Thursday, 7 June 2012

A New American Destroyer : Part 2


USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) USS Curtis (FFG 38) USS Russell (DDG 59) Southern California Nov 12 2007

Despite the confusing changes of nomenclature over the years,it seems likely that a replacement for the Burke class destroyers shall be called a "destroyer",even if it is as big as many "cruisers".

We shall therefore use this term to describe a future replacement for today's Burke class destroyers and Ticonderoga class cruisers.

It also seems likely that any "New American Destroyer" will be expected to perform all the roles of the Ticonderoga class cruisers,Burke class destroyers and Zumwalt class destroyers.

We shall therefore consider an American style surface combatant with anti-ballistic missile and area air defence capabilities.

Zumwalt class

The single most important quality which such a ship must posess is a significantly lower cost than ships currently planned.

This is essential to ensure that ships can be purchased in adequate numbers and that their cost is in proportion to the limited utility of a surface combatant.

There are a number of ways to reduce the cost of a surface combatant and we shall consider some of these before going any further.

USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58)

Reducing the size of the ship should cut the amount of steel and welding required to build it and should also reduce the ship's fuel consumption and allow smaller engines to be fitted.

But these factors account for only a very small proportion of a warship's lifecycle costs so the potential savings are not great.

A ship which is too small may be significantly more expensive to design,build,maintain and upgrade as it is more cramped.

The cost of building a ship which is too big is likely to be far less than the cost of building a ship which is too small.

The greatest savings come from building a ship which is neither too big nor too small but the right size.

A "New American Destroyer" can be smaller and cheaper to build than the Zumwalt class only if it has to accommodate less equipment.

USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51)

Reducing the range of capabilities on board the ship,for example by eliminating anti-submarine weapons and sensors,should significantly reduce the cost of designing,building and operating the vessel.

But if the "New American Destroyer" is not capable of performing a particular task then it may be necessary to have another ship to perform that role.

The cost of designing,building and operating those additional vessels is likely to be significantly greater than the cost of fitting the "New American Destroyer" with the full range of war fighting capabilities.

USS Stark (FFG 31)

Reducing the quality of equipment carried by the "New American Destroyer" should significantly reduce it's procurement costs but may have little effect on it's operating costs.

However,as the quality of threat systems is constantly improving,less capable weapons and sensors quickly become obsolete rendering the ship unfit for purpose or forcing significant expenditure on upgrades.

The cost of fitting the "New American Destroyer" with lower quality weapons and sensors is likely to have a negative impact on long term costs.

USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9)

Reducing the quantity of equipment carried by the "New American Destroyer" should reduce it's procurement and operating costs.

But if there are too few systems carried by the "New American Destroyer" then failures due to enemy action,human error and technical issues may render the vessel combat ineffective.
 
A "New American Destroyer" can be cheaper to procure and operate whilst remaining combat effective if the number of systems on board is reduced to the practical minimum,not the absolute minimum.

USS Freedom (LCS 1) USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

Reducing the amount of research,development and design work required to build the "New American Destroyer" should significantly reduce it's procurement costs.

But it is not possible to avoid development costs completely,most of the weapons,sensors,engines and other systems on the "New American Destroyer" can be items which are already in service or under development for other warships but there is still a need to develop a hull on which to carry those systems.

A "New American Destroyer" can have very low development costs if it uses non-developmental systems and a conventional hull design which may even be based on that of another warship if there is one suitable,for example it may be possible to add new upperworks to fit the lower hull design of the Zumwalt class destroyer.

DDG 1000 Deckhouse

Reducing the complexity of construction the the "New American Destroyer" should significantly reduce it's design,manufacturing and maintainance costs.

But warships are mostly constructed using simple well proven methods and low cost materials.

To minimise the cost of construction of a "New American Destroyer" it is necessary to avoid using complex hull forms,expensive materials and labour intensive construction methods as far as is practical.


We shall consider how to balance cost and capability in more detail in future parts of "New American Destroyer".

