dimarts, 23 de desembre de 2014


By Michael Glynn

Recent months have found uniformed officers and naval strategists writing and speaking about regaining the ability of U.S. Navy (USN) ships to conduct offensive anti-surface warfare (ASuW). The discussion has been lively and featured many authors and many different approaches. Some solutions are incremental, such as fielding more capable long-range weapons in existing launch systems.[i] Others are more radical, such as trading large long-range missile defense interceptors for small point defense missiles and building a new generation of multi-role cruise missiles.[ii]

Missing from the discussion of future acquisitions and new weapons is how the USN can leverage existing land-based airpower to seize the offensive in ASuW. The P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is deployed today, with the range, persistence, sensors, and network architecture to serve as a self-contained “kill chain.” It is able to disperse and operate in an expeditionary environment during peacetime or contingency operations. If equipped with more suitable long-range anti-ship weapons, this aircraft will provide greatly increased capability for the combatant commander. This will allow more flexibility for USN forces to operate in an A2/AD environment when a carrier is not nearby or in the interim until more capable surface-based ASuW weapons are fielded.

Framing the Challenge

During the last three decades, the USN has divested its surface forces of offensive anti-ship firepower as operations shifted to littoral environments with permissive threat profiles. With the retirement of the Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile, the service has been left without a weapon that can engage targets at a range beyond that of threat anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM’s).[iii] Our ships now go to sea armed only with the sub-sonic, medium range Harpoon missile. The removal of Harpoon from Flight IIA DDG-51’s after DDG-79 and proposed cuts to funding for cruisers have exacerbated this glaring deficiency.[iv] The onus for conducting maritime strike has shifted from our surface ships to the aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

As the reach and number of U.S. ASCM’s have decreased, threat systems have proliferated and improved in range, speed and sophistication. China, Russia, and India all possess advanced supersonic long-range ASCM’s. Foreign militaries are equipping themselves not only with the weapons needed to strike, but also the C4ISR capabilities needed to detect and accurately target adversary forces.[v]

Commanders, legislators, and the defense industry have responded with a variety of initiatives, including the development of an Offensive Anti-Surface Weapon (OASuW.) This program is aimed at fielding an advanced cruise missile with sufficient range to allow USN ships to employ outside the reach of threat weapons systems. OASuW Increment 1 will begin fielding the Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) in FY17 for carriage on the F/A-18 Super Hornet and USAF B-1 bombers. OASuW Increment 2 will provide for integration of a long-range anti-surface capability onboard surface ships.[vi] By equipping the F/A-18 and B-1 with the ability to carry LRASM, the Department of Defense has signaled that regardless of eventual integration of OASuW onboard surface ships, carrier and land-based airpower will remain a key component of the U.S. anti-surface strategy.

Missing from this conversation on OASuW capabilities is the USN’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance (MPR) force. The MPR community is recapitalizing with the P-8 Poseidon aircraft. The sensors, datalink capabilities, and expeditionary nature of this aircraft make it a natural choice to augment the lack of anti-surface punch. The P-8 and RQ-4C UAS are envisioned to play targeting roles in long-range ASuW engagements, so arming P-8 with upgraded weapons is a logical next step. The Poseidon can allow the fleet to seize the initiative in anti-surface employment, especially in situations where the threat makes the reality of deploying the CSG forward politically unpalatable or disadvantageous.

The Solution

The P-8 Poseidon is derived from the Boeing 737 aircraft. It features long-range, high transit speed, solid persistence, and will soon incorporate the ability to perform air-to-air refueling. The open architecture mission systems are easily reconfigurable and allow for rapid improvement of sensor and weapon capabilities. The P-8 features a Mobile Tactical Operations Center (MTOC), which aids in processing data collected during and after mission flights. The MTOC is fully expeditionary, allowing an MPR detachment to quickly relocate in peacetime or disperse away from main operating airfields and continue to fight in wartime.

