Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Open Season

As predicted, it is open season on unmanned vehicles.  The US has set the precedent that unmanned assets are not worth fighting over and that we’ll sit back and allow them to be seized if a strongly worded protest won’t stop the act of piracy/war.  That precedent guarantees open season on unmanned assets.  To whit,


The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy attempted to capture a U.S. Navy unmanned surface vessel that was operating in the Arabian Gulf on Monday and Tuesday, U.S. 5th Fleet said in a statement.


U.S. 5th Fleet spotted IRGCN support ship Shahid Baziar towing the USV around … [1]


A warship is a piece of sovereign US territory and to seize one is to commit an act of war.  I would assume that an unmanned warship also constitutes a piece of sovereign US territory although that is a question I leave to legal experts on international law (here’s an excellent examination of sovereign status of ships).

Iran committed an act of war or, at the very least, an act of piracy.  I fail to understand why we don’t simply sink the Iranian ship.  Doing that every time would put a quick end to such attempts.  Our default position of abject appeasement is how you become a second rate nation.


Iranian Vessel Towing US Unmanned Craft (circled in red)

Apologists and pacifists may claim that it’s not worth going to war over a small unmanned boat (as if Iran is going to declare war on us over a failed act of piracy on their part) but what happens when the Navy starts deploying medium and large unmanned vessels that carry classified sensors and weapons?  Are we going to stand idly by while foreign countries seize them?  Precedent would suggest that’s exactly what we’ll do.  Heck, we did nothing when Iran seized two manned riverine boats and their crews so why would anyone think we’ll do anything about an unmanned vessel, no matter how large it is?


It is embarrassing to witness the level of timidity we’ve sunk to.






[1]USNI News website, “VIDEO: Navy Blocks Iranian Attempt to Steal U.S. Surface Drone in Persian Gulf”, Heather Mongilio, 30-Aug-2022,

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Solomon Islands Issues Moratorium on US Naval Vessels

The recent denial of a scheduled port call by a US Coast Guard vessel (see, "US Denied Solomons Port Call") has now expanded to a blanket moratorium on visits and port calls by US naval vessels.


The US government was notified by the Solomons on Monday of a “moratorium on all naval visits, pending updates in protocol procedures,” … [1]


China signs a security pact with Solomons and suddenly the US is banned from port calls in the Solomons.  It doesn’t take a genius to see the connection. 


Chinese vessels, of course, are permitted by the recently signed security pact between Solomon Islands and China.


China has masterfully achieved a takeover of the Solomons and now calls the shots there.  The Solomon Islands are now a vassal state of China.  China will begin militarizing the islands in short order, no doubt.


China is conquering the Pacific without firing a shot while the US watches.  If the US doesn't start engaging diplomatically, the Marines are going to have to set up their small missile-shooting units along the coast of California!





Sunday, August 28, 2022

Missile Coverage Area

The Marines missile shooting concept involves having small, platoon size units in hidden locations inside enemy territory/waters who will then rain death and destruction down on the hapless Chinese, thereby controlling the Pacific theater and relieving the Navy of the need to deal with the Chinese navy.  Setting aside all the disqualifiers and fantasy aspects of the concept that we’ve talked about at length, have you ever thought about the area that could actually be covered by the kind of missiles the Marines will be using?  The map below shows the coverage area for the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) which is the only viable anti-ship missile available to the Marines, at the moment.  The coverage area is shown as red circles which represent the approximate 100 mile effective range of the missile (200 mile diameter circle).  I’ve shown coverages for several likely locations such as artificial islands in the South China Sea, the Philippines, a Japanese island to the east of Taiwan, and Japan, itself.


Naval Strike Missile ranges for various locations.
Red circles represent 100 mile NSM range radius.



What jumps out is how sparse and limited the coverage is and how irrelevant it would be to the combat actions that we can reasonably anticipate.  There are no locations that would assist in a Taiwan action.  There is little impact on a battle for the South China Sea.  And so on.  I’m at a loss as to what operational benefit this kind of limited coverage would provide.


As I’ve stated repeatedly, a million mile missile is useless if all you have is horizon (12 mile) targeting and, thus far, no one has offered any viable means for the Marines to obtain over-the-horizon targeting.  Thus, the 100 mile radius red circles should actually be shown as 12 mile, horizon radius circles.


