A Dumb Question on Ship Design

Being a landlubber and not at all versed in matter nautical thought I would post a dub question on ship design, specifically, the matter of protection again anti ship missiles.

Unlike older ships that were designed to slug it out with big guns, and therefore armoured appropriately, modern ships have reduced physical resistance to attack but compensated by having a comprehensive and layered onion skin approach to self defence. Because of the value of the ship, the value of the self defence systems have risen dramatically, self defence systems now account for a significant proportion of the total cost.

Because modern anti ship missiles are so devastatingly effective the protection concept has migrated to that of avoiding getting hit at any cost, not being able to take a hit.

Despite lightweight composite armour, very selective steel armouring and systems duplication, a modern frigate or destroyer is as resistant to taking a hit as…

Paper Bag

 

A paper bag that is surrounded by layers of very expensive active and passive self defence systems, but a paper bag nevertheless.

This inability to stand, fight and take hits can be seen writ large in the the amphibious combat operating concepts that either choose to completely avoid the littoral direct fire zone or chose to stand off the shore. Large ships are being increasingly forced offshore, thus compounding the the logistic and planning problems of mounting operations against the land from the sea.

One might reasonably ask of the move offshore, hang on a minute, how much are we spending on CIWS, decoys, anti aircraft missiles and signature reduction.

Despite the billions being spent on these systems we still find ourselves unable to risk heading into a a direct fire zone.

Contrast that with the land environment where the last decade of operations has forced an increasing recognition that protection counts. A good example is FRES Scout which clearly favours protection in comparison to CVR(T). Look at any nations vehicles in Afghanistan or Iraq and the trend is obvious, hull shaping, slat armour and extra armour blocks lean to a clear philosophy of being able to take a hit and keep on going, or at least survive the hit.

This is in complete contrast to naval platforms where the approach is to clearly avoid getting hit no matter what the cost. Don’t get me wrong, you can counter that by pointing to damage control training, resilient systems design and careful selection of materials but modern ships still aren’t designed to slug it out.

In small craft the trend is more like that of vehicles, instead on RHIB’s with no armour, the Royal Marines have migrated to the Offshore Raiding Craft with their Dyneema armour panels and the latest 2400TD Hovercraft that has much more protection against small arms than the 2000TD’s

Royal Marines Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC)
Royal Marines Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC)

Why is this.

Direct operational experience.

We could have a discussion about whether the addition of lightweight composite armour panels goes far enough but the trend is self evident.

I keep coming back to two ideas.

Armour

Slat armour

Shaping

USS Cairo
USS Cairo

If we think that operations in the littoral or near onshore areas are likely to be the norm and we wish to influence matters in those regions it logically demands an ability to operate in them when others wish to deny it.

Which brings me back to my dumb question on ship design.

Have we surrendered physical robustness and the ability to absorb damage yet keep on fighting and thus surrendered the ability to operate in a direct fire environment.

I don’t know

If they are, is there any alternative to increasingly expensive layers of the protection onion and would shaping and armour provide enough protection in any case when being bombarded with ATGW’s at ultra close range and modern anti ship missiles further out.

In short, are current designs self licking lollipops that are too fragile to operate in likely future operating environments?

 

 

 

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Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
May 22, 2014 12:01 pm

The amount of armour required to take a hit from a missilie is insane, so it will take up to much space and vastly increase the ships weight. One concept is to make the ships structure so flimsy that a missile will be out the other side before it blows up and so there will be less damage. Otherwise the best defense is not getting hit and having decent DC (damage control) capabilities, also system redundancy is vital to survivng a hit. There is however enough armour to take small arms fire etc, this will be in effect the same level of armour a small boat has.

A ship should be able to take at least one ASM and still operate, two and still float but 3 and I wouldn’t expect it to survive long. All depends where the ship is hit etc.

Put simply it is more effective to not be hit than to prepare to be hit.

wf
wf
May 22, 2014 12:29 pm

I agree that we are not exactly robust against modern antiship missiles strikes, but that vulnerability is actually not something unique to the naval sphere: if we faced TLAM or Brahmos equipped adversaries on land I’ll bet we’d be seeing all sorts of comments as to the inability to supply any sizable land forces or stage air forces out of fixed airbases when every runway location or road junction is known to the last metre and can be targeted as such.

I suspect the answer doesn’t lie in armouring as such, although the Zumwalt’s distribution of VLS around the ship with the cells designed to blow out in the event of strikes shows one way, more that we need to expand the reach of the defences (see? Carriers!) and bend the cost of CIWS down, and not just for naval forces . After all, what with C-RAM and the issues above, plus seeing things like Iron Dome proven, it’s clear that there’s a lot of scope to make simple and cheap defences more affordable as well as the requirement for it.

So, lets start a national project for a real point defence system, for sea or land. Something that can be launched off a flatbed like CAMM, but much smaller, with limited range, with offboard sensors able to cue it. Adapt the CAMM boost motor with it’s turnover capability, slap a simple MMW seeker and warhead on top.

Brent Smith
Brent Smith
May 22, 2014 12:34 pm

Even heavily armored ships of yesteryear hesitated before coming too close to a defended shore.

That being said, modern “armoring” involves building in a higher degree of reserve buoyancy, greater compartmentalization, redundant systems, stronger structures, and to a lesser extent, actual armor. Sheer size also helps.

Studies of what it historically took to knock ships out or sink it have shown that a ship’s length is as good a predictor as any to its resiliency. (see Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat) The problem is, they also show the curve flattening quickly as size grows. If a 4,000 ton warship might need a single Thousand Pound Bomb Equivalent (TPBE) to mission kill it, but a 14,000 ton cruiser might only need two or three.

Shackvan
Shackvan
May 22, 2014 12:53 pm

Similar to the threat of ATGM close in shore if you were to catch something like a type 23/45 in a narrow channel or Suez canal with a couple of heavy machine guns on either bank presumably you could punch a lot more holes in the hull than the crew could ever plug? And have one sunk ship and a nice channel obstruction to boot. Could be wrong but I right in think it was the RM in the Falklands that managed to put a hole in the side of Argentine Frigate with a Carl Gustav and a good grasp of trigonometry.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
May 22, 2014 1:02 pm

You are not equating like with like. The equivalent to an ASM for an IFV is a top-attack weapon or an APFS round. Essentially, if you’re up against them you’re relying on a combination of mobility and or active CM to prevent yourself being hit.

The measures applied to IFV to survive IEDS, unguided arty or small arms fire (a subset of the battelfield threat) have direct analogies with the survivability measures applied to warships, which are the ability to survive proximity UNDEX, external and internal blast, fragmentation, fire etc (again, a subset of the naval battelfield threat).

You would no more expect a frigate to survive a non-contact torpedo hit or a Sunburn strike than you would expect a company of IFV to survive a massed APFS volley from a tank platoon.

Observer
Observer
May 22, 2014 1:13 pm

Actually, the way things are designed, it is in a form of a slight stalemate. Sure, ships can’t go close to shore, but inversely, the number of things that can range beyond a shore and attack a ship are few in number, being limited to aircraft, subs and other ships, and it is in this light that the situation isn’t so bad. A ship can hold its own in open waters fairly well. Remember, historically, land based anti-ship missiles were developed as a form of area denial weapon against American carriers.

wf, “cheap” is a matter of perspective :) The cost of those things tend to climb very fast. Not sure if anti-missile systems are going to be that good against artillery and cheap and plentiful “Katyusha” type bombardment rockets. They can easily run your magazine dry. Might be important to large bases in the rear though, those are more likely to get targeted by the big and fewer in number tactical missiles.

Marcase
Marcase
May 22, 2014 2:03 pm

The best defense any naval ship has is speed and mobility. It’s often underestimated how fast a naval combattant is; even at a mere 15-20 knots any frigate can leisurely move and maneuver to reduce the threat of incoming missiles, like something as simple as turning the bow towards the missile to reduce the ships’ radar/IR signature. Combine that with off-board decoys/chaff and active jammers, nevermind CIWS or BPDMS, and the odds go up.
Given the choice between heavy armor and a good navigator and engineering crew, I chose the latter any day.

But it’s absolutely true that you cannot up-armor a ship to the level that it can take multiple hits. The USS Iowa class BBs were the last modernized ‘true’ dreadnoughts/battleships with actual armor ranging from 300 to 500mm steel. And even that may not stop a Brahmos/Sunburn.
And thick steel armor rings won’t stop a top-attack missile.

As mentioned above, modern ships are designed to take hits – as a last resort of course – and that has worked pretty well, witness the USS Stark, a ‘mere’ frigate surviving an Exocet and the USS Cole surviving a massive bomb-blast. I can attest that UKRN lessons learned from the Falklands are adhered to religiously among other NATO navies.

Ships are using more and more armor though, but that’s more against small arms and RPGs. The citadel layout of a naval ship’s CIC/CRC are often layered with kevlar-type matting to stop supersonic shrapnell/debris and the odd AK bullet. Internal bulkheads are sometimes constructed to act as a funnel to direct explosions away from vulnerable areas (next time you’re aboard a frigate, look around for bulkheads that seem to be at an odd-angle relative to the rest of the deck).

monkey
monkey
May 22, 2014 2:29 pm

The most heavily armoured ship ever the Japanese Battleship Yamato (same displacement as a QE class @ 70,000t and approximate dimension 260m long x 39m beam x 11m draft and same top speed and similar installed power 110MW ) was hit by at least eleven torpedoes and six bombs before sinking. She was constructed out of first rate quality steel sourced before the US could cut off strategic metals supplies (she launched in 1940) and was manned by the very best crew Japan could provide. Heavily subcomparmentalized and with over a 1000 crew available on battle stations for damage control alone (another 1500 manned her other stations) she still could not survive a determined attack.
The don’t get hit principal seems to be the best route. :-)

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
May 22, 2014 3:52 pm

According to some of the men who built her many of the largest beams in the Yamato were made of wood because Japanese industry could not make metal pieces to the required size. these large wooden beams caught fire during the final attacks, hastening her end.

