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Future Naval platforms, systems, & fleet composition

dapaterson

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Uninhabited vehicles of any type assume information warfare dominance and broad spectrum availability for communications.

Or you can run DRMIS...
 

Underway

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Well, maritime patrol aircraft are small vessels with a very good radar/sensor, which detects and tracks targets and can feed that to a ship for the shoot. Or they can take a shot themselves. Hawkeye aircraft is another good example. Aircraft are much better at this sort of this than a surface vessel and we've been doing this for as long as aircraft have existed.
 

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An excellent analysis of hypersonic weapons. Very good quality video, with a particular focus on naval vulnerabilities to such weapons.

Of particular interest to me was the targeting and terminal phase issues that hypersonics have. Navies already have the ability to shoot down these missiles based on the current science. The strategic impact of hypersonic speeds to push naval combat away from shorelines is very interesting (see his nice math example comparing subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic missiles targeting a task group).
 

GR66

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Well, maritime patrol aircraft are small vessels with a very good radar/sensor, which detects and tracks targets and can feed that to a ship for the shoot. Or they can take a shot themselves. Hawkeye aircraft is another good example. Aircraft are much better at this sort of this than a surface vessel and we've been doing this for as long as aircraft have existed.
My thoughts exactly. You could add other platforms like the F-35 or glider UUVs to the detection chain as well.

In relation to the question of fewer, large ships vs a greater number of smaller (unmanned?) ships I was listening to an interesting podcast episode in RUSI's Western Way of War series. It focuses more on the role of carriers in the age of area denial systems and how they could revert to their early role as a strategic "raiding" platform rather than as an area dominance platform as the guest puts it.

That got me to thinking about a Canadian context where we don't have carriers. A large surface task group (like a carrier task group) increases its risk of being located, targeted and attrited/eliminated the longer it remains within the offensive zone of operations. The podcast guest discusses the concept of using the carriers as raiders to pop into gaps in the enemy's defensive screen to conduct strategic raids like Taranto, Pearl Harbour or Truk.

How could a similar strategy be used by a navy without carriers? In a China scenario, what if you used your major surface combatants (like the CSC) to create a perimeter around the theatre from which you could strike any forces that move out of the core defensive zone attempting to conduct offensive operations. That way you're engaging them as far as possible outside their land-based support.

Meanwhile you use your network of cheaper detection assets (MPA's, UAVs, F-35's, UUVs, EW aircraft, etc.) to identify gaps in their perimeter. You then send in smaller, faster, stealthier surface ships into these gaps to conduct quick "raids" on strategic targets (enemy task groups, supply convoys, atoll airfields, etc.). The raiders would then dash back to the cover of the surface task group or allied air forces. Something like the 45-know LCS with the flight deck replaced with VLS tubes with long range ground-attack or naval strike missiles might fit the role.

It would definitely be more of a "long war" strategy rather than a quick force-on-force meeting engagement, but maybe it's time the West started thinking that way?
 

FJAG

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I've always thought that one should buy a fleet of old cheap cargo vessels and convert a large part of their cargo bays to missile launch tubes/pods filled with whatever strike missile of the day is in vogue and then have them cruise around doing minor cargo runs for years on end in the South and East China Seas and the Sea of Japan - kind of like the old Q Ships. They'd be lost amongst the massive clutter of genuine cargo traffic. Put a good fast lifeboat on board and the crew could abandon ship, scuttle it and sail away after firing.

For every billion dollars saved on an expensive platform and large crew, you could buy five hundred missiles.

Deterrence isn't based on how shiny your boat is; it's based on letting the other guy understand that you can bite back hard if provoked.

:unsure:
 

CBH99

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An excellent analysis of hypersonic weapons. Very good quality video, with a particular focus on naval vulnerabilities to such weapons.

