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US military's vulnerabilities vs. China, Russia

MarkOttawa

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Big re-think going on at US Navy on aircraft carriers--a post:

What future for the Eagle's Carriers, the Dragon much in Mind?
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/what-future-for-the-eagles-carriers-the-dragon-much-in-mind/

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Thucydides said:
While there is no doubt that aircraft carriers are facing major challenges, the nay sayers never seem to have an answer as to "why" the PLAN, Royal Navy, Indian Navy, Japanese Self Defence Force and the ROK are all building or considering building new aircraft carriers of their own. Obviously there is still utility in the carrier concept, otherwise, no one would be building them.

Blowing a bit of dust off my crystal ball I'll make some predictions:

1. The aircraft carrier is going to evolve into a smaller platform. Testing the USS America as a "Lightning Carrier" and Japan considering the Izumo for that role is the first step. UAV and UCAV's are not going to need massive supercarriers as platforms, and the proliferation of AA/AD weapons suggests that any nation wanting or needing aircraft carrier capabilities will need to be able to produce something similar to the CVE, and at the same sort of speed (along with associated aircraft and systems).

2. I think China is actually playing a different game. The building program calls for as many as 6 carriers, but none of them will be equivalent to a CVN. Rather than the PLAN trying to "break out" of the First Island Chain, they can keep many of their carriers in the South China Sea and establish numeric superiority over the 2 or 3 American carrier battle groups which will have to "break in" in past the First and Second Island chains in the face of Chinese AA/AD and PLAAF attacks supported by Chinese sea power. Having 6 carriers ensures that there are always 2 or 3 on station, and allows the Chinese to "show the flag" in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific from time to time as well

3. While long range missiles, hypersonic weapons and railguns might transition missile ships and monitors as the premier "Capital ships" later in the 21rst century, carriers will still be needed to provide surveillance, outer perimeter defense (imagine UCAV's armed with lasers or missiles engaging enemy missiles well over the horizon from the battle group) and BDA, as well as flexibility in prosecuting or following up difficult targets. The smaller carriers from point 1 will serve very well in this sort of environment.

So aircraft carriers are very likely to remain the center piece of surface naval power for many years to come, evolving into newer forms as conditions change.

The utility of the Aircraft Carrier is simple, it's a mobile airbase, with mobility being the key to its utility.

Airpower is critical in modern conflict, the problem though is aircraft need runways to operate, runways are fixed in position which makes targeting a relatively simple proposition, especially with modern missile technology.

An aircraft carrier is fast, it can travel 30+ knots per hour.  American Aircraft Carriers also carry tremendous amounts of firepower, fighter and multi role aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, AWACS, etc.

So the biggest utility of the Aircraft Carrier is it's mobility in contrast to shore based aircraft.
 

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CBH99 said:
I have a feeling that if hostilities ever kicked off against China openly, primarily in the SCS - that Russia would be a good ally & neighbour, and keep western forces occupied in the European theatre as to limit the west's ability to reinforce the SCS.

They don't need to invade the Baltics or anything like that.  With substantially increased naval activity, aggressive air activity (most recently demonstrated with a SIGINT aircraft escorted by 2 fighters INSIDE Swedish airspace) - and possibly some open support & aggressive posturing in Crimea - they could effectively keep the Europeans engaged/preoccupied enough that the USN & USAF are essentially on their own in the SCS.


Yes, obvious allies will be there.  Japan and Australia are both professional, capable countries with robust enough capabilities to support American efforts.  However, the Europeans & American forces in Europe - being occupied with whatever it is Russia does to keep them there - wouldn't be able to reinforce the SCS.


America has done a pretty good job of 'forcing' (for lack of a better term) countries like Russia, China, Iran, Syria, etc to rely on each other economically & militarily.  I highly doubt if tensions kick off in the SCS, that Russia won't be a good friend and keep American forces preoccupied elsewhere.  (Same with Iran, possibly keeping the USN busy in the Persian Gulf, even if just by blocking the straight or closing down shipping, etc)


No easy solutions when looked at broadly.

Russia and China? It's complicated: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/27/russia-and-chinas-relationship--how-deep-does-it-go.html
 

MarkOttawa

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MarkOttawa said:
Big re-think going on at US Navy on aircraft carriers--a post:

Mark
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More from acting US Navy secretary:

SECNAV Modly: Path to 355 Ships Will Rely on New Classes of Warships

The Navy’s plans to get to 355 manned ships by 2030 will rely on new classes of ships that don’t exist yet – including new kinds of amphibious and supply ships as well as “lightly manned” ships – the acting Navy secretary told USNI News.

