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LCS Alternative Weekly

November 11, 2009
tags:
Fire Scout

The Northrop Grumman Corporation-developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle MQ-8B Fire Scout hovers over the flight deck of the guided-missile frigate USS McInerney (FFG 8).

LCS versus the Swarm

Recently reading an interview over at Defense News with Vice Adm. Barry McCullough, who is leaving his job with developing the Navy’s shipbuilding program to the 10th Fleet, the service’s new Cyber command. Here is his thoughts on the LCS:

First, there are some current critical war-fighting gaps that LCS will fill. There’s anti-mine capability, mine hunting and clearance. There’s shallow water anti-submarine warfare, especially against quiet diesel electric submarines. And there’s a capability against multiple incoming swarming boats, dependent on the intel. Multiple is much greater than 10.

Sounds like its going to be a little crappy busy ship, but it was that last comment which struck me: expecting a single LCS to fight “10” enemy boats at a time? What exactly does it expect to fight the enemy missile and gun boats with, “spitballs”? Or the little 57mm cannon, NETFIRES rockets in a box, or CIWS? I like this quote from CDR Salamander:

Does your PC or LCS or for that matter DDG have the close in small to medium caliber guns (and ammo to feed them for 4 hours) ready for that? Trained? Ready to take 4 hits from a RPG-7? Think you can do everything with CIWS and missiles? If so, you are a fool. Like air to air combat, in the end you have to be prepared to close the enemy and use the gun because that is what works and is available. The enemy will.

The best weapon to deal with small warships is another small warship. Recent clashes off Korea between Northern and Southern patrol boats emphasize this as specialty warfare where Big Ships have little place, according to Raymond Pritchett at Information Dissemination:

Before pointing out that Standard Missiles, ESSMs, or Harpoons would work in this situation, check your chart first, and someone tell me which Admiral, or Captain, is sending a large warship into those waters during periods of potential hostility. South Korea has major naval assets, and you will not find them in those waters. Someone tell me what ship the US Navy would use in waters like these, which are found everywhere around the world. When giving it serious thought, I think we either need a lot more armed USVs, or need to rethink our approach to littoral warfare. This thing was over in 2 minutes, way too late for air support.

Also to misquote Winston Churchill let me add that never in the field of human conflict has so much been expected of so few warships. Good luck to the hapless crew when the swarm comes. They will need it.

*****

UAVs seek home at sea

The Navy’s new MQ-8B  Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle is the latest victim of that service’s inability to put practical hulls into commission on time and within budget. But progress waits for no one, as Strategypage reveals:

The most urgent demand is for the navy’s new helicopter UAV, the MQ-8B (formerly the RQ-8) Fire Scout. Already on the fast track, the MQ-8B is being assigned to another class of ships, besides the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) it was first designed for. That’s because the LCS is behind schedule and the Fire Scout isn’t. The first ship to carry this helicopter UAV is a Perry class frigate, the USS McInerney (FFG-8). This ship is assigned to the 4th Fleet, and will be operating in the Caribbean, chasing drug smugglers. This will give the Fire Scout some real world experience, although not with the fire Hellfire missiles it can carry. Prior to this assignment, the Fire Scout underwent 110 takeoffs and landings on the frigate, and 600 hours of flight testing. But the navy wants to get the MQ-8B on more ships, in every part of the world.

We see the impending deployment of UAVs at sea on a large scale this century as revolutionary as the advent of manned naval airpower in the last century. Concerning this, here is something we wrote not long ago:

The use of UAVs in ongoing Middle East wars have proven that such individual strike planes armed with many of the same PGMs of large manned jets can perform strategic bombing and close air support missions. The continued use of armed drones will further duplicate the role of the giant aircraft carrier in many circumstances, in such a dramatic difference in cost, again as has occurred on land,  that the politicians and admirals cannot possibly ignore.
When the unmanned aerial vehicles, often likened to “reusable cruise missiles” go to sea, there will no longer be any valid arguments, because the drones can do all of the above at least cost without putting a pilot and his $100 million aircraft at risk, or a $20 billion strike group as it nears the shore. Then the surface ships will finally be unfettered from the shelter of their giant motherships, where they have been bound for almost 3/4 of a century, now used to their full potential thanks to the power of modern robot weapons.

Where the Navy sees it’s mission is to deploy the best possible hull whatever the cost, their real purpose should be to get these as many of these new weapons to sea as fast as possible. The much maligned small warships, by the use of new technology will be more powerful and versatile than ever. They will possess an ability to do many missions which we now use our most powerful battleships, or the over-engineered and much delayed littoral combat ship for. Smart weapons do not require smart platforms!

*****

Fractured LCS Acronyms

I forgot about this last week. Please keep them coming!

Look! We’re Clueless about the Shallows

OK, thats just terrible, and you can turn it around:

See, we could Care Less.

