The ubiquitous Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) provides warships a last line of defence against missiles, aircraft and small boats. Upgraded over time, it has been in service for 38 years with the Royal Navy. Here we look at the history, design and capabilities of this system.
Development of the Vulcan Phalanx began in the 1960s as the US Navy woke up to the threat of the sea-skimmers after the destruction of Israeli destroyer Eilat by Russian-made Styx missiles in 1967. The M61 Vulcan Gatling gun had been in service since 1959 and was initially developed for use in air-air combat. Using a Gatling gun combined with radar in the close air defence role to create a ‘wall of steel’ offered a relatively simple solution. In parallel, the US Army pursued a similar idea, producing the tracked vehicle M163 Vulcan Air Defense System (VADS).
The first Phalanx prototype was installed on destroyer, USS King, in 1973. Substantial development and trials were needed before the Mk-15 Phalanx went into full production in 1978 with USS Coral Sea taking the first operational Block 0 mounts to sea in 1980. In the late 1970s, the RN was also aware of the threat from sea skimmers and the GWS-25 Sea Wolf Point Defence Missile System was seen as the answer. Unfortunately, Sea Wolf was expensive, had a large equipment footprint and had only been fitted to a handful of frigates when the Falklands war unexpectedly erupted in April 1982. HMS Sheffield and MV Atlantic Conveyor were lost and HMS Glamorgan badly damaged by Exocet missiles. Other ships were hit during low-level bomb attack and the lack of close-in defensive capability was badly exposed. The loss of HMS Coventry in particular also demonstrated the fallibility of missile systems, even if a PDMS is present a more potent CIWS could provide a last-ditch backup.
In the 1970s RN could have argued that it was primarily an ASW navy, and had not prioritised close-in defence for the surface fleet. It is sobering to contemplate how warships, who’s CIWS and PDMS mostly amounted to a couple of old Oerlikon 20mm or Bofors 40mm cannons and obsolete Sea Cat missiles might have fared in the Norwegian Sea, GUIK or North Atlantic against a hail of Soviet anti-ship missiles.
Retro-fitting Sea Wolf to RN warships was neither affordable or practical whereas the Phalanx offered an immediate remedy. Being self-contained, one of Phalanx’s key selling points is being non-deck penetrating – it can simply be bolted to the deck of any ship with space and top weight margin. While the Falklands war was still in progress, two Phalanx systems intended for the USN were taken off the production line and rushed to Tyneside where HMS illustrious was hastily being completed. Phalanx was first tested at sea by Illustrious on 20th June and again on 26th June, destroying the Rushton target with the first burst of fire. Although the Argentines surrendered on the Falklands Islands on 14 June, hostilities had not formally ceased. Equipped with Phalanx, the ship sailed south with greater confidence that an Exocet attack on the carrier could be defeated.
Phalanx has remained in RN service ever since 1982. It was fitted to the Invincible class carriers, HMS Fearless, HMS Ocean and the QEC class carriers. The Type 42 air defence destroyers received the system and also their replacements, the Type 45s. Units are also fitted to Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, being rotated around ships as operational requirements dictate. The self-contained nature of Phalanx makes it particularly useful for self-defence of large, vulnerable auxiliaries that lack their own sensors and combat systems.
In return for the Dutch Navy purchasing UK-made Spey gas turbines, the RN later also adopted the Hollandse Singnaalapparaten (now Thales) Goalkeeper 30mm CIWS for some vessels between 1988-2015. The Goalkeeper system has the advantage of heavier rounds and almost twice the effective range of the original Phalanx, able to break up an incoming missile further way from the ship. The through-life costs of the larger Dutch system were higher as it was deck-penetrating, limiting which vessels could carry the mount. The system was gradually withdrawn from RN service, the last mount removed from HMS Bulwark in 2016. Sister ship HMS Albion now carries Phalanx, which has benefited from an on-going development programme in a way that Goalkeeper has not.
As missile technology evolved, Raytheon has developed the Phalanx System in response. The original Block 0 system could take two men as long as 30 minutes to reload from pre-linked ammunition boxes. Block 1 increased ammunition capacity from 990 to 1,550 rounds and a new preloaded ammunition loader/unloader cart dramatically reduced reload time to 5 minutes. The Block 1/Baseline 0 (1988) featured better radar to detect a new generation of smaller supersonic anti-ship missiles. B1 Baseline 1 raised the rate of fire from 3,000 rounds per minute to 4,500. B1 Baseline 2 (1991) improved accuracy with an improved muzzle restraint to decrease round dispersion. Block 1A (1996) introduced a new computer system to counter high diving and hard manoeuvring missiles and switched from hydraulic to pneumatic gun drive which could spin up faster.
The Block 1B upgrade PSuM (Phalanx Surface Mode) launched in 1999 was the most significant update so far, a response to navies increasingly operating in the congested littoral areas. The primary counter-missile capability was enhanced to defeat fast inshore attack craft (FIAC), helicopters, UAVs, USVs and small stealthy missiles, difficult to detect on radar. The solution was the addition of electro-optical thermal imaging technology to supplement the radars. The stabilised Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) camera is mounted on the left side of the radome also allows the operator to visually identify targets in complex environments.
The original M61A1 gun barrels were designed for short bursts and dispersion increased with barrel wear. The B1B remedies this with thicker Optimised Gun Barrels (OGB), their length has been increased from 1.520m to 1.981m and they are supported by the distinctive cage muzzle brace for further accuracy gains. B1B fires the slightly modified Mk 244 Mod 0 ELC (Enhanced Lethality Cartridges) featuring a 48% heavier tungsten alloy penetrator over the older Mk 149 rounds.
|Warship/Auxiliary||Total mount positions||Mounts fitted (Aug 2020)|
|2 x Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers||6||5|
|2 x Albion Class LPDs||4||2|
|6 x Type 45 Destroyers||12||6|
|3 x Bay Class RFA||6||4|
|4 x Tide Class RFA||8||2|
|RFA Fort Victoria||2||0|
|2 x Wave Class RFA||4||0|
|2 x Fort class RFA||4||0|
|8 x Type 26 Frigates (from 2027)||16||–|
|3 x Fleet Solid Support Ships (?)||6||–|
|2 x Littoral Strike Ships (?)||4||–|
Through a rolling procurement programme, the RN had accumulated 36 mounts by 2001 which comprised a mix of Block 1 (Baseline 2) and Block 1A. In 2006 Babcock were awarded a £35 million contract to convert 16 of these mounts to B1B standard, using kits supplied by Raytheon. Subsequently, an additional 8 units were upgraded and in 2012 a further 5 new B1B mounts were purchased directly from Raytheon, primarily intended for RFAs. In 2014 Babcock received a contract to upgrade a further 4 units. There are at least now 41 mounts in the RN inventory and at least 33 of them are B1B standard. Units are rotated between warships in refit and RFAs not deploying to high threat areas, providing for planned maintenance, as the table above indicates, there are sufficient numbers for the RNs requirements.Phalanx-1B-Diagram
Phalanx was one of the world’s first fully autonomous weapons, the speed of anti-ship missiles demands a system able to react fully automatically without human intervention. When in Auto mode, the rotating MTI search radar in the top of the mount continually scans for threats up to 15 Km away (Although, rotating through 360º the radar is switched on and off by software to prevent irradiation of the ship’s superstructure). For simplicity Phalanx does not rely on sophisticated IFF transponder systems for target discrimination, instead, every contact is assessed using closed-loop heuristic software. If the target is inbound, able to manoeuvre to hit the ship, and moving at a pre-determined minimum speed then it will be engaged. Once confirmed as hostile, the contact is passed to the tracking radar which locks on at about 8 km range.
When the target is about 2km away from the ship, the gun opens fire. 75 rounds per second leave the barrel at a velocity of 1,113 meters per second. The tracking radar compares both the target and the stream of outgoing rounds, adjusting the gun so the projectile stream converges on the target. Accuracy is such that typically the third round out of the barrel will hit. The system will consider the target destroyed if it explodes or there is an abrupt change of speed and direction as the target’s airframe breaks up. In the event of multiple attacks, the next most imminent threat will immediately be engaged. The system can track and assess up to 6 targets simultaneously. After an engagement, two sailors will re-load the ammunition drum at the earliest opportunity.
The gun is fully trainable with a horizontal arc of 300º, the expectation being that usually at least two mounts will be installed per ship for overlapping 360º coverage. The B1B can be trained to point low to engage small boat targets down to -25° or point almost vertically up at +85° to engage diving targets. Smooth and accurate servo motors can rapidly train and elevate the gun by at up to 115º per second in both axes, making it almost impossible to outmanoeuvre. When the mount is installed in the ship, a series of hard stops are used to limit the arcs to prevent rounds hitting the ship’s decks or superstructure.
The RN has never fired Phalanx in anger although it has provided reassurance to crews during many operations. Despite being proven during multiple tests and trials the system has had a slightly unlucky history. Most notably Phalanx did not fail but was simply switched to standby when USS Stark was hit by two air-launched Exocets fired by an Iraqi Mirage jet in March 1987. During the first Gulf war in 1991, the Phalanx onboard USS Jarret in automatic mode fired at a chaff cloud launched by USS Missouri in response to an attack by an Iraqi Silkworm missile. Several rounds hit Missouri, fortunately without causing casualties and the Silkworm was destroyed by a Sea Dart fired by HMS Gloucester. In June 1996, the Phalanx-equipped Japanese destroyer Yugiri accidentally shot down a USN A6 Intruder that was towing a radar target during a joint gunnery exercise. It was determined the operations team on the destroyer opened fire before the aircraft was outside of the Phalanx’s engagement envelope.
Hero or villain?
Gun-based CWIS has its limitations when faced with the increasing speeds of modern missiles such as BrahMos, Sunburn or Zircon. Their speed makes them harder to detect and track but it is their vast kinetic energy that is particularly deadly. Assuming the CIWS manages to break up the missile somewhere under 1km before impact, then the ship may still be sprayed with high-velocity fragments. This is obviously preferable to the intact missile impacting and detonating deep inside the ship but deadly fragments are likely to disable delicate sensors and penetrate the light steel plate of modern warships. Phalanx may prevent the loss of the ship but may not be able to stop it from becoming eliminated as an effective fighting unit. It will always be preferable for a PDMS to destroy the inbound missile well outside the Phalanx range and much further away from its intended target.
Phalanx is likely to be very effective against any aircraft that managed to get within its operating envelope but this is an increasingly unlikely scenario in an era of stand-off weapons. The system is also theoretically capable of tracking and engaging ’traditional’ ordnance such as laser-guided bombs or medium calibre shells but these are physically more robust targets and harder to penetrate and destroy, especially as modern insensitive munitions are not exploded easily. In ‘manual’ mode the phalanx operator can ‘point and shoot’ at targets indicated by the cameras. Phalanx is likely to be lethal against small, unprotected boats, USVs and UAVs, only a large ‘swarm’ attack could overwhelm it.
Amongst some naval enthusiasts, CIWS have almost become fetishised with arguments that Phalanx should be carried by virtually every vessel in the Naval Service as some kind of virility sign. In an ideal world of unlimited resources, every frontline vessel would have a complete set of equipment and not be subject to STOROB. Because each Phalanx requires weapons engineers to maintain and support the system with accompanying cost and manpower overhead, it is a sensible policy to rotate between vessels deploying to higher threat areas.
When assessing the effectiveness of Phalanx, it should be seen as one part of a layered defence system. This includes intelligence-led assessments of the threat, area air defence, electronic warfare and decoys which are often overlooked or underestimated. Clearly not an infallible shield against a saturation attack by modern hypersonic missiles, Phalanx is, however, an affordable and relatively simple way to add a significant layer of protection against many threats.
“Phalanx is, however, an affordable and relatively simple way to add a significant layer of protection against many threats.”
A little overblown perhaps? Phalanx remains an affordable (because we already have it) way to add some extra protection against a limited set of specific threats might be more truthful ?
Hence 57mm and 40mm Bofors for T31 ???
I think the key difference is that they are tied to, and require, the ships sensors and fire control system – in other words are tied to plan A – whereas Phalanx is a closed loop back up system, giving you a plan B so that if a HARM/ALAM/Kh58 type of missile has just ripped your Artisan off it’s mounting then you are still a mission kill, but Phalanx means you have a fighting chance of living to fight another day, whereas the 57 and I think even the 40 are just as dead as the Artisan, which mens that with the next salvo so are you. This of course does mean it’s space, weight and budget that’s going into a ‘just in case’ backup so if the budget allows for VL ASROC or Tomahawk on one hand, or Phalanx on the other then its the missiles that should get the nod…. which means that if space and weight can be found the Phalanx is an excellent candidate for ‘fitted for but not with’.
It has other uses. Several Americans have made mention of Iranian boat flotillas turning around and going home when a Phalanx was brought to bear, and in both of those cases the Americans were slewing the Phalanx around so they could use the electro opticals on the side of the 1B, not the gun itself.
Why do you think the Type 31 57mm & 40mm gun’s will use Artisan for direction?
PS They won’t.
I didn’t say they would.
They could….best to have the main radar and the E/O tied to the guns (modern mounts like Mark 4 Bofors and Millenium Gun use open architecture to mate with many FCS) If you needed the 40mm guns to have their own FCS then Leonardo Single Fast Forty comes in 3 flavours (A-Fully slaved to the Combat management, B-same as A but with inmount gunners position and C-Same as A but has addition micro fire control system)
Well, T31 doesn’t have Artisan in the first place and I was under the impression the 40s were going to be in BAE mounts not the Leonardo ones. My original post was built less around any particular class and more around a generic western escort vessel, you can substitute T45, T26, FFG(X) into the same sentence just as easily as T31, I just got lazy and named a radar instead of typing out “air search radar” in full like I really should have….
Which is also the proper rebuttal to Ron5’s point: at no point in my post was I talking about using Artisan as a fire control radar, if it’s gone then you have lost your air search radar and can’t cue the target tracking/fire control in the first place until the enemy is in Mk 1 eyeball range (you possibly still could with ESM or electro optical means, but good luck, especially if a radiation homing missile has liberally sprayed shrapnel around your upper works). Phalanx has it’s on board air search radar, as described in the article (we are really talking emergency back up level stuff here)
I don’t think even you know what you’re talking about.
@geo Yes you did, you said if the Artisan is knocked off its mounting, the 57 & 40’s are just as dead where as the Phalanx would continue to operate.
That would be impressive as they aren’t being fitted with Artisan but the much better NS110. They are reasonable likely to have their own directors fitted and so be a much more capable anti-missile system.
It defies belief that your talking about a system that’s over 35+ yrs old, as part of an actual defence suite of a strategic asset! When will the navy forget that they don’t own our own shores let alone the 7 seas! Along with the RAF that with their 170 jets don’t own the sky! UK MoD is now a combined arms force nothing more nothing less
Thank you for another very interesting article.
Any chance of a follow-up comparing and contrasting Phalanx with the BAE Bofors 40 Mk 4 as they will enter service with the T31?
It would be nice to see comparisons relating to costs, ship impact, effective range etc..
Mk 4 Bofors has a 100 round magazine, it uses the ships combat management system and sensors, Max range is 12,500meters (effective range is smaller), 2300 kg without ammo, 300 rpm, 5000 round barrel life, muzzle velocity radar, tv camera, full 3P integration and Backup controls on the mount itself.
I’d like the RN to look into the feasibility of using HVPs from the main guns to take out anti-ship missiles (at 80+km from what I’ve read). Would be much cheaper than using Asters or CAMMs.
Obsolescent, even obsolete. The new USN frigate will not have them.
20mm rounds have too short range even against subsonic missiles.
Italians dropped the 40mm Breda Bofors for 76 Oto with guided rounds.
The 40mm Bofors was dropped before the 3P rounds were introduced in 1990s. Before even basic PFHE (1980s) the Twin Compact 40mm had a 30% chance to kill a subsonic missile outside of 1000 meters in the 1970s when first introduced and so used APFSDS…because of 3P effective range is 3km plus. The Andrea Doria Class (Type 45s Italian Cousin) with 3x 76mm Strales is a mean mother ? also with 48 Aster Missiles…all she needs is an AESA Radar (which is in her refit future) and gl trying to kill her with Aircraft, Missiles or Ship to ship gunnery (3x 120Rpm pew pew dakka dakka)
Breda Bofors(i still make reference to Bofors because those guns in L70 were licensed to Breda to manufacture and modify them). used only PFHE up to 4km.
There was a version that wasn’t bought by any country in late 80’s that included the possibility of start firing APFSDS when the enemy missile entered the last 1-1,5km.
3P was a swedish ammunition for a Bofords 40mm CIWS a different mount/gun made by Bofors itself.
Thats the Twin fast forty…has 700 plus rounds in the mag which 200 are APFSDS in an instant switch mag. 3P was designed by Bofors yes but all 40/L70s can be upgraded to use it…the Argentine Navy have both Twin Fast Forty and 3P and the Italian Navy have the full DARDO CIWS with the Twin fast Forty and RTX 10 and RTX 20 radars on their Lupo Class Frigates. The mod is just adding a fuze setter onto the mount. Also BOFORs is now a part of BAE and OtoBreda is now Leonardo, the 76mm guns that Leonardo make also have 3P available
I believe the updated Leonardo 40mm guns can all use the BAE / Bofors 3P ammo, but the Leonardo 76mm & 127mm use Leonardo’s own roughly equivalent 4AP (designed for bigger shells).
Leonardo still make 40/L70 guns other than DARDO CIWS, including direct competitors to the Mark 4 Bofors. Australia recently ordered 12 Leonardo Oto Marlin 40mm systems for its under construction 80m OPV’s.
Indeed…Single Fast Forty, the C version with its own micro FCS would essentially do what phalanx does ie self contained CIWS. I assume the RN went with Bofors Mk 4 as it is a simpler system (The Fast forty has 2x 72 round magazines with instant switching for say swapping from 3P to APFSDS ?
The Bofors Mk 4 is considerably lighter than the Leonardo Single Fast 40, but also only holds 100 rounds to Leonardo’s 144 rounds. The Leonardo Marlin 40 is lighter again than than the Bofors Mk 4, but only holds 72 rounds (2 x 36). Actual performance of all three seem pretty well similar (both gun & mount) & all are non deck penetrating.
The ability to act as a self contained CIWS is lacking considerably compared to the Phalanx, as it does not have an onboard fire control radar. EOS has a much harder job finding the target (or even knowing about the target) until it gets close (or the target is big), unless qued by a radar first, which is not maximising the extra range of the 40mm. The micro FCS will only be pulling from the attached EOS (camera’s, IR sensor etc) & ballistic radar etc. It also lacks the completely auto mode.
I’d be far more comfortable with one of those big russian beasts mounted on my ship.
Our carriers are wide open to saturation attack— the least we can do is equip them with modern missiles too
Kortik CADS aka Kashtan M gun/missile CIWS ? they are getting replaced by Pantsir M which is a modern verson.
I really don’t see a benefit in having twin rotary cannons, especially as they are fixed to each other, so cannot adjust convergence for range. When the diameter of a missile is 35cm or so (as for Harpoon etc), having 2 streams of fire is only going to make it harder for the targeting radar/computer to stear the shots onto target.
Then there is the weight and logistics of the unit to consider, not only are the russian systems through-deck, so you can’t just bolt them on anywhere you like but have to be heavily integrated into the ship. They also weigh far more, between 2-3x that of a Phalanx system.
You might argue that this includes a missile system, but why not just have a separate system for missiles such as RAM (or Sea Ceptor)? Not only is there more redundancy in separating the systems, but there is basically no reason why you need to slave pointing the missile with the gun systems since the missiles can stear themselves.
Adding the weight of missile launch systems to the servo motors that have to train the guns (especially when you already have the weight of 2x 30mm rotory cannons), is only going to make that training slower, less precise and a maintainance nighmare, and goes a long way to explain why the training rate of the Russian systems are about half that of the Phalanx or Goalkeeper.
Valid points, but the overarching point is that the carriers need to be far better defended against anti-ship missiles.
I’d go with Sea Ceptor (as many as will fit), Oerlikon Millennium Guns with AHEAD ammo and OTO Melara 76mm guns with DART and PFF ammo. Ideally 4 of each if there’s space.
I don’t know what the carriers have in the way of ECM and decoys. Do you have that information?
Ideally, it would have been built with VLS cells integrated as Charles de Gaulle was, but what with budgets the way they are, we’re lucky to get the ships at all. Allocating part of that budget for an integrated missile-based self-defence capability would only mean money taken away from other areas of the ship, probably the aircraft carrying capacity which is the carriers main focus.
They may well be retrofitted in a mid-life upgrade program, but I wouldn’t expect till 2035-2040. In the mean time no major nation is going to try to sink them in peace time (unless they want the rest of NATO and the UN coming down on them like a ton of bricks), not to mention being escorted everywhere by some very capable AAW escorts. Meaning that in all likelihood we should get prior notice to sending the carriers into a high threat environment, giving the Navy time, and more importantly, the politicians the incentive to create the funds to emergency purchase standalone systems from the US the same way they buy ammunition just before heading off to take part in a military operation. It’s not ideal, but the realities of the current financial climate.
The trouble is with whatever missile system they choose, it will usually be distributing the frangible caps of the missile tubes an other debris all over the flight deck, halting flight operations. Not that this can’t be overcome, just that it’s not like there aren’t any downsides to missile systems.
With regards to alternate CIWS systems, a 76mm Melara is stretching the definition a bit, but has the problem that VLS fired missiles do in that it’s a through-deck mount, meaning placement is limited. The Millennium gun at least has the advantage of being self-contained, but I’m also not sure AHEAD or PFF ammo are really credible when talking about hypersonic anti-ship missiles (the reason for looking for alternatives to Phalanx, for the greater range) because just destroying control surfaces might not be sufficient against such targets as it is against subsonic cruise missiles and aircraft. The Phalanx at least has AP rounds and a very good targeting system that’s relatively well maintained and kept up to date.
Honestly, I think that by the time any of this is ready to be put into place, laser-based systems will be starting to take over.
I’m afraid I don’t know anything more about the ECM than is publicly available (and the joys of working in the industry is that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it anyway).
“Ideally, it would have been built with VLS cells integrated as Charles de Gaulle was”
I agree. The CdG has 32 Aster 15s so that’s clearly better than the woeful protection on the QE and PoW.
That said, CAMMs can be quad-packed in Sylver launchers, so the QE and PoW could carry 128 CAMMs if they had either 32 Sylver or 32 Mk41 cells, which would be FAR better than just 32 Aster 15s. If CAMM-ER can be quad-packed, better still. And half a dozen Aster 30 Block 1NTs to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles wouldn’t go amiss either. Nor would microwave weaopns to burn out the electronics in anti-ship missiles, Dragonfire to blind or burn out missiles’ sensors, as well as laser dazzlers and a ship-based version of DIRCM to confuse IR-guided anti-ship missiles (since modern IR-guided missiles can filter out flares).
“but what with budgets the way they are, we’re lucky to get the ships at all.”
I’m so sick of hearing this argument. If you’re going to build ships that cost over £3 billion each and that take ages to build, then properly arming and defending them is vital. And it would be far cheaper to spend a bit on proper defences now than having to build a new carrier because one got sunk in a war. Can’t government bean-counters see that? It’s also ridiculously short-sighted and utterly negligent. We sent ships to the Falklands with no CIWS for crying out loud. Sending carriers to war with no missile-based point defence would be equally idiotic.
“Allocating part of that budget for an integrated missile-based self-defence capability would only mean money taken away from other areas of the ship”
Really? How many billions are we spending on Type 45 propulsion fixes, Type 26s, Type 31s, Astutes, F-35Bs and on missiles and torpedoes?
[And going off on a tangent, what can a Type 31 do in the Persian Gulf that an uparmed Batch 2 River couldn’t? After all, where else are Type 31s going to be used? They’re too underarmed and under-defended to be used anywhere else or to form part of a carrier group despite their size. Without their paltry 12 CAMMs they’re just overgrown, ridiculously expensive OPVs (compare them to the Danish Iver Huitfeldt-class they’re based on and tell me we’re not getting ripped off). I’d scrap the Type 31s and use the money saved to properly defend the carriers. And maybe this would give commercial companies the incentive to properly defend their ships against pirates and nation states instead of complacently expecting navies to come to their rescue every time: https://www.marineinsight.com/marine-piracy-marine/18-anti-piracy-weapons-for-ships-to-fight-pirates/
Probably the most effective weapon (that isn’t on that list) is microwave weapons since they’d leave boats dead in the water. Anyway I digress.]
We could also stop giving foreign aid to countries that don’t need it and where much of the approx £13 billion we give away each year ends up in tax havens. We have money, we just mismanage it. And what’s better, having X underarmed and under-defended ships or having X-1 properly armed and properly defended ships? I’d go with the second option every time when it comes to frigates and destroyers (and to the carriers too if we had more than just 2 of them).
Underarmed and under-defended ships get ships sunk or mission-killed, people killed or maimed and they result in failed missions or missions that can’t be carried out at all.