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A New American Destroyer : Part 1


Heavy Cruiser USS Guam

As we mentioned in earlier posts,words like "destroyer","cruiser" and "frigate" can mean different things to different navies.

Protected Cruiser USS Atlanta 1891


The meaning of these words has also changed over time.

USS Farragut (DDG-37) Toulon 1979


No where is this more the case than in the United States' Navy.

USS Leahy (CG-16) 1983

To take just one example,the Leahy class,these ships were considered to be frigates but were commissioned as Guided missile Destroyer Leaders (D.L.G.) until being reclassified as Guided missile Cruisers (C.G.).

USS Constitution Massachusetts Bay 1997

Originally,a frigate was a cruising ship,or cruiser.

USS Cowpens (CG 63) USS Lassen (DDG 82) USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) Western Pacific June 18 2006 Valiant Shield 2006

Today the United States' Navy considers frigates,cruisers and destroyers to be different kinds of ships.

USS Reuben James (FFG 57) Pacific Ocean March 23 2012

A modern American "frigate" is an escort ship with far more basic weapons,sensors and machinery than it's equivalents in other navies.

USS The Sullivans (DDG 68)

A modern American "destroyer" is a fleet escort equivalent to the most powerful surface combatants in other navies.

USS Normandy (CG 60)

A modern American "cruiser" is a fleet escort with more weapons,sensors and command facilities than a destroyer.

May 29 2011 USS Gridley (DDG 101) USS Bunker Hill (CG 52)

 The relationship between the Ticonderoga class cruisers and the Burke class destroyers is such that in the past the cruisers might have been classed as "destroyer leaders" - more powerful ships which led flotillas of destroyers.

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000)


Today the United States' Navy is yet again redefining the word "destroyer" with the (Destroyer,Destroyer,Guided missile) D.D.G. 1,000 Zumwalt class.

Heavy Cruiser USS Wichita (CA-45)  Atlantic Ocean 1 May 1940

These ships are far larger than current American destroyers and cruisers,and larger than most Second World War era light and heavy cruisers.

H.M.S. Roberts 1940

They have an emphasis on land attack which during two world wars was the job of vessels known as "monitors".

USS Monadnock crossing the Pacific

A term which was in it's self a perversion of the name of a vessel designed specifically to attack ships during the American Civil War and subsequent eponymic type of low freeboard turreted warship.

DDG 1000

The Zumwalt class has a number of problems,the most serious of which is their huge cost which has seen a class of 32 ships cut to just 3.

DDX Raytheon

This class of just 3 vessels is expected to cost $11,894.8 Million,or $3,964.9 Million per ship.

DDX 2 Ships

There also appear to be numerous design problems on the Zumwalt class beyond those responsible for it's enormous cost.

USS Zumwalt

 Main guns conflict with each other and with forward missile launch silos.

USS Zumwalt Stern

Aft missile launch silos conflict with helicopter operations and the 57mm guns.

USS Zumwalt Mk110 Guns

Short range guns conflict with each other,helicopter operations (this is practically unavoidable),the aft missile silos and with the superstructure.

Arleigh Burke Flight II AMDR

The cost of the Zumwalt class has resulted in the United States' Navy planning to succeed them with updated "Flight III" versions of the now 22 year old Burke class destroyers.

Arleigh Burke Flight II AMDR Front

This was considered to be a cheaper option but some now suggest that these ships could cost $3,000 - $4,000 Million each (even the current Burke Flight IIA ships cost twice as much as the British Daring class destroyers).

Arleigh Burke Flight II AMDR Side

The cost of both the Zumwalt class and the Burke Flight III ships far exceeds their utility.



The United States' Navy needs is a surface combatant which is both capable and affordable (in United States' Navy terms).

We shall have a look at such a ship in future parts of "A New American Destroyer".

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Harrier,Storm Shadow And Brimstone


There are many people who believe that the Harrier aircraft could not carry the Storm Shadow and Brimstone missiles.

"The Tornados have delivered [MBDA] Storm Shadows to penetrate hardened buildings and the dual-mode Brimstone,neither of which could have been delivered by the Harrier."