The Marine’s missile shooting concept falls apart for many reasons and this lack of range/coverage is just one more aspect that is totally lacking in relevance and viability.

Friday, August 26, 2022

US Denied Solomons Port Call

We recently noted that the Chinese have secured the Solomon Islands as part of their expansion into the Pacific (see, “Chinese Seizure of Solomons Islands”).  Newsmax website reports that a US Coast Guard vessel was denied access to a scheduled port call at Guadalcanal in the Solomons for refueling and reprovisioning.


A U.S. coast guard cutter conducting patrols as part of an international mission to prevent illegal fishing was recently unable to get clearance for a scheduled port call in the Solomon Islands … [1]


Who do you think made that decision:  Solomons or China?  This was China’s way of demonstrating to the US who controls that area of the Pacific … and it’s not the US.


The Coast Guard vessel was forced to divert to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.


Apparently, the Chinese are also excluding the Royal Navy.


… reports that the HMS Spey, also taking part in Operation Island Chief, was also denied a port call in the Solomon Islands.[1]


Solomons appears well on its way to becoming a Chinese vassal state and a forward base for Chinese military operations.


China seized the entire South and East China Seas without firing a shot and appears well on its way to seizing the Pacific.  In addition to having seized the Solomons, in 2019 China re-established an embassy in Kiribati (Tarawa) which severed long-standing ties with Taiwan in favor of China.  Kiribati is the site of a Chinese satellite tracking station which, presumably, has been re-activated.  China is pushing hard to make inroads in Papua New Guinea, offering security, trade arrangements, and military training and aid.  Chinese medical teams have been dispersed throughout the Pacific and China is pursuing trade arrangements with almost every Pacific island nation.  Guam is being slowly isolated and surrounded as we speak.





[1]Newsmax website, “Report: US Coast Guard Ship Denied Port Call in Solomons”, 26-Aug-2022,

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

You Can’t Have It Both Ways

A reader, ‘BM’, recently offered a comment about the Marine’s small, missile-shooting units that sparked some interesting thoughts regarding the logic of the entire concept.[1]


To ever so briefly review the Commandant’s concept, he envisions small units of missile-shooting Marines hidden on islands scattered throughout the enemy’s zone of control and exercising sea control in order to assist the Navy.


The objective is clear, if highly questionable.  However, we’ll set the wisdom of the objective aside and focus on the logic of the execution.


Reader ‘BM’ posed the question, "how is [a Marine missile unit] better than a flotilla of ships sailing around to actively hunt enemy ships?"


I offered the reply that the Commandant's response would be that a flotilla of ships will be quickly spotted by the enemy and attacked whereas his small, missile units will be able to operate undetected. He has basically stated this in so many words.


That lead to recognition of [one of] the gaping logical discontinuities with this concept.  The Commandant believes that ships will be easily spotted.  Indeed, his vision takes the detection of enemy ships as a given – witness the fact that he hasn’t even devoted any thought to what kind of detection and targeting assets will be needed and yet – and this is the discontinuity - he believes that his own ships, the LAWs, will operate undetected, transporting Marines through enemy waters, and flitting back and forth to conduct resupply and relocation.


So, Navy ships would be quickly spotted and the Marines will quickly and easily detect enemy ships for hundreds of miles around (without, apparently, even requiring any special surveillance assets !) and yet the Marine’s own ships, the LAWs, will be able to sail through enemy waters (at 14 kts !) for days at a time, penetrate enemy controlled seas, beach and spend hours/days unloading a large assortment of vehicles, supplies, equipment, gear, and troops, and be able to resupply and transport Marines from island to island in a cat-and-mouse game that the enemy will never detect and never catch on to.


You can't have it both ways. Either ships can be easily spotted, both the enemy’s and our own LAWs, in which case the Commandant’s entire concept falls apart or they can't, in which case the Commandant’s entire concept of spotting enemy ships and attacking them falls apart.  Either way, the concept falls apart due to the logical discontinuity.


LAW - It's either invisible or it's not.  You can't have it both ways.

