United States Naval Gunfire Support debate


United States Naval Gunfire Support debate

The United States Naval Gunfire Support debate (also known as the United States Naval Surface Fire Support debate) is an ongoing debate between the Navy, Marine Corps, Congress, and independent groups like the United States Naval Gunfire Support Association on the issue of what role Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) / Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) should play within the Navy and how such a role can best be provided. At the heart of the issue is the role that naval gunfire support — the use of naval artillery to provide fire support for amphibious assault and other troops operating within their range — should play in the Navy of the 21st century.

Although the debate at large traces its roots back to the end of World War II, the current debate began in 1992 with the retimrement of USS|Missouri|BB-63, the last active "Iowa"-class battleship as a result of the reduced demand for naval artillery and the rise of ship and submarine launched missiles and aircraft launched precision guided munitions such as laser guided bombs that can accurately strike an enemy target witha single strike. The most unique point of the debate in the United States centers on battleships: Owing to the longtime maintenance of the four completed "Iowa"-class battleships with the Navy's active and mothball fleets many still view battleships as viable solutions for gunfire support, and these members have questioned whether or not the Navy can adequately replace the gunfire support provided by a battleship's main guns with the smaller guns on its current fleet of cruisers and destroyers.

The debate has played out across a wide spectrum of media, including newspaper and magazine articles, web blogs, and congressional research arms such as the Government Accountability Office. Each side has presented different arguments on the best approach to the problem, but most of the participants favor the continuation of the DD(X) program or the reinstatement of the "Iowa"-class battleships to the Naval Vessel Register. The Sclass|Iowa|battleship|2s, Sclass|Arleigh Burke|destroyers, and Sclass|Zumwalt|destroyer|2s have entered the debate as options put forward for naval gunfire support, while others advocate the use of newer missile systems that can loiter in an area as a replacement for naval gunfire.

Background

After World War II, the United States deactivated its battleships and placed them in the United States Navy reserve fleets, better known as the "mothball fleet". Most of these ships were eventually scrapped, but the four "Iowa"-class battleships were not, and on several occasions these four battleships were reactivated for naval gunfire support. The U.S. Navy has held onto the four "Iowa"-class battleships long after the upkeep and maintenance of operating and maintaining a battleship and the arrival of aircraft and precision guided munitions led other nations to scrap their big-gun fleets. [Government Accountability Office, "Naval Surface Fire Support Program Plans and Costs" (NSIAD-99-91).] Congress is largely responsible for keeping the four "Iowa"-class battleships in the United States Navy reserve fleets and on the Naval Vessel Register. The lawmakers argue that the battleships' large-caliber guns have a useful destructive power that is lacking in the smaller, cheaper, and faster guns mounted by U.S. cruisers and destroyers.Government Accountability Office. "Information on Options for Naval Surface Fire Support" (GAO-05-39R).]

In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan proposed creating a 600-ship Navy as part of the overall defense department build-up to counter the threat of the armed forces of the Soviet Union; both the Red Army and the Soviet Navy had grown in the aftermath of the unification of Vietnam in 1975 and the loss of faith that Americans had in their armed services.cite book | last =Holland | first =W. J. | title =The Navy | publisher =Barnes & Noble, Inc., by arrangement with Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc. | date =2004 | location =China | pages =page 184 | id =ISBN 076076218X] When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the 600-ship Navy was seen as too costly to maintain, and the navy made plans to return to its traditional 313-ship navy.cite book | last =Johnston, Ian & McAuley, Rob | title =The Battleships | publisher =Channel 4 Books (an imprint of Pan Macmillian, LTD) | date =2002 | location =London | pages =page 183 | url = http://www.panmacmillan.com/ | id =ISBN 0752261886] This led to the deactivation of several ships in the navy's fleet, including the four reactivated "Iowa"-class battleships, which were removed from service between 1990 and 1992. [cite DANFS | author = Naval Historical Center | title = Iowa | url = http://history.navy.mil/danfs/i2/iowa-iii.htm | accessdate = 2008-10-07 | link = on ] [cite DANFS | author = Naval Historical Center | title = New Jersey | url = http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/n4/new_jersey-ii.htm | accessdate = 2008-10-07 | link = on ] [cite DANFS | author = Naval Historical Center | title = Missouri | url = http://history.navy.mil/danfs/m12/missouri-iv.htm | accessdate = 2008-10-07 | link = on ] [cite DANFS | author = Naval Historical Center | title = Wisconsin | url = http://history.navy.mil/danfs/w10/wisconsin-ii.htm | accessdate = 2008-10-07 | link = on ] Originally, the navy had struck all four ships and made plans to donate them, however Congress intervened in this plan with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1996. Section 1011 required the United States Navy to reinstate to the Naval Vessel Register two of the "Iowa"-class battleships that had been struck by the Navy in 1995; these ships were to be maintained in the United States Navy reserve fleets (or "mothball fleet"). The Navy was to ensure that both of the reinstated battleships were in good condition and could be reactivated for use in the Marine Corps' amphibious operations. Both battleships were to be maintained with the reserve fleet until such a time as the navy could certify that it had within its fleet the operational capacity to meet or exceed the gunfire support that both battleships could provide.104th Congress, House of Representatives. [http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/olc/docs/1996NDAA.pdf National Defense Authorization Act of 1996] . p. 237. Accessed 17 December 2006.] To comply with this requirement the navy selected the battleships USS|New Jersey|BB-62|2 and USS|Wisconsin|BB-64|2 for reinstatement to the Naval Vessel Register.

