Thursday, April 22, 2010

From Persia With Love.

So, I understand that in the era of sea-skimming guided missiles, a small vessel can pack a wallop all out of proportion with its size. I also know that they can be hard to detect, track, and destroy, especially when operating in swarms, but still... when I saw this slideshow of waves of Revolutionary Guard Boston Whalers lobbing hyperactive ATGMs at a leftover naval vessel during a bit of posturing and saber-rattling in the Straits of Hormuz, my first thought was "Oh, noes! SMERSH and COBRA are attacking U.N.C.L.E.!"


AM said...

ATGM's are good at punching holes in armor. Usually not so good at sinking ships.

It is the long range sea skimmers you have to worry about, and usually those are launched from aircraft....

The real saber rattling is if Iran wanted to actually build a fleet of small craft that were carrying a legitimate threat to naval vessels. An ATGM will punch through the hull, but it is a small hole, and the compartmented nature of Naval ships makes damage mitigation simple.

Cond0010 said...

Awwww... the widdle Persian Navy is playing in the bathtub again. Whats kinda pathetic in the photos, is that through all that sturm and drang, their target appeared to not even take on water (could the dudes down below open the seacocks and scuttle valves so that it appears to be sinking, please?)

The only way they'd get one of our missile magnets is through the cheap shot of treachery - and even then, they would pay many times over for such a purchase of political clout.

Without that strategic device, those itty bitty boats are merely juicy infrared hors d'oeuvres on a cool blue supper table.

Anonymous said...

From Joe in PNG:

There is nothing new under the sun. Over a hundred years ago Jackie Fisher of the Royal Navy was worried about something similar- small, cheap torpedo boats swarming battleships. So he created the "Torpedo Boat Destroyer"- small, fast ships with rapid fire guns to screen the larger ships. Thus, the destroyer was born.
And we still have them.

Anonymous said...

And now destroyers are massive ships....

I think you guys are being too sanguine.

An ATGM (Loaded with HE rather than true HEAT) won't sink a large vessel but will do a load of minor damage, and occasionally get lucky and do seriously annoying & performance degrading problems.

A couple of dozen could be seriously annoying.

But worse, they could be VERY distracting, Imagine some well timed volleys of nuisance ATGM coinciding with a volley of Seaskimmers - wanna bet your point defense will have enough ammo and discrimination to shoot the right missles and boats?

They might do a lot more damage than you think, at a very cost effective rate of exchange.

Imagine you hurts the carrier escorts enough that they have to withdraw the carrier, imagine that this small stuff leaves you open to a volley of shortish range terminally guided convential explosive ballistic missles arcing in, overhead. ( now imagine that in that ballistic volley you've hidden a nuke)

I know the USN is a tough nut, but those are restricted waters, and once the carrier task force is hurting the shipping premiums for the tankers - hence the price of oil - goes sky high.

Just saying, there's lots of potential propaganda and economic WIN scenarios for Iran that leave the USN flotilla still floating if a little bruised, but don't leave enough room or desire to really go after Iran.

Anonymous said...

Recently I read on another site that my Alma Mater had conducted war games in the Persian Gulf--presumably for the benefit of the mad mullets that run the place--and the conclusion was that the helicopters that are attached to the carriers and excorts would make corned beef hash out of the swarm boats before they got to the I.P., much less the weapon release points...

cap'n chumbucket

Anonymous said...

Uh, make that "escorts"...

Damn you, Mavis Beacon!!

cap'n chumbucket

Tim D said...

I'm not certain exactly what that was they were shooting but it would take a lot of them to get that kind of explosion from the cargo ship. While they do have air launched C801s and FL10s they mount on their ships, of greater worry are the the C802 surface batteries. They also used to have a speedboat version where they mounted a 105 mm MRL on the front deck. But it's been quite a long time since I was tasked with IRGN. (I wonder how those Kilos are doing?)

staghounds said...

Our fleet of dead in the water, rusty, leaky, surplus small cargo movers from the 1970s can expect SERIOUS noise and smoke.

Anonymous said...

It's the work of C.H.A.O.S and SPECTRE

Agents Smart and Bond will take care of this shortly.


Little vessels with big missles are a threat to destroyer class ships

Windy Wilson said...

Not T.H.R.U.S.H?

Seriously, they're looking to increase the level of damage so as to actually sink the U.S.S. Cole next time. High explosive might be enough, or they could be looking for some sort of combination of HE and armor piercing, much like the Lewis Bomb of WW2 combined incendiary and high explosive.

reflectoscope said...

