Wednesday, May 08, 2013

HELENA at Kula Gulf Nods a Knowing Nod

For Bob Work, I would sit and listen - but for Gary Roughead I would suffer in my seat only to be polite to someone who gave decades of service - as respect for that service. The later spoils for me the former ... but there is some good stuff; they are both exceptionally smart men.

Here is what I like about the below linked article. Yes, one must constantly repeat fundamentals until you are sick of it. Once you get to that point, then people are probably finally getting it - but the terror of the MK-41 VLS has been known for decades, and we don't talk about it enough.

As any TLAM guy will tell you - each cell matters. What is and is not in it. What MOD of each matters. What can be reloaded, what can't. Who can be loaded, who can't.

Anyone tasked with AAW responsibilities in an Strike Group set up for land attack, and they can give you a sweaty-brow brief about the same math for Standard Missiles.

If you leave port thinking land attack but find yourself in AAW - SHOOT-LOOK-SHOOT; SHOOT-SHOOT-LOOK-SHOOT ... how long can you do that? Ooops ... ASW or ASUW? SHOOT-SAY SH1T-RUN AWAY. Yep - that late-watch talk gets hairy fast.

Bob Work's bread and butter is thinking long term and thinking big, while trying to make the best of what we have. He did the best he knew how as Under; I will not quibble - but I do know this; he was focusing on what he thought was the best way to get the best equipment to the Sailors and Marines forward. You can argue the details, but you cannot argue the man's priorities.

Meanwhile, former CNO and retired Admiral Roughead was, by his own admission, focused on his #1 priority - the Cultural Marxist cancer of racialist (D)iversity. Orwellian Accountability Reviews and everything. Meanwhile, our warfighters were saddled with a pitiful ASUW tool-kit and surface/air ASW kill chain options, barely mentioned and given but a fraction of the time by the CNO over other social projects.

And now we have this via USNINews? I'm sorry, I'm not interested in hearing this from Roughead.
Retired Adm. Gary Roughead, former Chief of Naval Operations, agrees that managing weapon inventories during combat operations can be a serious problem.

“That’s an issue how you manage your salvo doctrine, how you use and monitor your total weapon inventory—it’s all part of your operational plan,” Roughead told USNI News.

Roughead said that while warships such as Aegis cruisers and destroyers can replenish their magazines at sea with additional Standard Missile interceptors, the carrier battle group is limited by the weapon stores that the unit’s supply vessel carries.

“Once the supply ship is out, it must go back to resupply,” Roughead said.

Submarines, however, must return to port to replenish their stocks of torpedoes and cruise missiles.

Roughead said that there are ways to mitigate for the problem. For example, if the problem is enemy submarines and long-range patrol aircraft can be flown back and rearmed faster than a warship or friendly attack submarines—the strike group commander places more emphasis on using those assets to eliminate the threat.

“How you look at weapon inventories—and you pay great attention to those weapon inventories—that’s all part of the battle plan we use,” Roughead said. “Logistics are key.”
OK. If your plan is for future leaders to have to rely of P-3/8s for Strike Group ASW (being that we have gotten rid of the S-3 and our helos are multi-missions thin in ASW proficiency; let's not get in to surface ship ASW weaponeering), as CNO, how did we address magazine inventory globally for light-weight torpedoes given expected Falkland Island levels of expenditures? Everyone cool with that? Did we insist on rigorous testing of MK-46/50/54 in the type of waters they may be used in against modern SSK? Don't talk simulations to me either.  Everyone ready for that? Have a warm-fuzzy?

Wait ... what was that?
“Logistics are key.”
OK. How was this set as a priority while Roughead was CNO? As a result of those priorities, how are the levels of logistics ships doing now and in the future - especially given combat losses we should expect to have? Have we set up the right "tail" for the Pacific Pivot?

I am sorry - the above is a bit too personal (my bad) and a bit b1tchy on my part. All his points are very valid, and if these issues were what he was known for as CNO, then I would be more interested in listening to him about it. But they weren't and so I won't. Call me petty - but there is an opportunity cost for every priority, visit, speech, and dedicated hour to staff work as CNO. He had other priorities. If he wants to talk about his theories on how one defines a Hispanic or how he thinks young men and women who are mixed-race children of mixed-race parentage should check a block to get maximum advantage in the racial patronage system he loved - then yea, I'll read in detail.

Let's focus instead on Bob Work's thoughts.
But technology could help relieve some of the planning burden on fleet commanders and make the carrier battle group much more effective during future conflicts in contested environments.

