Skip to comments.Russian "Sunburn" anti-ship missle threat neutralized...
Posted on 08/18/2003 8:20:55 PM PDT by 1stFreedom
This is the headline that should have been
Instead, the headlines stated that Raytheon rolled out the SeaRAM anti-ship missle defense system.
What is significant about this anti-missile defense system is that it can defeat the Mach 2.5 Russian "Sunburn" anti-ship missle. Until the rollout of the SeaRAM, the Russians have enjoyed a very dangerous advantage in anti-ship missile technology. In order to destablize the power of the United States, the Russians have been selling the Sunburn missles to China. The Russians have refused to sell them to the West, and despite the best efforts of it's spies, the west has very little information on them. (Thanks Klinton for passing up the deal when they were offered!)
The Sunburn missles are capable of delivering conventional and nuclear warheads to sea-based targets.
The standard US Navy anti-missle defense system is too slow to engage the Sunburn. This system, called the Phalanx, has only about 2.5 seconds to react to the Sunburn. In multiple tests, the Phalanx failed to engage high speed missiles in time to protect a ship.
Speed aside, the other threat the Sunburn poses is it's destructive force. The Sunburn skims the sea and pops up at the last seconds to slam down on the decks of ships. The combined speed and warhead payload would be devastating to all ships in the US arsenal.
The Chinese have purchased a number of Sunburn missiles from the Russians and are counting on them to neutralize the threat from the United States Navy in any scenario involving Tiawan.
One has to do some digging to find out how effective the system is. Raytheon isn't really saying much about it's performance, but I've managed to dig up some info.
"In 10 scenarios, real Anti-Ship Missiles and supersonic Vandal target missiles (Mach 2.5) were intercepted and destroyed under realistic conditions. RAM Block 1 achieved first-shot kills on every target in its presented scenarios, including sea-skimming, diving and highly maneuvering profiles in both single and stream attacks."
"With these test firings RAM demonstrated its unparalleled success against today's most challenging threats. Cumulatively to date more than 180 missiles have been fired against anti-ship missiles and other targets, achieving a success rate over 95%"
The SeaRAM is a drop in replacement for the Phalanx system. The RAM missle itself is a mach 2, second generation derivative of the Sidewinder and Stinger missles. It features BOTH infrared and radar based target tracking, allowing for use against future low radar cross section (stealthy) anti-ship missles.
The effective range of the RAM missile is 11 miles. The CIWS part of the SeaRAM can track multiple targets and fire multiple missles at a single target. Each SeaRAM platform holds 11 RAM missiles.
Wait, how can this be? Everyone knows a missile can't hit another missile. Don't tell the democrats.
And another thing, if its success rate is less than 100%, then its no good. We need to stop spending money on this right now.
Rolling Airframe Missile
Don't get me wrong, this is all well and good but now that the technological questions are solved the real question is one of relative costs. How much does the bad guy spend for his offensive missile verses how much we spend on our defensive missile(s!), and how much does the platform being protected cost(not all platforms cost as much as a carrier or sub)? After all if it cost us 10 times as much to shoot down one of theirs we are on the wrong side of the lever.
Peter Schulz of Porsche once stated that the physical plant of Porsche could be burnt or bombed to dust and, if only his people survived with their skills, they'd be back building cars within a year and a half. That has to apply double for the people of Taiwan, who mostly build printed circuit boards and things requiring far less heavy tooling than building Porsches does.
The United States still owns any number of islands in the Pacific. The chicoms could be made to answer this question:
Are you claiming to own an island, or are you claiming to own the 25 million people who moved to Taiwan precisely because they did not wish to live under communist rule?
The US should have a plan to move the entire population of Taiwan along with as much of their productive capabilities as possible to some other island or US territory, several thousand miles from China. The Taiwanese would be back in business as usual within a year, and the chicoms would be DIH.
Dangerous defense deficiency
By William L. Stearman
"Our nation's expeditionary forces will remain at considerable risk for want of suitable sea-based fire-support until DD(X) [destroyer] joins the fleet in significant numbers."
Thus was Congress reminded of one of our most serious defense deficiencies by the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Michael Hagee, in April 1 testimony. It could well be 30 years or more (if then) before the DD(X) could be fielded "in significant numbers," which means there is no near-term naval surface fire support in sight for any future conflict in the vital littorals.
Gen. Tommy Franks wrote me, after September 11, "Naval surface fire support will remain key to the success of future littoral operations."
Gen. Hagee's predecessor, Gen. James Jones, was also greatly concerned about the "absence of naval gunfire." In April 6, 2002, hearings, Senate Seapower subcommittee Chairman Edward Kennedy, quite correctly declared that there was "little hope the Navy would be able to meet Marine Corps fire support requirements in the foreseeable [future]." Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vernon Clark only countered that "Marines are going to be supported by combat air."
