Saturday, June 24, 2017

An Idea is Stupid Even if China Adopts It

3. 2. 1. ... Let the China worshipping commence!

The Chinese navy is taking arsenal ships in a new direction—as giant submersibles. Post-Cold War naval theorists have long dreamed of recreating the old battleships' power through massive "arsenal ships," or warships carrying hundreds of guided missiles that could fire at land and sea targets. Now it looks like China wants to make that dream a reality.

Have a ball, Peking. I couldn't care less.

In an age of network-centric warfare, why spend the effort to make a platform-centric queen of the sea?

In a network-centric world, [America] can't afford to have so much of our offensive firepower in a sea control mission concentrated on so few aircraft carrier hulls.

But what comes up? Let's build different platforms--arsenal ships--to concentrate our missiles on a few high value targets.

Mind you, if not for the possibility of these ships being sunk with all their missiles aboard going down with them, I'd say sure, these are great. After all, those converted ballistic missile subs are basically arsenal subs--and are great.

But we had already built the hulls, so converting them was a relatively cheap additional cost. If the choice was building even less vulnerable (than surface ships) new arsenal subs or putting the same amount of missiles across our fleet, I'd go with the latter.

We need an Arsenal Navy with anti-ship and land-attack missiles (and eventually rail guns on our surface ships) scattered across the surface and subsurface fleet and carried in planes and helicopters above them.

And if during war we find we do need to cram some offensive missiles on a hull, why not make a Modularized Auxiliary Cruiser (Arsenal Ship) [NOTE: see p. 50 here for my article on the concept, albeit for an Army audience]?

Mass effect--not platforms.

I wish China all the best on this. But do not under any circumstances use their dream to argue for an American counterpart. I just don't care if a dread Arsenal Ship Gap develops.