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Ace Rimmer
November 27, 2013 3:16 pm

Food for thought, given the technology we have today, why are we not over-run with numerous robot sentry types like we are UAV’s?

I can remember back in the 80’s there was the ‘directional mine’, the Matra Minos which was a ‘remote sentry’ of sorts but missile armed. Whatever happened to that?

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
November 27, 2013 4:27 pm

In this case, science fiction got it right!

a
a
November 27, 2013 4:36 pm

Can you tell I am a bit bored today

Yes, you posted the same thing twice…

Under the circumstances, I’d argue, it doesn’t breach LOAC because it’s not being used against humans, so it’s fine – just like chemical weapons are banned, but putting down rat poison doesn’t breach LOAC because killing rats doesn’t count as armed conflict.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 27, 2013 7:21 pm

Well if they have big teeth & acid for blood, then any weapon is justified, but if their technology is thousands of years ahead of us & their weapons could vaporize Earth in one shot, then be very nice to them. Offer tea & buns, perhaps even chocolate biscuits.

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2013 8:21 pm

Knowing our luck, chocolate probably gives them gas and is a cultural insult.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 27, 2013 9:44 pm

On a matter related, at least in my mind, how quickly is the detect-engage – destroy – detect next target sequence on CIWS, of which most of the bigger boats in the Andrew seem to have 3.

Substitute Aliens with swarming fast unmanned RHIB-like things with impact operated warheads, and a basic thermal or small radar homing capability, and it would be interesting to look at the mathematics. How many RHIBs can 3 CIWS destroy from max CIWS range down to zero, given a nominal RHIB speed of 50 knots. 20? 50? 100? Then build up the OPFOR cost of the estimated RHIBs: I think you could get something simple but good enough for £100,000, certainly if you are buying 100 of them. £10 million for 100 swarming RHIBs, versus a T45. Interesting. It’s the sort of little cottage industry even the Iranians typical developing country could grow for itself.

I know there’s other weapons systems that could assist, and clearly it would be no easy task for OPFOR to launch that many RHIBS all at once (I can think of a way: make a well deck in a commercial ship, programme all the RHIBS to exit and turn left, target 5 miles to it’s front, commence auto-seek and homing).

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2013 10:04 pm

RT, don’t think you want to automate a CIWS on anti-ship duty, there have been documented cases of the CIWS taking into its’ little electronic brain that a friendly or neutral was a target and pumped a few rounds into it. At least with missiles, the criteria was “very fast moving, closing in”. To target boats, the criteria becomes “closing in”, which means everything that is even turning your way is “the enemy” to that little electronic idiot. So that probably means the limiting factor is the human controller.

Rocket Banana
November 27, 2013 10:17 pm

DefCon = 1
Lockdown
Set perimeter at 400m
Set threat vector at 20 meters-per-second closing on surrounding 50m sphere
Set audio warning broadcast to 150dB
Set CIWS to auto
Set PDMS to auto
Put kettle on

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 27, 2013 10:28 pm

Observer,

I wasn’t necessarily thinking of automating CIWS beyond what is currently the case, but rather the speed of the “system” including all human inputs (C2 and logistical if ammo replen is needed). Where’s APATS when you need him? He’s a PWO, he’ll know the detail of how many targets a single T45 could take on using CIWS and other 20mm / GPMG, over what timeframe.

Simon, I suspect you are going to want to start commencing attrition at well over 400 metres if you’ve got 100 unmanned rammer RHIBS closing in on you at 50 knots.

Refinement: immediately after coordinated launch of RHIBS, put up 50 or so massively cheap R/C type planes. They’re too small to be seen by human eyes at over about 500 metres, but will be picked up by radar. They can also fly easily 5 miles in a straight line before running out of fuel. Bungee launch them in waves of ten or so at 10 second intervals. But no need to control them – merely fly them in the general direction of the T45. Totally disposable, but representing another threat to the ship that the CIWS will have to take out. I suspect at some point CIWS overload is going to happen: too many targets, confusion between target types, running out of ammo, mechanical or electrical breakdown, or simply the barrels overheating. All it needs are 2 or 3 RHIBs getting through and HMS Ruddy Expensive is out of action, possibly terminally.

dave haine
dave haine
November 27, 2013 11:15 pm

@ RT

One for RT towers I think, in case you have to repel the horde of bulgarians, that CMD appears to think are coming:
http://realsentrygun.com/index.htm

And for boatery
http://www.msi-dsl.com/_images/item_graphics/LW%20Shadow.jpg
Or:
http://www.msi-dsl.com/_images/item_graphics/sigma-1.jpg

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2013 11:29 pm

The other possibility is to just turn away from the swarm and accelerate. IIRC, the top speed of frigates and destroyers are close to or even exceeds the top speed of a RHIB. Then pot them at your leisure. The number of targets vs time would still be an interesting factoid to learn though.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 27, 2013 11:50 pm

Observer, unmanned maritime vessels can comfortably exceed 70 knots (not sure on the exact type of design – possibly not a RHIB type), so accelerating away is not going to do that much for you.

