Monday, August 16, 2010

What price SVTOL?


With wars still going on - those looking over the horizon to what they think will be the land of peace that nations have been looking for but have never found - are already going after the Marines.

They have f
ought this battle before - and their external enemies and challenges they will have to fight and overcome. In that battle - one over the next couple of decades that will be well seasoned with budgetary challenges unheard of in living memory for those leading the DOD - how much are they going to be weakened by decisions made over the last decade and more?

Over at ArmedForcesJournal, LCDR Perry Soloman looks at what has come to define Marine Air - SVTOL.
The Marine Corps has embarked upon a comprehensive overhaul of its aviation force that is scheduled to culminate in 15 years with the replacement of every airframe currently in service.

To reduce the compounding costs associated with operating multiple varieties of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, the Marine Corps will transition from 13 to six types or models of manned aircraft over the next 10 years. In doing so, Marine Corps aviation will attain a goal 40 years in the making: the fielding of an entire light attack force capable of short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.
There is the set-up.

What is the good?
The doctrinal concept of Operational Maneuver from the Sea (OMFTS) recognizes the challenges faced by Marine logisticians as they phase combat power ashore. Gen. Charles C. Krulak envisioned that “with sea-based logistics, fire support, medical facilities, and command and control assets, [the] force maximizes its protection by limiting its footprint — and hence its vulnerability — ashore.” For the low-intensity littoral conflicts of the future, OMFTS will be the touchstone doctrine. Ship to Objective Maneuver (STOM) is the tactical application of OMFTS. With the publication of the STOM concept of operations, the Marine Corps paid recognition to the sometimes unnecessary and untenable requirements of amphibious lodgment and the inherent attrition-based strategy that accompanies securing an actively contested beachhead. With OMFTS and STOM, aviation units are not phased ashore. Therefore, STOVL attack aircraft capable of sustained operations from sea are a critical requirement for the successful execution of OMFTS.

Marines deploying from the deck of an amphibious assault ship and operating independently of a larger carrier strike group need fixed-wing tactical aircraft organic to the amphibious ready group that will support their movement ashore. The idea of a fifth-generation STOVL stealth fighter based near the front that will bring “unprecedented responsiveness to the fight” is a red herring that continues to propagate from the highest levels of the Marine Corps.
But the challenges ...
Marine Corps aviation is in an unnecessarily precarious position. As the price of the F-35 continues to climb, budgetary restrictions will force the Corps to make cuts in other programs or purchase fewer STOVL stealth fighters. Without argument, the F-35B is crucial to the future of Marine Corps tactical fixed-wing aviation. Without the F-35B to replace the aging Harrier fleet, Operational Maneuver from the Sea is a hollow shell of a concept. Marine Corps leadership is making an existential gamble on an untested and unproven weapons system. To guarantee that future amphibious assaults have organic fixed-wing assets in direct support, the Marine Corps must at least acknowledge a second course of action that involves a more diversified air arm.

The Department of the Navy should reduce the number of F-35Bs procured for the Marine Corps and buy only the number of aircraft required to fill Marine air wings dedicated to deploying with amphibious assets. This will cause the per-unit cost to rise even more, but the increased cost can be offset by transitioning F/A-18D squadrons to the much cheaper F/A-18F. The Marine Corps can buy three F/A-18Fs for the cost of a single F-35B.
Towards the end of the article he expands on the discussion of the FA-18F option; something I think we will hear a lot more of down the road.

The great thing about the USMC has always been that when you call them - they show up with all the tools they need to do their job, with a little help from their Navy sibling. A critical part of that is Marine Air. The bean counters have never understood that and for decades they have been trying to kill it. Once again, it seems, the battle is joined.

Turn to.

105 comments:

SWOINATOR said...

SAL, had to read through your post all the way to get your point, but it is good. The cost of the F-35 is rising of course, as is every other program, due to expanding and increasing government requirements.  Seems we cannot put a line in the sand, and build to it (of note, the famous presidential helo had 18,000 change orders!).  However, the F35 cost is settling down as production is starting. It is a 2010 aircraft, NOT a 1980 aircraft so expect it to cost more.

What the bean counters continue to miss is expanding capacity.  Put the F-35 against the F-18 any day, regadless of option, and you will have the answer on operational capacity. Oh and the F-35 will not have to have the CVN with the ARG for support. It is a leap is capability for the USMC: one heck of a tool in their box for use.

I believe it is the same arguement that came about when the AV-8's came out.  Why need them when we have the CVN to protect the gators? Yet besides JTFEX, how many times has the CVN followed the ARG to provide strikek coverage 24/7?  (the number is not 0, but it is not big).  The AV-8s are the strike arm of the ARG.

Thoughts for a Monday morning.

文滢 said...

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cdrsalamander said...

A point without context is just a sharp, pointy thing.   :-P

Eric Palmer said...

This might all even out. With the LAH-6 not being made in numbers for the idea of a follow-on flat-top that has well decks, the follow on will only be able to carry a small number of F-35s so if USMC can only afford half, they are still in the game for appearances sake.

As for the alleged capability of the F-35. It is a long way from valid testing of a go to war aircraft. Also it redefines austere basing way off the known map of reality where every sortie will require 7 tons of gas from a hard airfield that can take the stress of the VSTOL--well because we know there are slabs high quality concrete and 200-300 tons of gas (per day) right over the hill from every Marine fox hole. 

ewok40k said...

F-35 is logical replacement of both AV-8 and F-18... as nations around the globe will turn to replacing their F-16s and F-18s, price per plane will dive.

Salty Gator said...

F-35 is an F-22 when you need an A-10.  Do you guys have any idea the number of modifications we need to do to amphibious shipping in order to put those planes on board?  Allow me:
1. Environmental Effects:  you need to harden the deck, move missile launchers and radars, shift antennae around (because the plane lands like an aircraft carrier (stern approach not laterally on the beam)
2. Cornerstone:  HM&E modifications to the deck piping, support beams, etc
3. C5I:  much needed upgrades to the combat system and the C4I network in order for Marines and Navy to be able to talk to the airplane.  This thing has the ability to transmit exponentially more data than the AV-8.  A lot more folks other than simple AIC's or ATC's need to be able to talk to her and her sensors in return

So why do we need this platform?  Well, if you don't have dedicated shooters running shotgun for you, you will need an air intercept capability.  ESG's go away and PHIBRONs came back.  Additionally, the littoral threat to shipping (ASCMs, shore batteries, etc) requires a greater real time collection / reaction capability.  You get that with this plane.

It all depends on doctrine.  I'm trying to figure out why the Marine Corps is such a good defender of this little plane but such a HORRIBLE defender of Naval Gun Fire Support?!  You can have all the planes in the world, but planes won't give you volume fires...neither will TLAMs.

Salty Gator said...

This will never even out.  the footprint of the F-35 both in terms of the A/C and the follow on supplies is HUGE compared to the AV-8.  Additionally, you need to consider how the footprint of USMC stores and vehicles has grown (think MRAP).  We have a decision to make with LHA-6, 7, and follow on LHDs:  do you want to carry gear and vehicles or aircraft?!  Because with an LHA-6 that has no well deck, you can carry most of what you want for the ACE (Air Combat Element).  But you get like ZERO gear.  The converse is true for current LHDs.
Solution set?  Bring back LST's, LPHs, LKAs.

Redeye80 said...

The real threat to Operational Maneuver from the Sea is not the lack F-35s but the lack of support from the Navy to build the appropriate and correct numbers of ships.

The reality/intent article is to convince everyone that the Marines need to buy more F/A-18E & F because it helps out the Navy fill it's decks via the TacAir Agreement.  The threat is to the Navy on how they can integreate SVTOL versions to the current deck cycle of the CV.

Of course, given the current administration's desires to cut programs, the Navy won't have to worry about getting airplanes to fill the decks as the number of decks will go down to 8 verse 11.  Have fun with that!

SWOINATOR said...

Check the record on NSFS. From what I have seen, the USMC is screaming for it.  It is the USN who continues to balk and think TLAM can do all.

Interest to think about doing area supression fire with only 30 some TLAM missile per ship.  Needs to be a small area I guess.

Redeye80 said...

Salty,

If we could get an A-10 on a amphib, I'd take it in a heartbeat.  Of course, flown by Marine who tell the difference between an AAV and a white pickup.

As far as the rest of your points, the aircraft hasn't been to sea yet, so I am not so sure of the differences around the boat.  I am thinking those phases of flight will be/can be the same as the AV-8B.

As far as the rest of the C&C issues, F-35 brings new capabilities to the fight so if it is a B or C model issues will remain.  If there is a problem to fix (and I am not that expert) then the Navy will have to fix it because they will have F-35s regardless.

I think the USMC has all but given up of NSF because the Navy won't support it.  What really amazes me is the ground side of the house is not up in arms about all these issues.  Several years ago, the Corps gave up arty tubes because everyone agreed the gap would be made up with wing assets.  Marine tactical fixed wing aviation has been the most raped program in DoD and the grunts are OK with it.  We have a problem when the CAS weapon of choise is a B-52 with JDAM.