The ability to disperse is especially critical in an A2/AD environment. The proliferation of theater ballistic missiles (TBM’s) and cruise missiles has allowed previously weak nations to hold an opponent’s forward bases at risk. By deploying aircraft to auxiliary fields away from large military installations, adversary commanders are faced with a much more challenging targeting problem. The increased cost of building more TBM’s may be daunting to a particular military, and the uncertainty of being able to destroy forward forces is a stabilizing influence. P-8’s ability to deploy to medium sized airfields and sustain itself during combat operations is a force multiplier.

P-8 will also carry the Raytheon Advanced Aerial Sensor (AAS) to provide standoff detection and targeting of maritime and land targets. Descended from the highly-classified APS-149 Littoral Surveillance Radar System, AAS will provide Poseidon crews with the ability to detect, classify, and provide targeting solutions of threats even in highly congested littoral areas.[vii] In A2/AD environments with highly advanced surface to air missile systems, this ability to accurately detect threats from long-range and provide targeting updates to net-enabled weapons isn’t just beneficial, it’s critical.[viii]A MPR squadron equipped with AAS and appropriate weapons becomes its own self-contained targeting and strike force.

In short, P-8 offers a weapons platform that is uniquely suited to maritime strikes. Its crews are far more familiar with operating in the ASuW role than USAF bomber crews and culturally more pre-disposed to emphasize this mission set. The ability to act as an armed sensor platform allows the Poseidon to close the kill-chain itself. P-8 armed with suitable standoff weapons has the ability to detect and attrite adversary surface ships, preserving the ability for our surface forces to deploy forward in wartime, and decreasing the need for our carriers to surge forward into extremely high-risk areas to eliminate surface threats with the air wing. This provides increased flexibility to the combatant commander.

Needed Changes

The MPR force has the potential to act as a powerful ASuW strike force, however this capability can grow stronger with upgrades and training. P-8 should be equipped with an OASuW capability, ideally allowing it to carry the LRASM rounds that will enter production in FY17. The largest roadblock will not be carriage capability or weapons system engineering, rather finding the funding to provide integration and testing for this weapon onboard P-8.

The P-8 currently carries the Harpoon Block IC, which is insufficient for high-end ASuW. The Block IC is not net-enabled, meaning it cannot receive in-flight updates from targeting platforms via a datalink. This makes the weapon less flexible and precise in congested environments. The aircraft is slated to receive the Harpoon Block II, which is net-enabled, but is still constrained by its short range.[ix] This lack of reach prevents it from engaging high-end air defense warships without putting the P-8 and its crew at serious risk.

It is best to utilize the synergy that exists in MPR squadrons and equip these aircraft with both the sensors and the weapons required for standoff targeting and strike. Since AAS equipped P-8’s may be required to provide targeting support to OASuW in a complex surface environment, equipping the targeting aircraft with weapons is the logical next step to close the kill chain. Once P-8 is equipped with LRASM, crews must be required to train frequently with AAS equipped targeting aircraft and LRASM equipped shooter aircraft against representative threat pictures. Maritime targeting is a very dynamic and challenging game, and requires practice to execute properly.[x]


Equipping the MPR force with a long-range strike capability will capitalize on existing sensors, platforms, and aircrew skills. The ability to call on an existing force structure with incremental upgrades provides a solution to a glaring deficiency in the Navy’s ASuW capabilities. The ability to task highly mobile aircraft rather than SSN’s or carriers to provide ASuW firepower provides a commander with increased options and flexibility. This can reduce risk while raising the enemy’s uncertainty about U.S. operational intentions.

American patrol crews gained fame during World War II for their nighttime raids on Japanese shipping. Operating alone and independent of the carrier they provided a critical force to weaken enemy logistics capability and to disrupt sea lines of control. It is fitting that almost three quarters of a century later we consider the role of our current MPR force. The P-8 can add to our ASuW capability if we make the decision now to properly equip it and provide training to aircrews.

Lieutenant Michael Glynn is an active-duty naval aviator and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He most recently served as a P-8 instructor pilot and mission commander with Patrol Squadron (VP) 16. He currently serves as an instructor flying the T-45 with the ‘Fighting Redhawks’ of Training Squadron (VT) 21. The views expressed in this article are entirely his own.