Light Cruiser? Sure.*(see below)

*****

More on the Speed Issue

You recall those old horse cavalry movies that still come on the classic move channels, where the soldiers always seem to spur their mounts at full gallop through the whole picture? Looks pretty good on film, but not very practical, as your ride will quickly be worn out and useless in no time. Despite early warnings that a similar occurrence might be faced because of the high speed requirements on the littoral combat ships, the plans went ahead nonetheless for huge engines and low fuel stocks. The following info is from Global Security:

A 2003 analysis by David D. Rudko noted that the Navy has stated the Littoral Combat Ship must incorporate endurance, speed, payload capacity, sea-keeping, shallow-draft and mission reconfigurability into a small ship design. However, constraints in current ship design technology make this desired combination of design characteristics in small ships difficult to realize at any cost. Speed, displacement, and significant wave height all result in considerable increases in fuel consumption, and as a result, severely limit Littoral Combat Ship endurance. When operating in a significant wave height of six feet, regardless of the amount of fuel carried, the maximum endurance achieved for a wave-piercing catamaran Littoral Combat Ship outfitted with all modular mission packages is less than seven days. Especially noteworthy is that when restricted to a fuel reserve of 50% and a fuel carrying capacity of Day tanks, the maximum achieved endurance is only 4.8 hours when operating at a maximum speed of 48 knots. The Littoral Combat Ship can achieve high speeds; however, this can only be accomplished at the expense of range and payload capacity. The requirement for the Littoral Combat Ship to go fast (forty-eight knots) requires a seaframe with heavy propulsion systems. The weight of the seaframe, required shipboard systems (weapons, sensors, command and control, and self-defense) and modular mission packages accounts for 84% of the full displacement, and as a result, substantially limits total fuel carrying capacity. Since initial mission profiles required the high-speed capability at most five percent of the time, the end result is a Littoral Combat Ship that has very little endurance and a high-speed capability it will rarely use. Refueling, and potentially rearming, will require the Littoral Combat Ship to leave littoral waters and transit to Combat Logistics Force ships operating outside the littorals for replenishment. Given the low endurance of the Littoral Combat Ship, its time on station is seriously compromised.

Note also that 2003 was 5 whole years before the the first LCS, USS Freedom joined the fleet. Looks like the cavalry ain’t coming.

*****

*LCS Light Cruiser

This interesting LCS analogy comes from Kit Bonner at Sea Classics Magazine (via FindArticles):

The Omaha was at first a destroyer leader at 7500-tons with a main battery of ten 6-in guns. Eventually, the ship was too light and thus required a stronger mast. Next it was top heavy, and had become just a hull crammed with overheated machinery to drive it at 35 kts. The original plans had long been forgotten as new threats presented themselves, and by World War II, the nine ships of this class were almost worthless. Ultimately they were all consigned to the backwaters of combat during the war, quickly broken up at war’s end.

The same could happen to the Littoral Combat Ship which now represents a consortium of every planner’s ideas as well as most senior Naval officers. The result has been a horrendous cost overrun and ships that are obviously unsuitable for the role for which they are intended. The costs of construction have been double the estimate, and the delivery time has been nearly a year late. The original plan was to build 55 of the LCSs; however, the Navy is re-thinking its position.

*****

USS_Omaha_(CL-4)

USS Omaha (CL-4)

45 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2014 11:11 pm

    It’s awesome for me to have a web page, which is good in favor of my knowledge.
    thanks admin

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 19, 2013 12:08 am

    Steve you’re an idiot, the USS Omaha kicked the shit out of the germans

  3. leesea permalink
    November 18, 2009 12:12 pm

    Steve I am familiar with both boats and you cannot mix up a utility ligher with a warboat. While I do like the Kvichak MPF lighter (last has been built no more funded), the replacement for the SURCs now called Riverine Assault Boat has a totally different set of needs. More heavier weapons stations, more armor, more sensors, and more survivability are the keys. The Kvichak design does not meet those.

    NO NECC boat in the current inventory has an adequate weapon for fire support IMHO. The use of NECC units in naval raiding parties is limited by the lack of a weapon like the AMOS dual barrell or NEMO single barrel 120mm mortar systems.

    I would like the riverines’ role expanded to naval raids to augment what the Marines can do.

    Your points about lifting NECC units and their boats on ships like the Endurance are all well taken. The fact that such as ship (as opposed to LCS) could be an excellent force enabler is even more signifcant.

  4. Steve Petty permalink
    November 17, 2009 1:49 am

    I believe the best defense against a swarm type attack is a counter swarm. The Navy is looking to replace there riverine patrol boats in 2010. I suggest the MPF utility boats already being build for the Navy by Kvichak marine in Seattle. This is a 40 knot landing craft 40’x14′ less than 1 meter draft. This is very much like the Finnish Watercat M-12. The MPF has 3 weapons stations for M-2, M-19 or M-240 MGs. This is much like riverine boats. The 12 boat riverine sqns have 2 command boats, 2 multi-purpose boats and 8 assault boats. The standard weapons fit is good for the command and multi-purpose types but on the assault types they should carry the 120mm Nemo turret semi-auto direct or indirect fire ability. This would give a firepower advantage over Boghammar(Iran), or P-6 variants(N. Korea). They could be delivered and supported by an inexpensive LPD such the RSN Endurance class. The same ship could provide air support with ! Blackhawk and 2 Firescouts armed with a 57mm or 76mm gun and 11 cell RAM system it would it would be as well armed as an LCS and its boats and copters could break-up swarm attacks before they reached high value targets. This system would also give the Riverine Sqns. a secondary role providing gunfire support for amphibious landings with small, fast moving and hard to hit 120mm gun platforms.