Air Chief Marshal Dalton,the current head of the British Royal Air Force (R.A.F.),and a former Tornado pilot,may not have read our previous piece "What To Cut: Typhoon,Harrier And Nimrod Versus Tornado And F.S.T.A.". 







"The Harrier aircraft was withdrawn from service on 15 December 2010.

Prior to its withdrawal,it had an operational emergency clearance to operate Baseline Brimstone.

In order for the Harrier to use Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone,we would have had to extend the provision for the weapon and conduct a full trials programme on Harrier.

Although capable of carrying Storm Shadow,Harrier was not cleared to do so when it was withdrawn from service."


Nick Harvey also said in Parliament on Thursday 18 November 2010:


"The Ministry of Defence has assessed that it would in principle be technically feasible to launch the Storm Shadow missile,which is the UK's only air launched cruise-missile, from a number of in-service and future fixed-wing platforms other than the Tornado fast jet.


These include the Harrier GR9, Hercules C-130J, A400M, Typhoon and joint strike fighter."



Note how the opinions of senior Royal Air Force officers influence the opinions of government ministers who rely on their advice:

"The military advice is that the Tornado has a greater capability.

The primary capability advantages of the Tornado GR4 over the Harrier GR9 include greater payload and range and integration of capabilities,such as Storm Shadow,fully integrated dual-mode Brimstone,the Raptor reconnaissance pod and a cannon."


When Lord Astor says "the military advice is....",he probably means "Royal Air Force officers told us...".


Of course,what Royal Air Force officers say is not necessarily entirely correct.


On paper,theTornado has a range and payload advantage over the Harrier.


But wars are not fought on paper.



In the real World the Harrier would have had a significant range and payload advantage over the Tornado on recent operations in Libya.


The Harrier already had an "emergency clearance" to fire baseline Brimstone (dual mode Brimstone is almost identical).



Harrier could have carried Storm Shadow if it's integration had not been cancelled.



Harrier carried the Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod instead of Raptor pod.



Harrier had rocket pods instead of cannon.



Though the American Harriers do have cannon pods and they could probably have been carried by British Harriers also.

Note that this official Ministry of Defence aircraft hazards document lists both Brimstone and Storm Shadow as "weapon types capable of carriage" by the Harrier.

Note that this official Ministry of Defence document lists the Harrier as an aircraft which can carry Storm Shadow.


Note that this official Ministry of Defence document lists the Harrier as an aircraft which can carry Brimstone.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Libya : Harrier Versus Tornado




"The Tornados have delivered [MBDA] Storm Shadows to penetrate hardened buildings and the dual-mode Brimstone,neither of which could have been delivered by the Harrier."

"I am not knocking the Harrier,just those who have,often willfully,overstated its relative utility in this scenario,"

"In operations such as Ellamy,on the periphery of Europe,the access,basing and over-flight restrictions that would necessitate carrier strike do not apply.

 There is simply no comparison in terms of platform capability,time on station or versatility between Tornado GR4s operating from a well-found NATO airfield in Italy and Harriers operating from a CVS*."

*A Royal Navy aircraft carrier.

Air Chief Marshal Dalton,the current head of the British Royal Air Force (R.A.F.),and a former Tornado pilot,may not have read our previous piece "What To Cut: Typhoon,Harrier And Nimrod Versus Tornado And F.S.T.A.".


If he had,he would know that Brimstone was due to be cleared on the Harrier as part of the "Capability D" upgrades.


Harrier had already flown trials with Brimstone at the time the Chief of the Air Staff (a former Tornado pilot) made this comment.


At the time of the Strategic Defece and Security Review it was often claimed that the Harrier could not carry Brimstone.

This was cited as one of the reasons for retaining the Tornado instead of the Harrier.

This is what the Royal Air Force's own website had to say on the matter:

"The aircraft (Harrier G.R.9) is also expected to be fitted to carry the advanced Brimstone fire and forget anti-armour missile."







It was also often claimed that the Harrier should be retired because it could not fire the Storm Shadow cruise missile.