Of particular interest to me was the targeting and terminal phase issues that hypersonics have. Navies already have the ability to shoot down these missiles based on the current science. The strategic impact of hypersonic speeds to push naval combat away from shorelines is very interesting (see his nice math example comparing subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic missiles targeting a task group).
Curious from a practical perspective from someone who is quite experienced in naval operations -

How likely or practical is it that friendly ships, even if equipped with updated tech, could intercept hypersonic missiles in a combat scenario? (Multiple ships vs multiple ships)

I know ICBMs have been intercepted in various tests in their terminal phase. I couldn’t find any examples of hypersonic naval missiles being intercepted.

As for the topic of this thread, I think we all that hypersonic weapons will be an absolute game changer. Unless energy weapons start packing a lot more punch AND sensor systems improve... yikes 😬
 

Underway

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Curious from a practical perspective from someone who is quite experienced in naval operations -

How likely or practical is it that friendly ships, even if equipped with updated tech, could intercept hypersonic missiles in a combat scenario? (Multiple ships vs multiple ships)

I know ICBMs have been intercepted in various tests in their terminal phase. I couldn’t find any examples of hypersonic naval missiles being intercepted.

As for the topic of this thread, I think we all that hypersonic weapons will be an absolute game changer. Unless energy weapons start packing a lot more punch AND sensor systems improve... yikes 😬

It depends on when and where they go super/subsonic. If you are shooting a hypersonic at a naval task group then at some point the missile has to stop being hypersonic, come down from 50,000 feet and then sprint to the target. At that point is where the task group can treat it like any other supersonic missile attack, though with an odd attack profile (not a lot of missiles drop down from 50,000 feet). At least that's my interpretation.

What is hard is tracking a missile that is hypersonic. As it gets covered in plasma from its high speed, its radar profile changes. Plasma may make the missile more stealthy though I haven't seen any data on this (theory only). The missile's speed makes it very hard to track, not detect mind you. It's still a big fast-moving target at 50,000 feet with a plasma ball IR signature. However, because of its speed, many current radars and CMS can't filter the information from the noise and get a track plotted. This is likely one of the reasons Canada chose the SPY 7 with Aegis for CSC and perhaps one of the reasons why the APAR was not selected.

But again once the hypersonic "drops out of warp" it has to try and detect the task group and then attack it at supersonic/subsonic speeds. So it can be tracked at that point by any number of sensors. This means normal defenses kick in to defend the task group.

There is also a reason that you haven't seen any naval hypersonics intercepted. Because currently there are no operational naval hypersonics. The Russians are the closest with hypersonic testing being done this month.
 

reveng

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Unless energy weapons start packing a lot more punch AND sensor systems improve... yikes 😬
It will be interesting to see what happens with DEW. I saw somewhere that the USN plans to tie HELIOS into AEGIS. I wonder if eventually we'll see some form of optical phased array capable of engaging multiple targets simultaneously, at varying power output levels? I suppose if you could supplement conventional defences, you may be able to free up some extra VLS cells for other mission sets. It would also ease resupply burdens, and I'm sure lower the cost per engagement. In addition to HELs, High power microwave technologies are also interesting.

Also something I've been wondering - will we see more nuclear powered surface combatants in the future?
 
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boot12

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Also something I've been wondering - will we see more nuclear powered surface combatants in the future?

It's possible, but a nuclear plant certainly adds a huge host of operational headaches when you're dealing with a small platform. Even more so if the navy considering it is not already deep into the nuclear propulsion game.

Without doing the math that I don't know how to do, I would guess that a beefed up power generation system (which we're already seeing with newer vessels using electric propulsion) combined with an adequate energy storage solution like large capacitor banks or something similar would meet the 80-90% solution of the power requirements of DEW without necessitating a nuclear plant.
 

Kirkhill

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That's not a bad idea of a defensive posture or limited area for fighting.

However, if small dispersed ships were the way to go why is China, Japan, UK, France, US etc... all building larger ships with more capability in them. They are all introducing new carriers or carrier programs into their fleets as well. They are building bigger better submarines.

