Sunday, June 30, 2013

ComNavOps is Preaching It

Hop on over to Navy Matters and read a post discussing small carriers versus no carriers in light f the current budgetary situation.

Friday, June 28, 2013

SSBN-X: What It Will Not Look Like

     Yesterday at Navy Live RDML Richard Breckenridge posted some facts about the SSBN-X that have solidified by this time. RDML Breckenridge specifically discussed the ideas for a stretched Virginia with a module for Trident SLBMs, A stretched Virgina with a new missile, and restarting the Ohio production line. Read:

Virginia-based SSBN design with a Trident II D5 missile. An SSBN design based on a Virginia-class attack submarine with a large-diameter missile compartment was rejected due to a wide range of shortfalls. It would:
  • Not meet survivability (stealth) requirements due to poor hull streamlining and lack of a drive train able to quietly propel a much larger ship
  • Not meet at-sea availability requirements due to longer refit times (since equipment is packed more tightly within the hull, it requires more time to replace, repair and retest)
  • Not meet availability requirements due to a longer mid-life overhaul (refueling needed)
  • Require a larger number of submarines to meet the same operational requirement
  • Reduce the deterrent value needed to protect the country (fewer missiles, warheads at-sea)
  • Be more expensive than other alternatives due to extensive redesign of Virginia systems to work with the large missile compartment (for example, a taller sail, larger control surfaces and more robust support systems)
We would be spending more money (on more ships) to deliver less deterrence (reduced at-sea warhead presence) with less survivability (platforms that are less stealthy).
Virginia-based SSBN design with a smaller missile. Some have encouraged the development of a new, smaller missile to go with a Virginia-based SSBN. This would carry forward many of the shortfalls of a Virginia-based SSBN we just discussed, and add to it a long list of new issues. Developing a new nuclear missile from scratch with an industrial base that last produced a new design more than 20 years ago would be challenging, costly and require extensive testing. We deliberately decided to extend the life of the current missile to decouple and de-risk the complex (and costly) missile development program from the new replacement submarine program. Additionally, a smaller missile means a shorter employment range requiring longer SSBN patrol transits. This would compromise survivability, require more submarines at sea and ultimately weaken our deterrence effectiveness. With significant cost, technical and schedule risks, there is little about this option that is attractive.
Ohio-based SSBN design. Some have argued that we should re-open the Ohio production line and resume building the Ohio design SSBNs. This simply cannot be done because there is no Ohio production line. It has long since been re-tooled and modernized to build state-of-the-art Virginia-class SSNs using computerized designs and modular, automated construction techniques. Is it desirable to redesign the Ohio so that a ship with its legacy performance could be built using the new production facilities? No, since an Ohio-based SSBN would:
  • Not provide the required quieting due to Ohio design constraints and use of a propeller instead of a propulsor (which is the standard for virtually all new submarines)
  • Require 14 instead of 12 SSBNs by reverting to Ohio class operational availability standards (incidentally creating other issues with the New START treaty limits)
  • Suffer from reduced reliability and costs associated with the obsolescence of legacy Ohio system components
Once again, the end result would necessitate procuring more submarines (14) to provide the required at-sea presence and each of them would be less stealthy and less survivable against foreseeable 21stcentury threats. 
     Emphasis is mine. The objections to using the Virgina-class are new, but the problems brought to light are accurate. Same for new build Ohios. However, with the SSBN-X the boomer fleet will be reduced to 12 from 14, and the SSBN-X will carry 16 missile tubes instead of the Ohios 24 tubes. This is a reduction of 140 missiles, almost 50% of the Navy's capability. I'm curious is this because of budgets, NEW START, or something else? 