Observer
Observer
May 22, 2014 3:59 pm

And her sister ship carrier conversion, the Shinano, only took only 4 torps to go down.

Edited after factcheck.

Martin
Editor
May 22, 2014 4:14 pm

I know we say steel is cheap but armour is bloody expensive

Look at the cost of some of our land vehicles with APC’s in the 30 t rnage coming in at £5 million a pop then scale that up to a 7,000 t frigate that would end up being 20,000t.

Now try and get the thing to move through the water.

I think the CIWS and AA missiles are cheaper.

The other issue is the water environment its self. Its possible to defend against a IED blasting through air but the same charge through water from a mine or torpedo is a very different story.

The US did look at water armour for its proposed arsenal ships that were designed to operate in the littoral which seemed like an interesting idea following experience in the tanker war’s.

Rocket Banana
May 22, 2014 4:29 pm

As ever it comes down to cost.

It is pretty fair to suggest that any battleship or MBT is not going to survive a direct GBU-43/B hit.

Unfortunately, whislt it might be cost effective to paint an MC-130E with radar absorbing paint, fly it in with an escort of a dozen F35 or F22 all with ECM decoys and AESA pulse spoofs and drop the thing on a £1billion ship, it’s just rather less cost effective to do this to a £4million Challenger II tank.

You then have to look at the cost of “armouring up”. It should be possible to build something that floats with multiple layers of reactive armour, each with a 1m thick layer of shock absorbing gel sandwiched between them and a single chap with a tiller and piece of rope sitting in the middle of 1,000,000 tonnes of ship clutching his granade ready to unleash death of his enemy ;-)

Kent
Kent
May 22, 2014 4:33 pm

One of these days, someone is going to put some gretbigo guns on a heavily armored, powerful ship and use those guns to poke holes in someone else’s ships after an EMP takes out a bunch of electronic gizmos. Can’t “spoof” a bullet.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
May 22, 2014 4:35 pm

I’ve got it, large inflatable boxing gloves on the hull.
Now that conundrum is sorted I’m going to another forum to recommend the strategy for curing want in the world, with a pencil some tinfoil and an old apple core ;-)

Midlander
Midlander
May 22, 2014 4:54 pm

Marcase has it right I think.
Protection is really smaller size, higher speed and maybe shape rather than armour. This might suggest larger numbers of smaller specialist vessels operating from larger motherships. It also suggests with really unconventional hull designs and propulsion systems to operate in the direct fire zone.
Look at the Norwegian Skjold vessel , US Streetfighter surface effect ship, Swedish Visby corvette for examples.

Mark
Mark
May 22, 2014 5:01 pm

Well interesting article this because I’ve thought for some time the approach to armoured vehicles has been absolutely bonkers. The idea that the answer to the enemy building bigger bombs is building bigger vehicles at heavier and heavier weights seems like wile coyotes answer to catching the road runner.

Chris
Chris
May 22, 2014 5:18 pm

Mark – I agree. I have suggested many times over that small size highly agile light armour vehicle protection is at least in part down to being less noticeable, a smaller target and able to depart bad places quickly. Also being able to use non-obvious routes where big heavy vehicles might be constrained to major roads. It seems the Navy understands this…

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 22, 2014 5:53 pm

Mark, Chris,
You are missing part of the dynamic, I think.
The enemy builds bombs. We build bigger vehicles, then enemy build bigger bombs and so the cycle continues. At some point you reduce the number of bombs the enemy can build because of the limit on available materials. The bombs are bigger so they are harder to move, harder to emplace and more likely to be spotted.
The ideal end point for us is that the size of vehicles means that the bombs are too big to bury and we spot them more often than not. The amount of materiel needed to make a bomb is so large that the bomb-makers compromise their identity. The size of the bomb means that they alienate the population that they depend on for cover and concealment.
The ideal end point for the enemy is that the bombs make the vehicles so big that they are predictable, so easier to hit, and heavier so they damage the infrastructure and alienate the population.

The dynamic at sea is somewhat different.

Mark
Mark
May 22, 2014 6:19 pm

Mr Fred

Your analogy of what happens to the bombs as they get bigger is equally applicable to vehicles as far as I can see.

S O
S O
May 22, 2014 6:44 pm

Ships were at times reported to have manoeuvred when a missile was incoming. not sure whether they attempted to face it with bow or stern (and not sure whether it was about damage mitigation or only about RCS), but it’s reasonable expect that especially the bow is a favourable part to choose if you get hit anyway. There’s not much mission critical equipment in surface warship bows above the waterline.

The article’s mention of up-armouring of vehicles misses two points:
(1) It was a tactical failure, as IED sizes adapted and moving offroad in a true offroad vehicle was – if possible – usually safer.
(2) MRAPs were armoured only as a late layer of protection. Reconnaissance/intel, roadclearing and jamming were preferred. And that’s what warships do as well.
Furthermore, MRAPs would not survive a modern ATGM missile. The best bet to do so if a hit is unavoidable would be to use an APC – an expensive system which damages the incoming munition prior to impact. Just what the CIWS of a surface warship is meant for.

WiseApe
May 22, 2014 6:46 pm

RT made a good point a while ago on another thread, along the lines of using cheap UAVs as decoys to empty a ship’s VLS. Not for nothing are the USN looking long and hard at directed energy weapons and lasers. Only good for CIWS though as they operate in a straight line for obvious reasons, but if they can be made practical should be a “game changer” as they say. I wonder if we might see longer ranged missiles used for shooting down the archer while lasers etc ( not forgetting soft kill) are used WVR, out to the horizon?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 22, 2014 6:49 pm

Ref mvring and Missiles. There is a book that lists all known threat missiles and the reactions to be taken at certain points. these reactions vary dependent upon the type of seeker head, speed size etc and are of course Ship specific.

So for one missile you may increase to x kts at Y range in order to maximise effectiveness of offboard decoys. Another may be different.

One pretty general rule is that you do not want to be mvring when an active radar seeker missile has gone active. Of course it all gets really complex when you add in threats in other environments.

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
May 22, 2014 6:56 pm

Think Defence said: “Do we need to put RPG cage like structure on the Type 45”

As a land lubber I’d say that if a Type 45 would benefit from an RPG cage you’re probably using the wrong ship for the job.

Think Defence said: “Do we need to put RPG cage like structure and heavily sloping armour on the ORCS and 2400TD’s or how about going back to a proven concept, the heavily armoured and armed, but slow, US riverine style monitor used in Vietnam”

A ship with a well deck could act as mothership, staying some way offshore. If speed was not a concern then you could base the boats on existing landing craft designs. Or even pinch the French catamaran landing craft idea to have something that went a bit faster.

A catamaran or SWATH with sloped sides would resemble a small Sea Shadow and would presumably be faster and more stable than a landing craft based idea. You could put a turret or two of some kind on the top or have weapons pointing out of the side. Might be useful for supporting beach landings? Put CIWS on top and you could have a ring of them around a carrier group giving an extra layer of protection.

as
as
May 22, 2014 7:01 pm

There are some good examples of non armoured ships being attacked.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Liberty_incident

It managed to stay afloat and was able to keep moving under its own power.

Do you think it comes down to crew training and numbers?
The number in particular as that is the risen that is always given when you say you could run a ship on half that number with automation. So the majority of the crew are there for damage control and do other jobs as a side-line.
That’s why the QE aircraft carriers have a crew of 700 or so.

Jonathan
Jonathan
May 22, 2014 8:06 pm

My understanding is that modern anti ship missiles would not be that effective against heavy armour. One of the key concerns with the belgrano was that a WW2 light cruiser would have been resistant to our ships anti shipping missiles and would have simply laughed off a 4.5 inch gun. In effect our surface fleet could have done piss all to it. You just have to look at the damage Washington treat cruisers could and did take to see the advantages they had, they all died hard and a lot got home. What killed armoured warships was cost, torpedoes and accurate very big bombs.

A treaty battle ship was designed to take fire from other capital ships, so armour was expected to face 16 inch shells, the AP variety weighed 2700lbs with a velocity of 762 ms, that’s a lot of energy compared to a harpoon weighing 1523lbs travelling at 240ms with 400lb warhead designed to inflict max damage to a soft skinned ship through shock, fire and shrapnel damage.

When you think it’s difficult to use big iron bombs against modern AAW ships, and hard to sneak up and torpedo a frigate with a tail. Maybe someone shifting tha paradigm and armouring a ship would mean a rethink on the warheads carried by ASMs, then again it would cost a lot more to build an armoured ship the an AP type ASM. Although you still need the warhead to cause massive shock damage to mission kill the ship, which a shaped charge would not be good at delivering ?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 22, 2014 8:10 pm

Semi-submersibles? Or really, the answer might be have a Navy of submarines, and don’t bother with the grey painted targets. Especially really spastically large ones which have pretensions of being mobile airports.

At NAB, re “Tank Platoons”. I am really going to have to administer a Blog spanking for that one. ;)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 22, 2014 8:13 pm

‘@ Jonathan

To create your armoured monster would be very very expensive and look how easily WW2 Battle Ships were sunk by bombs and torpedoes. Then consider the huge RCS you have created as well. Now transfer some of the tech from a GBU 28 onto a mach 3 missile that attacks from above and we have issues.
AShMs develop to meet the threat, if people start making big heavily armored expensive ships missiles will simply evolve.

Jonathan
Jonathan
May 22, 2014 8:27 pm

@apats

Agree, that’s kind of what I mean in my last paragraph. What I was mainly getting at was that some of the comments seemed to suggest that modern ASM make armour redundant, when in fact it was as you say torpedoes and bombs that made armour redundant for war ships.