The Force Structure Assessment that will lay out the Navy’s path to this larger fleet, which leadership has described as “355-plus, plus unmanned,” has been delayed and won’t come out until after the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request is released next week. FY 2021 will put the Navy on a path to crest over 300 ships, Acting Secretary o the Navy Thomas Modly told USNI News in a phone interview, but the real growth will come in the FY 2022 request.

Still, Modly previewed what the FSA might hold.

“We haven’t done a really comprehensive force structure assessment in a couple of years; 2016 was the last one. So we started on a new path for that last fall, and what we’re finding in that force structure assessment is that the number of ships we need are going to be more than 355. And when you add in some of the unmanned vessels and things like that that we’re going through experimental phases on, it’s probably going to be significantly more than [355],” he said.

“There are certain ship classes that don’t even exist right now that we’re looking at that will be added into that mix, but the broad message is, it’s going to be a bigger fleet, it’s going to be a more distributed fleet, it’s going to be a more agile fleet. And we need to figure out what that path is and also understand our topline limitations, because no one wants a 355-plus fleet that’s hollow, that we can’t maintain. So we’re looking at balancing all those things.”

Asked what new ship classes the service is considering, Modly mentioned new amphibious ships, as well as new kinds of supply ships and “lightly manned” ships that are “more like missile magazines that would accompany surface action groups.”

Talk of a new class of amphibious warships began last summer, when Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger called for alternative kinds of amphibious lift for Marines in his Commandant’s Planning Guidance. Since that time, Marine Corps and Navy officials at various conferences have suggested that the services are narrowing in on the Offshore Support Vessel as a model for what they want. Having several OSVs instead of one dock landing ship (LSD), for example, might be able to carry the same number of Marines but distribute them across the littorals instead of concentrating them on one hull – which defensively makes them harder to target and offensively allows them to be more agile under the Distributed Maritime Operations and Expeditionary Advance Base Operations concepts…
https://news.usni.org/2020/02/03/secnav-modly-path-to-355-ships-will-rely-on-new-classes-of-warships

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Revived USN 2nd Fleet vs Russkie subs--why are RCN and RCAF so seemingly mute about this? Further links at original:

Admiral Warns America's East Coast Is No Longer A "Safe Haven" Thanks To Russian Subs
Increased Russian sub activity means that the Navy no longer views sailing off the East Coast or across the Atlantic to be "uncontested" movements.

A senior U.S. Navy officer says that his service no longer considers the East Coast of the United States as an "uncontested" area or an automatic "safe haven" for its ships and submarines. This is a product of steadily increased Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic Ocean, including the deployment of more advanced and quieter types that can better evade detection.

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Andrew "Woody" Lewis made these comments at a gathering the U.S. Naval Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank jointly hosted on Feb. 4, 2020. Lewis is the commander of the Navy's 2nd Fleet, which the service reactivated in 2018 specifically to address the surge in Russia's submarine operations in the Atlantic [emphasis added]. This fleet, headquartered at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads in Virginia, reached full operational capability in December 2019.

"Our new reality is that when our sailors toss the lines over and set sail, they can expect to be operating in a contested space once they leave Norfolk," Lewis said. "Our ships can no longer expect to operate in a safe haven on the East Coast or merely cross the Atlantic unhindered to operate in another location."

"We have seen an ever-increasing number of Russian submarines deployed in the Atlantic, and these submarines are more capable than ever, deploying for longer periods of time, with more lethal weapons systems [emphasis added]," he continued. "Our sailors have the mindset that they are no longer uncontested and to expect to operate alongside our competitors each and every underway."

Lewis did not offer any specific details on the total number of Russian submarines the U.S. military believes are on patrol in the Atlantic at any given time compared to previous years. There has been significant debate about the exact scale of Russia's undersea activities, especially compared to peaks in the Soviet Navy's operations at the height of the Cold War, and whether the Kremlin has only been able to generate the additional deployments by pulling resources from the Pacific region.

