Posts

The Future United States Navy Surface Fleet (2020-2040)

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With the US Navy's fiscal year 2021 budget proposal being recently released, combined with the latest news that the USN has dropped its previous plan to extended the service lives of its cruisers and destroyers to a historically unrealistic 45+ years, I thought I'd put up a quick post showing the likely future of the USN's surface fleet. Before delving deeper into the above graph, I should first make clear that the budget documents only give (somewhat) hard numbers on annual deliveries out to around FY2027, and everything past FY2031 is entirely my own projection. The assumptions I made are that CG/DDG retire after 35 years, LCS last 30 years, DDG and FFG production both stabilize at 2 ships annually, that 22 Arleigh Burke Flight III are procured to replace the Ticonderoga-class 1 for 1, and that the Future Surface Combatant phase in mirrors the planned LCS to FFG(X) transition. However, different assumptions will not change the overall shape of the future force t

British Losses in the Falklands (1982)

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The County-class destroyer HMS Glamorgan, which holds the dubious distinction of being the first and last ship to be damaged in the Falklands War The Falklands War is the only large-scale post-WWII naval campaign in. So even though the technologies and tactics used are now somewhat dated, it remains one of the best resources for understanding modern naval warfare. During the conflict, the British lost 6 ships and had another 16 damaged (I will be using the British records for this post rather than the significantly higher Argentinian claims - this is not because the British are inherently more trustworthy, but because in every war the attacker's claims are always less accurate). This post will aim to provide an overview of where these ships were and what they were doing when they were attacked to see if there are any patterns that can inform our understanding of naval warfare. The Falklands War began on 2 April 1982, with the Argentinian invasion of the islands. As with

Classifying Modern Warships - Part I (Background)

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The numerous rigs that defined ship type in the age of sail Today there is some confusion about how modern warships should be described. Terms such as "destroyer," "frigate," and "corvette" are commonly thrown around, but it is impossible to find any agreed upon definition as to what they actually mean. It becomes even more complicated when attempting to compare warships from multiple nations, such as the Franco-Italian  Horizon -class - which are known as "frigates" ( fr├ęgate ) by the French and "destroyers" ( cacciatorpediniere ) by the Italians, and are the product of the "Common Next Generation Frigate" program but have NATO "D" for destroyer hull numbers. However, before attempting to lay out a rational system for comparing modern warships, let us first briefly examine the history behind warship classifications. Beginning in ancient days with the development of dedicated warships, classification was large

World Navies of 2020

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Among the greatest changes over the past year was the commissioning of the Royal Navy's second carrier,  Prince of Wales - an event   perhaps slightly overshadowed by the commissioning of the PLAN's second carrier, Shandong, just seven days later . As we begin the new year, it is a good time to assess the current naval balance of power. However, ranking navies is always a complex and subjective task as even something as simple as merely counting how many ships a navy has soon devolves into debates over what exactly constitutes a "ship" (just look at the never-ending battle over what should be included in the US Navy's official strength). Observing these debates, I have devised my own system for quantifying a navy's strength. This system classifies vessels into broad categories, assigning different (and admittedly somewhat arbitrary) points values for different types of ships. In order to avoid terminology debates, I have also used more generic labels (

FXR to Nixie - US Torpedo Decoys (1943-2019)

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Underseas warfare and electronic countermeasures are two of the most classified areas of naval history. Therefore, the following post, which combines both subjects, is far from complete. However, given how little information I have been able to find on the topic (and of that little how much was outright contradictory), I felt it was worth attempting to provide as much of an overview as I could even if I am unable to provide as much detail as I would like. If any reader has any corrections to what follows, please post them. The towed acoustic decoy was first introduced by the Allies in late 1943 to provide ships with a defense against the new German homing torpedoes. These torpedoes used simple hydrophones to home on the target's acoustic signature and represented a massive increase in effectiveness over the unguided torpedoes that had been the rule since the 1890's. Homing torpedoes were particularly dangerous to the destroyers and other escorts that were often nimble enoug

Missile Loadouts: British Air Warfare Ships (1962-2019)

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The County-class Unlike most navies, the Royal Navy's first guided missile ships were not conversions of existing ships. Instead, they were the eight purpose-built  County -class destroyers, which entered service beginning in 1962. Measuring 158 meters in length, these ships were much larger than the proceeding 120-meter Daring -class gun destroyers and were commonly referred to as "DLG" after the American hull code for large missile ships like the contemporary Farragut -class frigates . Further, rather than relying on American missiles as was done by most NATO navies, the British chose to build the County -class around the domestic Sea Slug surface-to-air missile - a weapon that unfortunately lived up to its underwhelming name. A beam riding missile with a range of 25 kilometers and a top speed of Mach 1.5 (many sources state Sea Slug was subsonic, this is incorrect and likely a misreading of the fact that it could only engage subsonic targets), Sea Slug was comparable

What Went Wrong With LCS? US Frigate Production (1969-2019)

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Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7) under construction at Bath Iron Works in 1976 The United States Navy's Littoral Combat Ship program has come under extreme criticism from every side. Personally, I find much of the vitriol to be incredibly shallow and misinformed and believe that the program is actually a worthy endeavor. However, there is one clear failing of the program that I have seen virtually no comment on - it's glacial build rate. I have touched on the topic of the slow procurement of modern systems before, in my post comparing the production of the F-35 Lighting and the F/A-18 Super Hornet , and I believe it is important to come back to it in regards to the LCS program. It is well known be anyone with even a passing familiarity with shipbuilding that protracted construction of limited quantities inevitably drives up costs. However, in all the discussion of the possible reasons behind the price tag of LCS (which I personally believe is far from being as outrageous as ma