posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 07:53 AM
It is highly unlikely that we would be met with any single or even 'doctrinally expected' combined-arms approach of doctrine.
We would have to assume that any attempt to deny the straits of Hormuz would occur as a function of overlapping layers of systems.
Mines to block inshore pursuit. MRL or tubed artillery to deny approaches to mine clearance. AShM to interdict larger combattants directly. For
which small boat warfare would be largely tangential (SOF inshore raider interdict etc.), except en-masse.
And we would be foolish to give them even the /option/ (cost:gain) of a high density target set to justify a suicide-with-suitcase-nuke (or dirty
bomb) play against.
I also believe that the Iranian Ekranoplan is an intended direct-counter to Attack Helicopters. Whether with guns and small SAM. Or by simply
running past them at 200+ knots to engage small surface combattants directly. Don't forget that when the Stark was hit, the Exocets came off the
pylon at about 7-8nm and though we had had intermittent track on the Mirage F-1EQ6 that did it, it wasn't until about 12nm that the Standard system
really /could/ have engaged.
IMO, there are further questions as to the viability of single guns engaging small craft at over 8nm (where FFG/DDG should presumably be safe from
these mini-MRLs). Because time of flight will favor the boat as an agile target _not being there_ when the round impacts. Even if it is Excalibur or
like autonomously guided.
Indeed, for me the question is whether these mini-MRLs are intended to directly saturate a target hull-area with shotgun like effect of 'one salvo
and run!'. Or if they are supposed to employ chaff or smoke to allow terminal zone penetration for a ram.
Again, you need only see what happened to the Cole to figure out that ANY breach of the inner zone by more than 1-2 targets is going to be dangerous.
We just don't have enough heavy guns on deck with the required depression to stop a massed attack anymore.
So the real question becomes whether and how you intend to kill the threat where it's not one. At anchor.
The Brits spent the better part of three years never-catching the EBoat threat and indeed, it was not until Air Supremacy over the Channel was
absolute in 1943 and Coastal Command could hunt them to within site of the Occupieds that they ceased to be effective. Of course, they didn't have
radar to see through camouflage and penetrating PGM to kill pens either.
Here the problem is less that of the weapons delivery than of realtime targeting against soft-hides and it is one for which the mod Tiger-SA-2/5
combination is valid. But only to the extent that they are willing to trade a site for an RQ-4 or a like-configured UAV (Predator at lolo with Lynx
might be below LOS). If the site dies via Tomahawk or CALCM or JASSM or even a LASM, an E-8 can then come up and destroy multiple boats under any
conditions with AMSTE driven JDAM.
With a backup alternative of AIM-7 off of fighters. Though old, this weapon is actually quite adept at tracking low speed targets in clutter (MH
especially) and would be my choice for popping individual gunboats, inshore, rather than risk helicopters with their long sortie delays and terrible
vulnerabilities to light trashfire.
The ultimate reality of course is that we may need to recrew tankers passing through the straights and/or accept a certain fraction of losses -to
force- the Iranians into a naval action. And this should be 'briefed' as a function of letting the American people know what is coming via another
sanction war (ala Libya and Muamar's 'Line Of Death').
At which point, directly hostaging their oil infrastructure and denying them landwards access to China and Russia to repair it and recoup military
losses may be the best means (along with decapitation) to regain dominant diplomatic positioning on their nukes.
This coming out of Diego if not AfG itself and routing EAST.
IMO, any naval war is going to be one of 'proving rights to navigation' on an attritional basis for which a few more lost VLCC is not going to mean
While /winning/ any such war is going to be largely a function of taking the fight deeper and harder than the in-your-face fight would suggest from an
initial exchange of "Thou shalt not walk on our lawn then!" response to sanctions.
This because Iran cannot sustain her force structure (such as it is) or internal political position (much more open than Saddam's regime) for more
than a few years without oil exports and would quickly have to count the costs of her 'anticipated' small-boat fleet losses vs. her production
While if we were to initiate emergency measures (right-now ending the protected status of the Alaskan preserves, doubling Gulf exploitation) beginning
with a full-tap of the SPR, we could largely obviate their influence on our economy until standups were available.