And considering how long it takes to build ships and aircraft these days, if the QE or PoW get sunk because of inadequate defences, not only would they take a lot of F-35s and crew to the seabed, it would take a long time to build replacements.
“probably the aircraft carrying capacity which is the carriers main focus.”
That’s a false dichotomy. There’s already talk of halving our F-35B purchase and that got nothing to do with the fact that uparming & up-defending the carriers would be too expensive (which I don’t buy anyway) and has everything to do with the fact that the F-35 is too expensive to buy, fly and maintain (and too time-consuming to maintain).
Even the USAF, which could hardly be called a poor air force, has said that the F-35 is too expensive to fly and maintain:
“An important measure of the cost, sustainability and value of the new jet is its total operating cost. In 2018, flying an F-35A cost about $44,000 per hour on average — about double the cost of operating the Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Some of the military’s top officials, including Gen. Dave Goldfein, the Air Force’s chief of staff, and former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, have complained that it is too expensive to fly and maintain the F-35, raising the possibility that the service may have to buy fewer of them if costs don’t shrink.”
“They may well be retrofitted in a mid-life upgrade program, but I wouldn’t expect till 2035-2040.”
So in the meantime we just ask our enemies to pretty please not start a war? That’s utterly insane.
“In the mean time no major nation is going to try to sink them in peace time”
Well Pearl Harbor happened in peacetime (well peacetime as far as the US was concerned anyway). Never say never.
“not to mention being escorted everywhere by some very capable AAW escorts.”
The Type 45s only have 48 Sylver cells. These could be better used by carrying say 30 Aster 30s, 6 Aster 30 Block 1NTs (to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles) and 48 quad-packed CAMMs (ideally quad-packed CAMM-ERs if they’ll fit in the cells).
I don’t see the point of Aster 15 unless it has some feature that makes it considerably better than CAMM that I’m unaware of. Aster 15 is slightly faster and has slightly more range than CAMM, but given the choice between X Aster 15s and 4X CAMMs, my choice would be CAMM every time. And CAMM-ER is longer ranged than Aster 15 (although slightly slower).
The Type 45s could also do with Mk41 VLS so they can carry even more quad-packed CAMMs (or ideally CAMM-ERs). [Mk41s also give Type 45s the ability to carry VL-ASROC, LRASM and TLAM, but against Russia or China, all these missiles lack range and we need to develop far longer ranged versions of all of them. I realise this is irrelevant to AAW, but just saying.]
And if there’s the space on the Type 45s, I’d also add 2 ADL launchers, which can also be quad-packed with CAMMs (or ESSMs), and have the huge advantage that they can be replenished at sea, which could potentially make the difference between life and death in wartime.
I’d also like to see stringent realistic tests carried out to see if HVPs fired from the main 4.5″ gun can take out anti-ship missiles. I’ve read HVPs can do Mach 3 and cover 80+km (50+ miles), so if they’re accurate enough to take out anti-ship missiles (or can be made accurate enough by means of a guidance system similar to APKWS say) then they’d not only provide another very useful layer of defence but would presumably be cheaper than Asters or CAMMs. It might also be worth looking into an HVP version of the AHEAD round, but larger and containing far more tungsten projectiles. HVPs sending out hundreds of tungsten projectiles at a range of about 80km should be able to take out any sea-skimming missile I’d have thought regardless of speed and possibly even ballistic anti-ship missiles. Like I say, tests would need to be carried out to establish what HVPs are and aren’t capable of.
As for CIWS, I’d replace the 2 Phalanx on the Type 45s with 2 Oerlikon Millennium Guns, backed up with an OTO Melara 76mm. Ideally they’d be deck penetrating with fast auto-reloaders, which would be essential in the event of a saturation attack of anti-ship missiles. Phalanx is too short-ranged and it would be out of ammo too soon (not that it could take out a lot of missiles with an effective range of just 1.5km even if it had unlimited ammo).
And lastly Type 45s would be far more survivable against anti-ship missiles if they had microwave weapons, Dragonfire, laser dazzlers, a ship version of DIRCM and IRST to spot stealthy missiles at range (probably about 50km). The beauty of all these weapons/defences is that they only require electricity to work and don’t depend on missiles or ammo to protect a ship.
“Meaning that in all likelihood we should get prior notice to sending the carriers into a high threat environment, giving the Navy time, and more importantly, the politicians the incentive to create the funds to emergency purchase standalone systems from the US the same way they buy ammunition just before heading off to take part in a military operation. It’s not ideal, but the realities of the current financial climate.”
That’s an absolutely bonkers way to run a navy. All ships should be adequately defended at all times. And you can’t just plonk a system on a ship and expect it to work perfectly from the get-go. There are always teething problems and crew members have to familiarise themselves with the systems.
“The trouble is with whatever missile system they choose, it will usually be distributing the frangible caps of the missile tubes an other debris all over the flight deck, halting flight operations.”
Well, if Sea Ceptor is fitted to the carriers, couldn’t this be done in such a way that Sea Ceptor is fitted below the level of the flight deck? And doesn’t cold launch mean that debris isn’t an issue? I thought that was the whole reason cold launch was invented in the first place.
“Not that this can’t be overcome, just that it’s not like there aren’t any downsides to missile systems.”
Yeah, well, a carrier getting sunk because it isn’t adequately protected is a pretty big downside I’d say.
“With regards to alternate CIWS systems, a 76mm Melara is stretching the definition a bit”
I didn’t mean that the 76mm is a CIWS, I meant that I’d like the Millennium Gun CIWS to be complemented by the 76mm. The Millennium Gun is effective up to 5km and has a high rate of fire. The 76mm has a low rate of fire, but is longer ranged: DART 8km, PFF 16km. Although these are maximum ranges, not effective ranges (I can’t find figures for their effective ranges). That said, this gives you 3 layers of defence against anti-ship missiles at different ranges, as opposed to just 1 layer of defence with Phalanx (with a paltry effective range of just 1.5km).
“but has the problem that VLS fired missiles do in that it’s a through-deck mount, meaning placement is limited.”
I’d say deck penetration is an advantage, not a problem, since it gives you access to much more ammo, which would be vital in the event of a saturation attack. If placement is currently tricky, I’m sure it’s not an insurmountable problem.
“The Millennium gun at least has the advantage of being self-contained”
Well to me that’s a disadvantage in the case of a satuaration attack. The more ammo a CIWS (or any gun) has access to the better. Fast auto-reloaders are also a benefit (although a simple manual back-up method would be essential in case the auto-reloader starts playing up).
“but I’m also not sure AHEAD or PFF ammo are really credible when talking about hypersonic anti-ship missiles (the reason for looking for alternatives to Phalanx, for the greater range)”
Well firstly Phalanx is hardly credible against anything except subsonic missiles since it has an effective range of just 1.5km. A missile travelling at Mach 1 could cover that distance in just over 4 seconds. A missile at Mach 5 could cover that distance in under 1 second. Even if Phalanx manages to destroy a missile in that short timeframe, fragments could do significant damage to the ship (and if the bridge and/or radars are hit, it’s a mission-kill). And with such a short effective range, how many anti-ship missiles could Phalanx take out? I’m guessing 1, maybe 2 at a push, because even if a missile’s subsonic I’m guessing Phalanx is going to need about 2-3 seconds per missile to destroy it.
AHEAD and PFF on the other hand (and all similar rounds that use tungsten projectiles) work more like a shotgun than a rifle, so they’re far more likely to hit and destroy what they’re firing at and they’re able to do so further away from the ship than Phalanx can, so missile fragments are far less of an issue or no issue at all (of course covering vital areas of a ship in Kevlar is always a sensible precaution).
But in any case, what’s the fastest a sea-skimming missile can fly before friction becomes an issue? The fastest anti-ship missiles are ballistic because the air’s thinner at high altitude so friction isn’t such an issue. And to take out such missiles you need SM-3, SM-6, Aster 30 Block 1NT (and Block 2 BMD when it’s ready), not CIWS or other gun-based defences, which are to take out less fast sea-skimming missiles, along with Aster 15, Aster 30 and CAMM (and potentially HVPs too).
“because just destroying control surfaces might not be sufficient against such targets as it is against subsonic cruise missiles and aircraft.”
Well firstly any pilot who flies in range of any ship-based defences needs his head examining and secondly why do you say that?
It seems to me that if the control surfaces on anti-ship sea-skimming missiles are destroyed several kilometres away from a ship, then it seems likely that the missiles will crash into the sea and the further away from a ship a missile is destroyed, the less likely it is that missile fragments will be a problem.
Of course tests would need to be carried out to prove this and so I’d like realistic tests to be carried out on any weapons like the Millennium Gun and OTO Melara 76mm to see if they work as advertised before the RN buys any.
“The Phalanx at least has AP rounds and a very good targeting system that’s relatively well maintained and kept up to date.”
Well 25 AHEAD rounds detonating in extremely quick succession to each other would send out 3,800 tungsten projectiles at up to 5km away from a ship. PFF has a max range of 16km. Even if the effective range is half that, 8km is still not to be sniffed at and far superior to Phalanx. And if HVPs can be made to work against anti-ship missiles at 80+km that would be the best solution out of the 3. Even if 1 or 2 HVPs miss, that still gives you time to fire 1 of 2 CAMMs and you still have DART, PFF and AHEAD to fall back on if the CAMMs miss. A lot of misses would be required for an anti-ship missile to get through all those layers of defence to hit a ship (which in the not too distant future may also have electricity-based defences as I mentioned earlier).
“Honestly, I think that by the time any of this is ready to be put into place, laser-based systems will be starting to take over.”
Well Dragonfire already exists. From what I’ve read, until it exceeds 300 kilowatts it won’t be able to shoot down anti-ship missiles, but at present it is capable of blinding or burning out the sensors in anti-ship missiles. That said, laser weapons can be affected by moisture in the air (rain, fog, clouds, snow) as well as dust, smoke and man-made obscurants, so it’s another useful layer of defence (weather & other conditions permitting), not a replacement for all the layers of defence I mentioned above.
“I’m afraid I don’t know anything more about the ECM than is publicly available (and the joys of working in the industry is that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it anyway).”
Well if the carriers don’t have ECM, then they should be fitted with SLQ-32 or something as good as or better than it. And they’d also benefit from chaff, flares, Siren decoys and IrvinGQ floating decoys if they don’t have them.
I’d much rather the escorts up their missile carrying capacity, partly because the RN prefers to separate out their capabilities and I defer to their experience on the operational side, but because they already have the fire control systems in place. I think the type 997 radar can mostly take care of search and track for many targets but it’s not going to be an adequate solution for high-supersonic or hypersonic missiles in the same way SAMSON or even EMPAR would. Even though it’s cold-launched Sea Ceptor (aka CAMM) still comes in sealed canisters with frangible covers. You can see them pretty well in this slow-mo footage of the firing trials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl-US7xdIX4 “Cold” launch systems were designed to reduce the minimum engagement range and reduce the requirements of the launch system with regards to exhaust management etc.
I know talking about budgets is annoying but everything comes down to them one way or another. It does seem a bit stupid to “penny pinch” but the people who decide the budgets firstly don’t work in the industry so their comprehension on how engineering projects go is minimal, but also they have to justify that over spending that money on other things. It might only cost an extra £500 million but they’d have to justify why they’re not spending that on healthcare or schools or paying off the national debt or on the Army or RAF (as they are in need new tanks and planes and on the front line more frequently than the Navy lately), because if the public at large don’t like it they lose their jobs (one of the downsides of living in a democracy). IF there is an imminent conflict, THEN they don’t have the same difficulties getting funding. I don’t like it, it’s just the way defence spending works when there’s not enough money to go around. And stopping things like foreign aid will kill people more surely than an under-defended carrier force in peace time.
This is also because ships as a whole are long-lead items, where as off-the shelf CIWS/missile CIWS are relatively quick to acquire. Plus I’m sure there are already plenty of studies and implementation plans for things like SeaRAM to be acquired and fitted at short notice.
I’m just referring to the differences between a high-threat an low-threat environments. Because in low-threat environments, the missiles on the escorts as well as the 3 phalanx systems to protect the task-force from UAVs and subsonic anti-ship missiles is just fine. The only time they would need defences against barrages of supersonic, hypersonic or even ballistic missiles is in a high-threat environment, the type you’d only get in a full-on war with Russia or China.
With respect to said hypersonic missile or the reentry vehicle of a ballistic one, they’re almost certainly going to be steered through the terminal phase by vectored thrust, so there would be no control surfaces to destroy to disable it. And while there might be a radar seeker head, there will likely be inertial guidance which would also be unaffected.
And in defence of Phalanx, while it doesn’t have very good range it’s average hit time is among the best out there (I think it averages about a hit on the 3rd round) thanks to frequent updates which is yet another benefit of it being non-deck-penetrating (which means it will be better maintained too). I really don’t see how ammunition is a big concern since the CIWS is a tertiary system anyway (so the number of targets would be small), and any engagement window is going to be very short.
Currently CAMM-ER is still under development so isn’t really an option (especially as the Italians, who are responsible for that part of the program have been reluctant to fund it) and while it should be good (if ASRAAM is anything to go by) Aster is in another league when it comes to performance, which goes a long way to cover the disparity in missile numbers between European escorts and US with larger numbers of less accurate missiles.
It is however an expensive missile (at about £1.5 million each), where as Sea Ceptor will be cheaper, how much so I don’t know. ASRAAM is supposed to be around £200,000-250,000 so with a more advanced seeker head, a booster (for the ER model) and the cold gas generator system, it’s probably more like £0.5 million. That said that’s probably not much more expensive than the guided munitions for 76mm guns based off the approximately $1 million per shell cost of the 155mm guided shell the Americans made.
I’m also not sure how the cold launch system would work with an ADL type launcher, seeing as it’s at such and angle. My preference for up-arming the destroyer and frigate fleet would be to add ExLS 3-cell launchers (which seem to have been designed with CAMM in mind, and a certainly qualified for launching quad-packed CAMM) as they’re essentially cut-down mk.41 systems which should be much easier to find room for than even an 8-cell Sylver-43 (the 35 being too short for the ER version, if that’s ever finished). And so long as they can work out how not to interrupt flight ops, 1 or 2 of the 8-cell Sylver launchers on the carriers would give the capacity for 32 or 64 missiles, which would be plenty should any missiles ever make it through all the escorts.
I don’t much like the Type 31 and would much prefer the full amount of Type 26 and 45s, but the 31 is a quarter of the price. The Iver Huitfeldt-class seems remarkably cheap, especially with such advanced systems, I would suspect the list price is just for the bare ship and doesn’t include weapons systems, radars etc. What it can do over a River (II) is defend itself against air attack and fully support a helicopter, which can be used for some light anti-submarine duties. Because even though a River technically has a flight deck, you can’t station a helicopter onboard unless there’s a hangar to keep it in flying condition for any length of time.
“I’d much rather the escorts up their missile carrying capacity”
What and not put any missiles on the carriers at all?
What about fitting a different CIWS or fitting other gun-based defences to complement CIWS?
What about fitting electricty-based defences like microwave weapons, Dragonfire, laser dazzlers, a ship-based version of DIRCM and a ship-based version of IRST?
What about fitting SSTD and an EW suite? (I’m not sure if the QE and PoW have either)
What about the Scutter torpedo countermeasure? (which can be used by both subs and surface ships): https://www.rafael.co.il/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Scutter.pdf
Or anti-torpedo torpedoes like SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill or SSTD CAT?
The carriers are far too expensive to defend them with just 3 or 4 Phalanx. Sending them to war with such pitiful defence would be idiotic and utterly negligent.
“partly because the RN prefers to separate out their capabilities and I defer to their experience on the operational side”
It’s not always been this way, it’s just a money-saving exercise, nothing to do with sound tactics.
The cancelled CVA carriers were going to be fitted with Sea Dart (and they’d have had cats & traps as well).
HMS Ark Royal (R09) was fitted with Seacat in a refit and so was HMS Hermes (R12). [And up to 1970 Hermes had cats & traps and in a decision that boggles my mind, they were REMOVED. Who removes cats & traps from a carrier? That’s absolutely insane. Instead of developing the Harrier, why didn’t we develop new CATOBAR aircraft to take off from HMS Hermes?]
And if the Falklands told us anything (not that we needed telling since it’s common sense) it’s that the more defences a ship has and the better the defences are, the harder it is to sink. None of our ships there had Phalanx or Goalkeeper. Not all had the best anti-air missiles or the best targeting radars. And because the carriers didn’t have cats & traps we had no AEW aircraft or non-STOVL aircraft.
“I think the type 997 radar can mostly take care of search and track for many targets but it’s not going to be an adequate solution for high-supersonic or hypersonic missiles in the same way SAMSON or even EMPAR would.”
OK, but that’s no reason to not fit CAMMs to the carriers as another layer of defence to protect them from anti-ship missiles fired by aircraft, ships or subs. After all, the Type 45s are meant to deal with the faster/harder missiles with Aster 30.
That said, the Type 45s don’t currently carry Aster 30 Block 1NT to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles despite being dedicated AAW ships, which doesn’t make much sense.
And in any case, what are the fastest missiles Aster 30 can take out? I read that the French tested Aster 30 against a Coyote target but this article doesn’t say what speed the Coyote was travelling at: https://www.naval-technology.com/news/newsfrench-navy-frigate-successfully-intercepts-supersonic-sea-skimming-missile/
Wikipedia says Coyote can do Mach 2.6 when sea-skimming at 30-15ft (approx 9-4.5m). That’s not even high supersonic, let alone hypersonic.
I hope this is a case of us not wanting to let the enemy know Aster 30’s true capabilities and not a case of Aster 30 being sub-standard. If it’s the latter, all the more reason to fit ships with other types of defence and to drastically improve Aster 30. Greatly improved range (and the ability to accelerate in its terminal phase like Meteor) would be important improvements so that enemy aircraft can be kept at arm’s length.
Currently air-launched missiles like the Russian Kh-95MK2 (range 550km) and P-800 Oniks (range 600km – 800km depending on variant) can be fired at ships from beyond the range of Aster 30.
Considering that a Type 45 can only carry 48 Asters and considering that 9 Su-35s carrying 6 anti-ship missiles each could overwhelm a Type 45 in terms of the number of missiles carried, I’d say increasing Aster 30’s range should be treated as a matter of extreme urgency.
And yes I know F-35s flying CAP are meant to deal with enemy aircraft, but (a) we don’t have many of them, (b) they have an atrocious sortie rate of about a third of a sortie a day and (c) they won’t get Meteor until 2024, so I seriously doubt our ability to get F-35s in the air when we need them in the air or their ability to shoot down enemy aircraft since AIM-120 is inferior to Meteor. Meteor, unlike AIM-120, can accelerate in its terminal phase. It’s resistent to ECM and physical countermeasures and has a no-escape zone of 60km. It’s far more likely to hit its target than AIM-120 and since an F-35B can only carry a small amount of air-to-air missiles internally (4 max), it needs to carry the best missiles available.
“Even though it’s cold-launched Sea Ceptor (aka CAMM)”
Well strictly speaking Sea Ceptor is the system, whereas CAMM is the missile that it fires.
“still comes in sealed canisters with frangible covers. You can see them pretty well in this slow-mo footage of the firing trials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl-US7xdIX4”
That’s why I asked if positioning Sea Ceptor below a carrier’s flight deck would be doable. Also it would make sense to look into non-frangible covers.
““Cold” launch systems were designed to reduce the minimum engagement range and reduce the requirements of the launch system with regards to exhaust management etc.”
Fair enough. As the man in the orthopaedic shoes said, I stand corrected.
“I know talking about budgets is annoying but everything comes down to them one way or another.”
But sending ships out to war woefully underarmed and under-defended is a recipe for disaster. We saw that in the Falklands. If we’re not going to build ships properly, then why build them at all, especially considering how few of them we have and how long it would take to replace them if they’re sunk. We’re 2 trillion in debt anyway. A few billion more to properly arm and defend all our RN and RFA ships would be a drop in the ocean. Plus it would be a one-off payment anyway (not including upgrades over the years of course).
“It does seem a bit stupid to “penny pinch””
It is stupid. And also ridiculously short-sighted and utterly negligent.
“but the people who decide the budgets firstly don’t work in the industry so their comprehension on how engineering projects go is minimal”
Well that needs to change for starters.
“but also they have to justify that over spending that money on other things.”
Well I’m sure that if politicians said that they’re spending this money to make our warships and support ships more survivable in a war many people could understand that because of the Falklands and would get behind it.
“It might only cost an extra £500 million but they’d have to justify why they’re not spending that on healthcare or schools or paying off the national debt”
As I said, we’re 2 trillion in debit. We don’t pay that debt off, we just manage it and a few billion more wouldn’t make much difference one way or another.
And in any case, as I said in my previous comment, I’d prefer we built one less Type 26 or scrapped the Type 31s to fund upgrades to all our RN and RFA ships. My preference though would be scrapping the Type 31s.
“or on the Army or RAF (as they are in need new tanks and planes and on the front line more frequently than the Navy lately)”
I don’t see the point of building new tanks. They can be taken out too easily by fixed-wing aircraft, attack helicopters, ATGMs and mines. They’re too unsurvivable and I don’t see how they can be made more survivable.
As for new planes for the RAF, I’d rather we upgrade all our Tranche 2 Typhoons to Tranche 3A before we consider buying any new aircraft. I certainly don’t want us to buy F-35As and I don’t see the point of Tempest because I can’t see either aircraft surviving in Russian or Chinese airspace with their sophisticated IADSes and aircraft with IRST and plenty of air-to-air missiles.
The best way to take out fixed SAM sites, fixed radar sites, mobile SAM launchers and mobile anti-ship missile launchers imo is by using suicide drones. They should be cheap, easy to manufacture and we’d need the ability to manufacture them quickly in vast numbers.
If we do buy more aircraft for home defence though, my preference would be the Gripen E as it’s relatively cheap to buy, cheap to fly and maintain, easy to maintain and it has the huge advantage that it can take off from and land on roads. It carries excellent missiles like Meteor and IRIS-T and has an excellent EW suite (Arexis) as well as the excellent Skyward G IRST system. IRIS-T has the unique ability that it can shoot down air-to-air missiles and SAMs, capability our F-35Bs could do with.
“because if the public at large don’t like it they lose their jobs”
Well this doesn’t apply to civil servants/beancounters and as for politicians, if they explained to the public why they’re upgrading the ships, I’m sure many people would get behind it. But even if they don’t, it would be nice to see a politician make a sensible decision even if it means he/she doesn’t get re-elected.
“IF there is an imminent conflict, THEN they don’t have the same difficulties getting funding. I don’t like it, it’s just the way defence spending works when there’s not enough money to go around.”
Well as I said, if a new system is placed on a ship at short notice, then there are going to be teething problems and the crew won’t have time to familiarise themselves with the system. This is no way to run a navy.
“And stopping things like foreign aid will kill people more surely than an under-defended carrier force in peace time.”
I said we should stop giving money to countries that don’t need it. Not countries that do. Why do we give foreign aid to Pakistan, India and China? They’ve got plenty of money of their own. Much of the foreign aid money ends up in tax havens and isn’t used to help anyone except the people who earn interest on the money.
“Plus I’m sure there are already plenty of studies and implementation plans for things like SeaRAM to be acquired and fitted at short notice.”
Well, again, teething troubles and crews getting familiarised with the new system are going to be issues if you just plonk a new system on a ship. Plus I read an article recently that said the RN tested SeaRAM a while back and wasn’t that impressed with it. I didn’t bookmark the article though. That said, RAM only has a range of 10km, so I assume SeaRAM has the same range and SeaRAM only has 11 missiles. 24 CAMMs with a range of 25km would be better than SeaRAM.
Or if you want something at short notice where teething troubles and crew familiarity wouldn’t be an issue, how about driving 1 or 2 army Sky Sabre trucks onto a carrier (12 CAMMs per truck)? Maybe netting could be used to prevent the frangible cap fragments from getting onto the flight deck? Or else develop new caps that don’t break up when the missile fires.
“I’m just referring to the differences between a high-threat an low-threat environments. Because in low-threat environments, the missiles on the escorts as well as the 3 phalanx systems to protect the task-force from UAVs and subsonic anti-ship missiles is just fine.”
In any environment Phalanx lacks range since it only has an effective range of 1.5km and it could be out of ammo in as little as 20 seconds.
A UAV drone swarm could easily overwhelm Phalanx as could 2 or more anti-ship missiles. Phalanx simply lacks sufficient ammo to deal with more than 1 or 2 anti-ship missiles or more than a few drones. As for a Type 23 or Type 45 using missiles to take out UAVs that’s a very expensive way to take them out. And if the drones are small, the missiles may have trouble hitting them anyway.
I think Phalanx is well overdue for retirement, but to convince me that Phalanx is worth keeping on the carriers (or any ship) it would:
(a) need a much longer effective range (i.e. a range at which fragments from a destroyed anti-ship missile wouldn’t be able to reach the carrier)
(b) it would need to be deck penetrating with a fast auto-reloader (and a simple-to-use manual back-up system)
(c) there should be more of them on the carriers (at least 4, ideally 6 or 8)
And even then it would be sensible to also have 2-4 OTO Melara 76mm guns on the carriers and to have electricity-based defences to complement the gun-based defences.
