April 09, 2013
However, the hull itself is built to full military specifications and, after over a decade of tweaking has had all the bugs worked out.
So: there is this large, perfectly serviceable, already designed hull with VAST amounts of volume available (if one removes the well dock, marines and tanks) and it is designed for survivability.
We need ships to replace the Ticonderoga class cruisers which are at the end of their lives. Any such replacement is going to need a much bigger radar system than the Aegis to retain full Anti Ballistic Missile capability into the future.
Ingalls has responded by taking the off the shelf LPD-17 hull and removing the extensive cargo and troop handling facilities as well as the damage control nightmare that is the drydock. Thus the ship is made structurally simpler and probably much tougher. They then slapped a big AMDR radar, 288 mk 57missile tubes, a hangar and flight deck for V-22s some 57mm cannons and a notational railgun mount.
I'd think moving the hangar spaces above deck athwart the funnels would be better than to rely on a single elevator. But I'm paranoid that way.
The navy seems unimpressed:
The Navy, however, has started focusing on developing ships that could carry out multiple missions rather than singular mission vessels, a notion it promotes with the Littoral Combat Ships, which are designed to carry swappable missions packages for surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.
"We have to get away from building single missions ships,” Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, the commander of Naval Surface Forces and Pacific Fleet, told an audience at SNA.
This criticism seems blinkered. And not just in it's use of the term LCS as something other than a punch line or an epithet.
The hangar, the 57s and the big arse gun show this to be a multipurpose vessel. Railguns and helicopters do not contribute to BDM. Additionally, the large "empty" space amidships that in LPD 17 is used for vehicle ramps would seem to lend itself to something of the sort of C-4I facilities that the Navy only has on the two remaining (quite elderly) command ships. This last is entirely speculative, but some sort of expanded flagship facilities are sorely needed in the USN. (**but see update)
The big question mark is speed. No speed is given for the above ship though most other offerings in the family move at 20-24 kts. The USN considers about 30 to be frontline*. Note that speed/power curves go up fast around 24 knots. While it's possible that enough power can be crammed in to boost the ship 6 to 8 knots, it seems unlikely without regiggering the hull.
Nevertheless, even assuming a speed around 23kts, a large vessel optimized for extended economical cruising is just what is needed for ABM patrols. The fact that this vessel can do other missions, is perfectly capable of keeping up with the Amphibious ships, is off the shelf, steel hulled and relatively roomy would seem to be a very very useful bit of kit that could be obtained for minimal risk and expense compared to it's capability.
*The Brits determined during WW2 that a sustained speed of 23 knts was the minimum adequate for escorting fast carriers, but that was before nuclear carriers and in any event the USN generally requires 28-30 kts for front line vessels to keep up with the CBGs.
**UPDATE: It seems that they have a flagship version already designed to replace the Blue Ridge class along with several other auxiliaries. . This doesn't mean that extra C&C space is unwelcome of course.
March 30, 2013
For those unaware, the EM-2 was a British Assault Rifle designed in the late 1940s that took into account all the 'lessons learned' from World War 2. The rifle had design input from Poles who had had the unpleasant experience of tangling with the German 'storm guns'. It was a bullpup, which made it very compact and had something akin to an ACOG sight. The gun was designed around a new 7mm round that was intermediate in power between the very heavy 7.62mm and the varmint sized 5.56mm NATO rounds. In other words exactly what the lessons from current unpleasantness in Asia would seem to indicate is ideal.
In tests, the rifle wiped the floor with US, Belgian, French and Swedish weapons besting even the FN-FAL in reliability and accuracy.
It was adopted by the UK but was withdrawn in part because the US ignored the tests and forced NATO to adopt the .308 Winchester round (as 7.62 NATO)*. The Belgian gun was better suited to the larger round and was also much cheaper to manufacture so the EM-2 never enterd full production and only saw very limited use in Burma and Malaya before it was consigned to the dustbin of history.
What I did not know was that there was actually a small lot of EM-2 rifles made in 7.62 NATO....and here one is, courtesy of the Forgotten Weapons crowd.
