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Chinese Solutions for Marine Landings

May 25, 2010

With persistent calamities occurring in almost every new US Marine weapons platform, it is no wonder than some are laying doubt on its core amphibious mission. In a now infamous speech before the Navy League  earlier this month, Defense Secretary Gates made this jaw-dropping comment:

We have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again…

An overview of the programs in question might have you agreeing with the Secretary’s frustration-instigated questions:

  • LHA-6 America amphibious assault carrier-At $3 billion each, this 45,000 ton vessel is actually less capable than the ship it is replacing (sans well-deck), yet more expensive.
  • Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles-Where to start? At $22 million each, the EFV is more expensive than an M-1 tank, technically faulty, and a decade late in deployment.
  • LPD-17 San Antonio Landing Platform Dock-$1.8 billion per vessel has not produced quality, since nearly every vessel so far has suffered mechanical deficiencies, including the lead ship which broke down on its maiden voyage.
  • V-22 Osprey tiltroter-Dubbed by some the “widow maker” for its habit of crashing loaded with Marines. The Osprey has been soaking up Marine Corps spending for decades with little to show for it.
  • F-35 Joint Strike Fighter-Like every other Marine program, riddled with technical faults, suffering from cost overruns, and greatly delayed entering service. Something has to give before it all breaks down.

In stark contrast, China is fielding and even expanding its amphibious capabilities, on a far smaller budget and with far less experience in beaching landings than the legendary Marines. An overview of the country’s expanding capabilities was provided by Richard D. Fisher, Jr. at Aviation Week:

  • 18-ton ZTZ-63A amphibious tank (or T-63A)
  • 13-troop Type-63C amphibious armored personnel carrier (APC)
  • ZTD-05 and ZBD-05 family of amphibious assault vehicles
  • Type-07B amphibious 122-mm. howitzer
  • truck-mounted 240-mm. mine-clearing multiple-rocket system and “trucks with heavy and lightweight aprons”.
  • amphibious logistic support vehicles such as “the Dong Feng EQ 2102 6 X 6 truck, two families of Jeep-like vehicles and an amphibious version of an Isuzu 4 X 4 truck”.
  • 20,000-ton Type 071 LPD and Type 081-class flat-deck LHDs.
  • New hovercraft and possibility homemade V/STOL planes.

How can the Chinese expand on a limited budget while the masters of the Gator Navy are endangered of losing their vaunted capability entirely? A simple matter of budget priorities according to Richard:

The reasons for the success of the PLA’s new vehicles are simple: their lesser requirements and smaller size, which resulted in lower technological barriers and a faster development timetable. The ZTD-05 weighs an estimated 26 tons and can reportedly travel 40 kph., while the EFV pushes 35 tons and does 46 kph. Unlike the EFV, the ZTD-05 carries a version of the 105-mm. low-recoil gun that arms the ZTZ-63A, and also uses the Bastion antitank missile. The ZBD-05 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), armed with a 30-mm. automatic cannon and low-cost HJ-73C antitank missile, is more comparable to the EFV, which is also armed with a 30-mm. cannon in its IFV version. While both have crews of three, the ZBD‑05 carries 10 troops while the EFV carries 17. The ZTD/ZBD hull is used for command and ARV variants.

Keeping things simple bypasses many headaches. Also using off-the shelf vehicles as the basis for their new craft. The above mentioned T-63A amphibious tank is based on the venerable Russian PT-76 light tank. Perhaps the Marine might also adapt land vehicles for this specialized role, such as its LAVs already in service, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel which has consistently led to greatly delayed weapons, gold plated and technically flawed. An historical example is the DD tank for the Normandy Invasions which allowed a Sherman tank to wade safely ashore, when it was deployed properly at least, as the British proved.

