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.



Thesis Statement: The currect inventory of Naval Surface Fire Support
(NSFS) platforms is inadequate to support Marine Corps requirements
due to primary dependence on 5-inch guns.

I.  U.S. Navy's Mission
    A.  Power Projection
        1.  Amphibious assault
        2.  Naval Bombardment
    B.  Fire Support
        l.  Naval Guns
        2.  Aircraft

II. Contribution of Naval Guns
    A.  World War II
        1.  European Theater
        2.  Island Campaign of the Pacific Theater
    B.  Korean War
    C.  Vietnam War

III. Threat
     A.   Growing Land-Sea Interface
     B.   Amphibious assaults
          l.  Unopposed Landings
          2.  Defended Beaches and Landing Zones
     C.   Soviet-style Coastal Defense Principles
     D.   Weapons of War
          1.  Common Weapons and Weapons Systems
          2.  Proliferation

IV.  NSFS Capabilities
     A.   Nature of War
     B.   Power Projection
          1.  Aircraft
          2.  Naval Guns

V.  Requirements
    A.  Enhance Amphibious Forcible Entry Capability
    B.  Develop Long-Range Surface Fire Support Capability
        l.  Near-Term (High Pay-off Improvements to Existing Systems)
        2.  Mid-Term
        3.  Long-Term (Evolutionary Replacement of Existing Systems)

VI. Conclusion


     Title 10, U.S. Code, defines the U.S. Navy's mission as " . . . to

be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained

combat operations in support of U.S. national interests."  (24 :913)

The Navy's functions are to conduct sea control and power projection

operations.  Power projection operations are those aspects of naval

operations which attack the enemy's homeland, bases, or defensive

positions.  They include amphibious assault and naval bombardment of

enemy targets ashore in support of land campaigns.  Although Mahan,

the preeminent naval historian, generally disregarded the utility of

naval artillery and of sea-borne infantry assaults against targets

ashore, power projection from the sea is a mission of growing

significance. (2: 83) Naval commanders need to pay more careful

attention to the interaction of sea forces with the events on the

ground.  One good reason for this: there will be more interaction in

the future.

     Complete understanding of the amphibious operation must include

recognition of its chief limitation -- the vulnerability of the

landing force during the early hours of the assault.  Strength ashore

must be built-up from zero combat power ashore to a coordinated,

balanced force capable of accomplishing the assigned mission.. The

build-up must be quick and uninterrupted and must include forces

strong enough to overcome the enemy.  In an amphibious operation, the

total combat power available to the commander is the sum of maneuver

and fire support.  All amphibious operations rely upon fire support

from the sea.  It is the only surface support available during the

initial stages of the landing.  The effective use of fire support

available from the various supporting arms is often a deciding factor

in the success of the Amphibious Task Force (ATF) mission.  The three

available supporting arms are aircraft, artillery, and naval gunfire.

     The general mission of naval gunfire is to provide responsive

fire support for the assault of the objective by destroying or

neutralizing the following:

     (1)  Shore installations that oppose the approach of ships and


     (2)  Defenses that may oppose the landing force.

     (3)  Defenses that may oppose the post-landing advance of the

landing force. (7: 1-1)

     Efforts to bolster the Navy's power projection capabilities have

focused on getting the TOMAHAWK Ship-/Submarine-Launched Cruise

Missile (SLCM) to sea and replacing the aging, carrier-based A-6E

INTRUDER all-weather, day-night attack aircraft.  There have been

no corresponding improvements in naval gun systems since the Korean

War. (20: 9)

     In 1983, responding to a question posed by Senator Sam Nunn

(D-GA), then-Marine Corps Commandant General Robert H. Barrow said:

     The current Naval Surface Fire Support inventory is inadequate
     to support Marine Corps requirements.  First, the range of the
     current 5-inch/54 and 5-inch/38 families is too short to isolate
     the beachhead from Warsaw Pact artillery.  Second, the accuracy
     of the 6-inch gun family is insufficient against mobile armored
     forces and hardened point targets.  Finally, the lethality of the
     5-inch gun family is inadequate against these same targets. (23)

Unfortunately, the 5-inch/54 MK 42/MK 45 rapid-firing gun will be the

largest caliber gun carried by U.S. warships when the two remaining

battleships, the USS WISCONSIN and the USS MISSOURI, with their

16-inch/50 guns, are retired in FY-92.

