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Surface Ships Need More Offensive Punch, Outlook

jsport

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Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) ships. The company (Austal) has been trying to pitch the EPF to serve as an ambulance ship or other auxiliary, but the Navy is still early in deciding what it wants its common auxiliary hull, called CHAMP, to look like.


The multi-mission of two CHAMP hull types could be the basis for combatants not just auxiliaries. Much money could be saved and more ships built. A combatant version of the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) w/ a small AEGIS etc. and combatant version of the Expeditionary Seabase (ESB) as the smallest ship carrying the big weapon load like counter/hypersonics.
Perhaps allowing the specs to other ship builders so Austal and General dynamics do not build them all. The standard roles ship will be around for sometime bu the future needs to focus on mostly on 'larger than cruiser' for manned combatants the size of LHDs and Joint/SOCOM seabasing and as much close sea battle accomplished by minimally/unmmanned combatants.

a concept CHAMP/Combatant w/ Strategic Long Range Cannon (SLRC) not a EMRG.
 

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aonestudio

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Northrop+Grumman+Builds+Very+Lightweight+Torpedo+for+US+Navy_1_9d80ef5a-97fa-4f9e-bed2-4d9bbf4...jpg
 

jsport

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Josh_TN

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That weapon seems more defensive than offensive in nature. It looks like it capitalizes on shrinking electronics size to make a 6.25" torpedo that fits in the external countermeasure launchers. That said the warhead must be so small that the only realistic target set would be USVs and other torpedoes. A submarine, particularly a USN boat, would have an advantage over a ship in firing hard kill torpedo counter measures in that getting a full TMA of the target is probably far easier given all the different sonars available. The wide aperture array by itself should provide range resolution at favorable angles, at least at ranges a fish would have to come to for acquisition/engagement.
 

TomS

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That weapon seems more defensive than offensive in nature. It looks like it capitalizes on shrinking electronics size to make a 6.25" torpedo that fits in the external countermeasure launchers. That said the warhead must be so small that the only realistic target set would be USVs and other torpedoes. A submarine, particularly a USN boat, would have an advantage over a ship in firing hard kill torpedo counter measures in that getting a full TMA of the target is probably far easier given all the different sonars available. The wide aperture array by itself should provide range resolution at favorable angles, at least at ranges a fish would have to come to for acquisition/engagement.
They're looking at both offensive and defensive versions of the Common Very Lightweight Torpedo. The offensive configuration under Compact Rapid Attack Weapon, the defensive as Compact Anti-Torpedo. Seems like there is a lot of crossover.

 

Josh_TN

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I didn't realize it would be two different platforms - presumably the same propulsion at least. I can't imagine a fish of that size having much range or bang for a full sized target though, even a D/E. As an offensive weapon, I'd rather use a mk48. But the 'Rapid' in that acronym makes me think that they want something for a target that suddenly is detected close aboard in a situation when you don't have a warmed up fish in a flooded tube. Honestly I'd still consider that defensive, if that's the case.
 

TomS

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From air platforms like MQ-8 I'd consider the offensive version to be almost a classification tool. Drop one over a possible sub; if it's a real contact, the sub is almost certainly going to run, confirming the ID. But it would also be handy versus minisubs, USVs, and maybe even semi-submersible attack craft. All small enough targets that a miniature warhead may be good enough.
 

Desertfox

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A small warhead might not severely hurt a full size sub but it might damage it enough to significantly affect its acoustic signature and make it more vulnerable to follow on shots.
 

Josh_TN

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From air platforms like MQ-8 I'd consider the offensive version to be almost a classification tool. Drop one over a possible sub; if it's a real contact, the sub is almost certainly going to run, confirming the ID. But it would also be handy versus minisubs, USVs, and maybe even semi-submersible attack craft. All small enough targets that a miniature warhead may be good enough.
Fair point, I was considering only sub use. I'd never let anything get closer than I had to if it was large enough for a mk48 to lock onto. For UAVs or USVs it might be their primary weapon. As noted above by Desertfox, even a couple dozen pounds of HE against a full sized boat would probably at least damage an outer hull enough to make the boat subsequently easy to track, if nothing else. Hedgehog was only ~ 35lbs of charge.
 

