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DDG(X) Unveiled - What Can We Learn?

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Our First Look at the United States Navy's DDG(X) concept The first public concepts for the United States Navy's DDG(X) program have been unveiled, and they reveal quite a lot about the Navy's thinking on this critical program as well as the future of ship design and fleet architecture. Overall, the concept (the images are quite clearly not a final or even preliminary design) has a lot of potential and could shape up to be an excellent successor to the current fleet, but it remains to be seen whether that potential will actually materialize. In many ways the DDG(X) concept attempts to straddle a fine line, paving the way for the introduction of revolutionary new systems while simultaneously appearing extremely conservative and evolutionary. It is understandable why the Navy chose this approach, but it there is no guarantee the gamble will pay off. The State of the Surface Fleet Before diving into the details of the DDG(X) concept, we should take a moment to consider where

But What About Logistics? USN Surface Combatant Ranges (1939-2021)

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There is a cliched saying that, "Amateurs study tactics while professionals study logistics." But as there is growing interest and debate about the future of naval warfare between great powers, the influence of logistics appears to have been relegated to an afterthought. The world has not seen a full-scale naval war for almost 80 years, and technology has changed dramatically since then. In fact, technology continues changing at a breakneck pace, and numerous game-changers currently wait in the wings, ready to take their position on center stage. But as we ponder the ramifications of hypersonics, lasers, railguns, cyberwar, space-based weapons, and the whole gamut of unmanned systems, we need to remember that no amount of future weapons will eliminate the need for logistics. For the USN, logistics is a particularly critical need given America's chosen strategy of operating forward and challenging the enemy in their own backyard. However, as the number of speeches, reports

World Navies of 2021

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HMS Spey , the latest addition to the Royal Navy. While often underappreciated, offeshore patrol vessels like her are critical to projecting naval power at home and around the world. World Navies in the New Year For a much-delayed first post of the new year, we have the official Influence of History  2021 World Navy Rankings. As always, this ranking system attempts to provide an overview of the relative naval power of the world's nations by listing their naval inventories and providing a somewhat relative points value. Because of the contentious nature of warship classification, I have resorted to my own fairly simplistic, but universal, system that classifies ships based on size and type. Points are determined based on the number and type of ships. While my system does attempt to capture total national naval power by including coast guard ships and other government vessels, it does not count coastal craft outside of missile boats and minesweepers. The points system has remained fa

World Aircraft Carriers (1951 - 2020)

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All non-US carriers operating fixed-wing aircraft (click to enlarge) The aircraft carrier has been the ultimate expression of naval power since World War II. Able to engage air, surface, and subsurface targets from hundreds of miles away, the carrier is a highly versatile class of warship and even a small number of carriers can turn the tide of an entire war. However, these ships (and the aircraft that they carry) are extremely expensive and only a handful of navies have ever operated them. Since the end of World War II, only 14 nations have operated a carrier with fixed-wing aircraft and no more than 9 nations have done so simultaneously. The above chart covers all non-US aircraft carriers operating fixed-wing aircraft from 1951-2020. I have not only excluded helicopter carriers, but also attempted to avoid counting commissioned ships that did not have available aircraft (for instance, I did not count the Soviet Kiev -class ships after 1991, when their Yak-38 fighters were phased out)

Missile Loadouts: Project 61 "Kashin" (1962-2020)

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After the end of World War II, it was discovered that the pre-war types of naval ships were largely obsolete and did not reflect the new reality of warfare. Experiments eventually led to a new breed of large multirole missile ships in the 1950’s. Among United States and her allies these ships were known as “frigates” or “DLG’s,” but in the Soviet Union they were dubbed “large antisubmarine ships” (большие противолодочные корабли). The first of these large antisubmarine ships was Project 61, known to NATO as the Kashin -class cruisers. However, the early members of this class were actually commissioned as “patrol ships” (сторожевых корабли) before their classification was changed in 1966. Commissioned between 1962 and 1970, the 20 ships of Project 61 were contemporaries of the 20 American frigates of the Leahy , Bainbridge , Belknap , and Truxtun classes . Measuring 144 meters in length, Project 61 was significantly smaller than the 162 or 172 meters of the American ships. However

Missile Loadouts: Constellation (FFG-62) (2026?)

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Note the "62" on this image from the Navy.mil announcement - has sanity finally returned to USN hull numbers? With the recently announced selection of the Fincantieri offering for the United States Navy's (USN) FFG(X) program, we now have enough knowledge of what the future USS Constellation will look like to post a notional missile loadout page. Now, the Constellation-class remains very much a paper design and will not join the fleet until at least 2026, so this post is even more speculative than my other missile loadouts posts . However, the result of the FFG(X) program has several unique aspects to its armament that are worth discussing. We now know that the planned armament of the Constellation-class will consist of a 32-cell Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) forward, four quad canister launchers for the RGM-184 Naval Strike Missile (NSM) amidships, and a 21-cell box launcher for RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) aft. This is a considerable quantity and v

The Slow Growth of the Chinese Navy (1990-2019)

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Since the end of the Cold War, the Chinese Navy has grown from an obsolete coast defense force into the second largest navy in the world. Now composed of every class of modern warship, including aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and guided missile destroyers, as well as the necessary auxiliaries needed to support them, the Chinese Navy has become a true blue water force seemingly overnight. However, a closer examination reveals that the growth of the Chinese Navy has actually been rather measured and may well be aiming for a smaller overall force than many estimate. For the purposes of this post, I'm only going to be covering the larger Chinese surface combatants because good numbers on their small combatants, submarines, and auxiliaries is not available. However, this may actually overestimate the Chinese expansion because their auxiliary and submarine fleets in particular have lagged behind that of their surface force. At the end of 1990, the Chinese surface force c