     In the opinion of many people, opposed amphibious landings are a

type of naval warfare that is now only a part of history and that any

fire support requirements beyond the capability of the 5-inch gun

could be assigned to carrier aviation or deployed Marine air assets.

History books are replete with reminders that the key to successful

amphibious operations lies in close partnership between the landing

force and the forces afloat.  The most important aspect of that

partnership was ample, responsive firepower; firepower which could

kill, suppress, disrupt, and cause dispersion.  The British learned

that lesson at Gallipoli during World War I.  When the Royal Navy was

unable to support key attacks with naval gunfire, the Anglo-French

landing forces were driven back to the crowded beaches, where they

suffered appalling casualties before the final evacuation.

     These same people believe the size and configuration of the U.S.

Navy should be based on scenarios for the most likely intervention or

crisis management rather than the worst-case threat of general war.

However, a fleet which is designed to meet only the most probable

threat may be incapable of surviving the worst.  Doctrine and tactics

can be adjusted, but attempting to scale up less capable or incapable

ships to fight against an overwhelming threat won't work.

     It is through the use of violence -- or the credible threat of

violence, which requires the apparent willingness to use it -- that we

compel our enemy to do our will. (6: 11 ) The current Naval Surface

Fire Support (NSFS) capability doesn't present a "credible threat" of


     "A good gun causes victory, armor only postpones defeat."

                            --  Vice Admiral S. O. Makaroff (1l: 270)


     On March 9, 1847, General Winfield Scott made the first

amphibious landing in American history at Veracruz, Mexico.  The

landing was unopposed and 10,000 troops came ashore without loss

of life. (16: 147)

     In the early 19:30's at Quantico, Virginia, Fleet Marine Force

(FMF) leaders began to work on the problems of conducting amphibious

operations, which they found required new combat techniques and a

high-degree of combined-arms coordination, as well as special landing

craft and weapons.  The fundamental problems of seizing a defended

beachhead were initially addressed by Major Earl H. Ellis, a protege

of Major General John A. Lejeune.  Major Ellis foresaw that naval

gunfire and air strikes would provide the fire superiority that

conventional artillery could not provide while waves of landing craft

brought infantry, machine guns, light artillery, and tanks to the

beaches.  It was expected, and history has shown, that the

concentrated violence of the beach assault could carry the Marines

through the beach defenses.

     The contributions of naval guns in various World War II

amphibious operations, such as the landings on Sicily and at Salerno

in Italy, clearly demonstrated the decisive role of naval gunnery in

blunting major infantry and armored reserve counterattacks against

landing forces.  In Sicily, naval gunfire supported our own advancing

troops, up to eight miles inland.  "So devastating in its effective-

ness," wrote General Eisenhower, was this shooting, "as to dispose

of any doubts that naval guns are suitable for shore bombardment."

(17: 258) During the initial stages in the European Theater, the major

caliber gun (8-inch and larger) platforms defeated axis armored

counterattacks, primarily by stripping them of their infantry and

engineer support.  On 14 September, 1943, after naval gunfire from (at

least 16 to 18) battleships, cruisers and destroyers had helped to

blunt the German counterattack at Salerno, Panzer commander General

Vietinghoff wrote, "with astonishing precision and freedom of

maneuver, these ships shot at every recognized target with over-

whelming effect."  The next day, Marshal Kesselring ordered a general

retirement, "in order to evade effective shelling from warships."

(17: 356) Success of the Normandy operations hinged on the avail-

ability of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers for gunfire support.

Nothing was more certain than that very heavy naval gunfire would be

necessary to break down Germany's Atlantic Wall.  The beginning of a

massive buildup began on 7 June.  Although the troops had scant

artillery and tank support from their own elements that day, they

enjoyed ready and accurate naval gunfire support, which frustrated the

enemy's attempt to counterattack.  At Omaha beach, two fire support;

ships, the 32-year old ARKANSAS and the TEXAS, shot off 771 rounds of

14-inch on D-day.  "Without that gunfire," wrote Rear Admiral J. L.

