Monday, June 05, 2017

The Navy May Catch Up With The Dignified Rant

The Navy is looking at potential future fleet composition. One panel was tasked with analyzing three separate directions. Here is one aspect of the fleet the panel identified that I started flogging in 2007:

The Missile Is the Primary Weapon. Modern antiship missiles are nowhere near as large as their first-generation forebears. Even relatively small vessels can carry several. The Chinese Houbei-class catamarans, for example, carry eight YJ-83 antiship missiles with a range of more than 100 nautical miles. Moreover, if missiles are housed in a box launcher or a modified shipping container, they could be placed on almost any kind of ship. If the missiles are capable of being launched on remote command, the host vessel may not need to support them in any way other than an electrical power feed. This means that virtually any vessel could be a missile shooter. The key is a network that can supply the ISR-T data. [emphasis added]

Note that I proposed Modularized Auxiliary Cruisers in this 2009 blog post which I had submitted in 2007 to the publication that printed the above article:

Our Navy defends our nation within the incompatible and unforgiving boundaries formed by the tyrannies of distance and numbers. We struggle to build enough ships both capable of deploying globally and powerful enough for fighting first-rate opponents. Operating within a network-centric Navy, auxiliary cruisers could once again play a valuable role in projecting naval power. Using modular systems installed on civilian hulls, auxiliary cruisers could handle many peacetime roles; free scarce warships for more demanding environments; add combat power within a networked force; and promote the global maritime partnership. ...

Armored standard (20' l x 8.0' w x 8.5' h) general purpose shipping containers would be the building blocks for system modules. Other sizes are available as well, including 40' x 8.0' x 8.5' containers, "hicube" containers measuring 40' x 8.0' x 9.5', and 40' x 8.0' x 4.25' half-height containers. Because Containerized Modules would not be stacked to create a Modularized Auxiliary Cruiser, weapons, sensors, or other equipment could extend above the container roof.

We would build Containerized Modules using shipping containers that include missiles (surface-to-air and surface-to-surface) as well as modules with gun turrets for smaller weapons, up to 57mm. Other modules could support helicopters for anti-submarine (ASW), mine counter measures (MCM), or anti-ship missiles, as well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV). Still others would contain power supplies and the command and communications systems to plug a ship into the Navy network. ...

Cooperative Engagement Capability could allow a Modularized Auxiliary Cruiser with a SUW [NOTE: surface warfare] Mission Package to have its Harpoons fired by a distant warship or airborne platform. Modularized Auxiliary Cruisers could not initiate a strike against a distant target, but would be additional platforms that contribute to the saturation of the enemy’s defenses and complicate enemy strikes. AAW Mission Packages could similarly be plugged in for air defense coverage. [emphasis added]

The Army picked up my proposal for a version used as an Army power projection platform for land power in the low-priority (for Navy hulls) Africa theater. I even noted in that article that the concept remains valid for the Navy for naval missions.

I welcome a Navy exploration of this auxiliary cruiser concept. In a network-centric world, dispersed missiles should take over the sea control mission from the platform-centric queens of the fleet, the super carrier (and yes, the same magazine bought an article from me on this topic late in the last century but never published it).

The Army got a head start over the Navy. We'll see who builds a Modularized Auxiliary Cruiser first.

The author of that initial article also noted the problem of coordinating land-based air power with the fleet. As long as my Navy ideas are getting a belated hearing, let me again suggest using carrier air wings on land bases.