Modern ASMs would have struggled against the few WW2 relics that were still loitering around at the end of the last century.

I’m not in any way suggesting strapping a 12 inch belt around the type 26s.

Jeremy M H
May 22, 2014 8:56 pm

@APATS

Even more than that you can’t really armor the most important bits of a modern ship all that much.

About the only thing that saves you from a heavy torpedo that would blow under your hull is having a very long and strong keel and even then it is going to be dicey.

You can’t armor your radar and exterior electronics. You can’t really armor the top of a VLS launcher. I suppose you could put an old fashioned arm based launcher in some sort of armored box but those things are pretty delicate inherently.

Any ship is going to be mission killed at about the same point, regardless of if it is armored.

Jonathan
Jonathan
May 22, 2014 8:58 pm

@APatS

I agree with you, the post was more to point out the modern ASMs are not as effective against heavy armour as a lot the posts seemed to imply, due to the targets they are designed kill. I’m not suggesting in any way adding a 12inch belt to the new carriers would be a good idea……….

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 22, 2014 9:27 pm

@ Jonathan
I think it would take a lot of armour to negate the more modern missiles and even then as JMH points out they would still score mission kills. In WW” they used to talk about bad luck when shells hit turrets or thin areas of armour, a radar or the bridge etc. Now it would not be luck at all.

dave haine
dave haine
May 22, 2014 9:37 pm

Hmm, interesting…

I have to say I can see the Dk Blue point about it being better to avoid the hit than protect against it. And equally, that by using such techniques as efficient damage control measures and designs, and avoidance techniques a modern ship is as survivable as is sensible.

That being said, is there room for the traditional torpedo net, albeit hung higher out of the water? I seem to recall seeing pictures of ships in harbour having huge great poles sticking out from which dangled nets (and occasionally ratings, if a slightly drunken, very aged killick is to be believed)

As for big bombs- I have a relative that was an armourer in 5group Bomber Command, who describes the ‘Talboy’ and ‘Grand Slam’ as a ‘sodding nightmare’ to handle, having to resort to using ‘queen maries’ to get them out to the ‘planes, and having to repair the concrete hardstandings every time one fell off it’s cradle.

…mind you they did tear the arse out of at least one german capital ship with ‘talboys’.

Jason Lynch
Jason Lynch
May 22, 2014 10:10 pm

Jonathan,

In a surface engagement, the Belgrano was outranged by the Mk 8 4.5″ guns and (I think, need to check) by the Mk 6, and the RN’s ships had far better fire control. In a gun battle, Belgrano would have been blinded and burning rather quickly, to be finished off by Sea Harriers dive-bombing her or a helpful submarine.

More importantly, though, the warhead on Exocet MM38 was, basically, a 11″ semi-armour-piercing shell and would handily overmatch Belgrano’s armour (you’re making the standard mistake of confusing a shell’s muzzle velocity, with its impact velocity, by the way) with pretty much 100% hits expected from outside Belgrano’s gun range. A couple of hits through the armour belt and her poor condition and untrained crew would leave her disabled.

She could have been taken out of action by a RN surface action group if necessary – but why give the enemy the chance to get a lucky hit, when a submarine has a firing solution?

Armour disappeared off warships like dew in the morning sun, and for a good reason: you couldn’t carry enough to save you.

Observer
Observer
May 22, 2014 11:12 pm

IIRC, in the 80s, we were taught that Harpoons had a “pop up” attack profile, which means that a thick armour belt is going to be of sod all use when the weapon jumps over the belt and hits the deck downwards. It’s something like the current day “top-attack” ATGMs.

S O
S O
May 23, 2014 3:17 am

Maybe (and isn’t difficult to do), but most SINKEX documentations show hits barely above the waterline.

There are some missiles which surely do attack in a dive; all area air defence missiles with a secondary SSM capability such as SM-2, ESSM, Sea Dart.

Observer
Observer
May 23, 2014 4:06 am

SO, think it is a programmed selectable mode, you can choose to sea-skim all the way in, or have a pop up terminal attack profile. I heard rumors that they took it out for the later models of the missile though, but no confirmation.

Jonathan infantry man
Jonathan infantry man
May 23, 2014 6:15 am

As an ex infantry recon soldier, I find armor to prevent you from being able to actually fight. Perhaps that’s why it was neglected once firearms began to appear.
The reason for using armor, in western military is not because it’s good for the fighting doctrine, but rather because the folks back home just can stand the hits and governments fall…
Other than that, active systems do work!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barak_8_(missile)

Marcase
Marcase
May 23, 2014 7:12 am

About up-armoring ships, an old video (in Dutch, but you’ll get the gist of it) about Vessel Protection Detachments (Horn of Africa) adding protection to civil flags. TD’s post kept me thinking about sandbags and barbed wire and steel plates…

Chris
Chris
May 23, 2014 7:36 am

Jonathan Inf – before commenting an admission I’ve never been in the military, but have been in defence industry most of my adult life, so apologies if any of the following is naive drivel… From the outsider’s perspective there are two purposes of armour that are justifiable.

The first is to offer mitigation against being caught by surprise, by which I mean if moving through areas of low/medium risk (if they were high risk then just ‘moving through’ wouldn’t be appropriate) generally minding your own business but being targeted by unnoticed opposition forces. APCs and protected cargo trucks and MRAP are examples of this sort of protection; a thick hide to take punishment from machine gun, grenade, RPG, and now IED of 57 varieties while keeping the occupants a bit safer than if they’d been travelling on the back of a Bedford 4 tonner (or GMC 6×6 of WW2 vintage).

The second purpose, somewhat distinct, is to provide mobility to heavier weapons than infantry would like to haul – pulling a three ton 120mm autoloading gun with magazine mounted on a trailer behind an unarmoured tractor is not likely to provide a better performance for direct fire than using a 60t tank for the job. And having made a very big bang and surrounded the firing point in cordite smoke, there is something to be said for enough protection to take some of the return flak?

Having said all that it would be no surprise to TD regulars that I really like light armour; stuff that is fast and high mobility and small and moderate weight such that can use the normal roads bridges farm tracks and mountain passes without fear of being obstructed by narrow routes or weak structures. Stuff that can scamper off-road without risk of bogging up to the axles.

For many tasks a man in cam with personal weapon and binoculars is optimum. For others mobile fortresses win; hopefully there are also tasks that my favourite light armour can do better than any other option.

As for active systems, I am not convinced yet. In my house I have many things. The least reliable aspect taking all stuff together is software. Its not like it breaks and needs replacing, but it starts doing stupid stuff and has to be killed and restarted to fix the insanity; very rarely also needs complete re-installation. Next in the unreliability list is complex electronics, then simple electronics then machinery and finally, the most reliable aspect, structure. I have no reason to believe this hierarchy doesn’t equally apply to things military (it certainly does apply to cars) so given the choice of sitting behind Chobham armour a foot thick or sitting in a tinplate tank with a software-stuffed computer-controlled complex-surface-mount-electronics-operated electrically-driven active protection system? I’d trust the Chobham.

TED
TED
May 23, 2014 8:57 am

@TD Have you seen act of valor? The bit where the yanks pitch up in their orks and set the crowd pleasers on the enemy ‘QRF’?

The devastating speed and fire power they brought to bear was the determining factor there along with surprise.

If you think about the subject more it applies to aircraft as well. Very few FJs are armoured. The example I would point at is A10, A canon with some armoured bolted on which the pilot sits on along with some wings. Why is it so armoured? Cause its slow.

You dont see an awful lot of RPG cages on helicopters now do you?

I suggested a commissioning of one of your ven diagrams, Armour and mobility represent a clear trade off.

a
a
May 23, 2014 9:19 am

“You dont see an awful lot of RPG cages on helicopters now do you?”

No, but you do see quite a lot of armour on them… the Hind is almost a BMP with a rotor on top, and pretty much immune to anything below 20mm. You’d have to be pretty lucky even with a .50. Havoc is also fairly chunky. Apache, if I remember, has armoured cells round the engines and transmission, and an armoured bathtub for the crew to sit in.

That being said, is there room for the traditional torpedo net, albeit hung higher out of the water? I seem to recall seeing pictures of ships in harbour having huge great poles sticking out from which dangled nets

Used in harbour but not (obviously) while under way. And nowadays you wouldn’t use torpedoes to sink a ship in harbour anyway.

MRAPs were armoured only as a late layer of protection. Reconnaissance/intel, roadclearing and jamming were preferred

The way I remember it being described was that the anti-IED effort could be divided into things that happened “left of bang” and things that happened “right of bang”. Recce, detection, jamming and so on were left of bang (imagine a timeline running left to right with BANG! written in big letters in the middle); right of bang was armour, vehicle design and so on. Clearly, you want to succeed as far left of the BANG! as possible.

Nick
Nick
May 23, 2014 10:49 am

Best write up I’ve seen on benefits of armour on ships.

http://navy-matters.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Armor

“Armor is meant to mitigate (lesson the effects of) damage. While it would be nice if the armor out and out stopped whatever the incoming weapon is, absolute stoppage is not the only purpose. Simply reducing the amount of damage from a hit is worth the cost and weight of the armor. If that 20 ft hole in the ship can be reduced to 10 ft that’s a “win”. If the spray of shrapnel from a hit can be confined to one compartment rather than several, that’s a win.