[i] Robert Crumplar and Peter Morrison, “Beware the Anti-Ship Cruise Missile,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 140, no. 1 (January 2014), http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2014-01/beware-antiship-cruise-missile.

[ii] Bryan Clark, Commanding the Seas: A Plan to Reinvigorate U.S. Navy Surface Warfare, (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2014), http://www.csbaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/A-Plan-To-Reinvigorate-US-Navy-Surface-Warfare.pdf.

[iii] Charlie Williams, “Increasing Lethality in Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW),” Center for International Maritime Security, May 31, 2014,http://cimsec.org/increasing-lethality-anti-surface-warfare-asuw-minor-less-minor-course-corrections/11478.

[iv] “LRASM Missiles: Reaching for a Long-Range Punch,” Defense Industry Daily, October 15, 2014, http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/lrasm-missiles-reaching-for-a-long-reach-punch-06752/.

[v] Congressional Research Service, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities – Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke, (Washington, D.C., 2014), 34.

[vi] LRASM Missiles, Defense Industry Daily.

[vii] Bill Sweetman, “Navy Moves Forward On Advanced Airborne Radar,” Aviation Week, June 18, 2012, http://aviationweek.com/awin/navy-moves-forward-advanced-airborne-radar.

[viii] Bill Sweetman, Christina Mackenzie, and Andy Nativi, “Net Enabled Weapons Drive Sea Warfare Change,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, September 3, 2012, http://aviationweek.com/awin/net-enabled-weapons-drive-sea-warfare-change.

[ix] Richard R. Burgess, “A ‘Year of Transition’ for the P-8A Poseidon,”Seapower, April 9, 2013, http://seapowermagazine.org/sas/stories/20130409-p-8a.html.

[x] Maksim Y. Tokarev, “Kamikazes: The Soviet Legacy,” Naval War College Review, vol. 67, no. 1, (Winter 2014), 61-84. It should be noted that Soviet Tu-95RT “Bear-D” reconnaissance and targeting aircraft were equipped with Uspekh-1 “Big Bulge” maritime search and targeting radar. This system did not feature Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) capabilities for standoff imaging and identification. The P-8 AAS system and APY-10 search radar both feature ISAR capabilities, simplifying long-range identification challenges. Modern employment scenarios would find ISR aircraft much better able to identify a contact once it had been located and would not be as chaotic as the Soviet experience that Tokarev describes. Maritime targeting still remains an arena that is inherently dynamic and therefore requires proper training to execute reliably and efficiently.

* Article publicat al CIMSEC. Recomanem una lectura reflexiva d'aquest article per la importància que poden tenir els P-8 en la funció ASuW. En un moment en que la major part dels destructors i creuers de la Navy estan lligats a tasques de protecció d'unitats d'alt valor estratègic, els P-8 podrien complementar el buit que queda en operacions contra unitats de superfície. No obstant, mentre se'n analitzin les possibilitats i s'incorporin a l'entrenament i a la doctrina de la US Navy, no podem esperar que aquesta tecnologia per si sola sigui una veritable solució.

dijous, 18 de desembre de 2014

Cuba shift to buoy maritime sector*

US President Barack Obama's landmark decision to begin normalising relations with Cuba has major implications for the cruise, ferry, cargo vessel and port sectors.

In a special address on 17 December, Obama announced "historic steps to chart a new course" with Cuba, conceding that "decades of US isolation of Cuba have failed".

The ban on most US travel to Cuba remains in place, yet the new policy will grant general licenses to travellers in the 12 allowable categories under current law. This represents the first step in the process of facilitating "an expansion of travel to Cuba".

Import and export restrictions will be eased. US exports to Cuba will be opened up for "certain building materials, goods used by private-sector Cuban entrepreneurs and agricultural equipment for small farmers".

The ban on calls at US ports by vessels that have visited Cuba within the prior six months is also being eased. The new policy will "allow foreign vessels to enter the US after engaging in certain humanitarian trade with Cuba".