Sturmg und drang, sure, but not very effective if they can't sink one ship together, never mind a proper defended warship.

They'd have been better off spending the money on naval mines.


atlharp said...

Those boats look high tech. I just wanna know if they come with fishing nets or do they just use their oars to ram other triremes!

pdb said...

SINKEX: ur doin it wrong.

Old NFO said...

pdb- Yep- swarmexes don't always work... :-)

Flight-ER-Doc said...

And guess why the Flagship of the Iranian Navy is a glass-bottomed boat.....

So the Ayatolla can review his fleet

Anonymous said...

Oh how quickly we forget the war games scenario a few years back where the opfor launched a bazillion such boats and swarmed the carrier group, sinking all hands.

I hope they've spent the last few years upgrading and reprogramming the CIWS (R2D2's) to deal with surface threats moving at 40 kts.

I'm not sure why we think you have to blow a 20ft hole in a carrier's hide to disable it. Ask McCain what happens to a carrier a fire breaks out on deck. Out of commission until refit. Plan on landing all your thirsty birds in Dubai and having them sit out of the action.

Funny (pathetic, funny) how we smirk and laugh at the brown people and believe they don't know how to think.

Stretch said...

I kept hearing the soundtrack of Thunderball as I viewed the slide show.
As for underestimating the brown/yellow/whatever people:
Little Big Horn
Pearl Harbor
They always lost in the end but this time they have nukes and are crazy enough to use them.

cmblake6 said...

Hey, if you can use any of this feel free:

reflectoscope said...

I hope they've spent the last few years upgrading and reprogramming the CIWS (R2D2's) to deal with surface threats moving at 40 kts.

Block 2A, IIRC. If it can track targets moving at aircraft/missile speeds, then surely warm boats against an adequately cold ocean should be little trouble. I don't know if the sabot round the CIWS has used previously is the best thing for a fast boat, but that is a case where quantity has a quality all its own.


Thomas Johnson said...

With Obama ROE's this is not good news. A Navy Capt. might get permission to fire a .50 cal warning shot an hour or two after he has a hole in his hull.

Rabbit said...

I'd be more concerned if they had a few of these that they bought at Uncle Gorby's Surplus and Going-Out-Of-Business Warehouse Clearance sale a few years back.

Bonus points if they could make it work. Allegedly, they did.

Cond0010 said...

"Funny (pathetic, funny) how we smirk and laugh at the brown people and believe they don't know how to think."

Anonymous, nobody had mentioned "Brown people" except you. Brown, Yellow, Black, white doesn't matter. Tactics do - and those tactics stink if they were at war with us (ie actually getting that close to a Naval ship during wartime would have needed a miracle - USS Cole & USS Stark were peacetime terroristic type attacks).

If you were refering to General Van Ripers attack during Naval Wargames earlier this decade, please note that the attacks were reinforced with cruise missiles fired simultaneously from land and from warplanes. True, both wargames were at the straits of Hormuz where Blue Teams' Navy was forced to be stationed, but remember, Van Ripers attack was centered on a _scenario_: no matter how unlikely it is. Only political gerrymandering would have stationed the fleet at the Straights of Hormuz during an actual war while there was a non-decimated enemy force nearby - especially if the enemy force has Nuclear Weapons (which may already have happened in regards to Iran).

Brown People? Bah... thats your prejudice - not mine.

staghounds said...

"Only political gerrymandering ..."

which is exactly what makes stationing decisions.

And two of Stretch's brown people examples confuse me. Or does the Union flag still fly over the Cape and Singapore?

No one is laughing at the thought, it's the execution that's risible.

Bram said...

I found those pictures comforting.

The little boats they are launching from are with range of the Phalanx CIWS guns on the ships.

Those missiles only have a chance if there are many of them, they are already skimming the waves (notice how they climb when launched) and they are up to full speed before they are within radar range of the ship.

As long as our ships' close-in-weapons-systems are active, these missiles are worthless.

Anonymous said...

Agree or disagree, worth reading. I bet the Persians have.

Ed Foster said...

Observation: "Missles" (rockets?) seem to have a SACLOS flight profile. One would imagine a wire guided TOW upgrade to avoid jamming, probably with an HE warhead, maybe partial hyperbaric following a shaped charge.

I really don't think the guys could get more than 5,000 meters worth of wire or glass line on the spool, and, given the problems with glass I'd bet on wire. If shielded, more like 2,000 meters.