*****

Turning from vehicles, to naval vessels, while the Marines struggle to maintain a fleet of a little more than 30 ships, the PLAN has in 2003-2005 alone  commissioned 30 amphibious ships and landing craft. More are planned including some fairly large ships rivaling our own. While the argument might be that USN versions are greatly more capable, as we learn with the LPD-17 class, capability doesn’t insure availability.

Smaller and simpler craft would often be all that is required for most Marine missions, who haven’t conducted a major beach landing since Inchon 60 years ago. For the type of very low tech missions, as we see in the above picture of USS Mesa Verde off Somalia, very low tech craft are all that is required, including traditional landing craft (LSTs) which the PLAN still embraces.

Certainly the USMC could make use of numerous examples of the Joint High Speed Vessel, which is a handy “Stryker at Sea”, able to navigate shallow waters where our forces need to be, traverse the Blue Water environment, all for a reasonable price ($160 million each). The point is for variety and numbers, having many good weapons instead of a few outstanding. Normal Marine procurement practice has been to bet the farm on a few wonder weapons, which turn out so heavenly capable, like the EFV, but is of little earthly good since they aren’t there when needed, nor work properly when they finally enter service.

*****

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. leesea permalink
    May 26, 2010 8:50 pm

    Solomon sorry I did not mean to suggest that amphib warships are not neeeded for assault, they are absolutely needed for forcible entry operations. I am just saying that other type ships can help provide lift of Marines and their equipment to theather and within theater.

    I in no way intended to defame the Marines or Sailors or Coastguard’s men who went to Hatii. The Coasties did a particularlly notable job considering they did not have all the cutters and personnel needed – and then set up one of the first military run emergency medical centers.

  2. Scott B. permalink
    May 26, 2010 6:25 pm

    x said : “I can’t be bothered to explain myself again”

    What you said in your first post pretty well summed it up : JHSV is in theatre transport, i.e. in non-pedantic parlance, nothing more than a fast ferry.

    The questions are :

    1) Why does the Navy now intend to procure 41 of these over a 30-year period whereas 7 JHSV equivalents meet USMC requirements

    2) Why should the Navy pay twice the price for these when compared with commercial designs.

    The answers are :

    1) If 7 JHSVs meet USMC requirements, then the Navy shouldn’t try to procure (or simply operate) more than 7.

    2) There’s no reason why the Navy should pay twice the price for these anyway.

    In short, JHSV is yet another failed program, and what suggestions to the effect that JHSV could replace gators and/or act as a patrol vessel show is that, as most failed programs, JHSV has become a solution looking for a problem to justify its existence.

  3. May 26, 2010 4:59 pm

    I think some here need to cool their heals. I can’t be bothered to explain myself again. I think I will stop commenting here for a while.

  4. May 26, 2010 3:07 pm

    And when you de-link amphibious ships from amphibious assault then you can just scratch them from the roster! That would make many happy but not me. Once capability is lost in the US military very rarely is it reconstituted.

    If you think that the Navy is going to move amphibs over to the Riverine mission then you’re smoking something illegal. To be quite honest once this war is over I can easily see that mission being pushed back on the Marines and the Navy getting rid of it as a way of saving money and avoiding the duplication of missions.

    JHSV?? A nice toy for the US Army. Not really effective for the Marine Corps. We would do better buying more LCACs. They have more utility, are just as fast and can put forces ashore feet dry without preparation…something the JHSV can’t do.

    Oh and yeah the amphibs were first responders….but with Marines. The Coast Guard was there first but could only watch because they didn’t have the manpower and weren’t equipped to do the mission. Marines bring that flexibility.

    Navy guys (well some of them) forget that the amphib is part of a team, not an independent actor.

    Lastly, Mike —-that caption is misleading and untrue. The LPD-17 was supporting a mission outside of its “skill set” because the Navy doesn’t have other forces that can do the mission as effectively as the amphib.

    Even other navies are realizing this. Amphibs are the ship of choice in this brave new world. Commentators and critics be damned.

  5. leesea permalink
    May 26, 2010 12:37 pm

    Solomon, NO I don’t want unarmed sealift ships sailing into harm’s way!