That's AWESOME! I want one of those shooty culverts in MY basement.
Also: I want a basement.
With so much of our kit worn out after a decade of fighting we could do far worse than dusting off this old UK design. In fact, we probably will.
*this is somewhat ironic. In the 1920s and 30s the US Army had determined the best rifle/machine gun round would have ballistics nearly identical to the 7mm British, and in fact officially adopted the .276 Pedersen for the M-1 Garand. However the financial crunch of the Depression meant that the army had to make due with the obsolete .30-06 round, the Garand was re-chambered and the lessons learned were, it seems, lost. With hindsight it seems that the Springfield armory of the 30's and Enfield in the 'late '40s were both completely right.
March 29, 2013
First off those are not the most efficient or realistic courses for a missile. It looks like someone drew them without taking into account the Mercator distortion. In actuality, a ballistic tragectory from North Korea would, on a Mercator plot appear to arc north. It would pass over Alaska and possibly the arctic circle (for the same reason that flying to Japan from the US frequently involves a trip over pack ice).
That aside....The targets are Pearl Harbor, Los Angeles, Washington DC and...ummm...Austin.
WHY WOULD YOU WASTE ONE OF YOUR 4 NUKES ON AUSTIN?
It's an eclectic and neat town, but depriving the nation of a cool art scene and dinner theater does not seem to have the strategic benefits of, say, wiping out San Diego or the SSBN base near Tacoma.
I see 3 possibilities:
1: It's a cunning ruse, intended to trick us into moving our ABMs to Austin.
2:The Norks, being lefties, just HAETS them some Texans and aimed at the capital, not realizing that Austin is...well...Austin.
3: They are going to use the nuke to mutate the bats, turning them into giant flappy, fire-breathing, blood-sucking horrors that will terrorize the continent and lead to the collapse of the US.
Ubu, Avatar. We need your perspectives on this.
January 09, 2013
Numbers are necessary because, despite advances in technology. A ship can only be in one place at once. It might be able to use aircraft and small boats to expand its immediate area of influence, but this does not actually reduce the need for numbers ships to be in disparate locations at the same time in order to do the various low end things that navy's and coast guards do.
Showing the flag, hunting pirates, intel gathering, Search and Rescue, disaster relief law enforcement do not require Aegis Destroyers or Cruisers and it is a waste of those valuable resources to dedicate them to such missions, and in any event sufficient numbers of such capital ships cannot be afforded.
Lots of low end ships are needed and the LCS is far too expensive to buy in numbers, particularly in the current financial crisis.
Meanwhile, in France.
DCN has come up with a family of warships called the GOWIND.
The baseline vessel is an OPV. One prototype, the FS Adroit, has been built and has been extensively tested by the French Navy. Adroit is a very austere vessel of 800 tons but it has some interesting features.
Adroit has a helicopter deck that can take a 12 ton helicopter (the size of an EH-101 or an S-92 and a hanger under the bridge and between the uptakes that can take a small helicopter like a Dolphin or a Seasprite and one or two drones.
These are all comparable to, and except for the Exocets, larger than, the equivalent USN weapons which are the 57mm Bofors, Harpoon and the short MK 41 vls for ESSM. (There is a new ultra compact 36 cell ESSM launcher that appears on the Huntington Ingalls patrol frigate proposal that looks to be even smaller but no hard data is forthcoming.)
The French ship is slow; only 21 kts, but it uses the same power that its 400 ton predecessor used to attain 22. It is very hydro-dynamically efficient and has a range of 8000NM. The hull form is designed to be scaled up for much faster speeds in high end versions so higher powered engines might get the speed up to 24 kts at some cost in endurance.
It is seaworthy too. The French offered the vessel to South Africa and pitched it by the straightforward method of sailing Adroit to Cape Town and having the ship bob about and do operational things in the Southern Ocean, which, due to it's infinite fetch, sports some of the most hellish sea conditions on the planet.
