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Subject: Future Cruisers/Battleships
Iano    2/4/2005 7:13:32 AM
Hi there, Does anyone think we will ever see a future cruiser/battleship fitted out with an electromagnetic rail gun? And perhaps TLAM, a STOVL fast jet aircraft (I realise this will be pointless for maintaining combat air patrol, but it could extend the offensive reach of the vessel), flagship capabilities and say a point air defence missile system and lightweight torpedoes for self defence in AAW/ASW. Would a ship that mounts an electromagnetic rail gun need nuclear propulsion in order to provide all that electrical power? Or id this achievable with conventional propulsion? Or what does everyone else think that the capital ships (not carriers or assault ships) of the future will resemble or feature? I am thinking along the lines of a "future Ticonderoga" as they are now being withdrawn from service, in any case the first of class has. Does anyone think the RN could find employment for, or be able to sustain, say 2 such ships? Thanks Ian
 
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Iano    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 7:30:53 AM
Actually I imagine you could do away with the TLAM, as if it goes to war this vessel will be operating as part of a task force, that would have SSNs to combat other submarines. And as the Trafalgars and Swiftsures, and the Astutes, do/will have Tomahawk, it wouldnt really be required aboard another vessel. Are theater missile defence or anti satellite missiles being considered by the RN? South Korea is planning to mount them on ships as small as destroyers, so I cannot see why they couldnt be mounted on some of our vessels. Perhaps in the space now vacated by Sea Dart on the Invincible class? As when CVF comes into service this space wouldnt be needed for RAF strike aircraft. Ian
 
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Lawman    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 9:49:13 AM
I think there is the potential for a large vessel, with a major gun armament. I do not feel though that this would necessarily be a normal surface combatant. The idea of a vessel like this would be largely to support operations ashore. The ships could be around 20,000 tons, with say 4 turrets, each with an Oto Melara 127mm gun, which in single gun form fire 40+ rounds per minute. The current strategy calls for the destroyers and frigates to provide fire support, which means taking a very expensive ship dangerously close to shore. This sounds fine in theory, but do you really want to risk several billion worth of destroyers to fire ashore? If you use four destroyers, each with one gun, each firing 40 rounds per minute, in ten minutes, you get 1600 rounds. Use one large, though low cost (by not having ASW systems etc...) vessel, with four 3-gun turrets, each firing 40 rounds per minute, ten minutes gives you up to 4800 rounds. I know this sounds obvious, but a large slow ship, with simple gun armament can really save lives. In Vietnam, the US used a number of older ships to provide fire support, which they did very well. In the Falklands, the Brits used naval artillery successfully, though they lacked the volume of fire. The need to bring frigates destroyers into the beach area to provide fire support and air defence cost the UK a number of ships. If the UK built a small number of these vessels, and used Diesel engines for them, running them as if they were Auxiliaries, then the UK would be able to afford more than two!
 
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Iano    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 10:01:35 AM
I would say the thing about having it cheap by having no ASW/AAW self defences, would mean that it would have to be escorted by something that did have these capabilities. Hence you are now risking 2 vessels close to shore, including the expensive one you originally were trying to save. Also having it large and slow means that the element of surprise is quite reduced. If the enemy detect this large slow ship they are going to prepare to repel or counterattack a landing in that area. We dont like opposed beach landings anymore so I think that we are better off with a faster, more general use vessel. Really I wasnt looking at a "monitor" with conventional gun armament for shore bombardment. I was looking at a ship to fulfil the Ticos role in the future - an offensive cruiser. The idea was to make use of electromagnet rail gun technologies, with longer range and cheaper operation. The DDX plans to use these "darts" I believe? I think further to my original post a CIWS/RAM would be needed. Perhaps it is better looking at a ship of around 10 000 tons - otherwise the size will make it too expensive - I dont think it'd get built if it cost a massive amount. Basically I am thinking a large destroyer making use of new technologies. Feedback? Ian
 
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Lawman    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 10:17:07 AM
Okay, but I disagree about two small things: risking an escort, and surprise... The ship would travel as part of a battle group or task force, since even with diesels it is fast enough for that, so it would not need a specific escort assigned to it. Once it is near the shore, the escort itn't really necessary, since the ship would be under greater threat from the shore than from enemy ships/subs. I agree about the CIWS or RAM, I was simply mentioning the main gun armament. In terms of surprise, there is no surprise when you are sending an amphibious task force anyway! The surprise you are looking for is tactical, not strategic, and for that, the vessel is okay. In terms of a replacement for the Ticonderoga, you would just fit an Aegis radar, and faster turbines i.e. the LM2500 used on most Navy combatants. I suspect 10,000 tons is a little too small, since you want a decent weapons load, and size doesn't really cost much more. As for the magnetic gun, I am not sure how practical that is at the moment, so it may be better to go for the ERGM-firing conventional guns.
 
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EW3    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 11:50:33 AM
Thinking out of the box. If the firing rate of the rail gun could be raised to say 40 rds/min, it might be interesting to fit one on a nuke sub. You'd have the element of surprise, you have the reactors to provide power and they don't require support since they are used to operating alone. Would be nasty against a strategic target and with targetting support could go after enemy shipping.
 
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doggtag    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 1:33:47 PM
Why complicate the design of the sub by fitting turret/casemate guns when all you really need to do is launch stealthy cruise missiles, or even some future SCRAMjet-type Mach 8 screamer at a target? .
 
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Iano    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 3:07:12 PM
Erm outside the fantasy realm of electromagnetic rail gun nuclear submarines, does anyone think either: A) rail gun technology will be feasible to the point that it could be mounted aboard a ship and B) that the USN or RN or other first world navies would find a use for the rail gun? It seems as though the best way to create a platform is to define a role that needs filling, then design the vessel to solve that problem. This may be the other way round.... but it seems such an exotic technology it would be great to harness it in some way..
 
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EW3    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 6:05:59 PM
Was just toying with the idea, I can imnagine the number of technical problems. Actually the value I saw in it was the number of rounds it could carry. Even the SSGN is limited to 154 missiles, and missiles get real expensive real fast. You could probably carry 2K rounds for a rail gun on a converted Ohio class. I'm very high on the potential of the railgun. It ranks up there with the airborn laser in shaping future conflicts. Having a ship that can toss shells anywhere in a 250mile diameter is potent.
 
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Lawman    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 6:22:08 PM
Agree about the potential, disagree about the application. The idea of using a submarine as a platform isn't such a great idea. Submarines have limited survivability on the surface, and very limited space. A better idea would be to produce a simple surface vessel. Remember, modern guns are automated, so the actual crew requirement is simply for fire control. Thus, a vessel could be constructed with perhaps 12 guns, and only about 90 crew. This would be low cost, and could probably carry several thousand rounds. The idea of continuing to use cruise missiles for all targets is borderline insanity. Even the new Tactical Tomahawk costs upwards of $500,000, meaning very little bang for the buck! The rounds for a railgun would be somewhere around $500 (a guess), thus making them more attractive for area targets. For the small number of higher value targets, then you can still use the Tomahawk, or possibly a long range version of the Army's Copperhead guided artillery shell. The use of a surface ship is cheap, and would allow the Navy to actually use the ship, rather than simply being able to use it. (The Navy hates to risk its ships when it's not absolutely, positively necessary!)
 
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EW3    RE:Future Cruisers/Battleships   2/4/2005 6:31:49 PM
Have to admit the sub idea is fringe at best. But one thing about small ships won't have enough electrical generating power. You pretty much need a nuke. Particularly if you want more than 1 barrel or a higher fire volume. That's what actually made me think of a nuke sub. That and stealth.
 
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