Adm. T.S. Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Force, on the joys of “DL” — the future of warfighting:
Distributed Lethality requires increasing the offensive and defensive capability of surface forces, and guides deliberate resource investment for modernization and for the future force. Providing more capabilities across surface forces yields more options for Geographic Combatant Commanders in peace and war.
In order to achieve the desired outcome of this strategy, we must rededicate the force to attain and sustain sea control, retain the best and the brightest, develop and provide advanced tactical training, and equip our ships with improved offensive weapons, sensors, and hard kill/soft kill capabilities. Pursuing these ends will enhance our capability and capacity to go on the offensive and to defeat multiple attacks. By providing a more powerful deterrent, we will dissuade the first act of aggression, and failing that, we will respond to an attack in kind by inflicting damage of such magnitude that it compels an adversary to cease hostilities, and render it incapable of further aggression.
The above footage, posted last week by Chinese media, shows the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s only aircraft carrier, Liaoning, deploying with a couple of escorts at sea and moving around some Shenyang J-15 (China’s modded Su-33) fighters on deck. The blueberry camoed (oh come on!) crew even gets in some pretty decent flight ops in beautiful weather and calm seas.
Around the 3-minute mark there is a good bit of canned footage of self-defense weapons tests of a 30mm CIWS and a Flying Leopard 3000 Naval (FL-3000N) RAM-type system.
The 67,000-ton Admiral Kuznetsov-class strike carrier took some 29 years to build and switched hands at least three times during that process before the PLAN finally put her in fleet service in 2012.
The ski jump is very different…
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.”
The ship’s projected $20 million all-up price tag and its $15,000 to $20,000 daily operating cost make it relatively inexpensive to operate. For comparison, a single Littoral Combat Ship runs $432 million (at least LCS-6 did) to build and run about $220K a day to operate– but of course that is a moving target.
We’ve also talked about their Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) U-boat kite program which is a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness.
Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.
So it makes sense that now video has emerged from DARPA of Sea Hunter taking its para-sail for a drag.
Now if they Navy can just cough up 50-100 of these, with ASW weapons and an automated C-RAM to avoid being splashed by enemy aircraft wholesale, and keep it from running $30 billion– then you have a real sea control ship when it comes to denying an area to the bad guy’s subs.
So the Navy is conducting operations with two (2) carrier strike groups in the Far East, which has China all puffy ( “The U.S. picked the wrong target in playing this trick on China,” the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary. )
Below: The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conduct dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
“No other Navy can concentrate this much combat power on one sea or synchronize the activities of over 12,000 Sailors, 140 aircraft, six combatants and two carriers.” – Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, commander of Carrier Strike Group 3
Which reminds me of this classic image from 1990:
Ten ships of Task Force 155 gather during Operation Desert Storm. Leading the formation at left is the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV 60), flanked by the guided missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56), top, and USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51). At center is the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS Mississippi (CGN 40) flanked by the aircraft carriers USS America (CV 66), top, and USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). At rear are, from top, the guided missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 46), the guided missile cruisers USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided missile destroyer USS William V. Pratt (DDG 44).
Sadly, almost every single one of these ships in the 1990 image save for four are razor blades or reefs now. Only three of Ticos shown above are still in the active fleet (Gates, a non-VLS ship, was decommissioned 2005) while JFK is on red lead row pending possible museum donation.