Redeye80 said...

Salty,

Please point to where the logistical footprint of a F-35 squadron is located?

Having spent an extremely short period of time on a couple of LSTs, I was amazed that both crews knew that the Navy would never support the actually beaching of the ship in combat.  Never.  Anh hence, they went away.  What value does that ship bring if the Navy will not support the function of the ship?

DJF said...

<span><span>

The Marines might talk about NSFS but look at the landing craft and Assault Amphibious Vehicles, they are practically unarmed. Look at WW2 and see how the Assault Amphibious Vehicles first got a 37mm tank turret, then a 75mm howitzer turret, then a 75mm gun turret and finally after the war they were up to 105mm howitzers turret. Compare that to the AAV-7 which at most has a 50 cal machine gun and a 40 mm grenade launcher. The same applies to landing craft, during and after WW2 they had 5 inch guns, 3 inch guns, 40mm gun, 20mm guns and bombardment rockets. Look at today, they are lucky to have a couple of 50 cal machine guns.

So its not just the missing battleships, cruisers, gun destroyers, the close in fire support is also gone including on the Marines own vehicles. Nobody at any level is equipped for direct sea assault even against light resistance. A half dozen enemy IFV equipped with auto cannon could tear up a marines sea landing and the Marine landing force could hardly fight back until they got onto land and deployed their own tanks and other heavy weapons

</span></span>

Anonymous said...

DJF,

Even in WWII, a number of light tanks on the beach would rain havoc on a WWII landing that lacked the NGF support required.  The EFV would have remedied some of the close in weapon system gap, but it would still be a trick to land against 30mm and 45mm cannon fire that was not suppressed.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Ack.  The above guest is me.

AW1 Tim said...

I would posit that a better way to gain funds without losing capability is to eliminate the V-22 and buy more helos. Osprey is a neat system, but has shown it's weaknesses. yes, the Marines will always smile at the camera and say how much they love it, but it wasn't a program they wanted. Congress mandated it for them, and they got stuch with it.

  You can gain lift capacity with losing deck space by reverting to helos, and save money at the same time.

   I have argued againt the F-35 STOVAL because of it's logistics footprint. MUCH more parts than a straight F-35, and if it's going to deploy on a CVN. It's going to take up valuable supply space for it's non-standard parts, and accompanying tools, manuals, etc. In addition, if the Marines want to operate it as a STOVL from a CV, then the decks will have to be hardened as well as upgraded to deal with the heat issues invloved.

   At the amount of money being invested in the F-35 STOVL program, I'd argue you could consider building a few ski-jump light carriers and going to an all f/a-18 fleet.

  And while we're talking also about NGFS issues, why can't we build us some hulls with Paladin Turrets and MLRS Boxes to provide dedicated support to marine Amphibious Forces?

xbradtc said...

The insistence of including STOVL capability in the JSF program compromised all three variants. One wonders what would the program look like if the Navy had been the lead agent for a Navy/AF F-18/F-16 replacement Light Strike bird. And does the USMC need a STOVL stealth fighter?

I'm not philosophically opposed to  an AV-8 replacement (though I'm getttng there- thanks ELP), but the F-35B is too much. It makes no sense to use a $140mm fighter for close air support. If there is a threat that requires that level of sophisication, you're going to need more than a single ESG, and THAT means you're going to have CVN support anyway. Most likely, you'd have Air Force F-22 support as well.

Redeye80 said...

I guess you are assuming one of the 8 carriers is available and the AF has thier tankers in the right spot and available?

AW1 Tim said...

So let me toss something into the mix.

If the Marines truly need a close air support system (and they do, IMO) then why not go with rotary wing? Seems to me that if they are enetering contested airspace, that there would be a CBG nearby to support that need. FA-18's would be a better choice for the anti-air mission, backed up by Ship or land based air defense systems.

   Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that for what the Marines are envisioning, that rotary-wing gunships would fit the bill well.

AW1 Tim said...

Now now, it's not nice to kick the AF when they're down and all that...  ;)

Salty Gator said...

USMC screams about it but they refuse to quantify a real requirement.  More is better is not a requirement.  It seems like a tedious admin drill, and it is, but if there is no legitimate "requirement" then the Navy is not compelled to act.

Salty Gator said...

URR, true, but the EFV is way to expensive.  Additionally, we are talking about a total rewrite of amphibious doctrine--the largest since the 1930s--in order to PERMA an over-the-horizon amphibous landing/assault

Salty Gator said...

RedEye, the phases of flight are planned and programmed to be different.  The mission sets are different, capabilities / limitations are different.  Even tactical control of the aircraft is going to be different, which was a surprise to me.

Everything else I am in lockstep with you!

Salty Gator said...

LSTs beached plenty of times in World War II...

ewok40k said...

on Saipan Jpanese counterattacked with tanks, and were quite successful until ran into some Shermans already on the beach and 105mm howitzers firing directly :)

Salty Gator said...

thanks for asking about the logistical footprint.  That footprint is the spares, the ability to execute an engine changeout, the ability to conduct major corrective maintenance on an airframe / engine in the hanger, etc.  Unfortunately, if we even have 1 hanger queen we lose the ability to do engine changeout in the hanger.  That is what I am talking about with regards to size and footprint.  We built a better mousetrap for sure.  This is a fantastic plane.  We just don't have the house to set it up!
I would say look to LHA 8, 9 and LHDs 9+ for the solution set.  hopefully the Marine Corps will decide what they want--more vehicle space or more JSF space.

Salty Gator said...

Speed and legs.  If you are going to go OTH over the horizon because you are worried about the ASCM threat, you need to have the legs and speed to execute a strike mission in reasonable time.

Additionally, the concept was for the STOVL to be used on Aircraft Carriers as well as L Class ships. I think a lot of people don't know that.  The Navy is up in arms over this because carrier flight deck equipment and personnel have to be reconfigured in order to switch from catapult launches to STOVL launches / recoveries.  This eats into the Air Tasking Order...

ewok40k said...

marines need not only CAS, but air cover too. helos arent that great if enemy has dedicated fighters on the prowl... and AF has only so few F-22s... and carriers can be not present in vicinity (Guadlacanal redux?)

xbradtc said...

If it is worth attacking with an ESG, it's worth attacking with a CSG as well.

Can you REALLY envision our risk averse Navy putting an ESG into an environment that needs stealth aircraft without CSG support? I can't.

Redeye80 said...

This is issue is we have become risk adverse on use of low density, high demand assets.  This has become the mantra of DOD, we can't use it because we only have so many and we are afraid will lose them.

I guess that whole "for I intend to go in harm's way" is a little mute these days.

Southern Air Pirate said...

How many times have we done a contested amphibious landing since Inchon? The reason the answer isn't that big is that 90% of the time we have basically conducted administrative landings in the last 50 years (since the 1960) into countries and except for going into Lebanon for the last three times, most of those landings were done with in range of land based air. The only time we really did a contested landing, if you could consider it contested, was Op Urgent Fury in 1983. That had the Indy and her Air wing providing top cover and on call CAS until the airport re-opened following the Ranger's capture of it, at which the conflict was basically over and the only thing needed to fly in or out was the cargo transports to take the students and WIA's home.

Southern Air Pirate said...

I would also like to add that the USMC has put thier eggs into the F-35 as their follow on ECM bird to replaced the EA-6B. According to most of the open source readings that I have seen is basically seeing the EF-35 being a drone control and most of the jamming being done by UCAV's. So in reality all of the eggs for USMC fixed wing aviation are in the F-35 basket and they will be sucking major hind tit if this thing goes bad. Even today there are "informed" consultants, talking head, congressional critters still bring the hate filled bats to the V-22 program even though everyone in theather loves it.

Redeye80 said...

Can't prove it but I believe the USMC has tried to shy away from all low density high demand "national asset" toys.

The question is does the EF-35 fulfill the the requirements of the 8 functions of Marine Aviation?  I don't know, I guess. It depends on the yardstick (requirements).  I am not sure the EF-18 would fit the bill either.  The driver is to reduce T/M/S in the Corps.  The EF-18 left too big a crack in the door for those who wanted the Corps to buy the E&F.

In regard to eggs in the basket, etc, USMC has managed to land on it's feet in the past.  We managed to dodge the F-14 and survive with F-4s.  The issue this time around is you can't reset the airplane like we did with the F-4.  You can't slap a 1000 lbs of steel on the bottom of the aircraft and call the wings zero life.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Salty,

We will re-write, but will likely be surprised with how much it looks like the old doctrine. 

There are certain axioms, irrespective of weapon systems and technology:

Overwhelming firepower until overwhelming combat power can be transitioned ashore.  Logistical support from vessels built for the task and loaded at the direction of the LF staff  (NOT JLOTS or RO/RO MPF).  As much surprise as possible, kick in the door, and establish a beachhead that allows for follow-on forces ashore.   

