a smaller carrier dedicated to ASW and helo operations.  This carrier would accompany the fleet carriers or any group that needed additional, intensive, ASW support.  It could also form the basis of an ASW hunter-killer group.


There you have it.  The future air wing composition is easily seen, as is the design of the future fighter.  It remains simply to build them (see, “How To Build A Better Aircraft”).

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Constellation Mk 110 57 mm Gun

One of the [many!] weaknesses of the LCS is that the Mk110 57 mm gun is not radar controlled but is, instead, optically (EO) controlled.  The gun has not performed well in testing to date.  Surprisingly, it appears that the new Constellation class is repeating this EO controlled 57 mm gun system.  From the Department of Defense, Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, May 2021, Navy Justification Book, Volume 1 of 1 Shipbuilding and Conversion, (1)


The MK 48 MOD 2 Gun Weapon System (GWS) is fully integrated with MK 160 MOD 18 Gun Computer System w/ MK 20 MOD 1 Electro Optical Sight System and MK 110 MOD 0 57mm gun.  The MK 160 Gun Fire Control System (GFCS) is the standard USN gun fire control system; the MK 20 Electro-Optical Sensor System (EOSS) is the standard gun optical sight used for gun engagements; and the MK 110 is an automated 57mm gun system used for surface and air engagements of hostile targets. (1) [emphasis added]


This statement is not quite 100% conclusive but , presumably, if there was a radar control component it would have been mentioned so it appears that the Constellation’s 57 mm gun control will be strictly optical and will likely repeat some of the LCS fire control and accuracy problems as described in the various annual DOT&E reports.


If correct, this is troubling and baffling.


Mk 110 57 mm Gun




Monday, September 20, 2021

MCM – Speed is Everything

The LCS mine clearance capability was a very marginal capability from day one, even if it had worked perfectly.  The fundamental, inherent, problem was – and still is – that the MCM module simply could not clear mines efficiently or quickly and in combat mine clearance, speed is everything.  An amphibious assault that has to stand offshore for days or weeks while mines are slowly cleared is a disaster.  A carrier group that is forced to drift in one spot for days while a navigational chokepoint is cleared of mines is a disaster.


As an example, the WWII Normandy D-Day landing accomplished its mine clearance ‘in stride’ as the invasion fleet crossed the channel.  There was no delay and there was no pre-sweeping to give away the element of surprise.  The mine clearance was an ‘instantaneous’ event that occurred as the assault began.


So, what do we know about LCS mine clearance?


From LT Roxanne Sumanga (MCM Naval Mine Warfare school) commenting at the Surface Navy Association (SNA 2021) Virtual Symposium held in mid-January 2021,


“The time piece is a little bit more tricky.  So generally as MCM Officers, we’re always working against time.  So regardless of platform, regardless of systems, we can always finish faster. The question is how much risk are you willing to inter?  [Example] So we can take a channel [and] clear it in 10 days, [and do it] by 7 [days].  Are you willing to sail through a channel with 40% risk?  So the time piece is relative.

Compare the LCS to the MCM Avengers. If the Avenger acquires a mine via sonar, it can do a run to detonate the mine.  With an LCS using unmanned systems, the LCS sends out the drone, gathers the data, analyzes it, and if questionable, sends out the drone again, do a different pattern to gather more data and then analyzes it again, and then send out a system to neutralize the mine.  So, for an Avenger that can detect and destroy a mine in four hours, it might take the LCS an entire day and that is because the LCS cannot do a single sortie to detect and engage and relies on unmanned systems.” (1)

Let’s repeat … Combat clearance is all about speed.


Speed can be achieved via individual speed from a single platform, cumulative speed by using a lot of platforms, or a combination of both.  The worst situation would be what the Navy currently has which is neither individual platform speed nor numbers of platforms.


The Navy currently has 8 active Avenger class MCM.  There are no LCS with functional MCM modules and only 6 LCS – 3 on each coast – are designated as future deployable MCM vessels.  The Navy has discussed various MCM module procurement plans but it is unclear where any additional modules beyond the designated 6 would go.  Regardless, it leaves the MCM numbers woefully short of any useful speed and capacity.


In previous posts and comments, I’ve analyzed the LCS clearance process and estimated the LCS can clear one mine per hour.  Based on Lt. Sumanga’s comment, that estimate may be wildly optimistic.


