• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Future Naval platforms, systems, & fleet composition

blacktriangle

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
143
Points
630
Following Underway's suggestion to start a separate thread as to not derail the Submarine replacement topic...

So my question is: If naval warfare broke out between the West and one of our peer adversaries in 2021, what would the key lessons learned be? How would these lessons influence future operations, platforms & systems design, & fleet compositions? What about sustainment?

What impact will other domains (including cyber & space) have on naval operations? What about disruptive technologies?

Interested to hear what others think.
 

CBH99

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
367
Points
860
I am by no means an expert on naval warfare - not in the slightest.

However, to touch on a topic that was recently brought up in regards to this - one solid lesson that I think will be learned by every western nation is the current costs of both ships and payloads do NOT allow for extended engagements, or perhaps even repeat engagements. This is a lesson I think even the US will very quickly wake up to.

If every missile you fire is a few millions dollars - and that cost can range depending on the type of munition fired - and each ship is expending missiles for self-defense, engaging enemy aircraft, anti-ship missiles towards enemy surface assets, and land-attack missiles, etc etc - how many 'reloads' does each ship get before the ammunition stocks are simply empty?

While everybody wants companies like Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, etc etc to be profitable - and they do deserve to earn a profit if they are selling a system that is effective and in demand - I believe western countries will take a hard look at the cost to produce these munitions vs. the cost of purchasing, and pressure these companies to lower their prices.

Otherwise, the cost of naval warfare is just too high. Literally. It's too expensive to replace all the high-tech stuff with more high-tech stuff.


0.02
 

Halifax Tar

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
297
Points
880
I am by no means an expert on naval warfare - not in the slightest.

However, to touch on a topic that was recently brought up in regards to this - one solid lesson that I think will be learned by every western nation is the current costs of both ships and payloads do NOT allow for extended engagements, or perhaps even repeat engagements. This is a lesson I think even the US will very quickly wake up to.

If every missile you fire is a few millions dollars - and that cost can range depending on the type of munition fired - and each ship is expending missiles for self-defense, engaging enemy aircraft, anti-ship missiles towards enemy surface assets, and land-attack missiles, etc etc - how many 'reloads' does each ship get before the ammunition stocks are simply empty?

While everybody wants companies like Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, etc etc to be profitable - and they do deserve to earn a profit if they are selling a system that is effective and in demand - I believe western countries will take a hard look at the cost to produce these munitions vs. the cost of purchasing, and pressure these companies to lower their prices.

Otherwise, the cost of naval warfare is just too high. Literally. It's too expensive to replace all the high-tech stuff with more high-tech stuff.


0.02
This is a point I have argued for years. We don't think past the first salvo.

I see a return to gun/torpedo heavy platforms if we are in a protracted years long conflict like WW2. Shells are cheaper, easier and faster to produce than missiles.

Its not just the cost its the time line in manufacturing and replenishing stocks as they are consumed in the process.

Canada doesnt really have many reloads, and the US and our Allies will be busy supporting their fleets with their remaining stock so I don't see this going well for us, from a material replenishment standpoint.

We've only touched on ammunition, the other part that scares me is our ability to replenish parts and forward sustainment as our strat lift capabilities, while valiant and doing yeomen's work, will be stretched thin; even more than they are now.
 

Czech_pivo

Full Member
Reaction score
29
Points
280
Sounds like those old WWII Bofors we took off the Kingston class might just become our most valuable weapon with readily available supplies after a 3-4 week shooting war.....
 

YZT580

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
139
Points
630
From a bystander's point of view: what you start with is what you are going to end with minus casualties. What ever weapons that you think you will need had better be mounted and equipped to fire at the start. IMHO whatever shooting war we are involved in will be fast and brutal and I would doubt that there will be time for re-loads. Prime targets will be oilers, munitions carriers and all other supply ships and I would suggest they will be targeted before the destroyers and frigates which vessels, having to defend their supply lines will deplete their arsenal leaving them as defenseless for the second round. The victor will be the one with the largest magazine.
 

rmc_wannabe

Sr. Member
Subscriber
Reaction score
145
Points
680
Speaking from a Cyber/Tech position, Naval Warfare is a wet dream for exploitation; mainly because its not something that has been factored in when most of a fleet was built/refitted. I'm not an expert on Naval Communications, however, I have my concerns writ large with the way the CAF handles Cyber at the moment.