As previously reported by IHS Maritime, an end to the embargo would create numerous opportunities for the maritime community. For vessel operators, these include new cruise routes calling in Cuba and cruise ships being used as 'floating hotels'; new ferry services from South Florida; an increased market for US agricultural exports and other US goods; and new demand for building supply cargoes and project cargoes.

UBS analyst Robin Farley addressed the cruise potential in a new research note. "Cuba would represent a new itinerary with significant pent-up demand from American tourists and a lack of developed hotel infrastructure," she explained. "While Havana may not currently handle the largest ships, we believe operators would make the investment to build dockside infrastructure."

Development of new cruise terminals would not be the only potential effect for the port sector. Cuba has long been considered as the potential site of a major transhipment hub for container trades, assuming the embargo is ended. Already, PSA has made inroads in the Cuban port sector via its operation of the new terminal in Mariel.

* Notícia publicada al web d'IHS Maritime. Compartim aquestes primeres reflexions de l'impacte del restabliment de relacions entre els Estats Units i Cuba.

dissabte, 13 de desembre de 2014

Silent running: How do you navalise a variable speed drive for a modern warship?*

The Royal Navy's latest large procurement project, the Type 26 anti-submarine frigate, is proceeding well with many of the prime contractors being announced. One of the most fundamental is its propulsion system that has been awarded to General Electric's Power Conversion's naval business.

There are many challenges in providing propulsion on modern marine vessels, not least is one that fundamentally comes under the ambit of being a warship. The Type 26's primary role is searching for submarines, as well as a secondary role as a general support and humanitarian vessel. It means any propulsion system has to offer speed and efficiency, as well as near total silence – though not all at the same time. 

The Type 26 is slightly larger than the Type 23 Frigate it is replacing, with a basic displacement of around 6500 tonnes. It is also slightly longer at 150m, and due to its varied multi-mission role the range of the Type 26 was one of the key drivers during its design, some 7000 nautical miles. 

For this reason the ship uses a fairly well known 'hybrid' configuration in the marine industry known as combined diesel electric or gas (CODLOG). The reality for the Type 26 is that it will use a single large gas turbine that will directly drive both the ship's shaft lines via a splitting gearbox, in combination with four diesel generators. These will produce electricity and in turn power General Electric motors to drive the ships propellers at lower speeds and for near silent operation. 

"When we are running in stealth mode the propellers do not run on batteries," said Paul English, marine business leader for GE Power Conversion. "The diesel generators keep running and produce the power to the propellers and the rest of the ship. So the noise of these engines is isolated by putting them on acoustic mounts and in an acoustic enclosure to reduce the airborne noise." 

The gas turbines and the diesel generators will both use the same single onboard fuel – the NATO designated Dieso. While still broadly considered a distillate light fuel, it is slightly heavier than the diesel most of us are used to at service station pumps. However, it also has a much higher flash point, an obvious advantage for a ship likely to see combat during its service life. 

For higher speeds, the ship uses the gas turbine. "In this mode the gas turbine drives through a splitting gearbox, and then into a second reduction gearbox, which then drives the shafts and propeller." 

However, a gas turbine whirring away might well be an efficient and effective way of producing power and shifting the Type 26 to its top speed in excess of 28knots (32mph / 52kph), but when it needs to remain quiet and locate enemy submarines, its diesel generators kick in to enable near silent running. One of the key technologies enabling this propulsion system is its use of Variable Speed Drive (VSD) technology. 

"When the ship is operating quietly the gas turbine and subsequent gearboxes shut down so to eliminate all the mechanical noise from those pieces of equipment," said English. "The propellers are then turned by the ultra-quiet GE propulsion motors, using electricity produced by up to four diesel generators. The motors receive their electricity from a combination of VSDs. A VSD is basically a frequency converter that controls the frequency it sends to the propulsion motor. We need to do this since the diesel generators run at a constant 'mains' frequency (60Hz), which is fine for the normal equipment on the ship - like the pumps, as their electric motors only need to work at one speed. But, to control the speed of the ship through the water we need to be able to vary the shaft speed, so we obviously need to be able to change the frequency we give to the propulsion motor. 

