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GiledPallaeon

Mahanian Diatribe, Now with the Long-Promised Soviet Sequel

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Thanks @GiledPallaeon; I must apologise in advance for my inability to devote sufficient time to provide an equally exhaustive response.

As you rightly point out, improvement in UCAVs are unlikely to fundamentally alter the nature of CVs, which may become better at their current mission but will not gain any new operational capabilities. However, my point was that the same does not hold true at all for smaller ships. In the short term, STOBAR platforms just got good. And as you get smaller, things get even better: simply compare the potential impact of fixed-wing UCAVs on a Mistral's mission versus, say, that of a Juan Carlos (or any American-type AAS for that matter). In the medium term, ship types which could never hope to launch and recover even STOVLs will be perfectly able to operate UCAVs of various sizes (and payloads). Indeed, that's precisely the purpose of Tern.

But again, this hinges almost entirely on the matter of airspace dominance. Being able to launch and recover strike or CAS aircraft from small, cheap-to-operate platforms doesn't help if they get shot down by enemy fighters the minute they enter the area of operations. And that is the role in which I think CVs will be hardest to replace.

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3 hours ago, DiabloAzul said:

Thanks @GiledPallaeon; I must apologise in advance for my inability to devote sufficient time to provide an equally exhaustive response.

As you rightly point out, improvement in UCAVs are unlikely to fundamentally alter the nature of CVs, which may become better at their current mission but will not gain any new operational capabilities. However, my point was that the same does not hold true at all for smaller ships. In the short term, STOBAR platforms just got good. And as you get smaller, things get even better: simply compare the potential impact of fixed-wing UCAVs on a Mistral's mission versus, say, that of a Juan Carlos (or any American-type AAS for that matter). In the medium term, ship types which could never hope to launch and recover even STOVLs will be perfectly able to operate UCAVs of various sizes (and payloads). Indeed, that's precisely the purpose of Tern.

But again, this hinges almost entirely on the matter of airspace dominance. Being able to launch and recover strike or CAS aircraft from small, cheap-to-operate platforms doesn't help if they get shot down by enemy fighters the minute they enter the area of operations. And that is the role in which I think CVs will be hardest to replace.

You're talking about along the lines of the "gator carriers" the US Marines have proposed using our newest amphibious assault ships for, in concert with F-35Bs. It's certainly an idea worth consideration. It allows access to CV-style capability to smaller countries who can now field smaller ships. That will be an interesting development, especially in East Asia where there is a lot of pressure right now to maximize military power. I wouldn't be shocked to find out that was a secret consideration of the JMSDF's Izumo class helicopter cruisers. (They can call them destroyers all they want, I'm not restricted like they are.) I agree that they will pale before real CVs, but it will be fascinating to observe coming forward. I just submitted a proposal to the US' Office of Naval Research to use ISR UAVs to resurrect the battlecruiser type, leveraging the newfound information capabilities.

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Kind of, though the America-class AAS are still huge and prohibitive for most countries' navies. And they can already fly F-35Bs - as can the considerably smaller Juan Carlos and Canberra.

But if you look at the (smaller still) Mistrals and the San Giorgios and indeed the Izumos, these are ships with a much narrower mission profile right now, which would be massively expanded if they could operate MALE UCAVs. And I fully expect drone tech advancements to allow launch and recovery of such aircraft, out of current helicopter platforms, within 10 years.

The open question is whether small(ish) UCAVs, in limited numbers, could make a meaningful contribution to air superiority. Only when that happens will CVs become obsolete.

Edited by DiabloAzul

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29 minutes ago, DiabloAzul said:

Kind of, though the America-class AAS are still huge and prohibitive for most countries' navies. And they can already fly F-35Bs - as can the considerably smaller Juan Carlos and Canberra.

But if you look at the (smaller still) Mistrals and the San Giorgios and indeed the Izumos, these are ships with a much narrower mission profile right now, which would be massively expanded if they could operate MALE UCAVs. And I fully expect drone tech advancements to allow launch and recovery of such aircraft, out of current helicopter platforms, within 10 years.