Anyone doubting a future requirement for such a thing needs to get out more.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Salty,

If you refer to NSFS requirement, I would submit you are wrong.  USMC has submitted a number of requirements and white papers over the last two decades, including for a heavier-caliber and longer-range naval rifle.  (203mm?)  They were all categorically ignored or declared not cost-effective.  Short-sighted Navy leadership.

Southern Air Pirate said...

Well with regards to the modern battlefield the EW conflict is important. I mean right now both USN and USMC EA-6B's are providing what we call EWCAS to the bubbas on the ground. The problem is just as you describe, most of the EW platforms in US Navy/Marine Corps aviation are a high demand/low density asset. We are stretched to the thin (and potentially breaking point) between a total of 14 active duty navy units (including the RAG), 1 USNR squadron, and four USMC units; we are constantly away from home. The problem for the USMC is that they only have four units and they can't operate from anything but a paved-prepared field with regards to tarmac and runway facilities. As to whether the EF-18 could do the same I don't know enough about its limitations to throw a yea or nay. Also it has been routine for the EW side of the USMC to behind the power curve simply cause they were happy with what they had. If you look at the history of VMCJ-1 they were still flying EF-10B's over North Vietnam until the early 70's, when they were finally being replaced on either ships or ashore sites by the EA-6A and they didn't start to replaced the EA-6A until the EA-6B until the early 80's. They are supposed to try and keep flying the EA-6B's until the 2020's at which they are hopping to replace it with the EF-35/Drone combo (or a straight drone situtation if the controls work out). I just wonder if it makes sense for the USMC to throw all thier eggs into the F-35 basket like the RAF and RN has. It might be useful for them to potentitally buy some EF-18s or Echo/Fox version of the Hornet until the F-35 starts to come out.
I also remember the USMC F-14 fight as a way to replace the F-4 in VMFA units. Cause the fighter mafia in the USN didn't want to yield an ounce for air to ground on the F-14. So that is one of the reasons the USMC equivlant to BuAir said thanks but no thanks. On top of that the AWG-9/AWM-23 maintenance system was overtly too complex (and too much $$$) to support via the MALS size concept the USMC had developed, so that was the other reason they said thanks, no thanks.

Redeye80 said...

I agree on the importance of EW.  I will also give you the fact the Corps has not been responsive to changing the platforms over the years for lots of reasons.  As an old F-4 RIO, I know the value the EA-6B brings to the fight but for a long time those who walked the ground couldn't get it thier brain housing group the mission was important.  Shortsided thinking.

My first CO was on the evaluation team on the F-14.  He still had his USMC Tomcat patch. I think the cost/parts issues were part of the rejection of the program.  The air-to-ground was obviously the nail in the coffin.  The aircraft could bomb but as you mention the fighter mafia didn't want to be multi-mission.  Funny, had the fighter guys bought in a little, they might still be flying.

Can't say I drank the Kool Aid on the F-35 but it is what is.  But then again, I was for an all F/A-18D fleet for the Corps.  Problem with that concept, the toys hanging from the airplane today where not available when the airplane hit the fleet.  We had our own single seat mafia to deal with as well.

cassander said...

Except the osprey is an actual, existing platform that is currently in use.   The f-35 may or may not ever happen.  The v-22 probably should have been canceled, but if so it should have happened a decade ago.  Today, it's worth keeping.  I'd even like to see what an A-22 looks like.

cassander said...

Agreed.  what the corps needs is a STOVL A-10, not a strike fighter.  Including the stovl requirement in the f-35 program has been an enormous disaster.

Salty Gator said...

what ESG?  They are all but dead.

Salty Gator said...

Awesome.  Totally with you.  MPF was a disaster concept and I'm glad it's dead...unfortunately nobody said at it's funeral that the answer is more gray hulls!

Salty Gator said...

Sir, beg to differ.  the Navy asked the Marines to quantify "volume fires."  The requirement for "volume fires" is the driver for determining the requirement for NSFS.  OPNAV N81 has commissioned extensive studies with the Marines to help them feel comfortable (read boxed-in) with a number. The Marines, for all the right and wrong reasons, refused to name that number.  Therefore, in absence of a hard and fast requirement for actual rounds on target / time measurement, the Marines will "get what they get" from the Navy.  I mean, CHRIST, we went from giving you guys 16" shells and 8" shells were small and 5" was pretty much to shoot at airplanes to now 5" is your NSFS?  Puh-lease!

Salty Gator said...

Thank you, F-35 Joint Program Office Public Affairs Office!

Salty Gator said...

You're right, Air Pirate.  While we're at it, let's get rid of our nuclear weapons since we haven't used them in warfare since 1945.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Salty,

The loss of NGF platforms predates the latest round of OPNAV N81 studies by decades.  When I was in the artillery regiment in the late 1980s when it looked as if the battlewagons would not stay in commission (they didn't) we had plenty of input about the SYSTEM characteristics required. There have been several more iterations of that in the early and mid-1990s, and each and every set of inputs was discarded by the USN for a laundry list of reasons.  Where, pray tell, is the Mk71?  All but complete as a weapon system design, ships designed to carry it, fuzes and propellants available to increase range and accuracy manyfold.  Not a ONE in the USN.  We wanted that, or something close to it.  We settled for nothing.  As usual.

Popular opinion among USMC fire supporters is that the OPNAV N81 "volume fires" nonsense was the Navy's way of starting at the wrong end (intentionally) so as to force the USMC to try and quantify the un-quantifiable.  The US Navy clearly is not interested in NGF support (yes, I call it NGF, because a cannon system is much preferable), and makes little bones about it.  The "you didn't tell us what you need" is a red herring and it is disingenuous as hell.  Once again, Navy leadership demonstrating it cannot be trusted.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span> As much surprise as possible, kick in the door, and establish a beachhead that allows for follow-on forces ashore.    
 
Anyone doubting a future requirement for such a thing needs to get out more.</span>

When was the last time we had an air supremacy fight?  Maybe we should can the USAF and all air superiority fighters.  Acquisition of fighter aircraft and training of pilots and aircrews is an enormous expense.  Especially if we never use it.  Navy air, too.  The last air supremacy fight over the ocean was in WWII.  So why have it?

Casey Tompkins said...

Sorry, Gator, gotta throw a small ad hominem flag there. If Ewok is wrong, why not just point out where?

The analyses are all over the place for this plane. So many folks seem to focus on the points which support their pre-determined position, and ignore those in conflict. Here's one counter-example, just to play devil's advocate.

Remember when the Navy was migrating from prop-jobs to jets? The jets were the wave of the future, but the first straight-wing generation was not much faster than the high-end propeller-driven fighters, sucked up far more fuel, had shorter range, and needed longer take-off & landing room, not to mention spool-up time if you need to accelerate in hurry. Prop-jobs, on the other hand, had longer range, required shorter strips, and demonstrated far better fuel economy and were more responsive to throttle input. And they were a lot more expensive.
Using logic popular today, jets in 1948 were a really bad idea. High tech, bleeding edge, expensive as all Hell, less range & efficiency, two or three times the cost. What idiot came up with that idea!? ;)

On the other hand, perhaps the F-35 will turn out to be the modern equivalent of the XP-81, F-85, or X-13. Maybe. The X-14 led to successful modern VTOL designs.

DeltaBravo said...

I'm going to ask a useless girl question.  (I always thought it was a neat idea and I think Marines should be given more toys, not less).

I remember reading about this back in the '80.  Why hasn't it happened?  25 years later?

Next dumb question...  wasn't it called V-STOL back then?  Is it STOVL now?  Or SOTVL?  Or do they change the letters around and then add millions to the price tag?  (DC accounting procedures, of course...)

Okay, done being dumb for the day... ;)

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Southern Air Pirate said...

Gator,
Take your jets back down to idle for a sec. Take a long hard look at it all. Except for the US, UK, and the French; no one else in the world has done an opposed landing. Out of those three the last one any of those guys did was the US during Operation Urgent Fury in 1983. The Brits last did the Falklands, where even the Amphib commander admitted in his book on that battle; the RN and RM had only praticed administrative landings onto either the Scandinavian or Dutch pennusilas where they would meet up with pre-postioned NATO stocks and go to war against Warsaw Pact forces. Most of those landings were expected to be under cover of either NATO TacAir or Strike Fleet Atlantic (read US and French) air cover. Before that the only other landing that was opposed was the 1956 Suez Incident where the Brits and French landed in an attempt to grab the Suez Canal. Most of the landing was done via heliborne troops and paratroops siezeing key portions of Cario's airfields and Port Said. After which most of thier supplies were coming in via the docks at Port Said. Those landings were covered by both RN and French Naval air forces, but also RAF units out of UK control airfields in Malta and Cyprus, along with IAF units out of Isreal covering both thier forces and some of the European forces near the canal.
Other then that nearly every other time we have used the Marines to land someplace we did it under administrative purposes and under the cover of land based air. Vietnam in 64? USAF out of Bein Hoa and CTF 77; Iraq in 91? Never landed and USMC units push overland from Saudi FOB's and the VMA's from ashore in places like Bahrain, KKMC, Dhrahn, etc; Iraq in 03? There the VMA's operated from the LHA's and LHD's, they used the FOB's set up to get gas or do an E-divert to. Never did they go ashore as envisioned like some of the plans were when the AV-8A's were bought back in '78. Even a large number of the community in VMA said in some of the pro journals that is the way to do it. Home base is the large deck L-ships while the FOB's give up gas or an e-divert while they provide on call CAS.