Found this on t’internet: http://www.ussstoddard.org/R2D2%20with%20Attitude_1.htm . Seems reasonably authoritative, but others are more expert and may judge differently. It seems Phalanx (as per the T45 fit) has 1550 rounds loaded, reloading takes 5-10 minutes on a good day, minimum burst fired is 50 rounds, and the computer can process up to 6 targets at once. :( for the Andrew. Maximum of 31 targets (1550/50) before reload, but probably the critical factor is once the first 6 are destroyed, the whole target acquisition piece has to cycle through again, which will chew up time.

I don’t think Phalanx (at least, as it currently is) is good enough to fight off a swarm attack when the targets are coming in at 50 knots. Particularly if you can array the swarm so that the 2 CIWS onboard are not “seeing” some of them as their acquisition radars do have limits (i.e. what they are pointing towards).

Probably best to not assume a future calamity: proper naval thinkers will have noticed this limitation. I’d like to know what they do think could defeat a swarm attack, however.

Gareth
Gareth
November 28, 2013 8:30 am

Swarm attack lessons in the movies? Simples those amazing armed mech suits with chain fed cannon the the Matrix…

The matrix robots literally form a swarm and the amazing firepower of massed mech walkers is simply overwhelmed:

http://youtu.be/dE4ZOYVKwfQ

Zaitsev
Zaitsev
November 28, 2013 9:41 am

Problem is that these modern ships have those massive dongs on the front to stop bow waves. In my expreiance it only takes a 40 ft gin palace to create a 1 meter bow wave, a ship going 70knts hitting that is going to go flying. could you make a tempary change to the underwater profile to maxmise bow waves. 6000 tons at 30 knots has got to be enough energy to create some monster waves. then you just run the ship in circles and sink all the incoming ribs without firing a shot.

a
a
November 28, 2013 9:49 am

Observer, unmanned maritime vessels can comfortably exceed 70 knots (not sure on the exact type of design – possibly not a RHIB type), so accelerating away is not going to do that much for you.

It’ll give you three times as long to engage the targets, if you cut the closing speed from 70 kts to, say, 25. That’ll help.
And, if you’re at full speed, you’ll be putting up a huge roostertail wake, and that’s going to be quite a problem for a small boat trying to bang into your stern. It’s quite a skill to stop a RHIB from flipping over in a rough sea – I imagine it would be tricky to program an unmanned one to do the same. If they’re programmed not to attack right up the wake, then that cuts their closing speed still further because they can’t go directly at you, they’ll have to dogleg.
Not to mention the challenge of how you drive a 50-knot RHIB in the middle of a swarm of 99 other 50-knot RHIBs all going in the same direction without bumping into any of them. I wouldn’t like to do it and I’m a sentient human being.

a
a
November 28, 2013 9:54 am

“I can remember back in the 80′s there was the ‘directional mine’, the Matra Minos which was a ‘remote sentry’ of sorts but missile armed. Whatever happened to that?”

Haven’t heard of that, but I have heard of the M93 Hornet Wide Area Mine – still around but not working too well. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/m93.htm

Zaitsev
Zaitsev
November 28, 2013 9:58 am

Observer
Observer
November 28, 2013 11:04 am

Zaitsev, it’s called a bulbous bow, not a dong or bong. :P

Agreed with all the rest, ultra high speed RHIB is…bouncy. On the other hand, RT may have a point. Instead of a swarm, a single 70 knot RHIB might function well as a missile. At 70 knots, that is about 120km/h, which is about 2km/min or 1km/30 sec. If you can get within 0.5-1km before springing the attack, the response time is only 15-30 sec against a stationary target, which often means the person on watch has to make a personal judgement call, no time to pass the buck.

This is also assuming loading the RHIB with a few hundred pounds of explosives won’t slow it down too. IIRC the attack before the USS Cole failed because they overloaded the boat with explosives.

dave haine
dave haine
November 28, 2013 11:14 am

So, it appears the answer is to run away as fast as you can, or start max chat turns, whilst blatting away with every bit of gunnery you’ve got, including flare pistols, with cooks throwing last night’s babies heads, least favourite officer’s and bar chits off the back.