However, the Pentagon transformation director, retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, recently wrote that close air support, the kind Marines (and soldiers) need, is only about 25 percent effective. Unlike guns on ships, air support is affected by the weather and is not reliably tactically responsive.
There is, fortunately, right at hand a very effective and affordable solution to this gap, if the Navy could sidestep its groundless anti-battleship bias and think "outside the box," as the Air Force has in extending the 1950s B-52 to 2040 by upgrading its systems. Public Law 104-106 requires the Navy to maintain the battleships Iowa and Wisconsin as reserve mobilization assets with the necessary logistics for both in active service, providing fire support for the Marine Corps. As the Marine Corps told Congress in 2000 and 2001, "Battleships can provide a significant fire support capability and maintaining them on the Naval Vessel Register ensures they are available in case of conflict."
Consistent with the intent of the law, upgrading these two ships ready to fight on short notice could largely provide adequate naval surface fire support for our troops for up to 30 years, greatly mitigating a serious and potentially dangerous deficiency.
The two battleships strikingly proved their worth in the Persian Gulf war. Nevertheless, after the war, the Navy needlessly retired these two battleships. In a 2000 interview, Gen. Jones stated he regretted taking these ships out of service before the fire support problem had been fixed. Clearly the two battleships had fixed this problem and could have continued to do so up to now. The Navy, however, has disregarded this and has consistently defaulted in providing other fire support for Marines.
The Navy, however, reportedly believes it would be a waste of money to upgrade the two reserve battleships because they have no future utility in its 21st Century fleet.
These ships were extensively modernized in the 1980s. They are by far the world's most survivable warships and among the world's fastest and most powerful capital ships. They have a good 30 years of service life left. The range of their 16-inch guns can be increased near-term to more than 40 miles with a proven 13-inch sabot round. Ranges of thousands of existing projectiles can be extended. And 100-miles-plus 11-inch guided sabot rounds will meet future Marine needs.
Most dramatically, 16-inch precision-guided scramjet projectiles, which Pratt & Whitney experts have declared "feasible," could reach 500 miles in seven minutes. With sufficient support, these rounds could come into service as soon, if not sooner, than the DD(X). This could revolutionize naval warfare.
For example, reportedly, the air campaign launched against Iraq on March 21 "unleashed more than 2,500 missiles and bombs across Iraq in the first 72 hours." (The Washington Post, April 27) Two battleships could, however, in 24 hours, have fired 2,600 precision-guided scramjet projectiles that could have reached any target in Iraq within seven minutes and with a variety of warheads, including deep-penetrators. The battleships would have had a total of 2,200 personnel as opposed to the many thousands more required for the 2,500.missiles and bombs.
The massively protected battleships are the only ships we have that do not have to retreat in the face of terrorist or other threats, as did the 5th Fleet when, on June 22, 2001, it prudently put out to sea in the face of an al Qaeda threat to avoid another USS Cole disaster.
Also, with their vast supply and fuel capacities, extensive repair shops and good hospital facilities, they can double as secure forward-based logistics support ships in high-threat areas. They could also effectively insert and extract special forces by sea or air (with helicopters and Ospreys) and provide them fire support as needed.
Upgrading the two battleships for rapid reactivation with adequate support would cost far less than the cost of one DDG destroyer, one SSGN (converted missile submarine) or one future DD(X). And as the late Bob Stump, recent chairman of the House Armed Services Committee once cogently stated: "Measured against their capabilities" battleships are "the most cost effective and least manpower intensive warships we have."
William L. Stearman is executive director of the U.S. Naval Fire Support Association.
**Pretty clear thinking here Paul....I like it..except for "Ospreys" : )
Raytheon Systems Limited recently announced that the trial fit of the SEA RAM Inner-Layer Defence System (ILDS) onboard HMS YORK has achieved its first significant milestone with the system being lifted onboard the ship ready for final installation and trials. SEA RAM is the low cost evolution of the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) into an autonomous Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Inner Layer Defence System.
Six companies from Europe and the United States, including Raytheon, RAM-System GmbH (RAMSYS), Devonport Royal Dockyard Ltd. (DML), Hunting Engineering Ltd., and Thales Optronics (formerly Pilkington Optronics), have formed a transatlantic consortium to pursue the next step in the evolution of ship defence. Raytheon Systems Limited (RSL), Raytheon's UK-based subsidiary, will serve as the prime contractor. The consortium will draw upon the various strengths of the member companies to establish a strong industrial base in Europe for the SEA RAM programme.
The Operational Suitability Model (OSM) has been jointly developed by Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz., and RAMSYS GmbH. It has undergone extensive shore based trials in the US before being shipped to the UK where the system was re-assembled and Set to Work by a joint Raytheon / DML Team. Basic training on the system has been conducted for the benefit of HMS YORK's maintainer and operators whilst at DML. Once final fitting has been completed onboard HMS YORK, the system will undergo extensive trials at sea and will remain onboard the YORK until towards the end of the year.