In combat mine clearance, speed is everything and we have nothing.






(1)Naval News website, “Update on the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Program”, Peter Ong, 4-Feb-2021,

Friday, September 17, 2021

Total Information Dominance Tragedy

Total Information Dominance … and we killed innocents.


According to Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., Head of the United States Central Command,


"We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to US forces," McKenzie said of the airstrike at a briefing, following an investigation by the Military.


"This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology," Mckenzie said, adding that he is "fully responsible for this strike and this tragic outcome." (1)


Total information dominance and we can’t identify a legitimate target for a simple drone strike … but we’re basing our entire military future on exactly this kind of unreliable information warfare.  This incident encapsulates everything wrong with the path the military is on.


This is the system we want to base our future military on?  If we can’t get this right with total information dominance what chance do we have of beating China with ‘information’?

The administration was desperate for a public relations ‘victory’ in the Afghanistan debacle and murdered  innocents trying to get it. 


If McKenzie truly takes full responsibility, he should resign in disgrace and then be recalled to active duty to face a court-martial.  Not because an innocent was killed in a war zone but because he went along with what he had to have known was a PR motivated, unjustified, rush to action.


This is reprehensible and disgusting.




(1)Fox News website, “General says it is unlikely ISIS-K members killed in August Kabul drone strike: 'A tragic mistake'”, Kyle Morris, 17-Sep-2021,

UAV Carrier

We’ve frequently noted the need for a UAV carrier (see, for example, the fictional snippet, “Piece It Together”, for a description of a UAV carrier involved in an amphibious assault).  What might such a carrier look like and how would it operate?  Let’s speculate.



Conceptual Foundation


Here’s the major foundational assumptions underlying a UAV carrier concept:


Small UAVs - The key concept in a UAV Concept of Operations (CONOPS) is that the UAVs are not the large Predator type UAVs that would be utterly non-survivable over a modern battlefield but would, instead, be small, cheap, expendable, limited functionality UAVs somewhere in the ballpark of a slightly enhanced RQ-21 Blackjack UAV (see, “RQ-21 Blackjack”).

RQ-21 Blackjack

 Swarms - Critically important is the concept that UAVs would be deployed in swarms rather than singly.  Thus, a UAV carrier needs the ability to launch swarms of UAVs simultaneously.


Numbers - These small UAVs will suffer significant attrition in battle so a UAV carrier needs to carry lots of UAVs – around 500 would be a good amount.


Control - Since we don’t have ‘Terminator’ level artificial intelligence yet – nor are we likely to in the foreseeable future – we will need lots of aircraft controller stations on the carrier.  Most UAVs won’t require hands on, continuous, remote piloting but all will require the ability to be controlled via waypoints and basic flight and operational instructions with occasional hands-on remote piloting.


Communications - In addition to sending instructions to UAVs, receiving return communications will be important.  Swarms of UAVs will be sending brief bursts of data back to the carrier so the carrier needs a robust, two-way, UAV communications suite.


Data Assembly - The UAV data will be fragmentary, at best, so the carrier needs the ability to assemble comprehensive ‘pictures’ out of lots of individual data points.  This dictates a large data synthesis center.





Now that we understand the foundational requirements for a UAV carrier, what does the preceding suggest about the look and design of a UAV carrier?  Well, for one thing, it won’t look much like a ‘normal’ carrier as we think of it, today.


Launch – The carrier will launch UAVs from small catapults.  Thus, long runs of clear open deck, as with a conventional carrier, will not be required.  The small catapults (again, see the RQ-21 Blackjack for an idea of what these catapults might resemble) will line the sides of the deck, facing out.  Around 30 catapults ought to be sufficient to launch swarms of UAVs in a reasonable time frame.


Recovery – Recovery of small UAVs does not require traditional arresting gear and long, open, landing areas.  Instead, a short 50 foot long x 30 foot wide section of deck with a net at the forward end will suffice to catch returning UAVs which would be manually disentangled and removed from the landing area. 


Hangar – The ‘hangar’ would not be a hangar in the traditional sense.  While UAVs would be brought below for repair and maintenance work, that work would occur in small workshops.  The ‘hangar’ area, instead of being an open aircraft work space, would be a UAV storage area with UAVs stored in racks with enough space between the racks to allow equipment to raise/lower the UAVs and move them to elevators as needed.  Alternatively, the ‘hangar’ could simply be a superstructure on the same level as the flight deck so that UAVs could be moved straight to the launch catapults rather than requiring elevators.