Flashback Friday: Montana-class Battleships

      The Montana-class, the largest class of battleships ever developed by the U.S.. If the Montana had been launched she would have been the largest ship afloat, with their only competitors, the Yamato and Musashi, sunk. The Montana-class was originally conceived in response to the Japan Yamato-class battleships in the early 1940s, with the Montana being ordered in May 1942. However, in July 1942 the Montana-class was canceled after the Battle of Midway in light of the shift towards carrier aviation as the big stick of naval warfare. Construction was never started on any Montana.
     The Montana-class was similar in design to the Iowa-class, but with some major differences. The Montanas would had an extra 16" turret aft, bringing their total of 16" guns to 12. In comparison, the Iowas carried only 9 16" guns. As designed, the Montana would have carried 56 20mm cannons, and 10-40 Bofors 40mm cannons. In comparison, the Iowas carried 80 40mm cannons and 49 20mm cannons through WWII and Korea. The Montanas in all probability would have carried a much higher number of 40mm Bofors cannon than what were called for in the original design. As well as a much lower number of 20mm cannons in light of the fact they were being phased out by 1944.
     The Montanas would also have had massively increased armor on their side belts, turrets, and bulkheads. One interesting point about the Montanas armor is that they would have had less deck armor than the Iowas, which is interesting because they were larger, and because of the danger of plunging hits. My guess is that the design was done before the Bismarck sank the Hood in 1941.
     The Montanas were an aberration in American battleship design in that they were designed without the constraints of the Panama Canal. The Montanas were also an aberration in that they were not designed to keep up with carriers, as their top speed would have been only about 28 knots. The Montanas, while an interesting battleship design were an anachronism by the time they were ordered, and were canceled because the mission they were meant to fill was obsolete.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Japanese Navy Sinks The Varyag

That's what this photo of a model the Hyuga shows in the far left center. It also shows JF-17s dumping fuel, and a pair of AAVs on the fore deck of the Hyuga. Click to enlarge.

Analysis of Alternatives: The Littoral Combat Ship

     Back in 2012 I ran a post that called for the cancellation of the Littoral Combat Ship on the grounds that none of it's required modules have become operational, and the fact that the LCS is underarmed. Here are what I belive are solid alternatives to the LCS.

1. Visby-class corvette.
     The Visby-class was developed in Sweden for ASuW and ASW. The Visby-class runs about 184 million dollars each. Specs:
Displacement:640 tonnes
Length:72.7 m
Beam:10.4 m
Draught:2.4 m
2 × 125SII Kamewa Waterjets
4 × Vericor TF50A gas turbines, total rating 16 MW
2 × MTU Friedrichshafen 16 V 2000 N90 diesel engines, total rating 2.6 MW
3 x generators of 270kW each
Speed:35+ knots
Range:2500nm @ 15 knots
Sensors and
processing systems:
Ericsson Sea_GIRAFFE AMB 3D surveillance radar
Ceros 200 fire control radar system
Condor CS-3701 tactical radar surveillance system
GDC Hull-mounted sonar
Hydroscience Technologies towed array sonar system
GDC variable depth sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Rheinmetall TKWA/MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System)
1 × Bofors 57 mm Mk3
8 × RBS15 Mk2 AShM
4 × 400 mm torpedo launchers for Type 45 torpedoes
Mines and depth charges
Provision for but not fitted with
2 × 6 127 mm ALECTO anti-submarine rocket launchers (cancelled)

8 × Umkhonto SAM(cancelled)
Aviation facilities:Helicopter pad
Modify the Visby-class to carry a RIM-116 in lieu of Umkhonto SAMs, Mk48s or Mk50s in lieu of Type 45 torpedoes (along with 324mm or 533mm torpedo tubes as needed). Exchange the RBS15 for two quad Harpoon launchers, and the Bofors 57mm gun for an OTO Melera 76mm gun. Exchange the electronics and propulsion for U.S. equipment where possible and affordable. Then we have a lightweight, fast ship built specifically for combat in the littorals at a lower cost than the LCS.

2. Saar 5 corvette
The Saar 5-class corvette was designed by the Israeli Navy, as the latest in the Saar series which traces it roots back to Germany's WWII E-Boats. The mission of the Saar 5-class is ASuW, with a touch of AAW.  The price of a Saar 5 corvette is 260 million dollars. Specs:
Class & type:Corvette
Length:85.64 m (280.97 ft)
Beam:11.88 m (38.98 ft)
Draft:3.17 m (10.40 ft)
Range:3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km)
  • 64 officers and crewmen
  • 10 aircrew
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Armor:Steel and aluminum
Aircraft carried:Eurocopter Panther, unmanned helicopter[1]
Aviation facilities:Helipad and helicopter hangar
      Global Security lists the ship as being armed with a Phalanx 20mm CIWS (as shown in the picture above). Changes to the design would be to replace Israeli electronics with American where possible and affordable, and possibly the addition of a 76mm gun. 