Southern Air Pirate said...

That is also why SecDef Gates threw the gauntlet down on the USMC bubbas to prove they are the only folks in town that can be effective as door kickers to get that beach head open and then secure the follow on target. One of our problems is that we haven't updated our playbook in a long time, so most of our potential foes know it. Remember WW2 CentPac amphib ops were the exception and not rule. Look more at European Phib Ops or SWPAC phib ops. The objective was to get ashore and push to either a large enough port or airfield with in the first 96 and with the intital follow on forces the push would be to a larger port with the 14 days, to help sustatin the optempo ashore.
Amphib ops is just one of the ops we are letting athropy ourselves, along with ASW, Mine Ops, ASuW, sustained WASEX, etc.; because someone inside the 5 sided wind tunnel called the Pentagon hasn't seen a need for it or looking back doesn't look far enough back. If not that then they draw the wrong lessons from history and precived that the need isn't required cause it hasn't been used in a long time.

USAF Mike said...

It's a semantics thing...V/STOL (Vertical and/or Short Takeoff and Landing) implied that vertical takeoff was a realistic option for the aircraft.  It's not.  Vertical takeoff burns a ridiculous amount of fuel and is only feasible for a very narrow range of operating locations due to the high heat stress from the full thrust at takeoff.  STOVL, on the other hand, stands for Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing, which is what aircraft like this (Harrier, F-35B, etc.) do.  Short rolling takeoff, using vectored thrust (and possibly a ski jump) to have a much shorter takeoff roll than a conventional takeoff, followed by a vertical landing, which allows it to operate from a short deck carrier without all the complications of the Navy's CATOBAR (catapults and arresting wires) system.

As for reading about it in the '80s...are you talking about the JSF/F-35?  Because the JSF didn't start as a procurement project until the mid '90s.  If you're talking about STOVL, the Marines have had the Harrier for some time, although the F-35 is definitely not a plug and play replacement for the Harrier (see all the comments about the increased basing/hard runway/etc requirements that the F-35 has.)

USAF Mike said...

"<span>and AF has only so few F-22s"</span>

Thanks in part to the lobbying of the Marine Corps.  Just like they (along with the Joint Staff and OSD) are trying to kill the AF's 2018/NGB/whatever we're calling it these days strategic bomber.  You can't even call it a "bomber" in the halls of the Pentagon anymore...they've taken what was supposed to be a strategic bomber and turned it into an F-111 lite, that will probably never be built because it is intended for the Air Force.

But yes, by all means, forget making sure the Air Force has a quality air superiority fighter and a strategic bomber (not to mention a new tanker), the Navy's Army's Air Force needs a halfway kinda sorta chubby underperforming stealth CAS fighter that supposedly can perform air superiority (with a grand total of 4 air to air missiles...and maybe a gun.  If they carry it that day.)

Look, I understand the memory of Henderson Field/Iron Bottom Sound/no carriers at Guadalcanal runs deep in the Corps, but there comes a time when you've got to let the past go, especially when that historical event hasn't happened since.  Like others have said, can we really point to an example of an ESG deploying without a CSG when (and here's the kicker) they are in a denied environment where they would need serious counterair support? 

Outside of this denied environment, what possible use does the Corps have for a stealthy fighter?  They're just getting nice toys to get nice toys, and they're getting away with it because the Corps has a propaganda machine that rivals Stalin's (that's a compliment, honest).  If the AF was half as good as you guys, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today when it comes to public perception of our service (there isn't one).

And STOVL F-35s operating on a CATOBAR carrier with F-35Cs is the most retarded idea I've ever heard...the fact that it is seriously considered part of the JSF program really tells you everything you need to know about the marketing departing behind the program (this jet will do everything for everyone forever and it will cost less than any fighter ever before!!!!!).  I laugh every time I see the STOVL on CATOBAR requirement.

USAF Mike said...

Like Brad said, we would never put an ESG into an area where they needed stealthy air support without a CSG as well.  To think otherwise is just a Marine Corps masturbatory fantasy.

As for KC-X, no argument from me that it's a bed of our own making.  That said, you all had better hope that the tankers are in position and available, because the Navy Marine Corps team has made some real wise (and by wise I mean retarded) decisions with regard to tankers...the only organic tanking you all have is buddy tanking, which halves your strike package. 

Glass houses, and all that...

Southern Air Pirate said...

Actually URR, the last major air supremacy fight was the Bekka Valley in 82. It wasn't the US, but rather the IAF vs Syria. A large number of people in both Nellis and Miramar's schools, along with the Air Combat College at Maxwell, Joint Forces School, and the various other war colleges all took lessons from that fight. The biggest thing was that we could fight on the other side of our SAM belt if we took thiers down. It was also believed that the F-4E couldn't hold its own against the MiG-23 Flogger's that the Syrians had at the time. Instead killing thier SAMs via RPV's sightings and shots from AGM-45 and AGM-78 equipped aircraft that were doing long range missile shots. Once the SAMs were cleared the Syrian AF rose up to cover the gaps and the IAF basically cleaned their clocks. Even a conservative estimate was kill ratios of 8:1 per aircraft, for something like a total of 80 Syrian aircraft downed. Everyone learned from those engagements. We started to build Red Flag around that concept, and some enterprising USAF officers started to build thier AirLand engagement concept that was going to win the war over Central Europe and lead to the success during Desert Storm.
So what was one of the first things done in Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom? We killed thier EW,GCI, and SAM radar nets and then right behind those missiles were the fighter sweeps. Once those were cleared the skies the bombers came in for thier targets. Now for Enduring Freedom it was a little easier cause we sort of knew the Taliban didn't have an AF, but in Iraq it was slightly different.

Just cause the US wasn't involved doesn't mean it hasn't happened. That is one of the problems with our media is we don't hear about things from the rest of the world and there for assume no one else is doing something.

Southern Air Pirate said...

Mike,

Before you start to point fingers at the USMC propganda. Look at your own service's history. THe bomber mafia lead by the prophet Gen. Curtis LeMay pushed bombermen/missile men on the USAF to the point that TacAir and all that was required of it suffered cause of it. The only way that TacAir bubbas could get anything was by saying that it could carry a B57 or better shape long distances fast. See the F-100, F-105, and F-101; all of which primary was to deliever a nuclear shape in support of theater nuclear delievery. The idea of an agile fighter was being dismissed by the bomber mafia in your service for the longest time. It wasn't until some of the lessons from Vietnam were starting to filter over and a fighter mafia start to rise under Boyd in the early 70's. This lead to the development of the F-15 and later to the F-16 fighters; which were suppose to be pure air dominance aircraft and not an pound for air to ground. Others were suppose to pick up that slack. It wasn't until the lessons of the various Israeli/Arab conflicts started to be studied that TacAir realized thier errors and start to modify their thinking. All the while there was a major fight with in the USAF over who was supposed to get the money SAC or TacAir. The guys that flew all the support birds were basically given the really short end of the stick. A large number of those aircraft by the start of the 90's needed to be replace, but were neglected.
I would also like to recommend that for a few of our tactics it was from USMC Air that started the serious work on it. Dive Bombing originated from VO-1M over Nicuragua in the 20's. Close Air support tactics orignated with VO-1M over Nicuragua in the 20's and refined through out the 30's and into the war to the point that some USMC aircraft could put HVAR's and Napalm about a hundred feet in front of the unit markers/FAC markers and not splash damage friendly troops. Embedding FACs with the ground troopers, USMC thought of it first. The combined air ground task unit orignated with the USMC thinking. Verticle Envelopment, USMC thinking of it first. USMC Air are the crazy aunts we lock up in the closet that come up with some of the most interesting ideas on how to use air power in a tactical setting.

ewok40k said...

History book on the shelf is always repeating itself... sorry for ABBA quote :P
If and when US gets into real war (probably with China), carriers will be sunk - and other ships as well. There will be amphibious landings to take -and retake - islands. And there will be almost 100% certainity you will need every fighter you can scrape. F-35 is far from perfect, but is better than not having fighters overhead. Wildcat was far from perfect in 1942, but it was enough in the Marine pilots hands.
And the first command I'd give to my engineers if in Marine command would be: make me a prefabricated runway capable of handlinf F-35, easily mass produced and repairable.

DeltaBravo said...