Hall, Commander XI Phib Force Omaha, "we positively could not have

crossed the beaches." (17: 403) The destructive punch and accuracy of

observer-adjusted 16-inch fire facilitated the landing at Utah beach.

The U.S. battleship NEVADA even reached 10 miles inland in answer to

calls for fire support.  In addition, experimental LCTs (Landing

Craft, Tank) carrying tanks and self-propelled artillery, delivered

8,000 rounds of unaimed 105-mm during the run to the beaches.  Just

prior to touchdown of the leading waves, nine rocket craft fired a

9,000-round barrage.  After the war, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt,

commenting on the numerous occasions when naval gunfire support had

prevented German counterattacks at Normandy, stated, "the fire of your

battleships was a main factor in hampering our counter-stroke.  This

was a big surprise both in range and accuracy."

     The value of naval gunfire in support of the amphibious landing

and subsequent operations ashore was particularly evident in the

islands campaigns of the Pacific Theatre.  The Japanese penchant for

concealing heavily reinforced defensive positions required an

accurate, high velocity, major caliber weapon system to ensure the

assault would not be stopped at the beach.  On Iwo Jima, Lieutenant

General Kuribayashi built a network of emplacements either deep under

concrete cover or underground.  Pre-D-day bombardment was conducted by

six battleships and five cruisers who employed 14,000 rounds of major

caliber ammunition.  The ships defeated over 76% of the beach

defenses during only ten hours of bombardment over three days.  Had

those defenses not been silenced, a difficult but successful

amphibious assault would, instead, have been a failure.  On D-day

alone, seven battleships, eight cruisers, nine destroyers, and 39

gunships delivered 3,000 rounds of major caliber ammunition, more than

10,000 rounds of 5-inch and 6-inch, and over 20,000 5-inch rockets.

Throughout the Iwo Jima campaign, naval gunfire supported the V

Amphibious Corps with a total of more than 251,000 naval projectiles.

LtGen Kuribayashi reported to the Japanese General Staff in February

1945, that, "the power of American warships . . . makes every landing

possible to whatever beachhead they like." (10: 28) Another successful

amphibious assault in the Central Pacific, made possible by prolonged

naval gunfire support against fortifications ashore, occurred at

Okinawa.  Before the first troops touched shore at Okinawa, the Navy

had fired a total of almost 45,000 rounds of shells, 30,000 rockets,

and 22,500 mortars.  On D-day, LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) gunboats

led the amphibious assault to pound the beaches with a last-minute

barrage of 4.5-inch and 5-inch rockets, 4.2 inch mortars, and 40-mm

shells.  A hundred yards astern came a wave of armed (and armored)

LVTs (Landing Vehicle, Tracked), their 76-mm howitzers ready to take

up the effort when the gunboats reached the abutting reefs and had to

turn back. (1)

     The Korean War confirmed the importance of ample supporting fire-

power for operations such as the Inchon landing and the naval

evacuation of Hungnam.  Long-range naval gunfire (battleship missions

averaged 32,000 yards; cruisers, 22,000 yards) support was directed at

hard targets (blockhouses, covered artillery emplacements, and

personnel shelters).  5-inch guns had little or no effect against

coastal defense positions.  An indication of the relative lethality of

various naval rounds follows:

                  Naval Gunfire Amphibious Operations (19: 43)

            Projectile        Relative Value per Round
                               compared to 105-mm HE

            5-inch HC                1.3 to 1.4

            8-inch HC                2.8 to 3.7

           16-inch HC              7.6 to 14.9

Viewed from a different perspective, as approximate equivalents in

terms of neutralization capability:

     (1)  One 16-inch HC (high capacity) round is 5.4 to 11.5 times as

deadly as a 5-inch HC round.

     (2)  One 8-inch HC round is 2.0 to 2.8 times as deadly as a

5-inch HC round.

Consequently, assigned missions were designed to harass, interdict,

and neutralize infantry and light armored vehicle movement.

     Amphibious operations proved their viability again in Vietnam,

where they were used to provide flanking and blocking maneuvers.

Naval guns performed important missions during the Vietnam War -- in

amphibious assault, gunfire support, and shore bombardment.  Most of

the fire support ships were destroyers whose 5-inch guns were too

small to do much damage and too short-ranged to do it far inland.

