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Naval Version of MLRS

This is a discussion on Naval Version of MLRS within the Missiles & WMDs forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Can someone tell me the possibility of adapting the MLRS and its subsystems like ATACMS to a naval version? Not ...


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Old January 9th, 2011   #1
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Naval Version of MLRS

Can someone tell me the possibility of adapting the MLRS and its subsystems like ATACMS to a naval version? Not nessesarily a VLS But just a upgrade of the system itself and why it wouldnt be possible for it to use it for Naval firesupport or why it hasn't? I've asked the question before but it hasnt ever really been answered.


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Old January 10th, 2011   #2
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Can someone tell me the possibility of adapting the MLRS and its subsystems like ATACMS to a naval version? Not nessesarily a VLS But just a upgrade of the system itself and why it wouldnt be possible for it to use it for Naval firesupport or why it hasn't? I've asked the question before but it hasnt ever really been answered.

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I don’t know ether. I have often wondered if you could put these rockets systems on self-propelled barges to support both amphibious landing and for brown water operations at a reasonable cost. They could be brought to the area where they are needed buy a ocean going tug (you could lash eight at a time), and then they could operate on their own. I think it would be a cheap and flexible approach to shore bombardment and follow up ground support.
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Old January 11th, 2011   #3
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I don’t know ether. I have often wondered if you could put these rockets systems on self-propelled barges to support both amphibious landing and for brown water operations at a reasonable cost. They could be brought to the area where they are needed buy a ocean going tug (you could lash eight at a time), and then they could operate on their own. I think it would be a cheap and flexible approach to shore bombardment and follow up ground support.
Such systems are employed on non-US platforms...per example on one Russian model of those huge vessels that are running on an air cushion and can traverse both land and sea( i really cant remember no english word for that right now ). These are mainly used for staging and supporting coastal invasions on unprepared coasts and have 2 40X122mm multiple rocket launcher platforms on board as well as 2 30mm russian "Gatling" guns(AK-603s)!!! Of course they also carry and disembark the force that is to invade the said coast.
If they can fit it on those I dont see why not on an unmanned barge!
Oh,I totally forgot those vessels are called "Zubr" in russia if you wanna look them up

Last edited by YorgosChrys; January 11th, 2011 at 09:47 AM. Reason: forgot to add in critical info!
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Old January 11th, 2011   #4
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The Zubr actually carries a pair of full-automatic 22-round Ogon 140mm rocket launchers, which are not intended so much for bombardment - but for minefield and beach emplacement breaching. And with a range of only 4.5 km definitely not usable for any sort of sea-to-shore fire support role.
The 122mm launchers (manually loaded 18-round WM-18) were a system designed for the Polocny class landing ships, and used for the same role there. They are not used on the Zubr, despite this misinformation being spread by some people e.g. on wikipedia.

There are plenty of ships using in particular 122mm and 107mm MRLs, in particular brown-water systems.
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Old January 11th, 2011   #5
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The Zubr actually carries a pair of full-automatic 22-round Ogon 140mm rocket launchers, which are not intended so much for bombardment - but for minefield and beach emplacement breaching. And with a range of only 4.5 km definitely not usable for any sort of sea-to-shore fire support role.
The 122mm launchers (manually loaded 18-round WM-18) were a system designed for the Polocny class landing ships, and used for the same role there. They are not used on the Zubr, despite this misinformation being spread by some people e.g. on wikipedia.

There are plenty of ships using in particular 122mm and 107mm MRLs, in particular brown-water systems.
The US navy had, once upon a time, rocket assault barges to support amphibious operations for WW II and they were in use up until Vietnam. They of course were not guided nor did they have very great range but they could put a hell of a lot of concentrated firepower on a beach in a very short time.