One of the main arguments against armor and the one most often cited by the armor-is-pointless crowd is that a given thickness of armor can’t totally and completely stop a given weapon. For instance, recent commentators have stated that ½” armor can’t even stop a 0.50 cal round so what’s the point of having armor. Let’s look at this concept a bit closer. I don’t know if ½” armor will or won’t stop a 0.50 cal but let’s accept that it won’t for sake of discussion. Let’s stipulate that ½” armor will not stop a 0.50 cal round fired at optimum range and right angles to the armor. OK, but what about a round that hits the armor at a 45 deg angle? I’m betting that it will stop it and the round will ricochet off. In combat, rounds will be impacting at all angles. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stop some portion of those rounds rather than having every round tear through the ship? Well sure that would be nice but what if the round does impact under perfect conditions and penetrates the armor? Think about that for a moment. What would happen if we had no armor? The round would not only pass through the skin of the ship but through multiple compartments, equipment, electronics, and people until it eventually ran out of kinetic energy and stopped in something. In short, it would do a great deal of damage beyond the initial penetration. So, what happens if the round passes through our notional ½” armor? Well, the amount of kinetic energy expended by the round in passing through the armor will be such that the round will have little left for further penetration deeper into the ship – damage will be greatly limited compared to not having armor.

Speaking more generally, now, what if the torpedo that no modern armor can stop explodes a bit further away than optimum? What if the incoming missile that laughs at armor is exploded by a CIWS and the debris strikes the ship? What if a 5” shell doesn’t actually hit the ship but, rather, a near-miss occurs? What if a proximity-fused anti-radar missile explodes nearby and sends out a hail of shrapnel? In each of these cases, armor would greatly mitigate the resulting damage.

Remember, in combat a ship is far more likely to encounter near-misses, shrapnel, and off-angle hits than perfect hits. The ability to shrug off, or greatly mitigate, the sub-optimal hits is what armor grants. Will perfect hits by weapons whose explosive power exceeds the armor’s resistance cause damage? Of course! Even then, the damage will be less with armor than without.

There seems to be a belief that armor is totally incapable of stopping modern weapons and that’s completely false. It’s simply a question of thickness (I’m simplifying a bit, here) versus the specific weapon. I recall reading about tests the Navy conducted many years ago in which they launched missiles (Harpoons or Tomahawks – I can’t recall which) at battleship plate armor (I don’t recall the thickness) and all the missiles did was ruin the paint. Armor will stop weapons if the thickness is sufficient.

That brings us to the other main objection that is commonly voiced: armor is too heavy to carry enough to make a difference. Well, we’ve just discussed how any amount of armor is better than none. Setting that aside, there’s a school of thought that seems to believe that modern ships just can’t carry the weight of armor. Nonsense! WWII Fletcher class destroyers carried ½” – ¾” armor on a 376 ft hull of 2500 tons. If a Fletcher can carry that, surely a 500 ft, 10,000 ton Burke class destroyer can carry at least the same.

A recent comment suggested that adding ½” to 1.5” of armor would add 180 tons to 540 tons (I have not verified those numbers) to a Burke and that that additional weight was unacceptable. Bilgewater! If designed in from the start, that amount of armor would have no deleterious effect on the ship’s performance, as WWII ship design proved, and would greatly enhance damage resistance. We’re risking multi-billion dollar ships for want of an inch or two of armor. Steel is cheap. Armor is steel. Therefore, armor is cheap.”

beno
beno
May 23, 2014 11:02 am

Armour really is a bit 20th century tho isnt it ?

Huge explosions going off on or near me , just seems like a bad idea
On a simplistic level , its just ot good is it ???

On a modern warship there are so many thinks that simply dont like being shaken about to that extent
never mind the shrapnel issue as small parts of your own ship accelerate their way to the great wide open.

Radars, computers, helicopters, crew, they really dont like it, and tend to stop working down tools and well… die.

In some wonderful utopian world all these things are batterned down and safe, certainly not top side having a fag say, but really ???

How about the explosions just happen to everyone else.

Its not after all like we make our ships of wood or anything. but a “reliance” on armour, bad premise.

Beno

B.Smitty
B.Smitty
May 23, 2014 12:31 pm

You armor critical areas of a ship vs 23mm, HMG and RPGs not for near shore work, but to prevent cheap shots from boghammers and the like.

The RPG warhead is dangerous to a tank or IFV because of the close confines of the interior. The HEAT jet has a very narrow diameter. That plus spalling will only affect a small area. In a ship, this means the area behind the immediate penetration will suffer some damage, and may light fires, but overall it will only cause minimal damage.

RPGs are also relatively close range weapons. The warhead self-detonates at 8000m or so from shore.

monkey
monkey
May 23, 2014 12:39 pm

How about this (hydrofoil?) river patrol vessel from Uzbekistan?
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h195/matt_hayward_photos/UzbekNavy.png
Yes that is a turret from a BMP on the front and there’s one at the back too!
Or this
http://img577.imageshack.us/img577/4928/image3fw.jpg

Ace Rimmer
May 23, 2014 1:22 pm

We have missile protection systems that fit onto just about any aircraft, we have reactive armour and ‘Trophy’ for tanks and APC’s etc. Why not something similar for ships? Would some sort of multiple launch, mini-depth charge defeat an incoming torpedo?

Ace Rimmer
May 23, 2014 1:36 pm

Currently reading about the Russian UDAV-1 and RBU-6000 systems…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBU-6000

Interesting that these are similar to the Hedgehog system that the UK invented circa WWII…

Observer
Observer
May 23, 2014 2:07 pm

Ace, think there is something similar available to the West, just can’t remember the name.

Smithy, think 8km is a bit too far. Reports from Israel put it at about 480(?)m, not 8km. The Palestinians used the auto-destruct function as an infantry suppression weapon in Op Cast Lead at somewhere around that range.

Jason Lynch
Jason Lynch
May 23, 2014 4:00 pm
Reply to  Ace Rimmer

Ace, that’s an amazing idea. We could take a rapid-fire Gatling gun loaded with APDS ammunition, put a really good radar on it for fire control and an automatic control system to shoot down incoming missiles… we could call it something protective and military, like “Phalanx”…

Anti-torpedo systems are a tougher problem, that have been tried and fallen short at least since Project CAMROSE in the 1950s; remember that the torpedo is coming in at about 3% of the speed of sound in water, which is what you’re using to detect it, and consider the problems you’d have engaging a missile inbound at 3% of the speed of light…

Ace Rimmer
May 23, 2014 4:54 pm

JL, Phalanx underwater? Get back to me on that one..:)

My comment about something similar for ships was connected to the torpedo problem. I was thinking more along the lines of a small(ish) tube-launched, weapon system mounted amidships below the waterline, firing outwards towards any incoming torpedo. Whether such a system would work I don’t know, my knowledge of the floaty stuff is limited…

wf
wf
May 23, 2014 5:24 pm
WiseApe
May 23, 2014 5:45 pm

Thanks for that wf, very interesting. Good to see they didn’t give it a cack name like Sea Sentor!

monkey
monkey
May 23, 2014 5:57 pm

@Ace
Torpedo’s vary greatly but probable the most fearsome is the rocket powered Russian Squall (designed in the Ukraine however and made in Kyrgyzstan ) ,It weighs 2.7t ,carries a 200kg warhead and travels at over 200knts ! even if the war head failed to detonate it would probably leave 21″ diameter hole in the side of your ship and then another as it leaves through the other side :-)
The Russians ,how nice of them, export them as an less capable ‘E’ version to any one with the ‘mullah’ including Iran who claim to have made there own version now after reverse engineering the ones they bought for their 3 KILO class Subs.

Matthew Coombes
Matthew Coombes
May 23, 2014 6:10 pm

USN to field electromagnetic rail guns, much cheaper than missiles and no air defence system will be able to stop it except maybe in the future lasers?, thus others will follow leading to the need for more exotic forms of armour if the lasers don’t measure up, maybe the battleship will return? after all the Yamato would have stood a better chance with a modern air defence system?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
May 23, 2014 6:12 pm

‘Reports from Israel put it at about 480(?)m’

About 900m give or take.

It’s apparent that in the open sea speed, maneuverability and countermeasures are adequate. But do we have enough littoral and brown water capability? and in this domain are armour and firepower more important?

Chris
Chris
May 23, 2014 6:22 pm

Monkey – supercavitating Shkval for all its speed and size of warhead has to be a point & squirt device. At those speeds, especially travelling in its own waterless envelope, it will be deaf/blind and unguided. It would also be quite loud. If the firing point was 2nm distant you’d have 40 seconds to manoeuvre in the hopes of avoiding the enemy’s prediction of intercept point…

Or doesn’t it work that way in ships?

wf
wf
May 23, 2014 6:28 pm

Unless, a la Conqueror, you fire a spread….

Wonder what it would take to collapse the supercavition bubble, which would doubtless prove fatal for the torpedo

Observer
Observer
May 23, 2014 6:42 pm

monkey, you mean supercavitation torpedos? Not very fearsome. Apparently, the generated air bubble around the weapon blocks sonar too, so supercavitation torpedos are blind fired weapons. The Germans field or used to field their own, but never heard from that side in a long while. Think they found blindly firing at someone’s estimated position wasn’t going to generate you a hit, no matter how fast your torp was going.

Ace, was referring to the anti-torpedo depth charge. Think the French had one, it was called the SLAT(?). IIRC, it was not a hard kill system, though you might get lucky, but it blows up a lot of explosives in the water and basically messes up the environment. It’s basically like shining a light in the eyes of someone focusing hard on the bulb. Generate a huge amount of air bubbles and breaks the active homing lock on your ship. I think.

Matthew, why would the railgun be a problem? Anti-ballistic missiles are designed to intercept a lot of things going faster than a mere Mach 7. Reentry speeds are commonly clocked at Mach 15-25 or somewhere there, not that Mach numbers are fixed or anything. Sure, you can try to run the defending ship out of ammo, but there are a lot of other factors that affect weapon efficiency. For example, time of flight. At 120km, a Mach 7 round takes 60 seconds to cover the distance. Can you shoot well enough to aim at a point someone is going to be in 1 minute? A more reasonable distance, 40km. You need to aim ahead by 20 seconds. I also mentioned in another thread to Mike Wheatly that I suspect the terminal performance of the round may be less than Mach 7, but he disagrees, so we agreed to disagree until more information comes to light.