3. New build Perry-class frigates
     The Perry-class is a strudy design that can take a beating and keeping on moving (see the USS Samuel B. Roberts). Designed to escort amphibs and merchant convoys in a WWIII scenario they had an emphasis on AAW, but still highly capable in the area of ASuW. The last Perry-class frigate, the USS Ingraham, cost about 785 million dollars when adjusted for inflation (cost comes from the 1983-84 issue of Jane's Fighting Ships). Specs for the Ingraham:
Displacement:4,100 tons (4,165 t) full load
Length:453 ft (138.1 m), overall
Beam:45 ft (13.7 m)
Draft:27 ft (6.7 m)
Propulsion:2 × General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines generating 41,000 shp (31 MW) through a single shaft andcontrollable-pitch propeller
Speed:29+ knots (54+ km/h)
Range:5,000 nm (9,300 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h)
Complement:15 officers and 190 enlisted, plus SH-60 LAMPS detachment of roughly six officer pilots and 15 enlisted men
Armament:1 × OTO Melara Mk 75 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun
2 × Mk 32 triple-tube (324 mm) launchers for Mark 46 torpedoes
1 × Vulcan Phalanx CIWS
4 × .50-cal (12.7 mm) machine guns.
Aircraft carried:2 × SH-60 LAMPS III helicopters
      The only change to the design would be to add a Mk 41 VLS in lieu of the Mk 13 launcher that was deleted from later Perrys.
      Each of the ships discussed above could be built under license in U.S. shipyards, in fact only the Visby-class has not been built in a U.S. shipyard. In the mid-90s the Israelis had Ingalls buld the Saar 5-class. Each of these classes, barring the Perrys, are cheaper than the LCS which costs 680.7 million dollars. Each of these classes has a greater combat capability than the LCS, and greater survivability in combat. Each of these classes is better than the LCS and offers a solid alternative.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mossberg MVP: Bolt Action With An AR Magazine

     In 2011 Mossberg came out with a new line of bolt-action rifles referred to as the MVP series. Basically a scout rifle, but with a twist. The MVP series is built to use an AR-15 magazine.
 I first found out about these rifles at this year's NRA convention here in Houston. The MVP Varmint runs $599.99 at Academy, if you can find one. All four MVPs come in .223/5.56 with .308 versions due out this summer. Pics below.

The strength of that angled sliver on the bottom on the bolt could be a concern, as it is what pushes the round out of the magazine.
     This is rather interesting because it dramatically increases the amount of ammunition immediately available to someone carrying a bolt-action rifle. I'm going to have to get my hands on an MVP.

Bill Sweetman On The Su-35

I should mention that no Su-27 deriative has seen combat with the single exception of the Ethiopian-Eritraean War about 15 years ago. The Flanker is almost completely untested in combat.


Hat tip to Alert 5 for spotting this.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Containership Breaks Up Off Yemen

It would appear that the containership MOL Comfort snapped in two three days ago off the coast of Yemen. The cause is thought to be overloading the bow and stern, leading to the ship splitting in half. Not good. All 11 crew members were evacuated safely to Sri Lanka.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Possible Israeli Mega Arms Deal for 5+ Billion Dollars