I think that the failure to have something similar thou updated is just a symptom of the general lack of support for amphibious operations found in general in the curent US Navy.
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Old January 11th, 2011   #6
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small wonder. US amphibious task force do have shipborne air support in the form of gunships and the harriers. If they already have that kind of support, i don't see why they should waste precious space and weight on a Landing Ship just to accomodate bulky MLRS.
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Old January 11th, 2011   #7
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They of course were not guided nor did they have very great range but they could put a hell of a lot of concentrated firepower on a beach in a very short time.
The LCT(R)s are heavily overrated in a modern context.
A simple pair of modern OTO 127mm/54 Compact bring the same amount of firepower as an entire LCT(R) ashore in about 90 seconds - which is half the time a LCT(R) was supposed to fire off its rocket load in (30 salvoes at 6 seconds interval). Even the slow US 5" guns would need less time than the LCT(R) for the same load on target. And they do it at five times the range. Without even exhausting their ready magazines. And with 5 minutes instead of 5 hours to reload it.
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Old January 11th, 2011   #8
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small wonder. US amphibious task force do have shipborne air support in the form of gunships and the harriers. If they already have that kind of support, i don't see why they should waste precious space and weight on a Landing Ship just to accomodate bulky MLRS.
Saturation fire. Also the newer rockets for MLRS are amazing. And these weapons arent very large compared to many ship fired missiles. There is a certain amount of time it simply takes to get a air asset airborne then on to the target. In the time it may take a F-18 or VTOL to the target area a barrage of MLRS could already have arrived and given fire on the spot for a while.

And no reason to have these on a landing ship or pretty much any other missile besides Defensive weapons in my opinion. This would be ment for smaller vessels like destroyers cruisers and frigates maybe it could even fit on a LCS. I figure you could build a reloadsystem that could sustain a hell of alot of fire with a good magazine of missiles.
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Old January 11th, 2011   #9
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Germany pondered a navalized GMLRS for F125, but dropped the idea pretty quickly. Apparently not that easy to convert.
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Old January 11th, 2011   #10
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Germany pondered a navalized GMLRS for F125, but dropped the idea pretty quickly. Apparently not that easy to convert.
Hmm i wonder what the reason was.
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Old January 12th, 2011   #11
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Saturation fire. Also the newer rockets for MLRS are amazing. And these weapons arent very large compared to many ship fired missiles. There is a certain amount of time it simply takes to get a air asset airborne then on to the target. In the time it may take a F-18 or VTOL to the target area a barrage of MLRS could already have arrived and given fire on the spot for a while.

And no reason to have these on a landing ship or pretty much any other missile besides Defensive weapons in my opinion. This would be ment for smaller vessels like destroyers cruisers and frigates maybe it could even fit on a LCS. I figure you could build a reloadsystem that could sustain a hell of alot of fire with a good magazine of missiles.
I honestly do no think such a system would be particularly valuable aboard a naval vessel, at least not at the cost (in fiscal, space and displacement terms) of other types of systems.

At present the US Army is in the process of transitioning over to the M31A1 rocket for the GMRLS, which would provide a max range of ~70 km and deliver a single 200 lb HE warhead. Such a system does allow a very high volume of 'saturation' fire to be delivered very rapidly, and with the addition guidance components, allows both greater range and accuracy in artillery fires delivery. However, such a system is really only useful for either saturation fire or area of effect attacks with HE warheads, and if saturation fire missions are conducted, that level of fire is not able to be maintained without having a very large number of launchers available.

Aboard a ship, the 5" naval cannon is what is would typically be used for fire support missions, This would typically allow a sustained ROF of ~10 rounds per minute (if using a Mk-45 5" gun) out to ~24 km, with each shell weighing ~60 lbs IIRC. However, the naval gun is a multi-purpose weapon, being able to provide naval fire support as well as having anti-air and anti-ship engagement capabilities. With inclusion of the Italian Vulcano ER and LR 5"/127mm cannon ammunition, it would provide a 5" naval cannon with unguided 70km range, or a GPS/INS-guided 100km range. Plus with inclusion of other types of 5"/127mm ammunition for anti-air, a cannon can provide much greater flexibility.

Granted, if the most important characteristic was the immediate delivery of a high volume of fire, a MRLS would be best, since ~6 5" cannon rounds would be needed to equal the amount of delivered explosives from a single M31A1 MRLS rocket warhead. Additionally, systems like the M270A1 GMRLS can load, launch and fire a 12 salvo barrange within 5 minutes, which means 2,400 lbs of HE every five minutes. This of course assumes that there are ample stocks of the M31A1 rockets available, with each weighing 650+ lbs. A 5" cannon would likely only be able to deliver 1,500 lbs of HE every 5 minutes, however most USN destroyers armed with a Mk-45 cannon could potentially maintain a bombardment of up to an hour, or ~18,000 lbs of HE delivered over that timeframe. A GMRLS system consisting of 12 rocket tubes in the launcher would take ~ 40 minutes to deliver an equivalent amount of explosive, but that would require there being 90 rockets aboard to be fired, which would require a significant amount of space aboard ship for a magazine.

