New Threats, New Weapons

#1
For over a decade, the media has constantly tried to portray the small boat threat as the primary threat to both naval forces and merchant shipping. Funnily enough Western Navies have responded with things such as enhanced force protection, better close range weapons (eg helicopter mounted heavy machine guns, Minguns, the upgraded version of Phalanx with surface modes, and the new DS30M Mk2 cannon, and other measures Additionally FIAC threats are built into FOST training serials and exercises such as JOINT WARRIOR.

The limited FIAC threat from Saddam Husseins's forces in March 2003 was dealt with without difficulty. Similarly the employment of naval forces on counter narcotics and counter piracy operations has proved (amongst other things) that shipborne helicopters can very effectively detect and track small surface craft. Attempted small boat attacks during operations in Libya were either defeated by 30mm cannon fire from Apaches based aboard HMS Ocean, or by naval gunfire (including from HMS Liverpool).

Considerable intellectual effort has been put into dealing with this threat, including these papers:

Operational Art Can Neutralize the Asymmetric Small Boat Threat in Major Operations (2002)

Net Centric Maritime Warfare – Countering a ‘Swarm’ of Fast Inshore Attack Craft (2005)

This paper explains the nature of the threat and the issues involved in countering it.

An ASuW swarm could be countered by networking between escorts, helicopters/UAV/UCAV and the merchant ships. Improvements come in three broad bands:

− Use of existing Close Range (CR) guns (MG, 20/30mm, Phalanx 1B) to maximum range, to defeat Type 1 threats.
− Use of existing Medium Range weapons to medium range bracket to attack Type 2 FIAC, plus use of smart rounds (laser designator in helo/UAV) to maximum range. This also provides some cover against Type 3 FIAC, but needs to be subject to Analysis of Alternatives (AoA).
− Maximum use of armed helicopters/UCAV to attrite raids further out. This is the only counter to longer range Type 3 attack, but trade-off between helo and UAV/UCAV depends on detailed scenario
.
Yet the media still like to claim that this threat presents an insolvable problem. Consider this story from the Telegraph: Little boat, big danger: how a British-made speedboat has become a weapon in Iran's standoff with the US - Telegraph

How much of this is for political reasons, and how much due to misunderstand (remember that 2002 exercise in which Von Ripper's Iranians won?) Also people seem to forget that whilst a small boat going fast is going to be hard to hit, it is unlikely to provide a decent platform for weapons launch. Also larger FIACs may fire missiles or torpedos, which can be counted by decoys and other defence systems.

Whether or not the small boat/swarm threat is new, they are new weapons that exist now or are in the pipeline to counter this threat.

The LCITS rocket: Can naval helicopters be modified to carry rocket pods? If so then the Merlin/Lynx/Wildcat/Seahawk tracking small craft using radar and EO sensors can also inflict significant attrition. I believe the Sea Skua replacement is being developed with FIACs in mind.

The Griffin missile from Raytheon: I am not sure whether it was designed with naval applications in mind, but it is being fitted to LCS and Cyclone class patrol craft. Could it be fitted to MCMVs for self defence?

Before Christmas, I was looking for something or other on the web and noted the CENTURION launcher on the Chemring website. At the time I wondered if it could be used to counter asymmetric threats. Well, apparently yes. Raytheon and Chemring are now working together to develop a launcher. Not entirely sure what it will launch - Griffin?

So despite what the pant wetters in the media would have us the threat can be dealt with using things familiar to navies, defence in depth, weapons, sensors, communications, tactics, training, procedures. The FIAC is nowhere near as much of a game changer us some like to think.
 
#2
Want to bet?
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#3
Is the threat exactly new, E-boats, and the British counterparts during WW2 got up to all sorts of shenannigans. For example:

During World War II, S-boats sank 101 merchant ships totalling 214,728 tons.[SUP][6][/SUP] In addition, they sank 12 destroyers, 11 minesweepers, eight landing ships, six MTBs, a torpedo boat, a minelayer, one submarine and a number of small merchant craft. They also damaged two cruisers, five destroyers, three landing ships, a repair ship, a naval tug and numerous merchant vessels. Sea mines laid by the S-boats were responsible for the loss of 37 merchant ships totalling 148,535 tons, a destroyer, two minesweepers and four landing ships.[SUP][6][/SUP]
E-boat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

TBH, what has occured is a loss of institutional knowledge with regard to FACs their, operation, and how to counteract them. It reminds of me of all the talk of 4th Generation and 5th Generation warfare as if they've have moved into a new paradigm of war - balls, old realities dressed up in newspeak.
 