Yes, I was talking about the Harrier.  And the plans for the Osprey, I believe it was...

Thanks for the explanation.  It makes perfect sense... rearranging alphabet letters makes all the difference in the world now, doesn't it?

USAF Mike said...

I'd say it makes about the same amount of difference as deck chairs on the Titantic, but I'm definitely a pessimist when it comes to the JSF program.

USAF Mike said...

And yeah, the Osprey has been around in concept since the '80s.

USAF Mike said...

Exactly.  Like I said above, conducting an opposed landing with only an ESG (no CSG, no long range USAF support, nothing but the organic ESG assets) is a Marine Corps wet dream that will never happen.  Or, I should say, if it does happen, we are royally fucked, because the F-35B isn't going to be much of a dogfighter...or much of anything, really.  (Slight nitpick...it's Air War College, not Air Combat College.)

In a perfect world, I'd love to have F-22s galore, enough strategic bombers to carpet the sky, 20 CSG, and 30 ESGs, each capable of forcing open an opposed beach by itself.  We don't live in a perfect world, though, and DoD budgets are going to be slashed.  Whether we use that extra money to pay down the debt or to fund entitlement programs is a matter of debate (I favor the first course of action), but regardless...the current course is unsustainable regardless of which side of the debate you fall on.  In this environment, we've got to make hard choices...for me, cutting the Marines' STOVL capability is an easy one.  It's an unnecessary capability that the Marines are holding on to because of their obsession with a never repeated historical event (Henderson Field). 

Furthermore, what have the Marines given up in today's fiscal environment?  I can point to something that pretty much every service has given up...Air Force should be pretty easy, more or less everything we wanted except for KC-X (that's our own damn fault) and the F-35 (although the jury's still out there); Navy...self explanatory; hell, even the Army gave up most of FCS.  The Marines, though...Osprey?  Nope.  STOVL F-35 variant?  Nope.  AAAV/EFV?  We'll see if Gates succeeds in killing it, but not yet.

USAF Mike said...

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that the USAF was without its historical faults...far from it.  Just that the Marines really do have a PR (there, that's a little nicer word than "propaganda") machine bar none.

The irony, of course, is that in the end TAC won out with the formation of ACC and the inclusion of the strategic bombers under what was basically a rebadged TAC (down to the winged sword on the patch).  I was actually having a discussion similar to this with some folks the other day, where most everyone was having a circle jerk over how awesome SAC was.  Make no mistake, SAC was one of the most professional, flawless military organizations that has ever existed.  There's a part of me that wishes I had been born 50 years earlier and gotten to serve in it.  If SAC was still around, the Minot incident never would have happened in a million years.  SAC represents a lot of the best of the Air Force.  However, I brought up that it also represents some of the worst of the Air Force...slavish adherence to dogma at the expense of innovation and critical thinking (doctrine of Massive Retaliation, the first few days of the BUFF raids on Hanoi during Linebacker II), insistence that not only is their mission the most important one, but that it is the ONLY one.  SAC was great, but it had its flaws (as does any military organization.)

USMC Air is indeed innovative...I have no problem with the Marines retaining fixed air (although I do get annoyed at their occasional refusal to release the MAGTF's air assets to the CAOC in a joint environment...but that's a rant for another day).  Just don't give them a STOVL model of an already too expensive stealth fighter.  Super Hornets would more than suffice, I would think.

Also, to be fair...Pete Quesada and the 9th AF in WWII also had quite a bit to do with the development of CAS doctrine (of course, he and his ideas got shunted aside after the war, but that just goes to what you and I were talking about with SAC taking over and being short sighted.)

USAF Mike said...

Ewok, the problem is like I said below...we live in an era of finite budgets.  Every dollar spent on a (less capable, as you yourself admit) F-35B is a dollar that isn't spent on something that is far more likely to be used in any theoretical conflict with China (or anyone else).  More F-35As or -Cs, more Super Hornets, more F-22s (we aren't destroying the tooling yet!), more tankers, more destroyers, more submarines...I could go on.

"<span>And the first command I'd give to my engineers if in Marine command would be: make me a prefabricated runway capable of handlinf F-35, easily mass produced and repairable."</span>

Read up on the logistics footprint of the F-35B and (more importantly) the runway requirements for the STOVL F-35B when it's conducting a VL.  Something tells me your little request is going to turn out to be damn near impossible.  The requirements for the Harrier were restrictive enough, but the F-35B is not going to plug and play with the Harrier, it has considerably more restrictive requirements for where it can conduct a VL.

USAF Mike said...

Better historical analogy: F-111.  The JSF is NOT a game changing aircraft, like the transition from props to jets.  It is, instead a fighter designed by committee that has failed on all four of its original promises: commonality, affordability, multi-role w/strong air to air capability, and stealth (not to mention in a whole host of other areas), just like the F-111 was a miserable failure as originally conceived.  (The fact that it became a decent interdictor after the AF dumped a metric buttload of money doesn't excuse that the TFX program, as originally designed, was a complete and utter failure.  Maybe if there had been more thrust in Christendom it might have stood a chance.)

Bill Sweetman (admittedly, not unbiased when it comes to the JSF, but I have yet to see any of his statements proven incorrect) said it better than I could:

"The Navy is not happy with the new joint-service fighter. It's gained weight during development, but more importantly, the Navy isn't sure that the capabilities it provides are what they want to spend more money on. It's tempting to scrap it and go with an alternative, from a company with recent carrier-jet experience. The obstacle is a headstrong
Secretary of Defense who's staked his reputation on the joint program, but the signals are clear: the moment he's gone the Navy's going to bail.

Enough about the F-111. What about the JSF?"

Redeye80 said...

Actually, we supported the F-22 because the AF threw a hissy fit saying that if we didn't support the F-22 they wouldn't support the JSF.  This is of course extremely silly since everyone knows the f-16/f-16 can't last forever.  It was politics at it's best and everyone played.  I seem to remember at one point for political expediency it was the F/A-22.  The bomber/tanker issue is a AF problem compounded by the AF.

I'd venture to say, the F-35B was not the USMC first choice, it was the only choice offered.  The Corps has a requirement but doesn't have the infrastructure to "buy" the aircraft.  That is why the Marine relies on joint programs for major buys.  I think in reality, the Corps would rather have an aircraft that fills the requirements but the other services don't want.  Think the Harrier on steroids.

The requirements for F-35Bs on big decks is a result of the TacAir Integration Agreement which was fine for the Navy when it was signed.  But I think the Navy is rethinking the agreement since they will no longer get support for free so to speak. 

BTW, TAI was the worst agreement the Navy-Marine Corps team ever made. 

USAF Mike said...

As for where, specifically, ewok was wrong...the first goal, commonality: right now the breakdown per variant is F-35A (CTOL) - 39.2% common parts, 41% "cousin" parts (more on what those are in a second), unique parts, 19.8%.  F-35B (STOVL) - 29.9% common parts, 37.5 "cousin parts, 32.6% unique parts.  F-35C (CV) - 27.8% common parts, 29.1% "cousin" parts, 43.1% unique parts.  Yup, that sure is common.  Also, "cousin" parts are defined as parts that "use similar materials but require different machining techniques."  Using that definition, a car door and the hull of a ship are "cousin" parts, as long as they use the same steel.  Just another attempt by LockMart and the JSF program office to obfuscate and confuse.

Affordability - the program has ballooned by $100 billion (with a b, then year dollars) since its inception.  LockMart and the program office have consistently been wrong (claiming things are cheaper and the program is more on track than they actually turn out to be) with JET (the Joint Estimating Team, a group created to provide an alternative point of view since the program office has gone native and does a better job than LockMart of selling the jet) has been consistently right with predictions of increased cost and more delays, and is currently projecting that an additional $15 billion and 2 more years of development are needed...the Marine Corps is still planning on declaring IOC with the F-35B in 2012, despite the fact that development flight test will be nowhere near complete by then, much less operational flight test.

I could go on, but suffice to say that its stealth performance is not near all its cracked up to be (how could it be?  We're exporting it to everyone and their mother...we aren't going to give away the crown jewels of stealth) and its all around performance is...pedestrian, to put it nicely.

USAF Mike said...

Tankers yes, bombers no.  The KC-X clusterfuck is a bed of our own making, I'll freely admit that.  But there is a considerable amount of lobbying going on in the Pentagon, much of it led by Gen Cartwright, that is trying to water down and/or completely do away with the strategic bomber the AF wants.  That one doesn't come back on us...our only fault is not advocating for it stronger, but I don't think we can really be blamed for that, given the current political environment regarding the AF in the Pentagon (again, much of that is of our own making.)

I'm not saying we're without blame, but this has gone way too far.