bobbymike

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DARPA Sea Train

 

helmutkohl

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anyone know if the Danish offered the Iver Huiltfeldt class in the US Frigate competition?
I'm not a naval guy by any means but looking at the numbers
it seems to carry a substantially large amount of missiles, with significant operational range, all while needing less crews to operate the ship.
on paper at least, it seems like a great and underrated frigate with the power of a smaller destroyer
 

Moose

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anyone know if the Danish offered the Iver Huiltfeldt class in the US Frigate competition?
I'm not a naval guy by any means but looking at the numbers
it seems to carry a substantially large amount of missiles, with significant operational range, all while needing less crews to operate the ship.
on paper at least, it seems like a great and underrated frigate with the power of a smaller destroyer
It was "offered" but I don't believe it was "bid." European companies wishing to bid for FFG(X) needed a US shipyard (Navantia teamed with GD-Bath for theirs and Fincantieri owns a couple US yards) to compete. I don't believe the Danes were able to put a team together, unless they were part of HII's mystery bid. There are definitely fans of the design in the US Navy and shipbuilding industry, but sometimes things just don't come together. Would be interesting to see if it pops up if the USN really does a full re-compete of the Frigate contract rather than just a second build source.
 

aonestudio

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IAI Lora missile on latest tests.
- Fired from 400 kilometers.
- 10 meters CEP.

 

helmutkohl

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There are definitely fans of the design in the US Navy and shipbuilding industry, but sometimes things just don't come together. Would be interesting to see if it pops up if the USN really does a full re-compete of the Frigate contract rather than just a second build source.
that's too bad as it definitely seems to be a really good ship (the Type 26 is the next most interesting frigate for me). are there any fans of the Iver Humboldt ship here too? ;)
 

jsport

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Return to a Well-diversified Naval Lethality Portfolio
all that need be said let us hope there is at least some follow thru. NextGen Energetics is again something all the services could share.. bureaucrats protecting there fiefdoms.
 

bobbymike

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helmutkohl

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definitely seems like it
from what I've read from the past decade or two. they seem to be flip flopping between those who want smaller more dispersed ships, and those who want bigger ships with more power

i wonder what our armchair admirals and vets here think
 

Josh_TN

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definitely seems like it
from what I've read from the past decade or two. they seem to be flip flopping between those who want smaller more dispersed ships, and those who want bigger ships with more power

i wonder what our armchair admirals and vets here think
I'll bite, 101st Chairborne Division here. I think the problem is that the USN is pondering how it is going to survive inside the first island chain against the PLAN. What they need to accept is that they won't. Inside the mainland's backyard, every cruise and ballistic missile is in range, tactical aircraft require no refueling, and every floating asset they have is basically deployed the moment it casts off. It is insurmountable to fight there against a near peer competitor; it would be like the Soviets trying to pick a fight in the Caribbean. Instead of figuring out how to survive the day 1 slug fest in the SCS, they need to figure out how they are going reconstitute/base outside of it and remotely apply access denial in the same fashion as the Chinese are. This involve giving the CVWs more range and a modern tomahawk replacement with AShM capability, among other things. Antiship capability among the submarine community needs to be re-emphasized for the first time since the 50's. Mine laying should also take on new emphasis, both deep water ASW and in shore bottom mines. Outside China's immediate play ground, things are much more survivable and the small distributed ship argument loses a lot of weight. If there are going to be small ships, make them lightly/optionally manned sensor/ECM platforms along the lines of Sea Hunter that can provide defensive sensors when necessary and be expendable offensive sensors in highly contested areas. Use long ranged weapons to engage the targets they find.

More specifically concerning ship classes : the FFG(X) picked a solid design with a lot of growth potential and a great plant for ASW; the Burke IIIs have no margins and a new clean sheet design is badly needed for the destroyer/cruiser/area air defense role. I'm not a fan of the new USMC doctrine and I don't think landing resources should be changed to adopt it; if they can use existing landing infrastructure to fullfill their vision then fine. The Ford design is a sunk cost. Furthermore, smaller aircraft carriers are not as efficient per sortie, still not expendable, and thin out the escorts/defending assets. Keep the large CV design and extend their range such that they are always in the open ocean (ie, outside the first chain in a fight with China). F-18 Block 3, F-35, and MQ-25 should help, but investment should be made in extending the range further - I'm thinking an X-47B type platform here. Ideally CV drones should disassemble for storage on the CV as disposable assets the same way that USN WWII aircraft carriers kept ~30% or so spare aircraft broken down as attrition replacements. Virginia production should be sped up if feasible. I also think the USN should invest in a ship that is just a box of rockets (I think this is broadly what they intend LUSV to be). I think should be lightly manned, filled with Mk41s, and equipped for basic self defense (SeaRAM/SRBOC/Nulka/Nixie). I would take the largest, most sea stable catamaran ferry type platform and fill it with Mk41s. These ships would shuttle back and forth to the front to provide magazines for the regular ships. They should be made to commercial standards with as few sailors on them as possible (I'm not a fan of fully unmanned armed platforms, however). They function as a cheap (and if necessarily expendable) firing platform to allow the regular surface combatants to preserve their own magazines.
 