Frighteningly, this kind of logical discontinuity is the norm in military thinking today.  We’re enthusiastically running down paths that exist only on the basis logical disconnects.  We’re building a force whose foundational principle is that everything we do will work and nothing the enemy does will work.  This is delusion taken to an extreme and it is preventing the development of realistic doctrine and tactics and the creation of a force structure that will actually work..








Monday, August 22, 2022

Forward Base - Tinian

This is part 2 of our look at forward bases in the Pacific.  In the first part (see, “Forward Bases in the Pacific”), we looked at general considerations and issues.  In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the challenges involved in establishing a forward base by looking at the specific example of Tinian.


The Pacific island of Tinian has been cited as an example of a location where the US could establish a forward base for operations against China.  In fact, the island has a commercial airfield that is being expanded for military use.  In addition, the island has been proposed for extensive use as a military training site. 


As a reminder, Tinian is a U.S. territory that is part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).  It is located 1700 miles from Taiwan, 2000 miles or so from the South China Sea, and just 123 miles north of Guam.


Tinian - Circled in Red

Tinian serves as an excellent example of both the potential benefits and the enormous challenges to establishing bases in the Pacific theater as counters to Chinese expansion.  Let’s look at some of the issues related to establishing bases in the Pacific.





Nobody seems to have the slightest doubt that Guam will be a major day-one target for the Chinese and will almost certainly be put out of action, if not totally destroyed.  Having an alternate base(s) is plainly beneficial and will allow us to stay in the fight even if we lose a major base like Guam.  In addition, the more bases we have, the more the Chinese will have to divide their attention and weapons which enhances the chances of survival for each base.


Multiple bases provide flexibility and reduce predictability.  For example, if a naval force can put into any of several bases for replenishment and refueling, it reduces the predictability of the event as opposed to having only one base which the Chinese can then easily ‘stake out’ and wait for the naval force to come to them.


Pacific bases also provide the opportunity to train in the relevant Pacific environment and with a degree of privacy.  The isolated nature of island bases also allows for the possibility of live fire training.


Pacific bases provide strategic and operational benefits by allowing staging from various, widely dispersed locations and expanded air operations and sensor coverage of the surrounding areas.


In short, the benefits of multiple Pacific bases are potentially significant and fairly self-evident.





Now as an example of the challenges in establishing Pacific bases, let’s consider the specifics of the current efforts to establish and enhance Tinian as a base.


Airfield Expansion - Tinian’s commercial airfield is being expanded to accommodate a larger military presence.


Satellite imagery shows major construction at Tinian International Airport that we can say with near certainty is linked directly to plans to expand the facility's ability to act as a divert airfield for the U.S. military in a crisis. More than a decade in the making, the project is intended to provide a vital alternative operating location to the U.S. Air Force's massive Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam, just to the southwest of Tinian, should that base be put out of action for any reason.[2]


A ground-breaking ceremony was held on the island in February of this year to mark the formal start of this work, which will cost approximately $161.8 million and is excepted to be completed by October 2025.[2]


Of course, this is still a minor expansion compared to, say, Guam, and thus cannot serve as a true replacement if Guam were destroyed.


Even after the divert airfield project is complete, Tinian's airfield facilities will pale in comparison to those on Guam. Still, they will give the Air Force, as well as other branches of the U.S. military, a more viable and immediate alternative to Andersen, especially when it comes to supporting larger aircraft, like aerial refueling tankers and cargo planes, should flight operations come to a halt on Guam as a result of enemy action or for any other reason.[2]



Fuel Storage - Hand-in-hand with the airfield expansion is the establishment of a major fuel storage and handling facility.  After all, airfields are of no use without fuel !


The complete divert airfield effort is also set to include the construction of new fuel storage facilities at Tinian's main port on the southern end of the island and a pipeline linking them to the airport … [2]


The fuel pipeline from the port to the airfield will be around 4 miles long which, unfortunately, represents a significant vulnerability in that it is a very long stretch of critical structure that is vulnerable to easy destruction anywhere along the line.  At one end of the spectrum of threats, a single missile hit anywhere along the four mile pipe will put the airfield out of action within a short period.  At the other end of the spectrum a single saboteur could also destroy the pipe with ease.  The lack of base defenses makes any attack a near certain success.



Training – The US envisioned a major expansion of training facilities and opportunities on Tinian.  However, various issues arose which drastically curtailed those plans.