Of course the only way to know which system works best against anti-ship missiles is to test them all against a variety of missiles: Improved Phalanx, Oerlikon Millennium Gun, Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian, OTO Melara 76mm, Bofors 40mm Mk4, Bofors 57mm Mk110, HVPs fired from main naval guns.
But in its current form, Phalanx is far too short ranged and lacks enough ammo to be a credible CIWS. It either needs to be drastically improved or replaced.
“The only time they would need defences against barrages of supersonic, hypersonic or even ballistic missiles is in a high-threat environment, the type you’d only get in a full-on war with Russia or China.”
Well firstly, even non-state actors have access to anti-ship missiles these days. An attack of even a relatively small number of subsonic anti-ship missiles (2-4 say) would be a problem for any ship (especially support ships with no missiles), let alone supersonic or faster missiles. And even if a Type 23 or Type 45 could survive such an attack, they’d have to use up precious missiles and/or Phalanx rounds and/or decoys to defend themselves (plus the Type 23s don’t even have Phalanx and not all have been upgraded to Sea Ceptor). Also there’s always the possibility that a leaker gets through the defences and hits a ship. All the more reason to fit ships with better gun-based defences than Phalanx and electricity-based defences that don’t rely on missiles or ammo to defend a ship.
Secondly, a saturation attack of supersonic, hypersonic or ballistic missiles wouldn’t necessarily be needed. They’re all hard to shoot down, so even one missile might be enough, especially if it’s stealthy, can accelerate in its terminal phase and/or can manoeuvre in its terminal phase. Extremely fast ballistic missiles are the hardest to shoot down and considering that the Type 45s don’t carry Aster 30 Block 1NT, it seems highly likely that a Type 45 could be hit by a ballistic missile. Why they don’t carry Aster 30 Block 1NT I have no idea. I think they already exist or am I mistaken? I know Aster 30 Block 2 BMD is under development. If Block 1NT isn’t currently available, then we should fit Mk41 VLS to the Type 45s and buy SM-3 and SM-6 missiles to adequately protect them against ballistic anti-ship missiles. If it is available, then why don’t the Type 45s have them? More penny-pinching?
And thirdly, if we’re not preparing for the worst case scenario, which is a war with Russia and/or China, then what are we doing? Hoping it never comes to that? That’s an insane approach to take. And utterly negligent.
“With respect to said hypersonic missile or the reentry vehicle of a ballistic one, they’re almost certainly going to be steered through the terminal phase by vectored thrust, so there would be no control surfaces to destroy to disable it.”
Well I already said that AHEAD and PFF ammo couldn’t be used against such missiles. They’re for use against sea-skimming missiles, not ballistic missiles.
“And while there might be a radar seeker head, there will likely be inertial guidance which would also be unaffected.”
Ditto my previous comment. The way to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles is with SM-3, SM-6, Aster 30 Block 1NT or Block 2 BMD.
“And in defence of Phalanx, while it doesn’t have very good range”
That’s a massive understatement. Phalanx has an atrocious effective range, just 1.5km. At that range it could only take out 2 subsonic missiles at most. As for faster missiles, it’s next to useless. And even if it managed to shoot down 2 subsonic missiles, the missile fragments could still do damage to a ship. The further away from a ship a missile is destroyed the better. There are better gun-based defences than Phalanx.
“it’s average hit time is among the best out there (I think it averages about a hit on the 3rd round)”
How do you know it’s among the best out there? How does Phalanx compare to the Oerlikon Millennium Gun or the Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian? I’ve not come across any tests comparing them.
And in any case, see my previous comment.
“thanks to frequent updates which is yet another benefit of it being non-deck-penetrating (which means it will be better maintained too).”
I don’t see a link between the frequency of updates and not being deck penetrating. Surely they’re totally unrelated issues?
And as I said in my previous reply, not being deck penetrating is a disadvantage as far as I’m concerned and especially in the case of saturation attacks. How is having access to more ammo not a good thing?
“I really don’t see how ammunition is a big concern since the CIWS is a tertiary system anyway (so the number of targets would be small)”
Are you sure about that? Imagine this scenario: 9 Su-35s carrying 6 anti-ship missiles each fire all 54 missiles beyond the range of Aster 30. A Type 45 fires all its 48 Asters and best case scenario it shoots down 48 anti-ship missiles (of course there could always be leakers). But that leaves 6 more missiles and Phalanx can’t deal with all 6 and the Type 45 is hit and sunk.
The Su-35 can carry the Kh-95MK2 which can use TV guidance in its terminal phase which is immune to ECM and decoys. Smoke might work against Kh-95MK2 missiles, but no RN ships have MASS decoys.
In such a scenario it would make sense for the Phalanx to (a) be longer ranged and (b) have access to as much ammo as possible.
The more layers of defence you have the better and the more missiles and ammo you have the better. Why are we even debating this? It’s common sense.
“and any engagement window is going to be very short.”
Well with Phalanx, definitely.
The current layers of defence of a carrier group are:
We could improve on the current situation though by implementing any of the following:
“Currently CAMM-ER is still under development so isn’t really an option”
Really? This link says nothing about it being under development:
“and while it should be good (if ASRAAM is anything to go by) Aster is in another league when it comes to performance”
In another league in what respects?
“which goes a long way to cover the disparity in missile numbers between European escorts and US with larger numbers of less accurate missiles.”
Do you have a source saying they’re less accurate?
“It is however an expensive missile (at about £1.5 million each)”
“That said that’s probably not much more expensive than the guided munitions for 76mm guns based off the approximately $1 million per shell cost of the 155mm guided shell the Americans made.”
Woah, hang on. Which 155mm shell are you referring to? And what makes you think the DART and PFF ammo for the OTO Melara 76mm will cost $1 million each?
Do you have a source for the cost of DART and PFF?
“I’m also not sure how the cold launch system would work with an ADL type launcher, seeing as it’s at such and angle.”
Well I’ve wondered that too. I’m not sure either.
That said, CAMMs can be quad-packed in ADL launchers which have the huge advantage that they can be replenished at sea. That’s the main reason I suggested ADL. Otherwise I’d go with quad-packing CAMMs in Sylver cells and/or Mk41 cells if increased numbers of CAMMs is the only requirement.
“My preference for up-arming the destroyer and frigate fleet would be to add ExLS 3-cell launchers”
Well as I said, if all you require is more CAMMs, then quad-pack them in Sylver cells or Mk41 cells.
Can ExLS be replenished at sea like ADL?
Can CAMMs be cold-launched from ExLS?
“And so long as they can work out how not to interrupt flight ops, 1 or 2 of the 8-cell Sylver launchers on the carriers would give the capacity for 32 or 64 missiles, which would be plenty should any missiles ever make it through all the escorts.”
Well 64 quad-packed CAMMs would be great. As I asked before, could the Sylver or Mk41 launchers be located below the flight deck so that the frangible caps wouldn’t be an issue?
“I don’t much like the Type 31 and would much prefer the full amount of Type 26 and 45s”
“but the 31 is a quarter of the price. The Iver Huitfeldt-class seems remarkably cheap, especially with such advanced systems, I would suspect the list price is just for the bare ship and doesn’t include weapons systems, radars etc.”
Well seems you’re right about the weapons anyway:
“The Danish frigate displaces twice that which an LCS does (6,600 tons versus 3,300 tons), but costs only $332M per ship excluding weapons. Even if one assumes that the weapons will double the cost, the Huitfeldts’ pricetag remains about the same as the DOD estimate for the LCS.”
$332 million is £257 million. Double that and you’re at £514 million. Obviously this doesn’t take inflation into account, but this is still about half the cost of a Type 45 or Type 26 and far better equipped than a Type 31.
Also the Iver Huitfeldts were constructed in blocks in Estonia and Lithuania and assembled in Denmark. That probably also contributed to the low overall cost.
“What it can do over a River (II) is defend itself against air attack and fully support a helicopter, which can be used for some light anti-submarine duties.”
I said an upgraded Batch 2 River OPV, not an existing one.
This article suggested some possible ways to upgrade the Batch 2 Rivers: https://www.navylookout.com/enhancing-the-royal-navys-batch-ii-opvs/
The corvette suggestion looks like the best one to me for operating in the Persian Gulf and for escorting commercial ships, although I’d modify the suggestion as follows:
Nevertheless, the combination of cannon on Type 31 seems to represent a flexible solution. 57mm over the bows at just over 4 rps; lighter 40mm of course by hanger but totalling 2 x 5rps over the stern. From the quarters to beam you’re introducing a ‘medium’ combination of 57mm & 40mm at just short of 10 rps, assuming sensors fully up to task. That aspect of the weapon fit for the intended project costs appears fairly balanced.
All 3 cannons firing 3P programmable ammunition will be invaluable. Must make sure they are integrated with both Radar and the ships E/O systems for extra redundancy ?
Someone doesn’t like your comment, Sam. Wonder what the objection was? That’s the overall weakness of scoring: plus points can be comprehended; but, without a reply, negatives are – what exactly?
Ars Technica are experimenting with a system where you select the reason for giving an upvote (Agree, Interesting, Funny, or Adds to Story being the options) or downvote (Disagree, Inaccurate, Doesn’t Contribute, Abusive, being the options there), but it’s purely for editorial consumption, they don’t share the results with the readers (yet).
Why not a 100mm gun?
A gap in the market?
Well, I revisited a calc I’d done for interest a while back, by way of simplistic comparison:
57mm, 76mm*, 114mm, 127mm all chuck out 9kg of ‘metal’ per second.
40mm sends out 5kg**; *SR 12.5kg & Mk15 7.5kg***
** Type 31 pairs two of these, of course. *** kinetic i.e. no detonation.
Looked at the French 100mm and arrived at 17.5kg (13.5 projectile @Владимир Темников 1.3rps), so your point has merit, evidently.
Referring to my earlier submission, I still would not want to face 2x40mm handing me 10 shells a second or 1 plus a 57mm – 8.5. Best to take the safe route and come over the bow for a paltry >3.5rps, and trust she doesn’t prove over generous by donating a SeaCeptor bonus.
Why would coming over the bow reduce the rpm? The 40mm are mounted on the centreline in the bow and stern, not port and starboard.
If you wanted to reduce you exposure attacking at the stern would be the safest route.
So they are! Must be too much relaxing. Fair enough, just re-arrange the heavy metal (quite liked my misconception, though).
Gavin, following comments are not aimed at you – just continuing the conversation.
Not to sure how good the French 100mm airburst is, though Leonardo’s 4AP should be an option with a bit of work. One of the problems often overlooked in these comparisons (other than guided munition options), is the ability of some of these guns to keep it up. Guns like the 76mm & 100mm can keep firing at that rate till they run out of ammo. Air cooled guns can’t & one of the worst is the 57mm. Two ASHM incoming, your 57mm knocks out one, then goes on holiday. Great! Shift to supersonic & hypersonic & things really start to look bad.
100mm is also capable of genuine NGFS (76mm is somewhat marginal). Throw some money at Leonardo for a 100mm Volcano version?
Quite impressed with the 40mm though. For the money, it’s hard to come up with something better (35mm is a better CIWS but more expensive, 40mm better general purpose & cheaper). If you were to fit one to an OPV, 40mm definitely. If only they would swap out the 57mm on the T31 for basically anything, 76mm or better.
Considering that the Type 31 is likely to operate in the Persian Gulf escorting commercial vessels, I agree about adding a 76mm gun, especially since the VULCANO round would be good against fast attack craft. The Type 31 could also do with an Oerlikon Millennium Gun. And Mk41 VLS for quad-packed CAMMs. And anti-ship missiles that double as land attack missiles. And short-ranged Griffin missiles to take out fast attack craft. And DS30Ms. And APKWS rockets fitted to the Wildcat. And the Krait Defence System.
But other than those silly petty shortcomings, it’s a fantastic ship.
Typo “20 mm Bofors” Im sure these are the GAM guns you are refering too. Text above picture of USS King and Block 0 Phalanx
Apologies – should read Oerlikon 20mm
The Type 22 HMS Broadsword and Brilliant both had 2 x 1 40mm/L60 Mark 9 guns but obviously Sea Wolf was their best defence 🙂
Phalanx is getting old now, dont get me wrong the mount and sensors are great but the M61 is the limiting factor. For naval work against modern threats its now too short ranged. Looking at the figures only 3 type 45s have a full phalanx compliment….Aster missiles are great but being Radar guided they would be of little use in areas where close proximity to terrain and for the sake of the Arguement 3m22s Tsirkons plasma stealth means Infra red sensors are more valuable. This is exactly to same issue the RN had in the Falklands where the Radar guided weapons were useless in San Carlos and they were forced to use SeaCat. Phalanx block 1b is very helpful in these envoiroments. For RFA ships Phalanx is still very viable as a result of the RFA lack of appropriate Radar (Fire control, surveillance etc). I believe that the RN needs to have some IR guided missiles too like MICA which MBDA produce and use Sylver launchers too…perfect to have a few on the Type 45. Or if the RN wanted to go a different route for lower costs SADRAL CIWS (Self contained non deck pen with EO/FLIR) which weighs about a ton and has 6 Mistral Missiles (A heavy MANPADS with Prox fusing which FIM 92 Stinger only added recently with Models J and K). The Type 31 looks like they will have 40mm Mark 4 Bofors and 57mm Mark 3 Bofors which with 3P will be very nice. SeaRAM is great too but the RIM 116 Missiles are pricy at $100,000 per missile. For Gun based CIWS I would go with the Mark 4 Bofors 40mm…3P is a big selling point, it can be used with a variety of FCS and could cover the 30mm Bushmasters job too (Millenium gun also fits nicely but the RN appear to want Mk 4 Bofors). For Missile CIWS SADRAL….its reload time is 5 minutes whereas SeaRAM requires using a hoist for individual missiles which could take ages in combat. Phalanx will still be around for decades as the Army/Marines love them in tue C-RAM role which to be fair is easy pickings for a system designed for supersonic ashms lol
Physics works both ways.
If a Tsirkon is using “plasma stealth” it cannot be radar guided…plasma wont let radar in but it also wont let a homing radar out If it is surrounded by a plasma.
IR homing on a missile doing Mach 5+ is also an issue . Friction and ablation degrade the sensors ability to see the target.
Funnily enough these issues get left out of any discussions…
Indeed. The plasma Stealth as you rightly stated blinds any potential guidance system apart from Inertial guidance for land attack. I used Tsirkon in my comment if it was as fully capable as Tussia claims as a worst case scenario. On previous articles I have pondered on how it would see ? best Idea would be Hypsersonic Mach 9 in its termimal phase but cruises around at lower speed to avoid forming plasma. Even then its essentially unguided at the end so any manouvers would render a miss.
Not strictly true. Plasma can be tuned to a particular frequency, so it can either block out that portion of RF or let it through. So in the real sense plasma stealth could work. However, as the missile is radar guided it will be lighting up the world with a “here I am” signal, where the ship’s ESM will locate and track. The other advantage is that Aster/Viper be an active RF guided missile also has a secondary passive function, where it can home on a transmitter, so long as it’s within in band range. As you mentioned if it is using a plasma shield it will be lighting up the sky visually as well as thermally so it can be tracked and targeted without radar. The other issue with plasma is maintaining it around the body or at least the nose of the missile. How is it initiated, then maintained and for how long?
But Perseus is going to be Mach 5. How will it get round the friction and ablation issues?
RIM 116 missiles are very very pricy. A few years ago the DoD was paying $800,000 per missile, Wikipedia now quotes the price at an incredible $998,000.
Jesus…I thought they were $100,000….well the RN wont be getting them then ??
So its defence on the cheap again but billions for the Nanny State.
Yup…unfortunately ? The RN cant even buy any replacement for Harpoon for 10 years…watch as it becomes permanent. We pwe the Argentines for picking a fight when they did…the Nott cuts would have killed the Navy and right now HMS Indefensible would be IRL
Sea Ceptor will be around the same price, for a vastly more capable missile, with at least twice the range, higher speed, better seeker (and a shorter minimum engagement range…).
I have a bridge to sell you.
The video of land based Phalanx intercepting incoming Iranian missiles is awe inspiring.
It has to be some of the most memorable days in Iraq (post gulf war 2) based at Balad. The US had installed a number of C-RAMs round the base. One was near the Green bean coffee shop. You’d be there sipping a chai latte when the siren would go off and the Phalanx would light up the sky. I can attest to the system working on numerous occasions, taking out both rockets and mortars. The system even took out 152mm shells fired from an artillery pierce hidden in a garage nearby in Ishaqi to the North. It really was like firework’s night as the rounds hitting the incoming would give off different colours when hit. Funny thing got a bit blase towards the end, being typical Brits, we stayed and enjoyed our coffees, whilst the Yanks dove for the shelters.
Apart from the loading issues with the Sea RA, did the trial on HMS York show any other issues when compared to Phalanx?
Maybe time to look at phasing Phalanx out in favour of the 40mm Mk 4 going on the Type 31, both to reduce the range of systems/calibers in service and to provide the range and punch the former clearly lacks.
Add some LMM cannisters to the existing 30mm mounts as well and it would add up to a significant boost in defensive firepower for a relatively small investment.
I would sleep a lot better at night if our carriers had at least one RAM system each, if we are going to have so few ships at least arm them to the teeth …And what’s happening with anti ship missiles the government have give a shout out to different companies anyone ?
Whilst to pricy for all ships to use….the Carriers getting RAM Mk 49 launchers (21 RIM 116 Missiles) or SeaRAM (11 Missiles) is a must in my opinion as the carriers cost a fortune and the crew compliment size deserves better protection Every ship must pull its weight in a fight – 3 Phalanx mounts do not cut the Mustard. The argument that the Type 45s will protect them fails to consider the Carriers escorts being sunk, the Type 45 has serious deficiencies in ASuW and ASW that can and will be exploited. The Type 26 frigates will be stretched to protect 2 carriers plus any RFA ships from Sibs as well as protecting the Type 45, the Type 31 has yet to to have steel cut. The Invincible Class had SeaDart for most of their lives (tbh SeaWolf would have been a better choice but thats in hindsight) Right now as far as ASHMs, the Type 23s and Type 26 carry Sea Ceptor which can be used as an ASHM abiet with less explosive power but better kinetic impact. As with US Naval SAMs their use as ASHMs is very much a secondary role to AAW, its better than having no ASHM at all.
With respect, the T45 doesn’t have serious deficiencies in in ASuW and ASW, because those aren’t their mission. That’s the equivalent of stating that the carriers are deficient in ASW. Unlike the USN, the RN is rather strict about having specific and specialised mission sets for their different classes of vessel; a T45 isn’t a direct comparison to a Burke.
In the RN, for better or worse, a T45 is an air defence asset, T23/T26 is ASW and T23GP/T31 is general purpose (whatever that means). Submarines handle land attack and ASuW. For comparison, a Burke handles pretty much all of the above, although generally speaking not as well as each of the specialised assets we have.
Personally, I think that all RN escorts should carry ASMs, and to be fair to them they normally fit Harpoon launchers when they go into hotter zones like the Starit of Hormuz.
But I think, on balance, that a QE carrier with 2 No. T45 and 2 No. T23/T26 has a roughly comparable defence to the various threats as a US Nimitz battle group all things considered (1 No. Ticonderoga, 3 No. Burke on average). We’re never going to be sailing two carrier battle groups at once unless it’s a full scale conflict, and we won’t be doing that on our own. So additional escorts would be provided by our allies to boost the protection offered. Norwegian, Dutch, French and Italian (let alone US) escorts are excellent and regularly train as part of NATO standing battle groups and spearately with us too. We would not be in a bad position with them providing support.
EW countermeasures are very effective but not often talked about, and I think those in combination with Phalanx (or perhaps the Bofors 40 mm which seems to be getting a lot of love in the comments section here) are sufficient for the carriers’ personal protection.
Type 45 not having deficiencies because its not it mission….In combat the Enemy will use this against you. A Sub will definately take shots at killing 1 of 6 Air Defence ships because in the Type 45s case it has little ASW capabilities, it also cost an absolute fortune and because in Combined Arms ops it will make an enemy air forces job a lot easier. Remember that this is a warship, the UK made the mistake of overfocussing on ASW throughout the 1970s and then got a beating in 1982 by the Argentine Air Force. The type 23 is the best all round asset the RN has. The Type 45 had a lot of equipment “fitted for but not with” AKA we couldnt afford it…hell the Harpoons the type 45 has were made in the mid 1980s for the Batch 3 Type 22 Frigates.
Broadly, I agree with you, I would want escorts that can look after themselves in more than one situation. But the deficiency is with the RN’s CONOPs, not the vessel.
As I said above, I would want all escorts fitted with ASMs, but I would draw the line at making an air defence destroyer an ASW platform or vice versa. The two roles are to a certain extent mutually exclusive (it would be very difficult to be on station for ASW work and AAD at the same time, and you can’t be launching and operating ASW helicopters and launching Asters at the same time either), and both are costly for specialisation.
Any sub making a move on a T45 would be doing so while being hunted by 2 T23/T26 with their Merlins, plus the additional rotorcraft from the carrier, and potentially those from the T45s themselves too. In addition, the T45s will have countermeasures etc. (as will all the other escorts), and trying to avoid the Astute that’s also skulking around. A Burke on AAD picket duty would be equally vulnerable/safe depending on your point of view.
I agree that the T45 was compromised somewhat by FFBNW, but it is still an excellent air defence platform in spite of that and a passable surface combattant with the Harpoons. Granted, they’re long in the tooth, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the newer Burkes (flight IIA) are FFBNW ASMs too- they don’t have a dedicated ASM either.
The Type 45s don’t even carry Aster 30 Block 1NT to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles, which makes no sense for air defence ships. They should carry them as well as Aster 30 Block 2 BMD when they’re ready.
All our ships are under-armed/under-defended so I’d also like to see ships in a carrier group fitted with as much of the following as will fit to make them more survivable:
– Microwave weapons to burn out the electronics in anti-ship missiles
– Dragonfire to blind or burn out the sensors in anti-ship missiles (weather permitting)
– A ship-based version of DIRCM to confuse IR-guided anti-ship missiles
– Anti-ship missiles (LRASM would be ideal but it’s so damn expensive; buy a few to take out carriers and then maybe something like RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4 to take out smaller ships)
– Oerlikon Millennium Guns with AHEAD ammo to take out anti-ship missiles at up to 5km
– OTO Melara 76mm guns with DART and PFF ammo to take out anti-ship missiles at up to 8km and 16km respectively
– The Scutter torpedo countermeasure
– Type 45s only: Fit Mk41 VLS for anti-ship missiles, TLAM and quad-packed CAMMs
– Type 23s only: Fit Oerlikon Millennium Guns, microwave weapons and Scutter (these can be moved over to the Type 26s and Type 31s as the Type 23s start going out of service)
– Type 26s only: Build them with the same radars as Type 45s and fit Aster 30 and Aster 30 Block 1NT; quad-pack CAMMs in some of the Mk41 cells; fit Type 07 VLA (it’s longer ranged than VL-ASROC); look into the feasibility of (a) fitting anti-torpedo torpedoes (e.g. SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill, SSTD CAT, TORBUSTER), (b) using sub-hunting surface drones like Arcims and Seagull to enhance a Type 26’s sub-detecting capability
– Carriers only: Fit Sea Ceptor (at least 24 CAMMs); fit Oerlikon Millennium Guns; fit SLQ-32 for ECM
– Type 31s only: Replace the 57mm Bofors with an OTO Melara 76mm with VULCANO, DART and PFF rounds; replace one of the 40mm Bofors with a Millennium Gun; fit the Krait Defence System; fit 2 DS30Ms (enhanced with LMMs when they’re available); fit Griffin missiles to take out fast attack craft; fit Mk41 VLS and quad-pack with CAMMs (at least 24)
Support ships could also do with Oerlikon Millennium Guns, microwave weapons and the Scutter torpedo countermeasure (I assume they’d need to also be fitted with towed array sonar for Scutter to work so maybe something like Swordfish).
Scutter can also be fitted to subs, so fit it to the Astutes, Trafalgars and Vanguards.
Wow, that’s a pretty fundamental change to every shipbuilding programme going, a number of other defence acquisition programmes, and a massive increase in the RN’s budget!
I’d agree about the Aster 30NT, it makes sense and I believe that it is being progressed in fact.
All of our surface warships are equipped the Sea Sentor system already, which is similar in concept to SCUTTER, although I couldn’t say which is better. Either way, we’ve got torpedo defences on our warships. It would be nice to see that expanded to our RFA force too, and I’m sure that our subs have something- finding out what it is would be a different matter as everything is classified.
As far as the other stuff goes, the gun systems I don’t know enough about to know what would be the best mix. I would say that things should maintain commonality throughout the fleet though. In some ways, I feel that we should try for commonality as boradly as possible across the armed forces, so I see some argument for the CTAS40 in a marinised mount!