I say again:
SEAHAWK SIGMA – Stabilised Integrated Gun Missile Array
SIGMA combines the highly acclaimed SEAHAWK naval gun system with options for carrying a variety of close range Surface to Air and Surface to Surface missiles. The cannon and missile combination ensures a versatile and cost effective solution.
Comprises:-
All the attributes of SEAHAWK range of Naval Gun Systems
Thales LMM and MBDA Mistral missile option
Layered defence capability
Efficient use of valuable above-deck space
Simple adaptive interface to any C3 system
Option for autonomous operation when combined with the SEAHAWK EOFCS
http://www.msi-dsl.com/_images/item_graphics/sigma-1.jpg

SEAHAWK EOFCS
The SEAHAWK Electro Optical Fire Control System (EOFCS) in service with the UK Royal Navy as part of the Type 23 Frigate capability upgrade programme.
System accuracy and response, coupled with the high quality sensor fit, provides excellent extended range with essential rapid, accurate weapon control capabilities against air targets or highly mobile Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) swarm attacks. In addition providing an excellent situational awareness capability.
http://www.msi-dsl.com/_images/item_graphics/newEod.jpg

That lot and Phalanx should help….

Zaitsev
Zaitsev
November 28, 2013 11:48 am

Cant imagine it being fast as unlike a tank its weight is not just a penalty to accelration but forces the boat to displace more water. ribs are going fast by planing, using their foward momentum to lift their hulls out of the water and reduced the wetted surface, more weight means they arnt going to get on the plane. Without planing the only way to go fast that i know of is to make the boat long.

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 28, 2013 11:51 am

Possible countermeasures to swarm attack by autonomous RHIBs?

IR homing can be decoyed by deploying biggest available sailors in life rafts or by floating fannies (big pans) of heated-up pot mess between the ship and the threat. Radar homing can be decoyed by covering sailors in tinfoil or using bottom-ballasted met balloons.

Alternatively, helos can plonk a length of polypropylene rope or a big nylon mesh net in the path of approaching boats. Boats’ props become fouled and friction causes nylon to weld itself around spinning shafts causing boats to come up all-standing. If boats use water-jet propulsion, substitute heavy fuel oil or clumps of seaweed cultivated on board. Either agent will clog strainers and stop boats in their tracks (wakes?). I’ve encountered situations such as these on numerous occasions.

Problem solved! You don’t really need any specialist knowledge at all, do you? It just takes a bit of lateral thinking like the wartime use of sailors in rowing boats to protect our harbours from U-boats. Whenever the sailors saw a periscope, they painted its lens green. This misled the commander into thinking he still hadn’t reached periscope depth so he kept on rising. When the U-boat reached an altitude of around 300 ft, it became an easy target for anti-aircraft fire.

dave haine
dave haine
November 28, 2013 12:07 pm

See…leave it to hoary old matelots to work it out…..

Although in all seriousness, i like the idea of floating nets…made out of floating rope lying horizontally on the surface- could be deployed by a couple of lads in a gemini, every time you stop….

a
a
November 28, 2013 12:17 pm

Whenever the sailors saw a periscope, they painted its lens green. This misled the commander into thinking he still hadn’t reached periscope depth so he kept on rising. When the U-boat reached an altitude of around 300 ft, it became an easy target for anti-aircraft fire.

Ha!
Inspired. The old ones are the best.

Floating barriers would be fine for when you’re in harbour (to protect against a Cole-type attack) but the swarming attack is more about when you’re underway, I think.

Isnt the answer to swarm attacks to have your own swarm of small craft, unmanned etc

Basically that’s “missiles”, isn’t it?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 28, 2013 7:21 pm

Clearly, there are development problems to be overcome with swarming USVs, but I don’t see them as unsolvable. It’s systems engineering.

Break them into chunks.

USV physical design: there are a reasonable amount of options for different designs already on the market. Target boats might be a start point (Meggit do a range, there’s a company outside Southampton with some alternatives). Have a look at TD’s idea for enhancing survivability.

USVs are already doing 45 knots in sea state 5 (look at Sea Robotics). Sea state 5 is quite bouncy, at least from my perspective.

Swarming control algorithms already work for UAVs. A simple mesh network and set parameters such as “don’t come within 50 metres of another node on the network”.