Here is the view of one commentator,Thinkdefence:

"Storm Shadow is very large and heavy.

 Because of asymmetric loading and release issues,dropping one of these from a wing pylon would be a serious issue to overcome,even for a Tornado,the Tornado carries them on the fuselage hardpoint for this reason.

A Harrier does not have the ability to do this because of under fuselage clearance;wing pylon mounting would be the only option.

This means those asymmetric release issues become more pronounced and because of the length of the missile and relative size of the Harriers wing it is difficult to see how it would be carried on a wing pylon without some additional costly modification."


Here is the official position from Nick Harvey,Minister of State for the Armed Forces in Parliament on the 18th of July 2011:

"The Harrier aircraft was withdrawn from service on 15 December 2010.

Prior to its withdrawal,it had an operational emergency clearance to operate Baseline Brimstone.

 In order for the Harrier to use Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone,we would have had to extend the provision for the weapon and conduct a full trials programme on Harrier.

Although capable of carrying Storm Shadow,Harrier was not cleared to do so when it was withdrawn from service."


Harrier was capable of carrying Storm Shadow,numerous official statements confirm that.

Yet it is still common to hear claims to the contrary.

Full clearance for Storm Shadow to fly on the Harrier fleet was cancelled by the Royal Air Force in a "cost cutting exercise".

Harrier could also have carried a pair of Storm Shadows to a considerable unrefuelled combat radius.

Although some commentators seem to think otherwise,here is a comment from Thinkdefence:


"You also have to ask if with a pair of Storm Shadows, plus drop tanks, plus ECM and self defence systems a Harrier would have got off the deck at all, unless of course it would have had to take off almost empty of fuel and get refuelled in the air."

United States Navy figures (page 7 of this document) give the Harrier a Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius of 302 miles with 12 500 pound bombs (6,000 pounds total weapon load),strakes and no external fuel tanks,with no aerial refuelling.

A Harrier with 2 2,860 pound Storm Shadows (5,720 pounds total weapon load),strakes and no external fuel tanks tanks should have a Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius greater than 302 miles due to the slightly lower weight and drag.






British aircraft carriers have often operated around 50 miles off a hostile coast during combat operations,including during the Invasion of the Suez Canal Zone in 1956 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.









It is reasonable to assume that a British aircraft carrier would launch Storm Shadow armed harriers from about 50 miles off the Libyan coast.

This would allow the Harriers to launch Storm Shadow missiles 252 miles or more inside Libyan territory.


Storm Shadow has an officially quoted "range in excess of 250km (156 miles)",a Harrier would be able to deliver 2 Storm Shadow missiles to targets beyond a radius of 458 miles from it's aircraft carrier.

This allows a Harrier to engage targets over 408 miles in side Libya from an aircraft carrier 50 miles off shore,with noaerial refuelling.



Royal Air Force Tornados launched Storm Shadow attacks on Libya from R.A.F. Marham,1,502 miles from Tripoli.



The Tornado's Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius is widely quoted as 863 miles with an unspecified weapon load.

This is far short of what would be required for a Tornado based at R.A.F. Marham to fire Storm Shadow missiles at targets in Libya without aerial refuelling.



Marham's Tornados required 4 aerial refuellings just to deliver 2 Storm Shadow missiles each against targets in Libya.

Each sortie involved an 8 hour,3,000 mile round trip.


Even with this vast amount of tanker support the Marham based Tornados were only ably to cover a small portion of Libyan territory.



With no aerial refuelling support at all a carrier based Harrier can range across much of Libya's territory while carrying a pair of Storm Shadow missiles.

Tornados launched 2 Storm Shadows each on the fringes of Libyan territory and needed 4 aerial refuellings to do that.


The Harrier could provide coverage with the Storm Shadow missile far superior to that of the Tornado.

It would also require no aerial refuelling.



"In operations such as Ellamy,on the periphery of Europe,the access,basing and over-flight restrictions that would necessitate carrier strike do not apply."

In order to attack Libya the Marham based Tornados required overflight rights from at least 2 countries and possibly many more depending on their route.