The open question is whether small(ish) UCAVs, in limited numbers, could make a meaningful contribution to air superiority. Only when that happens will CVs become obsolete.

I highly doubt that (your final point) will ever be the case generally. (In certain tactical scenarios probably, but generally not.) Even as lethality improves, and I think it's a given that it will, a true CV will have the deeper reserves of aircraft that take the sustained losses.

Now, I think your 10 year estimate is about right for existence, if not necessarily widespread adoption. Critical for the US is figuring out how to maintain technological superiority on top of material/numerical superiority it leaves us with, which is completely counter to existing doctrine. 

Edited by GiledPallaeon

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2 hours ago, GiledPallaeon said:

I just submitted a proposal to the US' Office of Naval Research to use ISR UAVs to resurrect the battlecruiser type, leveraging the newfound information capabilities.

Pardon me for asking - perhaps you have stated this before - but what is your occupation? Can anyone submit proposals to the USONR (yay, I can use acronyms too!), or must you have a specific position? Furthermore, would you have any expectation of their actually considering your proposal if you were 'just some guy'? What job suggests things to that Office and expects them to be seriously considered?

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1 hour ago, GhostofNobodyInParticular said:

Pardon me for asking - perhaps you have stated this before - but what is your occupation? Can anyone submit proposals to the USONR (yay, I can use acronyms too!), or must you have a specific position? Furthermore, would you have any expectation of their actually considering your proposal if you were 'just some guy'? What job suggests things to that Office and expects them to be seriously considered?

I'm an engineering student, mechanical engineering to be specific, at the North Avenue Trade School. My proposal to ONR is taking a somewhat unconventional route. I'm attending the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo in Washington, D.C. next month, presenting a poster actually. I threw the battlecruiser concept to ONR's Concept Challenge. That closed for submissions today. Basically they'll review it and if they think it's worth their time they'll follow up with me at the Expo. I'm definitely just some kid, but I'd like to think my age and the quality of my ideas are independent to a certain degree. I don't actually expect a follow up but for the effort required (5000 characters) it was worth the shot. 

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7 hours ago, GiledPallaeon said:

I'm an engineering student, mechanical engineering to be specific, at the North Avenue Trade School. My proposal to ONR is taking a somewhat unconventional route. I'm attending the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo in Washington, D.C. next month, presenting a poster actually. I threw the battlecruiser concept to ONR's Concept Challenge. That closed for submissions today. Basically they'll review it and if they think it's worth their time they'll follow up with me at the Expo. I'm definitely just some kid, but I'd like to think my age and the quality of my ideas are independent to a certain degree. I don't actually expect a follow up but for the effort required (5000 characters) it was worth the shot. 

Ah yes, I remember now, you told me a while back on Discord! My apologies for forgetting.

I see, interesting. Well, good luck with your presentation and idea!

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@BiggsIRL, I have not forgotten your Falklands request, I'm sorry. It's next in line.

Given the events of the last few weeks, this is an older essay I wrote with a friend of mine as an editorial that was dusted off and updated to reflect some of the newest information regarding the DPRK, better known as North Korea. It does not include anything reflecting this week, specifically the unusually charged rhetoric and posturing of the last few days. It is something of a general primer on nculear warfighitng theory as it exists today, and some small tidbits about where the DPRK fits in. I welcome anyone's feedback on the essay.

https://giledpallaeon.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/missile-shields-and-the-dprk-or-the-missile-defense-agency-cant-save-us-from-pyongyang/

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I don't think I brought it up in that post or previously, but I always think about nuclear balance in terms of derivatives. In my study of the back half of the 20th century, the primary crisis points were not dictated by the balance of power, but the rapid change of the balance of power, in other words a large derivative. (Strictly speaking, if you plot a group of powers as a series of points, you're looking at the second derivative. First derivative is the angle of the balance, which is generally irrelevant strategically, though very relevant for domestic politics; second derivative is the change in the balance, which causes international crises.) For example, the Cuban Missile Crisis represented a huge shift in the balance of power; American Jupiter missiles had arrived in Turkey, and the Soviets were attempting to install their own IRBMs (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles) in Cuba. As I mentioned about SLBMs in the above article, shorter range missiles have lower flight paths, making them harder to detect and giving less time to detect overall, allowing possible decapitating strikes. The same applies to NATO's Able Archer exercise in 1983. The conventional balance of power was fairly stable, even as it grossly favored the Warsaw Pact. However, the possibility of NATO deception and a nuclear first strike shocked the Soviets into believing the balance had shifted, thus the crisis.