Dimensions – Carrier size would be something on the order of 250-300 feet long, depending on the UAV storage requirements.  Something like a small cargo ship ought to serve as the design basis with the modification of some open deck space as described above.





Looking slightly further into the future, a true UAV carrier would also include underwater unmanned vehicle (UUV) launch and recovery capability, as well.  UUV launches would involve underwater torpedo tube type systems and recovery would be via a small well ‘tunnel’.





A UAV carrier would be very small relative to a real carrier, likely based on a fast cargo ship design, and would be intended to provide situational awareness for a group through the use of UAV sensor swarms with the swarm making up for the lack of sensor capability in the individual UAVs.


The exact design details would, as always, depend on the specific Concept of Operations (CONOPS).  Though not quite spelled out, here, the CONOPS would likely emphasize operations with amphibious groups and non-carrier surface groups since a carrier’s aircraft would be able to provide all the needed sensor capability for the group. 


This concept could, and should, be prototyped using an available small cargo ship with some simple modifications.  Let’s see what kind of situational awareness we can generate from a small swarm of UAVs.  Let’s see if we can assemble a comprehensive picture from lots of individual data points.  Let’s see if we can launch, control, and recover a swarm.  Let’s see how detectable a swarm of small UAVs is.  Let’s see if they can survive long enough to accomplish the mission.  Let’s see what this concept can do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

So Much Wrong Here

There’s an article on the Defense News website that manages to unintentionally reveal so much that is wrong with the Navy and how they continue to go ever further off the tracks.  Ostensibly, the article is a celebration of the USS Carl Vinson’s current deployment and its triumphant initial use of the F-35C in the air wing.  Let’s take a look at the following issues that the article touches on in what the Navy and the author think are positive, glowing terms and yet we’ll see that they’re actually indictments of failure.



Air Wing Size


The Navy is trumpeting an increase in the air wing size.  If that were true, it would be a good thing considering that the air wings have shrunk from 90+ aircraft to the current, anemic, 65 or so with only around 44 combat aircraft.


“We’ve increased the numbers of aircraft: we’re going to sail with seven EA-18G Growlers [compared to the usual five], 10 F-35s, we’re going to sail with five E-2D Hawkeyes [compared to the usual four],” he said from a call aboard flagship Carl Vinson. “We’re bringing more capability, we’re bringing more quantity, and we figured out just through training and analyzation [sic] of our tactics and techniques and procedures that this is the right amount: this is the right amount of air crew, the right amount of airframes.” (1)


With 67 planes in the air wing and three CMV-22s coming and going from their shore-based hubs, the ship needed to clear out more space on the deck and in the hangar. (1)


So, according to Martin (Rear Adm. Dan Martin, the commander of the Vinson strike group),


“… we figured out just through training and analyzation [sic] of our tactics and techniques and procedures that this is the right amount: this is the right amount of air crew, the right amount of airframes.”


So, let me get this straight, an increase of 3 aircraft (2 Growlers and 1 E-2) plus a decrease of 2 (decrease in squadron size from 12 Hornets to 10 F-35) for a net gain of 1 aircraft, constitutes a larger air wing?  One additional aircraft is a larger air wing?


Does a carrier even have room for an air wing with one extra aircraft?


According to Capt. P. Scott Miller, Vinson’s commanding officer,


“… the behind-the-scenes increase in the number of EA-18G Growlers, two more of those, and one more E-2 has really been what’s filled up the inside and the topside of the ship.” (1)


So, one extra aircraft ‘filled up the inside and the topside of the ship’ ?????


Do these guys even hear themselves speaking?  They must not or they’d surely stop out of abject embarrassment.


So, the claim of a larger air wing is false.



Massive Escort


The Vinson group was massively increased by increasing the number of escorts.  Again, if true, this is a great thing as we’ve pointed out in previous posts that in actual combat we’ll need 25-30 escorts.


Additionally, he said, the strike group went through its final pre-deployment training and certification event with a massive destroyer squadron of eight ships. Only six deployed from San Diego with the carrier, and some will peel off along the way for homeport changes to Japan or will proceed straight to the Middle East ahead of the carrier. (1)


Ah … 8 escorts is not exactly a ‘massive destroyer squadron’ and then we see that the Vinson didn’t actually deploy with 8 destroyers but, as it turns out, less than 6 … like 2.(2) 


So, the claim of a massive escort is false.



