Author Topic: Who owns long range precision fires?  (Read 2379 times)

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Offline FJAG

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Who owns long range precision fires?
« on: July 14, 2020, 16:19:50 »
Okay. Who had July 9th in the crazy inter-service rivalry pool?

Arguments are starting to arise that the US Army's Long Range Precision Fires initiative under their "Big Six" ought to be an Air Force resource seeing as it's "over-the-horizon"

Quote
Long-Range All-Domain Prompts Roles & Missions Debate

By   THERESA HITCHENS
on July 09, 2020 at 10:35 AM

WASHINGTON: Service rivalries over roles and missions are coming to the fore as DoD and Congress begin to assess what to build for all-domain operations — with a dust-up looming over whether the Army or the Air Force should make platforms for taking out over-the-horizon targets.

Air power supporters argue that the Army’s top-priority Long-Range Precision Fires program, which aims to rebuild the artillery with new long-range cannons and surface-to-surface missiles to hit far-way ground targets, is stepping over traditional service boundaries.

“It’s ridiculous, to be quite candid. It is encroachment on roles and missions,” Dave Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant-general and dean of the Mitchell Institute, says. “The fact of the matter is the services need to adhere to their core competencies. And the United States Army reaching out to develop weapon systems that operate at thousand-mile range truly is encroachment.”

While top Air Force officials, including outgoing chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, have downplayed potential roles and missions clashes by citing the benefit of having overlapping capabilities, Deptula argues that tough choices are going to soon become imperative due to downward budgetary pressures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

...

See full article here

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Offline Dimsum

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2020, 16:27:12 »
shh...tell the Navy not to tell anyone about their Tomahawks
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2020, 18:04:40 »
Only reason the Air Force exists is because the Army had to tie a Bombardier to a bullet to hit targets over the horizon.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2020, 00:55:23 »
Simple, tell the USAF that they have to provide the gunners for the guns and they have to live, eat and sleep like army people, the bloom will be off the rose quite quickly. Unless of course the USAF want to control it, so they can kill it as it's deemed a threat to their role.

Offline CBH99

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2020, 02:35:00 »
So a ground based artillery system, meant to provide indirect and direct fire support for ground units, is somehow an Air Force asset?  Just because they want the distance to outmatch the distance of enemy artillery?

Yeah, okay...  ::)



Is Russian long range artillery somehow an Air Force asset, because it can fire over the horizon?  No.  Because that wouldn't make any sense...

Heaven forbid BOTH branches can reach out and kill people from far away.  Because that would just be ludicrous...  (Like Dimsum said, does the USAF know about the USN's Tomahawk capability?)
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2020, 07:06:25 »
Effective range of a M777 is 24 to 40 Km depending on the type of shell being fired. Horizon from ground level is 3-4 km.

Does the Air Force want to operate all the M777?

I mean, once you are over the horizon, you are over the horizon, so actual range (25 Km or 1000 Km) shouldn't matter. Seems to me the definition should be based on  how the warhead is delivered: If you fire it or drop it from a land based airplane, it's Air Force, if it is fired from fixed land platform or land vehicle, it's Army, and if it is fired or dropped from a water borne platform or water based airplane, it's Navy.

Seems simple enough to understand.

Offline quadrapiper

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2020, 07:46:24 »
Effective range of a M777 is 24 to 40 Km depending on the type of shell being fired. Horizon from ground level is 3-4 km.

Does the Air Force want to operate all the M777?

I mean, once you are over the horizon, you are over the horizon, so actual range (25 Km or 1000 Km) shouldn't matter. Seems to me the definition should be based on  how the warhead is delivered: If you fire it or drop it from a land based airplane, it's Air Force, if it is fired from fixed land platform or land vehicle, it's Army, and if it is fired or dropped from a water borne platform or water based airplane, it's Navy.

Seems simple enough to understand.
Which would mean the USAF would have to start caring about rotary mud-moving and skulking about.

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2020, 08:41:08 »
Which would mean the USAF would have to start caring about rotary mud-moving and skulking about.

If someone told them that, they would immediately cease and desist. :nod:
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2020, 09:43:22 »
As a geriatric mud gunner who has dabbled in the relationship between artillery and air since the Great War, the air power advocates have claimed that they should be allowed to select and destroy the most important targets, while the army is merely fighting the land battle. A major difference between the two is that virtually until weapons release, the air force can change the target selection, while the artillery looses control of the weapon's destination once it is fired. (The shell is the weapon of the artillery; the gun, rocket or whatever is the means of delivery.)