Payload on the Elbit Silver Marlin is 2,500 kg. Enough to do big damage. Others have payloads of hundreds of kilos. It’s also got a range of 500 nm and 24 hours endurance, and can be remotely controlled by satcom. Probably quite pricey for the class of USVs, but that opens all sorts of possibilities (including ISTAR and remoting of sensors, not just in swarm attack mode). See http://www.elbitsystems.com/elbitmain/area-in2.asp?parent=10&num=92&num2=92 . And in my favourite scenario, one of those towing an aerostat with sensors up high massively increases your SA at considerably lower cost than sending a manned vessel up threat.

In general war, the ROE would probably allow the target ship to use all sorts of measures and early engagement to significantly reduce the chances of a swarm attack being successful, but in constricted waters and times of tension short of general war, I think that the chances of a swarm surprise attack are much higher. The ability of OPFOR to come up much closer, simple reaction time and consultation of various ROE itself will leave very little chance to react.

I might not have much credibility on TD as a naval expert…. ;) but it is clear to me at least that as for air warfare, a significant part of future maritime surface and indeed sub surface capabilities COULD in the future use unmanned systems to greatly augment existing capabilities, and probably at a big cost saving. That, if true, is where our Navy should be spending lots of time examining (and I am sure they are), but equally it’s an area in which hitherto developing nations without the £billion budget could get a trick on us. Even the Iranians and – whisper – Carlos Fandango down south.

Observer
Observer
November 28, 2013 10:01 pm

RT, or do what the Israelis do and arm the USVs with Spike missiles. They’re a short range version of your Exactors and don’t require you to go up and kiss the ship. Less bang, but much more likely to get through and it’s mounted in pairs, so you get 2 shots at the prize. 2 man crew though at the other end (Pilot + Weapons Op).

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 28, 2013 10:22 pm

Surely the lesson from “Starship Troopers” is to have some micro nukes, say 1kt?

mr.fred
mr.fred
November 28, 2013 10:45 pm

Out of interest, how does this hundred-strong swarm of USV get to where the ship is in the first place?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 28, 2013 11:37 pm

Mr Fred,

it doesn’t require much engineering imagination. Commercial ro-ro bastardised to give enough water-depth onboard to float a few dozen RHIBs, drive out of the back and go autonomous. Or failing that, a couple of pairs of launching slipways running through the hull lengthways with about 20 RHIBs lined up nose to stern, and cranked along until the tipping point by chains. You can do all of the last minute programming by in hull wifi and a set of internal GPS repeaters so they already know where they are and which waypoints to head for before they exit the hull.

Observer
Observer
November 28, 2013 11:50 pm

… or you could just lug an RPG to the topdeck and fire it as you sail by? :) Or failing that, I’m sure you can convince some Jihadists that a one way trip in a cigarette boat is a good idea.

ChrisM
ChrisM
November 29, 2013 8:47 pm

Isnt the answer to the swarming USV RHIBs ECM? Ships have plenty of power available, and the moment the swarm needs sensors or networking it becomes vulnerable.
Creating a suicide force large enough to swarm, and talented enough to succeed against a full speed warship, would be tricky. Once you had taught them how to handle really fast boats in rough seas surely they are going to decide it is too much fun to go killing yourself too soon?
A big networked swarm is also going to be a clear act of war by a nation state’s navy. Possibly sinking one ship is not going to be worth losing everything that floats in the inevitable retaliation.

El Sid
El Sid
November 29, 2013 9:21 pm

Why didn’t Ripley just play Indian Love Call through the tannoy?

You’ve got to love the way sci-fi films demonstrate humans’ complete lack of imagination about how the future will pan out. If we can manage interstellar travel, then CCTV will probably have moved on beyond the quality you might find in a Croydon garage c1990. But do we see multispectral 4k+ images on the starship? Nah.

Observer’s “run away” policy is a major reason why the LCS is built how it is – those extra few knots make a big difference to your engagement time with a swarm. Plus speed is a great weapon to use when you don’t want to escalate the situation – the USS Pueblo came up against that problem, she had a choice of either surrender or fight off the attack and start Korean War II.

@RT
Phalanx isn’t primarily for surface targets – it’s been coopted into that role because it’s better than nothing, but there’s a good reason why the RN prefers 30mm over 20mm for anti-swarm duty (not that a DS30M is a Death Star or anything but it’s a useful step up)

Observer
Observer
November 29, 2013 10:00 pm

El Sid, be fair, the Marines are on a budget and so was the movie :P

mr.fred
mr.fred
December 1, 2013 5:15 pm

El Sid,

The thing about space is that it is a little more varied than earth and our electronics are somewhat optimised to the terran/human environment.

Case in point. A UK commercial satellite company recently put out a call for remaining stocks of 386 processor chips because they work in the vacuum of space while more modern chips do not (as well).