"There are all sorts of ways of doing that, the Type 23 that this is replacing does it by using direct DC voltage to give us variable speed control, but the modern way of doing it is to modify the fixed AC supply waveform to one of a different frequency for the motor, via an initial conversion to a direct current. This is done by a technique called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). We're already well in to the design phase for the motors and converters, with the motors being designed at the moment and the VSD technology being based on commercial equipment." 

The VSDs are controlled by computer to create variable frequencies that enable the speed control of the propeller. 

"The greater the frequency out, the faster the motor will go," said English. "Conversely the lower the frequency the slower the motor will go. 

"It is based on our standard MV3000 range of marinised drives. We produce hundreds of these for use in commercial shipping and the core electronics are the same, but we have to navalise it." 

Given the nature of the Type 26's primary role as an anti-submarine vessel, the drives have to ensure that the electrical waveform produced has very little noise and distortion, as any distorted waves going in to the motor will cause vibration and radiate noise in to the water. 

This is achieved using a variety of technologies, including filtering techniques and the use of special PWM strategies to smooth the input to the motor ultimately turning the ships' propellers. 

"The idea is it has to be very quiet as it is an anti-submarine frigate," said English. "So we put in a huge effort to reduce radiated noise from the ship to enable it to operate very effectively in that environment. 

"And like much of the ship's components, generally, the VSDs need to be made more robust and shock hardened. If a ship suffers an explosion, for example, the VSDs need to be designed to survive. We do that by optimising their design using advanced dynamic computer modelling as well as simple techniques like putting it on specific mounts and surrounding it in a strong frame." 

Fundamental to a low noise signature is the design of the motor. The motors, currently under design and development, must be carefully engineered to ensure that they generate a minimum of harmonics and to ensure the maximum of attenuation in the noise conduction paths. This work requires a great deal of computer modelling and the application of many years of data gathered from a large number of different noise quiet motor designs. There are very few companies in the world that have this capability and no other company has supplied more noise quiet, shock proof motors to the surface fleets of western Navies than GE. 

Technology Transfer 
By integrating gas turbines with an enhanced electric propulsion system, the Type 26 will be more efficient and have reduced fuel consumption compared to its predecessor as it is able to configure its electric propulsion system for a wider range of operational demands and over a wider speed range. The integration engineering to deliver a package that works, rather than just a collection of equipment, is key to this and integration is an area where GE Power Conversion has strength in depth; not just in the Naval arena but also in the wide range of commercial electric propulsion packages it produces. 

And this sits well with General Electric's larger marine business. As the International Maritime Organization increasingly look to introduce guidelines around ship efficiency and in particular with CO2 legislation becoming an increasing possibility in many regions, the integration of both gas turbine and electric propulsion technology, in a hybrid arrangement is likely to become much more prevalent in the civil marine industry. 

Justin Cunningham

* Notícia publicada a Eureka Magazine. Article que interessarà a totes aquelles persones familiaritzades amb la guerra anti-submarina (ASW). Sovint pensem més en els sistemes d'armes i sensors que no pas en la propulsió. Quan es tracta de caçar submarins, mantenir el sigil és cabdal ja que una tripulació mínimament ben entrenada procurarà determinar la posició de les unitats d'escorta abans d'iniciar qualsevol maniobra d'aproximació a un grup de superfície. Si el submarí no pot obtenir "marcacions" de sonar prou consistens, s'haurà d'arriscar a aproxinar-se a la superfície... De ben segur que les Type 26 donaran sorpreses.

dijous, 11 de desembre de 2014

PLA's new Type 1130 CIWS can intercept Mach 4 missiles*

Russian media has reported that China's latest indigenous Type 1130 close-in weapon system can fire 10,000 rounds per minute and destroy 90% of hypersonic missiles traveling at a speed four times the speed of sound, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

The system, which is the third-generation of the close-in weapon system developed by China, was recently spotted being installed on a PLA Type 054A frigate.

Compared to its seven-barreled Type 730 predecessor, the Type 1130's Gatling-type gun has the same 30 mm caliber but the number of barrels increased to 11. While the Type 730 has only one magazine which contains 250 rounds, the latest gun carries two magazines each containing 640 rounds. The design allows the gun to fire over 10,000 rounds per minute and raise its hit rate against missiles traveling at Mach 4 to 90%, according to the Russian media outlet cited.