We sail our escorts with 8 cannister launched ASMs, which is exactly the same as most other NATO navies; I’d be happy to see more, but I don’t think it’s necessarily vital. Bear in mind that LRASM isn’t yet cleared for use in ADL or (I think) Mk41; they’ve done test launches but it hasn’t been officially integrated as far as I’m aware. It is purely an air launched weapon at the moment, I think we’d be better off going for a straight buy of RBS-15.
AS far as individual class fitouts, that is always a major topic, but having looked at it I don’t think our escorts come off badly when you really drill the numbers down. One thing is vital though, is that they are regularly updated and developed, and that the next iteration is a step beyond. That is key, and I hope the RN manages it as budgets get more constrained.
“Wow, that’s a pretty fundamental change to every shipbuilding programme going”
Well, yeah, but if we’re going to build ships and not provide them with the best defences available, then what are we doing? We don’t want a repeat of the Falklands where our ships were woefully under-armed/under-defended. And Atlantic Conveyor had no protection whatsoever. There was an idiotic debate at the time whether fitting ships taken up from trade (STUFT) was even legal. In wartime? The mind boggles. And our current Point-class ships also have no protection at all. At the very least they need a towed array sonar, Scutter, microwave weapons and decoys to give them some degree of protection from torpedoes and anti-ship missiles otherwise they’ll be sitting ducks in a war. They also need to be FFBNW other weapons that could be fitted quickly if war breaks out (e.g. Oerlikon Millennium Guns, OTO Melara 76mm guns and anti-air missiles).
The greatest threats ships face are subs and anti-ship missiles, so we need to properly defend them against these threats. To not do so is idotic, short-sighted and criminally negligent. It would be far cheaper to properly defend ships than to replace them if they’re sunk (or repair them if they’re mission killed). And considering how long it takes to build ships, that’s another good reason to defend them as well as possible. Penny-pinching results in ships getting sunk and people needlessly dying.
“a massive increase in the RN’s budget!”
So what? Do we want to properly defend ships or not? If we don’t, then don’t build them in the first place. Our ships are currently extremely vulnerable to subs and anti-ship missiles and I can’t see them surviving for long in a war with a capable enemy.
“I’d agree about the Aster 30NT, it makes sense and I believe that it is being progressed in fact.”
Do you have a source for that?
“All of our surface warships are equipped the Sea Sentor system already, which is similar in concept to SCUTTER”
Is it though? From what I’ve read, Scutter works differently to the 16 expendable acoustic devices that SSTD/Sea Sentor uses. Scutter basically makes a torpedo chase it until it runs out of power. It’s a clever design: http://www.rafael.co.il/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Scutter.pdf
Scutter can be fitted to subs as well as ships.
And in any case, the more layers of defence against torpedoes the better imo. It’s cheaper than replacing a sunk ship.
Another layer of defence worth looking into is anti-torpedo torpedoes: SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill, SSTD CAT, TORBUSTER.
I’d like us to buy some and carry out stringent realistic tests with them, then buy the system that works best.
“It would be nice to see that expanded to our RFA force too”
Yeah, all RN and RFA support ships could do with protection from torpedoes. As well as protection from anti-ship missiles by fitting them with microwave weapons, Oerlikon Millennium Guns and decoys.
“and I’m sure that our subs have something- finding out what it is would be a different matter as everything is classified.”
Well if our subs do have protection against torpedoes, then great. If not, then fitting them with Scutter would be very wise imo. And even if they do already have protection, Scutter would provide another layer of defence, so why not fit it? The more layers of defence the better.
“As far as the other stuff goes, the gun systems I don’t know enough about to know what would be the best mix.”
Well the problem with Phalanx is that it could be out of ammo in as little as 20 seconds and it only has an effective firing range of about 1.5km (although it has a max range of 5.5km). That doesn’t provide a ship with much protection from anti-ship missiles, especially not the faster ones.
The Oerlikon Millennium Gun on the other hand has an effective range of up to 5km. Instead of firing bullets the AHEAD rounds contain 152 tungsten projectiles and as the rounds detonate in quick succession to each other the tungsten projectiles are thrown out in a cone shape to take out the target (compare using a shotgun to a rifle). 25 AHEAD rounds will throw out 3,800 tungsten projectiles, which will ruin a missile’s day. The AHEAD rounds are programmed to detonate a set distance from the ship as they leave the gun’s barrel.
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheinmetall_Oerlikon_Millennium_Gun it can engage 10 anti-ship missiles. A ship with 2 Millennium Guns therefore could potentially take out 20 anti-ship missiles, which isn’t to be sniffed at. The Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian works in a similar way (using tungsten projectiles) and so does the OTO Melara 76mm using PFF ammo. PFF has a range of 16km and the OTO Melara can also fire DART ammo to take out anti-ship missiles at 8km.
Therefore a ship with say 2 Oerlikon Millennium Guns and an OTO Melara 76mm would be far better defended than a ship with just Phalanx. It would have 3 gun-based layers of defence operating at 5km, 8km and 16km, instead of just Phalanx operating at just 1.5km.
Ideally though these gun-based systems would be deck-penetrating to enable them to be auto-reloaded. Such a system would be more complex and more expensive, but being able to reload these systems in wartime would be a huge plus, especially to defend against saturation attacks of anti-ship missiles. After all, missiles are ridiculously expensive and a ship can only carry so many of them. That said, ADL launchers can carry 16 CAMMs or ESSMs and these launchers can be replenished at sea, so I’d like to see all frigates and destroyers fitted with 2 ADL launchers if there’s space for them.
Other layers of defence against anti-ship missiles could be provided by microwave weapons, Dragonfire, laser dazzlers, a ship-based version of DIRCM, an EW suite, decoys and main guns firing HVPs. The more layers of defence the better imo.
I’d also like research to be carried out into the feasibility of fitting various types of armour to ships (e.g. stand-off armour and reactive armour, although obviously the armour shouldn’t be too heavy or it’ll affect the speed that a ship can sail at). It might also be worth looking into the feasability of using underwater drones to simulate the sound that a ship makes to lure torpedoes fired by subs.
“I would say that things should maintain commonality throughout the fleet though.”
Well I’d say that if commonality can be achieved, then good, but it should be secondary to properly defending ships.
“I see some argument for the CTAS40 in a marinised mount!”
It has an effective firing range of just 2.5km, so I don’t see how it’s better when it comes to taking out anti-ship missiles than an Oerlikon Millennium Gun, Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian or OTO Melara 76mm.
“We sail our escorts with 8 cannister launched ASMs, which is exactly the same as most other NATO navies; I’d be happy to see more, but I don’t think it’s necessarily vital.”
Well 8 Harpoons is better than nothing, but our frigates and destroyers definitely need better anti-ship missiles. LRASM would be the best option (well until Perseus is available), but it’s ridiculously expensive. I think 6 LRASMs complemented by cheaper anti-ship missiles would be the best bet, e.g. NSM or RBS-15.
“Bear in mind that LRASM isn’t yet cleared for use in ADL or (I think) Mk41”
Well I’d use ADL for CAMMs or ESSMs, not LRASM.
Do you have a source saying that LRASM isn’t cleared to be used in the Mk41 VLS?
“I think we’d be better off going for a straight buy of RBS-15.”
I like RBS-15 Mk3 (Mk4 will be even better) and I’d like the frigates and destroyers to be fitted with it (it can also double as a land-attack missile), although I think it would be sensible to have a few LRASMs to take out carriers. The NSM is also worth looking at since it’s stealthy to some degree. As for the Type 31s, if they’re operating in the Persian Gulf escorting commercial ships, it would make sense imo to fit them with short-ranged Griffin missiles to give them another layer of defence against fast attack craft.
“AS far as individual class fitouts, that is always a major topic, but having looked at it I don’t think our escorts come off badly when you really drill the numbers down.”
Um, not sure what you mean by “when you really drill the numbers down”. All our ships are woefully under-armed/under-defended imo as I explained above. They all need uparming and need to be better defended. The Type 26s need to be built to a higher spec when it comes to defences. And the Type 31s are an absolute joke imo: only 12 CAMMs, no anti-ship missiles, no Griffin missiles, no sonar, no SSTD, no DS30Ms (which could be enhanced with LMMs when they’re ready) and no CIWS.
“One thing is vital though, is that they are regularly updated and developed”
Well, yeah, totally agree with that. But the Type 26s and especially the Type 31s need to be built to a much higher spec than planned so that when they’re updated you’re working from a far better baseline.
Since Type 26s are likely to be operating some distance from the carriers and Type 45s, I’d like them to have the same radars as a Type 45 and carry Aster 30 and Aster 30 Block 1NT. This alone would make them far more survivable.
“and that the next iteration is a step beyond.”
Agree again. I’d like to see the Type 45 replacements built using the same acoustically quiet hull as the Type 26s and built with CODLOG propulsion to make them as quiet as possible.
And if/when we build our next carriers, build them with cats & traps. We used to build proper carriers. STOVL carriers are second-rate abominations imo.
I don’t disagree that having a decent defence suite is important, but what you’re listing there is more than any serving vessel I’m aware of and also a lot of gear that isn’t operationally in use yet. “So what” with regards money is just not a realistic place to be living- not even the US takes that approach to their vessels and other equipment.
I agree that any vessel going into harm’s way needs to be adequately defended, but towed array sonar is excessive. Fit them with the same Sea Sentor system (which includes a towed decoy as well as the launchers) and an EW+ decoy suite, with any one of the gun systems you mention. The Oerlinkon sounds like a nice mix between capability and cost, if the Phalanx is out of date (inclined to agree). Call that a base level for any RN blue water vessel, which is augmented by the fixed armaments on warship and maybe by something like containerised CAMM-ER as a bolt-on for the RFAs in high threat environments. Microwave, dazzlers, lasers, rail guns, etc. can come along when they’re ready.
As for the Aster 30NT integration, both MBDA and Naval news state that the RN is involved in the development, as confirmed during the Amiens summit in 2016. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2019/01/mbda-aster-30-block-1-nt-missile-passed-preliminary-design-review/
Deck penetration is certainly less of an issue if you plan on having everything permanently fixed to vessels, the RN’s normal policy is that there is a central pool of things like Phalanx, which are fitted and removed from vessels as required. I was thinking in line with that philosophy. If you wanted to diverge from that, then I’d agree that deck penetration is probably a better call. Yes, the CTAS 40 does have a relatively short range, but I have the impression that naval armament of the same calibre generally has a longer range- maybe I’m wrong.
The information regarding LRASM (and harpoon, and NSM) not yet being integrated with ADL (and therefore also MK41) is from BAES’ own data sheet, dated 2018. https://www.baesystems.com/en/product/adaptable-deck-launcher
It’s also worth noting that CAMM isn’t currently integrated either, so we’d either have to switch to the ESSM (not going to happen, as we produce CAMM here in the UK), or pay for integration.
I still think we should go with a single ASM, that one being RBS-15 because it can be air launched and has a land attack capability with a decent range (admittedly not as far as TLAM, but better than NSM). Every different weapon costs money to integrate, to maintain and to train on, on top of the acquisition costs. that’s why I’m a fan of commonality in all things, as bringing operational costs down makes our armed forces more affordable in a budget-constrained world.
Your point about being woefully under armed begs the question: compared to what? If you take an Arleigh Burke or Horizon class, our T45s are actually comparable in pretty much every practical way when it comes to offensive and defensive armament outside of the area air defence role. It lacks land attack capabilities, which the Burke has, but that’s about it.
“I don’t disagree that having a decent defence suite is important”
So why the objection to paying for it then? As I said, replacing sunk ships (or repairing mission-killed ships) would be a lot more expensive in the long run than fitting our ships with the best defences available. Not doing so would be short-sighted, foolish and negligent.
And we don’t have many carriers, destroyers and frigates to begin with, so we need to protect them as best as we possibly can. Plus any defensive measures we fit to ships now should be built in such a way that they’re easy to upgrade so that (a) we can continuously update them throughout their life and (b) they can be moved over to new ships we build in the future and these defences would still be relevant.
“but what you’re listing there is more than any serving vessel I’m aware of”
Yes it is. That’s because ALL current surface ships are woefully under-defended. Even non-state actors these days can get hold of anti-ship missiles.
“and also a lot of gear that isn’t operationally in use yet.”
Again, correct. What I’m proposing is significantly upgrading our ships to make them far more survivable against subs, torpedoes dropped by aircraft and anti-ship missiles. I previously forgot to mention mines. The Arcims and Seagull surface drones come in a version that can detect and destroy mines, so Type 31s operating in the Persian Gulf say would greatly benefit from having such drones (and they’d complement the MCMVs that are already in the Gulf).
““So what” with regards money is just not a realistic place to be living”
Well it should be when it comes to properly defending our ships and the lives of the people on board, especially considering how few ships we have.
And in any case the government always picks and chooses what it claims we can and can’t afford. We’re in massive debt already. We manage that debt, I doubt we’ll ever pay it off. A few billion more to properly defend our ships isn’t going to make much difference one way or the other, as long as it doesn’t affect our creditworthiness as a country and doesn’t affect our ability to borrow money.
We had no trouble finding hundreds of billions of pounds for the banks though, did we? I didn’t hear anyone say “we can’t afford it”, all I heard was that the banks are “too big to fail”. We give away about £13 billion a year in foreign aid, much of which ends up in tax havens, and last time I checked we’re spending over £100 billion on HS2, which is hardly a vital project. It would be nice to have, but it doesn’t even cover all the major English cities and doesn’t even go to Wales or Scotland.
Fixing the crammed commuter services at peak times would be far more important I’d have thought as well as making the trains run on time as well as reliably (so no more bus replacement services). And I don’t see how achieving all that would cost over £100 billion, so there should be plenty of money left over.
“not even the US takes that approach to their vessels and other equipment.”
Well they certainly spend vast amounts on the military, but no they don’t spend money on the things I’ve suggested to make surface ships more survivable. But they should imo. As should any navy in its right mind.
“I agree that any vessel going into harm’s way needs to be adequately defended, but towed array sonar is excessive. Fit them with the same Sea Sentor system (which includes a towed decoy as well as the launchers)”
You may be right about towed array sonar, SSTD/Sea Sentor also has a passive towed array according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSTD
If all RN and RFA ships were fitted with SSTD/Sea Sentor then that would be a massive improvement on the current situation. I’d still like all ships though to be fitted with Scutter to provide another layer of defence against torpedoes (Scutter can be fitted to subs too). The more layers of defence the better imo, especially considering how deadly subs are.
And I’d like us to look into the feasibility of fitting anti-torpedo torpedoes to the Type 45s and Type 26s (SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill or SSTD CAT). Wire-guided and wake-homing torpedoes would be particularly hard to decoy I’d have thought, so having a hard-kill system would be invaluable. Of course we’d need to test these systems in stringent, realistic scenarios to see if they work as advertised. The Americans tried and failed to get anti-torpedo torpedoes working.
Plus I’d also like us to invest heavily in R&D to develop other ways to (a) detect subs & torpedoes and (b) take out subs and torpedoes. An ideal solution as far as torpedoes are concerned would be something like microwave weapons to burn out the electronics in a torpedo, but how such a thing could be achieved under water I have no idea. Do microwaves even work under water? I expect they’d just heat up the sea water.
I know some research has been done into lasers (green lasers IIRC) to detect subs and I even read one suggestion online where someone said that modern subs are so quiet that they’re quieter than the surrounding ocean, so instead of detecting sounds from subs, try instead to spot areas of ocean that are quieter than they should be because of the presence of a sub (the person referred to it as “listening for silence”). As I say I don’t know if any of these ideas have potential, but I do know that surface ships would benefit from as many layers of defence against subs & torpedoes as possible.
“and an EW+ decoy suite”
Well fitting the best EW suites available to all ships in a carrier group makes perfect sense. These suites should be easy to upgrade and be upgraded regularly. EW suites to deal with anti-ship missiles (along with microwave weapons, Dragonfire, a ship-based version of DIRCM and laser dazzlers) only require electricity to work, so even if a ship has run out of missiles and gun ammo, these systems would still protect a ship.
“with any one of the gun systems you mention. The Oerlinkon sounds like a nice mix between capability and cost, if the Phalanx is out of date (inclined to agree).”
Imo Phalanx is woefully inadequate in this day and age depite its upgrades over the years. It’s out of ammo too fast and has insufficient range.
I’d like the carriers to each have 4 Oerlikon Millennium Guns with AHEAD ammo and 2 OTO Melara 76mm guns with DART and PFF ammo and I’d like the frigates and destroyers to each have 2 Millennium Guns and 1 OTO Melara. I’m not sure if the main naval gun would have to be removed to make space for the OTO Melara (OM) or whether the main gun could be kept and there’d still be space for an OM, but if I had to choose one over the other I’d go with the OM because DART and PFF ammo give you two more layers of defence against anti-ship missiles (to complement the Millennium Gun) and VULCANO rounds have a huge 40km range. That said, if HVPs fired from main naval guns are accurate enough to destroy anti-ship missiles at considerable distances (I’ve read in excess of 100km is possible), then in that case it would be well worth keeping the main guns, although ideally I’d like to have both a main gun firing HVPs and an OTO Melara (in addition to the Millennium Guns). That would give you 4 gun-based layers of defence against anti-ship missiles: AHEAD ammo, DART ammo, PFF ammo and HVPs. That would provide far more protection than Phalanx could. Plus these guns could also provide protection against UAVs, helicopters, USVs and fast attack craft (the Millennium Gun and OM can fire rounds other than AHEAD/DART/PFF depending on the job they’re required for).
“Call that a base level for any RN blue water vessel”
Well that would be a massive improvement over the current state of affairs, but the base level imo should also contain Scutter to complement SSTD and microwave weapons to complement an EW suite and the guns. I’d say two layers of defence for any threat should be the bare minimum.
“which is augmented by the fixed armaments on warship”
Which fixed armaments are you thinking of?
“and maybe by something like containerised CAMM-ER as a bolt-on for the RFAs in high threat environments.”
Imo all RN and RFA support ships should have at the very least:
Containerised CAMM-ER is definitely a good idea, although ideally these ships would have CAMM-ER on board at all times since you never know when a support ship might be sent to a high-threat environment.
“Microwave, dazzlers, lasers, rail guns, etc. can come along when they’re ready.”
Well microwave weapons already exist: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/17796/bae-systems-wants-its-new-microwave-close-in-weapon-system-concept-on-us-navy-ships
I’d like them to be fitted to all RN and RFA ships (subject to rigorous testing of course). If they work as advertised, at a stroke that would instantly make all surface ships far more survivable in a war. As would SSTD and Scutter.
Laser dazzlers (and DIRCM) exist already and they can blind IR-guided anti-ship missiles. This is a useful capability to have since an EW suite can’t do anything about IR-guided missiles and the more sophisticated missiles are capable of filtering out flares. MASS decoys can deal with IR-guided anti-ship missiles, but currently no RN ships use the system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi_Ammunition_Softkill_System
Microwave weapons could deal with IR-guided missiles, but as I said I’d prefer to have at least 2 layers of defence for every threat to provide redundancy.
Dragonfire also exists already. I’d assume it’s capable of blinding or burning out the sensors in anti-ship missiles and it can take out UAVs. From what I’ve read, once its power exceeds 300 kilowatts then it will be capable of taking out anti-ship missiles. The effectiveness of lasers is affected by moisture in the air (rain, fog, snow, clouds), smoke and battlefield obscurants, but in favourable conditions Dragonfire will be immensely useful once it exceeds 300 kilowatts.
As for railguns, they’ve come a long way over the years and they may well be fitted to warships in the not so distant future:
That said, I’ve read that HVPs can be fired from existing main naval guns (at about Mach 3). I’d like to see tests done to see if HVPs are capable of taking out anti-ship missiles. If they can, then we should provide all our frigates and destroyers with HVPs. And plenty of them.
“As for the Aster 30NT integration, both MBDA and Naval news state that the RN is involved in the development, as confirmed during the Amiens summit in 2016. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2019/01/mbda-aster-30-block-1-nt-missile-passed-preliminary-design-review/”
OK, thanks for the link. I’m a bit confused though. As far as I was aware, we use Aster 30 Block 0 on the Type 45s (as well as Aster 15). Getting Block 1NT is important to deal with ballistic anti-ship missiles, but the article refers to Aster 30 Block 1 (not 1NT). Do Type 45s currently carry Aster 30 Block 1 as well as Block 0 do you know?
“Deck penetration is certainly less of an issue if you plan on having everything permanently fixed to vessels, the RN’s normal policy is that there is a central pool of things like Phalanx, which are fitted and removed from vessels as required.”
This needs to stop imo. As does FFBNW. All ships need to be well defended at all times since a ship could be in a low-intensity situation one minute and a high-intensity situation the next.
And deck pentration for CIWS and other gun-based defences is vital imo to ensure that the weapons can be reloaded, ideally using fast auto-reloaders. A saturation missile attack could use up all a Type 45’s Asters in next to no time (just 8 Su-35s carrying 6 anti-ship missiles = 48 missiles = the number of Asters that a Type 45 carries). This is why it’s so important for ships to have defences that don’t rely on missiles or ammo and only require electricity: an EW suite, Dragonfire, microwave weapons, a ship-based version of DIRCM and laser dazzlers. Obviously there’s still a place for anti-air missiles though, especially to deal with ballistic anti-ship missiles, but these missiles need to be conserved as much as possible since ships can carry so few of them compared to how many anti-ship missiles can be launched at a ship from land, aircraft or subs. That said, it would be wise imo to fit all frigates and destroyers with ADL launchers that can be replenished at sea.
“I was thinking in line with that philosophy. If you wanted to diverge from that, then I’d agree that deck penetration is probably a better call.”
I’d say that deck penetration is vital to deal with saturation missile attacks.
“Yes, the CTAS 40 does have a relatively short range, but I have the impression that naval armament of the same calibre generally has a longer range- maybe I’m wrong.”
Well I can’t say because I don’t know every weapon system out there, although I do know that the Spike-NLOS ATGM has a huge range of 25km.
Maybe it would be worth looking into the feasibility of fitting that to Wildcats to take out anti-ship missiles at range? After all the further from a ship a missile can be destroyed the better.
Wildcats fitted with Hydra 70 rockets fitted with APKWS would also be worth looking into for this role I’d have thought.
And the IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile also has a range of 25km and it has the unique ability among such missiles that it’s capable of shooting down air-to-air missiles and SAMs. I can’t imagine it would be hard to modify IRIS-T so that it could shoot down anti-ship missiles. Fitting IRIS-T missiles to F-35s would make a lot of sense imo.
And the sooner we get Meteor fitted to the F-35Bs the better. It’s not due to be ready until 2024. Why does it take years to fit a missile to the F-35 that already exists and is in use with Typhoons, Rafales and Gripens? I just don’t get it. Where’s the sense of urgency?
“The information regarding LRASM (and harpoon, and NSM) not yet being integrated with ADL (and therefore also MK41) is from BAES’ own data sheet, dated 2018. https://www.baesystems.com/en/product/adaptable-deck-launcher”
That article doesn’t mention LRASM, Harpoon or NSM at all.
And this article states that CAMMs can be quad-packed in ADL launchers:
“Quad packed into two ADL’s Mk 41 cells the T45 could carry thirty-two Sea Ceptors without the need to reduce the complement of Aster missiles. The greatest benefit brought by the ADL is that unlike VSLs it can be replenished at sea.”
I assume VSLs is a typo for VLSs. Clearly Sea Ceptor is the system, not the missile that the system fires, so clearly “32 Sea Ceptors” means “32 CAMMs”.
What I don’t know though is whether CAMM-ER can be quad-packed in ADL launchers, which would be ideal.
“It’s also worth noting that CAMM isn’t currently integrated either”
See previous paragraph.
“so we’d either have to switch to the ESSM (not going to happen, as we produce CAMM here in the UK), or pay for integration.”
Not an issue since CAMMs can be quad-packed in ADL launchers.
“I still think we should go with a single ASM, that one being RBS-15”
Hmm, I’m not convinced. Anything would be an improvement over Harpoon, although LRASM is stealthy, whereas RBS-15 isn’t. I think it would make sense to have some LRASMs (and Perseus missiles when they’re ready) to take out carriers and escort ships where stealth would be far more likely to result in a hit. The last thing we want to do is fire anti-ship missiles and they get shot down. RBS-15 though would probably be effective against less well defended warships and support ships.
“because it can be air launched”
Well the Gripen uses RBS-15 (albeit an older variant than Mk3) but I don’t know if the F-35B can carry either RBS-15 or NSM internally. If it can’t then carrying either weapon externally would negatively affect its RCS and make it easier to detect by radar.
There are plans to fit the F-35 with the JSM (based on the NSM):
“Studies have shown that the F-35 would be able to carry two of these in its internal bays, while additional missiles could be carried externally.”
But the article doesn’t specifically mention the F-35B, which can’t use Sidekick for example (which the F-35A and F-35C can), so I’m not sure if our F-35Bs could carry JSMs internally. Or RBS-15s for that matter.
“and has a land attack capability with a decent range but shorter ranged than the JSM.”
Well the RBS-15, NSM and JSM all have a land attack capability.
RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4 is longer ranged than the NSM.
The JSM is longer ranged than the RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4 in some flight profiles, but not others according to Wikipedia.
