Sunday, June 26, 2016

Are we doing anti-ship missiles wrong? UPDATED!

via Wikipedia (relax, its just for discussion).
After analyzing World War II naval battles and encounters in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Soviet military thinkers assessed that the times of large seaborne battles were over, and that stand-off attacks were the way to neutralize and incapacitate large battle groups without having to field a similar force against them. Substituting cruise missiles for air attacks, VVS and AV-MF commanders set about to convert their heavy bombers to raketonosets, or missile carriers, which could be launched against approaching enemy fleets and task forces from coastal or island airfields. The Kh-22 (Complex 22) weapon was developed by the Raduga design bureau and used to arm the Tupolev Tu-22M.
That's the Russian philosophy.  You can call them early adopters of the former CNO's "payloads over platforms" thinking.

But moving to the Western naval forces with regard to anti-ship missiles....are we dong it wrong?  Look at the Indian Brahmos.  Its a large, fast anti-ship
missile with outstanding range.  Compare that to what the rest of the West is producing.

Don't feel like a Google search?  Well lets drag out that chart I posted a couple of months ago...

click on image to enlarge
The US and its allies (with the exception of India) are losing the anti-ship missile race.  Using SM-6's in the anti-ship role is more telling than many realized.

Our stuff is slow, short ranged and packs a pathetic punch.

The reason?  The Fighter Mafia.  With the demise of Strategic Air Command and with the "Neck Down" mania that swept the thinking of Naval Air we've seen the rise of the multi-mission fighter.  Unfortunately that biases us toward small planes with small payloads that are short legged.

The solution is simple but one that the USAF would probably not bite on.  Its also a proposal that might not be workable.  My idea would be to have B-1 Bombers (the only fast, long ranged strike platform we have)  start performing the naval strike role in earnest.  Dedicate a squadron to the Pacific with the intent of ravaging Chinese naval forces.  Additionally it must be recognized that the path we're on now is simply wrong.  Penetrating fighters that can get within the strike zone of ship defenses before launch and then escape is the wrong idea.

Better to launch from long distance.  We can't kill the archer (the strike fighter attacking our ships) and are left trying to fight his arrows (the anti-ship missiles).  We need to give our enemies the same problem.  Meanwhile check out the KH-32 that my Russian readers are crowing about (as seen in the first pic on this page) via Wikipedia.
SpecificationsWeight 5,820 kg (12,800 lb)Length 11.65 m (38.2 ft)
Diameter 92 cm (36 in)
Warhead 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) RDX
or 350–1000kt nuclear
Engine Liquid-fuel rocketWingspan 300 cm (120 in)
Propellant Tonka-250 and IRFNA
Operational range 600 km (320 nmi) (Kh-22M/MA) [1]Flight ceiling 10-14km or 27km
Speed Mach 4.6 [2]
system Inertial guidance followed by terminal active radar homing
platform Tu-22M, Тu-22К, Тu-95К22
Long range, high speed missiles are going to be large.  If we're serious about future naval conflicts then we need a return to naval strike aircraft that can carry them.

Clarification and Update:  Let me be clear (cause I wasn't before), I'm asking the US Navy to make a choice.  It can either keep its carriers and its carrier air wings but update them in a realistic way to deal with near peer threats or it can accept the fact that we're reaching a point where anti-access defenses are effectively neutering them.
The short term answer is one that the Navy pissed away.  The X-47.  It was an all aspect unmanned striker that could get closer to the enemy to put those short ranged anti-ship missiles to good use.  I said it up top but it bears repeating.  The Fighter Mafia and the F-35 is in essence killing our ability to project naval power.  The longer term is to develop a new A-12 that can do the job.  Either way the F-35 is not the answer.

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