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jsport

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The focus now for the Pentagon is maneuverer warfare, “where we plan on using our forces to create dilemmas for adversaries that prevent them from being successful more than us being able to project power and take over locations of our own choosing. So, this decision-centric move in warfare is going to require us to have a fleet design that reflects some new characteristics different than the characteristics of our previous fleet,”

if you are going to force real dilemmas you will need not just missile magazine LUSVs, but large surface combatants (LSC) which can launch sizeable numbers of semi attritable lg rg UCRAVs (the likes of X-47{~$10m a copy} and the Kratos tube & wing Low Cost Attritable were obsolete 10yrs ago). LSC needs a next gen VGAS which does not make sense for a LUSV. Dilemmas and DMPIs served will put an adversary on their backfoot.

Clark claims to Congress small dispersed ships are going to cause too many dilemmas. Corvettes and smaller are not causing dilemmas. Dispersed standoff LSC able to stay out of range and attack you w/ lng rg guns, UCRAVS, hypersonics will.

Clark says lightly manned Corvettes rather than LUSV, well as long as the junior officer and crew can una.. that thing when in close surface combat. ie a minimally manned SeaTrain concept which deploys modules/LUSVs progressively farther and farther away from close combat until the personnel are close enough to a ESG/ECG group and have left a trail of missile magazines back to the close surface Combat zone or a fast escape ocean going vessel. Exposing even a minimally manned small craft to close surface combat is unnecessary and not well thought out.

T-AKE class ships w/ VLS for launch or combatant reload is a great idea.

In large strokes, that means moving the Navy away from the massed formations centered aircraft carriers and amphibious warships and into smaller groups that will make it harder for adversaries like China and Iran to target.

If Clark is correct that a FA-XX is most likely a derivative of an existing aircraft-Super Hornet or F-22 or even F-35, the carrier is not going to be worth sustaining at the numbers.. ie still need a $9T NDAA for FY2022 or carriers are increasingly not worth the $.

Again if carriers are going to be worth it at all they will need aircraft w/a F-14 like stealth fighter/bomber able dominate the skies when outnumbered, and a A-12 like stealth tactical bomber able to threaten deep strategic tgts..

PS: Can the USN hierarchy be trusted to mature unmanned sea tech when it threatens their careers and post service careers? DARPA (generally not impressed w/ their transition record) may be the only trusted development agent and OSD directly forcing transition to program of record as USN will inhibit.
 
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shin_getter

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I think that America is familiar with being economically vastly superior than the opposition, while Chinese actually have a larger economy by PPP and the gap is only increasing. It may be hard to imagine today, but if the Chinese focuses on naval build up, a fleet with enough power projection capability to take Hawaii and beyond may happen by mid century. Superior technology also can not be counted upon as superior economy means superior R&D budget. The way to fight a economic superior is leverage the advantages of defensive posture. A counter force anti-land campaign is lunacy, the point is to sink PLAN so the Chinese stay home, not trying to out bomb a continental power with both superior economy and population.

The entire logic of naval warfare should be reversed as real budgets invert. Instead of China having an A2AD bubble blocking the USN out, the logical strategy would be the US building an A2AD to keep PLAN out of the Pacific. One can even copy out of the Chinese playbook and "build" islands in strategic positions, but not so much building highly vulnerable structures on them but keep a stack of valuables underground and underwater. Support from allies is also necessary to proceed so significant effort must be put into it against Chinese attempts at alliance building.