Though the mammoth rotary cannon has been placed on a Type 054A frigate that only has around a 4,000-ton displacement, the Russian media claimed the system should be deployed on ships with a displacement over 12,000 tons due to its size and weight as well as the amount of electricity it consumes.

The system has been installed on both sides of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. The Russian media predicted that the system will be deployed on the country's latest guided missile destroyer, the Type 055, in the future.

The Type 1103 will not completely replace the Type 730. Destroyers such as the Types 052, 052B, 052C, 052D and 051C will continue using the latter.

* Notícia publicada a Want China Times. La millora dels sistemes de defensa de punt és quelcom imprescindible. Amb la proliferació de míssils súper o hipersònics, el temps és clau, i no convé refiar-se dels SAM per la destrucció dels ASCM a llarga distància. De fet, no cal que siguin molt ràpids per provocar sorpreses desagradables si passen inadvertits al radar. D'aquí la importància de solucions d'últim recurs.

divendres, 5 de desembre de 2014

Coast Guard Admiral: LCS ‘an Incredible Ship’ for Drug Interdiction*

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard’s deputy commandant for operations has high praise for the littoral combat ship (LCS) as a platform for intercepting drug-running boats.

“What an incredible ship … tailor-made for that mission set,” said VADM Charles D. Michel, speaking of the LCS Dec. 4 to an audience at the Defense Forum, an event sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute.

The LCS has performed drug interdiction operations in the Caribbean Sea area in support of Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South (JIATF-South), the drug-interdiction headquarters in Key West, Fla. The LCSs supported the task force during transits to their new homeport, San Diego, by way of the Panama Canal.

The high speed of the LCS plus its helicopter capability and now Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle capability make it suitable for running down the go-fast boats favored by drug runners.

Michel, a previous director of JIATF-South, said that a shortage of surface vessels was the main challenge in the drug interdiction effort in the Caribbean area. The over-tasked Coast Guard cutters have been augmented for decades by the Navy’s Perry-class frigates, but they are being retired at a rapid rate, with the last ones scheduled for decommissioning in fiscal 2015.

Navy RADM Kevin M. Donegan, acting deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, also speaking at the forum, said the Navy is looking realistically at other platforms for drug interdiction as the frigates are decommissioned, including joint high-speed vessels, coastal patrol ships and other platforms.

“The high-end assets are not going to get placed down there, given the other things that are going on in the world,” Donegan said, speaking of the cruisers and destroyers in high demand for other missions. “There is not an easy answer and there is not going to be an instantaneous fix for that issue.”

The Navy plans to base 10 Freedom-class LCSs at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., some of which could succeed the frigates in the drug interdiction role.

“When times get tough on ships down there, we just get more innovative,” Michel said, naming combatting smuggling networks as the main line of effort.

“It’s all about network identification and attack strategy,” he said. “It’s all about using whole-of-government intelligence to make the assets that we have down there as smart as possible. My goal when I was JIATF-South director was that every turn of a propeller on a ship or a plane down there should be done with specific intent.

“We still do some patrolling in the areas but [we’ve] got to really get inside those networks,” he said, “and there some very sophisticated ways that we do it, working with the intelligence community partners as well as our law enforcement partners. Probably 95 percent of the products removed down there are based on intelligence and different intelligence techniques.

“Last year, JIATF-South facilitated upwards of 100 metric tons of cocaine that was removed off the water before it could get into Central America or into cities in the United States,” he said.

Michel said that 60 percent of the cocaine “removed from planet Earth” was intercepted by the Coast Guard and Navy ships.

* Notícia publicada a Sea Power. Més enllà de la part de propaganda institucional, és bó veure que els LCS encaixin en algun tipus de missió. Si el Departament de Marina dels Estats Units aconsegueix allunyar les grapes dels contractistes de defensa, amb la seva afició a incrementar preus injustificadament, els LCS poden tenir un bon futur.