Monday, 7 January 2013

Naval Strike Drones

Trt has been mulling over the idea of small ships, and how to use them effectively, for, well, all of 36 hours now, and so its time for another blog post :)

I dont believe they can work as stand alone warships, they just cant.  Sven explains why.

But as additions to a warship?
Well, thats a whole other kettle of fish.
After some thinking, the Skjold is too big, its time to go back to the CB90

According to wiki, the CB90 has capacity for 21 armed marines, if we assume 100kg per bloke, that gives us 2100 kg of crew space.
More than enough for 4 NSMs at 410kg each, 1640kg, plus boosters and box launcher.

Imagine the T45 and the T26, each carrying two of the buggers.

Now, its been a long time since warships have engaged one another, second world war if you discount missile boats shooting each other, but the Argentine Fleet was a huge problem to the Royal Navy in the 82 War.  Despite being wildly outmatched, there was still a chance it could get lucky, and not that lucky to be fair.

Imagine how much easier it would have been to nullify their battle groups if we could interpose five autonomous missile drones between our ships and theirs?
Even if we limit their area of effect to 30miles each way, thats still a 300 mile wall they would have to sail around.  Not a problem?  Except wheres the wall? 

I dont want to tread over the same ground, so I'll leave uses for now, but the ability to carry them isnt remotely difficult, the RN carries similar sized boats on Davits on ships already.
There would be RoE problems with using them as mines, but they are resolveable, using them as strike units is simple already.


  1. Lemme help you a bit.

    Prime candidates for combat task dinghies:

    * manoeuvrable (not tethered!) missile and/or torpedo decoy (a truly sophisticated missile or torpedo could identify and avoid every decoy, though)

    * manoeuvrable CIWS or ShorAD launcher picket boat

    * manoeuvrable forward visual ID and UV+IR sky scanner boat

    * manoeuvrable remote minelayer

    * manoeuvrable very low frequency sonar emitter (multiple emitters, away from the warship which listens and processes passively and thus doesn't give away its location)

    * manoeuvrable minebreaker (minesweeper triggering mines by simulating signatures) as in German Troika II system (unreliable against sophisticated acoustic pattern ID triggers)

    So basically this would be about creating tactical depth by having a screen of boats (similar to the destroyers of WW2), which is occasionally discussed as "mothership" concept for naval warfare.
    The perfect multi-role warship for such a concept would be LPD-like.

    I didn't list a surface target missile launcher because such missiles have a great range. The challenge isn't to bring them into range for a shot, but to feed them target updates via datalink so they can cope with the unpredictable movement of a fast-moving target.
    See the demise of the anti-ship tomahawk.

    Concerning survivability; all small surface units need to follow the recipe laid out by USN thinkers years before the LCS requirements were rigged into a frigate design: Be useful, but too unimportant to justify that the enemy exposes himself by firing at you. Create this dilemma for survivability instead of betting on stealth or growing for being able to mount EW and substantial defences.

    1. Excellent, you see to be coming around :)

      "The perfect multi-role warship for such a concept would be LPD-like."

      That was my original thought, look at them like a carrier and its airwing, but then I thought, why not a frigate and its helicopters?

      Maybe I'm underestimating modern radar, but I'm not convinced they could pick up a stationary CB90 with ease even in the deep sea, due to waves and such.
      Well, they could certainly pick it up, but how would they differentiate it from everything else?

    2. I've seen demonstrations showing how video cameras can pick up a boat among lots of visual clutter. The algorithms are available.

      Also keep in mind some radar platforms in a naval scenario will be aerial ones and can make easy use of not only GMTI but also SAR modes. They can practically create a 3D map of the terrain. Even a life raft would stand out. Example
      Radars are tricky at times, but the capability is there.

      A frigate with helicopters isn't going to be very versatile in regard to its boats. You would need about two or more decoy boats, about half a dozen AAW ones, minimum two sonar emitter boats, a liaison and boarding dinghy, two torpedo delivery / SAR / airborne radar / boarding helicopters.
      That's why a mothership-like concept would trend towards a LPD, not a FFG.

      BTW, I actually sounded off my interest in LPDs on D&F already - you even commented there. It's not new to me, but quite old.
      I usually avoid naval and air power topics, though. There's very much influence of electronics wizardry which is difficult to assess by an outsider.

  2. "You would need about two or more decoy boats, about half a dozen AAW ones, minimum two sonar emitter boats, a liaison and boarding dinghy, two torpedo delivery / SAR / airborne radar / boarding helicopters.
    That's why a mothership-like concept would trend towards a LPD, not a FFG."

    They are all nice to have, but its madness to call ALL of them essential, especially since we have only the boarding dingy now.

    A specialised boat carrier might be nice, but the UK built the RN around three helicopter carrying through deck cruisers, we didnt stop carrying helicopters on the escorts though...

  3. Who says modern naval shipbuilding makes sense?

    It may very well be as stupid as was the quantity production of armoured cruisers and the poorly laid out battleships during the 1890's.
    Just look at how often "modern" warship designs fail!

    They fail again and again against surprise AShM attacks.

    They fail again and again against SSK attacks during exercises.

    They carried insufficient ammunition during the entire Cold War for responding to every (false) sub contact during a single Atlantic crossing and were expected to simply run out of ammo.

    Active pinging with a very low frequency sonar gives away the ASW ship's bearing to the sub - enough for a sub-to-ship missile surprise attack. It's about as necessary to delegate the pinging as it is to delegate long range radar search tasks to an AEW platform instead of giving away a carrier's location with powerful search radars.


Go **** yourself