The Reality of War


Well, at least the Navy claims that they’re finally getting serious about war.


… the certification exercise with the advanced carrier air wing and the plussed-up [sic] destroyer squadron let the strike group conduct complex operations Martin said were tougher than anything he’d expect to see against a real-world adversary. (1)


Really?????  A pre-deployment, check-box, scripted, work up exercise was ‘tougher than anything he’d expect to see against a real-world adversary’ ?!  The good RAdm. Martin seems to think China is going to be easier to face than a canned exercise?  He has absolutely no grasp of the reality of war.  This is symptomatic of our Navy from top to bottom.  No one has any concept of the reality of war.  This is why we don’t train for war in any realistic way.


So, the claim of training for real world combat is false.



EA-18G Growlers


Effective electronic warfare (EW) is a force multiplier that is potentially even more effective than stealth.  The Russians have clearly and forcefully demonstrated the value of EW on the battlefield.  Here’s a statement from the Navy about EA-18G Growlers in the air wing.


“Our EA-18G Growlers are kind of our cornerstone non-kinetic airborne electronic attack for the air wing. We get a couple extra ones with the air wing, which gives us a little more capacity to be able to spread that capability across,” Locke [Capt. Tommy Locke] said. (1)


Well good for the Navy to recognize the importance of EW aircraft.  The problem is that we need more … lots more!  The air wings need around a dozen Growlers and new doctrine and tactics to maximize their effectiveness.



Crew Comforts


According to Capt. P. Scott Miller, Vinson’s commanding officer,


And to prepare for that [the one extra aircraft], we’ve paid particular attention to what other support equipment we have on board, and we’ve slimmed down or leaned down the things that we would have on board that are a bit for crew comfort. If you were on an aircraft carrier five, seven years ago, you’d see a lot of treadmills and exercise equipment kind of littering the edges of the space.”


“Those are all gone now; we’re to mission-essential items only as we learn how to operate with this higher operational density,” Miller continued. (1)


So, the Navy is in the midst of an eye-opening revelation that crew comforts were overdone and only mission-essential items should be on board?  We knew this once and it is a sad commentary on Navy leadership over the years that we’ve forgotten it and are now having to relearn it.  Combat is an unforgiving enterprise and some sailors paid with their lives to have crew comforts on the Burkes that were involved in the fatal collisions.  I’ve harped on this and now the Navy seems to be getting on board, as well.  I hope this trend continues and spills over into new ship design and the Navy begins eliminating crew comforts and recognizes them for the potentially lethal extravagances that they are.  The Navy used the right term: ‘mission-essential’.  Now practice what you preach, Navy.





This is a stunning commentary on the complete lack of historical understanding of how a Navy fights a war.


Even if the V-22 is operating as a logistics aircraft in the carrier strike group rather than a warfighting aircraft, Miller said its inclusion in the carrier strike group is making everyone safer.


“I would say as an air wing, to include the carrier onboard delivery, we were able to more confidently operate tactically and safely at a further distance from land than I’ve seen in my career,” said Miller, a career pilot. “If we get to choose where we want to operate from, that gives us a significant tactical advantage in whatever environment we might find ourselves in.”


He noted that, while the carrier wants to operate farther from enemy shores and outside the range of enemy missiles, the carrier strike group can only operate in areas where it can sustain itself. The longer legs on the V-22 “allow us to operate at those ranges that I hadn’t seen before.” (1)


Is this CO really saying that he’s uncomfortable operating out of reach of land?  Here’s the salient comment: ‘able to more confidently operate tactically and safely at a further distance from land than I’ve seen in my career’.  Is he really concerned about safety if he’s out of reach of a land based aircraft?  Does the CO of a carrier not know that the Navy is supposed to operate out of reach of land, in the middle of the ocean?  Does the CO of a carrier not know that the middle of the ocean is the safest place to be as regards enemy actions?  Is this really the farthest from land he’s ever operated?  If so, what a tragic commentary that is about naval operations, his career, and the selection criteria for CO of a carrier.


This is also a disappointing commentary on the state of Navy sustainment at sea and logistics/UNREP ship support.