  5. leesea permalink
    November 16, 2009 10:22 am

    A very good video about the Fire Scout is on Navy.mil today. Talks about current deployment, ops with H-60 and missions intended. Suggest you check it out. Of course, the Navy is still years away from IOC! Wonder how long for the USCG steps up its UAV program? They are looking at Fire Scout now.

  6. Sail Bad the Sinner permalink
    November 15, 2009 7:52 pm

    A few points to consider when discussing the LCS ships: LCS 1 (USS Freedom) and LCS 2 (USS Independence) are very different vessels. LCS 1 needs a lot of power to get up on the plane to go fast she has to be “lifted” out of the water to perform, LCS 2 is a small waterplane area trimaran so she does not
    generate a large bow waves which gives her an extremely efficient hull form, consequently she can “cruise” to her station on low power just from her diesel powertrain (gas turbine off). The LCS concept will work best in a sqadron configuration with one craft being a high speed “mule” (like the JHSV) which can move quickly with the squadron to the theater perimeter, and enable attack craft to enter theater with full tanks, the mule then stands off but can close quickly (two vessels approaching each other a 30kts gives a 60kts closing speed!) and deliver munitions/medivac etc via helo if necessary.This means that range and station keeping are greatly enhanced, the USN needs to move quickly on this aspect of squadron design.

    There is a very good reason for sprint speeds in excess of 45kts and that is that it allows an LCS to out run most torpedoes (eg Mk48) this is very important in ASW if the incoming torpedo is detected within within a small radius (1-2 nautical miles) it wont be able to close on the LCS and will have identified the sub to the LCS, end of sub!

    LCS 2 has such a large internal space and deck that if attacked by a “swarm” it can deploy 2 MH60’s (to engage at distance) plus, netfires, plus its 200 round per min cannon, plus 4 machine guns, plus its phalanx CIWS!! Swarm boats are small unstable craft carrying single shot weapon systems that require firing from relatively short range, they are not good at shooting down helos and their speed will be slower than the LCS2 and their range very limited! The LCS will know about them before they know about her, can out run and outgun the swarm!

    LCS 2 will revolutionize naval warfighting, especially when it becomes apparent that this is also a blue water ship!

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 13, 2009 4:21 am

    Al L wrote “I just don’t get where you are going with the FAC/ Corvette concepts in this thread.”

    You asked some good questions, though I think some of your info is outdated. After studying the issue the past few years, I’ll try to bring everyone up to speed starting Monday.

  8. Al L. permalink
    November 12, 2009 11:30 pm

    Mike B.,

    I just don’t get where you are going with the FAC/ Corvette concepts in this thread.

    1. When one looks around the world, other than China, most of the worlds corvettes are either old, obsolescent, owned in too few numbers to make a difference, operated out of vulnerable ports or owned by U.S. allies. Most of them are easily dealt with by any aircraft carrying a Harpoon, Penguin or other stand off weapons. The U.S (and many of her first world allies)has no shortage of those. So why does the U.S need to buy corvettes to counter corvettes unless we are obsessed with China?

    2.Most of the FACs or PBs in the world are heavy on SUW weapons and poor on AAW. Any helicopter with 6 km+ standoff weapon like Hellfire can create havoc for a FAC or PB attack unless it is supported by substantial AAW assets. In many cases a helicopter could interrupt a FAC attack just by maneuvering into a position within 45 degrees off the stern with a heavy machine gun, or a rocket pod.

    3. Now if we are considering China and it’s corvettes and FAC then we are considering a conflict likely to happen within a few hundred kilometers of its coast. Which means fully in range of Chinese air power and in an area where the U.S. will be short on shore bases for logistics and short on airbases for aircraft. So please explain to me how the U.S Navy would protect and resupply those unarmed, slow, inviting corvette/ FAC motherships you advocate which are needed to carry all the stuff to keep the corvettes at sea far from the few bases available?
    Perhaps the Navy will assign carrier based air to fly CAP over the motherships 24/7?

  9. Chuck Hill permalink
    November 12, 2009 8:27 pm

    and US MH-60s can carry the Penguin.

  10. Hudson permalink
    November 12, 2009 3:55 pm

    Just to keep the pot simmering, helos can carry longer range missiles than Sea Skua. For example, Exocet AM39, carried by Super Frelon/Couger/Puma, etc., has a low altitude launch range of 50km, and it twists and turns.