    What I tried to say was the JHSVs are transports meant to work to & from sealift ships to the shore. Currently (since 1985 for the MPS) that is seen a benign environment though we all know it can be dangerous.

    What USNav Work has more recently suggested is that JHSV could be used along with warships in OMFTS. IOW JHSV could connect sealift ships such as Prepo ships to the amphibs. I think that might be doable IF their is a good interface (possibly the MLP)?

    I have in other prior posts stated that the JHSV is poorly armed for self-defense and suggested that the Navy needs to come up with a new classification of Armed Naval Auxiliary.

    NONE of that is meant to say that JHSV can take part in a forcible entry operations.

    But if the Marines need to transport troops and some material from – a seabase, an amphib, a safe port to ANOTHER location quickly, the JHSV could perform those sealift missions.

    I believe the jist of what SECDEF has recently said about amphbious warfare is that we all need to relook at it. This is just one of the attempts to relook. I think we need to de-link the amphibious assault function from the amphibious warship, or in other words (see NNFM by Capt Hughes) the “important” mission is amphibous lift, i.e. getting the troops and materuak to where they are needed.

    Look at most modern (since DS/S) usage of amphibs and see how few assaults they were needed for. Rather most of the time it was the lift function those hulls were needed for.

    Taking that one more step to the recent Haiti earthquake, those warships were key First Responders which had men and materials needed on-scene in relatively short order. They all did a great job, but then had to leave. They amphibs lifted ermergency materials, provide troop lift to the scene (lodging, support, etc included) and served offshore bases for operations. Those were all done very well. Then they leave and the MSC/RRF ships stayed on to rebuild the ports etc ALONG with a lot of suede boot sailors and other trooops.

    In the above, I am just trying to distinquish lift from assault functions. Every naval mission does not demand a warship.

    Those naval leaders in power will have to decide IF they need more warships just to satify future sealift needs. I obviously believe that sealift ships can, as they have for centuries, supported the Navy in a number of its missions.

  6. Scott B. permalink
    May 26, 2010 10:05 am

    Solomon said : “Amazing. You want ships that aren’t built to combat standards sailing into harms way.”

    It’s not just amazing : it’s SUICIDAL !!!

  7. Scott B. permalink
    May 26, 2010 8:52 am

    leesea said : “There is NOTHING inherently wrong with have a fast transport. In point of fact that is what the WW2 APDs were given the technology of the time.”

    You should really allocate some time to find out what the WW2 APDs really were. Here is where you could start :Navsource

    What are some of the common features one might distinguish here :

    1) The APDs didn’t try to produce extravagant speed performance.
    2) The APDs were relatively well armed to be able to defend themselves
    3) The APDs offered survivability that could compare with the DEs they were based on.
    4) The APDs offered a pretty decent loaded range (6,000 NM @ 12 knots for the Crosley-class).

    Now contrast with your beloved JHSV :

    1) Average speed of 35 knots, maximum speed of 43 knot
    2) Virtually unarmed, as you conceded earlier
    3) Completely unarmored, as you also conceded earlier
    4) Maximum transit range of 1,200 NM

    Comparing JHSV with APDs is shallow rhetoric.

    JHSV is nothing more than a glorified fast-ferry, with useless gold-plating that more than doubles its price when compared with similar commercial designs.

    Yet another waste of taxpayer’s $$$ !!!

  8. Scott B. permalink
    May 26, 2010 8:32 am

    leesea said : “The JHSV is a TRANSPORT vessel whose design is based on the HSV Westpac Express. Having worked on the later, I know two similar designs when I see them.”

    Whether JHSV is based on the Hawaii Superferry, as program officials have explained to the GAO, or on the Westpac Express, as Mr Whaler proclaims, is totally irrelevant to the point being made.