However, the battleship NEW JERSEY, reactivated at great expense, was

on station from September 1968 to March 1969 and fired 3,615 16-inch

shells, mainly to support the 3rd Marine Division operating along the

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the 101st Airborne Division during bloody

fighting in the A Shau Valley. (14: 144) Naval gunfire support

requirements in Vietnam reconfirmed World War II and Korean War

experiences with the 5-inch gun.  Specifically:

     (1)  The 5-inch gun could not meet range requirements which

routlnely exceeded 30,00 yards.

     (2)  The 5-inch gun projectile lacked the essential punch to

defeat typical hard targets. (26: 7)


     Amphibious landings since World War II have demonstrated the

growing land-sea interface and have made use of new equipment and new

tactics.  Recall the stunniny operations at Inchon, the Falkland War

where the British destroyer GLAMORGAN was struck by land-based

missiles, the United States swift use of airciaft and warship mobility

in taking Grenada and, most recently, the amphibious operations in the

Persian Gulf that were confounded by minefields.  The trends of

increasing weapon range, accuracy, and lethality foreshadow:

     (1)  A change in the form of defense.

     (2)  A further erosion of the distinction between land and sea


As a result, power projection by amphibious forces is evolving into a

struggle between land forces, which have greater recuperative power,

and sea forces, which are less easily targeted because of their

mobility. (11: 157) For example, during World War II, the Japanese

gradually learned that a more effective defense against landing

assaults backed by overwhelming naval firepower was to develop inter-

locking positions rather than to expend their forces at the beaches.

The postwar period has seen technology enhancing the ability of

amphibious forces to penetrate to their targets, and at the-same time

for defensive systems to prevent that penetration.  The measure-

countermeasure cycle places a premium on surprise, since once a system

is known to exist and its characteristics are understood, it is

usually possible to devise countermeasures that will reduce or

completely negate its effectiveness.  The cycle is analogous to that

which began in the late 1830's when the United States adopted the

shell gun.  The answer to the incendiary shell gun was iron.  The

"race" between guns and armor -- between penetration and protection --

has become a war between increasingly sophisticated scouting and

antiscouting sensors. (16: 125)

     While evolving concepts for the conduct of the amphibious assault

will exploit the capabilities to land forces in relatively unopposed

areas from over-the-horizon (0TH) whenever and wherever possible,

circumstances may still require assaults against defended beaches and

landing zones.  Moreover, the landing force once ashore in the

objective area must be prepared to face the type of violent counter-

attacks using highly mobile, mechanized forces that the threat


     In a worst-case scenario, the seaward approaches to the

objective will be defended by a combination of multiple rocket

launchers and surface-to-surface missiles, coastal defense artillery,

and mines.  A perfect example can be found in Southwest Asia, along

the Kuwaiti coastline, where Iraq employed classic Soviet coastal

defense principles.  The intricate defensive system is designed to:

     (1)  Engage at long range to destroy the enemy in the water.

This includes using not only the weapons organic to the motorized

rifle division, but also all other assets that can be brought to bear

on the ATF while it is in transit to the amphibious operations area


     (2)  Employ overlapping crossfires just off the beaches.

     (3)  Push the enemy back into the sea.  If the enemy manages to

land, an effort will be made to literally push him back into the sea

by bringing maximum firepower to bear, and launching a decisive

counterattack before the enemy landing force can build-up power


     (4)  Maneuver weapons and manpower behind the beach to shape the


The Marine Corps Weapons of the World Handbook highlights the most

common weapons and weapons systems available in the worldwide

expeditionary environment (and used by Iraq) to support this defense

in-depth strategy. (25) They include:

(1)            Artillery

100-mm Field Gun M-1955                        21,000 meters
100-mm Antitank Gun MT-12                  21,000 meters
122-mm Howitzer D-30                        21,900 meters with RAP
122-mm Field Gun D-74                        24,000 meters
130-mm Field Gun M-46                        27,490 meters
152-mm Gun-Howitzer D-20                  24,000 meters with RAP
152-mm Self-Propelled Howitzer M-1973      30,000 Meters with RAP
(2)            Multiple Rocket Launchers and Surface-to-Surface Missiles
122-mm Multiple (40) Rocket Launcher BM-21      20,500 meters
SS-1C/SCUD-B Surface-to-Surface Missile            300km
FROG-7/VOLGA Surface-to-Surface Rocket            70km
(3)            Tanks
T-54/T-55 Medium Tank                        21,000 meters
T-62 Medium Tank                              20,000 meters
T-72 Medium Tank                              20,000 meters plus

     Each year the weapons of war become more destructive, more

accurate, more transportable, more numerous, and more available.  The

proliferation of technologically sophisticated weapons, combined with

the demonstrated willingness of the recipients of these weapons to use

them, poses a dangerous threat to U.S. naval forces deployed overseas.

