If Iran shoots first, can the US protect her carriers?

#1
Hello folks,

Pardon me for asking an obvious question, but this question is asked given the aggressive behaviour coming from Tehran (in every aspect of the word: them pre-sanctioning EU countries that sanctioned them, attacks on diplomats, boasting of nuclear progress, etc.).

We all know that the Iranian Navy & Air Force don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of taking the USN on, or even getting close to them when war is declared. Looking at USN hardware, it seems that USN doctrine for carrier group defence involves a layered approach that aims to eliminate most threats at a distance using airborne/naval assets/escorts and then mopping up any that get through using CIWS for missiles/aircraft and autocannons/missiles for small boats.

It seems the prevailing assumptions are that the prelude to war will be an Israeli raid on Iranian nuclear sites, or the US/Israel declaring war openly. At which point the USN will be able to establish an exclusion bubble around its fleet and apply its defensive doctrine normally.

But what happens if the Iranians shoot first, in hopes of crippling or sinking a carrier? We know how vain the Iranian regime is to the media and what a publicity victory this will be for the regime - the only country to have sunk a Nimitz-class supercarrier. If the Iranian leadership calculates that war is inevitable, then it simply becomes a question of when/how war is started to maximise their advantage in military and political capital terms.

Along these lines of reasoning, what happens if:
1) The Iranians load up containers in a cargo ship with anti-ship missiles. They sail within missile range of a carrier group and do a broadside of 20-30 missiles targeting the carrier.
2) Same concept but using suicide speedboats packed with explosives.

In both cases the response time would be minimal and even though the Phalanx CIWS would (probably) be on 24/7 in the Persian Gulf at these times I doubt they could handle such swarms of missiles or suicide speedboats.

N.B. Back to England in 2 days! :) I am starving for a plate of greasy fish & chips, or a full English breakfast with bacon!
 
#2
What aggressive behaviour is that? They are just pursuing nuclear power, the US is getting uptight and making aggressive tones. Why do you think they are going to pull their combat troops out of Afghanistan early...so they can use them in Iran.

Anyhoo, the yanks have a tendancy to shoot anything that comes anywhere near their boats after they got caught napping and Iran holed one of them. So I think their carriers will be safe.
 
#3
Put it this way - there are people on here who could answer your question, but I would fall off the planet in surprise if they answered in any detail beyond "yes they could".
 
#5
What aggressive behaviour is that? They are just pursuing nuclear power, the US is getting uptight and making aggressive tones. Why do you think they are going to pull their combat troops out of Afghanistan early...so they can use them in Iran.

Anyhoo, the yanks have a tendancy to shoot anything that comes anywhere near their boats after they got caught napping and Iran holed one of them. So I think their carriers will be safe.
DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism, Security

Tuesday, Feb. 14, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier crossed the Strait of Hormuz into the Sea of Oman for the second time. Unlike the first, an Iranian flotilla shadowed its passage made up of an explosive speedboat, warships with missiles poised ready for launching, a spy plane, a drone and several assault helicopters. Tehran was flexing muscle in the face of US naval might.
The incident passed without a US response.
 
#8
Hello folks,

Pardon me for asking an obvious question, but this question is asked given the aggressive behaviour coming from Tehran (in every aspect of the word: them pre-sanctioning EU countries that sanctioned them, attacks on diplomats, boasting of nuclear progress, etc.).
Which is more aggressive: reducing oil supplies to countries that threaten to sanction or those threats of sanctions?
Which is more aggressive: boasting of civilian nuclear technologies or a known arsenal of nuclear weapons?
Which is more aggressive: a ancient and broken navy essentially stuck in port or a modern carrier battlegroup steaming off somebody else's coast?
Which is more aggressive: a ancient and broken airforce essentially stuck on the ground or a modern fleet of aircraft which includes spy drones actively overflying other state's territory?

And you wonder why the Iranians may be interested in getting a bomb!!!!
 
#9
Which is more aggressive: reducing oil supplies to countries that threaten to sanction or those threats of sanctions?
Which is more aggressive: boasting of civilian nuclear technologies or a known arsenal of nuclear weapons?
Which is more aggressive: a ancient and broken navy essentially stuck in port or a modern carrier battlegroup steaming off somebody else's coast?
Which is more aggressive: a ancient and broken airforce essentially stuck on the ground or a modern fleet of aircraft which includes spy drones actively overflying other state's territory?

And you wonder why the Iranians may be interested in getting a bomb!!!!
They are not getting the bomb....they are peacefully making nuclear power....have you not been listening?
 