  11. Bill permalink
    November 12, 2009 2:26 pm

    “Consider the German invasion of Norway in WWII.”

    It is interesting to observe the manner in which the Norwegians kept sight of those lessons learned in the design of the littoral-denial Skjold vessels. Not designed nor intended to ‘putz around’ in near shore waters when an agressor fleet is known to be approaching, instead, their CONOPS is one of ‘hide, zoom, strike, evade’. A lot of attention and training is paid to camo and hiding the vessels in amongst and alongside the thousands of islands the length of the coatline. Then, with extremly high speed and a high degree of ‘head on’ stealth (the LO kind), they dart from cover and approach the agressor fleet with the intent of engaging it as far from shore as possible, but at the same time, at a very significant stand-off range when anti-ship missiles are launched. Then tis time to immediately high-tail it back in to the shelter of the shore islands and hide again, rearm and reappear again when required.

    That ‘flavor’ of littoral operations has very little if anything to do with the flavor our USN is expecting to conduct, yet, it seems to me, has everything to do with what our littoral combat vessels might expect to encounter when entering the littorals owned by the bad guys. Heaven forbid the bad guys ever own anything like a Skjold.

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 12, 2009 1:49 pm

    Scott also brought up an important issue, concerning corvettes versus helicopters. Let me point out again that the Corvettes of today are not the FACs of Saddam’s Navy or Iran in the 80s and 90s. Even had the small missile boats of that era been better used by a First World power, they still would be outclassed today by advances in missiles and radar. In contrast to those craft mowed down by Sea Skua wielding helos in the Gulf Wars, are large 1000+ plus vessels, most with long range missiles, many with helicopters of their own.

    Corvettes, being a shallow water animal might also expect to operate near air bases. If they are deployed by Western navies, several of these countries would utilize aircraft carriers. The proper way to operate these would be with mothership support in Influence Squadrons. Such unique units would come with their own helicopter support.

    Though it is feasible to use helicopters alone against the small FAC’s of a Third World power, against some Navy like Israel, Taiwan, or S Korea, it wouldn’t be very advisable. But corvettes of a First World power in most occasions can expect to posses their own air support of some kind.

  13. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 12, 2009 1:18 pm

    Graham wrote “lightly armored ships are gonna get spanked if they loiter in the littorals”

    It is something to consider, and I worry that even these very large ships aren’t as well armored or protected as we have been led to believe. Everything has an Achilles heel. And the idea that “speed is armor” is just silly concerning LCS. It’s speed will do it little good in a missile environment.

    Which is why I think small size, which means low profile, and numbers are crucial here. Presenting more targets, there is a greater chance of survival for individual ships. Also, the greater number of shooters improves the chances of a shoot-down.

    Passive armor has given way to active defenses. Is this a good thing? Only time and the next war at sea will tell.

  14. Graham Strouse permalink
    November 12, 2009 11:41 am

    Mike, I gotta say that lightly armored ships are gonna get spanked if they loiter in the littorals. Consider the German invasion of Norway in WWII. Blucher was killed by antique, poorly crewed heavy guns, shore-based torpedos & light fire & that was an 18,000 ton heavy cruiser. Lutzow, the pocket battleship, was crippled & sent scampering. It’s only gotten worse. The US & Israel have both had some serious issues with lightly armored surface ships in the shallow seas. These SURFACE ships have no loitering capability in the shallows. They’re too vulnerable.

    Just like helos have no business attacking modern surface ships with decent AA capability. It’s an inherently unequal contest either way.

    Now, there ARE ways to deploy in brown water….

  15. Hudson permalink
    November 12, 2009 10:27 am

    Scott B.: Why do you feel that the Type 022 Houbei is grossly over-rated, a pig with lipstick? Do you think it cannot adequately perform its mission of sinking surface ships?

  16. Scott B. permalink
    November 12, 2009 8:06 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Scott, I still say the helos are at risk is they try the same tactic they used against Saddam’s navy against a first world power.”

    With a stand-off range in excess of 15km, the Sea Skua keeps the firing platform well outside the engagement enveloppe of the OTO Melara 76mm or the Bofors 57mm.

  17. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 12, 2009 7:45 am

    Here is some more on naval guns I came across, from Armada International:

    The other element of the ASuW weapon suite is the medium-calibre gun. The smallest weapon used is the BAE Systems Bofors SAK 57, a single barrel 70-calibre gun capable of 220 rounds/min. Weighing less than seven tonnes it is the main armament of Croatia’s Kralj class together with all the Swedish corvettes, although many potential customers may feel that the 6.5-kg ammunition lacks weight for proper ASuW and does not have the range for modern anti-air warfare (AAW) missions. However, it is worth noting that the US Navy and Coast Guard have selected the Mk 3 mounting as prime armament of the Legend (WMSL-750) class National Security Cutter and as secondary armament for the Zumwalt (DDG 1000) class destroyers. The Visby Mk 3 mountings have shaped turrets with radar absorbent materials to reduce the radar cross-section and when the guns are not used the gun retracts into it.