    The point being made is this :

    1) JHSV costs $194 million per unit according to the most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan

    2) A commercial design of similar design and dimensions costs somewhere between $85 and $95 million per unit. E.g. :

    Austal’s 107-meter catamaran for Maltese operator Virtu Ferries : AU$106 million, i.e. about $86 million based on current exchange rates.

    Austal’s 113-meter catamaran for Denmark’s Nordic Ferry Services : AU$114 million, i.e. about $93 million based on current exchange rates.

    Whatever the gold-plating might be made of (and you’ll always find people like Mr Whaler to explain how essential said gold-plating might be !!!), it still creates a cost premium of (at least) $100 million per vessel for something that, at the end of day, remains nothing more than a fast ferry, as Bill and others pointed out not so long ago.

    And this $100 million premium is yet another abject waste of taxpayer’s money !!!

  9. Scott B. permalink
    May 26, 2010 8:12 am

    (please delete previous post)

    leesea said : “needless to say ScottB has again misread my comments and in addition made lengthy posts filled with errors.”

    Pot calling kettle black !!!

    leesea said : ” This for instance is pure dribble: “lack of endurance and poor seakeeping qualities”.”

    1) Regarding seakeeping, the p*ss-poor seakeeping qualities of JHSV has been discussed ad nauseum on this very blog in the recent past. For instance, here is what Bill said on the subject not so long ago :

    “But JHSV? OK… think on this one. The Hawaii Superferry versions were built with what Austal considered to be the most advanced (for them) combination of active-dynamic pitch, roll and yaw motion stabilization package there ever was. It was not near enough… not even close

    The JHSV has none of that. Oh… wait… JHSV is suppposed to be routinely trans-ocean deployed. And the HSF was nothing more than an inter-island ferry.

    OK..yep..I’m confused. Whoever is watching the store… please call me. We need to talk. Your incredible magic powers far exceed my 25 years of analysing the seakeeping of JHSV vessels.”

    Why you continue to be in denial on the specific subject of JHSV’s poor seakeeping qualities is really getting worrying…

    2) Regarding the lack of endurance, all you need to do is go to Austal’s website and check the JHSV specs :

    Maximum transit, i.e. loaded range = 1,200 NM

    Self-deploying, i.e. unloaded range = 4,700 NM

    Speaks for itself really…

  10. Scott B. permalink
    May 26, 2010 8:11 am

    leesea said : “needless to say ScottB has again misread my comments and in addition made lengthy posts filled with errors.”

    Pot calling kettle black !!!

    leesea said : ” This for instance is pure dribble: “lack of endurance and poor seakeeping qualities”.”

    1) Regarding seakeeping, the p*ss-poor seakeeping qualities of JHSV has been discussed ad nauseum on this very blog in the recent past. For instance, here is what Bill said on the subject not so long ago :

    “But JHSV? OK… think on this one. The Hawaii Superferry versions were built with what Austal considered to be the most advanced (for them) combination of active-dynamic pitch, roll and yaw motion stabilization package there ever was. It was not near enough… not even close

    The JHSV has none of that. Oh… wait… JHSV is suppposed to be routinely trans-ocean deployed. And the HSF was nothing more than an inter-island ferry.

    OK..yep..I’m confused. Whoever is watching the store… please call me. We need to talk. Your incredible magic powers far exceed my 25 years of analysing the seakeeping of JHSV vessels.”

    Why you continue to be in denial on the specific subject of JHSV’s poor seakeeping qualities is really getting worrying…

    2) Regarding the lack of endurance, all you need to do is go to Austal’s website and check the JHSV specs :

    Maximum transit, i.e. loaded range = 1,200 NM

    Self-deploying, i.e. unloaded range = 4,700 NM

    Speaks for itself…

  11. May 26, 2010 7:11 am

    Amazing. You want ships that aren’t built to combat standards sailing into harms way. When you have a couple of ships sunk because they aren’t able to absorb damage then you’ll see a repeat of the Falklands campaign and witness another landing that was jeopardized because essential equipment was placed on CONTAINER SHIPS!

