Surface Ships as Sub Fodder
At the Defence and Freedom blog, Sven Ortmann lists some astounding figures on the decades old contest between submarine and surface warships. It appears that not only have the sub hunters fallen behind, they aren’t even in competition anymore! Here are the blogger’s figures on surface launched anti-sub missiles:
RPK-9 Medvedka (Russia): 12 miles
RUM-139B VL-ASROC (USA): 14 miles
New Wars has posted on the discrepancy between the short-range ASW weapons above, and the sub launched cruise missiles before, but here are some astounding figures on the range of anti-ship torpedoes:
YU-6 (Chinese): 28 miles
Mk.48 ADCAP (USA): 31 miles
Torpedo 2000 / Tp62 (Sweden): 31 miles
Black Shark (France/Italy): 31 miles
Seehecht M2A4/Seahake Mod.4 (German): 31 miles
Spearfish (British): 34 miles
An amazing difference! And for the record here are Sven’s data on the anti-ship cruise missiles:
SM39 Exocet (France): 31 miles
UGM-84D Harpoon (USA): 87 miles
P-800 Oniks (Russia): 93 miles
3M-54 Klub versions (Russia): up to 186 miles
So we see the gulf between capabilities expanding wider, with all the advantage on the side of the new U-boats. Here is what the blogger says about the anti-sub escorts’ only long range weapon, the ASW helicopter, with which yours truly concurs:
The standard ASW method of attack would be the use of helicopters to deliver lightweight torpedoes against the submarine (after confirming its position with the helicopter’s sonar systems).
That approach is in my opinion unreliable. I expect lightweight anti-air missiles on submarines in wartime.
The sub hunters also boast an assortment of advanced passive and reactive sensors which supposedly can detect and track their quarry at very long ranges. As we see here, even if the submarine is detected, their is little for the surface ship to do until the range has fallen well within the sub’s favor.
Currently, American warships are equipped with very long range anti-missile defenses and as we have seen, short range anti-sub defenses. Logically this tactic should be reversed, considering the effect of pop-up cruise missiles only allowing bare minutes or even seconds to react, short range anti-missile defenses would be more useful, and lots of them. Considering the killing power of even shorter range torpedoes on SSKs and SSNs, certainly the goal would be to take out the vessel as far from a fleet or convoy as possible, otherwise you are dead.