"New Jersey" remained in the mothball fleet until the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act of 1999 passed through the United States Congress 18 October 1998. Section 1011 required the United States Secretary of the Navy to list and maintain USS|Iowa|BB-61|2 and "Wisconsin" on the Naval Vessel Register, while Section 1012 required the Secretary of the Navy to strike "New Jersey" from the Naval Vessel Register and transfer the battleship to a non-for-profit entity in accordance with section 7306 of Title 10, United States Code. Section 1012 also required the transferee to locate the battleship in the State of New Jersey. [cite web |url=http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/olc/docs/1999NDAA.pdf |format=pdf |title=Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act of 1999 (Subtitle B-Naval Vessels and Shipyards) |accessdate=2007-03-12 |publisher=105th Congress, United States Senate and House of Representatives |pages=pp. 200–201] The Navy made the switch in January 1999; since then, "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" have been maintained on the NVR in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 1996.

Replacing the battleships

The Navy, which sees the battleships as too costly, is working to persuade Congress to allow it to remove "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" from the Naval Vessel Register by developing extended-range guided munitions and a new ship to fulfill Marine Corps requirements for naval surface fire support (NSFS).

The Navy plan originally called for the extension of the range of the convert|5|in|mm|0|adj=on guns on the Flight I sclass|Arleigh Burke|destroyer|0 guided missile destroyers (USS|Arleigh Burke|DDG-51|6 to USS|Ross|DDG-71|6) with Extended Range Guided Munitions (ERGMs) that would enable the ships to fire precision guided projectiles about convert|40|nmi|km|-1 inland. The program was initiated in 1996 with a preliminary cost of US $78.6 million; however, the cost of the program increased 400% during its research and development phase. The results of the program had been similarly disappointing: the original expected operational capability date was pushed from 2001 to 2011 before being cancelled by the Navy in March 2008 for budget-related reasons and an apparent shift by the Navy from the ERGM program to the Ballistic Trajectory Extended Range Munition (BTERM) program.cite news | url = http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/03/defense_ergm_032408/ | title = Navy ends ERGM funding | accessdate = 2008-04-23 | last = Matthews | first = William | date = 2007-03-25 | work = Navy Times ] These weapons are not intended or expected to satisfy the full range of the Marine Corps NSFS requirements.Government Accountability Office, "Evaluation of the Navy’s 1999 Naval Surface Fire Support Assessment" (NSAID-99-225).]