    I get the general gist of the arguments here. Smaller, cheaper etc. But let take a deep breath and realize that someone is going to be on these cheap, small ships and they’re being set up as ‘acceptable losses’…

    That my friends is unacceptable. You want cheaper then lets not buy MRAPs. You want cheaper then lets not issue body armor.

    Survivability has a cost gentleman. Remember that.

  12. May 26, 2010 5:29 am

    “Chinese solutions for Marine Landings”- Interesting scenario!

    Hypothetically, and please excuse my Lay-man lack there of knowledge of amphibious abbreviations or there lack of any at all. The use of container ships or other merchant ships could well suffice at little cost if they were seized and brilliantly, these platforms were used for such an operation. Commercial aircraft of many types could also apply. Having said this, any conflict between the U.S. and the Eurasian pact would be a catastrophe for both sides.
    We are very lucky that World War Two did not continue into the jet age or for that matter the rocket age where it started. ” Believe” many military and other arm chaired analyst are wrong to hang there hats on there so called technological capabilities of various systems that are now mainstreamed and in place .. Suppose our military is financially based on a pork barrel budgets? …. instead of a strategic one? So how much does it cost China to build a couple of aircraft carriers vs the U.S. ? If they were to build some.. As they Are. We’ll We’re probably already subsidizing them. Who knows?
    Amphibious container ships with V/STOL planes and and missiles seems to be the thought of the future, or like vessels that don’t cost billions of dollars. A Leaner and Meaner
    Navy would be the more effective, but what would they win In such a conflict .. is unpredictable.

  13. leesea permalink
    May 26, 2010 1:30 am

    needless to say ScottB has again misread my comments and in addition made lengthy posts filled with errors. This for instance is pure dribble: “lack of endurance and poor seakeeping qualities”. The $185 mil number is from the latest version of the money bill before Congress. There are some military features which rightly drive the JSHV cost up, i.e. helo facility, boat launing system, elevator, military comms, as well as some support equipment.

    The JHSV is a TRANSPORT vessel whose design is based on the HSV Westpac Express. Having worked on the later, I know two similar designs when I see them. Austal’s HSF and newer cats are different designs.

    There is NOTHING inherently wrong with have a fast transport. In point of fact that is what the WW2 APDs were given the technology of the time.

    What some folks may not appreciate is the WPE can lift a battalion minus with about 300 tons of tactical equipment about 1000 nm. That makes WPE and the JHSV as intra-theather tactical sealift ship. That capability give the Marines a good means of transport aka amphibious lift to accomplish OMFTS. They are not intended for forcible entry ops but can be used in many lower phase situations. What will be interesting to see is how the JHSV marries up with the amphib warships given the later’s lack of inter-operability. The Navy has already said the JHSV will be part of MPF squadrons.

    X suffice to say the analogy suffers some~ In point of fact the preminent metric in amphibous “lift” is cargo deadweigh tonnage. All the rest of what amphibs displace is for other systems. Most of what the MPF already has is in the form of CDT. The JHSV is hoped to be the interface between amphibs and prepo (i.e. specialixed) sealift ships. We shall see? The MLP plays is that evolution somehow though I don’t think the Navy knows how?

    Remember that from a sealifters perspective amphibious lift and prepo is all about – throughput i.e. the ability to move men and materials from sea to shore in quantity and rapidly as conditions permit.

  14. May 25, 2010 5:25 pm

    leesea said “I dont’ think there is really a comparison between the JHSV and a container ship ”

    Yes I think there is. Though amphibious warfare is more than just “trooping” both tasks are centred on moving troops and their equipment. This means volume. My comparison is to do with volume and the costs involved in moving that volume. Now I admit that a container ship isn’t a passenger ship; but it does represent the most efficient way of moving a significant volume a great distance at a low cost; Emma Maersk cost $290million. Compare that with the JHSV $160million to move a significant lower volume. Let’s say in abstract you started to fit accommodation to carry one battalion to the container ship you would still have significant change from a billion. How many JHSV to carry a battalion; with no loiter, no war stocks, etc. etc. QM2 cost only $800million to move 4,000 souls (some in considerate comfort!!!!) JHSV replicates all the problems of airborne ops, without the freedom of movement. I am just the container as measure of steel/engine/volume.