#10
Which is more aggressive: reducing oil supplies to countries that threaten to sanction or those threats of sanctions?
Which is more aggressive: boasting of civilian nuclear technologies or a known arsenal of nuclear weapons?
Which is more aggressive: a ancient and broken navy essentially stuck in port or a modern carrier battlegroup steaming off somebody else's coast?
Which is more aggressive: a ancient and broken airforce essentially stuck on the ground or a modern fleet of aircraft which includes spy drones actively overflying other state's territory?

And you wonder why the Iranians may be interested in getting a bomb!!!!
Iran is the only country in the world openly calling for the annihilation of another country.
 
#11
Answer to the question. Yes.

As for Iran, they appear to be trying to goad a response from the west / Israel as a way of uniting the populace in fervent anti westernism. This is essentially the power balance fight between the mullahs and the more secular parts of the Government (including the majority if the Iranian AF) writ large.

Pots of instant sunshine being lobbed about by 2014 latest on the current trajectory.
 
#13
I'm sure the Iranians are not THAT stupid as to attack the Yanks going through the Straits of Hormuz or anywhere else in the Persian Gulf. I am equally convinced that the spams would have made it known to the Iranians that if anything like that should happen then Iran's scenery will undergo some serious rearranging.
 
#15
Is there an account of those war games the US ran where the Admiral playing enemy was told to stop cheating and sinking US ships available to read anywhere?
To be honest I wouldn't put much stock in those.

http://img182.imageshack.us/img182/3041/vlcsnap41624yv2.jpg

Interesting image, right? But it doesn't specify whether the sub would have got to that position had the CVBG been allowed to physically sink it. Wargames are just that - wargames, and obviously it's probably much more useful for the US NOT to reveal "yes, we would have sunk you in real life at this point in the engagement".
 
#16
#18
.... Interesting image, right? But it doesn't specify whether the sub would have got to that position had the CVBG been allowed to physically sink it....
A half-decent sub captain with a half-decent crew in a modern sub would have little difficulty getting that close. Don't kid yourself that the asw shield around a CBG is impenetrable, at best it's like a six-foot chainlink fence.
 
#20
Answer to the question. Yes.

As for Iran, they appear to be trying to goad a response from the west / Israel as a way of uniting the populace in fervent anti westernism. This is essentially the power balance fight between the mullahs and the more secular parts of the Government (including the majority if the Iranian AF) writ large.

Pots of instant sunshine being lobbed about by 2014 latest on the current trajectory.
Hmm. So you think Iran will adopt a defensive posture at the beginning of the war and use US/Israeli action against them as a means of obtaining political capital.

However a lot of political capital would also be achieved if the Iranians (miscalculate) that they can sink a US carrier. To their leadership which always complains about US arrogance, a supercarrier is an icon of US naval supremacy.

It would seem that I might have made an unqualified assumption on the target re-acquisition and re-engagement times of a Phalanx CIWS. Short of airburst/fragmentation anti-missile missiles, it is the only thing that can take out swarms of incoming missiles. However I am making an educated guess that, given the 11th hour nature of a CIWS, its targeting computers have to assume all inbound missiles within generous trajectories to be viable targets. What happens if the suddenly hostile launch platform (e.g. cargo ship) were to fire about 30 guided ASMs and a hundred or so unguided MLRS decoy rockets?

If we assume a supersonic ASM missile velocity of 1000 m/s and a generous launch distance of say 3.6km (effective range of the Phalanx), the CIWS has a few seconds to respond to a swarm of missiles launched under sneak attack conditions. I don't know the Phalanx CIWS re-engagement time, but if we assume it takes a similar time to tank APS (most tank APS have 0.2 - 0.4 second delays, and tank APS' are smaller and more modern than the Phalanx), then the Phalanx can destroy perhaps 20-30 missiles before the first impact. An alternative estimation based on the ammunition capacity is that with a 1550 round magazine and say 50-100 rounds fired per incoming missile, each Phalanx CIWS station could take on about 20-30 missiles. Of course this calculation assumes a single Phalanx station and not overlapping areas of fire (which is the case IRL).

But bear in mind that as the missiles get closer to the target the Phalanx becomes less effective at countering swarms. This is because a given distance between missiles might be minutes of arc apart at distance but degrees of arc apart at close range.

So in short I do not think it is a watertight assumption that the USN is safe from missile or boat swarms, particularly in waterways cluttered with large civilian ships. I would thus hope that the USN/RN/etc. act to keep possible missile/suicide boat carriers a safe distance away from them to mitigate the possibility of sneak attacks.
 

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