    Russian subs are coming. “We're talking about more (activity) than we've seen in 25 years,” US sub chief says. https://t.co/6j9ZELOKi2

    That’s easy: 25 years ago they didn’t sail much. https://t.co/idDjDQS1t2 But a few years ago, US Navy started to classify patrol data. Why? pic.twitter.com/eUAvgzqQlS
    — Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) August 7, 2018

    New article uses #OSINT to explore claims that #Russia #Submarine activity is at much higher levels in last couple of years. Crunched some public data against my submarine database. Average submarine has similar at-sea days to Cold War https://t.co/NgnWg7jHAX pic.twitter.com/aNMFHsdtMr
    — H I Sutton (@CovertShores) May 23, 2018

However, it's undeniable there has been at least a relative spike in Russia's submarine activity in the Atlantic in recent years. In October 2019, Norweigan state broadcaster NRK reported that the country's top military intelligence agency, the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), also known as the Etterretningstjenesten or E-tjenesten, was monitoring the largest single Russian submarine exercise since the end of the Cold war, involving at least 10 submarines, eight of which were nuclear-powered types [emphasis added], including two nuclear-powered attack submarines from the Project 945A Kondor class, also known as the Sierra II class.

NRK's report also said that the E-tjenesten believed that the goal of the exercise was to demonstrate the Russian Navy's continued ability to deploy a large number of submarines far into the Atlantic while remaining largely undetected. This, in turn, showed the ability of that force, which might have included ballistic missile and guided-missile submarines, the latter of which may be able to carry Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles in the future, to hold targets on the East Coast of the United States at risk.

As The War Zone noted at the time, the exercise could also give Russian submarines an opportunity to train on flooding the so-called GIUK Gap – standing for Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom – which refers to paths between the Norweigan Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It could also demonstrate their ability to maintain a defensive posture off the shores of Norway to present a threat to NATO members and protect Russia's own assets in the far north, including its naval bases in the northwest region of the country and ballistic missile subs sailing hidden under the Polar ice cap [emphasis added, read on]...
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/32087/admiral-warns-americas-east-coast-is-no-longer-a-safe-haven-thanks-to-russian-subs

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MarkOttawa

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MarkOttawa said:
Revived USN 2nd Fleet vs Russkie subs--why are RCN and RCAF so seemingly mute about this? Further links at original:

Mark
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And a comment of mine on a post based on article at link above:

More from commander of US 2nd Fleet–note his vice commander is from Royal Canadian Navy:

‘NATO’s Joint Force Command Norfolk is heading towards reaching full operational capability next year, after the U.S. 2nd Fleet it is colocated with reached FOC in late December.

Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, who leads both organizations, said JFC Norfolk and 2nd Fleet are “natural partners” in bringing together allies on both sides of the Atlantic…

Lewis said during the event that his JFC Norfolk staff has been manned in such a way to take advantage of the best expertise NATO has to offer: his deputy commander is British, his chief of staff billet will alternate between a German and a Spanish officer, the operations officer is Norwegian, the plans officer is French and the support officer is Danish.

“There’s no mystery to the command network, it was designed that way for a reason. The ops and plans for [anti-submarine warfare], regionally and capability-wise, the Norwegian and the French. And the Brit deputy commander – no accident,” he said.

When crafting his 2nd Fleet staff, he also wanted to promote integration with allies and partners. His deputy commander is a one-star U.S. admiral but the vice commander is a two-star Canadian officer, he noted, to solidify the collaboration of forces on this side of the Atlantic.

Four other foreign officers are also in high-ranking positions in the 2nd Fleet staff to tie together the two sides of the Atlantic…’
...
So what is our vice admiral telling the RCN to do and say about Russkie
subs in the North Atlantic?
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/05/us-navys-revived-2nd-fleet-revving-up-for-another-possible-battle-of-the-atlantic-with-the-russian-navys-subs/comment-page-1/#comment-14488

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"Is ‘Escalate to Deescalate’ Part of Russia’s Nuclear Toolbox?"--conclusion of a post:

A Louche Nuclear Weapons Use Doctrine?
...
Hypersonics (ballistic or cruise missiles) would seem peachy keen, er, particularly suited weapons– conventionally or nuclear armed–with which to implement that “escalate to de-escalate” approach, whichever side has them. See, e.g., the end of this recent post–though the acting US Navy secretary does seem a bit OTT for the present moment:

Hypersonics, or, Acting US navy secretary goes hyperbonkers
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/hypersonics-or-us-navy-secretary-goes-hyperbonkers/
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/09/a-louche-nuclear-weapons-use-doctrine/

