Monday, July 14, 2008

Maritime Strategy Monday: our own ASUW progress

Self inflicted that is.

While everyone is interested in undeveloped systems on unbuilt ships that have yet to be validated underway ..... and as a result we have a fleet smaller than any time since WWI. Meanwhile, China keeps up the long, slow, march towards check.

From this weekend's Investors Business Daily, there is an editorial you need to read. I'm not in 100% formation with it - but it is better than most of the stuff in our professional journals.
Carrier Pigeons?

Military Superiority: China has embarked on an ambitious anti-ship missile program designed to sink American carriers. Unfortunately, due to underspending on defense, we have an anti-ship program all our own.

China is developing at least three different anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) designed to take out American carriers coming to Taiwan’s defense and may be willing to shop them around to rogue states such as Venezuela and Iran, according to Ri-chard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military.

Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, says two of the missiles are based on the CSS-5, also known as the DF-21, and photos reveal what looks like a maneuverable warhead similar to warheads deployed on our Pershing-2 missiles during the Cold War.

A third missile is believe to be a longer range variant of the CSS-5, one that can deliver multiple warheads. “It is bad enough that these missiles are being developed and can soon target U.S. naval forces from China,” Fisher said. “But we should also expect that China will eventually place these missiles on ships and submarines and sell them to its rogue allies.”

Fisher also notes that “the Ahmadinejads, Castros and Chavezes of the world would love to have these missiles to hold the U.S. Navy at bay.” Imagine Ahmadinejad having these missiles pointed at our ships guarding the Strait of Hormuz.

The Chinese Navy already includes Sovremenny-class guided-missile destroyers purchased from the Russians. They come equipped with supersonic sea-skimming SS-N-22 Sun-
burn cruise missiles designed for one purpose — to attack American carrier battle groups.

“By 2010, most of China’s anti-access forces will be in place, making it very difficult to use Pacific forces to help Taiwan,” Fisher says.

“Unless we double the number of our aircraft carriers and triple our
bomber fleet, China is going to be a peer competitor by 2030.” China’s naval buildup comes at a time when the U.S. Navy is struggling to meet its global commitments. We have the most capable ships in the world, just not enough of them. Their numbers, including our carriers, are declining.

By law, the Navy is required to maintain an 11-carrier fleet. But in May, the Navy, caught in a budgetary bind, asked Congress to waive that requirement. This would allow the retirement of CVN-65 Enterprise, the carrier that John McCain flew off of, and avoid $2.2 billion in annual maintenance to keep the 50-year-old workhorse at sea.
Our defense budget was at a postwar high of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 during the Korean War, at 9.5% in 1968 at the height of Vietnam and at 6.8% in 1986 during the Reagan build-up that doomed the evil empire. At the end of the Clinton presidency, we spent just 3% of GDP.

During the Clinton years, there was what some call a “procurement holiday.” In the first six years of that administration, Bush 41’s budget projections for weapons procurement were slashed by $160 billion.

The Navy, which reached 568 ships in the late 1980s, struggles today to sustain a fleet of 279. The Navy is roughly at the size it was on the eve of World War I. A recent Congressional Quarterly article warned that China by itself will possess almost twice as many submarines as the U.S. by 2010, and is likely to have a larger fleet by 2015, possibly including a carrier of its own. It was the Japanese failure to knock off our carriers at Pearl Harbor that doomed their chances at Pearl Harbor. Today new enemies have them in their sights, and it’s not clear we’ll have enough to meet our commitments.

As the Chinese and Russians build carriers of their own, we need to ask ourselves what if China attacked Taiwan and Iran closed the Strait of Hormuz at the same time? Reagan’s 600-ship Navy helped win the Cold War and defeat the Evil Empire. We may need it again.
I think he is a little over the top WRT doubling our carriers - but a F-35 maxed-out AMERICA class LHA might help.

That being said - are we ready for a hundred SRMB and IRBM with guided conventional warheads? How is the TLAM/SM2/etc loadout on your VLS looking? Do we have the LWT ready in the numbers we need for the Taiwan straits?

Just asking.

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