     From Defense News

TEL AVIV — Israel’s Defense Ministry is asking the US government to guarantee billions of dollars in low-interest bridge loans for a Pentagon-proposed package of V-22 Ospreys, F-15 radars and precision-strike weaponry that it ultimately intends to fund with future military aid from the US.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, when visiting here in April, announced that Washington “would make available to Israel a set of advanced new military capabilities” to augment Israel’s qualitative military edge.
At the time, Israeli defense and industry sources criticized the premature publicity generated by the Pentagon-proposed package, insisting negotiations on cost, quantities, payment terms and delivery schedules had not yet begun.
But in the past two months, MoD efforts to secure a US-backed loan for eventually US-funded systems on offer have intensified, with preliminary responses from relevant authorities in Washington expected later this summer, sources from both countries said.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon aimed to advance the issue in meetings with lawmakers and Jewish leaders on Capitol Hill on Thursday. On Friday, Ya’alon is scheduled to fly to the Pentagon aboard an Osprey, where he will be greeted by Hagel ahead of their talks.
Under the novel, Israeli-proposed funding plan, US government guarantees would allow MoD to initiate near-term contracts for advanced, Pentagon-offered weaponry with cut-rate cash from commercial banks. Israel would pay only interest and servicing fees on the government-backed loan, with principle repaid from a new, 10-year military aid package that President Barack Obama — during a visit here in March — promised to conclude before the current bilateral aid agreement expires in 2018.
Israel is slated to receive $3.1 billion in annual Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant aid through 2017, minus some $155 million in rescissions due to US government-mandated sequester. Those funds, sources from both countries say, have already been tapped to cover payments on existing contracts for Israel’s first squadron of F-35I joint strike fighters, heavy armored carriers, trainer aircraft engines, transport planes and a host of US weaponry.

Read the rest at Defense News. What the Isrealis are asking for is 5 billion dollars in free military equipment, maybe as much as 8 billion if a second squadron of F-35Is is included in the deal. I'm all for selling the Israelis military equipment, and supplying them in wartime. However, in a time when our own military is rapidly heading for the point where it will fall apart, I cannot support loaning the Israelis 8 billion dollars so they can buy U.S. military equipment. That 8 billion dollars could better be used in Navy shipbuilding, DoD R&D, buying aircraft for the services, or even paying off the debt. This deal is nothing more than giving the Israelis free military equipment.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keeping The "Gunfire" In Naval Gunfire Support

The report posted below was written by a LCdr. Mark Kelsey back in 1991. The report basically outlines the history of Naval Gunfire Support and the requirement s needed to maintain a potent gunfire support capability. The report is in some ways dated, but most of it is still applicable today. The first half is a history of naval gunfire support, but the second half if the meat of the report. 

Hat tip to Global Security for the report.

Keeping The "Gunfire" In Naval Gunfire Support

AUTHOR LCdr. Mark C. Kelsey, USN

CSC 1991

SUBJECT AREA - Operations

                        EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    Evolving concepts of the amphibious assault will exploit
capabilities to land forces in relatively unopposed areas from over-
the-horizon (0TH) wherever and whenever possible.  However
circumstances may still require assaults against defended beaches and
landing zones.  In a worst-case combat environment, the seaward
approaches to the objective will be defended by a combination of
surface-to-surface missiles, coastal defense guns, and mines.
    With budget pressures expected to reduce the aircraft carrier
force level to 12 carriers -- and possibly as few as 10 -- in FY-95
and with dramatic reductions in forward-deployed forces, the Naval
Surface Fire Support (NSFS) platforms may be the only supporting arm
available to provide the responsive, close and continuous all-weather
fire support during the early phases of the amphibious assault.
    Unfortunately, the current NSFS inventory cannot satisfy this
requirement.  First, the range of the current 5-inch/54 and 5-inch/38
guns is too short to isolate the beachhead from coastal defense
weapons.  Second, the accuracy of the 5-inch gun is insufficient
against mobile armored forces and hardened point targets.  Finally,
the lethality of the 5-inch gun is inadequate against these same
    Increases in the present level of NSFS, now at its lowest since
the late l94Os, are necessary.  The technology is available for large
improvements in the very near future.  Just as the "amtrac" provided a
technological answer to a crucial tactical requirement that led to a
strategic victory, so to can the adoption of the imaginative,
practical solutions provided herein, make up for the shortfall in
    But if we are not prepared to pay for fire support on a scale
which is adequate to underwrite success in opposed landings, then we.
should accept squarely that, whatever capability we now possess, it
will no longer be one of power projection ashore.