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MarkOttawa

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MarkOttawa said:
More from acting US Navy secretary:

Mark
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Re: US military's vulnerabilities vs. China, Russia
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2020, 15:17:36 »

Quote from: MarkOttawa on February 02, 2020, 14:07:27

    Big re-think going on at US Navy on aircraft carriers--a post:

    Mark
    Ottawa

Now defense secretary weighs in of reshaping US Navy (further links at original)–excerpts, note changing the carrier force at end:

‘Defense Secretary Mark Esper on how the Navy can get to 355 ships

In the wake of reports that the Navy may cut shipbuilding in its upcoming budget request, Esper said he is “fully committed” to building a fleet of 355 ships or larger. But to get there, the Navy is going to have to fundamentally reshape itself around smaller ships that can be more quickly bought than the large, exquisite designs the service now relies on — a shift that could have big implications for both the industrial base and the carrier force.

Such a plan would mark a departure from the current Navy force structure assessment that calls for twice the number of larger ships over small surface combatants: 104 large, 52 small. But inverting that structure is essential to building a bigger, more deadly fleet that lives within the constraints of future budgets that the Pentagon expects to remain largely flat, Esper said.

To get there, the Navy must push hard on fielding lightly manned ships, Esper said, an effort that has been a major focus of Naval Sea Systems Command’s Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office in recent years.

The first step, though, is getting through the process of figuring out what the fleet should look like…

Lighter Navy

Esper’s backing of a larger Navy built on the backs of lightly or optionally manned ships echoes calls by Modly to get to a fleet of 355 ships in the next 10 years, and is in line with recent statement by the Navy’s top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday.

At the USNI Defense Forum in December, Gilday said the Navy needed to change the way it built its ships.

“I know that the future fleet has to include a mix of unmanned,” Gilday said. “We can’t continue to wrap $2 billion ships around 96 missile tubes in the numbers we need to fight in a distributed way, against a potential adversary that is producing capability and platforms at a very high rate of speed. We have to change the way we are thinking.”

Congress, however, has been reluctant to back the push for more unmanned ships, believing that the Navy hasn’t done enough work on how the concept of operations would work or how they’d support them…

The Carrier Question

As the Defense Department looks to craft a lighter Navy, the obvious question is: What will become of the Navy’s 11 super carriers? Defense Department officials such as Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin have publicly questioned whether ground-based hypersonic missiles might more effectively deter China than an aircraft carrier that he believes is increasingly vulnerable.

Esper said he’s not sure what the ultimate answer is on aircraft carriers – but rejected the idea there is a binary choice to be had.

“This discussion often comes down to a binary: Is it zero or 12?” Esper said. “First of all, I don’t know. I think carriers are very important. I think they demonstrate American power, American prestige. They get people’s attention. They are a great deterrent. They give us great capability.”

The Navy may have to think about new ways of building carriers, however, if they are going to stay relevant in the future, Esper said. As an example, he pointed to what Japan is doing with its F-35B jump-jet models, which have been tested for use on lighter ships previously designed for use with helicopters.

“There are various ways to do carriers,” Esper said. “So, we can talk numbers or we can talk the sizes of carriers, right? There’s been discussion in the past about: do you keep building big carriers or do you go to smaller carriers, Lightning carriers? Acting Secretary Modly and I have talked about that.’..
https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2020/02/09/defense-secretary-mark-esper-on-how-the-navy-can-get-to-355-ships/
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/what-future-for-the-eagles-carriers-the-dragon-much-in-mind/comment-page-1/#comment-14507

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daftandbarmy

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MarkOttawa said:
Re: US military's vulnerabilities vs. China, Russia
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2020, 15:17:36 »

Quote from: MarkOttawa on February 02, 2020, 14:07:27

    Big re-think going on at US Navy on aircraft carriers--a post:

    Mark
    Ottawa

Now defense secretary weighs in of reshaping US Navy (further links at original)–excerpts, note changing the carrier force at end:
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/what-future-for-the-eagles-carriers-the-dragon-much-in-mind/comment-page-1/#comment-14507

Mark
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Might be an interesting exercise to match Space X capabilities with navy requirements:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0-pfzKbh2k
 

MarkOttawa

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And now:

Navy Budget Proposal Slashes Shipbuilding in Smallest Hull Buy Since Sequestration

The Navy’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget lays out a shipbuilding plan that would be the smallest in six years and does not begin to move the sea service towards a 355-ship fleet that relies more on smaller ships, according to budget documents.

