I was wondering why USN would need land bombardment (read gun/artillery) capability of over 100NM?
Traditionally, the USN has four legitimate roles:
Often called 'presence' or 'goodwill' missioning, this is the gunboat diplomacy threat by which hostile-to-U.S.-interests barbarians near to water
but far from a friendly landbase are kept under thumb until 'negotiations' can either bring in the Air Force and Army. Or political/commercial
elements can secure a safe transition of control over resources or key landmarks is required to ensure continuity of access as new replaces old punk
dictators wherever, whenever. It is the true basis of the 'Fleet' system of putting at least one carrier in every major sea basin. The big
difference being that it typically involves ZERO landed presence with only the threat of massive air strikes on infrastructure and transport (bridges,
overpasses, rail lines etc.) targets by airpower to stop something from escalating.
2. Right Of Navigation
Basically the opposite of the above, this comes down to sailing through somebodies Mare Nostrum declared private pond and daring them to come out and
get you. Libya is the obvious example but the Falklands and the Escort System in the PG (during the Iran/Iraq war) also qualify. As does the Suez
war to an extent. In a major war this would also extend to an escort mission getting the heavy elements of a CONUS landforce across a SLOC to the
designated combat theater.
3. Forced Entry/Amphibious Assault.
The 'Harbor Siezure' mission like unto what the Brits did up at Narvik in the early days of the Norwegian campaign. While there is little or no
doubt that the capability is there, it often requires a lot of coordination time as carrier and amphibious force groups have to be brought to a local
port or airfield to bring their PPME or parent unit strengths onboard and then brought together to execute a warplan. While it hasn't happened very
often since WWII (Lebanon 1956 comes to mind) it is basically what would have happened if Saddam had had the insight to keep right on coming down the
coastal highway into Saudi in 1991.
4. Supplantation of Force.
Basically an attempt to replace destroyed or transit-compromised landbased air and ground forces.
Usually by putting the airwing ashore so that the carrier can itself move away from a high threat area while doubling the sortie generation and
payload factors of the component aircraft.
Such is the traditional answer to what happens when infiltration and TBMs destroy USAFE.
Similarly, in conventional ground actions, it is inherent to the use of Marine forces to act as direct combattants _beyond the beachhead_ where
conventional (USAr or Foreign) force elements cannot reach or are depleted. Lebanon 1982 and various stabilization efforts like The Mog come to mind
here. As does OEF AfG.
ONLY in the last two missions does the ability to strike targets with 6" shells really mean much. And then only to the extent that the commited
ground unit does not drive out from under the friendly arty.
The real question then being WHY. Waste BILLIONS of dollars developing a capability for indirect cluster fires when clearly, doctrine (FFTS) has
taken the mission role (supporting marines) so deep inland that 100nm _is not enough_?
And that's not the only problem. ERGM in it's present mission configuration (5"/127mm round: 63nm reachin) takes upwards of SEVEN MINUTES to reach
a target area. Marine standard for indirect fires responsiveness is _no more than_ 2.5 minutes FM:away:splash.
Take the distance down to 40nm and assume a five minute TOF. At 25-30mph which is pretty typical for battlefield formation rate of march, you are
talking 2.5 miles worth of "They ran right over me sir!" delay of game.
Then there's the fact that the ERGM is going to run around 50,000 dollars per round. IF it stays within current 'FY' cost estimates. A
conventional 5" round runs about 200 dollars. Even if the enemy obliges you in staying within converage to engage your forces, you aren't going to
send just /showers/ of guided rounds downrange when you ALSO have to continue to support conventional solutions (air) to the same problem.
Which is where things really hit the fan.
To strategicaly attack land targets? Can't missiles or aircrafts do that more efficiently?
It depends on what kind of target group you are going for.
Theoretically an endurance UAV or even sufficiently dense Keyhole type satellite constellation which can 'reroute' TLAMs (Blk.IV and up have 15
presets, a holding pen and live retarget capability) is more than sufficient for kicking the crap out of fixed targets to the extent that, even if an
enemy 'wins' as a function of not being dislodged from given leadership or policy position, their economy is so ruined that there is nothing left
worth fighting for as a function of extant quality of life (clean water, sewage, power, food delivery). Ironically, this type of attack can kill
hundreds of thousands of civillians in the aftermath, even if their is very little 'precision strike' initial loss of life involved.
OTOH, the /second/ a target gains the ability to displace itself from a fixed position and particularly the ability to sustain dynamic maneuver; you
can only really FIND IT (TCS/FNC Time Critical Strike/Future Naval Capability) by putting a landed force into the the theater and basically forcing
the enemy to contact or flight (maneuver phase).
At which point, a simple blown bridge can often give you the time you need to trap a threat behind the choke for that critical five minutes necessary
to bring in whatever kind of air or remote/indirect fires you need.
The difference being that the hundreds of thousands of dollars required for fuel and PGMs and general lifing out on the airframe is usually more
'affordable' on a vested (builtup) inventory of aircraft than the -immediate- costs (insufficient VLS round count) of generating shot after shot of
cruise launches. Because those missiles are _gone_ once they are fired. And their warheads (cluster or unitary penetrator or frag) are so mission
tailored as to be useless against any but one target type. Whereas the plane can carry 2-4 pylons worth of 2-3 /types/ of munition and come back for
more. This is what the inherent 'flexibility' myth is based on because you can not only remission an aircraft to an alternate target but also
'frag' (mented target list) it's sortie to a general stack of supporting missions as a function of a time block of airspace or a 'kill box' of
terrain that can catch an enemy less than a minute away from any engaged ground forces giving a yell.
