An anti-ship missile, an anti-ship missile, my kingdom for an anti-ship missile!
CDR Salamader’s blog over at USNI cued me into just how bad the West-Pac missile gap is between the USN and PLAN:
From the Autumn issue of the Naval War College Review, Lieutenant Alan Cummings, USN, has a must-read article, A Thousand Splendid Guns.
I’ll let you read the full article, but there are two images that provides an overview of our ASCM shortfall in crisp profile.
When looking at the Chinese Navy in WESTPAC, how do our surface units that can or should carry ASCM line up – just in quantity?
In short, we have no problem meeting the Chinese in naval tonnage, but they have a huge advantage in distributed lethality by having way more platforms, each filled with (often longer range) ASCMs, making it possible to smother a U.S. task force or two with hundreds of incoming ship killers.
Sure, we have Aegis and lots of SM-2s, so we can swat a lot, but what of taking out those Chinese frigates and destroyers in turn? Our own Harpoon program has been whittled down so far over the years that we’d have to bank on submarines (who may be up to their necks in schools of PLAN smoke boats already), lucky TLAMs and even SM-2s used in surface mode to help even the odds.
As for our closest naval allies, the Royal Navy is expected to be left without an ASCM capability between 2018-2020. Such a gap is being caused by the planned retirement of the Sea Skua missile in early 2017 and the 2018 retirement of the SWS60 Harpoon. A limited anti-ship capability will only return when the Sea Venom/ANL lightweight anti-ship missile is equipped on the Wildcat HMA.2 helicopter in late 2020 and that is mainly meant to take out small FAC-style vessels. No funded program is in place by the UK for a Harpoon replacement, however.
Good thing the Army is looking into cross-domain fires. As PAC commander Adm. Harry Harris says, “I think the Army should be in the business of sinking ships with land-based ballistic missiles.”