Edit: wf, collapse the bubble? Difficult, since the system is contained within the torpedo itself. Much, much simpler to just stand aside from the charging bull. Ole!

Chris
Chris
May 23, 2014 6:50 pm

wf – as I understand it the rocket propelled thug has a stick out the front which at the barking speeds it goes hammers the water sideways off the front of the stick making the hole in the water that just by inertia doesn’t manage to close until the body has moved on. So that’s mechanically created and sustained by speed. I don’t think in open water the projectile could be slowed enough or the physics of water altered enough to disrupt the envelope – except – I imagine a near miss with an exploding depth charge (timing is everything) might by creating a turbulent gas/water mix cause lateral accelerations to divert the rocket. Of course being entirely random turbulence any course deviation would also be entirely random – not necessarily in your favour.

Obs – a consensus!

Matthew Coombes
Matthew Coombes
May 23, 2014 7:20 pm

Observer – would the slug- being much smaller than a missile be harder to hit? would even hitting it destroy it? and possibly fragment the projectile?

Matt

monkey
monkey
May 23, 2014 7:24 pm

@Observer
You would have to be dammed close to get a hit with one!
Maybe like the german WWII Flächenabsuchender Torpedo (say that after a few glasses of red ) it at a pre set time starts tracking back and forth hoping for a hit?
Originally they were meant to be used with a nuclear warhead , a sub would be tasked with getting as close to a fleet as possible and then firing a spread of torpedos which get in amongst the targets and then detonate. The early ones had a relatively short range so a sub firing them was effectively committing suicide !
The German company is Diehl who have developed a super cavitating torpedo called Barracuda who it is rumoured to have come up with some sort of terminal guidance but it is not being manufactured as yet at least its not on their website .
This is though a defence to be fitted to the A400M called Direct Infrared Counter Measure (DIRCM) , it will shine a IR Laser at the nose of an incoming missile to confuse the IR tracker. I believe many others are also working on this. Maybe this needs to be added to the defence suite of countermeasures for a ship ?(if not already)

Observer
Observer
May 23, 2014 7:47 pm

Matthew, let’s just wait for the US to field test the thing first shall we? As for fragmenting the Sabot, most likely. Tank based ADS have been reported to break penetrators, a missile carries a much much larger explosive package than an ADS.

monkey, anti-ship missiles self home by IR?

The Other Chris
May 23, 2014 7:47 pm

Although development is surrounding use of aerodynamic solid slugs (Boeing designed the slug for GA’s Blitzer trials) GA also say they’re developing rounds for precision strike, air defence and anti-missile use.

Can’t remember if it was GA or BAE who said their precision strike shell development for EMRG’s was currently command guided, that internal guidance was on the roadmap and they said the shell being designed would be interoperable with a traditional 5″ gun system.

monkey
monkey
May 23, 2014 8:03 pm

@Observer
I don’t know about IR homing anti-ship missiles as yet but if ships go down the low radar observability route a bit further say as good as the Zumwalt class or better perhaps the IR signature would be on the list ? The Zumwalt going at top speed will be dumping about 150MW of heat into the atmosphere assuming about 33% efficiency 2 x Rolls-Royce Marine Trent-30 it uses. That’s a lot of IR output! Chaff dispensers etc could divert any RADAR guided missile and flare dispensers as used on aircraft could used but they a very hot quick moving small point sources which an on board computer could be programed to ignore and go for the very large ‘bloom’ of the exhaust moving at only 25knts ?

John Hartley
John Hartley
May 23, 2014 8:42 pm

The Daily Telegraph, 9 Dec 2002, had an article on a British start up firm, Intelligent Engineering, that had come up with a cheap way of building icebreaker hulls. It was a sandwich of two steel plates with polyurethane in between. BASF helped them bring the product to market. Might be a good way to build modern warship hulls.

The Other Chris
May 23, 2014 8:52 pm

Friction Stir Titanium Welding and the budget to investigate a production run of hulls please.

x
x
May 23, 2014 9:03 pm
S O
S O
May 23, 2014 10:33 pm

About IR homing AShM:

Remember warships have a decontamination system with which they can shower themselves with sea water. This – if applied in time – can mess up IR homing, pattern recognition and so on.

mikka
mikka
May 24, 2014 3:03 am

The only sure way to sink a ship is to put a big modern torpedo under the keel. Anti-ship missiles and cannons can inflict “mobility kills”. It a ship has been properly designed and the crew is trained, it can isolate the damage and continue fighting.

The USS Cole had a big hole put in its side. It was still able to move under its own power. Same with the USS Stark hit by Exocet missiles.

Chuck Hill
May 24, 2014 6:41 am

I did a study of what it takes to sink a ship, http://chuckhillscgblog.net/2011/03/14/what-does-it-take-to-sink-a-ship/, it looks at all the US Navy warship losses during WWII (DE and larger). There were some interesting results. There is also a lot of additional information in the comments too.

Only one ship, a destroyer, was sunk by shore batteries, and then only after it had run aground.

Guns are not very good at sinking ships. Only two ships larger than destroyers (eg greater than 3000 tons) were sunk by gunfire and both (a heavy cruiser that may have actually also been hit by a torpedo and a CVE hit by heavy cruisers and a battleship) took multiple hits by guns 8″ and larger.

dave haine
dave haine
May 24, 2014 8:41 am

Reading all the posts here…it seems that lots of armour is very bad, but some armour is good…
…on the other hand moving about to avoid the hit is good, unless the incoming has an active seeker, then moving is bad…

…CIWS is good, unless it negates the incoming too close, then the shower of hot shrapnel is bad…

Speaking as a non-naval type, it seems to me, then, you need a small, highly manoeverable vessel with light armour, and lots of CIWS, but also softkill methods, as well as multiple techniques for not being found/seen. All with system redundancy, robust structures and efficient, robust damage control measures…

Is it time for innovation in ship armour then? Similar to that innovative, laminate icebreaker hull plate that someone mentioned upthread. (Didn’t the Nelson and Rodney have layered armour that had a floodable space? How well did that work?, and has it applications today?)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 24, 2014 9:28 am

Re Torpedoes, a left field question.

Are they really as useful today as they were once in a target dense environment in the second War? Yes, there’s the Belgrano, but actually how many torpedoes have been fired in anger since 1945? I don’t think it is that many. I would be very surprised if the Andrew has fired more than 5 torpedoes in anger in the last 70 years.

To my mind, they a a bit like a Crossbow of the medieval era. Little defence against them, but required such a peculiar set of circumstances to converge that in effect, they are largely irrelevant.

But yet they cost so much, not in the cost of the torpedo, but in the engineering of ships and submarines to be able to fire them at all.

Peter Elliott
May 24, 2014 9:33 am

Dave

You seem to have described how I think modern warship design, construction and operation works.

It might be bigger than the historic frigates and destroyers of WW2 but T26 is still small manoeuvrable and inconspicuous compared to the capital ships of yesteryear.

I think the point about modern warship design is that the structure of the compartments effectivly works in a layered, floodable way. Not ideal if you happen to be in the one that gets flooded of course!

With the expectation of living standards being what they are I don’t think you will get a manned combat ship with the capabilities we want much smaller.

If we want a smaller, more inconspicuous, more numerous outer layer of combabatants they probably need to be unmanned. And either surface or airbourne would do it. So in fact a mission bay full of Scan Eagle or Integrator or their sons or grandsons will probably tick the box.

Peter Elliott
May 24, 2014 9:35 am

@RT

ROKS Cheonan?

Mark
Mark
May 24, 2014 9:55 am

A visby corvette with a scan eagle or two littoral perfection?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 24, 2014 10:03 am

@RT – Torpedoes – they have been used once in a shooting war, but in sinking one ship took an entire Navy out of the reckoning and are well understood and easy to use (and can be comparatively cheap if not excessively sophisticated)…I’d say a scientific: analysis of likelihood of use – effect – cost/benefit…probably comes down in their favour.

But as an amateur historian as opposed to one of you more scientific chaps it’ll take me a while to devise the three-dimensional decision matrix required to prove the point! :-)

GNB

Peter Elliott
May 24, 2014 10:21 am

@Mark

Why have the corvette?

In our own littoral waters we can fly the UAS from land. Over on the MPA thrad Sea-Reaper has been talked about as being cost effective for the UK in that role. Once you have a target to prosecute some combination of P8, Typhoon, Merlin or Wildcat all operating from land bases would seem appropriate. The business case for integrating FASGW(H) and maybe Kongsberg JSM with our existing and possible future air platforms seems more compelling to me.

On an expeditionary scenario larger ships with deeper fuel bunkers are a necessity. Either a combat ship the size of T26 or if you are going to bring an oiler and a stores ship along why not fly the UAS from them?

Ships like the Visby make sense to Baltic countries with no expeditionary ambitions and small enclosed seas to patrol. Not so much for UK.

Mark
Mark
May 24, 2014 10:26 am

“On an expeditionary scenario larger ships with deeper fuel bunkers are a necessity. ”

Does that mean the operation of our minesweepers in the gulf or Mediterranean is not expeditionary?

Peter Elliott
May 24, 2014 10:41 am

Interesting point

The ones in the Gulf are supported by a Bay Class RFA. From which the supporting UAS is operated. Presumably they also take fuel from allied tankers of go back to Bahrain for fuel.

Do we have a permenant minehunting presence in the Med? Or do we just do a bit on transit? If permenant where do they go to refuel and resupply?

If the presence is permenant then its probably not expeditionary. Maybe we have a third category of Persistant Global Deployments. River Clyde in the Falklands would probably be another example of this. When the deployment is permenant (rather than expeditionary) its easier to arrange suitable fulling and land based air support. Clyde is effectively supported by both patrolling Hercules and the QRA Typhoons.