Some Ideas about ways to win:
1. Sea denial: Submarines, UUV, static underwater sensor/comms/weapons can deny the Chinese the ability to project power through the seas at lower cost. Other forces should assist in countering Chinese ASW capability. "Offensive war" do not impress the population when it is months of UUV looking over every inch of the seabed, if not items buried under the seabed. before anything exciting happens.
2. Standoff warfare leveraging actual technological advantages: Have spaceforce buy a fleet of Starships and win via space technology until Chinese gets their own.
3. Pre-positioned Alpha strike: Using the asymmetry where attack is cheaper than defense and fast response time of modern battle networks: Launch on warning with conventional weapons and sink vulnerable high value Chinese ships and not worry about surviving counter strikes.
4. Forward deployed/fighting land forces backed by Hardened land bases with power projection capability. Mobile and concealed forward deployed assets is another plus. Neutralize long range fires and PLAN is forced to amphib to get rid of problems: very good.
5. Decisive battle: attrition against economic superiors is a loser. The correct time to commit mobile forces to fight is when PLAN most exposes itself in attempts to accomplish its strategic objectives, and mass and surge combat power at that point.

New Capabilities to develop to support above strategy (not currently focused by US forces):
1. Counter-Air ISR and Strike technology and doctrine: Learn how to survive under enemy air superiority
2. Submarine/UUV/small-USV/underwater-assets joint airpower battle networks: technology and doctrine.
3. Transport Submarine/UUV designed for payload/cost instead of sensor/offensive capability. The forward deployed garrisons ain't going to supply themselves, nor would the mine fields replenish itself. Rapid forward submarine munition resupply need to be developed to increase persistence.
4. Upward-Scalable force: as potential for conflict can stretch on for decades, operating at active tempos with the needed force sizes is unsustainable and quick path to bankruptcy. Instead, one need learn how how to maintain capability with reduced costs in peacetime: reduced equipment consumption and manpower needs with wartime use of reserves and conscription to fill the gaps (together with rapidly scalable manufacturing). What is needed is development of "good enough" training method, and doctrine and technology that reduce required human skill for "effective enough" warfighting. AI related technology makes new concepts in this field possible.
5. Lower durability systems: The expected losses from such a conflict means system durability is very much a secondary issue, and building assets to operate for decades of constant use with matching manpower and maintenance requirements is a waste.
6. Low cost deep tunneling and protected submarine ports: develop it and offer it to allies.
7. Nuclear - Electric Batteries Energy Architecture for warfighting. Moving significant amount of fuel is difficult under enemy fires: low volume high powered nukes can be hidden under water and under ground and power a entire battle forces for long periods of time with improved batteries from mid 20s and on. Battery investment is a given, but nukes are not.

Some projection of symmetric warfare evolutions:
The items here don't offer strategic leverage but is nonetheless the likely common way of war.

1. A rethink of sensor architecture in the world of active radar homing and CEC. I believe expensive air planes holding the sensors and cheap ships holding the ammo is the way forward.
2. Missile bus "System of systems" architecture: Instead of payload being highly integrated with missiles, missiles can instead carry each other to leverage long range "platforms" and diverse terminal effects, especially against smaller combatants, countering UAV and USV forces.
3. Splitting of aircraft servicing from one carrier to multiple platforms: Cheap ships operating "in-flight refueling" support aircraft, medium cost ships operating as rearm points and current carrier operating as forward maintenance points. Non-organic air groups for all aircraft servicing assets as computer operated landings and drones do not care for pilot carrier qualifications.
 

jsport

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Mr Clark clarified to Congress Reps that Sec Def seems to want revolutionary, dispersed but lower costs from the formal ship request. Also he clarified that the current fleet must be maintained in its currently costly sustainment environment while the distributed revolution occurs. It would appear that the Ingalls LPD based Large Surface Combatant (LSC) would be a good choice.


A un/manned LUSV/Corvette might be in 4 types:
Corp LUSV/Corvette (USMC)
Cells LUSV/Corvette (VLS)
Carrier LUSV/Corvette (NextGen STOVL UAS)
Counter LUSV/Corvette (counter-sub, missile, aircraft, UAS, torpedo) - large ship protection


ps : quite interesting that to suggest Japanese are the best provider of atk subs when the US numbers will be the lowest. LUSV.jpg
 

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shin_getter

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Hmm, I'm just staring at a map and it just hits me. Perhaps the whole line of thinking is wrong.

