COMNAVSURFOR – “Vision for the 2026 Surface Fleet”
Interesting read & released coincident with the Surface navy Association’s annual meeting. I especially note with interest the emphasis on offensive lethality – to wit: the Surface Force must greatly improve it’s offensive lethality. All well and good and the nod to training is important. BUT:
- where is my ship-launched 150-300km, supersonic (Mach 2+) ASCM?
- where are my organic OTH-T sensors to support it?
- and most importantly, how do we get the lawyers out of my CDC or give me real world ROE so I can put a spear deep in the enemy’s (sea-going) chest?
“Offensive lethality” =/= the mere ability to pump a bunch of subsonic TLAMs across the beach in a permissive environment. We need to get back to being able to fight on the high seas and in the littorals with a range of ship-launched weapons supported by organic and off-board sensors, and do so in a non-permissive. Alas, our current offensive capability puts our ships well inside the first-launch ring of our opponents, which, of course means, we need to have the full range of hard and soft-kill capabilities out there (now) to defend ourselves and hope to survive to close and launch.
What about the CVW? It’s going to be damn busy fighting a new Outer Air Battle with reduced assets (aircraft and carriers) and may not be available in certain areas of the world where our surface forces are already deployed – more frequently by themselves or with very small associated support.
Join us for Midrats this Sunday, 22 July 2012 on blogtalk radio, where the topic is missiles – ballistic and cruise; and your humble scribe is the guest.Â Seven months into this year and we have seen much on this front.Â Pick a theater and you will find ballistic and cruise missiles are at or near the top of the various COCOM’s top 5 concerns.Â A report released by DoD a few weeks back states in part:
Iran continues to develop ballistic missiles that can range regional adversaries, Israel, and Eastern Europe, including an extended-range variant of the Shahab-3 and a 2,000-krn medium-range ballistic missile, the Ashura. Beyond steady growth in its missile and rocket inventories, Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new sub-munition payloads. – Annual Report on the Military Strength of Iran
At the same time, Iran has also been working at developing forces and tactics that will be used in an anti-access campaign to close the Strait of Hormuz and threaten regional naval and land forces should it decide to retaliate against growing sanctions over its nuclear program.
In the Pacific, besides the world’s largest and most robust program in developing and deploying a range of ballistic missiles from short- to inter-continental, they are likewise building a range of cruise missiles for land-attack and anti-ship that are both formidable in number and capability:
The PLA is acquiring large numbers of highly accurate, domestically built cruise missiles, and has previously acquired large numbers of Russian ones. These include the domestically produced, ground- launched CJ-10 land-attack cruise missile (LACM); the domestically produced ground- and ship-launched YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM); the Russian SS-N-22/SUNBURN supersonic ASCM, which is fitted on Chinaâ€™s SOVREMENNY-class guided missile destroyers; and the Russian SS-N-27B/SIZZLER supersonic ASCM on Chinaâ€™s Russian-built KILO-class diesel-powered attack submarines. - Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China, May 2012
If past practice is prologue, we can expect to see domestic variants of the Russian-sourced cruise missiles in the near future (witness the SU-27 v. J-11).Â Again, all part of a larger Advanced-A2/AD strategy being put into play as we in turn conduct the “Pacific pivot”.Â And need we mention Syria, with its inventory of missiles and extensive chemical weapons arsenal, teetering on the brink of chaos and theirÂ practice of passing missiles to Hezbollah?
Joint ventures of the sort between Russia and India that yielded the BrahMOS ASCM/LACM will increasingly become more common.Â And with a world increasingly awash in growing numbers of ballistic and cruise missiles, how long before a non-state actor obtains, and uses, these sophisticated, technical weapons systems?Â Oh wait – that’s already happened.Â Just ask the Israeli navy…
Today’s warfighters find themselves in a complex, multi-layered and highly nuanced threat environment – one that parallels the multi-polar world that has emerged in the past two decades.Â Successfully operating in this environment will require that we open the aperture on kinetic and non-kinetic solutions and take an integrated approach to air and missile defense.
Russia has evidently opted to proceed with sales of the SS-NX-26/Yakhont ASCM to the Syrians. The intent was voiced by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov over the weekend.
“The contract,” he told journalists in Vladivostok, “is in progress.” The minister added his country was also bent on carrying through on promises to deliver several Bastion anti-ship missile systems to Syria.
Anti-ship ballistic missiles may be the newest, sexy thing on the anti-access/area denial (A2AD) block, but the simple fact of the matter is that ASCMs far outnumber ASBMs and constitute a significant challenge to all surface ships.Â The SS-NX-26 is part of a new generation of fast, smart ASCMs designed to penetrate the latest air defense systems. Designed for launch from air- (above with the Su-33), surface and subsurface platforms, the SS-NX-26 can fly a hi-lo profile for max range (300 km) or a lo-lo profile (120km), also supersonically (2.5 Mach), to avoid detection by the target, maximizing surprise in delivering its 300 kg warhead.Â It also is used in the SSC-5 Bastion coastal defense cruise missile system, reportedly also part of the deal.
The Israelis – and the Israeli Navy in particular (no stranger to ASCM threats) have not surprisingly demurred on Russia’s offering to regional stability:
Security officials warned that the Russian cruise missiles “are potentially dangerous weapons and they may come fall into the hands of Hezbollah, just as other weapons systems came from Syria.”
Not like they haven’t seen the Syrians do this with other systems.Â Still, all indications would seem to point to Syria retaining control of the missiles, especially as they would have the necessary over-the-horizon targeting capability to employ the missiles at their full range (e.g., drones, MARPAT, etc.). In light of their experience with (presumably) Iranian-supplied C-802 cruise missiles off the Lebanese coast are that the Israeli navy’s freedom of operation will be further limited while ratcheting up the demand signal for detection and intercept assets — and another spiral in the region’s on-going arms race
Worth noting is that the SS-NX-26/Yakhont forms the basis of the joint Russo-India BrahMOS cruise missile – which is also being developed by the Indians in a LACM (land attack cruise missile) version.Â Â And nothing good could come of that if Syria goes down that path…