The demonstration embraces the tenets of the Smart Procurement Initiative, giving the RN the opportunity to work with industry on developing and de-risking the system, but with no current formal commitment to buy.
The aim of the trial is to demonstrate:
Compatibility of the system and that it is supportable and safe when used in all RN activities.
Operationally that it meets the perceived need and that the SEA RAM system could provide the extended protection range for RN ships against various forms of attack.
Cost effectiveness and affordability; a system that could be acquired, installed and supported at an affordable cost and low risk via use of existing assets, infrastructure, training and logistics.
Live firing will not be carried out during this specific trial, as sufficient missile performance data is already available from the records of more than 150 RAM firings, resulting in greater than 95 percent success.
Raytheon Company is the prime contractor for the Phalanx CIWS and continues to serve as the Phalanx design authority for the U.S. Department of Defense and 20 international navies including the Royal Navy. Raytheon's Missile Systems business unit in Tucson, Ariz., has an equal partnership with RAM-System GmbH (RAMSYS) in Germany to design, develop and produce the RAM Weapon System and are now jointly developing the SEA RAM system. RSL and the SEA RAM UK Consortium will be responsible for the UK demonstration and potential introduction into UK service.
In other news, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told PLA Gen. Xiong Guang-kai to, "get down, B!tch."
Words can not express my loathing and contempt for that hominid...
Some opponents may not even care. See my tag line...
And the alternative defensive strategy would be ?
Each SeaRAM platform holds 11 RAM missiles.
I've been tracking with great approval the RAM programs since the inception, and agree that this is the best interim fix...but the limited 'ammo' of each installation poses a dillemma. They can potentially be over-whelmed by a fusillade of missles which exhausts the defense battery. The Chinese have been openly stressing the 'innundation' approach, so they may be mass manufacturing Sunburns/Akula and variants now that they have working models to reverse-engineer.
Therefore, We need to probably have 'air defense' salvo ships that have the equivalent of ten or more of these installations, and pair these salvo ships up with high-value ships such as the carriers and amphibious assault ships.
The more effectual long-term fix would likely be a deployment mixture of the following two technologies on all our ships:
(1) a naval version of the Army's (TRW) new tactical high-energy laser system which has proven effectual against hypersonic missiles...even able to intercept and destroy the extremely small target of artillery shells coming in at close to Mach 2. Each of these units can apparently make about 100 intercepts. The technology is developed, and what needs to be done is adapt it's use to the Navy and gear up over the next five years for installation. Heavy weather may degrade performance however.
(2) A supplemental technology is the rail gun, which can be tailored in size to fire a smart projectile at Mach 4 or 5 and better. This technology is already closer to availability than is commonly known. Adapting this to the 'Close In Weapons System' air-defense role should be feasible in the relatively near future...say having a deployable package in some 10 years or so. And it would be all-weather.
Charles R. Smith
Tuesday, April 24, 2001
Russia has developed new submarine-launched torpedos that travel at incredible speeds perhaps as fast as the speed of sound underwater.
Scientific American reports in its May edition that these supersophisticated weapons have been linked to the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk last August, and even to the arrest and imprisonment of Edmond Pope.
Pope, an American businessman, was charged by Russian authorities with spying, specifically that he had sought to buy plans for the "ultrahigh-speed torpedo."
The magazine reports that "evidence does suggest that both incidents revolved around an amazing and little-reported technology that allows naval weapons and vessels to travel submerged at hundreds of miles per hour in some cases, faster than the speed of sound in water. The swiftest traditional undersea technologies, in contrast, are limited to a maximum of about 80 mph."
The new technology that allows for these incredible speeds is "is based on the physical phenomenon of supercavitation."
According to Scientific American, the new generation of torpedos, some believed capabale of carrying nuclear warheads, are surrounded by a "renewable envelope of gas so that the liquid wets very little of the body's surface, thereby drastically reducing the viscous drag" on the torpedo.
The new technology "could mean a quantum leap in naval warfare that is analogous in some ways to the move from prop planes to jets or even to rockets and missiles."
In 1997 Russia announced that it had developed a high-speed unguided underwater torpedo, which has no equivalent in the West.
Code-named the Shkval or "Squall," the Russian torpedo reportedly travels so fast that no U.S. defense can stop it.
In late 2000, after the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk, new reports began circulating that the Chinese navy had bought the Shkval torpedo.
The modern Russian weapon in Chinese navy hands has sent alarm bells ringing through the halls of the Pentagon.
"China purchased the Shkval rocket torpedo," stated Richard Fisher, a defense analyst and senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.