Each of these countries would have the potential to disrupt combat operations at any time as has happened on many occasions in the past.

Including during current operations in Afghanistan.

Harriers based on an aircraft carrier in international waters off the Libyan coast do not require over flight rights from any country.


Land based Tornados required Host Nation Support from Italy.

But Italy was opposed to the creation of a No Fly Zone (N.F.Z.) over Libya until the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 1973 on the 17th of March 2011.


Which is why Royal Air Force Typhoons did not begin flying sorties from Gioia Del Colle until the 21st of March 2011,2 days after a Royal Navy submarine had fired cruise missiles in to Libya.

The submarine was able to pre-position it's self before combat operations began as it did not rely on host nation support.

The first Typhoon combat sortie from Gioia Del Colle was the following day but the Typhoons could not conduct ground attack missions.

Tornados,which could,arrived in Italy only on the 22rd of March 2011,3 days after the Royal Navy had begun combat operations against Libya.



R.A.F. VC10 tanker aircraft and Sentry surveillance aircraft initially operated from the British base at Akrotiri on Cyprus.

This required them to spend approximately 4 hours in transit on each sortie.


To reduce this waste of flying hours they were sensibly relocated to a closer Italian base at Trapani-Birgi on Sicily.

Trapani-Birgi is a civilian airport,348 miles from Tripoli,which is also used by military aircraft.



Unfortunately one of it's main civilian users,Ryanair,complained that it's passengers were being inconvenienced by the Royal Air Force presence.

Consequently the Italian authorities were about to evict the R.A.F. from Trapani until preempted by the sudden end of combat operations.


Malta refused to grant host nation support to military aircraft involved in attacks on Libya.

But it did grant over flight rights.

Nevertheless,combat aircraft,including Royal Air Force Tornados,were sometimes forced to land at Malta International Airport.

When your air base is 582 miles away in Italy and you don't have enough fuel to get there,you have to land somewhere.

This would not have been a problem for a Harrier who's home was an aircraft carrier 50 miles off the Libyan coast.

Fortunately the Maltese government did not impound these aircraft  as the Brazilians did with a Vulcan bomber which was forced to divert there during the Falklands War in 1982.


In total the Royal Air Force used 6 airfields to conduct operations against Libya.

Of these,3 were on British Bases in the United Kingdom (R.A.F. Marham and R.A.F. Brize Norton) and Cyprus (R.A.F. Akrotiri).

Italy provided 2 more bases,one of which was at a semi-civilian airport (Trapani-Birgi and Gioia Del Colle).

Malta International Airport  provided an emergency landing site for combat aircraft which could not make it 582 miles back to Gioia Del Colle from Libya.


Had the United Kingdom deployed a catapult equipped aircraft carrier,none of these bases would have been necessary.


A fleet of Hercules and Globemaster transport aircraft was needed to deploy Royal Air Force units to their overseas bases.

These are the "replenishment vessels" of the Royal Air Force delivering tools,support equipment,parts and ordnance to bases in Italy and Cyprus.

But these aircraft are far more expensive to buy and operate than ships and an aircraft carrier would not require their support.


The RAF's No 2 (Mechanical Transport) Squadron transported 1,680 tonnes of kit down to the airfield at Gioia del Colle,including generators,air start trolleys,drop tanks,hydraulic rigs and weapon loaders for the Typhoons and Tornados.

An aircraft carrier would have all of this equipment on board,eliminating the need for transport aircraft or trucks to bring it in to theatre.



"There is simply no comparison in terms of platform capability,time on station or versatility between Tornado GR4s operating from a well-found NATO airfield in Italy and Harriers operating from a CVS*."

*A small Royal Navy aircraft carrier.


There are many factors which influence the combat and endurance of a combat aircraft.

These include weapon load,fuel load,runway length,temperature,altitude,speed and flight profile.
The chart above is from an official United States Navy document on the AV8B,the American version of the British Harrier G.R5/7/9 aircraft and gives us a good idea of that aircraft's capabilities.