“Every different weapon costs money to integrate, to maintain and to train on, on top of the acquisition costs. that’s why I’m a fan of commonality in all things”
Fair enough, but if we start upgrading all existing RN and RFA ships to the same baseline now and build new ships (Type 26, Type 31) to that same baseline, then we will have commonality of equipment between ships, and into the future as well.
And as I said, it’s completely short-sighted, foolish and negligent to not defend ships as well as we possibly can.
We sent some ships to the Falklands with no defence at all (e.g. Atlantic Conveyor) and lost ships because they either didn’t have any CIWS or in some cases because they didn’t have the most up-to-date anti-air missiles or the most up-to-date targeting radars.
Not having AEW aircraft on our carriers put us at a huge disadvantage and not being able to launch supersonic fighters to intercept Argentinian jets no doubt cost us ships and lives too.
What lessons have we learnt from the Falklands? Precious few I’d say.
Our Point-class ships have no defences whatsoever. They’re Atlantic Conveyors waiting to happen. If they’re sunk in a war they’d take a lot of very useful equipment to the bottom of the sea with them.
Phalanx or Goalkeeper would have been useful in the Falklands, but things have moved on a lot since then and there are better CIWSes and gun-based systems out there now to take out anti-ship missiles. Yet none of our ships have them. Let alone the electricity-based defensive weapons I mentioned above.
Are we better off now because we have CAMM and Aster?
The carriers have:
“as bringing operational costs down makes our armed forces more affordable in a budget-constrained world.”
I’m not interested in budget contraints, real or alleged. As I said, the government had no problem finding hundreds of billions to bail out the banks, did it? We’re not a poor country and not properly defending our ships is a disgrace. It’s also ridiculously short-sghted because it would cost a lot more in the long run to replace sunk ships (can’t government beancounters see this?). Either build ships properly or don’t build them at all. There should be no half-measures because half-measures result in sunk ships and they get people needlessly killed.
“Your point about being woefully under armed begs the question: compared to what?”
I meant woefully underarmed to survive in a war with a well-armed enemy like Russia or China. RN surface ships are woefully under-armed/under-defended and especially when it comes to the number and type of anti-air missiles carried, the almost total lack of electricity-based defences, the inadequacy of CIWS & other gun-based defences on board ships and a lack of multiple layers of defences to deal with the torpedo threat.
The Arleigh Burke that you mentioned has a 96-cell Mk41 VLS which a Type 45 would really benefit from having. That would provide 384 quad-packed CAMMs if all cells were filled with CAMMs. Or you could fit 280 CAMMs and you’d still have 26 cells available for anti-ship missiles, anti-sub missiles and TLAM. Or whatever combo you want to go with. 96 cells gives you a lot of flexibility. A Ticonderoga has even more cells: 122 Mk41 cells.
Horizons are pretty similar to Type 45s, but they have OTO Melara 76mm guns, although it would make sense imo for them to have Oerlikon Millennium Guns as well.
“It [the Type 45] lacks land attack capabilities, which the Burke has, but that’s about it.”
Well the Burkes also have VL-ASROC, SM-3 and SM-6, plus those Mk41 cells mean that the Burkes could fit VL-launched anti-ship missiles if they wanted. But imagine if a Type 45 had 96 Mk41 cells. That gives you a lot of flexibility/protection.
That’s a lot of content, but what I will say is this:
I don’t necessarily disagree with the arguments you make regarding the cost of these things and government’s attitude towards debts and paying for them. I would, however, say that the reality (for all countries) is that this is simply not how budgets are run. I know that debt is treated differently for countries than you or I would for personal debt, but I don’t know exactly why governments do seek to limit debt. But I believe it’s to do with our debt rating and the interest rate applied to the debt we take on; if we’re seen as irresponsible with our borrowing then we’ll be rated poorly, the interest rate will go up on our loans, we won’t be able to prove that we can service them, and we won’t be able to balance the books at all. That makes for a bad day for government. Like I say, I’m no macro-economist, but the fact that no-one does this with their spending (not even France et al with their massive domestic production) suggests that there is an economic reason for not doing so. That said, a lot of these discussions about platinum-plating our vessels is a little moot- it’s not going to happen.
I appreciate your concern about vessels being under-protected, but the only engagements between modern escorts and ASMs (the USS Mason in Yemen) came out as 0 for 9 for the ASMs. Admittedly, the most fired at any one time was 5. But none of them even got within CIWS range, thanks to a combination of missile defences and EW/countermeasures. To me, that would imply that our protections are in fact rather good as they currently stand. That is no reason not to improve with dazzlers, Dragonfire etc. when they come along (which is surely the point of developing them?), but I think your concern of being “woefully” under-protected can be set to rest.
When you start talking of mixing Scutter and SSTD and suchlike, same as with the missile defence systems on carriers, I hesitate; These systems operate using very specific sensors, advanced decision making software, and then emit signals (in acoustic ranges for anti-torpedo systems, and RF for missiles). The nature of these signals is that they are significantly more powerful close by than they are further away- if I recall correctly it’s an inverse square. Dumping 2 different kinds of decoys from 2 different systems, plus a towed sonsor/decoy array into the water immediately adjacent to each other will likely cause a lot of interference between the detection receivers and decoy transmitters, which could easily cause them not to function as well as just one of the systems on their own. I would personally consider a hard-kill secondary option if you wanted to go with two systems, although there have been difficulties with them as you say.
Well, the fixed armaments I mention include the main gun, the Phalanx (outdated or not, they’re there), the DS30s on the T23s (?), presumably the T26s and T45s, the 57 mm and 40 mm on the T31, as well as the gatling guns and 50 cals that can be mounted for dealing with small boat swarms, and the ASMs that are fitted to T45s and T23s. At least some of these are capable of dealing with ASMs, and the rest are able to deal with the launching platforms and/or other threats at closer ranges. I repeat, our vessels are not under-armed compared to their NATO peers.
I’m afraid I don’t know anything more about the Aster 30/30NT than what I’ve shared- the MOD has a bit of a habit of not sharing a lot of information, or at least making it particularly difficult to find!
Sorry about the LRASM link, I mixed it up, it’s this one: https://www.baesystems.com/en/download-en/20180529232224/1434614211149.pdf It’s a PDF sales data sheet from the BAES website, so should be more accurate than the UKDJ (good though they are) when it comes to what’s actually integrated and clear for use. The guest poster at UKDJ probably meant that it’s technically possible, but it would seem that it hasn’t been done, for CAMM, CAMM-ER, or LRASM yet.
I’ll still stick with the RBS-15, purely because the LRASM is stupidly expensive and we’re getting Perseus soon, but I’ll accept your point that if money were no object then LRASM would be a decent idea. Neither the NSM, JSM, LRASM, nor the RBS-15 will fit internally on an F-35B, although I did read somewhere that Konnesberg may be working on that. So yes, whatever is chosen will have a negative effect on RCS. But that’s a little moot from the perspective that any of these can be launched from beyond the radar horizon of an enemy vessel and none of our likely enemies have AEW as far as I’m aware. That means that our launch platforms don’t have to be completely stealthy prior to launch. It also means that integrating them onto P-8A doesn’t matter either.
Your question about the carriers, I believe they do have SSTD, although that’s from a post by one of the serving guys on here or UKDJ.
As far as V-22s go, I think they’d be a great idea in many respects. But I’d rather we bought a shedload more Merlin to increase UK investment and then get Leonardo/AW to develop their civilian tilt-rotor into a military V-22 equivalent that could then be built in Yeovil to replace them.
Burkes do have 96 cells, but only the very newest run SM-6 and the AN/SPY-6 radars that make use of them. The rest utilise the older system, with semi-active seekers (unlike Sea Viper). This means they have to volley fire against every target, while a T45 needs to only fire once. Once you’ve filled some of those VLS with TLAM, some with ASROC, then you actually have a pretty comparable anti-air/anti-missile loadout with a T45. Also, those ASROC are pointless, they’re a waste of space for a scenario that’ll probably never happen.
“That’s a lot of content, but what I will say is this:
I don’t necessarily disagree with the arguments you make regarding the cost of these things and government’s attitude towards debts and paying for them. I would, however, say that the reality (for all countries) is that this is simply not how budgets are run.”
Yeah, well, things need to change. We can’t be sending ships out to war insufficiently defended. They wouldn’t last long at all.
“I know that debt is treated differently for countries than you or I would for personal debt, but I don’t know exactly why governments do seek to limit debt. But I believe it’s to do with our debt rating and the interest rate applied to the debt we take on; if we’re seen as irresponsible with our borrowing then we’ll be rated poorly, the interest rate will go up on our loans, we won’t be able to prove that we can service them, and we won’t be able to balance the books at all.”
We can’t balance the books as it is:
“In July 2020, UK public sector net debt was £2,004.0 billion (or 100.5% of GDP). (first time over £2 trillion)”.
A few billion to properly defend our ships would be neither here nor there. It would be a drop in the ocean compared to £2 trillion. And that would be a one-off cost anyway to end up with a far better armed and defended navy. And we could recoup that money by stopping giving foreign aid to countries that don’t need it. Why do we give money to Pakistan, India and China for example? They’ve got enough money to look after their own people.
“the fact that no-one does this with their spending…”
But we do do this. We drastically spend beyond our means and we still have under-armed and under-defended warships. With the amount we’re in debt we should have the best warships on the planet. And the best everything on the planet.
“That said, a lot of these discussions about platinum-plating our vessels is a little moot- it’s not going to happen.”
Well I agree with that, but it’s gross negligence. When one of these ships gets sunk in a war I’d like to see the families of the people who died bring a class action lawsuit against the people responsible for corporate manslaughter. Maybe if people started going to prison then we’d start getting ships that are armed and defended as they should be. And then we’d magically find the money to upgrade the ships like we magically found the money to bail out the banks.
“I appreciate your concern about vessels being under-protected”
It’s more than just concern, it’s anger that properly defending our ships isn’t considered a high priority. I’m sure if the people who made these decisions had sons or daughters serving in the navy they’d think about these things differently rather than as just numbers in a spreadsheet.
“but the only engagements between modern escorts and ASMs (the USS Mason in Yemen) came out as 0 for 9 for the ASMs.”
It’s not clear from this article what actually happened, but saying the result was 0 out of 9 for the anti-ship missiles is disingenuous:
– “One of two U.S. defense officials cited anonymously added that it was not clear whether the incoming missiles had been shot down or crashed into the water on their own.” (9 Oct attack)
– “Mason was not hit by the two missiles […]. While the Navy is not certain whether the first incoming missile was intercepted or it just fell into the sea, officials claim Mason successfully intercepted the second missile at a distance of about 8 miles” (12 Oct attack)
– “On 15 October 2016, Mason was targeted in a third attack by five anti-ship cruise missiles while operating in the Red Sea north of the Bab el-Mandeb strait. The Navy Times reported the Mason fired a radar decoy, an infrared decoy, and several SM-2 Standard missiles in response, either neutralizing or intercepting four of the five incoming missiles. The Navy claims the fifth incoming missile was neutralized by a radar decoy launched from USS Nitze, after Mason alerted her to the threat.” (15 Oct attack)
All that can be said for certain is that 1 anti-ship missile was definitely shot down by an anti-air missile. Plus the article doesn’t state what type of anti-ship missiles were used. Were they subsonic? If a US or UK warship came up against a modern Chinese or Russian warship with better anti-ship missiles than those used by the Houthis the outcome could well be very different. Comparing Houthis to Russia or China is comparing apples to oranges.
“Admittedly, the most fired at any one time was 5. But none of them even got within CIWS range, thanks to a combination of missile defences and EW/countermeasures.”
This article refers to a similar incident in Oct 2016:
“While U.S. sources haven’t confirmed the type of missiles, open source naval analyst and retired Navy Capt. Chris Carlson told USNI News on Monday the damage on Swift appears to be from the warhead used in a Chinese-built C-802 anti-ship missile (NATO reporting name CSS-N-8 Saccade). The C-802 is based on Cold War-era French technology.”
The C-802 according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YJ-83 has a range of 120km (approx 65 nautical miles), is subsonic (Mach 0.9) and uses active radar homing. Hardly cutting edge.
If a ship commissioned in 2003 can’t take out an old subsonic anti-ship missile then something is seriously wrong.
“To me, that would imply that our protections are in fact rather good as they currently stand.”
Not to me it wouldn’t. Russian ships can fire Kalibr and Oniks anti-ship missiles (with Zircon being currently tested). Chinese ships can fire YJ-18 anti-ship missiles. All these missiles would be very different to subsonic missiles fired by Houthis: far longer ranged, far faster and far harder to defend against. Plus worryingly Kalibr and Zircon can also be fired from subs, Kalibr can also be fired from aircraft and containers. Su-35s can fire Oniks beyond the range of Aster 30.
“That is no reason not to improve with dazzlers, Dragonfire etc. when they come along”
As I said, they already exist. As do microwave weapons, EW suites, HVPs for main naval guns, Oerlikon Millennium Guns, OTO Melara 76mm guns, SSTD, Scutter and sub-hunting surface drones (e.g. Arcims, Seagull). There’s no reason why all these couldn’t be fitted to existing ships as well as new ships (Type 26s, Type 31s).
I don’t know if SSTD and Scutter or if an EW suite and microwave weapons could work side by side (testing would be required to establish this), but at the very least I’d like to see all RN and RFA ships have SSTD and/or Scutter, an EW suite and/or microwave weapons, Oerlikon Millennium Guns and decoys. (It would probably be cheaper to fit microwave weapons rather than an EW suite to ships that don’t currently have an EW suite.) These changes alone would make all ships far more survivable against torpedoes and anti-ship missiles and should be the absolute minimum baseline for all RN and RFA ships imo (including any new ones we build). Ideally though I’d prefer a better baseline so that ships have multiple layers of defence. It would also make sense for us to build more Astutes since they provide a very good layer of defence against enemy subs and ships (and fit them with Scutter).
“but I think your concern of being “woefully” under-protected can be set to rest.”
Why because the USS Mason didn’t get hit by old subsonic missiles? That’s a pretty flimsy basis to base such a conclusion on.
We don’t have enough anti-air missiles (or any to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles), all ships could do with ADL launchers since they’re replenishable at sea, we seriously lack electricity-powered defences that don’t depend on missiles/ammo to work and we need to do much more about the torpedo threat. We also need to fit our ships with better anti-ship missiles ASAP, develop an extremely long-ranged VL anti-sub missile and get Meteor fitted to the F-35Bs now, not in 4 years’ time. They would also benefit from IRIS-T, which can shoot down air-to-air missiles and SAMs, which would make the F-35s more survivable. We also need to develop an extremely long-ranged successor to TLAM, which ideally would be stealthy. It would need to be far longer ranged than the DF-26 which has a range of 4,000km.
“When you start talking of mixing Scutter and SSTD and suchlike, same as with the missile defence systems on carriers, I hesitate”
I only suggested putting Sea Ceptor on the carriers for point defence, not a second missile-based system. All my other suggestions for the carriers were electricity-based defences and gun-based defences.
“These systems operate using very specific sensors, advanced decision making software, and then emit signals (in acoustic ranges for anti-torpedo systems, and RF for missiles). The nature of these signals is that they are significantly more powerful close by than they are further away- if I recall correctly it’s an inverse square. Dumping 2 different kinds of decoys from 2 different systems, plus a towed sonsor/decoy array into the water immediately adjacent to each other will likely cause a lot of interference between the detection receivers and decoy transmitters, which could easily cause them not to function as well as just one of the systems on their own.”
Firstly this is supposition on your part, can you back up what you’re saying with sources?
Secondly I didn’t say anything about putting SSTD expendable torpedo decoys and Scutter into the water near each other.
Thirdly it would make sense to carry out stringent realistic tests to see if these systems would actually conflict with each other and if they would, in what specific scenarios.
And fourthly SSTD uses both a towed acoustic countermeasure and expendable acoustic devices. Presumably they’ve been tested to see if they conflict with each other and presumably they don’t otherwise they wouldn’t be used alongside each other.
“I would personally consider a hard-kill secondary option if you wanted to go with two systems, although there have been difficulties with them as you say.”
Well as I said, stringent realistic tests would be required to establish if these anti-torpedo torpedoes work as advertised.
“Well, the fixed armaments I mention include the main gun, the Phalanx (outdated or not, they’re there), the DS30s on the T23s (?), presumably the T26s and T45s, the 57 mm and 40 mm on the T31, as well as the gatling guns and 50 cals that can be mounted for dealing with small boat swarms, and the ASMs that are fitted to T45s and T23s. At least some of these are capable of dealing with ASMs and the rest are able to deal with the launching platforms and/or other threats at closer ranges.”
The weapons you mentioned:
– Main gun: It would be a very lucky hit if one could take out an anti-ship missile. Against a fast missile there would be no time for a second attempt. HVPs fired from main guns might be able to take out anti-ship missiles at range, but I’d like tests to be done to establish if this is actually the case. A RN ship would have to get uncomfortably close to an enemy ship to hit it with its main gun. It would only do this if it was out of anti-ship missiles and had no choice.
– Phalanx: As I said, they lack sufficient ammo and range. Might be able to take out a couple of subsonic missiles before running out of ammo. Could be used against fast attack craft, but would be best reserved to deal with missiles.
– DS30Bs/DS30Ms: These are designed to take out fast attack craft. I don’t know if they’ve ever been tested against anti-ship missiles. I suppose they could take out subsonic anti-ship missiles, but I’d be surprised if they could take out anything faster. I could be wrong though. Actually I’d like tests to be done to establish this. [Btw according to Wikipedia: Some Type 23s have DS30Bs, others have DS30Ms; Type 45s have “Oerlikon 30mm guns” (no specific model is given); Type 26s will have DS30Ms]
– The 57mm and 40mm Bofors guns on the Type 31s firing 3P ammo will be able to take out anti-ship missiles, although my guess would be only subsonic ones. Yet again I’d like tests to be carried out to establish what they can and can’t take out speed-wise. They have a slow rate of fire though compared to CIWSes like the Oerlikon Millennium Gun or the Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian. Against the faster anti-ship missiles, they wouldn’t have time to get off multiple shots. They could take out fast attack craft at range though.
– Miniguns: They have a high rate of fire, but are only 7.62mm and only have a range of 1km. I’d be very surprised if that calibre is big enough to shoot down anti-ship missiles and 1km doesn’t give you a lot of time to take out a missile. Even a slow anti-ship missile travelling at Mach 1 could cover that distance in about 3 seconds. A missile travelling at Mach 3 would cover it in about 1 second. The only realistic role for these guns imo is to deal with suicide or remote-controlled attack craft filled with explosives. Any manned attack craft with anti-ship missiles and/or torpedoes would fire them before getting within 1km of a RN ship.
– 50 cal: The Type 23s and Type 45s have 7.62mm GPMGs, not 50 cals.
– The Harpoons on the Type 23s and Type 45s are subsonic and non-stealthy. They’d be easily shot down I’d have thought by a Russian or Chinese warship. Their only benefit imo is that they’d make an enemy use up anti-air missiles. They’re highly unlikely to hit a ship.
“I repeat, our vessels are not under-armed compared to their NATO peers.”
Are you sure about that?
Our carriers absolutely are under-armed compared to other countries’ carriers because the QE and POW don’t have missile-based point defence. Plus compared to US carriers, the QE and POW lack the number and variety of fixed-wing aircraft that the Nimitz and Ford carriers carry, which make the US carriers far better defended. That’s what happens when you build second-rate STOVL carriers instead of proper ones that can only carry one type of fixed-wing aircraft.
Plus we lack sufficient numbers of F-35s anyway. The US Project on Government Oversight (POGO) calculated the sortie rate of all 3 F-35 variants based on the 2017 DOT&E report and it came to a pitiful third of a sortie a day, or one sortie every three days, compared to about 1 sortie a day for legacy fighters. The 2018 DOT&E report didn’t even mention the F-35’s sortie rate and the most recent 2019 report didn’t give a figure, but did say that problems with ALIS were resulting in poor sortie rates and aircraft availability. (ALIS is so problematic that it’s being scrapped for a new coud-based system called ODIN.)
So how many F-35Bs do we have? Figures I’ve read vary, but it’s about 17/18. So with 18 F-35Bs we could launch 6 a day. Not an hour, a day. That’s abysmal. Even with USMC F-35Bs on board that figure won’t go up considerably. Even if we had 60 F-35Bs on board we could only launch 20 a day. This is why I’d like us to buy AV-8B carriers from the US (assuming they have any spare and want to sell us some) and we should significantly upgrade them to give us some measure of redundancy. Harriers with IRST, a good EW suite and Meteor/IRIS-T air-to-air missiles would provide a pretty good level of defence. After all, the missiles that an aircraft carries are just as important as the aircraft itself. Harriers with Sidewinders in the Falklands proved that despite being subsonic. We could also modify a couple of Harriers to create dedicated EW aircraft to give us Growler-like capability which would make the F-35s and Harriers more survivable against enemy aircraft.
So back to our ships being underarmed… The Type 23s don’t have VL-ASROC (not a great weapon, but better than the even worse Sting Ray), no CIWS (not even Phalanx) and some Type 23s haven’t been upgraded to Sea Ceptor and are still using the outdated Sea Wolf system (only a paltry 32 cells either way).
The Type 45s don’t have Aster 30 Block 1NT to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles (although I’m still confused about the Aster 30 Block 1; do the Type 45s have it or not?), while US warships use SM-3 and SM-6 to perform this role. They also have VL-ASROC, TLAM and loads of Mk41 cells. If they wanted to fit LRASM, they could. We couldn’t because the Type 45s don’t have Mk41 VLS.
Some European ships with weapons that RN ships don’t have:
– German Braunschweig-class corvette: 1 OTO Melara 76mm gun, 4 RBS-15 Mk3 anti-ship missiles
– Danish Iver Huidfeldt-class frigate: 8-16 Harpoon Block IIs, 1 Oerlikon Millennium Gun, 2 OTO Melara 76 mm guns [And this is the ship that the Type 31 is based on. I think something got lost in translation.]
– Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate: 8 NSMs, 1 OTO Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun
And Type 23s and Type 45s ships are under-defended compared to the most modern Russian and Chinese ships like the formidable looking Chinese Type 055 destroyer (active 1, building 7) and the Russian Grigorovich-class frigates (active 3, building 3). Their anti-ship missiles would be a serious threat to any RN ship. Plus both Russia and China have far more ships than we do. Even their older ships could overwhelm our Type 45s and Type 26s with saturation attacks of even subsonic anti-ship missiles. This is why we need new anti-ship missiles ASAP and more layers of defences against anti-ship missiles.
“I’m afraid I don’t know anything more about the Aster 30/30NT than what I’ve shared- the MOD has a bit of a habit of not sharing a lot of information, or at least making it particularly difficult to find!”
I really want to know if the Type 45s have Aster 30 Block 1 (not 1NT). If they do, then they do have some capability against ballistic anti-ship missiles. To confuse matters further, this link doesn’t even mention Aster 30 Block 1, just Block 1NT:
“Sorry about the LRASM link, I mixed it up, it’s this one: https://www.baesystems.com/en/download-en/20180529232224/1434614211149.pdf It’s a PDF sales data sheet from the BAES website, so should be more accurate than the UKDJ (good though they are) when it comes to what’s actually integrated and clear for use.”
OK thanks for the link
Firstly, the the PDF doesn’t mention CAMM (or CAMM-ER) at all.
Secondly, the PDF says that LRASM and NSM aren’t currently integrated into Mk41 VLS, not that they can’t be (or won’t be at some point).
Thirdly, that PDF was released in 2018, which is the same year that CAMM entered service.
Fourthly, according to https://www.deagel.com/news/n000011916 LRASM has been successfully launched using the Mk41 VLS.
Fifthly, accordly to https://www.mbda-systems.com/product/camm-sea/ “Sea Ceptor can operate from the SYLVER and Mk41 launchers using a quad-pack configuration to maximise packing density and for optimum installation on smaller ships.” [The fact that CAMMs can be quad-packed in Sylver cells (which I didn’t know) means that we could reduce the number of Aster 15s on the Type 45s and quad-pack CAMMs in their place, giving the ships far more missiles. 36 Asters and 48 CAMMs could fit in 48 Sylver cells. 12 Mk41 cells would provide another 48 CAMMs and 2 ADL launchers, which can be replenished at sea, would provide another 32 CAMMs. That’s a lot of missiles.]
“The guest poster at UKDJ probably meant that it’s technically possible, but it would seem that it hasn’t been done, for CAMM, CAMM-ER, or LRASM yet.”
Well it’s been done for CAMM and LRASM. I still don’t know thouogh if CAMM-ER can be quad-packed in Mk41 cells, ADL cells or Sylver cells. If they can, all the better.
“I’ll still stick with the RBS-15, purely because the LRASM is stupidly expensive and we’re getting Perseus soon, but I’ll accept your point that if money were no object then LRASM would be a decent idea.”