    A very common ordnance is the Oto Melara 76-mm 62-calibre gun seen in the title picture. The 7.5-tonne Compact Mounting is on Germany’s Braunschweigs, most of India’s Koras and Israel’s Eilats. The 76-mm gun offers the optimum between low mass and high effect with the twelve-kg rounds being useful not only in the ASuW role but also in the Naval Gun Fire Support (NGFS) role at ranges up to 10.75 nm (20 km) while the high rate-of-fire (85 rounds/min) provides a degree of AAW capability. But corvette customers increasingly select the Super Rapid version of the mounting with improved feed and hoist systems, which permit 120 rounds/min. This mounting has been selected by Brunei, India (Project 28), Oman, Singapore, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (Al Baynunah).

    Scott, I still say the helos are at risk is they try the same tactic they used against Saddam’s navy against a first world power. Likewise if they face a Third World power armed with adequate weapons. easily dealt with on land, they can be managed at sea as well.

    Airpower is an excellent force multiplier for ships, but not a substitute!

  18. Scott B. permalink
    November 12, 2009 7:40 am

    Mike Burleson said : “I just think it interesting that a first rate Navy like South Korea with plenty of large battleship types, the Sejong the Great for instance, would still have a need for corvettes.”

    Its even more interesting to look at what designs the South Korean Navy has in the pipeline for the near future :

    1) The FFX program, with a displacement of 3,000+ tons, which will eventually replace various classes of frigates (Uslan class @ 2,000+ tons) and corvettes (Pohang and Donghae classes @ 1,000+ tons)

    2) The PKX program, with a displacement of 400+ tons, which will gradually replace the Chamsuri class PKM (less than 200 tons).

    Do you see anything that may, even remotely, look like the mythical 1,000-ton corvette in this plan ?

  19. Scott B. permalink
    November 12, 2009 7:17 am

    Likewise, if the mythical 1,000-ton corvette is sooooooo great, why is it that the Israelis are now looking at a class of future surface combatant that displace nearly twice as much (if not more), rather than building another batch of Sa’ar 5 ?

  20. Scott B. permalink
    November 12, 2009 7:04 am

    Mike Burleson said : “But the fact the Hanit survived and returned to port under power is a remarkable story in itself.”

    What’s remarkable is that, despite Barak 1 being supposedly an *uncompromising robust defense* against *advanced sea skimming missile threats* (according to the manufacturer anyway), the Israeli Navy Chief conceded that “EVEN IF THE SYSTEMS WERE OPERATING, THE HIT WOULD HAVE OCCURRED.”

    What’s remarkable is that the main reason why INS Hanit survived was because the Hizbullah and their advisors from Iran were not quite ready for the show.

    And I am supposed to believe that a mythical 1,000-ton corvette like the Israeli Sa’ar 5 would not be dead meat for helos armed with Sea Skuas ?

  21. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 12, 2009 5:40 am

    Most corvettes mount a 76mm gun which can outrange the 57mm cannon on USS Freedom.

    Scott, it is clear from the article the main problem was lack of intelligence. This could have happened with an Aegis battleship and did happen with HMS Sheffield in 1982. But the fact the Hanit survived and returned to port under power is a remarkable story in itself.

    This proves a continued complacency toward the missile threat from Western navies, not inability.

  22. Scott B. permalink
    November 12, 2009 2:56 am

    Mike Burleson said : “The helos have never faced a superbly handled navy equipped with Barak AA missiles yet. I’ll wait and see.”

    Did you already forget what happened to INS Hanit off Lebanon in 2006 ?

    Did you already forget about the statement made by the Israeli Navy Chief shortly after the *incident* :

    “Ben Ba’ashat explained that two other ships that were in the area identified the missile launch as an IAF aircraft, and concludes that even if the systems were operating, the hit would have occurred. (source) ?

  23. Graham Strouse permalink
    November 12, 2009 2:35 am

    Chuck,

    Regarding the LCS & swarm tactics, I think the problem with the LCS is that even with it’s speed, it might out-run the boats, but it won’t out-run the missiles rockets & possibly torpedoes, certainly not in the limited numbers we can deploy. The slower craft they “protect” would be picked off shortly after & leisurely so.

  24. Graham Strouse permalink
    November 12, 2009 2:31 am

    Helos have never been used against modern fleet elements of any size with decent AA & for good reason. The chopper will get fragged. They’re slow, noisy, poorly armored targets. Ground-based fire against naval units operating in the littorals is another matter entirely: historically, lightly armored surface warships have not done well against grounded artillery & the ATGM has only made things nastier.

    But helos are easy pickings for a surface ship with decent AA, even for a 1,000-1,500 ton corvette.

  25. Chuck Hill permalink
    November 11, 2009 11:45 pm

    One interesting thing about the Navy Firescout is that it does not have radar. The Coast Guard is considering adopting it, but insists upon having Radar, which is being prototyped.

  26. November 11, 2009 9:50 pm

    This essay explains the problem with the LCS.

