Saturday, October 17, 2015

What Armor?

While I have no problem with the usefulness of the new Indian Kolkata class guided missile destroyers, this account of the debate over the vessels is just ... off.

I'm not sure where to begin. Sure, the notion that opponents of these  advance that larger multi-purpose warships are wrong because normal peacetime usage doesn't require all the advanced weaponry is misguided. Naval battles rarely happen. So the logic is that it would be cheaper not to arm any ships at all, really. But you have to prepare for war, no? That's the purpose of a navy?

Heck, why have expensive heavy equipment for any military service, under that logic? Just skip the combat training for infantry and focus on transportation and first aid for humanitarian relief operations, eh? War is so rare, after all.

Yet this "large" Indian ship is smaller than American Burke class destroyers that are the backbone of our fleet. So a comparison to battleships even for purposes of debating large versus small and simple vessels is misleading. It may have misled the author.

While larger ships do offer some protection because of their bulk, modern ships do not have heavy belts of protective armor as ships in the past sported. Spot protection of certain vital areas is as good as it gets nowadays. The author emphasizes this protection yet I see nothing that indicates that the ship class is armored contrary to modern practice.

I think the author is right on the debate. But the debating point is wrong.

And if you want to discuss vulnerability of large Indian ships--and we all should--failure to mention China's anti-ship ballistic missiles (the DF-21 isn't just for America, remember) is a major gap.