Phalanx or Linebacker would burp a dozen times and the fish would eat well for a few hours.

Pathfinder said...

Attacking any Navy ship with ATGMs - even with HE instead HEAT warheads - is roughly 1.3 notches above using RPGs against the ship. Totally wrong weapon, if for no other reason with an ATGM you have to be very damn close to the BIG ship - with all of its BIG anti-BG weaponry - to have any hope of hitting the BIG target.

What's the range of an ATGM, 3 clicks? To me, having to walk that distance with a blown out knee, that's a lot. In naval terms, that's short range, maybe just beyond Phalanx range but well within 40mm or 5" range. And bouncing around the open seas in a Zodiac trying to guide the damn missile and evading incoming fire? Not conducive to success or longevity either.

OTOH, the Iranians are dangerous because of this sabre rattling, and they may well convince some other 3rd worlder that the Iranians are onto something.

Caleb said...

Honestly, my concern about this isn't so much the technological threat posed by the boats but rather our spiffy ROE, as mentioned above. We have the tech to identify and kill these things before they can get into range, but the question is whether or not our Commander in Chief would let us shoot.

Hell, the Coast Guard could take these guys in a stand up fight.

Ed Foster said...

Coast Guard? With nothing but AK's and Chinese made M-16's for covering fire from a bounching small boat, a good security man in the superstruckture of a tanker or freighter could waste them all at most of a mile with a decent .338 Lapua.

Stick an L70 series or newer 40mm Bofors with attendant Naval Guard on the fantail of every American merchant ship going through the straits, with strict ROE saying "Any threatening activity w/in 5,000 meters is an automatic release", and the problem goes away.

I wouldn't worry about Obama. When push comes to shove, the military gets everything they want from Daley's puppet boy.

He hasn't spent 1.4 million dollars to seal every aspect of his life from childhood to the Senate simply because he's a privacy freak, and it's fairly obvious the JCOS know where all the skeletons are buried.

If he had been a Republican, the media would have had half a dozen Watergates by now.

Robert said...

"If it can track targets moving at aircraft/missile speeds, then surely warm boats against an adequately cold ocean should be little trouble"

And what difference does the heat of the boats and water have to do with it? CIWS is not thermal guided.

Ian Argent said...

Wire-guided from a bouncing boat strikes me as a particularly futile exercise in control. And then add in that wire-guided missiles are SLOW (so that the controller can remain in command) and the launch vehicle has to remain as close to motionless as possible while the missile is in flight (which makes the missiles THEMSELVES easy CIWS targets), AND they're sitting around in the envelope of practically everything that a CBG has except the nuke-tipped tomahawks and maybe some ordnance off the fast-movers...

They're not exactly mounting Exocet on these things. A sneak attack by one or two might get one or two shots home, which will be a minor exercise for the damage-control teams. But the Sonja Swarm isn't going to get within launch range, because enough boats to swamp the targeting of a CBG is enough boats to light up CIC like a christmas tree...

WV: bionec (what the COBRA leader has)

Anonymous said...

From Joe in PNG:

This attack reminds me of something...
-Small, fast, lightly armed attackers... check.
-Not a lot of individual punch, but a lot of them... check.
-Mass swarming attacks to try to overwhelm any defences... check.

It's official, Iran is going for the Zerg Rush!


Rabbit said...

It's like hunting bears with chihuahuas. You can do it, but it takes 500 of them

Kristopher said...

Iran has tried this already.

The US Navy obliterated them, and left their ports in ruins, in about 20 minutes, last time.

Freddyboomboom said...

"And now destroyers are massive ships...."


The newest USN destroyers (Arleigh Burke class, first deployed 1991) are 505 or 509.5 feet long, and displace 8,230 or 9,496 L tons.

The oldest carrier I served on, that's been retired since about the Arleigh Burke's came out, was the USS Midway (CV-41). At 972 feet long, it displaced 74,000 tons.

So in comparison to an itty bitty carrier, a destroyer is definitely very small.

Massive is not a word that should be used to describe a destroyer.

They're referred to as "small boys" in the USN.

Thanks for the laugh, though.

Stretch said...

Staghound: Sorry, didn't make myself clear as to what I meant. Underestimating foes always gets you in trouble. Ask any of the masterminds that run up against Scooby-Doo and "those pesky kids."
Pearl Harbor so surprised some American military leaders (Douglas MacArthur for one) they thought the Japanese had hired European mercenaries.
The loss of Singapore in 1942 was not the great surprise as many historians make it to be there was still great shock that the Japanese took such great swaths of S.E. Asia so quickly.