#4
Not betting, but if it floats it can be sunk - somehow.

But writing the problem off as one that cannot be solved will not solve it. Whilst it will change the game, is it really the undefeatable menance that some think.
 
#5
The problem is never about all out war, it's about a Maritime equivalent to COIN (in mindset shift if not actual TTP). Of course I can win if I get to blow up anything that moves. The hard day at the office is when we're facing a 'hot' Cold War in the Gulf.
 
#6
Nice theory, and would hold true in open international waters were you can define the threat as a threat and engage it at distance with plenty of sea room

Alas, in the Gulf, some of the major sea lanes and choke points are across national waters and you can't keep they potential bad guys at arms length.

image.jpg
And life gets 'interesting'
 
#7
Isn't the concern that if a little ship sinks a big ship, it's very embarrassing?

If a ship of 46,000 tons and 1300 crew is sunk by a ship of 42,000 tons and 2,000 crew, there's no dishonour to the loser.

If a ship of 46,000 tons and 1300 crew were to sink a ship of 80 tons and a crew of 30, the skipper of the little ship would described as brave.

If a ship of 80 tons with 30 crew were to sink a ship of 46,000 tons, there'd be some questions asked and a lobby begun to stop building big ships and concentrate on small ones.
 
#8
Nice theory, and would hold true in open international waters were you can define the threat as a threat and engage it at distance with plenty of sea room

Alas, in the Gulf, some of the major sea lanes and choke points are across national waters and you can't keep they potential bad guys at arms length.

And life gets 'interesting'
Surely the clever people wrote those papers thought about the restricted waters in which FIACs would be a threat? The issue of short range engagements is why improving the destructive power of close range weapons and improving sensors and communications is a good idea - a least the USN think so and have upgraded the close range capabilities of ships in the Gulf.
 
#9
Nice theory, and would hold true in open international waters were you can define the threat as a threat and engage it at distance with plenty of sea room

Alas, in the Gulf, some of the major sea lanes and choke points are across national waters and you can't keep they potential bad guys at arms length.

View attachment 114251
And life gets 'interesting'

the fact they now have quite a few of these.....

Ghadir-class submarine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ghadir1.jpg

armed with thier copy of this.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoot_(torpedo)

VA-111 Shkval - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2-image-02.jpg



makes the mix very interesting indeed....
 
#10
Surely the clever people wrote those papers thought about the restricted waters in which FIACs would be a threat? The issue of short range engagements is why improving the destructive power of close range weapons and improving sensors and communications is a good idea - a least the USN think so and have upgraded the close range capabilities of ships in the Gulf.
As ATG notes, if it all goes kinetic, no probs, you can slaughter everything that floats and moves, the huge problem is a hot cold war. Is that IRGC boat just willy waving again, or is it for real this time?

[video=youtube;eNL6DyH_IfA]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNL6DyH_IfA[/video]

Shoot? No shoot?

Get it right, you get a medal, get it wrong and you start a real war.
 

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#12
Shoot? No shoot?

Get it right, you get a medal, get it wrong and you start a real war.
Good luck to the first PWO who orders "ENGAGE" and gets it "wrong". But of course we are just thick Warfare Officers and it is fine to have a PWO as a Lt and the Loggie as a Lt Cdr cos they have stores and money to look after. Bitch feast over.

ATG is right about the levels of tension. Come the big shooty war we can just carpet bomb the Straits of Hormas (SOH) and see how the FIAC get through with that. But as has been pointed out the fast moving IRPG boat with the two nutters running towards you who have Allah (PBUH) to guide them will as quickly start WWIII as any submarine. In fact the submarines are pretty easy to deal with - they are a known unknown and on the whole submarine drivers tend to be sensible, Dawinisim makes for a good teacher. You do not tend to get hot head irrational submarine captains.

I am surprised that we have not had more incidents in the SOH but that is testament to the skill of the heroic and devilishly good looking PWO's that guide our ships with flair.