The request includes just $19.9 billion for eight ships, which falls about $4 billion and four ships short of the FY 2020 ship procurement. The last time lawmakers approved a shipbuilding plan of only eight ships was FY 2015, when sequestration spending caps loomed over the budgeting process.

The budget request would also retire the first four Littoral Combat Ships, a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship (LSD-41/49) and an ocean tug to free up funds for more personnel and the development of new weapons systems.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly had previously told USNI News that the FY 2021 wouldn’t begin investing in new classes of ships such as small amphibious ships and new logistics ships that could be the cornerstone of a planned spike in the ship count over the next nine years. That is in large part because the Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment is still in its final stages and has not been briefed to Pentagon leadership and released yet, meaning it did not inform the FY 2021 budget. The FY 2021 budget documents, which also show expected investments over the course of the five-year Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), indicate the Navy will only buy seven ships in 2022, though that figure could be supplemented by these new ship classes.

Even with those expectations set, the FY 2021 request still makes some inconsistent investments given the stated direction of the service. Bloomberg reported, after a back-and-forth negotiation between the Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense over the budget request, the Pentagon ultimately swapped an attack submarine for an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The trade runs counter to the priorities the Navy and DoD have stated for the future fleet. The Navy and Pentagon have called for more submarines to counter Russia and China, as well as a surface fleet that will rely less on large surface combatants like the Arleigh Burke-class DDGs and instead delegate more tasks to smaller combatants like a future frigate or “lightly manned” vessels that can be fielded in greater numbers and can be distributed more widely across a theater. The budget request slows the next-generation future frigate program (FFG(X)) to one hull instead of the planned two, slowing the growth of the small combatant fleet when investments in small combatants should be increasing, according to previous plans and strategies [emphasis added]...
https://news.usni.org/2020/02/10/navy-budget-proposal-slashes-shipbuilding-in-smallest-hull-buy-since-sequestration

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Post on how USAF is planning/hoping to cope with China and Russia (mainly), RCAF noted in final para:

How Can the USAF Afford to Re-Equip with the New Equipment it Will Decide it Needs?
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/20/how-can-the-usaf-afford-to-re-equip-with-the-new-equipment-it-will-decide-it-needs/

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And more in a post on Pentagon's plans/hopes to be able to deal with China:

What the US Needs to Do to Be Ready to Fight China

Further to this post,

Equipping the USAF to fight both China and Russia

the discussion of a possible war with China continues to be remarkably open in the US–latest official example:

US must be ready for military clash with China, Pentagon official Chad Sbragia says
...
But is Congress willing to pay for what the services think necessary and can the US afford to? And what are the plans to use them, and under what circumstances? Are they realistic?

bases1.jpg

https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/what-the-us-needs-to-do-to-be-ready-to-fight-china/

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I think it's only a matter of time until China & the US square off.

Not necessarily of WW3 magnitude, but not via proxies either.  Both sides openly discuss military conflict with each other, and both sides openly discuss revamping their military procurement & doctrine in order to win a battle against each other.

Might take 20 years, might take 5 years....either way, I have a feeling we'll be seeing some naval action in the SCS within our lifetimes  :2c:
 

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CBH99 said:
I think it's only a matter of time until China & the US square off.

Not necessarily of WW3 magnitude, but not via proxies either.  Both sides openly discuss military conflict with each other, and both sides openly discuss revamping their military procurement & doctrine in order to win a battle against each other.

Might take 20 years, might take 5 years....either way, I have a feeling we'll be seeing some naval action in the SCS within our lifetimes  :2c:

The Second Battle of the Paracel Islands, perhaps?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Paracel_Islands
 

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MarkOttawa said:
And more in a post on Pentagon's plans/hopes to be able to deal with China:

the discussion of a possible war with China continues to be remarkably open in the US–latest official example:
...
But is Congress willing to pay for what the services think necessary and can the US afford to? And what are the plans to use them, and under what circumstances? Are they realistic?

bases1.jpg


https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/what-the-us-needs-to-do-to-be-ready-to-fight-china/

Mark
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The future of the US Navy's carriers is being seriously examined by both the Pentagon and the navy department--a post:

End of the Line Coming for the US Navy's Supercarriers as they Face the dragon's Ever-Longer Fiery Breath?
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/end-of-the-line-coming-for-the-us-navys-supercarriers-as-they-face-the-dragons-growing-claws/

