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Naval Version of MLRS

Discussion in 'Missiles & WMDs' started by Belesari, Jan 9, 2011.

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  1. Belesari

    Belesari New Member

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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.

    [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M270_Multiple_Launch_Rocket_System"]M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System - Wikipedia, the free [email protected]@[email protected]@/wiki/File:MLRS_05.jpg" class="image"><img alt="MLRS 05.jpg" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ef/MLRS_05.jpg/300px-MLRS_05.jpg"@@[email protected]@commons/thumb/e/ef/MLRS_05.jpg/300px-MLRS_05.jpg[/ame]

    MGM-140 ATACMS - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  2. rip

    rip New Member

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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.
     
  3. YorgosChrys

    YorgosChrys New Member

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    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: Jan 11, 2011
  4. kato

    kato Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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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.
     
  5. rip

    rip New Member

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    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.
     
  6. Awang se

    Awang se New Member Verified Defense Pro

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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.
     
  7. kato

    kato Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    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.
     
  8. Belesari

    Belesari New Member

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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.
     
  9. kato

    kato Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Germany pondered a navalized GMLRS for F125, but dropped the idea pretty quickly. Apparently not that easy to convert.
     
  10. Belesari

    Belesari New Member

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    Hmm i wonder what the reason was.
     
  11. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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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
     
  12. YorgosChrys

    YorgosChrys New Member

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    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.
     
  13. kato

    kato Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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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.
     
  14. rip

    rip New Member

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    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?
     
  15. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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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.

    -Cheers
     
  16. rip

    rip New Member

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    I agree with most of what you say. On a naval ship, a ship made and used for naval missions, naval guns are much better than rockets for so many reasons. But I would point out that the reason that the rocket bombardment tactics of the past were not as effective as they could on been, is because the rockets that were used back then, were quite small, low velocity, and has low yield with little penetrating ability (they were hand loaded on rackes for God's sake). They would be mostly effective only against troops in the open or lined up in trenches. The rockets were equal to only a small caliber man portable mortar and were not suited to destroying heavy fortified positions.

    The problem remains, if the problem is addressed or not, how do you quickly take on a heavily dug in, in depth and spread out objective that for some reason cannot be bypassed. Those wonderful bunker buster’s they have today which cost great sums of money, requiring expensive sophisticated platforms to deliver, and whose supply is not unlimited work well for high value far behind the lines targets but are a complete waste for beach assaults and other things like them. Assaults were you do not have your own tube artillery already on land to assist you troops on the groud that must attack the target and where the big naval guns that once had that job no longer exist. I am interested in you solution to this problem but please don’t give me the argument about vertical envelopment and vertical supply options because for large operations in a real war that is just wishful thinking.
     
  17. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    The problem does not remain, or at least not as originally asked. A naval vessel needs to be kitted out in a manner appropriate to fufilling naval roles/requirements. In this case, a corvette, frigate, destroyer or cruiser-type warship needs to be capable of engaging enemy shipping, as well as providing naval gunfire support. A rocket launching system for shore bombardment does not meet that sort of requirement.

    The proposal which comes closest to mind to meet a requirement for massive shore bombardment would have been the 'Arsenal ship' which in one potential configuration was basically just a large ocean-going barge with a massive number of rockets. It has since been dropped due to a confluence of reasons. Amongst them are cost, complexity, and limited viability as a result of over-specialization for a role.

    As things stand now, there has not been a need to conduct an opposed amphibious landing against a hardened, dug-in opponent as described since WWII. This suggests that there is little requirement for a dedicated ship-mounted rocket launcher system to support amphibious landings, particularly when proper consideration is given to the existing capabilities of naval gun support, which AFAIK was most recently demonstrated ~2003 in Iraq/the Persian Gulf.

    With regards to the type and 'quality' of the bombardment available from rocket launchers, a few things need to be kept in mind. The first is that for employment against dug-in and hardened positions where penetration is a concerned, there are better munitions available than the ~200 lb warhead of an M31 rocket. JDAM and JSOW come to mind, with the added benefit of being air launched/dropped munitions, which means that the shooter can spot as well. Incidentally, the price tag for a single M31 guided rocket is ~US$137,000, which on a per round basis does not compare all that well to the ~US$35,000 per GBU-38 500 lb JDAM.

    As things stand now, if I had to plan an opposed amphibious landing against a dug-in opponent in hardened structures, I would first have air strikes using 'bunker buster' munitioned to neutralize as many of that hardened positions as would be found. This would be done as opposed to having rocket attacks made against the same bunkers, because there is available air-dropped ordnance designed to damage/destroy such positions. Rocket artillery with 200 lb HE warheads might be able to do so with direct hits, but also might be insufficient. Once those structures had been dealt with from the air, then I would have the landings commence, supported by air and naval gunfire support.

    Every way that I look at it, the only advantage I currently see a ship-mounted rocket launcher system having over current naval guns, is the fact that a rocket launch system utilizing multiple launch tubes can fire more ordnance in one shot than a single naval gun can. That sort of advantage seems too narrow at present for such a system to be worth developing, never mind putting onto a ship.

    -Cheers
     
  18. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Some other things came to mind. The LSMR which provided rocket fire support during WWII and again later during Vietnam where only actually employed in 'green water' and 'brown water' environments, they were only mounted on a landing ship to allow them to be moved over open water to where they could be positioned.

    Also, the rockets fired were 5"/130 mm rockets, comparable in diameter to the 5" shells fired during naval fire support missions from battleships, cruisers and destroyers. While I have not been able to locate the exact type of 5" rockets used then, or the size/weight of the warhead, the later 5"/130mm Zuni rocket had a warhead which is approximately the same explosive weight as that found in 5"/127mm naval cannon shells. I therefore do not think it likely that the rockets used during landings in Normandy and elsewhere were comparable to 60mm mortar rounds.

    -Cheers
     
  19. kato

    kato Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    The rockets used from LCT(R), LSM(R) and other rocket-equipped ships varied extremely. In use were:

    - 7.2-inch rockets T37 and T24 (used in South France invasion, atrocious range; 32 lb warhead)
    - 4.5-inch BBR (20-lb GP bombs on a Mousetrap rocket, considered obsolete by end of WW2)
    - 6-inch RP-3 (British aircraft rockets, used at Normandy, with 60 lb warhead)
    - 5-inch FFAR (interim use in 1944 in the Pacific instead of BOMROC, 45-lb warhead)
    - 5-inch HVSR/BOMROC (up till 1973 on LSM(R) and IFR-1, probably ~25 to ~30-lb warhead)

    The HVSR/BOMROC looked more like a rocket-assisted 5-inch round actually - being only 75cm long, on a Zuni just the warhead alone is longer! - even though it was all rocket.

    A 5-inch naval gun projectile for comparison weighs 70 lbs btw.

    The Mk102 and Mk105 automatic rocket launchers used on LSM(R) in the 50s and 60s were pretty complicated systems btw, easily comparable to a gun turret (with hoists, magazine etc) in complexity. Actually did take a lot of technology transferred from gun turrets.
     
  20. kato

    kato Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    PS:
    - 7.2-inch and 4.5-inch were adapted ASW rockets originally used with DCs
    - FFAR and RP-3 were aircraft rockets launched from rails
    - HVSR was the only system used after 1945 afaik, and fired from either MLRS (8-cell trainable launcher) or twin-tube rocket turrets (Mk102 with 30 rpm and Mk105 with 48 rpm).

    HVSR is probably best comparable to a recoilless rifle round in a way. It was usually fired from bulky trainable tube launchers, the multi-cell trainable launcher was intended for PTs.