As for the F-35B not being the USMC's first choice, the problem lies in the STOVL requirement.  As shown below in the discussion regarding the likelihood of us deploying an ESG without a CSG and/or other air cover, the chances of an ESG needing to provide organic air defense/fixed wing CAS are between slim and none, and slim just left down.  Without the STOVL requirement, the solution is simple: you buy SuperHornets...known cost, commonality with the Navy, you even get a two seat option for the fast FAC mission.  It's a win-win-win, as Michael Scott would say.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

The USMC "propaganda" machine demonstrates that the most effective propaganda is the truth.  We kill people and break stuff.  The Air Force?  Well, not so much.  The Navy?  Even less.  "Global force for good." 

Turns the stomach.

ewok40k said...

can you honestly say F-35 is less capable than F-18?
because only thing more capable than F-35 I can see is F-22.

Salty Gator said...

There should be a tax on this blog whenever discussing the Air Force.

Salty Gator said...

And Marine Corps leadership being to stubborn to come to the lectern and argue for what they need.

Salty Gator said...

agreed, except we had the experience in WWII that almost always the prop jobs lost to the jets in ACM.  But I understand where you are going with this.  The problem is that this jet, like many other old-new ideas, is revolutionary in a time that we can barely afford evolutionary.  When you have to radically change each platform that this ship will embark, that says something.

Salty Gator said...

Mike, great analogy.

USAF Mike said...

See my comments below about the JSF...the short version is that sure, the F-35 is more capable than a fighter designed in the 1970s, but it's ridiculously expensive (especially considering one of the program's core goals was to be affordable).  You're getting low grade hamburger for the price of filet mignon, or to put another way, Super Hornet performance at F-22 price.

Salty Gator said...

What have the Marines given up? Well, how about this:
Christmas with the kids
Birthdays
Anniversaries
The past ten years
Most of their gear that is now broken
All the gear that will be left behind in Iraq / Afghanistan
A complete re-tooling of their training to support MOUT / Mountain Warfare

The Marines are actually fighting two wars right now.  Further, you guys naming the past amphibious assaults of the past fifty years only is kinda off.  You forgot every amphibious operation that took place before that...think Thermopile, Fort Fischer, Britannia, Marathon, (you forgot Falklands in your list), etc.

AMW is and will always be relevant because you can't guarantee that your enemy will keep their ports of call in pristine order for you up until you send in Marines / SEALs to take them over.  You have gear, and a lot of it.  You need to get it ashore.  You can't depend on C-5s.  IF you could, the Gulf War would have been a lot different.  Bottom line is that you zoomies didn't bring shit into theater and the 82nd airborne didn't have anything until the pre-po ships landed.

Additionally, you want as many vectors of assault as possible.  If you want to limit yourself, go ahead.  If you feel more comfortable, zoomie, with more guns pointing to the sky and less pointing out to sea, that works for us.  Aim High!

Redeye80 said...

Check the number of MEU actions over the years that occured without CSG cover.  Having a hip pocket capability is not a bad thing.

Of course, maybe we should buy SuperHornets for everyone including the Air Force.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  BTW, do a parts commonality study on F/A-18C/D to E/F.  I think you will find the aircraft kind of look alike but not the same.

I think Hoss has done the correct lobbying because the Air Force hasn't fielded a bomber at price since the B-29.  You guys preached your sleath task force can do it all without conventional airframe.  You made your bed, now go to sleep.  Better yet, let's place all the tactical aircraft in the Army Air Corps.  The Air Force can keep the bombers & trash haulers.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

SAP,

So, if we won't ever do another amphibious forced entry, why are the Indians and the Chinese building their amphibious capabilities so quickly?  There have been MANY times in the last couple of decades that amphibious power projection has been crucial.  The central Pacific campaigns were a part of a larger amphibious effort across the Pacific, and in the ETO, we had a large number of landings.  NEVER was the strategy to hit a fortified beach.  But there are times when you won't have a choice, and if we cannot project power at all against any resistance whatsoever, then we cannot project power. 

The idea of being tied to finding a friendly port in 96 hours will limit our power projection options to none. 

I would like to see the US Army come ashore at Onslow Beach, even without opposition.  See how long it takes.  Not just to come ashore, but to reconstitute, pass command ashore, and move inland to secure a beachhead.  Then throw in some opposition.  That would be a show.  The idea that ships with ramps on them automatically give one an amphibious capability is rather naive.  The great US Army landings in North Africa and ETO?  Take a guess as to whom constituted the planning staff. 

If you consider the war in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, or OIF, or even Desert Storm to be MAJOR air supremacy fights, it shows we have lost all perspective on what it tiakes to fight even a MRC.  In 1982, there were never more than a hundred or so aircraft involved in the air battle at any one time.  Nor were the lists of AAA and SAM targets very long.  Dozens, and not hundreds or thousands of targets, without a comparable capability of the Syrians to do to the IAF what was being done to them.  A minor fight that seems large because it has been so long since a big one. 

As for the last time we needed amphibious ops?  Let's just say that we have done a few.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Agreed with Salty.

What have the Marines given up? 

In my 8 months in Al Anbar, 1st MarDiv suffered almost 1,300 casualties, including 118 killed.

Salty Gator said...

OOH-RAH!

ewok40k said...

Remember enemy does have its say... Germans heavily fortified all the ports and entire Allied offensive after D-Day was supplied by "bring your own ports with you" Mulberry until by chance intact Antwerp was captured.
And why do I feel any future confrontation with China might entail island-taking (and re-taking?)
Hint 1 Taiwan
Hint 2 look at the map of the Pacific between opposing powers

UltimaRatioRegis said...

We will disagree on that.  Generals Hagee and Conway made their points pretty clearly.  And emphatically.  And nobody cared to listen.

Salty Gator said...

I will give you this, Sir:  The Navy didn't care, and that counts as betrayal.  The Joint World didn't care, and that counts as stupidity.  The SECDEF doesn't care, and that counts as ineptitude.

Salty Gator said...

S/F, Sir.  1st MARDIV was my Grandfather's division in WWII.  He'd probably rag me endlessly if he were alive when I got commissioned in the Navy.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Wait, wait, wait!

The enemy has a say?  They weren't at the VTC, had no slides in the powerpoint deck, and haven't had their sexual harrassment and diversity training completed.  How did THEY get a say?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

As well he should!  ;)

My Dad (USN, WWII) used to call us "bellhops".

Southern Air Pirate said...

URR,
I do believe that we need to have the ability to do a forceable entry. However, no one in senior leadership has looked at doing a forceable entry amphib op beyond taking the book off the bookshelf, blowing the dust off, and then doing a death by power point brief. We talk about it in all of our propganda, point papers, and talking points; yet no one has attempted to find ways to change how we will crack this nut. You are correct that that we have been doing a bunch of amphib ops in the last 20 years, but again most of these are viewed as administrative landings. That is landings on a friendly beach or netural beach and the only oppositon that most of our folks have run into was trying to not run over or damage any members of the 24hr news cycle out there. Just because we can do this without being shot at doesn't mean we have that forceable entry capabilities either. I also know that most of our potential enemies fear our amphib ops, the NORKs have built whole units and tactics that if the war resumes there will attempt to flood the beaches with cheap mine warfare and mobile ASCM's; the Iraqis were so afraid of it that they were constantly looking at the MEB off the coast and so heavily defended the Kuwaiti beaches that it took just about ten years to clear about 95% of them.
If you can't grab a deep water port capable of handling large amounts of shipping with in at least 96 if not six days then you have tied that fleet to the beach and just made it an serious target. That is why nearly all of the ETO amphib ops aimed for grabbing a major port as thier first objective. Torch went after Casablanca and Alegris, Husky went after Palamero, Salerno went for Naples, Overlord went for Cherbourg, Dragoon went for Marsille. CentPac landings, if we exclude the Marainas ops; most of them were after deep water Atolls that could be turned into defended ports. Even more so the Most of these islands saw the size of the ships reduced as more and more of the main body went ashore. I don't have my resources infront of me right now, but I remember reading someplace that said Turner and his staff aimed for no more then a week where the main body would be ashore and some of the empty troop transports could start to push off. If you look at the fleet carrier that were tied to the beach they wouldn't be there no longer then 96hr themselves simply cause the risks from the Japanese air forces and submarines were too great. So as the need for air power decreased due to artillery being ashore and the CVE's, the fleet carriers would push off to start running more and more interference farther and farther from the beach.

Southern Air Pirate said...