The ship can be operated ( in theory) by around 30 personnel due in part to its very low maintenance commercial engines. However it has accommodation for 60, which the French have found is quite fortuitous as continuous boardings require multiple boarding parties. The ships fire control system is designed to cope with its wartime weapons fit. It is fitted with communications gear allowing it to integrate into a NATO task force as well. There is no mention of its EW fit but I have to assume it is very austere.
The Adroit would seem to be an exceedingly good fit for the US Coast Guard since it offers comparable capability to the medium endurance cutters with much better seaworthiness and range at a low enough cost that large numbers can be built. It only needs a 57mm gun and some crew served weapons as far a armament, but it comes ready to be upgraded with bolt on missiles to a slow corvette in time of war. A towed array would give it the ability to act as a sonar tug and Lily-pad for Navy Seahawks and a Seasprite replacing the Dolphin in the hangar would make it a very decent second line ASW ship in a major war. It's quite slow, but the Navy might buy a few to pad out numbers. It can keep up with the 'Gator Navy' or a convoy and can show the flag and look good doing it.
The French, having proven the concept have a variety of evolutionary developments in the pipeline up to full-on 30 kt frigates. They've recently sold 6 of an uprated version to Malaysia . This is a full fledged Corvette with 28 kt speed, full sized hangar, real superstructure and a more extensive weapons & sensor fit. The contract for 6 corvettes is US $2.6 billion which works out to a bit over 433 million apiece for vessels rather more capable that the LCS. With a range of 5000 NM its practically a small frigate. This would seem to be a good replacement for the Perrys and rather a step up from either LCS design.
One thing this can't do very well, is mine warfare. For that specialized mission, a development of the current wooden sweepers, which do work, might be a better fit.
There are legal and political issues to buying foreign designs, (though these don't apply as much to the CG). However, the existence of these vessels shows what is possible. This evolutionary approach of building on proven designs still works, as the French are proving. It is something the USN needs to get back to.
January 01, 2013
November 21, 2012
June 04, 2012
... At a test-firing in March 2012, the heavyweight torpedo SeaHake mod4 ER (Extended Range) achieved a range of over 140 kilometres.
Note that 140 clicks = 86.92 statute miles
While it might take an hour to reach its target area a salvo of these things could generate an awfully large area of surprise 'torpedo water'....but unlike say the Battle of Tassafaronga, the torpedo water would be full of homing weapons. Yikes!
This massively complicates the defense of our warships.
On the bright side, this looks like a viable excuse for...TORPEDO Pr0n!
May 28, 2012
For the longest time I thought that one of the reasons that US kit was so expensive is because we insisted on producing the components here where its much more expensive rather than overseas.
Now it looks like at least some computer chips used in US Military hardware have Chinese installed back doors in them. via
May 16, 2012
Oh, and it's chambered for .338 caliber (8.58mm).
Anthony G. Williams has some thoughts.2
I’ve just been examing the gun at NDIA and talking to the GD people there (including the ammo designer, Jimmie Sloan). The gun isn’t based on the FN MAG / M240, it’s actually based on the .50 cal XM806. It uses the same soft-recoil technology, in that the gun fires as the barrel group is moving forwards. This smoothes out the recoil dramatically, allowing the gun to weigh about the same as the M240 (24 lbs) and to use a lightweight tripod. I’ve been watching a video of it firing and it doesn’t move – most impressive.
The 338NM was chosen to keep the length down with long, heavy bullets. The loading used for the MG is a 300 grain FMJ at 2,650 fps.
- .338 Norma Magnum
- 24 Pounds
- 49 inches
- 500 rounds per minute
- .338 Norma Magnum
- 300gr Sierra HPBT, FMJ, AP
- Muzzle Velocity 2650 FPS
- 24 inch barrel
- 1700 meters effective range
- 5642 meters maximum range
- uses M192 tripod
There's more at the Firearm Blog and on Anthony Williams forum.
December 07, 2011
November 17, 2011
EXACTO is to be launched from 12.7mm barrels.
No that decimal did not slip.
July 24, 2011
The waterjets of the LCS have fallen out due to galvanic corrosion, apparently because the shipbuilders didn't use zincs properly.