Fire Control Systems, SONAR, GPS, SOTM, etc. are juicy targets for Cyber Operators that can jam, manipulate, or influence systems that keep the ship fighting and floating.

My prediction would be that any PvP conflict with say, China, would see Western ships go dead in the water before the first shot is fired.
 

Underway

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
541
Points
1,010
This is a point I have argued for years. We don't think past the first salvo.

I see a return to gun/torpedo heavy platforms if we are in a protracted years long conflict like WW2. Shells are cheaper, easier and faster to produce than missiles.

Its not just the cost its the time line in manufacturing and replenishing stocks as they are consumed in the process.

Canada doesnt really have many reloads, and the US and our Allies will be busy supporting their fleets with their remaining stock so I don't see this going well for us, from a material replenishment standpoint.

We've only touched on ammunition, the other part that scares me is our ability to replenish parts and forward sustainment as our strat lift capabilities, while valiant and doing yeomen's work, will be stretched thin; even more than they are now.

It's called a "come-as-you-are war". During the later Cold War years it was expected that any non-nuclear conflict with the USSR would use up stocks of modern equipment at a prodigious rate, leading to industry having to produce cheaper less capable equipment faster to replace losses. The expensive good equipment that would be leftover from the first engagements would need to be husbanded and used carefully.

This takes its cues from the "Fleet in being" theory. Where just having a naval force is a strategic asset. Even without fighting, you have an effect on the enemy. WW1 is an example of this, where neither Germany or the UK wanted to risk their fleet. If either of them suffered a loss they wouldn't have been able to replace them fast enough to deal with the enemy battle line.

This leads to a naval conflict where likely the first shots are either a surprise attack (aka Pearl Harbour) as the strategic advantage gained could be massive or an accidental conflict where a few ships get damaged/sunk and the two sides retreat to protect their Fleet in Being.

That being said the most likely naval conflicts are going to be between flashpoint countries. Turkey and Russia, Pakistan and India, Iran and Saudi Arabia. And given the nature of those countries unless climate change forces a fight (India vs Pakistan) over water they will be skirmishes.
 

Underway

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
541
Points
1,010
Speaking from a Cyber/Tech position, Naval Warfare is a wet dream for exploitation; mainly because its not something that has been factored in when most of a fleet was built/refitted. I'm not an expert on Naval Communications, however, I have my concerns writ large with the way the CAF handles Cyber at the moment.

Fire Control Systems, SONAR, GPS, SOTM, etc. are juicy targets for Cyber Operators that can jam, manipulate, or influence systems that keep the ship fighting and floating.

My prediction would be that any PvP conflict with say, China, would see Western ships go dead in the water before the first shot is fired.
In most cases, this would require physical access to the ship and its systems. Given that almost all the equipment that requires EM security is tempest tested or are mounted in tempest tested racks I'm not concerned about remote access. And of course physical security is pretty good so there's that.

However, ECM and other forms of EM warfare are definitely something that is concerning and should be trained for. It's a battlespace like any other and command of it will separate the winners from the losers for sure.

I don't think Canada spends as much time here as it should. Similar to the armies failure to understand how to properly use PsiOps and CIMIC in Afghanistan, EM warfare is not well understood by most sailors, and I think that despite the concerns over ammunition, this battlespace doesn't need to rearm. It has unlimited ammunition so to speak and can cripple your opponent.
 

Blackadder1916

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
286
Points
1,030
. . . If naval warfare broke out between the West and one of our peer adversaries in 2021 . . .

Having acquired the almost obligatory copy of Mahan over several decades ago, it has sat on my bookshelf (along with the Clausewitz) undisturbed other than an initial read. That would probably be the average professional study of naval warfare by someone who spent most of his uniformed career focused on field force units. So, with that limited point of view, how would "naval warfare" break out without it being adjunct to a wider conflict? After a quick google search of the topic (I didn't want to feel like an naval ignoramus), in one of the articles I found (what was to my limited understanding) a very astute thought. War at sea, as Julian Corbett once quipped, matters only as much as it can affect events on the land.

Underway, as he posted above, likely puts it in proper perspective with ". . . the most likely naval conflicts are going to be between flashpoint countries. Turkey and Russia, Pakistan and India, Iran and Saudi Arabia. And given the nature of those countries unless climate change forces a fight (India vs Pakistan) over water they will be skirmishes".
 

blacktriangle

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
143
Points
630
In most cases, this would require physical access to the ship and its systems. Given that almost all the equipment that requires EM security is tempest tested or are mounted in tempest tested racks I'm not concerned about remote access. And of course physical security is pretty good so there's that.