Limitations on the ability of warships to operate within range of

land-based weapons of comparable [or greater] striking power have

never been greater than they are now.  For example, more than 30

Third World countries possess some combination of ship-, air-, or

submarine-launched antiship cruise missile, and more than 10 of those

countries have coastal defense missile batteries. (25)

     The days when the poor and destitute countries of the world

equipped their military units with only antiquated arms are long gone.

The ATF today may find itself facing a foe with weapons every bit as

modern and deadly as its own.  Security and peace will need to be

earned in the future, just as they have in the past.

     "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with
     the blood of patriots and tyrants.  It is its natural manure."

                                      -- Thomas Jefferson (1l: 223)


     Maneuver warfare and attrition warfare represent alternative

ways of thinking about the nature of war.  Attrition warfare, a mutual

casualty-inflicting and absorbing contest where the goal is a

favorable exchange rate, focuses on the successful delivery of fire-

power.  It is the protection of fire[power] that allows us to move in

the face of the enemy and it is the destructive force of fire[power]

that adds menace to our movements. (6: 27) Unless the Navy is able to

fight and defeat opposing forces at the beachhead, the ability to

launch deep strikes will be of limited value.

     In any discussion of power projection, the fire support

capabilities of aircraft must be considered along with those of naval

guns.  Since 1946, naval forces have been called upon in 187 occasions

-- ninety percent of those in Third World countries.  Amphibious

forces have participated in 100 incidents; carrier battle groups

(CVBGs) provided sea-based air support to the amphibious task force

(ATF) about 76% of the time. (9: 330) Nevertheless, aircraft suffer

from inherent limitations, such as the lack of an all-weather, day-

night support capability, a significant response time, and a lack of

lethality essential for destruction of hard targets.  More

significant, however, is the question of the future availability of

carrier-based (and in some environments, land-based) aircraft to

support forcible entry on a hostile shore.  Budget pressures are

expected to reduce the aircraft carrier force level to 12 carriers --

and possibly as few as 10 -- in FY-95. (3: 67) In addition, the

rapidly changing security environment has dictated changes to the

forward deployment of U.S. forces.  This will be most noticeable in

Europe where a dramatic reduction in U.S. forward-deployed forces will

occur.  Even in Asia, where potential regional aggressors have long

presented a more likely threat to stability than has superpower

competition, some reduction will occur.  U.S. forces will face reduced

access to overseas bases as well as unacceptable restrictions on our

operations from those bases.  Consequently, aircraft will shoulder

less of the fire support burden in future amphibious operations.

     The unique qualifications of naval guns remain essential to

power projection ashore.  Even so, the Navy would be hard pressed to

muster the kind of firepower that was available during World War II.

In 1946, the U.S. Navy had 23 battleships, 71 all-gun cruisers (with

6-inch or 8-inch guns), and 372 destroyers.  As late as 1968, there

were still some 280 fire support ships, including one battleship and

ten cruisers.  However, in the 1970s the Navy decommissioned more than

100 fire support ships.