Because these vessels do the job and project the power. Small dispersed ships are a nice idea but don't pull the weight when the chips are down. There are massive disadvantages to them. They are not good in the high seas, they have limited sensor capabilities, they have limited ranges and time on station. This is why you see small ships in places like the Baltic (Sweeden and their Visby class) or the Black Sea ( the ever-growing number of over gunned Russian Corvettes and missile boats).

It's also why the LCS program failed at its heart and is being replaced with frigates. It was designed with the idea that quantity has its own quality. Well apparently quality is important as well, and the LCS actually showed that they were less flexible than blue water destroyers in most circumstances.

USV's can mitigate some of these disadvantages but in the process create their own sets of negatives. Complete lack of flexibility, limited sensors, no kinetic effects etc...


I'll take it as read that you need good sized hulls for an expeditionary force. But the PLA(N) seems to me to be only starting to find its way out to blue water.

By my count (based on wiki) the PLA(N) comprises

some 241 launch platforms for the 230 km C-801, 803, YJ-83 series SSMs - these consist of
123 missile boats in the 170 to 520 ton range (Orca displacement)
72 corvettes in the 1500 ton range (Kingston displacement)
46 frigates in the 2000 to 4200 ton range (the largest being comparable in size to the Halifax)

some 36 MCMVs in the 400 to 1200 ton range

some 62 light amphibious transports suitable for crossing the Straits of Taiwan - consisting of
33 in the 800 to 2000 ton range (Kingston)
49 in the 4170 to 4800 ton range (Halifax)

I would suggest that that equals some 339 surface targets for the Taiwanese to manage.

On the Blue Water end of things

42 Destroyers in the 4800 to 7200 ton range (similar in displacement to the Type 26 - Ivar Huitfeldt generation)
8 Cruisers in the 13,000 ton range (larger than the 9600 ton Ticonderogas)
8 LPDs in the 25,000 ton range (San Diego - Bay Class)
3 LPHs in the 40,000 ton range (America LHA)
2 CVs in the 60,000 ton range (QE II Class)

They also have some 40 subs of which 7 are boomers, 12 are nuclear attack subs and 22 are conventional.

I believe that the PLA(N) can keep the USN away from Beijing. The US can't invade.
I believe that the light amphibious fleet was no threat to Taiwan. It is problematic for the Phillipines and Vietnam et al.
I believe that the Blue Water fleet presents a current threat to Taiwan - but it still only adds 63 targets to the previous 339 bringing the total up to about 400.
I believe that the Blue Water fleet gives China the opportunity to fly the flag anywhere on the high seas. Exactly the same way the Brits are currently.
I don't believe that that fleet can, in any way, challenge the US Navy for dominance.

It can frustrate the USN and US diplomacy. It can't defeat the USN.

So the question becomes, in my mind, how important is it to challenge China on the 9 Dash. Is the effort to defeat or frustrate China? Or is the primary focus to prevent the locals losing their ability to act independently of China?

Now what type of fleet is needed?


Edit - Taiwan is 400 km long and the Taiwan Straits are 180 km wide.
 

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It's important to challenge China on the 9 Dash because beyond that it threatens the deep sea resupply route to Japan. Japan can with USN help escort any resources it needs around Indonesia and outside the first island chain to Japan, avoiding the S China Sea entirely. This means China needs a way to challenge out to the second island chain (which includes Guam) otherwise it can't neutralize Japan easily.

Secondly, China is trying to secure its own supply lines. Trends are showing the US will slowly withdraw from the Middle East as the US is able to produce all the domestic fuel it needs (thanks to fracking). This means China needs a way to protect its own fuel supply from the middle east, and that route goes past India.

Thirdly China is building bases to protect its string of pearls investments. Djubuti is one place. They are also looking at a base on the Atlantic coast.

China wants a credible blue water force to do all this. And blue water forces project power. That's the real definition of a blue water navy IMHO. The ability to project power anywhere in the globe.

That means carriers and long range submarines. Because airpower and submarines are how you actually sink enemy fleets. Airpower is also how to project power ashore sustainably.
 
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