However, ECM and other forms of EM warfare are definitely something that is concerning and should be trained for. It's a battlespace like any other and command of it will separate the winners from the losers for sure.

I don't think Canada spends as much time here as it should. Similar to the armies failure to understand how to properly use PsiOps and CIMIC in Afghanistan, EM warfare is not well understood by most sailors, and I think that despite the concerns over ammunition, this battlespace doesn't need to rearm. It has unlimited ammunition so to speak and can cripple your opponent.
If we could predict or account for every cyber vulnerability, there wouldn't be new CVE popping up all the time. Threat actors have proven their ability to pull off some impressive attacks, especially in the realm of software/firmware supply chain. I also wouldn't rule out the insider threat aspect.

Definitely agreed regarding the EM space.
 

Colin Parkinson

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
829
Points
910
and China likley has portions of it`s fishing fleet already equipped for ECM warfare and likely a small number equipped with or fitted for Anti-ship missile with the intent of targeting the support fleet. Not to mention mine laying.
 

blacktriangle

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
143
Points
630
Having acquired the almost obligatory copy of Mahan over several decades ago, it has sat on my bookshelf (along with the Clausewitz) undisturbed other than an initial read. That would probably be the average professional study of naval warfare by someone who spent most of his uniformed career focused on field force units. So, with that limited point of view, how would "naval warfare" break out without it being adjunct to a wider conflict? After a quick google search of the topic (I didn't want to feel like an naval ignoramus), in one of the articles I found (what was to my limited understanding) a very astute thought. War at sea, as Julian Corbett once quipped, matters only as much as it can affect events on the land.
Fair point regarding wider conflict & geopolitics.

The discussion arose out of another topic about replacing the submarines (sorry, I should have provided a link for context). I was wondering why we focus so much on surface combatants when submarines carry a much higher ratio of offensive weaponry (and in some navies, include the ability to "affect events on the land") Most certainly any warfare could be multi-domain in nature, and they all have the ability to impact each other.

In fact, events on the land are part of the reason I'm asking these questions. Do we lend too much credibility to adversary A2/AD capabilities? Not enough? Army & Marine forces seek to become more dispersed, and yet modern navies seem to have surface combatants that put a lot of eggs in one basket.
 

Blackadder1916

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
286
Points
1,030
. . . arose out of another topic about replacing the submarines . . .

Submarines may be the primary naval offensive platform of the next great sea battles, though the days of great sea battles are likely long past. In the two major conflicts of the 20th Century, the submarine was the primary naval weapon of one of our adversaries and accounted for most of their victories in the Atlantic. Though it may not have garnered as much publicity as other elements in the Pacific, American/Allied submarine operations against the Japanese contributed greatly to their defeat. Likewise, the best historical example of future ship on ship combat may be the sinking of the Belgrano by HMS Conqueror. One shot, and the Argentines went back home to preserve their fleet.
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
297
Points
880
Not a Navy guy, but my sense is that if two modern peer surface fleets go at each other with MPA support they will both run out of ships and missiles around the same time.

My impression as the embarked land LO during a fleet on fleet surface warfare exercise was that it was like fighting in a basement. And you don't have to be Alfred Mahan to know you don't want to fight in a basement.
 

CBH99

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
367
Points
860
The original question of why navies focus so much on surface assets, which are armed primarily for defense of the ship & other ships - instead of focusing on submarines which carry weaponry primary for offensive operations, is a very good question indeed. And a question I absolutely do not have the answer for.


One obvious reason I could see would simply be for presence & deterrence.

The presence of showing the flag on operations, and being a visible deterrent to possible adversaries. Lately, this has been in the form of a presence in the Persian Gulf to deter mischief from Iranian ships, off the coast of Africa to ward off pirates, and sailing through the Straight of Taiwan as a political message.

While a submarine may be able to engage these same potential adversaries, and be a far more frightening thought for the adversary because 'you aren't sure if there is a NATO presence here or not' -- it doesn't carry the same political, PR, visible deterrent that a big warship does.

