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Missile Carrier.

Discussion in 'Navy & Maritime' started by nightsight971, Jul 29, 2019.

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  1. nightsight971

    nightsight971 New Member

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    I'm about to butcher some numbers here so I'm gonna round off the best I can. Why isn't there a Missile Carrier?

    An Aircraft Carrier is roughly $10 billion with about $6 billion in aircraft. Then factor in 5000 sailor salaries (and lives) plus the costs of munitions. With a 600 mile strike range (more with in air refueling), our carriers are within range of current missiles.

    Our aircraft have to evade deadly air defenses trying to bring down our $6 million men.

    Now surrounding these behemoths is a strike group with about 3 or 4 hundred missiles give or take and that is probably plenty.

    Imagine now, a super tanker covered in vertical missile launchers. Cruise, ballistic, anti air/ship, and the new hypersonics. Missiles with potential ranges of hundreds to thousands of miles.

    There are about 96 missiles on Arleigh Burks so its probably safe to say a couple thousand missiles could be loaded here. And with current automation, you probably only need a few hundred sailors.

    Now I'm sure I have way over sized this beast and its missile numbers, but has the Navy ever considered a Missile Carrier?

    If not to replace the Aircraft Carrier, but maybe add one to a strike groups offensive capability?

    Or indeed, to even replace an Aircraft Carrier in a strike group. The concept of this ship would be a very expensive boat able to strike farther than our aircraft are capable of. Instead of $6 billion in aircraft, you would have $6 billion in missiles.

    Aircraft Carriers strike fear into our enemies, but they also know there is a chance of shooting our planes down and capturing/killing our pilots.

    With a hypothetical Missile Carrier on the other hand, all they get is the debris.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  2. Hazdog

    Hazdog Member

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    This idea is commonly called an Arsenal Ship.

    The USN has looked at creating such a ship but, due to budget cuts, the idea has not yielded fruitful results.

    I know this link is to Wikipedia but the page does give a good example of what has been done surrounding the idea; Arsenal ship - Wikipedia.

    The San Antonio class has been thought of as a potential hull for such an idea, but publicly disclosed information around it is yet to be released.

    Overall I'm sure a few other navies would jump on board with the idea if, the hull costs were low enough. (RAN, RN and other allied navies).
     
  3. oldsig127

    oldsig127 Active Member

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    Imagine a torpedo into that basket of eggs. Up it goes, arsenal. Perhaps a slightly smaller target.

    oldsig
     
  4. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    One of the major problems with the Arsenal Ship concept has to do with costs, and these are not hull costs. After all the saying, "steel is cheap and air is free," still holds true.

    The real cost and benefit vs. risk issues have to do with the missile loadouts. For example, a FY2017 Tomahawk Block IV cost about USD$1.8 mil. each with 100 being ordered. If a single Arsenal Ship were loaded with 500 such missiles, the cost of the missiles alone would be ~USD$900 mil.

    That quantity could indeed carry out a devastating strike, but by concentrating so many missiles into a single platform, a navy would also significantly increase the potential risk of dramatically losing capability. Imagine how much of a reduction in strike capability the USN would suffer if it had an Arsenal Ship which was damaged in a collision with another ship, struck a submerged rock or reef, or suffered a shipboard fire? That same 500 LACM strike capability is I believe roughly equal to the land attack missile loadout of nine to ten Arleigh Burke-class DDG's, which can be deployed to many more places at the same time than a single Arsenal Ship could be.

    That really is too many 'eggs' to be putting into a single basket.
     
  5. cdxbow

    cdxbow Member

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    I wonder if the arsenal ships time may come as a way to supply extra air defence missiles in high intensity conflict. Good point about nine to ten Arleigh Burke-class DDG carry as many missiles as a large arsenal ship and avoiding the 'eggs in one basket' problem.

    Saturation attacks of ships with AShM seems a very likely scenario in the future and depletion of the defenders magazines will be an issue. A modest sized ship, possibly unmanned, with CEC control would be a way of adding depth to the magazines of current ships.

    To me there is a fundamental difference in the CONOPS of an arsenal ship launching a saturation land/sea attack and it's use in air defence, with the air defence scenario you are trying to protect a small physical region in space and time. Very different and maybe there is a role for an air defence arsenal ship, particularly with smaller navies like the RAN.
     
  6. Redlands18

    Redlands18 Active Member

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    I don’t think Hull costs would be the issue, filling 288 Cells with Missiles might be though, $500m+ ? Does Australia currently have enough Missiles to send even all 3 Hobarts on operations at once(though highly unlikely). That’s 120-132 SM-2 and 96-182 ESSMs.. of course we are still to order LACMs.
    A Burke carries more than 96 Missiles as the ESSM is quad packed, 4 per Cell. Only guessing here I would suspect a fully armed Burke would carry 64 ESSM and 88 other Missiles in varied numbers of SM-2, SM-3, Tomahawk, VL ASROC.
    If you want Arsenal Ships why not develop something based on the Columbia Class SSBNs, with the range of LACMs they could sit 100s of miles off the Coast and would be extremely difficult to find especially compared to a Tanker.
     