Because they are already 'continuously overhead present'.
Which is where the LIE of Marine airpower in particular becomes obvious.
Because the typical combat air detachment on any LHA/D is 8 Harriers and 8 Snakes. Each worth 42 and 17-21 million apiece. The snakes cannot reach
more than about 100nm inland. The Harriers are good for about 250. Neither has the speed and altitude performance plus countermeasures to survive a
strike warfare environment typical of F-16/18 type shooters. And if you divide 8 by 2 (lead and wingman) you are looking at the ability to hit two
target groups on roughly a 45 minute basis of IN AND OUT radius between 'turns' of regeneration (fuel and bombs).
That's for a 250nm range target. Take the distance up to 700nm to hit a target up around Kabul from the Pakistani coast and the numbers start to go
towards 10 HOURS or more. Even as the ability to stay IN the target area goes down to 20 minutes without AAR and 40 minutes with.
i.e. The Harrier and Cobra are never going to make it. And the USN which _has to big-deck be there_ to provide anything /like/ reasonable (timely)
air support, is itself going to be looking at 2-4 planes with 8-16 bombs worth of CAS munitions every 2hrs or so.
Under such conditions, without USAF support (B-52's flying 15-17hr missions out of Diego Garcia, 5-7 of which are overhead) your Marines are going to
But at the same time, the ERGM shooting cruiser is ALSO worthless because it's guns won't reach and no theater commander will ever authorize
streaming cruise missile launches to support 'maybe needed' (un pretargeted) CAS.
To support troops fighting inland? Don't most ground units from battalion up carry their own fire support (mortars at battalion level, field arty at
brig. level and up) A howitzer or a Field gun battery can probably give better fire support to troops than ships placed 100-700NM away.
Most definitely. Which is why the USMC needs to get off their dead butts and redefine their doctrine to INCLUDE such capabilities. Right now, they
don't. Because the official attitude is one of airpower replacing self propelled artillery and the residual fires capability (M198 155mm guns)
'keeping up as best they can'.
In OIF, yet another 300+nm run inland, the latter towed guns proved utterly unable to _maintain roadmarch pacing_, let alone set up and shoot in a
fashion fit to engage popup targets.
While the Marine compliment of light (89-106mm) mortars is itself compromised by the ability of LAV (8 wheel armored car type APCs) to handle the
floor stress of firing from within the carrier. Not that these systems could engage an opposing mechanize threat /anyway/. Because the standard for
guided antiarmor rounds is 120mm in the Eryx and Merlin range.
I admit that a Marine Landing might require a Naval firesupport, but that might be better achieved by smaller vessels equipped with Howitzers etc.
Ignoring range, the big problem with ERGM, other than a whacky trajectory for GPS capture is that it brings a 19lb submunition warhead capacity to a
fight which would otherwise be dominated by 29lb 120mm AMS (turreted breach loading mortars) or 71lb 155mm towed mortars. All of them mechanized and
thus a lot better able to maintain maneuver pacing in staying close to the fight, _no matter_ how far it was from the shoreline. Or what it's
target/mission requirement (FIBUA might mean smoke and gas vice cluster bus or even unitary frag, let alone 'smart' rounds).
PS. If I have a flaw in my thinking, please correct me, i'm only a infantry cpl., So what do i know of naval things...
Insofar as I can tell, you've got the basics. I would simply add that, by 2015 the Tactical High Energy Laser will be in field trials. By 2020 it
will be copied, around the world, as 'digital' (diode pumped) replacements for COIL are standardized. WHEN THAT HAPPENS. You may well be stuck
with saturating an enemy with so many rounds that you defeat the lase-cool-repoint capability of individual SPAAG type shooters.
Such is not possible with conventional PGMs in the range of 17-21,000 dollars like a GBU-31 JDAM or GBU-12 LGB. Even as it puts the launch aircraft
at /incredible/ 'random' risk should an IP or CAS stack be placed too close to an unsuppressed IADS unit.
IF ONLY FOR THIS REASON ALONE, the day of Marines relying on airpower as an indirect fires replacement should end.
Whether you believe in scramjet rounds or EMLs as being viable alternatives (certainly I would not design an entire class of vessels without a working
prototype mount to make sure that the forward guns can be replaced with truly useful followup) for NGS depends a great deal on how directly you expect
to engage with what amount of lead time.
During OIF, a Marine cavalry/scout team made contact with an advancing Iraqi tank brigade and faded while calling down a B-52 with WCMD/SFW. From
30-40,000ft and some 8 miles downrange, that platform delivered an 5 minute DMPI attack which Skeet-killed some 12-15 vehicles, including the
commander's vehicle, in the lead van of the unit. The rest of the Iraqis piled out and started running for Baghdad.
If that is your standard for tripwire-to-standoff attack, then the question is why waste money bringing M1A1 type systems along for the ride when you
can put the AMS into an M113A4/A5 type vehicle (it has similar lading metric, mpg road economics and is far hardier, structurally, than the LAV).
Because that BUFF and the 350,000 dollar brilliant can _will not_ always be there. And Marines have traditionally been more flexible than to rely on
joint service multiforce to accomplish their missions.
AGS and DDX
EXCALIBUR as the real (Keeping Up With Asters) reason for a 155mm caliber upgrade