^ And adding to this thought, boarding parties and MH assets are a surface ship kind of thing. I'm thinking in the context of our recent operations, where deploying a helicopter to an AOI is a lot faster than sailing the ship there. Being able to deploy boarding teams, as well as the deterrent of having a MH flying around, reinforces the deterrent aspect of a surface asset while also being able to seize contraband, rescue people in distress, arrest individuals if need be, etc etc.


Another reason I can think of - albeit this is a relatively new phenomenon so I'm unsure if this really counts as a contributing factor if looking at your question over the long term - is a modern ship's ability to engage enemy ICBMs. Having land-based interceptors in Hawaii and Alaska is great, but if you could also have interceptors floating around the oceans & able to possibly engage enemy ICBMs much closer to their launch point, this could be a significant benefit in favour of high-end surface assets. 🤔


Beyond that though, from a warfighting perspective - you ask a very good question. You'd think focusing on submarines would make a lot of sense.
 

Underway

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
541
Points
1,010
Submarines have limited conventional power projection capabilities, particularly on a tactical level. Special forces and cruise missiles are limited in their ability to influence the battlespace in many ways.

Surface fleets have significant power projection capabilities using the full suite of weapons and platforms available. Missiles, guns, amphib forces, special forces, EW, etc... Carrier aircraft can extend the range of those capabilities by orders of magnitude. Power projection is how you "influence the events on the land". As stated by @Blackadder1916 this is the only reason to have a navy, whether that be a defensive or offensive influence. Surface ships can project power and fight in all five environments (surface, subsurface, air, space, EM) whereas subs are limited in that as well.

A surface ship can also defend itself even when the enemy knows where it is. A submarine that is discovered is essentially dead in a war situation because the enemy has already penetrated its defenses.
 

Colin Parkinson

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
829
Points
910
Submarines may be the primary naval offensive platform of the next great sea battles, though the days of great sea battles are likely long past. In the two major conflicts of the 20th Century, the submarine was the primary naval weapon of one of our adversaries and accounted for most of their victories in the Atlantic. Though it may not have garnered as much publicity as other elements in the Pacific, American/Allied submarine operations against the Japanese contributed greatly to their defeat. Likewise, the best historical example of future ship on ship combat may be the sinking of the Belgrano by HMS Conqueror. One shot, and the Argentines went back home to preserve their fleet.
Mind you had the Belgrano escorts prosecuted their roles more effectively, that shot might not have happened. Had the Belgrano made it to Stanley, the conflict might have ended in a stalemate for both sides.

A mix of subs, surface ships and long range aircraft that can provide ASW and ECM is important. If we pursued modern subs to compliment our CSC's and a new long range patrol aircraft capability, combined with 4 AOR's, the RCN could be quite the force multiplier wherever it went and for any mission. I am also a believer in better arming ships like the AOR's or even the AOP's in the event things go belly up. I like that the CSC are getting a potent gun along with a good mix of missile weapons and torpedo's , along with a likely very good combat suite.
 

stoker dave

Jr. Member
Reaction score
35
Points
280
One shot, and the Argentines went back home to preserve their fleet.
An anecdote I heard from a Royal Navy officer who was there at the time went as follows:

"We told the Argentinians that we had a nuclear powered submarine patrolling just off the harbour entrance. Any ship leaving the harbour will be immediately sunk.

Two weeks later the submarine arrived on station and commenced patrols."

I have no way to know if this is true or not but it makes a good story.
 

JMCanada

Member
Reaction score
16
Points
180
Indeed, submarines can't project a significant "amount" of power, but they might blockade a small fleet in port or at least set several surface units locked to an area trying to locate them.

Regarding possible conflicts, considering the increasing assertiveness of Erdogan, I would also mention the possibility of a Turk-greek conflict, even though they both are (till now) NATO members. Algeria- Morocco might be another one.
 

CBH99

Army.ca Veteran
Donor
Reaction score
367
Points
860
Turkey and Greece are still both NATO members. (I have a feeling I misunderstood what you meant there) - which is what is going to make that conflict so devastating for NATO as an organization.

Not really from a material perspective, but it will heavily distract NATO from outside threats to focus on internal conflict.

It would be a huge ‘balloon going up’ for Russia and China to both make some moves while our European allies are distracted and busy with that nonsense.

Colour me biased, but if that ever escalates for the point of happening — my initial gut reaction is that it will be Turkey’s doing. 🤷🏼‍♂️


0.02
 
Top