    I haven’t explain myself very well, but I hope you get my general drift.

  15. Scott B. permalink
    May 25, 2010 4:55 pm

    Scott B. said : “the JHSV is nothing but a glorified fast ferry, with much gold-plating added on what’s essentially a commercial design (see next post).”

    1) According to the lastest GAO report of major weapon programs (March 2010, page 78) :

    “Program officials estimate that 70 percent of the JHSV design is the same as the commercial Hawaii Superferry produced by the JHSV shipbuilder.”

    2) According to Austal, the Hawaii Superferries cost somewhere between $87 and $95 million each.

    3) In the most recent 30-year Shipbuilding Plan (February 2010), it is estimated that 8 JHSVs (FY2011 till FY2015) will cost an aggregate $1,555 million, i.e. $194 million per unit.

    What this basically means is that gold-plating the original commercial design (which wasn’t that cheap to start with) MORE THAN DOUBLED THE COST.

    Another way to look at it is that, basically, the 70% commonality with the commercial design (i.e. $95 million) COSTS LESS THAN the 30% gold-plating added to JHSV (i.e. $194 – $95 = $99 million).

    And I am supposed to believe that this is a *reasonable price* ?!?!?

    Nahhhhh………

  16. Scott B. permalink
    May 25, 2010 4:35 pm

    leesea said : “Mike while the “USMC could make use of numerous examples of the Joint High Speed Vessel” is is decidly NOT “a handy “Stryker at Sea” because is it neither armored or armed!”

    Exactly !!!

    On the contrary to what high-speed lovers may proclaim, the JHSV boondoggle is :

    1) Poorly suited to such tasks as fighting the mighty pirates off Somalia, because of, among other things, critical *platform-centric* deficiencies such the lack of endurance and poor seakeeping qualities.

    2) Poorly suited to amphibious tasks in anything but the most mundane environments (aka *permissive environments* as the Navy calls them) because of, among other things : lack of armament, poor survivability and limited tactical mobility.

    IOW, the JHSV is nothing but a glorified fast ferry, with much gold-plating added on what’s essentially a commercial design (see next post).

    If it weren’t for some people trying to save face after the LCS fiasco, the Navy wouldn’t even try to buy more than 7 of these (because that’s what the USMC requirement called for), and would have been better off leasing off-the-shelf commercial designs.

    But then there are so many people trying to save face at present…

  17. Chuck Hill permalink
    May 25, 2010 2:43 pm

    Part of the problem is that while the Chinese accept that they would have massive casualties, the US does not. Making everything bullet proof is getting very hard.

  18. leesea permalink
    May 25, 2010 1:29 pm

    Mike while the “USMC could make use of numerous examples of the Joint High Speed Vessel” is is decidly NOT “a handy “Stryker at Sea” because is it neither armored or armed!

    The latest cost of one is more like $185 mil which is very resonable compared to a LCS but not cheap! Cetainly having more good transports (not “weapons”) is a good means of improving amphibious lift but it that has nothing to do with “Marine procurement practice” . The JHSV was in fact a joing rqmt affected as much by Army as Marine input.

    (X – I dont’ think there is really a comparison between the JHSV and a container ship – two different purposed vessels. Perhaps if one is addressing cost alone one might compare JHSV to its sister the HSV WestPac Express which cost $45 mil in then yr terms. Cetainly the LPD17 class are over the top in costs. And there are much more affordable examples of LPD in other navies. The problem with our amphbs is they are designed to be exquisite ships for the exclusive use of the USMC.)