(Neither is fully optimied or the role. Typhoon lacks an AShM, the future support plane probably needs to be an AAR equipped Atlas with a bolt on surface search radar. Both items are off the whiteboard at the moment. But both are also more likely to happen than a fighty corvette being deployed down there)

Finally the jury is very much out on what the next generation of mine countermeasures ships will look like. But if betting I would bet larger and fewer hulls to deliver the same or more capability with more endurance and range.

Peter Elliott
May 24, 2014 11:17 am

@RT

There may also be times torpedos were used we just don’t know about.

One theory about the sinking of the Kursk is that an itchy fingerered USN sub captain sent her down. And there might well have been cold war ‘incidents’ involving intelligence trawlers and other ships that got sunk that no-one wanted to admit to at the time and haven’t yet come to light.

When somone shoots down an airliner full of nuns its kind of hard to cover up. Less so when the evidence sits on the bottom of the sea.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 24, 2014 11:38 am

GNB, rework that cost/benefit analysis when taking into account the actual additional costs of the engineering of ship / submarine systems to provide fire control, on-board space, and what else you could do with that space, beyond the costs of the weapon itself, and the result may be different. I’m also not convinced the Argentininan Navy are an exemplar of other Navies.

Peter Elliot, there is no business case in “we don’t know”.

I am hugely sceptical about torpedoes.

Peter Elliott
May 24, 2014 11:50 am

@RT

I expect thse who acctually have to make the case have access to slightly more information than we do ;)

But I guess thats why T45 has no ship-board torpedo launchers. The business case for that specialist system wasn’t met for that role. But her ship’s flight can still engage using torpedos if necessary. I wonder if one day topredos will come soft launched out of a VLS..?

As for the submarines you’re always saying you sould scrap the RN ‘s surface fleet and invest in SSN instead. Is that just so they can pop off a few cruise missiles? Or will they still have a role to interdict opfor’s civil and military shipping?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 24, 2014 12:16 pm

@RT – So a four dimensional decision matrix? I’ll get back to you on that one… :-(

Although I am now wondering if the way forward might be very simple launch systems and very complex projectiles – self-guided “torpissiles” in various sizes that can fly, sea-skim and swim – but the smallest versions of which can be shot out of a 3-metre length of iron drain-pipe…perhaps with the biggest versions being blasted out of a rail-gun to achieve terminal velocity ++ before it arrives at 100k up and goes looking for something to drop on…vertically, and like the wrath of God…

Amateur historian speculating about science (fiction?) dons tin hat and heads for dug-out. :-)

GNB

monkey
monkey
May 24, 2014 12:19 pm

@RT
During the Falklands the Argentine Navy deployed one sub , new built (1978) German boat the ARA San Luis .It had several firing opportunities’ ,on May 1, HMS Brilliant was attacked north of Port Stanley,May 10, Alacrity and her sister ship Arrow was also attacked in Falkland Sound. As we know no weapon hit their marks. German and Dutch engineers ,who built the torpedo’s ,went down after the war.The torpedoes had inadvertently had reversed the polarity of power cables between the torpedoes(an Argentine in maintenance ) and the submarine which buggered up the torpedo’s giros. Other wise ,quite likely , three more ships would have been severely damaged / sunk.

Chris
Chris
May 24, 2014 12:25 pm

PeterE – ref Kursk and USN SSN theories – here http://f-lite.ru/lfp/i073.radikal.ru/1006/d4/db3b90361ba8.jpg/htm is a grainy photo of the starboard flank of Kursk once recovered to dry land. The forward compartments or wreckage thereof were not reported to have been recovered, Helpfully there is a red circle highlighting what seems to be an external impact and hull penetration, not apparently anything to do with explosions from within. However, the impact has created a sizeable dent which I don’t think the HE torpedoes would inflict.

The most plausible explanation in my opinion is a catalogue of minor errors that compounded into a major incident:
Minor error one – Kursk’s Hydrogen Peroxide powered torpedoes were in need of maintenance and were fragile.
Minor error two – The torpedoes were not secured in their racks; they relied on gravity to stay put.
Minor error three – A tailing submarine got a bit close and bumped into Kursk (big dent).

It seems underwater collisions are not unknown, particularly when playing cat & mouse games. The occasional minor bump is embarrassing but rarely serious. In this case though it appears the bump unseated one of Kursk’s fragile torpedoes that clanged onto the compartment floor without apparent catastrophe, but one of the poor condition Hydrogen Peroxide pipes ruptured spraying the oxidant around the inside of the torpedo casing; contact with brass or copper fittings within would cause a violent reaction; the casing split open; the rampantly volatile oxidant becoming vast amounts of oxygen – one small spark and the broken torpedo goes off closely followed by all its mates and whoompf there’s no forward compartment. There was a suggestion that the bulkhead doors were open (which in peacetime I guess is normal the world over) which meant the explosion wreaked havoc almost the full length of the very large vessel, leaving just a few souls tragically trapped in the aft compartments.

I’m pretty sure if the sinking had been caused by wilful use of weapons Russia would not have remained quiet about it.

Chris
Chris
May 24, 2014 12:27 pm

GNB – you need to look up Ikara and ASROC… And Malafon…

Observer
Observer
May 24, 2014 1:06 pm

Or the old theoretical Sealance.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
May 24, 2014 1:43 pm

@ Peter Elliot

Air launched and ship launched torpedo’s might have a use but if you compare them to a sub launched torpedo it is like comparing a River Class with a Type 23.

Rocket Banana
May 24, 2014 2:21 pm

Isn’t mission kill as effective as a sinking in war?

A shell through T45’s SAMPSON renders it blind for AAW. A couple of shells through the side of the hangar will likely destroy any Wildcat inside rendering it blind for ASuW too. A single cluster bomb over the foredeck may well set off a few Aster warheads.

From what I can see it is the delicate sensors that are both a modern warship’s prime asset and Achilles heel. They are highly vulnerable to large quantities of cheap ballistic weapons. This means that not only do they have to invest in keeping the enemy away, they also have to actively keep away from the enemy shore line.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 24, 2014 3:03 pm

Simon, completely correct. A mission kill is enough. Doesn’t matter trying to sink it, and no one wants to kill humans.

While we are at it, how about a navalised MLRS? The old fashioned full fat grid square removal service, not the diet-version GMLRS. Banned by the Ottawa Treaty because it let some dud bomblets behind that nuns and children could play with, but that’s not an issue at sea. A salvo from a single rocket pod container (6 times 244 bomblets) is guaranteed to wreck the mission of any modern surface combatant. No sensors left, no helicopters, no comms, no aircraft if a Nellie, nothing at all above the waterline working. And no hope at all that any CIWS is going to defeat 1600 odd bomblets arriving all at once.

Would need to give the rockets some guidance to counter evasive manoeuvres, but the engineering was done for that with GMLRS.

How big a ship would you need to have 4 launchers aboard, and several hundred rockets for reload? Not that big. And yet a ship that size could ruin the entire mission of an aircraft carrier.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 24, 2014 3:37 pm

Red Trousers,
“And yet a ship that size could ruin the entire mission of an aircraft carrier.”…provided that it can find out where the aircraft carrier is, obtain the necessary aiming co-ordinates, predict where it will be in a minute or two’s time when the rockets get there and fire the salvo from within range (about 70km with the Guided version). Then there is the hope that the rockets will not be shot down at a distance by Standard, Sea Viper, CAMM, Sea Sparrow or whatever other defensive systems that reach further than the bomblet dispersal point.

Jason Lynch
Jason Lynch
May 24, 2014 3:44 pm
Reply to  Red Trousers

RT,

Confirmed orpedo use since 1945 – Falklands on both sides (us successful against Belgrano and some terminally upset whales, Argentina several failed attacks) but also the South Korean frigate Cheonan a few years ago, and the Indian frigate INS Kukhri sunk by a Pakistani Daphne-class SSK in the 1971 war.

monkey
monkey
May 24, 2014 4:09 pm

@RT and Jason on when torpedo’s last used in anger.
Same conflict you mentioned when we used HMS Conqueror the other side used a sub the newly German built (1978) ARA San Luis. She launched an attack on HMS Brilliant on 1st May north of Port Stanley and two attacks on HMS Arrow and her sister ship HMS Alacrity on 10th May in Falkland Sound. As we know the attacks failed .The Captain realised there was a problem so returned to port for repairs.They failed it turns out when German engineers went out to Argentina after the war to look into why the German made torpedo’s failed. It turned out that during maintenance a wires polarity was reversed. This wire provided power to spin up the giros in the torps and this put them in reverse causing them to send the torps out of control.
If successful this could have of at least severely damaged if not sunk three extra task force ships and the sub could of carried on attacking other ships with its remaining 11 torpedo’s.

dave haine
dave haine
May 24, 2014 5:41 pm

I’ve got to say, I quite like RT’s idea of sea-MLRS, only I would put one launcher set on a very small, very fast vessel, with lots of ECM, stealth features and a decent radar set. Sneak up to a sensible distance, rain down nastiness, and then run away bravely. You could also possibly make it unmanned and disposable and use an ISTARS platform to control and launch.

I can’t see how any form of CIWS will stop enough of the 1600-odd bomblets and ECM won’t work on unguided munitions.

Seems to me, it would have a good chance of ruining someones day.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 24, 2014 6:02 pm

DH, and others,

I’m finding an amalgam of what my grandfather got a DSO*** for in the Second War, as a Wavy Navy MTB then MGB boss. Turn up unknown, blitz the fuck out of OPFOR, fuck off sharpish.

*** in his case it was 9 months in command doing all of that several times, and a rescue operation off Holland.

x
x
May 24, 2014 6:02 pm

@ monkey

You can imagine the impact on history if a country like Argentina had used a submarine to sink escorts of NATO’s premier ASW force………..eek.

mike
mike
May 24, 2014 6:34 pm

ARA San Luis was actually pretty successful in creeping in and out and remaining undetected, despite the best efforts of NATO’s North Sea ASW specialists… one thing Sandy’s (and others) books tell me, is how seriously we took the submarine threat, how often the ASW forces (mostly helicopters) would try and hunt suspected contacts… and how often there would be no way in knowing if they achieved anything, destruction or deterring… we probably made a good dent in whale numbers though.