I don't believe that OIF, DS, OEF; were major air supermacy operations. I do believe that the ops over the Bekka Valley by the Isrealis an Air Supremacy operation. I say that simply cause it did its mission was clear the skys so that the IDF could do thier ground operations in S. Lebanon without fear of Syrian AF SU-20's hurting them, along with IDF helos could fly cover without fear of the Syrian SAMs. Again, a large number of people looked at how the IDF pulled that op off and took a whole bunch of notes. From there operations changed, for the longest time I remember hearing that prior to 1983 all of NATO's TacAir would work in conjuction with the NATO's SAM Belt while trying to hammer themselves against theater targets. Realizing that punching holes in the bad guys SAM belt and would open up the air supremacy operation to be easier, once air supremacy had started to shift from .5:1/1:1 over to even 2:1 or better would make it easier for the CAS and Interdiction side of TacAir could close off the battlefield and strangle the bad guys army.
If you think that rolling dueling air battles like what the USAAF pulled off over the ETO, or the USN,USMC,RAAF,RNZAF,USAAF did over SWPAC as being air supremacy; well we aren't really going to see air battles like that any more. Rather there is a better chance we are going to see air battles like the Isrealis have had since 1967 or the Indo-Paki conflicts from the sixties on. That is engagements where the opening was sprawaling air battles that lead to control of the air for one side. I don't view the Iran-Iraq war as having any major air supremcy air battles since with in opening moments of that war the IRIAF managed to break the Iraqi AF. The same is true of Korea and Vietnam. Just cause we killed the NORK air force doesn't completely mean we had air supremacy there, the same was true of the MiG Alley battles. We kept F-86's on top of thier but they were still strong enough to rise up as a challenge to UN air forces. The same is true of the NVAF, cause of rules imposed on us from the Pentagon and other members of the Executive departments; only a few ops were able to try and gain control (like Op Bolo) for a while. The rest of the time the NVAF was able to achieve some mission kills against us simply cause they disrupted our abilities to have control of the air. Once we took the gloves off near the end were we able to start gaining control.

***Had to edit this just to add some additonal thoughts to it.

ewok40k said...

Hmmm, interesting, but sometimes achieving that "initial KO" would be impossible, then what? And what about Falklands-style invasion where every plane counts to defend against strong opposing AF with the advantage of home field? US can conjure air superiority almost anywhere in the world right now, but this isn't set in stone forever.
Israeli operations over Bekaa in 1982 were logical extensions of US Vietnam lessons, with highly trained pilots in highly maneuvrable new generation fighters, with Wild Weasel-style tactics clearing the SAMs. I might add the result had some WARPAC officers very worried back then, as they previously saw 1973 war as quite proving the effectiwness of WARPAC air defence system.
Regarding commonality of types/parts, I'd say it could be better if both AF and Navy considered taking STOVL version. Navy could do away with all the catapults etc., while AF could use more runways, and be less affected by runways damaged by enemy attacks.

Salty Gator said...

Considering the recent exercises DAWN BLITZ and others, I think you may be off.

Why do we need to change the way we do this? 

ewok40k said...

Enemies have the uncultured, barbaric even tendency: respond to briefings, powerpoint shows etc,  with machine gun fire, shrapnel  and tanks. Ask the people that planned Market-Garden, Gallipoli, Russian invasion of Finland...

Southern Air Pirate said...

The Falklands is an interesting thing. That is where someone has yield ther ability to do a forced entry into an area, and had to relearn thier mission. That conflict lasted over a hundred days, I use to have in my bookshelf a book by the amphib commander who reported to Adm Sandy Woodward, even admitted that the plan of using STUFT shipping and then risking it against the beachhead for well over a month was an undo risk. First off take a look at the fact they had to pull into Acension Island to redo thier loadout to achieve combat loading. Then while trying to transit into the S. Atlantic repaint car ferries from their colorful civilian liveries into something resembling haze gray. Even worst was that none of the STUFT were incapable of of offloading onto the beaches nor where they completely able to offload any of thier cargo effectively onto the landing ships. Remember all the RN had were the Fearless class LPDs, and a few older class of LST's. The Landings started on the 21st of March and the fleet didn't leave the beachhead until the ground half of the conflict ended almost a month later. Due to not being able to effectively provide air cover of that fleet there were losses to the amphib portion of the fleet that made it hard. The hardest blow came when the Atlantic Conveyor was sunk due to an Exocet. She had onboard all the large heavy cargo helos along with the Marston matting and other runway kitting, So the inital plan of redeploying the RAF Harriers ashore from the HMS Hermes was squashed and they had to rethink the plan on the fly. Which only put more pressure on the Ground commander to get to Port Stantely so that they could redepoly ashore some more effective air power at the airfield. That whole engagement only reminded some people of the Okinawa Campaign or even the Leyte portion of return to the Philippines. The need to pull the fleet away from the beach head is important for the fleet. Okinawa the fleet was run ragged by the Kamikaze event and due to overstacking at the airfields ashore, air power operations was very difficult. THere was even an event during the Okinawa campaign where the Japanese even risked a suicide night landing attack on Kadena and almost succeeded if not because of the defenses there. Leyte is being reviewed that the Taffy 3 engagement shouldn't have happened if HQ staffs listened that Leyte was a poor choice for an airfield building. Tween the weather, bad soil, and trying to hack out that jungle, just wasn't a great place. In turn the fleet was tied to beaches for longer then they were ready for, along with the few airfields they could get working were so overstacked that combat ops were severely restricted.

Southern Air Pirate said...

Gator- Ask yourself why we haven't changed the way we do it? The current book says look at the beach you want, survey it, sweep the mines, pound the beach defense, isolate the beach, land the troops, secure the beach, and then pull the fleet back. With our current forces some of those sub-missions can not be accomplished. Mine warfare? Where are the sweepers and thier escorts? Are you willing to risk airpower to cover mine sweepers close to the beach and clear your lanes? Can you keep the bad guys from re-seeding the beach while your still preparing? How effective would PGM's be against some of the expected defenses? How many strikes on the beach would be required to reduced the defenses to a logical level with PGM's? The classic axiom of airpower is one pass haul ass. So if you don't kill it all or even open it all up effectively on the first round how many times will we hit before the ground commander would be happy? Preparing the beach is more then just NGFS. The same is true of isolating the beach. If the fleet needs to stay for very long to support combat ops, Can it defend both the beach head and itself? What about successfully pulling the fleet away back to friendly waters or ports. At that point even though you completed your mission, the bad guys will start to attack you on the way out. If you have sacrificed most of your escorts on the defense side, does the trade of your cargo/troop ships make sense so the rest of the fleet get away?
Can we do any of these missions more effectively or change how we do approach them?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

SAP,

"Risk airpower"?  Are you kidding me?  If we have made the decision to execute an amphibious assault, we damned sure are willing to "risk" airpower.  Just like every other amphibious operation since 1900, the target of an amphibious assault will be considered absolutely vital, or we wouldn't look to project forces there in such a way. 

Also, the classic axiom of AIR FORCE airpower may be "one pass, haul ass", but the axiom of USMC close support is defined by things like "loiter time" and "responsiveness" and "effects on target".  What the hell makes the pilot's life, or his airplane's worth, any greater than that of an infantry company? 

You wonder the difference between how the USMC approaches warfare and how everybody else does?  Everything we do, EVERYthing, artillery, armor, air support, logistics, C2, EW, is to support the infantryman.  The Army talks in such nonsensical terms of attack helicopters being a maneuver element, and the Air Force still preaches the never-successful Mitchell-Douhet theories into the 21st century.

If you don't think the techniques of amphibious operations have changed, read about OMFTS and over-the-horizon capability.  The ability to come from over the horizon in amphibious fighting vehicles at 20 knots versus circling in the transport areas in full view of everyone and then plowing through the boat lanes to the beach at 5 knots, or of having vertical lift able to go 100km at 200 knots instead of 50km at 70 knots represents a generational leap in tactical capability.  Meaning faster and harder-hitting amhibious forces able to build combat power ashore much faster than ever before.  And that is where the fight is won.

Salty Gator said...

SAP, the second that the air force fields Decepticons who can transform from jet fighters to giant robots capable of holding land like an Infantry Unit, call me.  because right now, air power SUPPORTS, it doesn't get SUPPORTED.  As for how hard will it be to soften up a beach before we can land on it.....well, considering that you guys can't haul as much tonnage as we can, if you aren't up to the task, your budget is too big.  We can bring back 16" shells and get the job done sure as shit.

Salty Gator said...

Sal, where have you been in this thread?!

cdrsalamander said...

At my paying gig.  At least I stated the thread .... you just can't please some people....  :)

Southern Air Pirate said...

First off, I am a Naval Avation Maintainer. So our budget is already at the straining point cause of mis-management withside NavAir for the last twenty years at least (if not longer IMHO). Second of all if you haven't seen it we are going to PGM for everything and as the Serbs proved pretty effectively during Kosovo, all I need to do if I am defeneding a beach is some logs, smoke pots, ballons, and RF emitters. You can go all nuts putting $10k silver bullets down range at my "forces" and then when the main body shows up it is game on. Also as the Somalis, Al Qedea in Iraq, and all the other low intensity foes proved in the last decade; give a pesant a rifle/rpg and apply the magic bullet theorm then you vaunted verticle manuver forces are nothing but flaming wreckage that my folks can drag the bodies through the street for CNN or BBC video. You are right air power does support the land offensive and not the other way around. Yet if you don't have control of the air then your land offensive isn't going to be heading anyplace fast. You can not tie a carrier group to the beach head to provide your air while you lolly-gag ashore trying to build up your forces to sieze a large enough airfield to bring in either the ACE or the MAG. Most of the material that I have read says except for the beach clearning engineers, the CB's and airfield guys aren't coming ashore till D+3.  To bring the ACE, MAG, or even a USAF FitWing ashore you will also need a port otherwise your still tying the fleet to that beachhead, trying to supply it.
Having stealthy aircraft flying overheard (whether it is the F-35, F-22, or F/A(x)) with only a limited bombload of PGM's that can put some GPS or LGB down my throat is great, but once that stealthy bird departs cause he could only carry a couple of them. My guys can come out and play. Let alone if I am forcing your ACE on the PhibRon to fight for just its own shipboard home, on top of that I am forcing your protective CVBG fight for its life via some symeterical and asymeterical forces (such as ASBM's, subforces, anti-shipping cruise missiles), then what does your sortie generation look like. In my opinion your up a creek.