Gunners and the folks they support believe that is a good thing, while the air force is not convinced. There was quite a bit of debate in the first years of this century that precision guided weapons delivered by the air force had supplemented artillery, but events in a real, nasty shooting war did not support that argument. I am ambivalent about the issue as far as long range precision conventional weapons are concerned, and can understand both sides.

At first glance, it comes down to targeting, but I suspect it is more about cap badge politics, to use a Canadian Army phrase.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2020, 09:49:09 by Old Sweat »

Offline dapaterson

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2020, 09:57:55 »
A major difference between the two is that virtually until weapons release, the air force can change the target selection, while the artillery looses control of the weapon's destination once it is fired. (The shell is the weapon of the artillery; the gun, rocket or whatever is the means of delivery.)

Except with Excalibur and some other modern rounds, there remains a degree of control - the phrase "Rounds in the air, where do you want them" is no longer ironic.
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2020, 10:04:14 »
Except with Excalibur and some other modern rounds, there remains a degree of control - the phrase "Rounds in the air, where do you want them" is no longer ironic.

In terms of "big picture" delivery, not so much. Changing the target location in the context we are discussing refers to at a minimum several kilometres and usually more.

Offline Ostrozac

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2020, 11:58:46 »
Effective range of a M777 is 24 to 40 Km depending on the type of shell being fired. Horizon from ground level is 3-4 km.

Does the Air Force want to operate all the M777?

I mean, once you are over the horizon, you are over the horizon, so actual range (25 Km or 1000 Km) shouldn't matter. Seems to me the definition should be based on  how the warhead is delivered: If you fire it or drop it from a land based airplane, it's Air Force, if it is fired from fixed land platform or land vehicle, it's Army, and if it is fired or dropped from a water borne platform or water based airplane, it's Navy.

Seems simple enough to understand.

Yeah, but interservice rivalry in the United States has never been that straightforward. Historically there have been mobile missile launchers operated by both the US Air Force (Mace and GLCM) and the US Army (Pershing and Lance) -- this isn't a new problem, the Air Force and Army have been fighting over this turf since the 1950's.

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2020, 12:48:07 »
Yeah, but interservice rivalry in the United States has never been that straightforward. Historically there have been mobile missile launchers operated by both the US Air Force (Mace and GLCM) and the US Army (Pershing and Lance) -- this isn't a new problem, the Air Force and Army have been fighting over this turf since the 1950's.

The Airforce still shoots the Nukes. Maybe they should hand that over to Space Force now? :)
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2020, 12:52:25 »
The Airforce still shoots the Nukes.

As does the Navy.
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Offline Ostrozac

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2020, 13:15:49 »
As does the Navy.

And the US Army had nuclear weapons right up until the 1990's. None of it is straightforward, all of it involves politics, money and power.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2020, 14:04:13 »
I'm guessing that the Air Force is feeling the pinch from the addition of the Space Force.

They're four primary commands are:

Air Mobility
Air Force Special Operations
Air Combat
Global Strike

The heart of the Air Force is in the Air Combat fighters, designed to bring down bomb carriers, and the nuclear capable forces in Global Strike.

Global Strike consists of the B52s and other long range bombers of the WW2 vintage 8th Air Force and the  1950s vintage ICBMs of the 20th Air Force.

It doesn't want to do ground support and won't let the Army do it the way it wants to.
It already has competition from the Navy on ICBMs with subs being less vulnerable (and less of a risk to the local population).
I think that the Space Force can also make a play for the ICBMs of Global Strike.

The Navy can supply a greater variety of firing points than the Air Force - Even with the cost of carriers how do they compare to the cost of a hard surface airfield with hardened hangars, fuel storage, command facilities and air defences?  And co-operating allies?

And every UAV deployed merely demonstrates not the need for the UAVs but the capabilities that can be added to bullets and missiles that don't need the infrastructure.

The Air Force is in danger of going the way of the Horse Cavalry.  It was designed around a specific technology in a specific era.

 

 



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Offline CBH99

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2020, 15:34:28 »
That's probably true in many regards, but the need for fighters & bombers isn't going away anytime soon.

The Navy can't have carriers everywhere planes are based & needed, so the USAF - with the ability to fight enemy fighters & bombers, conduct air strikes, provide CAP, etc etc - will be around for a while yet
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2020, 16:56:27 »
That's probably true in many regards, but the need for fighters & bombers isn't going away anytime soon.