     Today, there are some 143 battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and

frigates with a fire support capability.  The following table shows

the characteristics of the primary gun systems carried by existing

U.S. warships:

                  Naval Gunfire Weapons Capabilities (18: 14)

Gun         Maximum           Projectile        Burst          Rate of
             Range         Weight            Radius          Fire
            (meters)            (lbs)           (meters)      (rapid/sustain)

16-inch/50      38,000 (full)      1,900/            200               2/1
            22,999 (reduced)      2,700

5-inch/54      21,887 (full)         70                45               30/20
   (MK 42)      12,200 (reduced)  

5-inch/54      21,887 (full)         70                45               20/15
   (MK 45)      12,000 (reduced)

5-inch/38      15,900 (full)         55                30               20/15
             8,100 (reduced)

     Current programs contain no real remedy for what has become a

critical shortage of naval gunfire support.  The only significant

improvement will be in  reliability' as additional CG-47 class

cruisers (two 5-inch/54 MK 45 guns) and DDG-51 class guided-missile

destroyers (one 5-inch/54 MK 45 gun) join the fleet.  They will

replace the remaining DDG-2 class guided-missile destroyers (two

5-inch/54 MK 42 guns) and 40 FF-1052 class frigates (one 5-inch/54 MK

42 gun) as potential fire support platforms.  Modern gunfire control

systems (GFCS) like the MK 86 GFCS may give them better accuracy, but

this does not begin to compensate for the reduced number of guns in

the fleet.


     . . . it is not the free creation of the mind' of generals of
     genius that have revolutionized war but the inventions of
     better weapons and changes in the human material, the soldier;
     at the very most the part played by generals of genius is
     limited to adapting methods of fighting to the new weapons and

                                                     -- Enqel

     Third World conflicts have become more hazardous to our health.

Sophisticated weapons are eagerly marketed throughout the Third World,

adding to the potential violence of all forms of conflict regardless

of the opponent.  Future belligerents are likely to be armor heavy,

rich in long-range artillery, and capable of tenacious defense of

their homeland. (13: 25) They will employ coastal defense weapons and

mines to fix, delay, and destroy the landing force and to create a

deadly no-man's land between the beachhead and the ATF.

     The Marine Corps is pursuing alternatives to landing entirely

over the beach so that a foothold can be established ashore without

crippling casualties robbing the assault of its momentum.  In the

initial Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Master Plan (MMP),

General A. M. Gray, Commandant of the Marine Corps, addressed

enhancing amphibious forcible entry capabilities through attainment of

a full over-the-horizon (0TH) amphibious assault capability.

.Specifically, Gen Gray said:  "The use of new vertical take-off and

landing (VTOL) aircraft, advanced amphibious assault vehicles (AAAV),

and landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) will allow MAGTFs to conduct

amphibious operations from over-the-horizon distances of 26 miles or

more." (15: ES-2) In this manner, "we are able to avoid opposing

strength and attack from an advantageous position of our choosing

toward selected enemy weakness." (6: 59) To preserve the tactical

surprise, it will be necessary for the NSFS ships to remain over the

horizon until the point of attack is revealed.

     The MMP recommended that the Navy develop a long-range surface

fire support capability.  The principal fire support requirement being

to neutralize enemy artillery and highly mobile, mechanized forces

that may threaten the assault element during the initial phase of the

assault.  The goal: provide surface fire support with a 60 nautical

mile (NM) range and the accuracy, responsiveness, and mobility to

counter enemy fire support and to support troops in close contact.

(15: 6-1)

     There are a number of possible solutions.  Some can provide a

good deal of capability in the short term at a surprisingly affordable

cost, others require a long-term commitment and ample resources.  The

common thread is technology; utilizing or adapting off-the-shelf

technology to fill the requirements.  The following NSFS improvements

should be pursued:

     (1)  Near-Term (High pay-off improvements to existing systems).

Although existing gun weapon systems do not provide the range,

accuracy, or lethality mandated by the 0TH concept, cost effective,

near-term programs exist to bridge the gap between the TOMAHAWK,

HARPOON, and aircraft on the one hand and the 5-inch/54 gun on the

other.  Synopses on the two 16-inch programs are provided to show that

quantum enhancements in battleship firepower are possible by implemen-

ting the proposed range and lethality improvements.  My recommendation

is to retain the USS MISSOURI and the USS WISCONSIN; forward deploy

them to the 6th and 7th Fleet, respectively; and sit back and reap the


          (a)  16-Inch/50 Extended Range (ER) Program.  The program

was designed to provide a 16--inch ER projectile and a GFCS for the

BB-61 class battleships.  The projectile was designed as a 13-inch

subcaliber projectile, saboted to the 16-inch bore diameter and loaded

with either M46 or Sense and Destroy armor (SADARM) submunitions.  The

concept was tested by Naval Surface Weapons Center (NSWC), Dahlgren

and several candidate rounds were recommended which extended the

6-inch range capability to 70,000 yards.

