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Sturgeon's House

The Future of Naval Gunfire Support


LostCosmonaut
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Amongst some corners of the internet, there is much whinging over the fact that there are no longer any battleships in active military service. Once one discards the more puerile arguments such as "battleships are really cool", the primary argument in favor of their retention is their usefulness in providing artillery support to amphibious landings and other ground operations near coastal areas.

 

I'm not an expert on naval matters by any means, but it seems to me that naval gunfire from modernized, quick firing 155mm guns would be sufficient - due to the advent of increasingly accurate targeting (and even precision guided artillery rounds), having a 406mm gun is no longer necessary. At the most, something in the range of 203mm should be fine. However, I'm just some random guy on the internet talking out his ass. Do we, in fact, need battleships to fill some gaping void in our force projection capabilities? Or not only is their role wholly obsolete, but it has been so for the past several decades?

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I believe the smart money from the cool kids' club was modernized 8" guns that would give some serious range if you absolutely need to make some senators feel happy, or a modernized 5" gun if you want to do it on the cheap.

 

Battleships are a way to pay a sum of money that could give you major force projection capability and contribute meaningfully to its own defense in a way that its screens couldn't do on something that does none of those things.

 

WWII era battleships are a great way to pay to fill a ship with 3000 people decades older than the people who would normally get those jobs with a bunch of rare technical expertise from a country where manpower is incredibly expensive and rare technical skills command large sums of money. They are an awful idea and frankly advocating for those things is like advocating for a new service halberd except halberds can be discarded in a cost-efficient manor and don't require a parallel industrial and technical skill base to support them.

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Zumwalt's new 155 mm gun system seems to be catered to the role of gunfire support. It also has the added benefit of being able to hit targets ~95 miles away multiple times within a minute. Place this system on some Arleigh Burke destroyers and some Ticonderogas and you can have great inland naval gunfire support.

 

A Naval group could give gunfire support to troops in Pyongyang while being at the cusp of the range of the probable Silkworm ASM of North Korea(which would probably be shot down at longer range if it does have the range to threaten the naval group). 

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Silkworm's just a hopped-up P-15 right? Shouldn't be too hard for any modern CIWS system.

Yeah, but you always want to have a little more time to react if you're being fired upon even if the risk isn't that great. You also don't know exactly what other ASMs the enemy(which could have more advanced weaponry than North Korea) could have, and being at range would help survivability a great deal. 

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  • 2 months later...
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More on PLAN future fire support is that 130mm looks to be overtaking older 100mm in all newer designs, 100mm may in turn replace 76mm guns on lighter classes of ships.

 

http://bbs.tiexue.net/post2_4724368_1.html

 

Photos of Sub-Caliber projectile for a 130mm gun and a packaging line for 30x165mm rounds. (used in various CIWS and anti boarding/small boat and low flying aircraft weapons.)

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Ok, so I'm a little drunk and a little tired.  But I still think this is a coherent thread of thought.  One of the most overlooked areas of railguns being introduced is in the air defense area.  With the practical velocities being acheived by railguns,  LOS means dead...

 

People smarter than me, please discuss.

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Railguns are currently getting something like 8,000 ft/s MV. An aircraft might have a cruising altitude of 30,000 ft or more. Even if the projectile doesn't bleed velocity like a stuck hemophiliac pig (which it will), it will still take several seconds for a round to reach the altitude of its target, which means it isn't arriving de-facto instantly.

This doesn't mean it's useless for air defense, or even less useful than other options, but it won't instantaneously laser planes out of the sky.

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Detecting aircraft seems to be the major issue in air defense rather than the weapons themselves. AA missiles seem to do a pretty good job for every modern nation it seems at downing planes. I don't see the need for railguns to be used in such a role when they wouldn't solve a non-existent issue. 

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There's still the time between the radar bouncing off the inbound, the computer processing everything, the gun accelerating the projectile up to speed and the decidedly non-zero travel time.

 

The P(k) may be high, but it isn't going to be 1, and at that point the question is how many tries do you get? Gatlings fill an area with a nice density of projectiles to get that P(k) high.

 

The refire rate on the railgun is likely the constraint on the system.

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