    The rqmt to land the landing force has not changed much but of course is now beeing questioned by none other than SECDEF. The Marines’ problem isn’t really whether but is HOW they intend to go ashore and as you point out the EFV is simply NOT a good means of transport in an amphibious assault.

  19. May 25, 2010 1:13 pm

    Calm down Mr Diver!!! :)

    I know we can build such things. :)

    I can’t get over the gap between the Chinese/Soviet vehicles such as the BMP3/Sprut 125mm AT gun and the EFV. The latter have their faults, but not $22million dollars worth!!!

  20. May 25, 2010 1:09 pm

    In the UK there are more undergraduates studying photography than there are professional photographers.

    The US economy has grown due to off loading its manufacturing to China. The US is becoming a post-industrial economy. The trouble is at the moment is that the experts don’t quite know what that means. In a sense China is measure becomes we can apply old metrics; x thousands ships built, y number of tonnes of steel produced etc. etc. Compare how far China has come implementing its current economic plan with how far Japan came in the same amount of time. And don’t forget the US is pushing on. China is still playing catch-up; still producing last gen’ tech,

    And you have to be careful how you compare “graduates” between the US and China as there has been some question as to the quality of the latter. Not all but a sizeable portion.

    If you were to ask me who will crack the fusion problem it will be the US. And when it does the majority of China will still be living a 19th century existence.

    {Though one of the things the US could do now to ease its security would be to start producing cereals at European rates. The latter gets more than twice the yield per hectare.}

  21. Warrant Diver permalink
    May 25, 2010 1:00 pm

    X

    you say “I too find it puzzling too that the West can’t build a rugged 25,000ton, 25kt vessel with good accommodation to carry 50 or so tracked vehicles themselves capable of 20+ kts.”

    WE CAN! WE CAN! WE CAN!

    The problem is, we WON’T! Our Admirals and Generals have once again fallen in love with super expensive silver bullets and will have to be forced (hopefully by Congress, but maybe the ChiComs will teach us this lesson) to remember that many ole’ lead bullets are better than one silver one…that is too expensive to shoot.

  22. MatR permalink
    May 25, 2010 12:50 pm

    Before I get flamed – these problems are nothing we don’t share in the UK. We don’t have that many science grads, but you can do ‘Surf Studies’ or ‘Golf Course Management’ as a degree.

  23. MatR permalink
    May 25, 2010 9:35 am

    The US’ reach exceeds its grasp.

    It’s a dwindling resource base, the country can’t achieve the leaps it made in the 50s and 60s. The number of US science and engineering graduates has been going down for years. American students perform worse in math and science than competitor nations each decade. Engineering firms downsize as jobs are shipped abroad. Foreigners make up ever more tech grad students. Skilled blue collar tech jobs have declined massively.

  24. May 25, 2010 8:57 am

    Even with inflated Western costs there is no way a vehicle like EFV should exceed $5million a copy. My only reservation with the Chinese vehicles is their light armour. I think perhaps the helicopter has influenced USMC too much. Letting a light mech’ battalion swim itself ashore is the best deployment method. I want to allude to some of the whackier arguments for the M113 one sees about the ‘net but won’t………

    LPD25 is just poorly implemented and poorly built. This is the size of ship the West should be building. JHSV is in theatre transport as Scott B will probably explain again. If you consider that a modern container ship can shift many times as much a JHV but only costs twice as much brings into question your interpretation of value. I will conceed it also brings into question the cost of LPD25. Steel is cheap. It would be nice to know how much of the LPD25’s cost is sensors and other electronics. (Also consider the standards of accommodation in modern passenger vessels built to SOLAS standards and compare them with the standard of accommodation you had last time you were onboad a navy vessels.)

    I too find it puzzling too that the West can’t build a rugged 25,000ton, 25kt vessel with good accommodation to carry 50 or so tracked vehicles themselves capable of 20+ kts.

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