Well “soon” is going to be about 10 years and I doubt Perseus will be cheaper than LRASM. It’ll be worth every penny though because it’ll be stealthy, hypersonic and can release two mini-missiles from the main missile. Regardless of the cost, I think we should buy say half a dozen LRASMs to take out carriers. After some thought I’ve come to the conclusion that the NSM would be better than RBS-15 purely because it’s stealthy. Against less well defended warships, support ships and land targets though RBS-15 would be useful, although I can’t see the RN buying 3 types of anti-ship missile. I can’t find prices for the NSM and RBS-15 and I also don’t know if they can be fired from Mk41 cells or whether they need their own launchers.
“Neither the NSM, JSM, LRASM, nor the RBS-15 will fit internally on an F-35B”
Do you have sources confirming this? I’d really like to know the maximum size of missile that can fit inside an F-35 both in terms of length and diameter.
“So yes, whatever is chosen will have a negative effect on RCS. But that’s a little moot from the perspective that any of these can be launched from beyond the radar horizon of an enemy vessel and none of our likely enemies have AEW as far as I’m aware.”
Well the Chinese KJ-600 flew for the first time recently and the Kusnetsov carrier has the Ka-31 helicopter for AEW.
“That means that our launch platforms don’t have to be completely stealthy prior to launch.”
Well that’s not the case if we go up against anyone with AEW capability and the F-35Bs are carrying ordnance externally. If F-35Bs are going to fire anti-ship missiles at enemy ships then they need to be able to carry those missiles internally. If such a weapon doesn’t already exist, then one needs to be developed.
“It also means that integrating them onto P-8A doesn’t matter either.”
See previous paragraph.
“Your question about the carriers, I believe they do have SSTD, although that’s from a post by one of the serving guys on here or UKDJ.”
I’d like something a bit more official than that to know for certain.
“As far as V-22s go, I think they’d be a great idea in many respects.”
Well I think using them for AEW and refuelling is a no-brainer. Plus as I said, using Ospreys for AEW would free up Merlins for ASW duties.
“But I’d rather we bought a shedload more Merlin to increase UK investment”
How many Merlins would you like us to buy? I don’t disagree, the more Merlins we have for ASW the better. Ideally we need 24/7 cover. Plus as I said, I think it would make sense to look into the feasibility of using airship drones for ASW (long endurance with solar panels and mini wind turbines) as well as sub-hunting surface drones like Arcims and Seagull (which could be carried by Type 26s). Ideally the drones, Merlins and Type 26s would all be networked to make them more effective as a unit than operating independently of each other,
“and then get Leonardo/AW to develop their civilian tilt-rotor into a military V-22 equivalent that could then be built in Yeovil to replace them.”
If you’re talking about the AW609, it’s either identical or virtually identical to the Osprey in terms of speed, range and service ceiling. I didn’t even know this aircraft existed until you mentioned it. Do you know what the AW609 will cost? I’d definitely be in favour of building AW609s in the UK rather than buying Ospreys. But the AW609s would obviously need to modified to survive out at sea.
“Burkes do have 96 cells, but only the very newest run SM-6 and the AN/SPY-6 radars that make use of them. The rest utilise the older system, with semi-active seekers (unlike Sea Viper). This means they have to volley fire against every target, while a T45 needs to only fire once.”
Do you have a source saying they have to volley fire? And however good Aster may be, it would be a bit foolish to only fire one missile at an incoming anti-ship missile. What if the Aster misses for some reason? What if the incoming missile is manoeuvrable? This is why the Type 45s need more missiles, better gun-based defences and electricity-powered defences other than ECM. Since Aster 15 and CAMM are so similar in terms of speed and range, I’d remove some of the Aster 15s and quad-pack CAMMs in their place. I’d also replace the Phalanx guns with Oerlikon Millennium Guns (and preferably more than just 2 if there’s the space available). These two changes alone would make Type 45s more survivable. (And get Meteor fitted to the F-35s as a matter of extreme urgency). This should be the absolute minimum baseline for any Type 45 imo. Of course I’d like Scutter and microwave weapons as well if they don’t clash with SSTD and ECM (which tests could establish).
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arleigh_Burke-class_destroyer “Besides the 62 vessels of this class (comprising 21 of Flight I, 7 of Flight II and 34 of Flight IIA) in service by 2016, up to a further 42 (of Flight III) have been envisioned.”
That’s a lot of Arleigh Burkes and a lot of missiles. And in any case, Type 45s would greatly benefit from having 96 Mk41 cells. They could carry say 12 LRASMs, 24 TLAMs and 240 quad-packed CAMMs (and ideally CAMM-ER if they can be quad-packed). That’s a lot of additional offensive and defensive capability.
“Once you’ve filled some of those VLS with TLAM, some with ASROC, then you actually have a pretty comparable anti-air/anti-missile loadout with a T45.”
Well it depends on how many TLAMs and VL-ASROCs the Arleigh Burkes carry vs anti-air missiles, but again Type 45s would greatly benefit from having a lot of Mk41 cells.
“Also, those ASROC are pointless, they’re a waste of space for a scenario that’ll probably never happen.”
Well they certainly lack range and so they’re a last-ditch defensive measure. As I said, we need to develop an extremely long-ranged VL anti-sub missile that is longer ranged than any existing enemy torpedo. That would enable us to take out enemy subs before they can get into range to fire their torpedoes, which would make the Type 45s and the entire carrier group far more survivable against subs. Such long-ranged anti-sub missiles combined with new anti-ship missiles and Meteor on the F-35s would give a carrier group much more offensive capability and make it far more survivable.
The next thing we need imo are vast numbers of suicide drones to take out fixed SAM and radar sites, mobile SAM launchers and mobile anti-ship missile launchers in Russia and China. Something like this: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/4760/meet-israels-suicide-squad-of-self-sacrificing-drones?iid=sr-link1
These drones would need to be relatively cheap and extremely plentiful. F-35s are meant to be first-day-of-war aircraft to perform SEAD/DEAD missions but I can’t see them surviving in hostile airspace with a sophisticated IADS and faster, more numerous enemy fighters with IRST and plenty of air-to-air missiles.
Wave after wave of relatively cheap suicide drones on the other hand released from aircraft beyond the range of the S-400 system (400km) could go looking for these sites and even if they’re taken out by a SAM, that doesn’t matter because the enemy has had to use an expensive missile on a much cheaper drone. Once all the missiles have been used up then these sites would be easy targets for the suicide drones. Even if the sites are protected by Pantsir, which has guns as well as missiles, the guns have such a high rate of fire they’d be out of ammo in a pretty short time. Suicide drones could also go after aircraft on the ground at airbases.
Once the IADS has been greatly degraded using suicide drones and once most or all of the mobile anti-ship missile launchers have been taken out, a carrier group could now sail much closer to land to launch F-35s which could target airbases, ports, munition dumps, factories, power stations, etc.
If T45 is s a specialist aerospace defence and air control unit then you can argue that it doesn’t need a decent capability in other spheres. But if it is an ‘escort’ I would suggest it does.
The RN did away with single purpose escorts back in the 1950’s. And even the single purpose escorts had ASW weapons, T41 and T61, and the T12 had AAW systems. These all got rolled up in T12(M) which eventually became Leander….
What the RN wanted in T45 was a ‘general purpose’ warship with a specialist aerospace systems fit out. They ended up with the latter and not the former.
Sea Viper is an amazing system. T45 not so great.
Last time I checked, “escort” was the catch-all title to denote a frigate or destroyer. Certainly, that would denote that it looks after another vessel, but I wouldn’t say it makes any comment as to how it would go about doing that. By what I believed until now to be the common definition of an escort, the T45 is one in the same way that the specialised Horizon class area air defence destroyer is also an escort.
What the RN wanted in the T45 was a replacement for the T42, which was termed a guided missile destroyer and held an (escort) function within the fleet to provide area air defence- a function it performed in the Falklands. Specialist ASW frigates (T22 with the towed arrays and other special bits) performed the ASW role then, as the T23 continue to now. Honestly, I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that the RN wants general purpose escort vessels when they currently have a separate batch of T23s termed “GP” without all the towed arrays and other ASW gubbins for general purpose tasks, and have just awarded a contract for the T31 to fulfil the same role, rather than use the T26 ASW frigate.
The T45 (in deployment fitout with the Harpoon launchers) is as capable as any other NATO AAD destroyer when it comes to surface warfare; Burkes, Horizons, FREDAs all carry 8No. ASMs in cannisters- and the newest Burkes are FFBNW them as it goes. With regards ASW, it’s true that the T45 doesn’t have torpedo tubes, while its predecessor and the equivalents I’ve mentioned do. But the two mission sets are in many ways mutually exclusive for the reasons I’ve previously mentioned, so not sure why it makes any sense in fitting weaponry or equipment for it.
I absolutely agree with you that the T45 could have been better with more VLS for land attack and suchlike, but to say that it isn’t good at what the RN wants it to do isn’t accurate.
An Horizon with a decent sonar, ASuW fit out etc?
Never said it wasn’t any good. But you are simply confusing the excellent AAW system with the ship. And the ship isn’t up too much is it?
And I deliberately said ‘escort’ to avoid terms like destroyer and frigate which have no global meaning.
T42 carried 2050 sonar just like T22. It’s propulsion was nearly identical. T42’s used to regularly win ASW competitions.
Tailess T23 being called ‘general purpose’ by RN is ridiculous. A T23 with a tail can do everything a T23 can do, so how it is less GP? How would a T45 with AShM and a decent sonar be less GP? What other ASW gubbins are the GP T23 missing apart from 2087?
If I were you I would go to read about how the roles of T41, T61, and T12 were rolled up into T12(M) / Leander. The reason why specialist ships disappeared was because the RN, a much larger RN, couldn’t guarantee that they would have the right mix ships always available at that the point need. Further the threat environment was such a ship needed all around defence: surface, sub-surface, air, and electronic.
What the RN wanted for T45 was an all round escort with a specialised AAW fit out. A direct replacement for T42. The French and Italians got that with Horizon. The Germans and Dutch with the Sachsen-class frigate De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate. And it was the RAN has with the Hobarts. Everything that could be cut was cut for T45 to get Sea Viper to sea. Sea Viper is better than the AAW systems in those ships by a fair margin, but T45 isn’t as complete a package.
“Sea Viper is better than the AAW systems in those ships by a fair margin, but T45 isn’t as complete a package.”
What do you mean? Sea Viper is the RN name for the Aster system that are in Horizon class. UK got out of Horizon team to build T45 but the missile remained the same.
They are not quite the same. PAAMS as used by the Italians and French is, how shall I say, a sub-set of the RN system. Yes same missiles. silo, but SAMPSON is more capable than EMPAR (and needs better supporting software). Remember the reason for the split was the RN wanted a more capable system to ‘control’ a large area. The Italians and French wanted a more ‘local’ system. If the RN had just wanted the same we would be operating Horizons now. Aster is the missile part of the system not the entire ‘guided weapon system’.
The Horizon class have been earmarked for a mid life upgrade. One part of the upgrade is the ship’s radar. They also use the long range BAe/Thales S1850M radar, which is a mechanically rotating PESA system. It’s possibly they will replace it with the Thales SMART-MM, which is a AESA upgraded version. They may look at the Seamaster SM400 system replacing the EMPAR. This is a fixed panel AESA, that uses similar transmitter/receiver modules as the SMART-MM. The panels are about a third of the size of the equivalent SPY panels!. Thales have images of Seamaster fitted to a T45/Horizon style mast where they are mounted half way up. Leonardo also have the Kronos dual band system. This uses four fixed Kronos C band panels and 4 Starfire X band panels. The Kronos radar is already integrated with the land PAAMS.
For the T45, it’s about time the two primary radars were upgraded. The obvious choice for the S1850M is to replace it with the SMART-MM. This radar has three modes, i.e. air, ballistic missile and space surveillance. This has a proven ballistic missile tracking capability greater than 2000km. Its abilities were demonstrated in 2015 when the radar at the Thales site in Holland tracked a missile fired from the Hebrides before it disappeared over the Atlantic’s horizon. If the T45 is going to be looked at as an anti-ballistic missile defence ship for not only protecting carrier groups but also land targets, this radar will be a must have!
Sampson is still considered top dog, but it has a number of young pretenders snapping at its heels, with CEFAR, SM400, Kronos and SPY6. However, these are all fixed panel AESA systems, so must be mounted lower down due to the weight. Apart from software enhancements, there has yet to be any hardware improvements announced by BAe. There are a number of possible options, the first is to replace the material used in the transmitter/receiver modules from Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) to Gallium Nitride (GaN). This will have a number of advantages, from allowing more power to be transmitted to making the receiver more sensitive as it generates significantly less noise. By replacing the GaAs components with GaN ones, the radars range will be increased, but more importantly stealthier targets become easier to discriminate from background clutter. The second option is to add a third antenna and remove the mechanical rotating assembly. The three antenna would be placed so that each covers a 120 degree segment, thus giving the ship its 360 degree coverage. This would then allow the ship to see continuously around the ship without any rotating dead zones. This would need an enhancement to the systems processing, plus addition power supplies and cooling. It will also need careful assessment of the ship’s top weight management. But the third antenna advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Handy information Davey, thanks.
I surely hope that they continue to develop the Sea Viper system. Like CH2 it’s all very good being top of the pile on entry into service, but it’s the ongoing improvements like the USN make with Burkes that keep them rrelevant.
Radars are one thing, but without Aster 30 Block 1NT (and Block 2 BMD when it’s ready), Type 45s have no way of taking out ballistic anti-ship missiles, which is ludicrous for air defence ships. So yes upgrade the radars by all means, but also fit Block 1NT and Block 2 BMD.
Thank you for the advice, I have gone away and done some reading.
Yes, I do mean the Horizon air defence destroyer operated by France and Italy. It does indeed have a bow mounted sonar for general submarine and threat detection (as does the T45- although I don’t know enough about either to make a comparison) and a loadout of 8 ASMs for ASuW (as does the T45, although they’re admittedly long in the tooth). No land attack missiles, and a smaller main gun. So far, so comparable with a T45. What they do carry that the T45 doesn’t are short range torpedo tubes, but my understanding is that there is a big question regarding their utility against subs launching heavyweight torpedoes from outside the range of the smaller torps.
Everything I’ve read, from multiple sources, have stated that the primary purpose of the T42 was to provide wide area air defence against Soviet bomber fleets. It did indeed utilise the same propulsion system as the T22 (apparently not a suitable choice for ASW as it turned out, which compromised the T22), and also the same hull-mounted sonar (no tails and no decoys, though). The primary ASW weapon on the T42 was the helicopter, the torpedo tubes with short range Mk46/Stingray were never used and as far as I’m aware have never been used on any type in anger. Having read up about the T22 as well, they all seem to say that the RN’s primary purpose for them was ASW work. I’ve not read anywhere that T42s won ASW awards, but thank you for the additional information. The upshot is, I think that the RN certainly does look for specialist roles for their more recent escorts, even if Leander was more General Purpose, both the T42 and T22 were later designs to later requirements.
In summary, the T45 has one of, if not the best air defence systems in the world; the same ASuW load out (8 ASMs in cannisters) as any other NATO air defence vessel; a similar ASW detection suite (bow sonar, helicopter, no tails); a similar aviation fitout for ASW, AsuW etc. and similar or better options for NGFS. It doesn’t carry short range torpedoes (already commented on those, but it’s also worth mentioning that the only submarine kill of the Falklands war was by helicopter; air assets are considered the primary ASW weapon of every NATO navy going), nor land attack missiles. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s considered a bad vessel with a great AAW fitout. I’d consider it a fairly good vessel, compared to its peers, with a great AAW fitout.
There are things that I would want from it that it doesn’t have, believe me, but the more I look at it in comparison to other vessels of the same type the more I think it’s unfairly treated.
Type 45 will never be risked on a gun line; Mk 8 Mod 1 is just for a bit of willy waving. The Leonardo 76mm is the ideal gun for an AAW frigate.
A helicopter is primarily for prosecuting targets. It does extend the screen but a hull based sonar is the primary resource. T42 did help to provide additional to resource to the submarine screen. You can’t keep a helicopter air all the time. And which do you think is the better sensor, the large hull sonar or the small helicopter sonar (buoy)? If the latter is adequate then the former would render the sea transparent..
Do you think T26 should be stripped of SeaCeptor and its air search radar because it is primarily an ASW asset? You are aware the Russians have a large SSN fleet and will build more and better boats in the future? Or do you think T45 should have a sign in Russian painted down the side saying, ‘Don’t torpedo us we shoot at aeroplanes!’
You are confusing T45 the hull with SeaViper the AAW system. It is an adequate hull at best. Consider that the conventional Horizons generated more ‘power’ than the IEP T45, how did that happen?
You and I are in full agreement there, no need for the 4.5” gun- I’d go with a 57 mm like the T31 or the 76 mm you recommend for whatever replaces T45.
I’ve not seen that the T42 got involved in ASW beyond the use of helicopters, but I’ll take your word for it. But the T45 does carry a bow sonar that can search for subs, so it’s got the same capability as the T42 in that respect- bow sonar and a helicopter for prosecution. That said, I believe helicopters also drop sonobuoys for wider area search nets, in addition to what is supposed to be a very good dipping sonar. All told, taking into account improvements in sonar systems and helicopters, the T45 has an equivalent capability- so no one-trick pony accusation there.
No, I don’t think that T26 should be stripped of SeaCeptor- it is a point and very local area defence system; that would be the equivalent of removing whatever torpedo decoys the T45 carries because it isn’t ASW focussed. There is no hard-kill anti torpedo system in service that could be considered an equivalent to SeaCeptor for removal to make your analogy applicable. As I have repeatedly said, the T45 does have an ASW and torpedo protection capability, so they are no more a soft target for Russian SSNs than your typical air defence vessel.
For sure, the T45 has had all kinds of problems with propulsion, but I’m honestly not sure what your point is with that comparison? The T45 can utilise its air defence, ASW, and any other capabilities it has (which until now has been the subject of our discussion) with the generation it has on board (particularly after PIP)- same as the Horizon. I’m assuming you’re thinking about capacity for expansion with directed energy weaponry etc. (so far been out of the scope of our discussion, but OK), but a straight up comparison of power generation doesn’t get you anywhere unless you also compare the power consumption of the vessel and the resulting balance. I don’t know the answer to that, but Horizon’s systems could feasibly be more power hungry than T45’s, thus requiring more power generation for the same performance.
The USN had probs with anti torpedos, and withdraw them.
Must be a reason for it!
Yes, from what I understand there are greater issues with them than with taking out missiles and stuff. No idea what the practicalities are though!
Yes, they couldn’t get them to work. But there are other anti-torpedo torpedoes available like SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill, SSTD CAT and TORBUSTER. I’d like these systems to be tested in stringent, realistic scenarios to see if they work as advertised. If so we should buy the system that works best.
I’d always thought main naval guns were a bit pointless, but maybe HVPs will give them a new lease of life if the HVPs are capable of taking out anti-ship missiles?
A 76mm gun like the OTO Melara with DART and PFF ammo gives you two more layers of defence against anti-ship missiles (you can never have enough layers imo) and if fitted to Type 31s instead of the 57mm Bofors would be able to take out fast attack craft at considerable range with VULCANO rounds.
It’s true ASW helicopters can’t be in the air 24/7 if the weather conditions are bad, the helicopter is undergoing repairs/maintenance or crew members are sick, so that’s why VL anti-sub missiles are important. The trouble is they lack range; they need to be longer ranged than all torpedoes out there. I wonder if airship drones could perform ASW duties? They’d potentially have long endurance and presumably wouldn’t be susceptible to threats like IDAS missiles (or equivalent).
I’d like to see all RN and RFA ships fitted with the Scutter torpedo countermeasure to make them more survivable against subs or aircraft-launched torpedoes.
Joe, The T45 does have a decent sonar, a SSTD system includes the
MFS-7000 bow sonar.
I also agree that there is No point in having StringRay launched from tubes. Better to have SR rocket launched from deck boxes, maybe?
But that is not the primary role of T45.
I’d agree with the concept of a StingROC (just throwing a name out there?), maybe using the rocket launch system the French use for their MU90 seeing as it’s likely newer than the USN ASROC.
That said, I agree with you that it’s taking up valuable VLS real estate on the T45, but I feel it would be very much an appropriate weapon for the T26.
In my (limited) understanding of ASW it would need a rocket with a range roughly comparable to the engagement range of a heavy torpedo. An enemy sub isn’t going to close with a CBG much closer than that because its chances of survival after launch will go down drastically. If you can’t reach out and touch the sub from a ship before the sub shoots at you, you’re better attacking it from the sky with helicopters like we do currently.
An specialist area air defence vessel will need all it’s silos filled with SAM. CAMM-ER can be quad packed into 53cm diameter silos.
So to future fit ExLS to launch CAMM-ER on T45.
Let the land attack role be a function of an another type of vessel.
I couldn’t agree more, I know there are those with good arguments who would disagree but I’d go as far as replacing Aster 15 with CAMM-ER…
As far as land attack goes, you make a fair point which I concede; if you’re going to diversify at all then perhaps more ASMs would be the way forward. I do think that we need to move away from solely relying on our SSNs and F-35 for providing land strike though.
I agree with everything you wrote as reflective of the status quo but I think that parochial approach to escort purpose is deeply flawed when you have effectively turned a once global Navy into a flotilla at best. 19 escorts…really? What a joke for a great nation like the UK. You have to be diverse when you have become tiny. The RN is a very capable and ever more modern Navy but it is sadly, way smaller than it needs to be. Our British cousins like to tell their American allies and their own people that it is okay to have fewer but more effective and modern ships. Then, without a blink they fail to advise that these very same platform is a one trick pony. The Type 45 is an incredible AAW vessel but what of a saturation scenario? She does not carry that many missiles and would soon go down and now the carrier is naked. Time to think like a big boy Navy again…no offense intended. British carrier strike capacity makes the free world safer but so many corners cut.
No offense taken, I concede the point in some respects. Unfortunately, the UK is not well served by HM government, who try to tell everyone that we are a global power verging on superpower militarily, when the reality is that we’re a solid global power. It leads to unrealistic expectations being placed on the military by our closest friends and allies, that the men and women on the front line are not resourced to live up to. I expect I may need to justify that, and I’m happy to if you’re interested; it just diverts away from the specific discussion we’re having here into more general stuff.
We certainly do need to be (and I think are) thinking like a big boy navy. But the RN is unfortunately coming out of a very long period of gradual decline with what I think is a good long-term plan given the resources they have. Think of our current situation as being on the road to recovery, but with potential for a major relapse…! It would be great to have more than 19 escorts, but we don’t have enough crews for the ones we have, nor the budget for them at present. The solutions to that cover all kinds of things, and I don’t know half of them, but I hope we’ll have more in the near term. That said, while I fully agree with you about the whole quality vs quantity thing, there is a balance to be had; If a single T45 is as effective in its role as 5 of the previous T42 (NAO evaluation), then the two T45 that would be in the carrier battle group is a decent air defence force. The problem really comes when you need the vessels in different locations; quality doesn’t help you at all there!
As far as the full range capabilities of the T45 go, I don’t think they’re very different from any other air defence destroyer in service with a NATO navy. A Burke certainly has more VLS, but a portion of them are given over to TLAM and ASROC because it’s a multi-purpose vessel. I would expect the loadout to change a bit, but for the sake of argument we could say that it’d carry 10 TLAM and 4 ASROC? That leaves you with ~80 cells, which would be mixed with quad packed ESSM and the different types of standard missile. But my understanding is that Burkes have to ripple fire against each target, because the PK is too low to allow a one shot kill, which a T45 doesn’t have to do with its Sea Viper system. Until all the Burkes get the latest An-SPY6 set up, which is a one shot kill system, the T45 and Burkes match up well when it comes to dealing with saturation attacks. Bearing in mind that the 1 Ticonderoga and 3ish Burkes in a USN CBG have to split their time between ASW and AAD, and the 2 No. T45 and 2 No. T23/T26 AAD/ASW defence capability of the RN CBG isn’t too dissimilar. Also bear in mind that the latest flight IIA Burkes don’t carry ASMs anymore, and the earlier ones only carry 8 ASMs, which is the same loadout as a T45 for surface warfare.
All told, I don’t think that the T45 is any more a one trick pony than the Horizon class, and only a bit less broadly capable than a Burke because it lacks land attack options. Having said that, it could certainly do with the same level of continuous development that the Burke has enjoyed over the years- something that the RN doesn’t seem to have been particularly good at. The big test will be with the newer vessels, the T26, T31 and the T45 replacement; it will be a big mistake if they lose capabilities compared to their peers in other navies…
Thank you for the truly solid note. I am a retired senior U.S. Naval Officer and had the privilege of serving with our British friends in Iraq. The RN is an incredibly professional service and my note should in no way undermine that reality. I roger up to most of your comments. I do think the T-45 is the finest area AAW vessel in NATO today. However, I think this topic area- CWIS and its inherent limitation in a modern battle space articulates well some of the deficiencies in British MOD planning. So you build a world beating carrier and you spend billions doing so but you can’t manage the few million to defend it properly. Clearly there is a compelling case for enhanced point defense for such a fantastic set of assets. I concur that two T-45 and two Type 23 along with an Astute and an RFA are a solid task group. However, the carrier needs enhanced protection for a saturation scenario. I agree with what you allude to which is the wonderful ability of our British cousins to improve major platforms with repeated refits over time. Clearly, the Invincible class upon decommissioning was much more capable that when they were put in service. Thanks again for the incredibly comprehensive and well written response. Sorry for being too broad in my commentary.