It makes you wonder how well we would have been able to cope against the soviets.

I wonder if one of the lessons of the Naval side of ’82 was put in place – that of allowing the local/task force commander control (or influence) on the positioning and activities of the BLUFOR subs, that was one of Sandys’ (who’s trade was in subs) main frustrations at the start.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 24, 2014 6:41 pm

Mr Fred, you sound like Sir Humphrey. Nothing but emollience and assurances that it will be alright on the day.

I can assure you that it will very much not be alright on the day. For a start, try plotting time of flight for 40km missiles, conveniently just outside of the radar horizon of T45. I think you’ll find that it is about 200 seconds for MLRS, which does not give much time for the CIC to react to even an individual missile, let alone 6 inbound. Then the missile belly splits at TOI-20 seconds , normally at about 4,000 feet, and your problem is 244 times worse.

Rocket Banana
May 24, 2014 6:59 pm

Nice to see the the value of ASaC/ISTAR targeted and triggered weapons (CEC) on this thread too :-)

Perhaps TD should do a post on CEC (and equivalent technologies) including a picture like this?

Jason Lynch
Jason Lynch
May 24, 2014 6:59 pm
Reply to  Red Trousers

RT,

One key reason that Type 45 is the size it is, is precisely so that her radar horizon is rather more than 40 kilometres away. (Time of flight of BM-21 to max range of 20 km or so is about 90 seconds, from memory – even Type 42s could and did react to that, let alone T45) Also, ballistic rockets don’t come in low, so they’re visible at much longer ranges.

One of the top requirements in the URD is to defeat salvoes of rather more than six missiles, which may be supersonic, sea skimming, very stealthy, and/or executing extreme evasive manoeuvres. Ballistic rockets are not a particularly challenging threat by comparsion.

There are reasons why MRL fire is an annoyance to a Type 45, but it’s rather more about trying not to expend too many weapons than being unable to respond to the attack…

wf
wf
May 24, 2014 7:04 pm

@RT, @Jason Lynch has made most of my points for me, but I was under the impression the old MLRS had 644 bomblets per missile :-)

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 24, 2014 7:15 pm

Red Trousers,
My object was to be quite the reverse, but against your concept that it would be trivial to destroy any vessel at any time with your MMLRSB.
If you are outside the radar horizon of the T45, how do you know it is there? How do you know that it will still be there in three minutes time? At twenty knots a ship will be a nautical mile from it’s present location in 180 seconds. Granted it will be somewhat less than that if it’s anything other than a straight line course.

If it bursts at 4,000ft then the defending ship has 200 seconds minus those 20 seconds to engage those six rockets. Being as these systems are designed to engage supersonic missiles (and even the old seawolf had the capacity to take artillery shells.) they are likely used to dealing with that sort of engagement times or less. Also in the favour of the defenders is that the MLRS rockets are going ballistic so are easier to target than normal sea-skimmers (no surface clutter). Then you have to worry about how you are going to aim your MMLRSB. If you have guided missiles, it’s not such a problem.
About the only thing that a MLRS attack has over a similar number of conventional unitary missiles is the ability to avoid the last 1,200m of CIWS. To get that you have to overcome some serious problems in target acquisition and guidance.

To summarise, while a MMLRSB would be a threat, I don’t see how it is any more of a threat than any other fast attack craft with the ability to salvo missiles

Chris
Chris
May 24, 2014 7:28 pm

Mike, Monkey – ref San Luis – a Type 209 by HDW; no real surprise it was a tough target to detect. Always rumoured to be very stealthy boats.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 24, 2014 8:25 pm

Mr Fred,

You do appear to be the useless civvy fool on TD, over many months and many threads on TD, always chipping in with something completely spastic. Now you want to say that a radar range is bilateral, which any child can tell you is not.

And you have your own made up acronym. Let me tell you that no one recognises that, because no one recognises useless civvy attempts to create acronyms, nor civvies themselves.

wf
wf
May 24, 2014 8:39 pm

Honestly, I visit Argentina and now everyone here is behaving like Presidente Cristina :-)

x
x
May 24, 2014 8:41 pm

CATCA – civilian attempts to create acronyms

EDIT: Sometime prepositions are missed out in acronyms so perhaps CACA?

x
x
May 24, 2014 8:45 pm

@ wf

To be honest I am not sure you should be reading the threads here just in case,

a) you are a spy.

or

b) you are captured.

:)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
May 24, 2014 8:57 pm

Mr.Fred

How dare you even attempt to make acronyms as a civilian! (but then again who knows on a website?)
what you fail to understand is that it takes a year of Sandhurst training to create these highly complicated and useless acronyms on a five yearly basis. To shoe horn one in on a defence website just shows a lack of manners and good form. Hopefully you will refrain from such actions in the future and leave it to those in the genuine know to make up said total waste of paper and print.

Please take this as a polite warning that the establishment of the UK armed forces will tolerate no more amateur advice. If any one is going to run the armed forces in an amateurish manner then, as I’m sure your aware from the last ten years that is the establishments prerogative. :-)

wf
wf
May 24, 2014 9:06 pm

@x: to be honest I was hoping to meet our former Argentine correspondent while I’m here. Since I’m stuck in the local office on what is a holiday weekend, some drinks and spirited argument sound just the ticket. The good news is that everyone I meet tends to make pained expressions when Cristina’s name is mentioned :-)

Apparently I’ll have to restrict myself to eating my bodyweight in steak via the corporate Amex!

The Other Chris
May 24, 2014 9:11 pm

I fear you are all incorrect on the Military Creation of Acronyms process (FMCA – F for Future – being the original development name or Sea Crynym as it is now known in operation).

The original MCA system (back then referred to simply as “Mauve Mole” prior the Acronym Reforms of the late 70s) was developed in the 60s by two former British Gas employees (Civilians) who had expertise in hot gases being expelled from inefficient Chambers.

The machine for generating acronyms was restricted to UPPER CASE for budgetary reasons (a complete lower case character set not being required) and instantly found use for the random generation of operation and project names by feeding in pages of the 1953 Annual Edition of the Boys Own Paper and seeing what comes out the other side.

It is a myth that vehicle names are generated using this system. These are instead generated by a complex algorithm involving the piecing together of “Lincolnshire Poacher” number station transmissions.

(Disclaimer: I may have made some of this up…)

x
x
May 24, 2014 9:22 pm

@ wf

Be careful. I have Sandbagger 1 on standby just in case.

If the balloon goes up it will be Thursday before he gets there because MBH, IAM/CFHBPB, and NPHDAS.

In interrogation just repeat “Soy Canadiense, no me gusta el fútbol, ​​me encanta.”

If they take you for a plane ride over the Atlantic you are really USCWP because it will be a one way flight, we don’t have an MPA to look for you, and the DWP have borrowed HMG’s binoculars for a LGBT diversity birdwatching weekend.

wf
wf
May 24, 2014 10:48 pm

@x: roger that, I spout all the MOD acronyms that I know. With luck, they’ll think I’m mad :-)

Just so long as I’m not then delivered to the Pink Palace and expected to keep Cristina company while she drools, in-between rants of “Pro Patria! Malvinas est Argentine! Thatcher est Pirata!”.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 24, 2014 10:56 pm

Red Trousers,
I do apologise old boy, did someone piss on your cornflakes this morning?
My little abbreviation* is a light-hearted bit of silliness. A play on Motor Torpedo Boat, if you will. If Motor Multiple Launch Rocket System Boat** offends you, I suggest that you requisition some thicker skin. Or a sense of humour.
At least stick to the subject rather than getting catty.
In any case, aren’t a decent proportion of abbreviations and acronyms made by Civilians?

My questions may or may not be rhetorical. Still. If a radar at the top of the T45 cannot spot the upper works of a MLRS-armed fast attack craft, I’m not sure I understand why a radar on the upper works of a fast attack craft should be able to achieve the reverse the case. I not a radar man, but it’s all fairly line of sight unless you start getting exotic. Perhaps the signature might be a consideration?

* As any literate person will tell you, an acronym is an abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word. I would be astounded if someone could pronounce MMLRSB as anything approaching something meaningful in English.
** I didn’t think that it was that opaque, but I suppose that convention demands that any new abbreviation be introduced in its expanded form first.

Observer
Observer
May 24, 2014 11:46 pm

Don’t think you need to be able to pronounce an acronym.

In this case, I’m leaning more towards mr fred’s opinion. An anti-ship missile and an artillery rocket are fairly similar with the added disadvantage of minimally controlled flight and a fixed flight profile, so if you can counter the anti-ship missile, you should be able to hit a 227mm rocket. As for dispersing sub-munitions, I really doubt you can get into range, those systems are designed to intercept things going at about 1km per second, a decent intercept range would be around 5-10km away (5-10 seconds from impact), too far for a dense enough pattern to reach. I like the idea of shotgunning the upper works of a warship with submunitions or shrapnel, it’s the execution that I can’t find practical. The common compromise today is a sea-skimming missile with a fragmentation warhead for the same mission kill attempt.

Peter Elliott
May 25, 2014 6:30 am

The question that arises is how many sea skimmers could we realisticially fire in a salvo to give a strike of comperable force to what @RT first described? 4, 8 or 12 Harpoon from our existing surface combatants might not be enough to cut it agains modern Air Defence Destroyers.

Presumably whatever AShM we procure for vertical launch from T26 could be fired in greater numbers, if carried, but given the need also to carry Anti Air and Land Attack missiles would we really be carrying that many more than we do now on T23?