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MarkOttawa said:
"Is ‘Escalate to Deescalate’ Part of Russia’s Nuclear Toolbox?"--conclusion of a post:
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/02/09/a-louche-nuclear-weapons-use-doctrine/

Mark
Ottawa

Now the start of this post:

Subs and Russian Nuclear Weapons Doctrine, Note Cruise Missiles

To start one notes the US Navy is certainly taking those submarines seriously in public; so why does the Royal Canadian Navy stay largely mute? Why does our Navy not highlight an anti-submarine warfare mission (ASW) in the North Atlantic (its focus with NATO during the Cold War)?

US Navy’s Revived 2nd Fleet Revving-up for Another Possible Battle of the Atlantic, with the Russian Navy’s Subs [note the “Comments”]

Now excerpts from an analysis of Soviet/Russian thinking–consider the “escalate to de-escalate” nuclear doctrine including sea-launched cruise missiles...
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/subs-and-russian-nuclear-weapons-doctrine-note-cruise-missiles/

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The best offence is a good defence

China’s “maritime road” looks more defensive than imperialist

Its foreign port-building focuses on protecting existing trade routes

AN OLD SAYING warns about Greeks bearing gifts, but it might fit the Chinese better. In the 1400s Zheng He, a Muslim slave who became the Ming empire’s admiral, led seven voyages south and west. He offered treasure to every leader he met—but only if they acknowledged the emperor, joining a world order centred on Beijing.

Chinese leaders today are following in Zheng’s wake. The “road” half of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—a global infrastructure-building scheme—is a maritime one of seaports and shipping channels. Xi Jinping, China’s president, has said it will create a new model of “win-win co-operation”. Some critics suspect nefarious motives, such as yoking poor countries to China by giving them unrepayable loans.

The BRI has evolved site by site and Chinese officials have not made their intentions clear. However, the locations of the 22 maritime-road projects that we have identified as under way show how it is most likely to aid China. They suggest it will be more useful for protecting existing trade routes than expanding Chinese influence.

To measure the maritime road’s impact, we tested three benefits it could offer China. If the road were a resource grab, its projects should cluster in places that sell raw materials that China imports. If its aim were to boost trade, it should track the busiest routes used by Chinese shipping today, or where trade is likely to grow fastest. And if it were intended to secure current trade routes, its ports should sit near choke points—areas whose closure would force goods to travel circuitously—or in places that offer alternative routes.

We tested these explanations by using them to predict if countries host a BRI port. The results were conclusive. After holding other factors constant, there was no statistically significant link between having a BRI port and exporting raw materials that China wants, or having high current or projected trade with it. In contrast, the “trade-protection benefit”—either the value of Chinese trade in a country’s waters multiplied by the extra distance goods would have to go if those routes were shut, or the amount of trade that would be diverted to a country if shipping were disrupted elsewhere—was a good predictor. Given two otherwise average countries, one with a high trade-protection benefit (like Libya) is 2.7 times likelier to host a BRI port than another with an average benefit (like Liberia).

Owning or running a port does not guarantee perpetual access, but it does give China influence by enabling it to disrupt the host’s own shipping if it chooses. Many overland “belt” routes in the BRI would also make Chinese trade more resilient. For example, if the Strait of Malacca were closed, China could switch to BRI ports it wants to build in Myanmar, and finish the trip on planned BRI rail lines.

China’s military footprint also shows a focus on guarding trade routes. Its only base abroad is at Djibouti’s Bab al-Mandab Strait—the waterway whose closure would hurt China more than anywhere else.

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/09/28/chinas-maritime-road-looks-more-defensive-than-imperialist
 

MarkOttawa

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MarkOttawa said:
The future of the US Navy's carriers is being seriously examined by both the Pentagon and the navy department--a post:
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/end-of-the-line-coming-for-the-us-navys-supercarriers-as-they-face-the-dragons-growing-claws/

Mark
Ottawa

Now the USN's Chief on Naval Operations talks about what might amount to a revolution in naval affairs:

With China gunning for aircraft carriers, US Navy says it must change how it fights


Just because China might be able to hit U.S. Navy aircraft carriers with long-range anti-ship missiles doesn’t mean carriers are worthless, the service’s top officer said Thursday.