Always happy to discuss these things, even more so with veterans who have a perspective that I’ll never have- I’ve not personally served. That said, there’s quite a long history of service in my family, so I’m glad that you hold the RN in high regard! If you don’t mind, it’d be interesting to know in what capacity you served- but I appreciate that this is a rather public forum.
I take your point, the CIWS issue is a great example of how the MOD loves to compromise what would otherwise be an excellent platform- and it seems that the different services like to do it in different ways. The army and RAF don’t invest once they’ve got the gear (Challenger 2 was one of the very best MBTs on entry, and is still very good, but a consistent lack of investment in upgrades has seen it drop behind the in-service Abrams models that the US have; the RAF have taken years to get the Typhoon to multirole capable, and it will be a while yet before they’re packing an AESA radar). On the other hand, the RN are quite happy to do upgrades, but the initial buy ends up compromised instead (Wildcats without data links, T45 without CEC, Crowsnest just a re-heat of the original radar rather than a new AESA, CIWS fit-out).
From what I’ve read, a lot of that is because of fundamental issues with how major programmes are funded and managed between the MOD and HM Treasury and between the MOD and the industrial partners. Equipment programmes within the MOD budget are financially managed along with the rest of it on an annual basis, so they must be balanced each year- which anyone with an understanding of major long-term project management will see as unwise. This is why the buy rate of T45 was extended to save costs in-year (and why CEC was dropped to save a few million quid off a multi-billion pound project), even though the total programme cost went up to the point that the RN had to cut their buy down to 6 hulls. Apparently, the interaction within the programme teams is also made difficult because even the senior the military members rotate in and out rather than stick it through. The lack of continuity results in a lack of familiarity and constantly changes priorities. Also not good project management practice. Interestingly, the NAO has identified this as a major problem for the MOD and HM Treasury to address, so hopefully we’ll see less and less of the kind of penny pinching capabilities that you’ve rightly identified.
For the record, also, my intention was not to criticise the Burkes in my previous comment. They are the finest Swiss Army knife of a vessel floating, from where I’m sat- I can’t think of a type in service anywhere that can perform the variety of missions a Burke could, as well as one could. The USN is also very good at providing consistent improvement to its platforms, and the newest AN-SPY6 radars will probably tip the balance in favour of the Burkes in comparison to the T45. It’s also worth considering that all this talk comparing weapons systems has so far ignored one thing; the air defence fit out on the Burkes is the only one that has been successfully combat tested against live ASMs fired in anger.
I think you’re being too kind/diplomatic about our carriers. I’m British and completely fail to understand the logic (or lack thereof) of building ships that cost over £3 billion each and then sticking on 3 Phalanx and calling it a day. That’s short-sighted and criminally negligent imo. The carriers in my view need:
– Sea Ceptor (at least 24 CAMMs)
– 4 Oerlikon Millennium Guns with AHEAD ammo
– 2 OTO Melara 76mm guns with DART and PFF ammo
– Microwave weapons to burn out the electronics in anti-ship missiles
– Dragonfire to blind or burn out the sensors in anti-ship missiles
– Laser dazzlers to blind IR-guided anti-ship missiles
– SLQ-32 (or equivalent) to jam radar-guided anti-ship missiles
– Decoys, any combination of the following: chaff, flares, Siren, IrvinGQ floating decoys, MASS, radar-thwarting obscurant
– The Scutter torpedo countermeasure (if this requires a towed array sonar to be fitted then do so)
And imo STOVL carriers are second-rate carriers. With cats & traps we could have Hawkeyes, Growlers and 4th gen jets for redundancy and to act as missile trucks for the F-35s. My choice would be Rafale Ms since they can carry Meteor, MICA IR and MICA EM and are superior to Super Hornets.
Anyway, what’s done is done and we have 2 STOVL carriers. How we could make the best of what I consider a bad job:
– Buy Ospreys for AEW as they’d have superior speed, range and altitude compared to Merlin Crowsnest (or maybe use a mix of the two to maximize coverage & availability of AEW aircraft)
– Use Ospreys to refuel the F-35s (no cats & traps means we won’t be able to buy MQ-25 refuelling drones when they’re ready)
– Buy some AV-8B Harriers from the US (assuming they’re willing to sell us some) to provide a measure of redundancy and so we don’t have all our eggs in one basket with the F-35B. Fit them with AESA radar, IRST, an ECM suite, the DASS system that Typhoons use as well as Meteor and IRIS-T missiles.
– Convert a few of the Harriers into dedicated EW aircraft to give us Growler-like capability
– Fit Meteor to the F-35s as soon as possible (this isn’t expected to happen until 2024 which is ludicrous for a missile that already exists and is used by the Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen). Meteor is superior to AIM-120 in several respects, especially its ability to accelerate in its terminal phase.
– If possible fit IRIS-T to the F-35s (it can shoot down air-to-air missiles as well as SAMs)
Couldn’t agree more. 8 Su-35s with 6 anti-ship missiles each could fire them beyond the range of Aster 30 and make a Type 45 use up all its Asters. Then it’s very vulnerable indeed. The more missiles you have the better. Type 45s need more Aster 30s and also need Aster 30 Block 1NT to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles (and Block 2 BMD when it’s ready). I’d also fit Mk41 VLS to the Type 45s and quad-pack CAMMs in the cells (at least 48).
Other layers of defence to deal with anti-ship missiles:
– The Oerlikon Millennium Gun CIWS with AHEAD ammo (range up to 5km)
– OTO Melara 76mm guns with DART and PFF ammo (ranges up to 8km and 16km respectively)
– Microwave weapons to burn out the electronics in anti-ship missiles
– Dragonfire to blind or burn out the sensors in anti-ship missiles (weather permitting); AIUI once Dragonfire exceeds 300 kilowatts it’ll be able to destroy anti-ship missiles
– Laser dazzlers to blind IR-guided missiles
– Decoys we don’t currently use, but potentially could: Nulka, radar-thwarting obscurant, MASS
– Kevlar over vital areas (to minimize damage from fragments from destroyed missiles)
It would make sense imo to develop a ship-based version of DIRCM to confuse IR-guided missiles and carry out tests to see if HVPs fired from the main gun can take out anti-ship missiles.
And I’d like to see Meteor fitted to our F-35Bs much sooner than 2024 (to take out the archer rather than the arrows). Meteor is superior to AIM-120 as it can accelerate in its terminal phase, has a 60km no-escape zone and is designed to operate in a high ECM environment, all of which make it far more likely to hit its target. It can receive mid-course updates not just from the aircraft that launched it, but other aircraft too. Why it takes years to fit a missile that already exists to the F-35 boggles my mind.
And I’d like to see IRIS-T fitted to the F-35s because they’re able to shoot down air-to-air missiles (and SAMs). I’d assume that means they could also shoot down anti-ship missiles fired by aircraft.
Sea RAM is a Heat seeker!
A Hot spot deck STOVL carrier with F-35Bs close by, is the last place you would put RAM! More of a liability then asset!
They are a lot more sophisticated than that now lol They have onboard memory with data of the target they were aimed at to compare to live scanning results. Its a part of the anti-countermeasure response. Also IFF would hopefully prevent this too
The latest RIM-116 also uses a passive RF sensor, so it can home in on active RF missiles.
Is this an issue if SeaRAM is targetting sea-skimming missiles? Anyway I read recently that the RN tested SeaRAM some time back and wasn’t impressed with it. Can’t remember the details.
My understanding, based upon comments by those with greater knowledge than me, is that most of these missile systems are less than ideal for mounting on carriers. The key issue is that they kick out packing material debris when they launch, meaning that you have to halt air ops in order to clear the deck after any launch.
It’s not often mentioned, but EW is a very effective layer of defence; the engagements between USS Mason and the Yemenis would suggest that a larger number of the missiles either failed or were taken out by EW than were shot down by missiles. For a carrier, I’d say that EW and Phalanx is sufficient, with all escorts carrier at least small area air defence missiles and their own EW.
As far as ASMs go, no idea but I hope they get something decided and replace the older Harpoon soon! I’d be happy with deck mounted systems, would almost prefer them in fact because they’d be easier to spread across the fleet considering the differing types and quantities of VLS we have in service currently.
You like EW dont you ? its another layer of the Onion of Defence. Considering the article if a missile has reached Phalanx then EW didnt work. The problem the RN has is that the escort fleet is laughably small and any combat losses would leave the carriers vulnerable…hence why the need more defences should they find themselves unescorted because their escorts went to Davey Jones’s locker
Haha, yes I do! But I’m not alone in my opinion- and the engagement evidence would suggest that they are comparable in effectiveness to missiles.
You’re quite right, EW is an onion layer, and the use of Phalanx would presume that EW hadn’t worked, but that’s also the case for any missile system. I’m just looking at the drawbacks of having missiel systems on a carrier, compared to their effectiveness and the carrier’s primary purpose. In my view, two out of three onion layers as used by any of the world’s best air defence vessels is sufficient for a vessel that isn’t primarily tasked with air defence. Especially when the addition of that third layer would hinder the primary mission of the vessel (launching and recovering aircraft).
You’re right, we don’t have a lot of escorts, but the actual CBG we’d be fielding is the same size (4 escorts) and broadly comparable in effectiveness across the domains of AAD, ASW, and ASuW as the average USN CBG. A Nimitz is therefore just as vulnerable as a QE to being left unescorted in that scenario. Granted, they do have some PDMS, but there are strong arguments against using them, as I’ve mentioned before…
I have nothing against EW ? its a nice soft kill approach that can deal with older missiles very well. Newer missiles have better ECCM but that only helps…it doesn’t completely eliminate EW effectiveness.
Both the Americans, the French and other countries make missiles on aircraft carriers work.
The CAMM/sea ceptor are soft launch with little debris. The Queen Elizabeth class also have a number of places below the deck line where Army type sky sabre launchers could easily be placed, therefore any limited debris shouldn’t interfere with the flight deck. If standard sky sabre type launchers are used they will cover each side of the vessels mitigating any possible problems a VLS launch could have with air traffic as many others have reasoned against missiles on carriers.
IMO that the omission of missiles is penny pinching and/or over estimation (or justification of cost to the treasury) of the T45 capabilities. I just hope it’s not one we come to regret. Fortunately in time of need it’s possible to rectify via a UOR, but obviously the lesson’s and tests from a proper weapons integration will not be in place which could compromise effectiveness.
The navy for whatever reason seems allergic to giving their warships proper weapons fit. ☹️
I think it might be fairer to say that both the Americans and French have missiles fitted to their carriers; they may well have test fired them, but not sure whether there are any operational consequences for doing so.
Other considerations with launching missiles is to make sure there’s no air traffic nearby, checking that the targeting systems for the missiles don’t interfere with the systems on board the carrier (RF signals in particular drop off with distance, so something that would be fine mounted on a T45 several hundred metres away may cause problems only 50 m from another antenna) and considering what other countermeasures your carrier is putting out. It is a bit more complicated than just dropping in some Sky Sabre systems (from what I’ve read they sound great, by the way- although getting the ER missile would nice), but I don’t disagree that it could be a good idea if one of our carriers sail into particularly contested waters. After all, even the USN and USMC park Avenger systems and suchlike on the decks of their vessels in some situations. I don’t necessarily think it’s a failure to not fit a weapon system for every contingency as standard.
That said, I do agree that it would be nice to expand our weapons fits and have some more surface warfare and land attack teeth across the fleet- that to me seems to be where we fall behind our peers the most. It’s all very well fitting the Harpoon launchers to the T45s and T23s as they’re needed, but having something newer and enough to be fitted to the T31 seems like a good call to me. Likewise, if we pick up one of the models that has a land attack mode too, then we expand our surface fleet capability massively.
The issues with launching a surface to air missile from within a carrier group, was one of the reasons behind the USN developing cooperative engagement capability (CEC). The issues they faced was that each ship would be blasting away with its search radars, therefore each ship would have its own air picture. Due to the requirement for fast reaction times they would fire off the missiles without going through the air commander. Thereby possibly having multiple missiles in the air against one target. Also if a ship was operating close to a carrier, part of its radar picture would be taken up with carrier. To get around this CEC being a data-link will combine a complete air picture built up from all the ships radars equipped with CEC through a central node. This means you can now have a dedicated air commander making it easier to allocate missiles towards targets, but also means none of the ships have any radar blind spots. So in principle it should make it easier to coordinate both carrier aircraft operations with air defence.
The CEC, much like IFF should be a NATO standard. Therefore any NATO ship can add and be part of a coordinated defence of a NATO group.
I’m pretty sure that’s the best explanation of CEC that I’ve seen, appreciate that! It’s a real shame that it was removed from T45, it would seem to me that it makes more sense to have it now than it ever did since we will very soon have a carrier battle group. Especially if we’ll have allied escorts sailing with us.
I know that Gunbuster (I think it was him) mentioned that T45s use a data link to share targeting data and suchlike, but it doesn’t sound like quite the same level of capability.
As you say, CEC seems like something that should be a common standard for interoperability if possible.
Sea Ceptor uses cold launch for CAMM, so is putting Sea Ceptor on the QE and POW an issue?
Do the carriers have EW suites? I thought they didn’t. Or least I’ve not read that they do.
I’d like the RN to replace Phalanx with the Oerlikon Millennium Gun CIWS firing AHEAD ammo, backed up by OTO Melara 76mm guns firing DART and PFF ammo.
LRASM would be the best anti-ship missile, but it’s ridiculously expensive. Maybe buy a few and also buy something cheaper like RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4? I’d like the RN to standardise and use Mk41 wherever possible. CAMMs can be quad-packed in Mk41 cells and you can also fire anti-ship missiles, anti-sub missiles and LRASM from Mk41. Aster obviously needs the Sylver launcher.
I’d like the RN to equip the frigates & destroyers with ADL launchers. Each launcher can carry 16 CAMMs and they can be replenished at sea, which is a huge plus in wartime.
It’s not just the launch, I don’t know enough about the different launching ystems to know if a cold launch creates debris still or not. But there are also the issues with targetting systems interfering with the flight management and other comms that are on a carrier, as well as the risk to aircraft nearby (I understand they normally have a SAR chopper up when doing air ops and suchlike). Trying to launch missiles in such a physically and RF-cluttered environment would be far more complicated than from a T45 on picket, at least several hundred metres away.
As far as I’m aware, all RN warships carry pretty sophisticated EW suites- inlcuding the carriers.
I don’t know enough about the different options, but I’d be happy for a switch up of the CIWS systems if they were proven to be more effective. I would say that they should be changed fleet wide though, and ideally no tbe deck penetrating, so that they can be easily switched between vessels.
As far as ASMs go, you’re right that LRASM is quite something, but I think it’s too close to whatever FC/ASW is going to come up with, so that and the cost will kill our opportunity to get it. I was a big fan of the NSM, but having read up on the RBs-15 (the mk3/4 ones that you specify), I think it’s a pretty damn good option, especially as it can be air launched too. Not sure how easy it’ll be to get integrated onto F-35 and P-8A in any sort of reasonable timescale though…
As far as VLS go, I’ve had good conversations on here before and there are good arguments both ways. Personally, I’m for Aster, and I’ll tell you why; We have no weapon currently in service that goes in a Mk41, but 2 currently that go into Sylver. In addition, we have at least one weapon that shoul dbe coming out of FC/ASW that will be a Sylver fit (we’d have to lobby hard and pay our own way for Mk41 integration in the hopes that the cost would be covered by later export success to a Mk41 country, or split the cost of Aster integration with France and know we could sell the weapons to the other Euro coutnries as well as Saudi who also use Aster). In addition, France and Italy have an ASROC-style ASW torpedo based upon their MU90- I’m willing to bet we could modify it for Stingray. I’m pretty confident CAMM can be quad packed in Aster too. So all told, although there are more weapons that theoretically fit in Mk41 at the moment, we don’t use any of them, and have no plans to do so. Any ASM/ land attack munition that we buy under the interim purchase will be cannister launched, so no need to consider them for the VLS. That’s just my opinion, based as much on keeping and boosting domestic manufacturing as anythign else.
As far as ADL goes, my understanding is that it’s basically a Mk41 cell on its side, so that it’s modular and doesn’t have to penetrate into the ship? It’s a great idea, but only if we bring Mk41 into the fleet, which we are doing with T26. I would far rather we standardise one way or another though. A Sylver version would be a great way of finally getting strike length / additional cells onto the T45s without having 2 VLS types on one ship and combat management system, just saying… One thing to bear in mind, CAMM isn’t yet integrated into the Mk41 system, which includes ADL, so we’d have to pay for that. I’m also not sure if it’s compatible with Sylver yet, but that would likely be a cheaper road with regards to sharing the cost with the other Euro operators. Whichever way we go though, I really think we should be moving to CAMM-ER, at least on ships.
“It’s not just the launch, I don’t know enough about the different launching systems to know if a cold launch creates debris still or not.”
Well I can’t say that cold launch definitely doesn’t cause debris, but I’d be surprised if it does. I mean that’s surely why it was invented in the first place?
“But there are also the issues with targetting systems interfering with the flight management and other comms that are on a carrier”
Could you elaborate? I mean I can understand that this might be an issue with anti-air missiles designed to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles approaching ships from above, but how would it be an issue with anti-air missiles targetting sea-skimming missiles?
“Trying to launch missiles in such a physically and RF-cluttered environment would be far more complicated than from a T45 on picket, at least several hundred metres away.”
Yeah but all other countries with carriers have anti-air missiles on them. Have they all got it wrong? I mean surely they’ve found a way to make it work?
“As far as I’m aware, all RN warships carry pretty sophisticated EW suites- including the carriers.”
Well Wikipedia says that Type 23s have UAF-1 ESM or UAT Mod 1.
It says that Type 45s have UAT Mod 2.0 (2.1 planned).
It doesn’t say what the Type 26s will have.
It doesn’t mention any EW suite on the QE or POW. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean that the carriers don’t have EW suites. It could just be that this information hasn’t been added to the Wikipedia page for either carrier.
“I don’t know enough about the different options, but I’d be happy for a switch up of the CIWS systems if they were proven to be more effective.”
Well I addressed this in my previous reply to you. I think Phalanx is outdated and there are far better alternatives these days like the Oerlikon Millennium Gun and the Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian. And these CIWSes could be complemented by other gun-based systems like the Bofors 40mm Mk4 or the OTO Melara 76mm. They don’t have the rate of fire of a CIWS, but they’d still provide another useful layer of defence, especially considering they’re longer ranged than CIWSes. Main 4.5″ or 5″ guns firing HVPs would also provide another very useful layer of defence against anti-ship missiles (well assuming they’re accurate enough to hit them).
That said, I’d like all these systems to be stringently tested in realistic scenarios before buying them and fitting them to ships.
“I would say that they should be changed fleet wide though, and ideally no be deck penetrating, so that they can be easily switched between vessels.”
I mentioned this previously, but being deck penetrating means that you have access to far more ammo. This would be vital in the event of a saturation attack, especially considering how expensive anti-air missiles are and how few of them a ship can carry. Auto-loaders would also mean that the guns could be reloaded fast.
“As far as ASMs go, you’re right that LRASM is quite something, but I think it’s too close to whatever FC/ASW is going to come up with”
Well there’s no reason why we couldn’t buy some LRASMs now and complement them with Perseus missiles when they’re ready. Well assuming both can be fired from Mk41 cells that is. Perseus like LRASM will be stealthy, but it will be superior to LRASM in that it will be Mach 5 (vs subsonic for LRASM), will be able to be fired from subs (as well as ships and aircraft) and will be able to deploy two mini missiles from the main missile. LRASM is longer ranged though.
“I was a big fan of the NSM, but having read up on the RBs-15 (the mk3/4 ones that you specify), I think it’s a pretty damn good option, especially as it can be air launched too.”
I really like RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4 from what I’ve read about it. The only thing the NSM has over RBS-15 though is that it’s stealthy to some degree. Also I know that Gripens use RBS-15, but I don’t know if it can be fitted to the F-35Bs on our carriers. I also don’t know what RBS-15 or the NSM cost or whether they can be fired from Mk41 cells. Do you have this information?
“Not sure how easy it’ll be to get integrated onto F-35 and P-8A in any sort of reasonable timescale though…”
No, neither do I. I mean it’s going to be 2024 before our F-35Bs have Meteor according to: https://defense-update.com/20170421_f35_meteor.html
Why it takes years to fit a missile to the F-35B that already exists and is carried by the Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen boggles my mind.
“As far as VLS go, I’ve had good conversations on here before and there are good arguments both ways. Personally, I’m for Aster, and I’ll tell you why; We have no weapon currently in service that goes in a Mk41, but 2 currently that go into Sylver.”
Well from what I’ve read Aster 30 is a very competent missile, although I’d like the Type 45s to also carry Aster 30 Block 1NT (and Aster 30 Block 2 BMD when it’s available) so they can take out ballistic anti-ship missiles. I don’t really see the point of Aster 15 though. It has slightly longer range and is slightly faster than CAMM, but I’d rather fit the Type 45s with Mk41 VLS and quad-pack the cells with CAMMs. I mean I’d rather have 4 times as many CAMMs than Aster 15s. I don’t know if CAMM-ERs can be quad-packed in Mk41 cells, but if they can, then all the better. Plus Mk41 VLS would also mean that Type 45s could carry TLAMs.
“In addition, we have at least one weapon that should be coming out of FC/ASW that will be a Sylver fit”
Do you have a source saying that Perseus will fit in Sylver cells? I’ve been wondering what launcher Perseus will use for some time now. I’d also like to know if it will be able to be fired from Mk41 cells.
“France and Italy have an ASROC-style ASW torpedo based upon their MU90- I’m willing to bet we could modify it for Stingray.”
I don’t really see the point. MU90 only has a max range of 23km. There are sub-fired torpedoes with greater range than that. What we really need imo is an anti-sub missile that is significantly longer ranged than any existing sub-fired torpedoes so that subs can be taken out before they can get into torpedo-firing range. And on the topic of range, I’d like to see an updated version of TLAM with far greater range, ideally longer ranged than the Chinese DF-26 (4,000km range). And if it was stealthy that wouldn’t be a bad thing either. Plus it would be good if TLAMs could be fired from aircraft, especially the F-35B.
“I’m pretty confident CAMM can be quad packed in Aster too.”
Do you mean Sylver cells? Do you have a source for that? I’ve read that CAMMs can be quad-packed in Mk41 cells as well as ADL launcher cells (16 CAMMs per launcher).
“As far as ADL goes, my understanding is that it’s basically a Mk41 cell on its side, so that it’s modular and doesn’t have to penetrate into the ship?”
Sounds right to me. What I like about ADL is that it can be replenished at sea. This could potentially make the difference in wartime between a ship surviving and getting sunk: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/29335/this-bolt-on-launcher-can-give-nearly-any-ship-the-same-weaponry-as-u-s-navy-destroyer
“It’s a great idea, but only if we bring Mk41 into the fleet, which we are doing with T26. I would far rather we standardise one way or another though.”
Well Mk41 VLS gives us a lot of options. I’d like all our RN and RFA ships to be fitted with it, as well as all new ships. That said, Sylver is still required for Aster.
“A Sylver version would be a great way of finally getting strike length / additional cells onto the T45s without having 2 VLS types on one ship and combat management system, just saying…”
Um, not sure what you mean. The Type 45s already have Sylver launchers for Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. Adding Mk41 VLS would mean that Type 45s could also carry TLAMs, anti-ship missiles, anti-sub missiles and quad-packed CAMMs. It would be ideal though if Asters could be fired from Mk41 cells.
“One thing to bear in mind, CAMM isn’t yet integrated into the Mk41 system, which includes ADL”
Um, from what I’ve read, CAMMs (and ESSMs) can be quad-packed in Mk41 cells and ADL cells.
“Whichever way we go though, I really think we should be moving to CAMM-ER, at least on ships.”
Yeah totally agree. CAMM-ER would be far superior to standard CAMM.
I think MBDA need to test launching SeaCeptor from the truck based SkySabre launcher at an inclined angle to see if it is feasible to mount SeaCeptor launchers on the QE class carriers on the underside of the sponsons below the level of the flight deck. Given that SeaCeptor is a soft launch system and combined with the QE class large magazines it may be possible to reload the launchers whilst at sea.
Sounds good to me ? need to tie in ART 997 and the Combat management system too.
Aren’t those the same as already run ing on the T-23 and going forward on the T-26. So should be straight forward from and integration point of view. Locating suitable mou ring points with clearance to get beyond the flight deck will take some modeling and testing.
Some of the T23 frigates, the GPs which have had LIFEX from 2017, will be sold with their new Sea Ceptor system, when replaced by the T31 frigates. The OSD for Sea Wolf is end of 2020! Most of the T23s have had SW replaced by SC. It is a mystery of HMS Monmouth which is laid up, being use for training crew, will get LIFFX, does anybody know?