"The Shkval was designed to give Soviet subs with less capable sonar the ability to kill U.S. submarines before U.S. wire-guided anti-sub torpedoes could reach their target. The Chinese navy would certainly want to have this kind of advantage over U.S. subs in the future. At the speed that it travels, the Shkval could literally punch a hole in most U.S. ships, with little need for an explosive warhead."
"This torpedo travels at a speed of 200 knots, or five to six times the speed of a normal torpedo, and is especially suited for attacking large ships such as aircraft carriers," stated Fisher.
The report that China purchased some 40 Shkval torpedoes from Russia in 1998 has been confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources. Pentagon officials also confirmed that a Chinese naval officer was on board the ill-fated Russian submarine Kursk to observe firings of the Shkval.
The Shkval rocket first came to light in the Western press in April 2000 when Russian FSB security services charged American businessman Edward Pope with spying for the U.S. According to Russian intelligence sources, Pope obtained detailed information on the rocket-powered torpedo.
A FSB statement said it confiscated "technical drawings of various equipment, recordings of his conversations with Russian citizens relating to their work in the Russian defense industry, and receipts for American dollars received by them."
****The 6,000-pound Shkval rocket torpedo has a range of about 7,500 yards and can fly through the water at more than 230 miles an hour. The solid-rocket-propelled "torpedo" achieves this high speed by producing a high-pressure stream of bubbles from its nose and skin, which coats the weapon in a thin layer of gas. The Shkval flies underwater inside a giant "envelope" of gas bubbles in a process called "supercavitation."
The Russian Pacific Fleet held the first tests of the Shkval torpedo in the spring of 1998. In early 1999, Russia began marketing a conventionally armed version of the Shkval high-speed underwater rocket at the IDEX 99 exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
The Shkval is so fast that it is guided by an autopilot rather than by a homing head as on most torpedoes. The original Shkval was designed to carry a tactical nuclear warhead detonated by a simple timer clock. However, the Russians recently began advertising a homing version, which runs out at very high speed, then slows to search for its target.
There are no evident countermeasures to the Shkval and, according to weapons experts, its deployment by Russian and Chinese naval forces has placed the U.S. Navy at a considerable disadvantage.
"We have no equivalent, its velocity would make evasive action exceedingly difficult, and it is likely that we have no defense against it," stated Jack Spencer, a defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
According to the Jamestown Foundation's Richard Fisher, China is acquiring a fleet of blue-water submarines armed with the deadly Shkval. In a recent defense report, Fisher noted the Chinese navy is arming itself with a deadly combination of silent submarines, supersonic nuclear tipped Stealth missiles and Shkval rocket torpedoes. Fisher warned that the new Chinese navy is capable of operating far from Asian shores.
"There are reports that the Chinese navy's current subs do not have tubes large enough to fire the Shkval. The Chinese navy has completed the acquisition of four Russian Kilo-class conventional submarines. The Kilo 636 is said to be nearly as quiet as the early version of the U.S. Los Angeles class nuclear submarine," noted Fisher.
"This very high speed torpedo would provide the PLA with the technology to build their own version, and this is a looming threat," stated Fisher.
"The next few years may also see China produce a new class of nuclear-powered submarine, the Type 093. Again benefiting from Russian technology."
The Chinese Type 093-class nuclear attack submarines are similar to Russian Victor III class first produced at the Leningrad yards in the 1970s. Each Chinese Type 093 weighs more than 5,000 tons and is over a football field in length. The Chinese type 093 submarines are armed with eight 21-inch torpedo tubes that are large enough to fire the super-fast Shkval.
"The Type 093 is projected by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence to have a performance similar to the Russian Victor-III nuclear attack submarine. By one estimate, four to six Type 093s should enter service by 2012," concluded Fisher.
While the BBs have some problems they also have some huge benefits.
They are by far the most survivable ships we have (8-12"armor almost everywhere vice 1/4" steel or Aluminum on other ships) and still have the same self defense armaments. An attack like the USS Cole suffered would merely nudge the ship a little. An exocet strike would result in a call for sweepers to get the junk off the captains nice decks. These ships were built to survive a direct hit from a 16" shell.
They have a greater 'Presence' than any other ship. A BB off your coast looks like a weapon. Most other ships just look like freighters.
We have plenty of barrels and ammo for the 16" guns, and extended range rounds aren't that hard to develop/produce. The big cons are the manning levels (the ships are still manpower intensive), the propulsion system (IIRC they still use a heavier oil (DFM?) while the rest of the fleet uses lighter fuels), short range of main batteries (26 miles or so)
Cost to refurb wouldn't be too huge due to the 80's refit. The ships are in pretty good shape considering that they are approaching 60 years old.
They are most definitely a short term, interim solution but they are the only thing we can bring to bear in a short time frame.
(In the spirit of full disclosure I'll admit to being a big BB fan and was involved (minimally) in bringing them back in the 80s)