The referenced article was a stunning admission of failure by the Navy in so many ways.  It is painfully obvious that the Navy has forgotten how to operate as a combat naval force.  The Navy’s decades of timid, zero-defect, cost cutting actions have left us with today’s hollow force that is scared to get too far from land.






(1)Defense News website, “Carl Vinson strike group using first deployment with F-35C, beefed-up air wing to hone advanced operations”, Megan Eckstein, 10-Aug-2021,



Monday, September 13, 2021

LPD-25 Delivery Deficiencies

The San Antonio (LPD-17) amphibious assault ship class has been in production since the lead ship began construction in 2000.  Now, 21 years later, the bugs ought to have been long ago worked out and the manufacturer, Huntington Ingalls (HII) ought to be delivering polished, problem-free ships on a regular basis, right?  Well, here’s what an Oct 2020 Defense News website article noted from a GAO report about LPD-25, commissioned in 2014:


For example, the GAO found that 25 of the 58 systems required to be certified for deployment on LPD-25 were incomplete at the time of the ship’s delivery, and 14 were still incomplete when the ship was transferred to the fleet. Multiple systems were found deficient while the ship was in the fleet, including an advanced electronics system that “controls nearly all systems and equipment on the ship,” the GAO found.


“The system has experienced widespread performance failures and the Navy has been unable to repair the ship efficiently, including during the post-delivery period and after the ship was provided to the fleet,” the report found. “As a result, the Navy is in the process of looking at incorporating a new system.” (1)



I don’t know what the ‘advanced electronics system that “controls nearly all systems and equipment on the ship” ‘ is but it must be big and it must be important. 


That the Navy has been unable to repair the system is worrying and is yet another example of the trend of modern systems becoming too complex to operate and maintain and too complex to achieve their anticipated performance.  We’ve seen this with the fleet-wide degradation of Aegis.  Despite this trend, the Navy is continuing to pursue ever more complex systems in violation of both the K.I.S.S. principle and the common sense requirement that combat systems be as rugged, robust, and repairable as possible.


Equally worrisome is that the Navy is ‘looking at incorporating a new system’.  The Navy appears to be giving up on what is clearly a very important system.  This, too, is becoming a trend.  For example, the F-35 ALIS software system has been a debacle of sufficient magnitude that the military has given up on it and is trying to replace it.  Note that I am not arguing against giving up on failed systems but it is troubling that so many systems are advancing so far, only to be abandoned.  We need to identify failed systems much earlier in their development cycle instead of allowing them to become part of what should be mature production systems.  


LPD-25, San Antonio Class

The LPD-25’s problems are not isolated to one unfortunate ship of the class.  The INSURV inspection for USS Portland, LPD-27, noted,


On LPD-27, the Portland, the ship scored lower than any of the previous four ships over the past five years, with deficiencies in main engines, aviation, small boat handling, anchoring, generators and air search radar systems, the report found. (1)


Of course, the Navy doesn’t see any problems.  As Adm. Moore enthusiastically described it, the Portland is an amazing success.


Portland is the 11th San Antonio class Amphibious Transport Dock ship to be presented to the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) for acceptance. Acceptance Trials are conducted with INSURV and are intended to demonstrate a ship's readiness for delivery through a series of dock-side and underway tests and evaluations.

"The USS Portland is a well-designed ship that is going to increase our Navy and Marine Corps warfighting capability for years to come," said Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command. "The material condition of the ship is fantastic, and the success she had during acceptance trials is a true testament to the men and women that built her." (2)

There you have it.  According to the Adm. Moore, LPD-27 is ‘fantastic’ and an unmitigated success.  It would appear that INSURV/NAVSEA didn’t get the memo from Adm. Moore about just how fantastic the Portland is.


Despite endless years of incomplete and damaged ships being delivered to the Navy, the Navy continues to accept these ships and does not require warranties from the shipbuilders.  Why even bother with issuing contracts since the shipbuilders have no intention of meeting the contract requirements and the Navy has no intention of holding them to the contract requirements?  We could save a lot of money by just dropping the charade and simply accepting whatever non-functional crap industry wants to deliver.  It’s what we do now, anyway, but we spend a lot of money negotiating contracts neither side has any intention of fulfilling so let’s stop pretending.






(1)Defense News website, “US Navy inspections of Ingalls-built ships uncovered significant problems, report shows”, David Larter, Oct‎ ‎8‎, ‎2020