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Unleash the TLAM Warships Pt 1

August 17, 2009

TLAMToday the bulk of the US Navy operating forces and its firepower are huddled around 10-11 giant and very costly aircraft carriers. Yet, by making the most of the new technology in warfare first demonstrated by America during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 with the Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM), we could immediately enhance our naval presence around the world and relieve our over-stretched fleet and its worn-out warships.

The following is from an article we ever wrote for Strategypage back in 2004:

Sixty-two of the advanced and powerful Arleigh Burke destroyers are already authorized by Congress. The Burkes are well armed and armored, equipped with Aegis radar, and cruise missiles in vertical launchers. This makes them vastly more powerful and versatile than the vessels they are replacing.

With the deployment of the Mk-41 VLS (Vertical Launch System, with missiles launched from containers just below the deck) since the 1980s, America now has what some have called a vast missile magazine. Modern cruisers and destroyers carry from ninety to a hundred missiles safely hidden below decks. The missiles can be fired singly or in salvoes, according to the discretion of the commander, giving the Navy firepower unequaled by any seapower.

Keeping our fleet of unmatched TLAM ships (86 cruisers and destroyers plus over 50 submarines) tied to our shrinking aircraft carrier force and their short-range fighters is a waste of resources. Instead of having less than a dozen power projecting battle groups, the USN could deploy many dozens of of power projecting platforms centered around the Tomahawk launchers of equal influence. This latter statement is important. Equality of influence, meaning power projection, presence, and deterrence, is more important than equality of firepower.

TLAM2Subjugating the large numbers of TLAM ships to a handful of carriers is ironically like the position of the flattops before World War 2 in the 1930s. Though numerous exercises had been conducted on solo airstrikes against ships and bases, including Pearl Harbor itself, in the minds of the dominate battleship admirals, the giant new motherships were merely good as scouts or fleet screen, like some form of radical cruiser. These conservative minded strategists were seeking to refight the Battle of Jutland, bound as they were by the 20 knot speed of the battlefleet, and the 20 mile range of its guns.

By the early 1940s, it was dramatically realized the carriers could provide greater coverage, attack more targets, all at a vastly greater range and speed. More importantly, they could also sink ships in waters where the dreadnoughts dared not or could not venture.It didn’t matter that the Dauntless’s, the Avengers, and Helldivers couldn’t lay down a barrage of shells with equivalent explosive power. They were lethal and effective enough, with accuracy making the difference.

More tomorrow on America’s vast missile magazine!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 17, 2009 5:16 pm

    “I heard in at least one case, that the shooters left the carrier to go to launch positions.”

    Now I hadn’t heard that but it does signify their increased importance in modern warfare, outside of the escort role.

  2. Chuck Hill permalink
    August 17, 2009 3:29 pm

    Netfires is relatively short range and has a small warhead. The plan is to use four 15 round containers. They don’t go on the flight deck. On LCS-1 they go on the superstructure and on LCS-2 they go between the gun and the superstructure.

    I’ve also heard that the National Security Cutter has a container position for the LCS ASUW system, but I haven’t seen any details. Would really like to see some confirmation of that.

    We could also put VLS on Amphibs.

    Surface combatants are already been cut loose from Expeditionary Strike Groups, so that should go part way in the direction suggested.

    Also when we had the last Gulf War I heard in at least one case, that the shooters left the carrier to go to launch positions. The CV’s only escort was a Coast Guard Cutter.

  3. Mark permalink
    August 17, 2009 1:21 pm

    Are there plans to arm the LCS with VLS? I know the surface warfare mission module is supposed to have the netfires box of rockets – 45-60 missiles. I still don’t understand how that will work. Does the container get nailed to the helo deck or something?

    But I thought there was talk that the forward main gun on LCS could be replaced, too. Maybe with VLS.

Trackbacks

  1. Debunking Aircraft Carrier Myths Pt 4 « New Wars
  2. The Logic of Small Carriers « New Wars
  3. Restoring the USN Submarine Fleet « New Wars
  4. The Aircraft Carrier Gap « New Wars
  5. Aircraft Carriers:The ‘Bigger is Better’ Myth Pt 1 « New Wars
  6. Unleash the TLAM Warships Pt 3 « New Wars

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