    A very good read…

    http://web.archive.org/web/20040212054855/http://www.jelks.nu/misc/articles/bs.html

  27. Chuck Hill permalink
    November 11, 2009 9:39 pm

    Apparently some of the rationale for the LCSs’ speed was to keep the swarm attack at arms length giving them time to destroy the swarm. That may help the LCS, but if the LCS is escorting potential targets like tankers in the Straits of Hormuz extremely high speed for the escort doesn’t help much.

  28. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 11, 2009 9:24 pm

    I just think it interesting that a first rate Navy like South Korea with plenty of large battleship types, the Sejong the Great for instance, would still have a need for corvettes. This is a balanced fleet.

  29. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 8:43 pm

    Had the Nork PC entered ROK space defended by something like the Norwegian missileFAC Skjold, it would have simply vanished in one large cloud of smoke, never even having seen its adversary on radar, much less having something to ever fire its deck gun at. Just sayin..its not hard to imagine that kind of littoral capability continually expanding throughout the worlds small navies,,in fact its harder to imagine that it would not. And ..no aircraft of any kind involved on either side.

  30. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 11, 2009 8:30 pm

    “take a quick look at the spread of Islam under the early caliphs and the Umayyads.”

    As a student of Byzantine history, I didn’t make that comment lightly. The East Romans and the Parthians had just concluded a brutal war with each other, both sides were wore out. Then the Emperor Heraclius made some not wise decisions on religion that offended about half his Empire. Africa and Asia was then ripe for the taking. That said, there are pretty good at insurgent warfare, back then as today.

    “A mythical 1,000-ton corvette like the Israeli Sa’ar 5 would be dead meat for helos armed with Sea Skuas ”

    Talk about absolute statements! The helos have never faced a superbly handled navy equipped with Barak AA missiles yet. I’ll wait and see.

  31. Hudson permalink
    November 11, 2009 8:30 pm

    Mike, I don’t doubt the value of smaller ships in the Navy. One of my first posts on this board was in support of the PT boats in the Solomons–you backed me on that one. My point is, that as a matter of naval strategy, the Navy has made the right choice to go with air as the medium for swarms: swarms of missiles, planes, UAVs, helos, now Fire Scout and present and future bots. The Navy has tremendous deck and interior space for these weapons.

    Of course, you can concoct a scenario where a task force of capital ships might be overwhelmed by Iranian speedboats, shore-launched cruise missiles, subs and brilliant mines, in the Straits of Hormuz as per the Millenium games. Nobody has swarms of corvettes. The proper strategy there would be to remove your large ships from the straits and hit the Iranians from a distance with air power and sea-launched missiles, planes, etc.

    The pirate sloops and boats in the service of the Bey of Algiers were having quite a good time of it, having captured and enslaved many thousands of Christians on the high seas until the day of reckoning. The combined Allied fleet confronted the gunboats at close range in the harbor mole, so it wasn’t a case of the ships-of-the-line outranging the smaller guns. I think both sides had fire boats and explosive-filled ships. Both sides had the same types of smooth bore cannon. So it was a classic battle of many against a few. The European crews had the advantage in discipline and leadership. The Allies lost many sailors to shore fire, but no ships.

    BTW, when the British admiral confronted the Bey after the day-night battle to obtain concessions, he did so in the knowledge that his ships had run out of powder and shot. Quite a ballsy Halsey, if you ask me.

  32. D. E. Reddick permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:58 pm

    Mike,

    Your reference to the Omaha class of CLs reminds me that at least two of them were engaged in forward battle areas.

    USS Marblehead (CL-12) survived two direct bomb stikes and another near miss during The Battle of Makassar Strait to then sail from Indonesia to New York while significantly damaged.

    USS Richmond (CL-9) participated in Battle of the Komandorski Islands. Richmond joined four USN destroyers in a torpedo attack against two IJNS CAs, two IJNS CLs, and three IJNS DDs. This occurred when the USS Salt Lake City (CA-25) lost power and the rest of the force charged the Japanese force in support of the disabled heavy cruiser.

    —–

    The Omaha class was designed to be scout cruisers of the USN battle force of battleships. Also, they could function as flotilla leaders for the destroyers which would accompany the battleships into battle. They were armed with twelve 6″/53 cal. guns arranged in two twin turrets and eight single casemate mounts. Due to the casemates, the broadside of these ships was limited to just eight gun tubes. They also carried six 3″ AA single gun mounts and initially had torpedo tubes, also.