“The real game-changer in all of this, is in my view, the electromagnetic rail gun,” Work said.

While there are many advocates of the rail gun for the strike mission, Work said that Navy has plenty of options to hit enemy targets. “What I would buy the electromagnetic rail gun for is theater ballistic-missile defense and cruise-missile defense,” he said.

Roughead agrees. “I would say that the rail gun projectile must be optimized for anti-air warfare,” he said. However, the technology needs to be further refined. “The projectiles we have today, fire control and rate of fire are not yet there for anti-air warfare.”

Using a rail gun for defense would drastically reduce the cost-per-shot for the Navy when defending against mass salvos of guided cruise or ballistic missiles compared with an interceptor missile like a Standard Missile -3.
The use of weapons such as the railgun would invert the cost-imposition strategy. Instead of launching, for example—two interceptors costing roughly $12 million to $15 million each at an incoming $10 million incoming missile, the Navy could obliterate the target with a rail gun slug costing a fraction of that.

“It’s going to cost them a lot more to create a salvo dense enough to get though the electromagnetic rail gun,” Work said.

Work said that the Navy is also working on directed-energy weapons—particularly lasers.
The Navy recently announced it would deploy an industrial-grade laser on board its afloat forward staging base, the USS Ponce (LPD-15), in 2014. The solid-state laser weapon system (LaWS) has proved a limited ability to splash small unmanned aerial vehicles and disable small boats.

Work said that lasers are best used for applications similar to those for which the Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) is currently used.

“It would be able to shoot down cruise missiles coming in that are relatively close,” he said. “The electromagnetic rail gun is really horizon to horizon; if it flies, it dies.”
The third crucial technology for the Navy is an anti-torpedo torpedo, Work said. As the carrier battle group pushes into A2/AD networks in the littorals, the threat from submarines increases exponentially.
Work said that the threat to carrier battle groups is increasing without question—that has been anticipated since the mid-1990s. But if Navy can get electromagnetic rail guns, lasers and anti-torpedo torpedoes into service within the next decade, the carrier battle group will be able to operate deeper inside a contested environment.

“They will definitely operate differently and they will most likely operate from farther range,” Work said. “This is a tough competition, no doubt about it.”
That is all good stuff - but we need to be careful.

To start off with - we need to be careful that we aren't looking so far in the the future to what will be IOC in a decade or more - that we ignore a capability requirement NOW or in 5-years.

That is why in 2013 we find ourselves with a 1970s/80s ASCM and a single point of likely failure LWT answer to killing submarines. That is why we got rid of so many good FFG/DD/CG who had a decade or more of life in them for future ships that never showed up.

We need to be able to do both - those who came before did, so can we.

I have been and always will be a fan of the potential of the rail gun. We have been smartly working towards this promise, but we do not need to get carried away. Build the capability, test that capability, refine it, test it some more, put it in the Fleet - learn how to make it work, and then make it work.

Guided missiles were hard to make work - heck Aegis was ugly when it hit the Fleet too, as are many new systems. Expect that for the rail gun. We know they will not appear FMC on every ship in one year. Odds are they will be PMC for years after they hit the Fleet, and that is fine. Good chance, it will get there.

In the meantime, we need something for the Fleet to fight with now, in 5-years, and in the years as we try to figure out how to make rail guns work for us, and once we do that - to fill the gaps where rail guns cannot be the answer to everything.

That will be more than a decade.

As for lasers, same thing. All the usual developmental problems outlined above along with significant physics related issues that will make lasers good at a few things, excellent in others - but not the answer to all our challenges ... and not for well over a decade.

Anti-torpedo torpedoes. Well, I don't think we need to talk much about that here, ahem ... but we have been going at this for awhile and that should speak to that. Also, the surface to air missile did not end the utility of aircraft and missiles. So to for this combo.

Let's look at this quote again;
... if Navy can get electromagnetic rail guns, lasers and anti-torpedo torpedoes into service within the next decade,...
Everyone listened to the last Midrats, correct? OK, good.

When is "the next decade?" That would be 2023; right smack dab in the middle of the Terrible 20s. From Sequester to SSBN re-capitalizaiton and all the macro budgetary pressures we will be suffering under due to the huge debt load we have taken since 2009 - where is all that money going to come from? What ships will have the rail-guns and lasers retrofitted? We'll be digging under the cushions in the Wardroom in order to find enough money for scheduled maintenance, much less everyone's science experiment.

NAVSEA, call your office - and bring your best electrical engineers - oh, and if you have a dwarf Master of Coin, that would be great.


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