2009/02/15

An old "Navy of the future" fantasy of mine

.
I had an idea for future naval fleets in the 90's, back when I was still a fan of high-tech.

It looked a lot like the stealth ship and network-centric-warfare stuff that I criticize sometimes. Maybe it's still interesting to you, as some elements of it aren't so distant from current naval technology trends.

The main offensive element of the fleet idea were small aircraft carriers, with small radar & acoustic signature and each about 20-40 aircraft. It would probably look much like an enlarged Sea Shadow, just with a flight deck (and ramp).
The aircraft would either be a combat aircraft type (like F-35) or a support aircraft type (like CSA, but stealthy) - no mix to minimize the ground crew and tool requirements. This CVL would be very stealthy (in radar and acoustics), having even a partial roof over the flight deck. Both aircraft need to be low-observable in the radar spectrum in order to not compromise the CVLs during take-off and landing.

The combat aircraft were meant as the mainstay of offensive anti-ship, offensive anti-air and land attack capability in the fleet.
The support aircraft were meant as support for the combat aircraft and as primary sensor platform for surface and air objects.

The other main element were conventional submarines, which would be much of the time at snorkel depth to participate in the radio data-link network. They would form an all-round screen around the surface ships.
The designation might be SSGK (submarine hunter-killer, guided missile). These submarines were meant to be the mainstay of anti-submarine, defensive anti-ship and defensive anti-air combat.
The latter mission would require many vertical launch silos for a launch of anti-air missiles (at snorkel depth).
This would be possible using the target information of the support aircraft AEW version and the new generation of missiles with imaging infrared or active radar seeker (like Aster). Such a combination would usually not need the large surface ship search&track radars and illumination radars as we know them. The snorkels would not compromise the submarine because of many thousands of tiny decoys on the water surface and because of usually safe distances to enemy airborne radars.
The desired effect of these SSGK was the addition of a lot of depth for air defense in addition to normal SSK missions.

The third combat ship type would be surface ships - multi-role frigates (FFG) as we know them. These frigates would merely be back-ups to aircraft and submarines, and focus on defensive anti-ship, anti-air and anti-submarine missions. These ships would also add some helicopters into the mix, with a monopoly on search & rescue (SAR) and liaison missions. Furthermore, they could deploy underwater drones, mostly against mines. They would hide most of the time (no radar/active sonar emissions, minimum radio comm), using radar and acoustic stealth.

The final element would be many small boats (launched and recovered by CVL and FFG). My inspiration for these were the remotely-operated boats of German minesweepers of the TROIKA Plus system.
These small boats would act as magnetic/acoustic/radar/infrared decoys, jam missiles, launch decoys and use close-in weapon systems to add depth to the anti-missile defense with CIWS.

I also wanted to cramp some object identification drones somewhere, but I don't remember whether I thought of the FFG (for surface drones) or of the CVL (for aerial drones) as motherships. Such a stand-off defense concept requires some forward-deployed imaging sensors for object identification. We don't want to mistake an airliner for a combat aircraft or friendly aircraft for OPFOR aircraft!

Dedicated land-attack ships (akin to Arsenal Ship or Striker), stealthy supply/other support ships and finally amphibious warfare ships (LSD- or LST-category for a battalion, with a little helicopter capability) would be added if necessary. LSDs (landing ship dock) are also great motherships for mine counter warfare purposes.


I distrust such technophile concepts today, and even more so do I distrust concepts that require many swarming drones or boats with radio comm dependency. It would be possible to use a moving barrage of expendable, rocket-launched jammers to defeat such swarms and to close in for the destruction of the motherships.

I consider sea-based air power as almost entirely irrelevant for Europe's defence anyway. Europe needs not much more than coastal defence capabilities for its naval defence. Some sea control capability to secure the sea lanes with an intercepting line of defence in addition to merchantmen-turned-escorts-with-containers and an offensive campaign against opposing harbors (and their vicinity) would be enough.

Well, maybe such a high-tech future fleet like I imagined it in the 90's would be useful in the interception role.

The most interesting part (I'm still a fan of this particular component and the CSA) is in my opinion the decoy boat. A swarm of such boats would add great depth to close-in defenses, deception and jamming for fleet protection - and could be carried by relatively normal warships if small enough. Larger versions would still be easily deployable by LSDs/LSTs.

Sven Ortmann

4 comments:

  1. Interesting, I also developed ideas about fleets because I've been thinking aboiut joining one. We arrived at pretty similar conclusions. The points on which we differ are the carriers and Europe's naval requirements.

    Considering carriers, I favour a design that can operate as aircraft carrier as well as commando carrier and I'd add arsenal carrier as another mission type package. Our fleets are small, so we have to produce multi-purpose ships in numbers with mission specific packages. The suggested size for my carrier would be in between Mistral and Charles the Gaulle, 30kt-45kt, with a mix of manned aircrafts and supporting light, simple and rugged UAVs that can outmaneuver(high-g capable) and imitate manned aircrafts that in turn concentrate the electronic warfare and complex reconaissance capabilities. The UAVs consist of fighters and ground attack crafts according to the fighter mafia concepts.

    While Europe has the Mediterranean pretty much under control, we depend on the cross Atlantic and Indian Ocean trade for supply as well as the booming region of the Pacific that is and will be the central region of naval powerplay (and not a European playing field). A new route under Russian control will be the North-East passage, but because of the clear Russian control Europe can opr can't use it, but can't take it.
    So Europeans need a force of aircraft-, commando- and arsenal carriers to press their interests from the sea in case someone threatens our SLC. That certainly includes small scale surprise attacks on land, especially against shore based installations.
    Europe needs sea-control capability and would be well off cooperating in the development of the required ships. Europe doesn't need large scale invasion capability from the sea because, once destroyed, any opponent will need significant time to go naval again. You can't win any occupation without the support or elimination of the occupied (and they will certainly strongly object to the last, making it impossible except you are the Mongol horde). So whatever our qualms with nations and their people living on land, we need a political solution and too much arms obstruct the sight for the achieveable.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've broken my arm and read too much pdf and blogs, especially this one.
    I first posted this elsewhere and realized that it's very much indebted to your blog. After some more modifications I started a own small blog because it turned out too long for a comment.
    http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=7212316819960768598#allposts/postNum=0
    The link is meant as a hommage due to the many ideas and much information derived from the posts here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your blog doesn't appear to be public.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sorry, wrong link

    http://lakatos-inspired-visions.blogspot.de/2012/06/ive-broken-my-arm-and-read-too-muchpdf.html

    ReplyDelete

Use a nickname and stick to it! I may block anonymous comments. Offensive comments may also be blocked, in part due to the duties of a blogger in Germany.