This is the root of the crises surrounding Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs. Setting aside the strategic concerns about additional nuclear powers in unstable regions (glances at Qatari crisis), the development of those weapons represents a fundamental change in the regional balance of power and an additional set of nuclear deterrent effects that may or may not act as checks on aggression in those regions. (It's a check on the GCC and Israel in the Iranian case, I'm not sure about Tehran itself; I personally agree with the Brookings Institution that the DPRK arsenal is basically only bad.) Given that the American president is currently having something of a messaging problem and seems to be willing to meet DPRK threats and belligerence with unwise words of his own, time will tell what will happen next. (Hopefully not that quadruple near-miss on Guam KCNA talked about today.)

 

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Wow. That's a lot of very good reading that I somehow missed.

I do have several questions about this, however I'll start with the one that did surprise me

On 6/23/2017 at 0:43 AM, GiledPallaeon said:

There is however one other reason the Soviets sought to sink them that most Americans (myself included) would not agree with: the Soviets believed American carriers to be the greatest threat to the SSBN bastions available to NATO. More generally, they held that the greatest threat to a submarine is an aircraft, which leads the discerning soul to question why the Nimitz was a greater threat than say HMS Invincible, a ship more likely to be carrying more anti-submarine aircraft, particularly the helicopters that haunt the nightmares of submariners.

I think this is the first time I heard about this (however I'm only a self-taught amateur). I always thought that as far as nuclear triad was concerned, Soviet Union was relying on the land component as the main force (as opposed to US reliance on SSBNs) and the obsession with killing carriers was not about a threat to SSBNs, but about the threat to the ability to disrupt sea-based NATO supply chain in the case of a war in Europe as well as a threat of using carriers  to launch a  nuclear strike (with a short flight time to targets/short reaction time).

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, PT106 said:

Wow. That's a lot of very good reading that I somehow missed.

I do have several questions about this, however I'll start with the one that did surprise me

I think this is the first time I heard about this (however I'm only a self-taught amateur). I always thought that as far as nuclear triad was concerned, Soviet Union was relying on the land component as the main force (as opposed to US reliance on SSBNs) and the obsession with killing carriers was not about a threat to SSBNs, but about the threat to the ability to disrupt sea-based NATO supply chain in the case of a war in Europe as well as a threat of using carriers  to launch a  nuclear strike (with a short flight time to targets/short reaction time).

So, short answer is we're both right. For the nuclear forces as a whole, the land arm was/is the primary arm for both the USSR and the modern Russian Federation. However, much of the naval doctrine supported that nuclear reliance. Thus the defensive bastions around the SSBN ports later once the missiles had sufficient reach. I think of the bastions as the seaborne version of the emphasis on road- and rail-mobile missiles. You can't kill what you can't find, whether you're hiding in Siberia or getting shot at by a Slava.

Regarding carrier-killing, frankly they were and are such an American lynchpin that in order to accomplish much of anything they had to be destroyed. When NATO was on the back foot, they would have defended the sea lanes and kept them open. Were NATO to go on the attack, they were the over-arching threat, given the lack of real offensive oriented surface forces. Each carrier sunk would have given the VMF significantly more operational freedom of maneuver to do frankly anything. I have no doubt that there were plans to use the Kiev and Kuznetsov class ships as shields for offensive cruiser sorties, but those ships in and of themselves are a fundamentally reactionary force, whereas an American supercarrier is more capable of sustained active initiative. Does that answer your questions? I'm more than happy to discuss this with anyone else, I wouldn't call myself anything other than a self-taught amateur either.

Edited by GiledPallaeon

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