The U.S. military is dramatically scaling back its proposed training plans from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the territory’s governor announced this week.[1]


“The new notional proposal contemplates similar training activities that are already currently conducted on the island of Tinian but with an eye towards training for the future that is significantly less impactful and harmful to the environment and the way of life for the people of Tinian than the 2015 proposal,” the press release said.[1]


The new draft proposal also gets rid of the planned landing ramps on Unai Chulu in Tinian, which environmental officials warned would harm coral reefs, and a planned artillery range on Tinian that would have destroyed historic landmarks from World War II.[1]



Environmental Impact – As we have seen repeatedly with military basing and training efforts in the US, environmental concerns seem to outweigh combat readiness.


When the CNMI Joint Military Training plan was first proposed in 2015, it prompted widespread backlash, including more than 27,000 comments on the draft environmental impact statement, even though the commonwealth is home only to about 50,000 people.[1]


The Environmental Protection Agency warned the plans for Tinian could contaminate the island’s aquifer, and the environmental analysis for the CNMI Joint Military Training plan estimated 200 historic sites on Tinian would be affected.[1]


The proposal prompted a 2016 lawsuit from the Honolulu Earthjustice office in partnership with local organizations.[1]





And, of course, what would a post be without some official military stupidity?  Here’s today’s contribution:


"You want to confuse the enemy about where you actually are," Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall told Aviation Week's Brian Everstine in an interview in March. "So some decoys in other locations will be helpful to do that."[2]


No one is going to be fooled by some decoys – whatever those are.  The enemy will know where we are. 


We’ll be where the resupply ships are sailing to and docking. 

We’ll be where the radar emissions are coming from. 

We’ll be where the non-stop communications are originating. 

We’ll be where the massive numbers of operating aircraft are located. 

We’ll be where the hundreds of moving trucks and support vehicles are operating. 

We’ll be where the hundred/thousands of people running around are. 

We’ll be where the extensive anti-air defenses are.


To believe some decoys in other locations are going to fool the Chinese is delusional.  With satellite, cyber, and human observers, the Chinese will have extensive recordings, photos, and verification about where we’re constructing and emplacing decoys.





There are very few examples (none?) of an isolated, island base successfully defending itself from an attacker.  That being the case, one has to ask whether the advantages are worth the eventual loss of the defending forces.





While the benefits are self-evident, the challenges are substantial.


A major issue is that we need to settle the conflict between environmental concerns and combat readiness.  At the moment, environmental concerns reign supreme, however, this is an unwise balance.  Environmental concerns are important and should be accorded due weight in all non-combat civilian applications but the military represents our national survival and environmental concerns cannot trump national survival.  It does no good to have a clean environment and be conquered.  We need to come to grips with this and establish the legal primacy of combat readiness over environment concerns. 


This is not to say that we totally ignore environmental concerns and run roughshod over the areas we operate and train in but we cannot allow truly vital operations and training to be negated by snail darters (look it up if you don’t get the reference).  The Hawaii fuel leak fiasco is an excellent example.  The major Pacific fuel storage facility in Hawaii is going to be shut down without replacement due to fuel leaks.  This represents a major blow to our operational capability in the Pacific.  China is now scratching that target off their high priority target list without ever having fired a shot !  Of course, the blame for this lies entirely with the military for failing to act in good faith as stewards of the people’s money and trust.  Hopefully, this will serve as a lesson (it won’t;  nothing seems to get through to military leadership) to the US military that it cannot totally ignore environmental concerns.


Any Pacific base that is close enough to China and combat operational areas will, pretty much by definition, be within range of Chinese cruise/ballistic missile strikes.  This mandates robust base defenses which, unfortunately, is the flip side of forcing the Chinese to dilute their offensive efforts.  While the Chinese will be forced to spread their attentions and resources to deal with multiple bases, we, too, will have to spread our attentions and resources to protect those multiple bases.  Are the benefits worth the dilution of resources required to establish and vigorously defend multiple bases?  The answer to that depends on our overall military strategy … which we lack.







[1]Honolulu Civil Beat website, “Northern Mariana Islands Says US Military Agreed To Scale Back Training”, Anita Hofschneider, 1-Apr-2022,,testing%20and%20bombing%20practice%20on%20Farallon%20de%20Medinilla.