Southern Air Pirate said...

It is even better if I deny you access just into the TOA with cheap denial weapons like mines, suicide boats, or even my own version of stealthy eyes a fishing trawler. Using mobile cruise missile launchers to rain at you while your trying to offload the LCACs, and the AAVPs. Now your so far OTH that just to get range to the beach your just getting above the high water mark. I know your going to be coming, if I am smart enough I know (or can reasonable assume) what beaches your going to hit, it then it may just become a Pyrhicc victory for me even if I let you land but force a CNN kill on you cause I have severely bloodied your MEU or MEB. Then I have won the war. You don't think that having a Anderson Copper on Omaha, or embbeded with a platoon of the 2nd MarDiv as they came ashore near the pier at Red 2 would force our politicos to change heart? Then you haven't been paying attention to the changing face of warfare. I don't care if you are trying to force the issue cause I am withholding relief supplies from my peoples or that I am a tinpot dicator that believes only yellow bellied sneeches deserve to live; I win if I kill you via CNN.
Heck even the Isrealis have had CNN kills against them in the last few years. Just look at the West Bank incidents, Jenna, Lebanon in 06, and the most recent that "Peace Supply" convoy.

Southern Air Pirate said...

URR,
8th&I has been talking OMFTS with revoultionary weapons for the last twenty years, I remember the intial idea of FTS since at least 1986 as part of the whole "Martime Strategy 1986" concepts in Proceedings and then to keep it relevant as the needs/world changed OMFTS post 1991. Asking for evoultionary amphibious systems such as EFV, V-22, follow-on to AV-8, LPD-17, LCAC etc. We are just now getting them and we can't seem to afford them. Meanwhile we are still having to depend on not only LCAC's but also the LCU's to still deliever the beans/bullets/gas ashore in sizes worthwhile. Like I mentioned near the bottom. I push you far enough away from the beach and use enough deception then your stealthy F-35 in the ACE with its two or four PGM's are killing dirt and possibly manuvering away from stuff like mobile AAA or trying to decide whether that bus is full of orphans or troops; your V-22 can come rushing in all it wants but mobile AAA on the back of technicals/toyotas are going to ravage you, if not a bunch of street urchins trained to point and shoot with RPG's. Even better is if I force your CVW to try and interdict the beach and then isolate the folks delievered by the V-22 and force a situtation like Khe Sahn or the Alamao where your wanting to bring in follow-on, but can't cause enough of my forces are making the point tween the beach and your verticle evenlopment a killing zone. I will have to hunt for it, but there use to be up over at the Naval War College's website a review of a wargame they ran called Global Conflicts II, they ran it in early 80's just as the Maritime Strategy was being developed. One of the situtations that was tested was an opposed landing on the Denmark Pennusila by the 4th MAB to stop Denmark from collapsing under the weight of a PACT offensive. The author of the study noted that although the USMC and RM units held the line and started to turn the battle it was at a heavy cost cause NATO traded two CVBG's that had to stay on station in the Irish Sea to provide the on call air since the rest of NATO air was tied up over Fulda. In todays world could we trade two CVBG's to save SKOR? What about Taiwain? Columbia?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

SAP,

You should read up on amphibious doctrine.  There is something called the Maritime Exclusion Area. 

You may be a Naval Aviation Maintenance type, and I would never challenge your knowledge of the OPNAVINST 4790. 

But I am a fire support type.  So targeting is my gig.

Amphibious operations are not particularly subtle events. 

But read above.  Overwhelming firepower until overwhelming combat power is ashore.  Mobile launchers?  You might get a shot off.  Provided you didn't have to emit to do it.  And you didn't already have a vertically inserted rifle company closing with you. 

As for the CNN effect, good luck getting Anderson Cooper in a scheduled, unscheduled, or on-call wave. 

And the whole reason we have amtracks is to not get stuck on the coral reef.

Redeye80 said...

SAP,

Your right, these concepts have been around since the mid 80s.  We are just now getting the tools to make it happen because???  Survey says.  The Marine gets screwed in the budget process.  I'll admit most of our budget problems are self inflicted gunshots to the foot.

Somehow, I am feeling wargames from the 80s are not relevant today.  Yup, we may come arcoss a beach.  But it probably won't be done the first day or maybe day 5,  who know. It is situational. Don't get locked into the WWII version of amphibious assaults.  It's changed a bit.

I would hope the CVN can do more than one mission at a time.  If we can't gain, maintain air superiority over the Maritime Exclusion Area, then we might as well park them on the pier and make them museums. At least they could pay for the rest of the fleet that way. 

Redeye80 said...

Don't flatter yourself on the budget.  NavAir has been AFU longer than 20 years.  Thier decisions on who got what airplanes and parts cost human tresure, it goes way beyond money.

Southern Air Pirate said...

URR,

I yield the field to the SME. My knowledge is just based on what I have read, what I have observed, and what I have listened to at some of conferences (like what USNI hosts) that I have been lucky to attend. My initial point which was lost many hours ago wasn't trying to trash the USMC nor the idea of forceable entry. Rather trying to answer this question from the SWOINATOR "Why need them when we have the CVN to protect the gators? Yet besides JTFEX, how many times has the CVN followed the ARG to provide strikek coverage 24/7?" From there the thread was hijacked talking about amphib tactics and for the most part, I will admit at times in a debate I like to be the devil's advocate just to hear something other then the talking points (this always gets me in trouble with my SO and my SO's friends while trying to have polite dinner converstation). 
Oh and I am sure that ground targeting  side can't be that much different that trying to repair and understand the operations of the targeting systems of an aircraft, which is what I do IRL.
Thanks for the thoughts and spirited debate.

Casey Tompkins said...

But Ewok wasn't flogging commonality; he merely claimed that the fly-away price per craft would go down if enough countries bought in. That is, he addressed a major objection to the aircraft in a reasonable way.

I'll add here that Congress decided against buying the B-17, instead choosing the Douglas B-18, which was one-third the cost of the Boeing. The Fortress was too new, too expensive, had too many untried technologies, radical (i.e. four engines) new design, and Just Didn't Fit Into Our National Strategy, being an "offensive" weapon.

I don't see how someone can condemn the F-35 on performance when it hasn't had a chance to, well, perform yet. Recall that the M-1 Abrams & M-2 Bradley were favorite media targets in the 1980s as unusable, gold-plated weapons systems. The Gulf War resolved that issue. ;)

I'll note that the F-22 isn't as stealthy as claimed, either, except from front-on.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to wonder if we've reached the law of diminishing returns with bleeding-edge high tech, and perhaps should consider other avenues. Arguing about the F-22 vs. the F-35 is beginning to sound like arguing between the LCS and the DDX. Note that our most effective bomb truck is still the B-52, and the B-2 pretty much needs a rework after every mission, nearly on par with the Space Shuttle.

Perhaps the 'Phib's dictum "Buy Ford, not Ferrari" should also apply to aircraft?

ewok40k said...

Well, to add another can of fuel to heated discussion - if I ran the US military, entire city where your street urchins are playing with AKs, RPGs and technicals would be carpet-bombed by B-52s or shelled by re-comissioned Iowa class BB. Preferrably both. Then landing would occur, with shellshocked enemies facing M-1s emerging from LSTs.
Oh and Marines at Khe Sanh pulled off successful forward base defence where French failed at Dien Bien Phu - quality and quantity of air support matters...

Anonymous said...

I would say that the real problem here is the desire to have 'commonality' and an over abundance of joint systems.  The only successful joint platforms I know of are small arms and GPS.  Of course, each service tends to make their own modifications to small arms.  And as I recall USAF recently designed a system that couldn't receive GPS signals.  I can't remember if this was a software or hardware problem and what/where in the pipeline the system was.

My point is, the strength of the US military in joint operations is the differing capabilities that each service brings to the fight.  If we all have the exact same systems, how are we going to have different capabilities.  Sure, we'll use them a little differently, but its not like we can't learn something the other guy is doing.  Joint systems are essentially an end around to get back to the Unification Crisis of the mid-'40s.

I understand the idea of making things more economical, but at what cost?