If Not she will be useless, because her Sea Wolf will OSD at end of this year.
HMS Iron Duke is still in the LIFEX shed since last year, she should be nearly ready now!
HMS Sutherland(ASW), is another T23 which has still got Sea Wolf, but is due LIFEX at end of year, and with PGMU as well.
Seeing as ships roll I think we can take it as read that soft launch SeaCeptor can be launched at an angle. Just a thought.
Ships pitch and roll and even yaw. Considerably at times. SeaCeptor wouldn’t be much used if it had to be vertical for a launch.
Another fact downvoted.
I would add that Russian soft launch missiles are at a slight angle. They do it incase a missile doesn’t fire & falls back onto the launching platform. ie the slight angle ensures it clears the deck if the motor fails to fire.
Not much debate on replacing them with Dragon fire in the comments section. Does anyone believe the technology is anywhere close to reliable enough to take out a sea skimming middle or will the sea air and power demands mean that range is far too short.
It’s getting there. There have been a number of key developments recently. Having F1 tech incorporated in to the power generation is just one step. To have a laser based CIWS system that can not only take out small UAVs, anti-ship missiles and an aircraft that strayed too close, is going to take a lot of power necessary to generate at least 50kw required by a laser that can destroy a target within a radius of 10km on a clear day. The laser is really no longer the problem. Dragonfire is a combined optical fibre laser, meaning that power output is generated by combining lots of smaller lasers together on to one focal lens. The combined output is therefore scalable, but also more controllable. The hurdle is still the power generation and the ability to rapidly repeat firings in very quick succession. Rolls Royce have recently produced a power generator for a laser of this size, that can be fitted into a commercial iso container. It’s the F1 tech that may make the difference. Capacitor banks and flywheels are being used with the KERS systems to recover energy from braking that can then be used on demand. Williams are very good at this tech and have been contracted by Rolls Royce with the Tempest project. Qinetiq have shown on some Dragonfire fire brochures that Williams are involved, so it’s a very good guess that they are using some of their F1 know how on the project as well. I would expect to see more info on Dragonfire’s performance soon.
Williams is supplying their knowledge of lightweight flywheels used in energy storage systems.
Williams is a team with a lot of pedigree when it comes to automotive engineering and not just for F1 development. In some ways its been to their recent detriment as they tried to compete with the likes of Mercedes when it came to developing their own KERS system with a fraction of the budget.
I hope if someone does buys them they continue to invest in the UK operation.
I thought I read that there was a B1B Baseline 2. That the RN had bought kits for. This included a new AESA radar and more advanced gun fire control. The upgrade was to counter stealth targets and targets on or just above tge water (i.e. sea skimmers).
Does anyone read this too?
I know all USN ships were upgraded to this standard…no idea about the RN
I think we bought 28 kits for the B1B Baseline 2 upgrade but I do not know were they went, or if any more were bought.
I am struck by the apologetic tone of the article. The reality is that this system is a last hope point goalie and nothing more in the modern combat environment. It is hardly the Linus blanket it has made out to be by many – especially by the Admiralty. It is an utter joke that the QE class does not have a rolling airframe or other more advanced point system. The addition of sea sparrow or rolling airframe or Sea Ceptor is essential to keep the new and very impressive British carriers safe.
Definitely sea ceptor attach at least 12/24 on each corner of the stern. It has minimal FOD, cheap etc. I believe points were already put into place where this can go FFBNW. https://www.mbda-systems.com/press-releases/camm-completes-qualification-trials-from-3-cell-exls-launcher/ something like this or other VLS.
The QE will never be deployed into a high threat environment on its own. On top of 2 T45 flanking it there will be additional ships from the US, France, Netherlands, Denmark and Germany all with capable AAW systems protecting it. So there will literally never be a point where it should be launching a missile and blowing debris all over it’s flight deck.
It’s main threat will be from whats under the waterline than above it.
So much for a sovereign capability….
We are the only carrier operating nation that does not add a missile to it’s carrier. It is all about penny pinching nothing more. Is the rest of the world wrong or does the UK alone know best.
Sea Ceptor is ideal for QE class. Phalanx is getting too short range – we now need a longer range missile to fill the gap. Given how much these carriers cost a little extra for an added layer of defence only appears sensible and prudent.
“So there will literally never be a point where it should be launching a missile and blowing debris all over it’s flight deck.”
What you talking about…? French, Italian carriers have missiles, no problem.
We mustn’t forget the Invincibles with Sea Dart. There was a reason for all the extraction system.
There was also a reason Sea Dart was removed from those ships
There was a need for more deck and magazine space.
If I remember correctly Invincible fried several Sea Dart during the Falklands. So much for never having to fire a simile from a carrier!
Yeah you’re right, it’s metaphors that never get fired from carriers! ☺️
Large missiles leave a lot of debris behind them. If you had seen a missile or three launched you would know that. Two down votes for more facts.
Explain why Charles de Gaulle, Cavour have Aster.
Sea Ceptor has a soft launch and could be fired from silos with doors this would result in no FOD and no smoke. Technology has mover on from Sea Dart. There is no technical reason QE could not be fitted with Sea Ceptor. It already has the 997 radar the same as the T23.
Seaceptor doesn’t scatter the decks with debris especially if launched from the stern.
It would if launched forward and the motor failed. Lots of precious F-35’s would go up in smoke.
Why, if your missiles are at the stern, would you angle them forward?
You appear to have missed a contract with Babcock to modernise 6 units (16+6+8+5 new) suggesting that there are still 6 units awaiting modernisation.
I’ve tried to copy the link to the press release in December 2014 but it didn’t work.
So reading the comments here on Phalanx, the general view is the cannon itself is old and lacks range, and the ammunition is too small in calibre to stop larger missiles?
If this is the case, why do we not design one that fixes these issues and provides a next generation solution? If we oiled BAEs pipes with some modest R&D money, and dangled the carrot of purchases for all our vessels, surely they would be interested. Sales to other navies could be significant as well if it was good enough.
My thoughts are that we should design a 40mm cannon that could provide the extra range and punch, and also allow for an air burst round I believe? Include a modern laser dazzler and side mounts for a mix of martlet and star streak type missiles and we have a potent CIWS with options and range. Maybe design both deck penetrating and non penetrating types as the ammunition load outs of the Phalanx do not seem high enough for modern saturation attacks, and deck penetration might be best for larger escorts dealing with this, whilst the non penetrating best for OPVs and RFAs. BAE have access to some of the best sensors out there as well as radar.
Design it in tandem with the army to put on some armoured vehicles for the strike brigades (which is a capability sorely needed) and you have the numbers required to get good economies of scale and access to two budget streams for development.
A larger calibre means more exotic fusings.
The RN uses Phalanx because it has them.
I am unaware of a fuzed nature for Phalanx.
And I am sure the RN took all the Goalkeeper systems out of service. The system bought in preference to Phalanx and used on T22 B3, the Albions, and two of three Invincible class. A better system, but a more expensive system.
Another childish down vote.
In my view there is a problem with relying on say a DS30 mount with a Martlet/Starstreak combo for a close in weapon system (CIWS). The reason for this is that Martlet/Starstreak is a semi-active command line of sight (SACLOS) guided system, rather than fire and forget. This means the target must be continuously tracked and that the system can only attack targets one after another, rather than simultaneously.
There are a number of 40mm guns that fit your criteria. The CTAS 40 Rapidfire and Bofors 40/L70 Mk4 being probably the best. Both have a 4000m effective range, although both can fire well past 10km. This is double the effective range of the Phalanx’s 20mm. The Bofors which has been chosen for the T31 has the advantage that it’s a mature system and has the programmable 3P ammunition. The CTAS along with a programmable general purpose round also has a dedicated anti-air round. Both systems have the option of a plug and play system where there’s no deck penetration. However, unlike Phalanx they both need a dedicated fire control radar or linked into the ship’s main fire control radar. In a CWIS context, the CTAS 40’s rate of fire is lower at 200rpm compared with 340rpm for the Bofors. So in this instance the Bofors is better as it has a higher rate of fire. Not sure which system has the better dispersion though?
However, there is an even better option. This is the same main gun that the T31 is getting, i.e. the Bofors 57 Mk110. The larger 57mm round means it has a longer effective range of 8500m. Granted its rate of fire is comparable to the CTAS 40 at 220rpm. But perhaps more importantly is that it can fire the Mk295 Mod 1 Ordnance for Rapid Kill of Attack Craft (ORKA) round as well as a 3P round. This is also programmable, but crucially it is also a guided round. It relies on a semi-active laser seeker to home in on the target. According to BAe, it can also be downloaded with the target’s image and has the capability of searching for it once fired. The MK110 mount has the options of being self contained or it can have a feeder in the deck below it.
The issue is not the kill-ability of Phalanx, but its effective range. Even against supersonic targets there may be a chance that the incoming anti ship missile is large enough and still retains enough kinetic energy to reach and damage the ship. For something like a T26 which only has one primary radar. The debris field may be enough to take out the Artisan, leaving the ship effectively blind when it comes to air defence. Both of the 40mm systems will push out the kill zone, but not as much as the 57’s.
So perhaps the gun combo from a Type 31 could be used on our other ships. By using a combination of the 40 and 57, you could replace both the DS30 and Phalanx, thus pushing out the effective kill zone. Some thought is required to making the systems true plug and play as per the Phalanx, by adding a radar to each individual weapon system etc.
It does make sense for both the Army and Navy with a similar gun requirement to not only use the same gun but also ammo on cost grounds alone. The CTAS 40 that is part of the upgraded Warrior program and is fitted to Ajax is maturing nicely. The general purpose round holds twice as much explosive as a standard 40mm round and the anti-air round contains significantly more tungsten. However, its rate of fire is too low for CIWS and Nexter had said that it’s not really suited to this role. That being said, Rapidfire has been integrated with Starstreak as part of a mobile self propelled anti-air gun system. So there’s scope for further development of a CTAS 40 plus Martlet/Starstreak combination. Thales need to look at making a fire and forget version of Starstreak, but make sure it’s cheaper than the RIM-116 missiles.
I have also had this far out idea of removing the 4.5″ guns from T23/45 and fitting one each on the Bay, Albion class and future Littoral Strike Ship so they can provide an organic naval gunfire support.
Nice to hear the gun choice on the T31 might have been a fairly smart choice rather than just a cost based budget bodge, but it does still seem that their isnt a fully developed ideal solution on the market and a possible gap in the market. Yes, martlet and starstreak need to be made fire and forget and hopefully this will come in a few years time. I’m not sure why they didn’t just go this way to start with. In an era of saturation attacks, the need to hold a laser designator on the target seems a bit clunky and stops rapid persecution of targets imo.
In regards the gun and radar, would it not be better for all guns to have their own radar, but also be fed by the main ships radar as well? This way if one or the other gets damaged by incoming shrapnel it can still be operational. Would then target designation be able to be fed to seaceptor from them if the main radar is damaged also to increase resilience to battle damage?
On the 4.5″ to the Albion’s, I’m totally onboard and have said the same recently on other sites. To my mind a ship operating of the coast will be required to defend against many incoming threats and should be able to help lay down fire itself. Most other LPDs in service have a least one main gun if not several.
Being very large ships with decent top deck space, I would go home step further and have 2x 4.5″, seaceptor x 32 and box launchers of Spear 3/brimstone to provide heavy firepower at land installations. Before anyone criticises this, what other platform outside our Astutes can provide this? Seeing as only around 3 may be available, would we really have it undertaking this task in such a high risk environment? This is also a role for T31 imo. I dont want to see any of our billion pound assets near to an amphibious landing. Put land attack on the T31 and the amphibious ships that have to go in harms way anyway. That would give the T31 a proper role in wartime or it’s all but useless in its current role. I would lose one of the 40mm and put them on the RB2s, move the 57mm to the secondary gun space and reuse a 4.5″ from the outgoing T23s as the primary gun. Amphibious landing will require a significant wieght of fire against a well defended opponent which the fleet just doesnt have at present. That is unless the cut the capability soon!
Yes, I totally agree. We will be facing a major dilemma in a few years with the retirement of the T23s, who supports the amphibious ships when they are in view of the coast. The amphibs clearly won’t be operating on their own, they will likely be part of a larger group supported by a carrier. Therefore, there will be air support with T26s and T45s making up the group. But the T45s will be protecting the carrier and the T26 will be searching for subs. What ship will be available to not only provide air defence for the amphibs but also provide fire support? The ship with the best weapon for that being the T26 will hunting subs. It should be a general purpose ship, i.e. the T31, but its armament is predominantly defensive and very local at that, it cannot provide gunfire support to the troops ashore.
The purpose of the amphibious ships of the Bay and Albion class is get marines/army ashore or to recover them. There are two methods to do this by helicopter or landing craft. Probably a third if you include a Ro-Ro ferry and mexfloat. The helicopter is great at ferrying personnel, but when it comes to vehicles etc, it must be done by landing craft. The LCUs and LCVPs are slow, so to reduce the transit times the LPDs and LSDs must be close to shore. This places them in serious harm’s way and to make sure we don’t suffer a similar disaster that befell the Sir Galahad and Tristan at Bluff Cove, they must be better protected!
I find it bonkers that these classes of ships only have a pair of Phalanx for air defence and a pair of 30mm for local support. Especially when you consider how many crew and troops these ships carry. With the carrier and the F35Bs providing CAp the main threat would be from shore. Now that the ships are operating close to the shoreline they will be in ATGM range, never mind land based anti-ship missile range. Due to the lack of a more heavily armed general purpose ship, the ships must have a better defensive but also an offensive armament!
In some respects it depends on what the MoD do with the retired T23s. If they are sold off great, if they are scrapped, then parts of the ship’s weapons system should be reutilised and fitted to the Bays and Albions. The gold plated solution would be the installation of Artisan and SeaCeptor, as this will provide air defence out to the horizon. The Artisan is a mature system granted but it is still useful. Another weapon system from the T23 would be the 4.5″ gun, installed in the bow position that’s usually earmarked for the Phalanx. The 4.5″ is still a useful weapon and although it hasn’t the range of the 5″ that the T26 is getting, it’s still enough to give anyone a bad day if they’re the target. Even with the longer range shell at 27km, there is a requirement for a weapon with a greater range. I think there are two options, a container launched Spear 3 or HIMARS. HIMARS, after a software upgrade, has shown that it’s more than capable being fired from the back of the USS Anchorage LPD of hitting a designated target with pinpoint accuracy. The only issue is the footprint it takes up, it’s not small. Spear 3 on the other hand is just over 2m long in its transit container. If MBDA could build a containerised launched version this would be my choice. It has a much smaller footprint and has a much more flexible target capability than HIMARS.
For close in defence I would replace the two 30mm mounts with either the Rapidfire or the Bofors Mk4. Part of the installation would also include the Martlet/Starstreak module. A long time ago before Thales owned Shorts, Shorts had developed the SeaStreak concept. This was a plug and play mount, that contained 24 Starstreak missiles including the optics and a dedicated search radar. It didn’t go anywhere as the Navy believed that the future replacement for Seawolf (SeaCeptor) and Phalanx would cope with the threats. I think the 3 tungsten darts should be able to knock out any anti-ship missile or at least blinding their guidance sensor. However, as the system can only engage one target at a time, Thales would have to upgrade them to also include a fire and forget sensor. The problem being trying to fit one in the darts small nose.
Am I missing something? Surely amphibious ships and the landing craft would be sitting ducks. The enemy would attack them with everything they’ve got: anti-ship missiles fired from land and from aircraft, attack helicopters, anti-tank missiles, artillery, mortars, rockets, weapons firing airburst ammo, heavy machine guns and snipers. The littoral waters might be mined and diesel-electric subs may well be in the area. The beach may be mined and covered in razor wire and anti-tank obstacles. Worst case scenario, the enemy uses a fuel-air bomb on the amphibious ships and the landing craft. I can’t see how an amphibious attack could possibly succeed in this day and age.
I would also very much like to see a batch 2 / upgrade programme for T31 to include land attack missiles, it makes perfect sense for them. I’d even go as far as swaping their 57 mm with the T45’s 4.5″, but that may be going too far.
T45s and T26s shouldn’t have to be coming off station to provide land attack services, they have a purpose and they should stick to it.
Are you sure you are not concentrating on the wrong thing? Range & hitting power are all very nice but if you don’t have the FCS to hit a high speed maneuvering target, it’s all pointless.
That is why if we look at the gold plated solution, it would include SeaCeptor, Artisan and the T23 combat management system (CMS). Without a CMS it would be very difficult to not only integrate the various systems but also to give the ship the necessary situational awareness. The Artisan plus SeaCeptor is a known combination and will still relevant in 10 years, so long as obsolescence is managed. The Artisan would be the primary radar for the majority of defensive and offensive systems added to the ship, however I would still prefer Ku band radars, EO and IR added to individual gun systems. As a low cost solution, I think adding the T23’s systems would be a huge benefit to the amphibs, but it all depends on what happens to the T23s when they retire.
I would prefer to swap out the 20mm for something like the 35mm with AHEAD ammo on the Phalanx, rather than missiles. In a longer run war, missiles are slow to replace. The basic idea of Phalanx works, it’s the 20mm that is the problem.
The Oerlikon Millennium Gun with AHEAD ammo, the Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian with A3B ammo, the OTO Melara 76mm with PFF ammo and the Bofors Mk4 40mm with 3P ammo all provide air burst capability to take out anti-ship missiles. These weapons already exist, so there’s no need to redesign the wheel. I agree deck-penetration (and quick auto-reloading) would be ideal in the event of a saturation attack. Will Martlet/LMM be able to take out anti-ship missiles? I thought it was purely to take out fast attack craft?
I’m not convinced that the Phalanx is that obsolete. I have concerns about the ability of “comparatively” tiny numbers of 40mm 3P shells pre-detonating ahead of a supersonic missile in a timely fashion, the rate of closure will be Mach 4+. Despite the claimed ability against such targets, 3P seems best suited to peppering slow moving targets at range.
The existing 40mm mounts are large and “comparatively” clumsy. The whole point of the R2D2 is its extremely fine / subtle movements and ludicrous amount of tungsten it spews out. One need only glance an incoming missile to damage it aerodynamically and any hit on the nose will compromise most likely destroy the seeker. I accept that 3P peppering will have the same effect.
What I do agree with is the long running discussion about a bank of Sea Ceptors on the one of the aft quarters of the CVs. This article has correctly discussed Phalanx in the scope of the multi-layer defence paradigm. A quick look at USS G.R Ford shows us she has 3 Phalanx, 2 RAMs & 2 ESSMs; that is pretty good. I would be happy with our CVs having 4 Phalanx (why its 3 on a ship that size with 4 corners i don’t know) and say 16 Sea Ceptors.
I know many people are of the opinion that missiles are not a good fit for the carriers due to potential debris, but I’m not sure I see their argument. Seaceptor should be there, but only for emergency use. What if a saturation attack occurs and T45 and T23 are out? What if escorts have been sunk? What if the carrier is on a safe peacetime journey travelling alone and comes under surprise attack? Are we really saying that we would rather run the risk of losing the ship than pausing flights to check for debris on the deck? I’m sure if mounted well below the deck line on sponsons the issue would be minimal. I personally think our ships are under armed for a peer war where hundreds of cheap missiles might be lobbed at them. All ships should have them, even if only to be cued by the nearest escort when they run low. CEC to the whole fleet please.
Every carrier in the world: US(Sparrow, RAM), Russia, France(Aster), Italy(Aster), India(Barak), China (HQ-10) have missiles except the British ones.
Maybe Newton can explain this difference in debris physics…
“I’m not convinced that the Phalanx is that obsolete.”
I am. Phalanx doesn’t carry enough rounds and only has an effective range of 1.5km. Phalanx could be out of ammo in as little as 20 seconds.
Wikipedia says that the Oerlikon Millennium Gun firing AHEAD ammo with an effective range of 5km can engage 10 anti-ship missiles. I’d be very surprised if Phalanx could engage even 2 anti-ship missiles, let alone take them out.
Millennium Guns could be backed up by OTO Melara 76mm guns firing DART and PFF ammo to take out anti-ship missiles at 8km and 16km respectively.
Main naval guns firing HVPs at Mach 3 and at a range of over 80km (50 miles) (from what I’ve read) would provide another very useful layer of defence against anti-ship missiles. Well assuming they’re accurate enough. I’d like stringent realistic tests to be carried out to see if HVPs could be used in this role.
25 AHEAD rounds detonating in very quick succession to each other would throw out 3,800 tungsten projectiles. I can’t see a missile surviving that.
Ideally though, all CIWSes and other gun-based defences for dealing with anti-ship missiles would be deck penetrating with fast auto-reloaders. This would mean the guns would have access to more ammo which would be vital in the event of a saturation attack (of even subsonic anti-ship missiles).
Equipping ships with 2 ADL launchers with 16 CAMMs per launcher would also be sensible because ADL launchers can be replenished at sea.
I’d also equip ships with electricity-based defences that don’t depend on missiles or ammo to deal with anti-ship missiles, e.g. an EW suite, Dragonfire, microwave weapons, laser dazzlers and a ship-based version of DIRCM.
Ship-based IRST and LIDAR would also be well worth looking into imo to detect stealth aircraft and stealthy anti-ship missiles.
I do agree though that the carriers need Sea Ceptor. I’d replace the 3 Phalanx though with 4 Oerlikon Millennium Guns as well as 4 OTO Melara 76mm guns (assuming there’s space for 8 guns).
Useful defences against torpedoes include: SSTD, Scutter and anti-torpedo torpedoes (e.g. SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill, SSTD CAT).
Multiple layers of defence are vital, but the best way imo to deal with anti-ship missiles and torpedoes is to take out the aircraft/ships/subs before they can fire any:
I’ve got a Question:
How does CIWS integrate with shipboard IFF systems? And does it have a target prioritisation system? Finally: Would multiple CIWS systems be networked together, with configured areas of airspace jurisdiction? So that 2 Phalanx’ don’t waste time/ammo firing at the same target.
All these details could be extremely confidential, but I would sure love to get a look at some of the code that governs these systems.
Yes, certainly classified!
The Phalanx weapon radar systems (with its immense rapid fire) have to contend with its own created munitions clutter.
And because these are sea skimming supersonic cruise missiles, they also have to contend with the clutter from ocean waves.
If we were to engage in war games, I would definitely choose to be part of the red (hostile) team.
Just purely out of interest, could you put one of these on a River Class to replace the main mount?
About that Silkworm headed for USS Missouri in ’91– as a “Yank”, let me just say to the RN and HMS Gloucester– thank you for taking care of us. (I write this as a civilian with no military service, but followed the war avidly in the news at the time, and I had no idea that incident happened).
I think we need to invest more in the counters to anti ship ballistic missiles which traditional CIWS will not be able to deal with
Aster 30 Block 1NT is designed to take out ballistic anti-ship missiles but the Type 45s don’t carry it. Aster 30 Block 2 BMD is currently under development.
Imo Type 45s should carry more Aster 30s and maybe 6 Block 1NTs (and 6 Block 2 BMDs when they’re ready).
I’d like to see Type 45s fitted with Mk41 VLS and then fill the cells with anti-ship missiles (maybe 6?), TLAMs and then quad-pack CAMMs in the remaining cells. With quad-packed CAMMs I’m not sure Aster 15s are needed. I don’t know if CAMM-ER can be quad-packed in Mk41 cells, but if it can all the better.
Thank you once again for another fascinating article.
Is there any prospect of a follow-up article comparing and contrasting the Phalanx and the BAE Bofors 40 Mk 4 as they approach T31 service?
Costs, ship impact, effective range, and other comparisons would be helpful.
I worked on the radar systems of the CIWS. It’s meant to be a Last Line of Defense against incoming Supersonic Cruise Missiles, (that itself can take evasive flight path action).
The problem is that once Phalanx empties its munitions, (about 7+ seconds) the gun barrel is too hot to be immediately used again.
The second and more serious problem is that the enemy will send in a First Wave of cruise missiles, (which are far cheaper to produce than combat ships), and then send in the Second and Third Wave and Overwhelm the ship’s defenses.
If you think seriously about it, today’s floating Combat Ships are really just floating Museum Pieces, vulnerable against today’s Weapons Technology. Think ship’s top speed being 60 knots, (maybe), vs. satellite guided supersonic Nuclear cruise missiles.
It’s not even a close contest.
Also cruise missiles don’t have humans on board, while a large combat ship, (think Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier), has a complement of over 6,000 sailors and marines.
To call the self defense capability of the QE class anemic is to pay it a compliment. These are great platforms but it is criminal that more modern capabilities now present on US carriers are not identically found on RN capital ships. These systems are not that expensive and this is yet another example of defense on the cheap.
I’m pretty inventive when it comes to engineering.. I could easily come up with concepts to increase the ammo capacity of the Phalanx from 15 hundred rounds to possibly tens of thousands depending on the size of the vessel.. All without increasing the size of it as a visible target *at all.* It’d only need one or two guys to reload it, too, if you’ve got the belts fitted and ready to roll.