[2]The Drive website, “Construction Of Airbase On Tinian Island In Case Guam Gets Knocked Out Has Begun”, Joseph Trevithick, 15-Jun-2022,

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Two Fatal Mistakes

An anonymous reader recently commented that the Navy made two fatal mistakes:  the LCS and the Zumwalt programs.  The reader’s rationale was that the failure of those programs disrupted the Navy’s coherent, future force structure plan and the failure then led to many secondary negative effects and impacts.  The comment offered a fascinating and insightful view of how the Navy came to be in the condition it now is.
As I thought about the reader’s comment, I came up with my own pair of fatal mistakes:  minimal manning and the Burke program.  I know … it’s hard to narrow the Navy’s endless stream of major mistakes down to the two biggest but here’s my rationale.
Minimal Manning – There’s not even any debate about the negative impact of minimal manning (see, “TheOptimal Manning Experiment”).  Even the Navy has now acknowledged that they went too far and that the manning program caused fleet wide maintenance problems, deferred maintenance, and, ultimately, caused the premature retirement of entire ship classes due to maintenance problems that eventually exceeded the Navy’s ability – or desire – to repair.  To put it simply and bluntly, minimal manning devastated the fleet.
Burke Program – I did a post on the enormous negative consequences of the Burke program (see, “Burke – TheAnchor Around the Navy’s Neck”).  To summarize, the Burkes are now an anchor around the Navy’s neck and the perceived ‘safety’ of building more [now obsolete] Burkes has prevented the Navy from developing new classes of more effective ships.  The entire Navy is now slave to an obsolete ship design.  It’s as if the pre-WWII Navy had continued to build more Pennsylvania class battleships instead of moving on to aircraft carriers, Iowas, and Fletchers.

Let’s have some fun with this.  What are the two fatal mistakes the Navy has made that led to the current hollow, shrinking, combat-ineffective navy of today?  There’s not really any wrong answer and, in fact, there’s a whole lot of right answers!  What are your choices for the two fatal mistakes and why?

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Seriously, What’s Going On With The Navy?

The Navy just recently submitted its latest 30 year plan to Congress.[1]  In it, the Navy laid out ship retirements for the next five years (FYDP), as listed below, showing the year and the number of retirements:

















Okay.  We’ve already discussed how retiring dozens of ships (most of them early retirements) while building only half a dozen new ships each year is a bafflingly stupid plan but … there it is.


Now, however, it appears that the 30 year plan barely lasted a month … if it was ever a real plan to begin with.  The Navy has announced that instead of retiring 24 ships, as called for in the 30 year plan, they want to retire 39 ships.


That’s 13% of the entire fleet.  In one year.  With only half a dozen replacements. 


That’s insane.


Just as bad as the reckless retirement program is the utter aimlessness and randomness of Navy planning.  As we recently documented, the Navy has been tossing out random fleet size plans on a seemingly daily basis (see, “Floundering”).  Apparently, they couldn’t follow their most recent 30 year plan for more than a few weeks.  30 year plan?  Try 30 day plan.


I have to ask.  Is the Navy being run by Chinese agents?






[1]“Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal Year 2023”, Table A4-1, p.21-22


[2]USNI News website, “Navy Wants to Decommission 39 Warships in 2023”, Heather Mongilio, 15-Aug-2022,

Monday, August 15, 2022

Forward Bases in the Pacific

One of the common refrains from military observers is that we should be establishing forward bases in the Pacific as a way of dealing with China.  There are, however, a few problems with forward bases that must be addressed and overcome in order for them to be viable options.


We’re going to take a two-part look at the issue of forward bases beginning with a general examination of the concept in this, the first part, and followed by a specific example in the second part.





One of the problems in a discussion of forward bases is that no two people can agree on what constitutes a forward base.  What is the definition of a forward base?  Just as with phrases like ‘sea control’ or ‘littoral’, everyone has their own idea of what a forward base is.  A base one mile ahead of a main base is technically a forward base but that’s obviously not what we’re talking about.  For our discussion purposes, a forward base is defined as a permanent facility of moderate or large size located in enemy controlled – or at least highly contested – waters that serves the purpose of providing support and staging for further operations. 