A squadron strength airstrike by F35 or Typhoon with 4 missiles per plane for a slavo of 48 would be pretty effective especially if delivered from range with the element of surprise.

Beyond that you are into Arsenal Ship territory. From a UK perspective this is the future SSN with a CMC for vertical launch of cruise missiles. Such a VLS will presumably also be able to carry AShM in a fairly industrial quantity. Now maybe if you are executing an anti surface mission with a sub you are better simply torpedoing the target. But in some circumstances it might be operationally expedient to surface 100 km away, pop off a missile slavo and then dive rather than trying to sneak in close where a very active ASW screen could be operating. Maybe in co-operation with an MPA or AWACS for the targetting.

But the targeting and RoE soulds dodgy for a ‘pop up’ submarine missile strike. Would be a shame if our sub pulverised a cruise ship full of nuns by mistake. So maybe the squadron strength airstrike is still the best idea. Good job we’ll have a carrier then.

Observer
Observer
May 25, 2014 6:44 am

Actually even aircraft squadrons need to go in close to make sure that the ship isn’t full of nuns. A radar contact is exactly that, a blip. Could be an enemy carrier, passenger liner, or the worst PR nightmare to put holes into- an oil tanker. So even with all the high tech, the most reliable sensor is still the Mk 1 eyeball. With EO these days, make that Mk 1.7.

BTW, think it’s safer to assume 2 missiles per plane than 4.

Peter Elliott
May 25, 2014 7:19 am

I was thinking crudely that we carry 2 storm shadow per plane and the JSM is less than half the weight of that so 4 or even 6 should in theory go. It remains to be seen if we can lift and recover that weight to the carrier deck but with ski jump and SRVL its not out of the question.

For reasons of range, stealth and including some Anti Air war load it might make operational sense only to carry 2 per plane.

But with a 36 or even 48 plane warload on our carrier a 2 squadron strike for 48 missiles would be theoretically achievable even then. Bet such missiles aren’t cheap but if it knocks the enemy task group out of the war it could be worth attempting.

Peter Elliott
May 25, 2014 7:25 am

The advantage of the F35 is of course supposed to be that you could send 2 ahead in clean configuriation to get confirmation of the target ID and have the other 10 hanging back at maximim range festooned with 6 missiles each.

John Hartley
John Hartley
May 25, 2014 9:22 am

A civilian acronym that even RT might like. NORWICH , nickers off ready when I come home. From an old B&W BBC2 clip of Alan Bennett.
Doubtless I will be told its made of ticky-tacky & would fall apart if we tried to do this (how then is it going to damage an enemy ship?), but going for the UK solution, if we could use FASGW-H from fixed wing aircraft (Typhoon, F-35, MPA) & from ship/coastal box launchers, we would regain some anti-ship capability.

El Sid
El Sid
May 25, 2014 9:38 am

@Observer – no, it’s a common mistake but an acronym by definition is a “word” that can be pronounced rather than spelt out. So NASA and radar are acronyms, USN is an abbreviation.

You’re vastly underestimating the number of missiles on a plane, the current MoD vision is for lots of small, mission-kill weapons. SPEAR will fly on a Typhoon next year, you’ll get 16 on a Tiffy and 8 in the internal bays of an F-35 (and potentially a quad-pack in SYLVER/Mk41).

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getasset.aspx?itemid=46446
http://aviationweek.com/awin/uk-advances-air-launched-weapons-initiative

@RT
The Germans tried really hard to navalise MLRS but even German engineering wasn’t up to the job – the exhaust is corrosive among other problems.

And of course the way to deal with that kind of system is to shoot the archer rather than the arrows. Taken with the radar horizon issue it sounds like you are arguing for the RN to procure some kind of vehicle that can fly from a ship in the battlegroup out BVR, with great sensors and networking to build a picture of what’s going on – including a Mk1 eyeball to satisfy ROE – and for that flying vehicle to carry some weapons to kill enemy archers before they can attack the fleet. Perhaps this armed, piloted vehicle that flies from a ship could be called the Lightning Bolt or something similar?

Rocket Banana
May 25, 2014 10:15 am

Why send a couple of £100m F35s to eyeball the contact?

Send a UAV?

I think RT has a point with a navalised GMLRS. It is essentially the low-cost way of putting loads of exploding warheads in the air that out-ranges the main guns of most warships. There’s little that can be done about it other than shoot the archer.

This then comes down to being able to do the same back but better… So that would be lots of 200lb warheads delivered at greater range (jets and copters). You can see why the US think the SDB is so important. It’s going to be very, very cheap in comparison with rockets and missiles, provide a 100km standoff and you’ll be able to get quite a lot on each jet (28 on an F15, not sure how many on F35).

John Hartley
John Hartley
May 25, 2014 10:23 am

Of course one way round the MLRS corrosive exhaust, is to have a big gun instead. 8″ Mark 71 anyone? 175mm sabot rounds could reach 41 miles, when fired from the 8″.

Observer
Observer
May 25, 2014 11:39 am

Simon, check the comparative speeds of a FJ vs a UAV. UAVs are a bit on the slow side.

El Sid, interesting. I was unaware that you had to pronounce an acronym.

As for FJ weapons, you’re thinking of small rocket like weapons upscaled with guidance. Small warhead. I was thinking more along the likes of Harpoons and Onyx. Big suckers with a warhead that when it blows rips a lot of things apart. Those are one shot mission kills. SDBs are good against a single room building and utility vehicles, but a warship can take a lot of those before performance is affected. Mostly because it has a lot of non-critical empty space to hit. For warships, you WANT collateral damage, the more the better. For the big missiles, even a dedicated bomber like the Backfire carries 5 and that is only because of an internal rotary launcher, not hung off wing pylons.

Just woke up, can’t think straight, info might be off. Argue/debate when I’m more awake later.

KRT
KRT
May 25, 2014 12:12 pm

There are two kinds of threads. Direct fire with rapid firing (machine) guns (cannons) of small calibre in comparison to sophisticated smart and large bombs.
It helps to have some kevlar plates against the guns. Against the large bombs, it would be the worst idea to armour a ship. Instead, you build a ship as light and easy to blow apart as possible, with only a few strong structural connections to remain and keep the remainder limping afloat during rapid repairs.
The smaller the calibre doing direct fire, the more likely are the chances of encountering such a hostile device. You decide for how much bad luck you want to be prepared. It will be very hard to evade such firepower, before taking hits in an ambush. You always do roll a dice, whenever entering a zone with such devices present, whether or not the armour grade is enough. As per WWII experience, armour resilence and anti-armour firepower will increase dramatically within a short period of time. Since we entered an age of plastics and ceramics, weight increase might be not as staggering as during the iron age of WWII.
Smart bombs should be rare events and thus per definition very bad luck. In case you run into one of these, you are lucky to stay alive and that’s the goal of flimsy construction. The key vulnerability of all smart system has been homing the massive ordnannce. It’s the cheapest way to mitigate that threat.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 25, 2014 1:12 pm

I don’t know, but I suspect that even a relatively small warhead in the VLS would be a mission kill for that system.

There is probably something to using multiple small missiles to degrade the mission capacity of a warship, but retaining a large warhead missile if you need to sink something.

Observer
Observer
May 25, 2014 1:57 pm

Yes mr fred, the problem is hitting the specific spot. With a big warhead, close enough is good enough :) And ironically, you usually can’t sink a ship with a large warhead. What it does is force the ship to limp home with its’ guts ripped out. I see a naval engagement as a 2 phased thing. Phase one is to cripple the ship so that it can no longer pose an effective threat and Phase two is to send it to the bottom. I believe either NaB or APATs once mentioned coursing tactics where a group of ships would take turns harassing an enemy ship until it is rendered ineffective, then closing in and sinking it.

SDBs were designed to limit collateral damage, so their effectiveness in generating mission kills is reduced. To get a mission kill will largely depend on luck. A big enough warhead simply doesn’t care, the blast itself is enough to cause shock damage to electronics and indiscriminate enough to trash everything near the part of the ship hit.

Jason Lynch
Jason Lynch
May 25, 2014 3:14 pm
Reply to  mr.fred

Mr Fred,

The VLS is nicely compartmentalised, with each missile in its own reasonably tough canister and the missiles themselves fairly resistant to shock and blast; a small warhead might take out a couple, assuming you got it into the VLS in the first place, but it’s designed to keep as many weapons as possible usable for as long as possible.

Much, much more survivable than Sea Dart Quarters on a 42, where you had twenty missiles stood on trollies in three ranks with no subdivision or protection…

Jeff
Jeff
August 14, 2015 4:22 am

Question: How useful is sprint maneuvering speed and or acceleration for warships in evading missiles or torpedoes? Somebody must think it’s pretty important given, e.g., the design trade-offs found in the LCS to achieve it.

With respect to armor, my amateurish thoughts are that there must be a fuel range penalty in hauling it around the seas, and also perhaps that Cold War thinking and nuclear naval weapons caused a certain disregard for the benefits of armor and otherwise useful hardening and redundancies in warship design.

It seems to me that ships will inevitably take hits in modern war, but not every sort of hit from every sort of weapon must inevitably result in a mission-kill or a sinking, especially those found in some non-peer navies or smaller combatants, so that some sort of armoring must be useful. I also thought the following quote from Wikipedia on the Visby-class corvette was interesting. “The hull is constructed with a sandwich design consisting of a PVC core with a carbon fibre and vinyl laminate[4] (see also the Oceanic-Creations spin-off). There are multiple advantages to using composite materials in ship hulls. Good conductivity and surface flatness means a low radar signature, while good heat insulation lowers the infrared signature and increases survivability in case of fire [a proven ship-killer]. The composite sandwich used is also non-magnetic, which lowers the magnetic signature. Composites are also very strong for their relative weight, and less weight means a higher top speed and better maneuverability. The composite weighs roughly 50% less than the equivalent strength steel.”