  7. Unric

    Unric New Member

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    I think cdxbow hit on the right compromise here. A suitably sized hull to hold ~100 vls tubes without anything else except for CEC might be very cheap way to supplement a taskforce without putting all your eggs in one basket.
     
  8. Unric

    Unric New Member

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    While many navies might not be able to fill it I assume that it's much quicker to build missiles than hulls? Almost a "fitted for but not with" capability...
     
  9. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    If the only threats to a floating magazine/missile launcher were AShM, perhaps... However, a single sub-launched heavyweight torpedoe could easily break the back of a ship, and at least given how the Arsenal Ship is currently conceived, it could do SFA to protect itself from undersea threats.

    Depending on what Flight, the current Arleigh Burke-class DDG's in service have either 90 or 96 Mk 41 VLS cells, and IIRC the loadout is usually split between air defense and land attack missiles. This split missile load out allows the different destroyers to carry out different roles on deployments without necessarily requiring a port visit to swap out missiles. The other thing with the DDG is that the SPY-1 arrays and Aegis CMS enable the vessel to operate independently as well as integrate with other vessels in a task force. If a hypothetical Arsenal Ship was not also kitted out with something like the SPY arrays and Aegis CMS and instead just relied upon getting fed data on targets via CEC, then the Arsenal Ship would become blind, deaf and dumb if something happened to the offboard asset it was dependent on. This could be something as simple as an equipment malfunction to the offboard asset being attacked or destroyed, comms and sensors jammed, or the range between them becoming too great. All in all, the Arsenal Ship is too much of a specialist capability, and too vulnerable to a range of potential threats for that amount of combat power to be concentrated into a single hull.
     
  10. hauritz

    hauritz Well-Known Member

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    Arsenal ships always struck me as the type of ship you would build during a major war. Quick to build, low manpower levels or even converted from merchant's vessels. During peacetime, though these ships would only have limited application.
     
  11. nightsight971

    nightsight971 New Member

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    Yes, the Arsenal Ship would be a prime target. But there are definitely a lot of eggs in one basket with an Aircraft Carrier as well.

    Indeed, the idea of an Arsenal Ship like this would be so expensive it would probably have to replace an Aircraft Carrier in a strike group instead of joining it.

    I'm sure the super tanker size is too much, but the whole concept of this ship would be a very big and expensive boat that is able to strike farther than our current aircraft are capable of flying. So instead of $6 billion in aircraft, an Arsenal Ship would have $6 billion in missiles so to speak.

    This thing would definitely be considered a capital ship for sure.

    But this is definitely the discussion I wanted to start.

    Could an Arsenal Ship this imposing be a better alternative to an Aircraft Carrier? At least offensively? Aircraft Carriers do so much more than attack and we would be losing the hospitals and helicopters it provides in a crisis.

    It just seems like the intimidation factor of a ship like this would be through the roof.

    Aircraft Carrier battle groups are used for diplomacy but hostile countries believe their air defenses offer a counter in these diplomatic situations since our pilots lives are at risk.

    Yes, our battle groups have hundreds of missiles. But these Arsenal Ships would be a message like our Aircraft Carriers.

    In diplomatic discussions in tense situations, say like Iran now, both sides know some American pilots could die. This gives the other side bargaining power and there is a reluctance to act. Which is probably quite good actually.

    Same diplomatic discussion, but now instead of an Aircraft Carrier, a capital sized Arsenal Ship with its thousand plus missiles has been deployed with its battle group to the area.

    Now there is the threat of many bases and infrastructure wiped out in an instant. No stopping it. Won't be hurting any pilots. Better make a deal.

    Intimidating.
     
  12. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    The U.S. Navy Quietly Tested Mach 3 Heavy Gun Shells That Could Revolutionize Surface Warfare
    The discussion seems solely on the addittion of extra vls but could it be cheaper and just as effective in many scenarios for surface units with naval guns capable of firing this type of ammunition or even the consideration of ships with more than one 127 cm gun ,there seems to be other types of fast firing long ranged ammunition ,Im not sure if the development of some of these suggest the revival of some type of battleship lol
     
  13. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Not really, because it can be found and eliminated at long range by a DF21 carrier killer for example before it got into range, or taken out by a SSN / SSK as others have already intimated or by a tactical nuke. It's not that viable an option now. Maybe 20 or 30 years ago, but not in the 21st century with 5th gen multi-domain capabilities already operational and many more of those capabilities to come online in the upcoming years. Once quantum radars and other quantum, quantum computing and computers, sensors, direct energy, electromagnetic and hyper velocity weapons come online, then it's a totally different kettle of fish and all of those capabilities are not that far away from being fully operational.