The chorus of doom and gloom over China’s anti-access weapons is too simplistic, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said, but that doesn’t mean the Navy should refrain from adjusting the way it fights.

“Let’s look at this like a physics problem,” Gilday proposed. “[People will say]: ‘Hypersonics go really fast and they travel at long ranges. Carriers can only travel [‘X’ distance], so carriers are going to have to go away.’ That’s a very simplistic way to look at the problem.

“I’ve been in two big war games since I’ve been [CNO], and I absolutely believe that we have to wring more out of what we have today in terms of how we are going to fight with it.”..

Gilday acknowledged that his fleet is not optimized today to fight the way it thinks it must to beat China, but that can’t lead the Navy to just throw its hands up, he said.

“Our fleet is too small, and our capabilities are stacked on too few ships that are too big,” he said. “And that needs to change over time. [But] we have made significant investments in aircraft carriers and we’re going to have those for a long time.

“Look, people don’t give us enough credit for the gray matter between our ears, and there are some very smart people we have thinking about how we fight better. The fleet that we have today, 75 percent of it, will be the fleet we have in 2030 So, we have to think about how we get more out of it.”..
https://news.yahoo.com/china-gunning-aircraft-carriers-us-140146904.html

And, to repeat, meanwhile there's that revolution in Marine affairs:

Radically Re-Shaping US Marines to Take on China–e.g. no more Tanks
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/radically-re-shaping-us-marines-to-take-on-china-e-g-no-more-tanks/

Mark
Ottawa
 

MarkOttawa

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And now from Flightglobal on USMC and F-35B:

Flight International Opinion
US Marine Corps backs away from tailor-made aircraft - and their expense

After spending billions of dollars over decades to develop custom-made aircraft, the US Marine Corps (USMC) intends get rid of a large portion of its bespoke fleet.

The service says it is not optimised to fight a war in the Western Pacific with China, and believes it must drastically reshape itself to beat Beijing in a missile shooting contest.

It is, to paraphrase one of the Marine Corps’ most famous leaders, General O P Smith, not a retreat, they are simply attacking in a different direction.

The pivot comes after the USMC dragged the US Congress, as well as the nation’s air force and navy, into overly ambitious aircraft development projects, notably the Lockheed Martin F-35B: the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the stealth fighter. Other Marine Corps-led programmes include the Bell Boeing MV-22 tiltrotor and the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter.

All three aircraft have experienced major schedule and budget overruns, and required much work to bring them back on track.

While historically the smallest branch in the US military, the service has the biggest appetite – but often bites off more than it can chew.

For example, the Joint Strike Fighter programme in many ways was built around the USMC’s insistence that it needed a STOVL fighter to replace the Boeing AV-8B Harrier IIs on its amphibious assault ships. It was decided to prioritise the B-model variant, because the technical challenges were greater than those for the more conventional A and C variants for the air force and navy, respectively.

The F-35 became a jack of all trades, but master of none, and compromises to merge the three variants still plague the aircraft. Many in the US Air Force wish the service had instead kept buying Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor.

The MV-22 and CH-53K have fared little better and, unlike the F-35, have scored little in the way of export success.

Of course, the capabilities offered by all the aircraft are second to none. But as in all walks of life, bespoke solutions are more costly than those available off the shelf.

With that in mind, the USMC should be applauded for abandoning bad concepts and an insistence on expensive solutions.

If truck-mounted anti-ship missiles, unmanned air vehicles and defensive laser weapons are a pragmatic and cheap way to beat Beijing, then “oo-rah!”

But in future, Congress and the Department of Defense should ask more searching questions before signing up for the Corps’ next big idea.
https://twitter.com/Mark3Ds/status/1243594152757035009

If the USMC really seriously reduces its F-35B fleet, what about the poor RAF/RN and Italian Navy? Costs and maintenance of their planes?

Mark
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MarkOttawa

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Meanwhile in the Russian high north and trending towards the G-I-UK Gap--start of a post:

The Bears’s Arctic Build-Up (not aimed at North American portion)

Further to this post from 2016 (note further links),

The Bear and the North American Arctic: Not Really to Worry (for now)

excerpts from a sensible paper, with lots of satellite imagery, from the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (the CSIS most people outside Canada recognize):

The Ice Curtain: Russia’s Arctic Military Presence
...
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/04/11/the-bearss-arctic-build-up-not-aimed-at-north-american-portion/

Mark
Ottawa
 
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