Me personally, I believe we should have twice as many miniguns and get our medium range guns upgraded to 5inch with a selection of ammunition (something like 20ft fuzes with shrapnel effect or the wizzer buck shot round tested by the US that has a nice 100m kill zone) to get that nice wall of lead effect.
 
#14
Really, I'd prefer not to let them get close enough to have to use the .50 cal, least not on a FF/DD. Heavily armed FAC/FIAC of our own would be much more use. Fight them a way away.

As for the SoH thing - the Iranians are crazy, not stupid. They know exactly where the lines are, in every sense.
 

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#16
I much prefer minigun 7.62 to the .50cal. The weight of lead and the lovely flame is much more useful than .50cal. Now give me explosive .50cal rounds through a gating gun and we will be cooking on gas.

As an ex-PWO from an LPD we did lots of work with the Offshore Raid Craft (ORC) and Combat Boat 90s and that is where close in task group protection could be focused. We used to whoop FOSTs arse every time in FIAC drills by having the LCVPS breakdown in front of them, sorry get amongst them. When we had a 4 boat troop of Swedish Combat Boat 90s it was even more fun on Joint Warrior (and not because of the lovely Swedish lady crew members). The FOSTies got very irate when each attack short of the full collection of boats and jet skis was defeated. And when 20 plus small boats and jek skis turn towards you that is a good combat indicator to start shooting. Goalkeeper in manual mode was fun to do.

So as a living PWO god I believe we should get loads of ORC and Combat Boats for TG protection using an LPD or LSA as mother ship (get Albion out of extended decay and use as the FP ship). They can be driven by good LH or POs and with Bowman easy to control and exploit.
 
#18
I much prefer minigun 7.62 to the .50cal. The weight of lead and the lovely flame is much more useful than .50cal. Now give me explosive .50cal rounds through a gating gun and we will be cooking on gas.

As an ex-PWO from an LPD we did lots of work with the Offshore Raid Craft (ORC) and Combat Boat 90s and that is where close in task group protection could be focused. We used to whoop FOSTs arse every time in FIAC drills by having the LCVPS breakdown in front of them, sorry get amongst them. When we had a 4 boat troop of Swedish Combat Boat 90s it was even more fun on Joint Warrior (and not because of the lovely Swedish lady crew members). The FOSTies got very irate when each attack short of the full collection of boats and jet skis was defeated. And when 20 plus small boats and jek skis turn towards you that is a good combat indicator to start shooting. Goalkeeper in manual mode was fun to do.

So as a living PWO god I believe we should get loads of ORC and Combat Boats for TG protection using an LPD or LSA as mother ship (get Albion out of extended decay and use as the FP ship). They can be driven by good LH or POs and with Bowman easy to control and exploit.

CB90's? How very dare you!

image.jpg

Having extensively. trialled CB90 and decided its the mutts nuts, as is the way of MOD, rather than buy something off the shelf that works, off we're going to reinvent the bloody mousetrap and come up with a UK design in five years time.

And yes , using the LPD's as FP ships? Far too sensible! Next thing we know, you'll be suggesting that them with a load of CB90's, some armed helos and a load of booties would also be an ideal anti piracy platform!
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#20
CB90's? How very dare you!

View attachment 114376

Having extensively. trialled CB90 and decided its the mutts nuts, as is the way of MOD, rather than buy something off the shelf that works, off we're going to reinvent the bloody mousetrap and come up with a UK design in five years time.

And yes , using the LPD's as FP ships? Far too sensible! Next thing we know, you'll be suggesting that them with a load of CB90's, some armed helos and a load of booties would also be an ideal anti piracy platform!
Ahem!!!!!

http://www.arrse.co.uk/royal-navy/174618-blimey-speedy-response-2.html

Yeah, the CB90 in 15m (LOA), CB2010 25m (LOA), it would make a lot more sense to have a CB90 for launching off the stern ramp rather than a RIB, then have a pair of RIBs that can be launched from davits, but from what I've seen of the T26 concept, the stern ramp is for two RIBS. It would offer a lot more flexibility, than just RIBs.

Any UK version would most likely be built by the VT susiduary of Babcock.
Would you lot leave my Mulberry bush alone, I'm hoping for a silk crop next year but you are all disturbing it.
 

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