Unfortunately such specific information is often unavailable and we have to deal with far less well defined figures.


The Royal Air Force claims that the Tornado has a combat radius of 460 miles (400 nautical miles) on a Lo-Lo-Lo flight profile with an unspecified weapon load.

This is not sufficient for a Tornado based at Gioia Del Colle to attack targets in Libya without aerial refuelling.



The Harrier G.R.9 has a Lo-Lo-Lo combat radius of 287 miles (250 nautical miles) with an unspecified weapon load according to the Royal Air Force.

Unlike the Tornado,a Harrier on a Lo-Lo-Lo flight profile can attack targets in Libya,with no aerial refuelling,when flying from an aircraft carrier 50 miles off the Libyan coast.




These Royal Air Force figures demonstrate that,on a Lo-Lo-Lo flight profile,the range and endurance of the carrier based Harrier are far superior to those of the Tornado for operations over Libya.


Various official and unofficial sources say that the Tornado has a Hi-Lo-Hi combat radius of 863 miles with an unspecified weapon load.



This allows only limited loiter time over Northern Libya which is why Tornados required several aerial refuellings on a typical 5.5 hour mission over Libya.



The Royal Air Force credits the Harrier with a radius of 402 miles (350 nautical miles) at medium level,again with an unspecified weapon load.



This gives the Harrier more time on station over Libya than a Tornado on a Hi-Lo-Hi flight profile with no aerial refuelling.



The above picture shows a typical weapon load for a Harrier on combat operations in Afghanistan.

It carries 2 500 pound bombs,2 rocket pods,a targetting pod,a reconnaissance pod and 2 drop tanks.


The closest configuration to that on the chart above is for a Harrier with 4 1,000 pound Mark 83 bombs and 2 300 Gallon drop tanks.


According to these United States Navy figures a Harrier would have a Lo-Lo-Lo combat radius of 363 miles (316 nautical miles) with this weapon load.

This allows the Harrier to attack targets up to 313 miles inside Libya with no aerial refuelling when based on an aircraft carrier 50 miles off shore.


Unlike a Tornado based at Gioia Del Colle,which cannot attack targets in Libya without aerial refuelling.


On a Hi-Lo-Hi flight profile the same aircraft has a combat radius of 661 miles.

That is enough to attack targets throughout most of Libya with no aerial refuelling.

That range could also be traded for endurance in the coastal areas.



Again,the Harrier offers range and time on station far superior to the Tornado  when flying a Hi-Lo-Hi flight profile.



"There is simply no comparison in terms of platform capability,time on station or versatility between Tornado GR4s operating from a well-found NATO airfield in Italy and Harriers operating from a CVS*."

*A Royal Navy aircraft carrier.

Time On Station Versus Flight Time


The above graph shows time on station over Libya versus total flight time for a Tornado based at Gioia Del Colle in Italy and a Harrier based on an aircraft carrier 50 miles off the Libyan coast.

It assumes that both aircraft transit to the combat area at a speed of 480 miles per hour or 8 miles per minute.

At this speed the Harrier has a transit time of 12.5 minutes while the Tornado has a transit time of 145.5 minutes.

Which means that the Tornado has to fly for over 145.5 minutes to spend any time on station over Libya at all,while for any sortie length beyond that the Harrier generates 133 more minutes on station per sortie than the Tornado.

During combat operations over Libya Tornados averaged about 5.5 flight hours per sortie which gives 184.5 minutes on station over Libya on each sortie at a transit speed of 480 miles per hour.

On a 5.5 hour sortie the carrier based Harrier would spend 317.5 minutes on station over Libya.

It would take 4.5 such Harrier sorties per day to keep one Harrier on station over Libya for 24 hours.

In contrast the land based Tornados would need to fly 7.8 daily sorties to keep one Tornado on station over Libya for 24 Hours.

During combat operations over Libya,Royal Air Force Tornados and Typhoons averaged about 9 sorties per day.

It is likely that the time on station generated by these sorties could have been generated by just 5 daily carrier based Harrier sorties.



Text to be continued at a later date due to issues with blogger.