If the USN could maintain supply to the first island chain, keeping PLAN out of the pacific is a question of committing sufficient land forces and missiles. If the USN could not supply the first island chain, the position would be blockaded and bombarded into capitulation than the whole containment strategy would collapse.

With the end of containment strategy, much of the pacific is only held by tiny islands and weak bases that can not resist a battle fleet and fleet on fleet battles would decide it. The long supply line, which also can be attacked thus demand forces for protection, from continental US means that the US will have to significantly outspend/out-tech the Chinese to win a ship on ship battle.

Forget how many ships the navy has and how many aim points can be hit by throwing the budget into missiles, ask how many tons can reach the shores of Taiwan and Korea when the shooting starts.

A fleet based focused on throw weight but not transport protection can only attempt to out last a blockade strategy by "counter value" strikes on "civilian" targets (as dueling with concealed hardened land forces is uneconomic for peer conflict) by competition in tolerable human suffering of each side. :( The most vulnerable targets would be sinking PLAN surface forces, but if the process result in real loss to the USN and no breakdown of the blockade, the war can still go on.
 
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jsport

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Hmm, I'm just staring at a map and it just hits me. Perhaps the whole line of thinking is wrong.

If the USN could maintain supply to the first island chain, keeping PLAN out of the pacific is a question of committing sufficient land forces and missiles. If the USN could not supply the first island chain, the position would be blockaded and bombarded into capitulation than the whole containment strategy would collapse.

With the end of containment strategy, much of the pacific is only held by tiny islands and weak bases that can not resist a battle fleet and fleet on fleet battles would decide it. The long supply line, which also can be attacked thus demand forces for protection, from continental US means that the US will have to significantly outspend/out-tech the Chinese to win a ship on ship battle.

Forget how many ships the navy has and how many aim points can be hit by throwing the budget into missiles, ask how many tons can reach the shores of Taiwan and Korea when the shooting starts.

A fleet based focused on throw weight but not transport protection can only attempt to out last a blockade strategy by "counter value" strikes on "civilian" targets (as dueling with concealed hardened land forces is uneconomic for peer conflict) by competition in tolerable human suffering of each side. :( The most vulnerable targets would be sinking PLAN surface forces, but if the process result in real loss to the USN and no breakdown of the blockade, the war can still go on.
a likely very quick "culmination point" deterent of amphibous forces is sole purpose here. Taiwan, Japan, SK need to defend their own islands, however an International coalition needs to be able to assist them to tip the balance in a short order blunt action. That does not take overwhelming dominance over any length of time.
 

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Realistically Taiwan and Korea will be cut off during a conflict. There would be no way to transit that area until Chinese forces, or at least their ISR systems, were devastated. Those allies likely would have to hold out for the duration of the conflict with whatever was in country pre war. Though in the near to medium term, any US-China war would probably be a very quick and devastating affair regardless of the winner. It seems unlikely either side would commit to a drawn out conflict when it would not be existential for either side.

As for the geography of the first chain - yes the islands in the area are small and generally couldn't be defended against a fleet easily. But the geography still forces units through narrow choke points which eases engagement. Ships and submarines have limited paths to the open ocean and aircraft have to do the same or else cross into the radar coverage of countries that may not actively be part of the conflict but are perfectly willing to pass information on to the US. These choke points are already likely littered with US sensing devices on the sea bed, which is significantly more shallow along the underwater ridge line. They likely would be heavily mined in a conflict should the US decide to withdraw behind them. Submarines could easily patrol at low speed in the area. Regardless of who controls the terrain around those choke points, the geography is not kind to the PLAN.

I don't see the Chinese steaming a fleet into the open Pacific where it can be readily engaged by a very robust, very capable US bomber and submarine force. That isn't just a near term problem either - even when the PLAN has rough parity with the USN, the US will most likely have a superiority in mass air delivered stand off weapons and extremely quiet nuke boats. Fleet on fleet action would be the least of their problems.
 

jsport

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if you cant prevent your treaty allies from being cut off for any but short lengths of time the USN has no point being in the Pacific..more defeatism. No one cares about open sea.
 

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The point would be to remove the PLAN as a fighting force, and there by remove the blockade. But there would be a period of inaccessibility; the geography and proximity of China to Taiawan and Korea makes convoying to these countries on Day 1 a hopeless task.
 

