Monday, June 4, 2012

Replacing The Iowas In The Naval Gunfire Support Role

    Among The Joshua Tress recently posted a photo of the USS Iowa on her way to Los Angeles to her new home as a museum ship. With the retirement of the Iowas, the Navy has lost an invaluable asset that could provide irreplaceable fire support to soldiers on the beaches. 
     The Navy has stated that the Zumwalt-class destroyers will replace the Iowas in the naval gunfire support role. However, the Zumwalt-class is slated to have a production run of three hulls, and is armed with 2 155mm guns. The Zumwalt-class armament is good for gunfire support, but with only 3 hulls, and each one costing 6.3 billion dollars, the Navy will be cautious in deploying them in the littorals close to numerous threats. The Zumwalts are excellent for ASW, and other roles, but they come up short in naval gunfire support.
     What is needed is a class of cheap ships, armed with guns only. A true gunslinger. These classes, would be designed similar to the LCS (Landing Craft, Support) of WWII, which was armed with one 76mm gun, and several 40mm and 20mm cannons. The LCS was developed after the Battle of Tarawa when the Navy was unable to provide support gunfire close to shore. The first new class wold be designated the LCS(X), and would designed to be cheap, fast, relatively expendable, and easily mass produced. The LCS(X) would carry no missiles, no RIM-116 RAMs, no AGM-88 Harpoons, no BGM-109 Tomahawks, no missiles. This would be to: 1) Lower costs, 2) Allow more ammunition storage, and 3) Allow more deck space to be allocated for guns. The LCS(X) would carry one 127mm gun on the bow and stern, one 57mm CIWS aft of the stern 127mm gun and one fore of the bow 127mm gun, as well as 2 more 57mm CIWS amidships similar to the USS Long Beach's 127mm guns. The LCS(X) would also carry at least 2 M242 25mm autocannons, and 4 12.7mm machine guns for point defense.
        This is merely a proposal to provide the Navy with a naval gunfire support capability, that will be able to support amphibious landings. There are a number of other details not covered here that I will discuss on a stand-alone page in the near future. 

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