Scott said...

TJ and Caleb reference ROE above.
Apparently they don't remember the U.S. Navy's rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from pirates holding him hostage just over a year ago?
"Obama had given standing orders for the military to take "decisive action" if Phillips was in "imminent danger".
He did and they did.
Bad guys dead, Phillips saved.
What part of that ROE pisses you of?

Baddog said...

So....are the arcing rockets the signal to light the gasoline barrels on the deck?? What happens after that?

Kristopher said...

Scott: Obama's ROE ordered the captain to wait for the hostage negotiators, unless they were going to shoot the hostages.

The pirates pointed their weapons at the hostage, as they had hundreds of times earlier, and the Captain used this time as an excuse, and ordered the SEALs to kill them. He then presented Obambi with a a bunch of dead pirates.

Our dumbass-in-chief did what was expected, and tried to take credit for it.

Your attempt at revisionism is pathetically obvious, Scott.

Desertrat said...

then there is this:

"cheap ways to overcome the US behemoth. Four solutions soon came to hand:

1.Very fast sea-skimming cruise missiles, such as the Brahmos and Brahmos II (Mach 5+).
2.Supercavitating torpedoes, reaching speeds of over 200 miles an hour.
3.Very quiet submarines, diesel-electrics in the case of poor countries.
4.Anti-ship ballistic missiles, such as the one attributed to the Chinese."


Ed Foster said...

Desertrat: Fred's a hoot, but somewhat out of date on carrier defenses. Yes, Chinese subs have surfaced next to American carriers in peace time, as a photo op. And if it had been wartime, they would have died hundreds of miles away. Subs are just too easy to find nowadays.

Supersonic anti-ship missles have been around a long time, and never sunk anything. They're HUGE, unstealthable, and have the radar signature of a barn. Get them down low in sea-skimmer mode, and they pull a roostertail two miles long.

They have to be launched from land bases, or very large aircraft, all of which are targeted from hundreds of miles away.

Please note the Skval nose on all our latest torpedo efforts, and remember that the Skval was primarily intended as an antitorpedo weapon. Ours can be used the same way, and escorts can carry a lot more of them than a sub can.

The anti-ship ballistic missle is a very real threat, and fire control has been upgraded because of it. It is about the only creditable threat to American or NATO carriers there is right now, but one that should be capable of being neutralized over a few years, with a lot more cost to the Chinese than to us. Bottom line, improved firecontrol and the new generation of shipboard lasers is a lot cheaper to buy and maintain than dozens of ballistic missles.

Bottom line, an American fleet surrounded with a defensive ring of subs and Burke/Aegis surface escorts is a very tough nut to crack, a job that probably could not be done without massed nukes.

The pendulum swings back and forth, but at the moment it definately favors defense by a very big margin. A carrier at battlestations can soak up an enormous amount of abuse and still keep on swinging.

The days of the submarine are perhaps coming to a close, except for the boomers and littoral raiders carrying commando teams.

But a floating fortress surrounded by hundreds of miles of defenses, able to get tactical aircraft where nobody else can, will be our primary mainstay for a long time.

Ian Argent said...

"cheap ways to overcome the US behemoth. Four solutions soon came to hand:

1.Very fast sea-skimming cruise missiles, such as the Brahmos and Brahmos II (Mach 5+).
2.Supercavitating torpedoes, reaching speeds of over 200 miles an hour.
3.Very quiet submarines, diesel-electrics in the case of poor countries.
4.Anti-ship ballistic missiles, such as the one attributed to the Chinese."

None of which are going to show up mounted on Iranian speedboats, and none of which are going to stand up to the typical standards of 3rd-world maintenance.

And ballistic missiles, really? Yeah, they have a high velocity; (nearly) straight down. Ballistic missiles, especially launched from farther away, aren't very useful against a target capable of maneuver. At any rate, I thought they were putting ABM capability into the Aegis system. It's one of the reasons Taiwan wants to buy themselves some.

Nukes are another story - but nukes have been understood to be a threat against a CBG for a while now.

CBGs aren't invulnerable by any means (see nukes, see restrictive ROEs). But haze-grey Botson Whalers mounting ATGMs aren't a realistic threat; and most of the weapons mentioned are barely off the drawing board if they exist at all (except for diesel/electric boats - which is again a well-understood problem).

reflectoscope said...

Robert: They are now.