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Grey Havoc

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Their thinking seems rather muddled at best.
 

TomS

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Their thinking seems rather muddled at best.
Yeah, it's a mess. The LAW seems like it's a pretty close cousin to the fast ferry logistics ships, just slower and with beaching capability. But then they're dabbling with also adding a small amphib back to ARGs (the return of the fast LST?) I can't decide if that's just appeasing the traditionalists or actually a more sensible approach.

I can't really believe that it makes sense to land a tiny Marine littoral detachment with just an antiship missile battery, for example, without also bringing some air defenses or a ground security force. At which point, yeah, you're approaching an LST in scale, way bigger than the LAW. And IMO it probably needs to be faster (at least ARG speed), or it's going to be stuck in transit when needed. But then the economics make it a much more expensive ship with a bigger Navy crew, which argues for competent defenses, not just a 30mm junk-basher. And the price spirals upward...
 

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It seems to me that the 'LAW' would just be another type of slow target to engage, and couldn't carry enough to land a sufficiently independent force. I'm not a fan of the entire idea - it seems to me if you want to put anti shipping missiles on something you should just build a cat ferry with a lot of anti shipping missiles on it. But if they were going to go down this road, I'd do it with the equipment they already have - LCACs and HIMARS.

I'd rather delivery the force by LCAC because it would lower the exposure time. I'd also want the entire force to be able to be delivered in a single LCAC move. If possible I'd want all the personnel to be able to be evacuated with ~10 MV-22s so I could extract the force (and abandon the equipment) with speed at range. This limits the ARG/MEU exposure time, as opposed to a <20 knot landing ship. Once the landing occurred, the LPH/LHA can stand off hundreds of miles and still be in a position to evacuate in a few hours if necessary.

I'd rather HIMARS with PrSM than NSM because NSM is a one trick pony that the USMC doesn't own right now. It also lacks reach. PrSM might fly a very detectable flight path, but it should do so at a very fast speed/high altitude. Inside the range of NSM, it probably still has a lot of speed and energy. The US Army is already testing a guidance package for detecting radar with terminal IIR; this would be easily adaptable to an anti ship role.

For air dense, I think the USMC should just buy a navalized variant of the M-SHORADs and call it a day. Again, Army did all the leg work already. If a medium range option is needed, go ground launched AMRAAM and use the GATOR radars as the fire control.

I still think the naval fire base idea doesn't have a lot of merit, but the TO&E I describe largely only requires MEUs to be reorganized for the Pacific theater with existing equipment in inventory (LCACs instead of LCUs, Whidby Island LSD instead of Harpers Ferry, HIMARS pushed down to the MEU level from brigade, buy PrSM).
 

jsport

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There is a reason cruise missiles are being proposed for the USMC. LCACs, HIMARS, M-SHORAD (close in against low performance threats) NSM, (100miles) do not have the range for the Pacific Island basing strategy. TomS seems to have the problem w/ this USMC amphibious strategy correct.
 

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Congress At The Helm
On the issue of unmanned surface ships, the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee says in its draft markup that it wants to hold funding for the large unmanned surface vessel, or LUSV, program until the Navy can confirm it has designed a workable mechanical and electrical system that it can operate autonomously for 30 consecutive days. The language reflects that in the Senate Armed Services Committee markup released earlier this month.

The House committee also recommends prohibiting the Navy from arming the LUSV until the “Secretary of the Defense certifies to the congressional defense committees that any large unmanned surface vessel that employs offensive weapons will comply with the law of armed conflict.”

The subcommittee also authorized the purchase of eight new warships, including a second Virginia-class attack submarine the Trump administration removed from the Navy’s budget.

The strategic forces subcommittee directs the Navy to focus on integrating hypersonic weapons on surface ships. According to one committee aid who spoke with reporters, it also asks for a report addressing “certain questions and concerns that are ongoing, including operational control authority, whether we need to update our war plans, who would be responsible for targeting requirements, what the risks of miscalculation would be and what the risk mitigations might be, and finally on basing strategies for a land-based variant.”

Included in that is the new Zumwalt destroyer, the first two of which have been delivered to the Navy and are currently undergoing testing as the service figures out what to do with the truncated three-ship buy.
 
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