    Aircraft carriers are big floating targets waiting to be sunk. Ask any submariner or maritime strike pilot. They aren't immune to attack and can be sunk and have been by allied aircraft and warships on exercises. Everytime the USN have changed the rules in order to deny the sinking. I know that the RN, RAN, RNZAF and RNZN have sunk various USN carriers on exercise. The new Commandant of the USMC understands that big ships like carriers and LHDs make for juicy and very tempting targets which is why he wants to the amphib ships that the USN have to transport the marines across the seas and the ship to shore connectors. So I suggest that you do some reading and learning, because a couple of the people who have been replying to you actually know what they are talking about.

    Sacred Cows Die As Marine Commandant Changes Course On Amphibs
     
  14. cdxbow

    cdxbow Member

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    That was a really interesting article, but it didn't lay out any alternatives to the big amphibs in moving substantial number of Marines around except the vague "We need to change this calculus with a new fleet design of smaller, more lethal, and more risk-worthy platforms.”
     
  15. Ranger25

    Ranger25 Active Member

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    Agreed 100% and the emerging USN doctrine of Distributed Lethality to me tells us they understand the vulnerabilities of placing so much into one hull.
    As for offensive magazine depth, I think the SSGNs(with 154 TLSMs) are a safer less vulnerable options that’s the arsenal ship concept

    'Distributed Lethality'


    The US Navy -- Fact File: Guided Missile Submarines - SSGN
     
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  16. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    The Arsenal Ship concept had been located and discarded for a number of reasons others have already mentioned. It was determined to be an inadequate replacement for an aircraft since it would automatically lack much of the capability and flexibility that an aircraft and it's associated air group provides. In terms of a capital ship replacement, an Arsenal Ship would IMO bear a greater resemblance to the role a battleship used to have. One thing I have noted when people have raised the Arsenal Ship concept (which happens every few years here on DT) is that they tend to overlook a carrier's actual role of a mobile, floating airfield and instead tend to focus on crewed aircraft delivering strike packages. In doing so, they are immediately overlooking all the other capabilities manned aircraft provide. For example, a CSG has an organic sensor footprint greater than that of many national air forces and navies due to embarked E-2 Hawkeye AWACS aircraft. If a carrier were to be replaced by an Arsenal Ship, the whole task force would lose the ability to monitor the large volume of air and sea approaches surrounding the TF. This loss of SA would then increase the potential for damage to TF vessels, and/or loss of the TF itself. That would not be a good trade of warships worth billions.

    There is also the potential question of the cost of operations for an Arsenal Ship to consider as well. Given that modern, long-ranged PGM's can cost close to USD$2 mil. a piece, I can easily see situations where delivering a four JDAM strike package (costing ~USD$100k plus the operating costs for the aircraft) would be significantly less than a single TacTom Block IV. If the area requiring strike packages was distributed so that there were multiple, discrete targets, the costs could quickly become prohibitive.

    If crewed aircraft cease to be a feature of modern armed forces, then the Arsenal Ship concept might gain more traction, but for the time being I see it as a concept that is too specialized, concentrated and expensive to be worthwhile, since it would require support from assets it is supposed to replace in order for it to be viable.
     
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  17. nightsight971

    nightsight971 New Member

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    I agree with every word you typed mo. My point was if the Navy continues to build big expensive targets like carriers, would an Arsenal Ship with a longer striking range and less crew be a viable option. I'm all for spreading the wealth and building a lot of Ohio types, Burks, Ticons, and the new frigates. I long for the day the rail gun brings back the battleship.
     
  18. nightsight971

    nightsight971 New Member

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    Excellent point.
     
  19. Black Jack Shellac

    Black Jack Shellac Member

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    One thing not mentioned is the political projection an aircraft carrier has. Nothing says "behave yourself" more than parking an aircraft carrier off of a foreign coast, regardless of capability. I don't know if an arsenal ship would have the same effect.
     
  20. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Actually an Arsenal Ship would most likely not have a longer strike range than aircraft from a carrier. Using some of the longer-ranged air-launched PGM's like the AGM-158V JASSM-ER, an F-35C would likely have a strike range of 2,000+ km without in-flight refueling, vs. a roughly 1,700 km range for an RGM-109E Tomahawk Block IV.

    Indeed, given the potential size of a carrier air group aboard a USN carrier, it can be about the same size as the fighter force of a number of middle power nations.