It is the location in enemy controlled/contested waters that makes it ‘forward’. 


The permanence of the base is what separates a forward base from, say, the Marine’s fantasy of secret platoon size units that temporarily occupy a location and then move on to sow destruction and confusion among the enemy.





As noted, forward bases face a variety of challenges that must be overcome to make them viable.


History - The first obstacle to overcome is history.  History strongly suggests that forward bases almost invariably wind up being lost to the enemy.  The one glaring exception in history is the string of forward bases established by the US during the WWII Pacific campaign as the US island hopped its way to Japan.  It is noteworthy, however, that the pre-WWII forward bases established by the US as a means of deterrence and forward defense were all lost to Japan during the early months of the war.


Now, consider the history of Japan’s forward bases in the Pacific.  At their peak, Japan had an extensive network of powerful bases throughout the Pacific.  It didn’t matter how strong the individual bases were, they all fell.  Consider the example of Truk, the Japanese Gibraltar of the Pacific.  It was considered nearly impregnable and unapproachable.


At the height of the atoll’s life as a Japanese base area, as many as 1,000 ships were on occasion to be found in the lagoon.[1]


The Japanese garrison peaked at 27,856 naval personnel …and 16,737 army personnel … [1]


Other defensive efforts included:


  • coast-defense artillery
  • remote controlled mines
  • 40 anti-aircraft guns


Base facilities included,


… roads, trenches, bunkers and caves. The whole defensive complex included five airfields, seaplane bases, a torpedo boat station, submarine repair facilities, a communications centre and a radar station.[1]


Despite this collection of base force and firepower, Truk was easily attacked, destroyed, and then bypassed by US forces.


Isolation – The pre-war US forward bases and Japan’s forward bases all fell because they were isolated and, generally, separated from each other by great distances.  The bases were unable to mutually support each other and were subject to local massing of numerically superior enemy forces with greater firepower at a time of the enemy’s choosing.


In fact, one could logically argue that Japan’s scattered, forward bases were actually detriments to Japan’s overall military objectives because each base represented a ‘penny packet’ of force that had no hope of accomplishing anything, was doomed to defeat in detail, and drained forces from the overall military effort and geopolitical objectives.


The lesson is that if you can’t successfully defend a base (and history suggests that’s a very difficult thing to do) then you’re just throwing away resources.


Sea Control – As noted, isolation is a major challenge and the only way to overcome it is to maintain control of the connecting seas.  Reinforcement and resupply can only occur by sea.  When control of the sea is lost, so too, is the forward base.  During the pre-war and early months of war, Japan was able to exercise control of the sea and its forward bases were viable.  Once control of the sea was lost, Japan’s bases were doomed even if it took the US a few years to systematically destroy them.


Similarly, when the US lost control of the seas, its forward bases (Wake, Philippines, etc.) were doomed.  Once the US re-established control of the seas in the later years of the war, it was able to establish a string of forward bases that were viable.


Location and Purpose - It is vitally important to understand what a forward base really is.  To begin with, it’s not forward!  It may begin life at the forward edge of battle but by the time it becomes operational and useful, the forward edge of battle has moved on and the base is rendered a rear area support and staging facility.


As the American example of WWII demonstrated, forward bases work only when they are part of a coordinated, overall effort and then only when they are not actually at the forward edge of battle.  For example, each island base the US seized began as the forward edge of battle but became an operational base only when we moved on, rendering the base a rear area support facility.  Indeed, that is what a ‘forward’ base is:  a rear area support facility from which to stage and launch future actions.


Forward bases that are actually forward – meaning at the leading edge of battle or actually in enemy territory – are generally either ineffective (Guadalcanal while the island was being contested) or lost.






The fantasy of a forward base, existing and operating inside an enemy’s sphere of influence and control, is just that … a fantasy.  The reality is that an operationally useful forward base is, in reality, and by necessity, a rear area support and staging facility.  We need to recognize and accept that.  Every dollar and every hour spent attempting to implement forward base fantasies is another dollar and hour lost to efforts that are actually productive and effective.


We also have got to come to grips with the imperative to establish and maintain control of the sea   Without control of the sea, Guam (or any other base) is just a useless, doomed facility waiting to die.  Unfortunately, we are currently in the process of knowingly and willingly ceding control of the seas to China.  The relative naval and air production rates of the US and China guarantee eventual Chinese control of the sea.