          (b)  16-Inch/50 Product Improvement Program (PIP).  The

16-inch/5O MK 146 improved conventional munition (ICM) projectile was

developed to provide submunition projectile capability for the BB-61

class battleships.  The two types of ammunition that showed the most

promise for improving 16-inch gun lethality at extended ranges were

the M42 and M46 submunitions for use against anti-personnel/light

armor targets.  An extremely effective area weapon, each of the over

500 M42/M46 submunitions will penetrate over two inches of steel, as

well as throw shrapnel over a wide area.  The SADARM submunitions,

under development for the Army, will be dispensed over a target area,

descend by parachute, search the battlefield below them, and fire a

self-forging slug down at detected targets.  The SADARM submunitions

will give the 16-inch guns their anti-tank capability. (12: ES)

          (c)  5- Inch/54 Semi-Active Laser-Guided Projectile (SAL-GP).

Another improved munition, the 5-inch SAL-GP is a very accurate rocket

fired from a 5-inch gun tube.  First shot hit probability was said to

be greater than 82 percent.  It was designed to provide a one-shot,

hard point target, e.g., tank or bunker, killing capability. (12: B-1)

(2)  Mid-Term.  8-Inch/55 MK 71 Major Caliber Lightweight Gun

(MCLWG).  The 8-inch/55 MK 71 MCLWG was designed to provide fire

support out to 40,000 yards and is capable of employing base-bleed

and/or discarding saboted projectiles for much greater ranges.  The

gun was operationally tested and evaluated on the USS HULL (DD 945) in

1970 and was approved for service use.  The 8-inch/55 MK 71 MCLWG is

an "off-the-shelf" design, although considerable research and develop-

ment will be required to update the design. (12: C-11)  The 8-inch/55

MK 71 MCLWG should be installed on all DDG-51 class guided-missile

destroyers during construction.  In addition, the forward 5-inch/54 MK

45 gun on the DD-963 class destroyers should be replaced with the

8-inch/55 MK 71 MCLWG during regularly scheduled maintenance


     (3)  Long-Term (Evolutionary replacement of existing systems).

Don't expect to find a great number of new gun systems being

developed.  Instead, look for greater refinements in the range,

accuracy, and lethality of existing gun systems.  Also, look for

greater application of land-based systems for use at sea, e.g., the

shipboard variant of the army's Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

          (a)  Assault Ballistic Rocket System (ABRS).  The army's

Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is being evaluated for possible

use at sea.  Designated the Assault Ballistic Rocket System (ABRS),

the weapon system can blanket an area the size of four football fields

with submunitions to create a killing zone.  The baseline 9-inch

rocket carries.. 644 M77 or M46 submunitions, or bomblets, about the

size of a hand grenade.  Research is underway to increase the 18.6

mile range to 60 NM using an 18.5-inch rocket and to improve the

warhead to make it suitable for heavy armor and hard targets such as

bunkers. (23)

          (b)  Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) .  The Senate

armed Services Committee, in a mid-July report, authorized $30-million

to "explore adapting . . . the newer, longer-range Army Tactical Missile

System (ATACM) to Navy use to provide fire support to Marines ashore."

The ATACMS is a surface-to-surface missile system with a range of more

than 150 miles.  A Block II warhead that would contain 26 infrared

terminally guided submunitions (IRTGSM) is under development.

          (c)  Reconnaissance (Scouting/Antiscouting) .  Indirect fire

weapons will require greater accuracy, which will demand better

reconnaissance and target acquisition capabilities.  In Southwest

Asia, the reconnaissance/surveillance and target acquisition mission

was handled by the "Pioneer" unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  26 out of

40 used were damaged:  6 lost, the remaining 20 repairable.  The pay-

load:  TV, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), laser designator, thermal

imager, EW, and still photos.  The endurance can vary up to 7+ hours

or approximately 700 miles.


     Just as the "amtrac" provided a technological answer to a

crucial tactical requirement that led to a strategic victory, so to

can imaginative, practical solutions make up for the shortfall in

naval surface fire support. (1: 247) The technology is available for

large improvements in the very near future.


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