Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Smoke and Mirrors, USN Edition

The United States Navy’s fleet of Aegis cruisers and destroyers are getting a massive boost in lethality. For years, many believed that America’s mighty surface combatants were on track to be outgunned by their Russian and Chinese counterparts—however, a newly unveiled modification to the Raytheon Standard SM-6 changes of all of that.

“I'm announcing today new capability for the SM-6. We're modifying the SM-6, so that in addition to missile defense, it can also target enemy ships at sea at very long ranges,” U.S. defense secretary Ashton Carter said at Naval Base San Diego in California on February 3.
I call "bullshit".

I don't know squat abut the SM-6. But it's probably the same frigging airframe as the SM-2 or, hell, the old Terriers. The warheads of those things were designed to cripple airplanes and incoming missiles, not blast the shit out of ships.

According to Wikipedia, the warhead is a "blast fragmentation" warhead, which is weaponese for basically a big-ass grenade. The SM-2 reportedly had a 250lb warhead. Given that the SM-6 has an active radar, one might expect that since the SM-6 carries more smarts than the SM-2, that the warhead is probably smaller.

What this means in plain English is that these things are not shipkillers in the traditional "leave the enemy burning or sinking" sense (as the Soviet antiship missiles were). Sinking or leaving the enemy ship a burning hulk was a "seaworthiness kill." As the first article said, the SM-6 is trying for a "mission kill". That means "damaging some shit so that the ship can't fight"-- such as poking holes in radar waveguides, or hoping to damage some vital equipment.*

Getting a seaworthiness kill takes a big honking warhead carried by a large shell, bomb, torpedo or missile. The surface navy pretty much stopped going for seaworthiness kills of anything larger than a PT/missile boat when the last of the big-gun cruisers was sent to the breakers.

* An analogy: There's a bad guy 25 yards away. You have a shotgun. You have two types of shells: #9 birdshot and 00 buckshot. In shooting the birdshot, you're hoping to annoy him enough to make him stop trying to hurt you-- Maybe you blind him or sting him enough to discourage him, or maybe a couple of pieces of birdshot hit a jugular vein or a carotid artery and he bleeds out. In shooting the buckshot, you're hoping to stop him from hurting you by killing him; if the buckshot hurts him badly enough that he stops what he's doing, that's fine, too.

In shooting at the bad guy with birdshot, you're going for a mission kill. In shooting at him with buckshot, you're going for a seaworthiness kill.


Robert Fowler said...

Having served during the cold war, it saddens me to see what our military is becoming. We've gone from the most kick ass force on the planet to some failed social experiment.

Comrade Misfit said...

In this instance, you're quite wrong, but that's the subject for another post.

Ole Phat Stu said...

Apropos warheads : The Exocet which sank HMS sheffield in the Argentine war did not even explode!

Comrade Misfit said...

True. But the remaining fuel in the Exocet started a fire and Sheffield was lost. RN ships had no shortage of combustible materials, such as wood trim and furnishings in Officers' Country.

Old NFO said...

It's designed for 'soft' or 'mission' kill. Not a real kill.