Saturday, August 13, 2022

War Five Years From Now

The Navy has publicly stated that they view a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and a war with China within the next several years as highly likely.  If so, what kind of shape will the Navy be in if a war starts, say, five years from now?


Here’s an overview of the Navy’s projected condition in 2027 based on the Navy’s most recent 30 year plan which includes the detailed 2022-2027 five year period[1]:


  • Burkes will have begun retiring;  DDG-51 is scheduled to retire in 2027
  • 1-2 Light Amphibious Warfare (LAW) will be in service
  • Down to 48 attack subs (SSN) with several unavailable for service due to multi-year waiting periods for maintenance
  • Down to 9 active carriers (9+1 in RCOH)
  • 1-3 Constellation class frigates (FFG) in service
  • Another air wing will almost certainly be disestablished, dropping the number of air wings to 8, as the carrier level drops to 10
  • Early retirement of a carrier is likely
  • F-18s will be woefully obsolete but will constitute the bulk of carrier air wings
  • No great amount of F-35s;  at most, one squadron of 10 aircraft in each air wing
  • 20-50 unmanned, lightly armed vessels
  • Ticonderoga class will all be gone



Projected 2027 Combat Fleet











Total Combat Ships




A total combat fleet of 168 ships is not a lot and 20 or so of that total will be the remaining LCS which have no combat capability due to their lack of meaningful armament and very short endurance/range for the Pacific theater.  The real combat fleet will be about 148 ships!


It is also quite possible that the Ford class carriers will not be combat-capable due to the ongoing, and seemingly unsolvable, EMALS, elevator, and AAG reliability issues.


The fleet is also projected to have 25 amphibious ships of various types, mostly the LPD-17 class.


It is absolutely baffling that the Navy believes war is imminent and yet they’re shedding ships as fast as they can.  If a Chinese agent had infiltrated the Navy and become CNO, he couldn’t do a better job of declawing the Navy than what we’re doing to ourselves.



A Burke and an Unmanned Vessel
This is Your Future Navy





[1]Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal Year 2023, Apr 2022 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

FY22 Weapon System Costs

For informational purposes, following are some Gross Weapon System costs taken from the Navy budget documents[1,2] for FY2022.



Ship Program[1]

Unit Cost

Columbia SSBN


Ford CVN


Virginia SSN


Burke DDG


Constellation FFG


John Lewis T-AO (Oiler)




Of course, the ship costs are only partial costs.  For example, the Ford cost is simply the Congressional cost cap number.  Billions of dollars more have been racked up on the Ford trying to complete elevators, fix EMALS and AAG, making warranty repairs on items that were delivered damaged (main turbine generators, for example), and completion of construction items that were deferred when the Ford hit its cap limit.  Those funds are coming from unknown sources and account lines.  The Ford’s true cost is somewhere in the $15B+ range.



Weapon Program[2]

Unit Cost








Standard (type unspecified)












Mk48 Torpedo









Small Diameter Bomb II






Joint Air to Ground Missile







a from 2021; none procured in 2022



One concerning aspect is the very small procurement quantities of many of the weapon system programs.  For example, when the war with China comes, we’ll need thousands of anti-ship missiles, right?  We’re procuring 34 of the small Naval Strike Missiles per year and 48 of the larger, mainstay LRASM missiles.  Can we increase our procurement from a few dozen per year to the thousands per year that we’ll need?  It seems unlikely.  We could, conceivably, double (triple???) production but that would still leave us thousands short of what we’d need.  If a factory is producing at a rate of dozens per year, they’re not going to have the capacity to suddenly increase production by a factor of 50x or so.  What are we going to do to achieve that kind of instantaneous production capacity increase?  What’s our plan?  We don’t have a plan, as far as I know.  I’ve never heard any discussion of industrial production plans for wartime.


Anyway … this summary is just intended to give us a quick, concise list of some costs to help inform our weapon system discussions.  Hope this helps!





[1]Department of Defense, Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, Justification Book Volume 1 of 1, Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy, May 2021,


[2]Department of Defense, Department of Defense, Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates Volume 1 of 1, Weapons Procurment, Navy, May 2021,