    ———-

    Yet, as WW-II began unfolding these then obsolescent ships were evaluated for a new task. The Royal Navy had begun converting old WW-I era light cruisers into Antiaircraft Artillery (AA) cruisers during the ’30s. These were mostly used as convoy escorts, but some of them even engaged in surface combat during WW-II. So, the USN actually prepared a 1940 plan for converting those ten obsolescent CLs into CLAA units. The eight casemated 6″/53s would have been removed, leaving just four 6″ guns in the fore and aft twin turrets. The four stacks would have been trunked into just two stacks (clearing sky arcs for a new AA battery). Then, seven 5″/38 cal. DP single gun mounts would have been installed. Additional, light AA would have been added. The plan was never implemented. But, imagine a few more -fast- (35 knots) cruisers with the improved 5″/38 gun (as compared to the typical 5″/25 cal. AA mounts of pre-WW-II CLs & CAs) accompanying those few fast task forces during the carrier battles of 1942. The losses of Lexington, Yorktown, and Hornet might have been prevented (or lessened) with some additional, converted CLAA escorts having been made available during 1942.

    The Royal Navy got it right with their conversions (they worked – they shot down lots of Luftwaffe aircraft). The USN actually thought about it. As to the LCS designs as presently conceived, what might we come up with if we look back to some of these -past- innovative conversion plans both presented and sometimes implemented? What might an under-armed LCS design conversion into something better armed present to us? I mean, we’re going to end up with some number of those hulls. So, why not start thinking about how to convert / upgrade / -FIX- what we’re going to be stuck with…

  33. Scott B. permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:56 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “I think Chinese vessels of this type would also show a good account of themselves.”

    Dead Meat as in Sitting Ducks.

    The Type 022 Houbei is one of the most grossly overrated FACs on the internet, when it’s nothing more than a (catamaran) pig with lipsticks !!!

  34. Scott B. permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:48 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Modern corvettes, such as those produced by Germany and Italy, and for foreign navies, the UK and the USA come with very strong AA systems which would pose a grave threat to Western helos like those which destroyed Saddam’s mosquito fleet.”

    A mythical 1,000-ton corvette like the Israeli Sa’ar 5 would be dead meat for helos armed with Sea Skuas : another Bubiyan Turkey Shot !!!

  35. Scott B. permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:40 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “They are usually only strong when the West is weak, as we see currently in the Afghan where divided strategies are getting us nowhere.”

    On a sidenote, none of the main ethnic groups living in Afghanistan is of Arab origin.

  36. Joe permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:35 pm

    The use of UAVs in ongoing Middle East wars have proven that such individual strike planes armed with many of the same PGMs of large manned jets can perform strategic bombing and close air support missions.

    As the usage of the words “Middle East” emphasize, UAV’s have shown themselves to be highly useful assets in areas where control of the skies isn’t in question, i.e., where manned air has already established that control or the enemy never had any kind of ‘air’ to worry about (or both).

    John Tuttle hits on a valid point. With the F-35 and the LCS, there is this drive to produce advanced, one-size-fits-all platforms. Just add a fake moustache and the history professor becomes the English professor, iow. That seems like the sort of thing that looks quite good on paper…but not in the real world.

  37. Scott B. permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:34 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “What I mean is, these are likely the worse military powers in history, the Arabs, (with the exception of the Turks who are not Arab but a Mongol race).”

    Before making such absolute statements as *worse military powers in history*, maybe you should take a quick look at the spread of Islam under the early caliphs and the Umayyads.

  38. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 11, 2009 5:33 pm

    Hudson, the problem I have with your analogies, is they could serve in both eras as extremely poor examples to base doctrine on. What I mean is, these are likely the worse military powers in history, the Arabs, (with the exception of the Turks who are not Arab but a Mongol race). They are usually only strong when the West is weak, as we see currently in the Afghan where divided strategies are getting us nowhere.

    Modern corvettes, such as those produced by Germany and Italy, and for foreign navies, the UK and the USA come with very strong AA systems which would pose a grave threat to Western helos like those which destroyed Saddam’s mosquito fleet. In the hands of a First World navy like S Korea, as we have seen, and the Israelis, such vessels are very potent, a far cry from the FAC’s of last century, as the first destroyers were from the torpedo boats of the same period. I think Chinese vessels of this type would also show a good account of themselves.

    The corvettes of today, at 1000-1500 tons light are much similar in size and function to the old DE’s and frigates of the last World War, that defeated Hitler’s U-boats on the high seas. They are very versatile, some even carry helos as we noted, some even carry anti-missile systems like the Israeli Barak, the British Sea Wolf, and some will carry the US ESSM. I am convinced that well-trained and superbly led First World fleets can find much use of such vessels, especially in the Third World, allowing their battleships to contend exclusively with First World threats.

  39. November 11, 2009 5:26 pm

    Apparently these can’t perform replenishment at sea……….

  40. Heretic permalink
    November 11, 2009 3:54 pm

    Lavishly Crewed Speedboat

    Yes, that is a multi-level joke … ;p

  41. Graham Strouse permalink
    November 11, 2009 3:10 pm

    This issue puts me of the rule of thumb that most of the battleship designers followed in the first decades of the century. The ideal BB would have big guns, lots of armor & high speed. You could have high speed & big guns if you shaved the armor (the British & early Japanese approach–The Yamatos were an aberration), lots of armor & high speed (the German approach), or heavy armor & heavy guns (the American approach). The Iowas managed to pull off the trifecta, but they were just about the only battleships built that combined a heavy broadside, great speed & solid armor into one package.