LPD 17 San Antonio has never worked right and appears to be a pier ornament now. Much of the issue there seems to stem from faulty welds which are contaminating the lube oil with metal shavings.
This story from my local paper is not strictly a manufacturing issue but speaks to massive incompetence in shipbuilding procurement. (We couldn't have used them as tenders...used them as SOMETHING?)
These problems are deep and systemic. There are no quick solutions. However we may be able to at least move in the right direction. There are two historical parallels that we can use as examples.
In the1880s the UK was extracating itself from Afganistan and was facing some financial difficulties. At the same time the UKs shipbuilding program was terribly screwed up, with problems that included cost overruns, excessively long build times, ships massively over budget as well as overdue, quality control issues, problems integrating new technologies and simple corruption (sound familiar?). The response was to, for a time, order only second line vessels such as gunboats and auxiliaries as well as a few experimental technology test beds such as experimental high speed craft (the torpedo boats).
These were often ordered outside the usual defense procurement clique. (eleventy)
In the meantime the procurement system was overhauled, investment was made in physical plant improvements at the shipyards and the procurement system was reformed, Concurrently, a determination of what sort of vessels were needed was made. Then rational, attainable requirements for the various types of vessels were drawn up that matched the then current technologies, the national strategy of the time as well as the gamut of potential scenarios.
After several years of building gunboats and finishing the dubious vessels that were already ordered, the Royal Navy began building ships under the Naval Defence Act. William Whites design team produced the finest ships that had been built up to that time and for nearly two decades, every subsequent class was an improvement on their design predecessor in some way.
In the late 1920's the US Navy changed the design of its cruisers drastically, switching the emphasis from underwater protection to protection against shellfire. However, cruiser size was strictly constrained to 10,000 tons by the Washington Naval Treaty. Cramming all that extra armor needed to resist 8" shellfire and still come in under the legal weight pushed the state of the art to the limit. The commercial shipyards balked and quoted prices that were exceedingly high. The Navy built the first New Orleans class cruisers in Navy Yards. This allowed the Navy to learn by doing the tricks to the new technologies and give commercial shipyards some training in those fields. This also gave USN officers a LOT of hands on experience in shipbuilding which was invaluble for both quality control inspections and giving a holistic view of damage control. Both stood the USN in good stead in WW2.
There are legal problems with this today as the government shipyards are not allowed to compete with commercial yards in procurement. However, Navy yards are still important in a wartime situation so it is beneficial to have them engage in some shipbuilding to keep their skills sharp. The abysmal performance of the commercial yards in such basic fields as welding and cathodic protection indicates that some remedial training is needed. Shipyards are a national asset. This is nova panacea and ought to be done as a very small percentage of a total procurement, but it has worked in the past.
On the flip side of this is a lack of competition. Government regulators like a few big companies because they are easy to regulate and control and they don't innovate much so bureaucrats don't have to face their own inadequacies. A handful of businesses make it easy to form cartels and grease beauraucratic palms.
We actually have a fair number of shipyards in the country but very few of them get involved in major defense procurement in part because cost plus contracting requires a byzantine army of accountants and lawyers that is larger than the total staff of some of these shipyards. This not only promotes corruption and cost padding, it is a huge barrier to entry for new firms...which isalmost certainlyone of the motivations. Get rid of cost plus and you get rid of several problems at once.
The lager problems involve planning, requirements and overall design. There needs to be something to dissuade crazy ideas like aluminum hulled frigate sized tenders that cost as much as European destroyers carrying the armaments of a coast guard cutter at...50 knots. That would require something like the old General Board...but that's a topic for another time.
October 29, 2009
This is why we do those drills. (Pic via)
It is unclear how much of the damage was due to the collision vs the fire, but if paint thinner in sufficient quantity had a steady supply of air then the fire could have easily reached blast furnace temperatures. With the close proximity of the 5 inch magazines and the sheer intensity of the fire, the fact that the ship is pier-side rather than on the bottom is a testament to her damage control team.