The Navy can't have carriers everywhere planes are based & needed, so the USAF - with the ability to fight enemy fighters & bombers, conduct air strikes, provide CAP, etc etc - will be around for a while yet

Speaking as an infantry guy, I don't mind knowing that there's a bit of 'overlap' out there in the fire plan :)
“To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you're all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2020, 19:27:17 »
The Chieftain just did a video on the development of Soviet tank doctrine and at one point serious consideration was given to lumping tanks with the air force.

The USAF is also in danger of losing GPS and everything satellite to Space Command, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Space_Force#Duties

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2020, 00:03:02 »
Part of the problem (assuming there is an actual problem, and not a dick measuring contest) is technology changes the abilities and roles of platforms, and allows capabilities that were never imagined initially.

Railgun rounds are being adapted for 155mm artillery. This provides the possibilities of being able to strike targets 70km away, or use 155mm artillery as GBAD against various sorts of air targets, incluing enemy missiles (realistically, a powered mount such as on a surface warship would be needed to use a 155 cannon that way).

Several of the proposed "Skyborg" UCAV aircraft are puported to be able to use limited ground facilities rather than airfields and bases. ideal for front line CAS, even though "Skyborg" is meant to provide "Third Offset" support to conventional air to air and air to ground missions.

Nuclear SSN's are becoming strategic weapons carriers. The 6000 ton  Arihant class of the Indian Navy and the USN's Virginia class SSN both have the capabilities of carrying strategic nuclear weapons.

It would probably be better to allow overlap and not worry about "who" is controlling the fire. A 1000 mile range cannon isn't going to be affected by weather the way aircraft are, but will also have limitations aircraft don't. The end user on the ground isn't going to be too worried about where the round comes from, so long as they can put down the handset and see a satisfying "boom" at the target location.
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Offline CBH99

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2020, 00:22:48 »
Seems more like a macho contest for powers/budgets, rather than anything grounded in common sense.   :2c:


Like was mentioned before...

Ground launched weapon?  Army

Air launched weapon?  Air Force

Ship launched weapon?  Navy


Will there be some overlap as technology evolves?  Sure.  There already is, i.e., Navy's tomahawk capability from ships, and air launched cruise missiles (which can be air launched by both services.)

Both fly far over the horizon, both go boom in the end.  Should one divest itself of this capability, just because the other says so?  Nope.



With a war against China inevitable at some point, even if limited to a short burst of conventional warfare somewhere in the SCS - having a bit of overlap is a good thing. 

Like also mentioned previously, anything more than roughly 4km is 'over the horizon'.  So where do you really draw the line?



With over 5300 aircraft in it's inventory, including high end fighter jets, cargo planes to resupply US military forces all over the world, Global Strike responsibilities, air-refuelling tasks, ICBM deployment and security, etc etc - I feel the USAF truly has a complex and critical global role already. 

Do they really want to sit in the mud with us, just so they can fire a few 155mm rounds because they'll land over the horizon?  Be bothered with all of the radio compatibility issues, training issues, etc etc?   I highly doubt it.  Nobody joins the Air Force so they can sleep in the mud - that's half the appeal of the Air Force in the first place. 


It's just about budget & power.     :2c:
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2020, 01:35:17 »
With the rules above then Minuteman goes to the Army from the Air Force.
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2020, 13:55:27 »
With the rules above then Minuteman goes to the Army from the Air Force.

I’m sure Army guys would love a posting to Minot, ND, sitting 100’ underground for extended periods. The silos have ice cream, and Army types got spiked from having ice cream in all the DFACs in your... ;D

Offline FJAG

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2020, 14:32:40 »
I’m sure Army guys would love a posting to Minot, ND, sitting 100’ underground for extended periods. The silos have ice cream, and Army types got spiked from having ice cream in all the DFACs in your... ;D

I always figured when I lived in Winnipeg and Brandon that we were within the Russian nukes' circular error probable for Minot.

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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Who owns long range precision fires?
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2020, 14:48:52 »
As an aside, I was on a course in the RCSA in Shilo during the Cuban missile crisis. During our breaks we used to go outside the classroom to watch for nukes hitting Winnipeg.

And in the case of the long range precision fires, ownership and command/control are not the same thing. Tube artillery and precision non-nuke rocket systems probably should be a land force asset. Even tactical nukes employable within an area of interest, within so many days away from actually being employed against a land force level of command, should be employed by the land force. My geriatric old mind keeps coming up with "what about" and I keep dreaming up caveats. In principle, though, if it don't fly, it belongs to the army seems like a good principle, until you think of UAVs. Then I guess it radius of employment is moot.