In short, such a system could potentially be developed or adapted for use aboard ship, but would only provide a short to mid-ranged shore/land bombardment capability. Given the limitations of space aboard naval vessels, the system would also likely be in place of the more versatile naval cannon, which IMO would make it a rather poor trade off, since there are questions in terms of which system would have a lower total displacement (launcher and munitions) for a small decrease in the amount of time required to deliver nn weight of explosive on target.

Please note, for the numbers used in estimates and times, certain figures and assumptions provided by the WAG Institute were used. In particular, for ease of calculation purposes, it was assumed that the ready magazine for both the Mk-45 gun as well as the hypothetical M270 launcher were able to be immediately reloaded without delay from the standing magazine where the 'non-ready' 5" ammunition or M31A1 rockets would be stored. Also, the OTO Melara 5"/127mm naval cannons have a sustained ROF of ~20 rounds per minute, vs. the ~10 rounds per minute of the BAE Systems Mk-45, which would mean that the OTO Melara naval gun would take only ~30 minutes to deliver 18,000 lbs of HE on target using all the same assumptions used for the Mk-45 gun and M-270 MRLS.

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Old January 12th, 2011   #12
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The Zubr actually carries a pair of full-automatic 22-round Ogon 140mm rocket launchers, which are not intended so much for bombardment - but for minefield and beach emplacement breaching. And with a range of only 4.5 km definitely not usable for any sort of sea-to-shore fire support role.
The 122mm launchers (manually loaded 18-round WM-18) were a system designed for the Polocny class landing ships, and used for the same role there. They are not used on the Zubr, despite this misinformation being spread by some people e.g. on wikipedia.

There are plenty of ships using in particular 122mm and 107mm MRLs, in particular brown-water systems.
You are probably right...I get most of my info from Greek defence magazines on the matter and I wouldn't be all too surprised if it's not accurate enough...
Though I am sure that the 4 Zubrs the Greek armed forces possess have the armament I mentioned in my previous post since the 40X122 mm launcher is essentially the same one emplyed in the RM-70 launchers the Greek Artillery Corps uses...they were a custom order so I wouldn't be all too surprised if they changed things here and there to make the whole project cheaper or more efficient or i dont know what else.
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Old January 12th, 2011   #13
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The Greek Zubrs use the 140mm MS-227 Ogon too.

[This picture] of Greek Zubr-class L183 Zakynthos shows the MS-227 in extended position, same as [this picture] of L181 Ithaki.
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Old January 12th, 2011   #14
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I honestly do no think such a system would be particularly valuable aboard a naval vessel, at least not at the cost (in fiscal, space and displacement terms) of other types of systems.

At present the US Army is in the process of transitioning over to the M31A1 rocket for the GMRLS, which would provide a max range of ~70 km and deliver a single 200 lb HE warhead. Such a system does allow a very high volume of 'saturation' fire to be delivered very rapidly, and with the addition guidance components, allows both greater range and accuracy in artillery fires delivery. However, such a system is really only useful for either saturation fire or area of effect attacks with HE warheads, and if saturation fire missions are conducted, that level of fire is not able to be maintained without having a very large number of launchers available.

Aboard a ship, the 5" naval cannon is what is would typically be used for fire support missions, This would typically allow a sustained ROF of ~10 rounds per minute (if using a Mk-45 5" gun) out to ~24 km, with each shell weighing ~60 lbs IIRC. However, the naval gun is a multi-purpose weapon, being able to provide naval fire support as well as having anti-air and anti-ship engagement capabilities. With inclusion of the Italian Vulcano ER and LR 5"/127mm cannon ammunition, it would provide a 5" naval cannon with unguided 70km range, or a GPS/INS-guided 100km range. Plus with inclusion of other types of 5"/127mm ammunition for anti-air, a cannon can provide much greater flexibility.

Granted, if the most important characteristic was the immediate delivery of a high volume of fire, a MRLS would be best, since ~6 5" cannon rounds would be needed to equal the amount of delivered explosives from a single M31A1 MRLS rocket warhead. Additionally, systems like the M270A1 GMRLS can load, launch and fire a 12 salvo barrange within 5 minutes, which means 2,400 lbs of HE every five minutes. This of course assumes that there are ample stocks of the M31A1 rockets available, with each weighing 650+ lbs. A 5" cannon would likely only be able to deliver 1,500 lbs of HE every 5 minutes, however most USN destroyers armed with a Mk-45 cannon could potentially maintain a bombardment of up to an hour, or ~18,000 lbs of HE delivered over that timeframe. A GMRLS system consisting of 12 rocket tubes in the launcher would take ~ 40 minutes to deliver an equivalent amount of explosive, but that would require there being 90 rockets aboard to be fired, which would require a significant amount of space aboard ship for a magazine.