Damage control is vital and this requires DC teams. This brings up a related point that our staffing gurus need to be beat over the head with.
A warship is designed to go into harms way, which generally refers to threats greater than a merchant ship. A warship needs to be able to fight while hurt and have enough crew to do damage control while others are fighting the enemy. The number of personell to do this must take into account those killed by the weapons that caused the damage. Given the difficulties that current staffing policies cause in rather benign conditions, "optimal manning"....isn't.
September 28, 2009
There is a LOT involved. It may require as much as 16 ships. I still think it was a defensible decision given the options but it certainly is not a cheap one. Read the whole thing. There is a good discussion in the comments too.
September 22, 2009
A modern president is generally not afforded the luxury of having available clear cut good and bad decisions particularly on foreign policy. None of these decisions take place in a vacuum and there are always other considerations and ramifications that interact like the workings of a pachinko machine except that they often result in deaths. Like Bush before him, President Obama is quite often presented with no good options available and like Bush, he is faced with the unenviable task of trying to select the least bad option from a truly vile lot.
I am certainly no fan or booster of the current president but think that a good case can be made that the decision in this case was in the national interest, in good faith and possibly the least bad available. Here is why.
Recent events in Afganistan and particularly Pakistan highlight the absolute necessity of not relying solely on a logistics line that runs through the Indus valley. However, options are limited by geography.
As I understand it, the facts facing the Obama administration were these:
A:The Russians desperately want to have a visible foreign policy victory for reasons of national prestige and credibility both foreign and domestic. They have railed against the placing of US missile defense systems in Poland. Although this is largely a symbolic thing it tasks them considerably.While we tend to think of this issue in terms of the brutal and wicked oppression the USSR inflicted upon its client states ( not to mention its own people) the Russians concern with foreigners on their frontier is based on a thousand years of slavic blood spilt by invaders.
B: While it has had some recent successes, and can likely be made to work, the US ground based BMD system has had a very chequrered development.
C: The US naval BMD system has not. (Interestingly, it was developed as an evolutionary outgrowth of the Aegis system almost as an afterthought, and was quite outside of the court intrigues and political power games of the land based system.) While on paper a less capable system, it has proven to be spectacularly successful with a demonstrated capability to not only hit incoming warheads but knock down low flying satellites as well. This system is operational.
D: The range of the system is such that if USN aegis vessels just...you know....happened to be stationed in the Black, Baltic and Adriatic Seas they could provide a decent umbrella against an Iranian Ballistic Missile attack.
Keeping ships on station in those areas is well within the capabilities of the USN even without any homeporting in Gdańsk and Varna...which might well be offered.
Thus by conceding the land based system and replacing it with BMD Aegis the US keeps its word in deed if not word to the nations it promised protection to. The Russians get something they want...a diplomatic victory. However, this doesn't really hurt the US tangibly.
This might seem like more unilateral self flagellation and concessions ....typical Obama kowtowing. It's not like we have gotten any major concessions from Russ....Oh WAIT*!! NATO can now resupply via Russia and this specifically includes using NATO aircraft in Russian airspace. This is a non trivial consession if there ever was one.
This had the potential to be the rarest of all things, a win, win win, in foreign policy, where nobody actually looses. The only thing that might screw it up would be if we made the announcement that we were yielding to the Russians and breaking the letter of our word to Eastern Europe...on...I don't know....the ANNIVERSARY OF THE INVASION OF POLAND BY GERMANY AND RUSSIA.
Dear GOD! The Stupid BURNS.
I don't know about my fellow righties, but I did not spend half a year last year saying "Country first!" because it was a catchy little ditty. We need to support the president when he does something right.... at least the parts he doesn't utterly screw up with unfathomably wretched timing. Given Obama's fairly provincial and left wing background there is always going to be something for us to cringe at in abject horror on issues foreign and domestic. But, knee jerk attacks on delicate foreign policy maneuvers in a time of war is not a good idea.
At the very least we ought to reserve judgment until after we have some better handle on how the President is going to respond to McChrystals' request.
Am I off base?
Tilt away in the comments please.
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