    Anyway, point is, early 20th century naval designers grasped that you generally couldn’t pack everything you wanted into one vessel. You had to give up something to get something. Attempts to do so tended to work out rather poorly.

    We would be wise to remember these lessons today, particularly given the incredible shrinking American industrial base. My fear is that we’ll end up in rather the same position Germany put itself in going into WWII–a few excellent surface ships with vaguely defined missions & a limited number of lighter, more valuable strategic assets (think Doenitz’s plea for more U-Boats in WWII). Germany learned its lesson the hard way. I hope we don’t have to.

  42. Hudson permalink
    November 11, 2009 2:30 pm

    “The best weapon to deal with small warships is another small warship. Recent clashes off Korea between Northern and Southern patrol boats emphasize this as specialty warfare where Big Ships have little place…”

    Of course there will be times when patrol boats will clash with patrol boats, as happened in disputed waters off Korea. However, the N. Korean vessel posed no mortal danger to S. Korea that the latter could not have dealt with the threat with air power or long range missiles.

    Consider two cases from history:

    In 1816 a combined British/Dutch fleet sailed into the port of Algiers to put an end to the Christian slave trade. In the battle, the Dutch and British sank large numbers of Algerian gunboats and mortar boats without a loss to themselves. Their only losses, in men, were to shore batteries. The Allied fleet fired some 50,000 cannon balls and won the day.

    In Gulf War I British Lynx helos armed with Sea Skua missiles destroyed Saddam Hussein’s entire force of missile boats and corvettes, I believe, without loss to themselves. They flew in under the Iraqi radar.

    The USN expresses confidence in its ability to deal with swarm tactics. Either they are over-confident or they know something we don’t. Their anti-swarm is ship-fired missiles and air attack with fixed wing, helo and now Fire Scout armed with Hellfire missiles. Apparently the Navy is concerned with fields of fire–they don’t want to sort out large numbers of our small boats from enemy small boats with they let fly.

    Food for thought on Veterans Day.

  43. November 11, 2009 1:09 pm

    Hello Mike Burleson,

    Vice Adm. Barry McCullough said:

    “First, there are some current critical war-fighting gaps that LCS will fill………there’s a capability against multiple incoming swarming boats, dependent on the intel. Multiple is much greater than 10.”

    Does that mean the best weapon to fight 10 small cheap warships is one much larger and vastly more expensive warship?

    David D. Rudko said:

    “….Littoral Combat Ship must incorporate endurance, speed, payload capacity, sea-keeping, shallow-draft and mission reconfigurability into a small ship design. However, constraints in current ship design technology make this desired combination of design characteristics in small ships difficult to realize at any cost.”

    Does this mean the problem with the Littoral Combat Ship is that it is just too small?

    Mike Burleson said:

    “When the unmanned aerial vehicles, often likened to “reusable cruise missiles” go to sea, there will no longer be any valid arguments, because the drones can do all of the above at least cost without putting a pilot and his $100 million aircraft at risk, or a $20 billion strike group as it nears the shore. Then the surface ships will finally be unfettered from the shelter of their giant motherships, where they have been bound for almost 3/4 of a century, now used to their full potential thanks to the power of modern robot weapons.”

    Does this meant that there will be no need for newly unfettered surface ships when unmanned aerial vehicles dominate the battlespace?

    tangosix.

  44. John Tuttle permalink
    November 11, 2009 1:06 pm

    The biggest problem that I see with the LCS, and indeed most modern warships, is that the navy is trying to replace multiple ships with one “swiss army knife” ship. In the finance world, good investors never put all of their money in a single company, because if that company goes down then your would lose a huge chunk of your wealth. Instead, they “hedge” their bets by investing in multiple companies or even industries. Similarly, I would rather go to battle with 3 good ships that perform individual roles than one ship that tries to do all three roles, since if you lose that one ship you have just lost all three capabilities.

    I am not against multipurpose ships as a concept, as long as they are cheap enough so that you can have enough of them to effectively replace their predecessors. Unfortunately, due do dropping budgets and rising costs, I doubt the US Navy could ever afford to buy enough LCSs.

  45. Tarl permalink
    November 11, 2009 1:02 pm

    The use of UAVs in ongoing Middle East wars have proven that such individual strike planes armed with many of the same PGMs of large manned jets can perform strategic bombing and close air support missions.

    Just FYI the Fire Scout is not an example of such a UAV. It can carry maybe four Hellfires, not the same PGMs that large manned jets can. Ships with Fire Scout do not replace, or even duplicate, the role of the aircraft carrier. Ships with Fire Scout can use their manned helos more effectively, e.g., they can send out Fire Scout for routine ISR tasks and only send the manned helos when absolutely necessary, but the fact is that Fire Scout can’t completely replace manned helos either. It doesn’t have the payload, and can’t do everything a manned helo can do (such as rescue).

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