In short, such a system could potentially be developed or adapted for use aboard ship, but would only provide a short to mid-ranged shore/land bombardment capability. Given the limitations of space aboard naval vessels, the system would also likely be in place of the more versatile naval cannon, which IMO would make it a rather poor trade off, since there are questions in terms of which system would have a lower total displacement (launcher and munitions) for a small decrease in the amount of time required to deliver nn weight of explosive on target.

Please note, for the numbers used in estimates and times, certain figures and assumptions provided by the WAG Institute were used. In particular, for ease of calculation purposes, it was assumed that the ready magazine for both the Mk-45 gun as well as the hypothetical M270 launcher were able to be immediately reloaded without delay from the standing magazine where the 'non-ready' 5" ammunition or M31A1 rockets would be stored. Also, the OTO Melara 5"/127mm naval cannons have a sustained ROF of ~20 rounds per minute, vs. the ~10 rounds per minute of the BAE Systems Mk-45, which would mean that the OTO Melara naval gun would take only ~30 minutes to deliver 18,000 lbs of HE on target using all the same assumptions used for the Mk-45 gun and M-270 MRLS.

-Cheers
First, when I proposed that a MISSION that once was thought to be of important significances, (the high bombardment phase of an amphibious landing) still existed as a valid MISSION which has nevertheless been long neglected by naval planers, and I used then an example (to just show that such missions were at one time considered to be vital) of a platform designed and built sixty years ago,( though they were still used long after that), and to then use that platform for comparisons to any modern built platforms which have different designs and technologies, soas to discredit the MISSION, is an improper use of an analogy.

There are many uncertainties about what a full scale sustained conflict, which employs large troop formations, would look like today on a modern battlefield. I do not think that Gulf War One or Two and the recent insurgency’s are really good examples to draw upon though the Iraq/Iran war, that has been little analyzed might be a good source to study to answer that question even though they both used poison gas.

One of the most important of those uncertainties has to do with the question of what is the ideal (concentration or dispersion of ground troops), so as to get the maximum effective fire from them without at the same time becoming extremely venerable to some kind of mass artillery (be it rocket, air, or tube launched). The trend for a long time has been that troops need to be more spread out with each new iteration of combat tactics, as the weapons become more effective. I do not pretend to know the answer to that question but if the MLRS is valid for the general battlefield then it would be just as valid for the harder more concentrated amphibious assault mission.

The question is not if naval designed weapons are better for naval operations and naval ships than putting land based systems on ships. They would be far better. The question is what is the cheapest and simplest method of achieving this specific limited mission, which unlike most fire support missions that are seen today, has every inch of the killing ground filled with bunkers, spider holes, tunnels, booby-traps and mines. A a naval vessel specifically designed for that mission would be better for that mission but with the other priorities which are in competition for resources, that ship will not be built so the question is, can land systems be employed on simple converted hulls of some kind still get the job done?
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Old January 12th, 2011   #15
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MRLS does indeed have its place in support of battlefield operations. However, tube artillery also still has its place.

One of the things which has been learned as a result of WWII operational experiences, as well as exercises since then, is that the massive unguided rocket barrages fired at the opening of amphibious landings did not actually do much damage.

Another thing which has also changed, is that the level of fire support available from a modern naval cannon can delivery roughly the same level of fire support as a rocket barrage system, but in a more sustainable fashion.

Now, if the actual desire was just to be able to deliver the maximum amount of ordnance in a single salvo, then yes, a MRLS with multiple rocket tubes would win.

What has been attempted to point out, is that a MRLS which would be ship-mounted on something like a corvette, frigate or destroyer, would be in place of a naval gun system due to space and weight considerations. This would be to the detriment of the operational use of the naval vessel, since instead of having a dual purpose naval cannon which can provide a comparable fire support capability, a rocket launcher which can realistically only conduct shore bombardment would be in its place.

What would need to be determined, is just how much of a priority saturation shore bombardment has in amphibious landings, vs. other types of naval fires missions.

Given that the Soviet Union/Russia had equipped some of their landing craft/vehicles with such rocket launcher systems for use during ship-to-shore contested landings, it would suggest that the space and weight aboard and ocean-going vessel could be put to better use.

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