The result of the latter effort to design and build a replacement ship for the two battleships was the "Zumwalt"-class destroyer program, also known either as the DD(X) or DDG-1000 (in reference to "Zumwalt"’s hull number). The DD(X) was to mount a pair of Advanced Gun System turrets capable of firing specially designed Long Range Land Attack Projectiles some convert|60|mi|km|-1 inland. Originally, the navy had planned to build a total of 32 of these destroyers, however the increasing cost of the program lead the Navy to reduce the overall number of destroyers built from 32 to 24." [http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/pdf/hr109-452/title2.pdf National Defense Authorization Act of 2007] " (pdf) pp. 109th Congress, United States Senate and House of Representatives. 69–70. Retrieved on 2008-08-01.] In 2007 the total procurement of "Zumwalt"-class destroyers was further reduced to a total of seven, before being discontinued at a total of two destroyers in July 2008 as a result of the high cost of building each of the two ships.cite news | url = http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/07/defense_ddg1000_072208/ | title = DDG 1000 program will end at 2 ships | accessdate = 2008-07-27 | last = Cavas | first = Christopher P. | date = 2008-07-24 | work = Navy Times ] In September 2008 the navy and the House of Representatives reached an agreement which will allow for the construction of a third DD(X) destroyer, bringing the total number of "Zumwalt"-class destoyers to three. [cite web |url=http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3740731&c=SEA&s=TOP |title=US House, Senate Agree to Add 3rd DDG 1000 |accessdate=2008-10-07 |work= |publisher=Defense News |date=24 September 2008 ]

The discontinuation of the class is due in part to concerns that the "Zumwalts" may deprive other projects of needed funding, a concern that has been raised by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congressional Research Service (CRS), and the Government Accountability Office, all of which have issued reports that suggest that total cost of each ship could be as high as $5 billion or more, [cite web |url=http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/95xx/doc9571/07-31-Shipbuilding_Testimony.pdf |title=The Navy’s Surface Combatant Programs |accessdate=2008-08-02 |last=Labs |first=Eric J. |date=2008-07-31 |format=pdf |publisher=Congressional Budget Office |pages= pp. 3–9 |doi= ] the inability of the DD(X) to fire the standard missile or provide adequate air defense coverage, and a "classified threat" which the navy feels can be better handled by the current "Arleigh Burke"-class destroyers than by the "Zumwalt"-class destroyers.cite news |first=Philip |last=Ewing |coauthor=Bryan Mitchell |title=Navy:No Need to Add DDG 1000s After All |url=http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3654864&c=AME&s=TOP |work=defense news |publisher=Army Times Publishing Company |date=2008-08-01 |accessdate=2008-08-06 |archivedate= ] The article also reported that the Marine Corps no longer needs the long-range fire support from the "Zumwalts’" 155mm Advanced Gun System because such fire support can be provided by Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles and precision airstrikes.

Striking the "Iowa"-class battleships

On 17 March 2006, while the ERGM and DD(X) programs under development, the Secretary of the Navy exercised his authority to strike "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" from the Naval Vessel Register, which cleared the way for both ships to be donated for use as museums. The United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps had both certified that battleships would not be needed in any future war, and have thus turned their attention to development and construction of the next generation sclass|Zumwalt|destroyer|0 guided missile destroyers.

This move has drawn fire from sources familiar with the subject; among them are dissenting members of the United States Marine Corps, who feel that battleships are still a viable solution to naval gunfire support,cite news | last = Novak | first = Robert | authorlink = Robert Novak | title = Losing the battleships | url = http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/12/06/novak.marines/index.html | work = CNN.com | date = 2005-12-06 | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ] [Marine Corps supports the strategic purpose of reactivating two battleships in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 1996 and supports the Navy's modernization efforts to deliver a sufficient NSFS capability that exceeds that of the Iowa class battleships. See: Government Accountability Office. "Information on Options for Naval Surface Fire Support".] members of the United States Congress who remain "deeply concerned" over the loss of naval surface gunfire support that the battleships provided, and number of independent groups such as the United States' Naval Fire Support Association (USNFSA) whose ranks frequently include former members of the armed service and fans of the battleships. [cite news | last = Blazar | first = Ernest | title = New debate resurrects old one; critics say cancel arsenal ship, bring back battleships | work = Navy Times | date = 1996-07-29 ] [cite news | title = Navy proposes destroyer with long-range guns | work = USA Today | date = 2005-08-15 ] Although the arguments presented from each group differ, they all agree that the United States Navy has not in good faith considered the potential of reactivated battleships for use in the field, a position that is supported by a 1999 Government Accountability Office report regarding the United States Navy's gunfire support program.

In response, the Navy has pointed to the cost of reactivating the two "Iowa" class battleships to their decommissioned capability. The Navy estimates costs in excess of $500 million, [This number is based on 1999 estimate with a 4% annual inflation rate. See: Government Accountability Office. "Information on Options for Naval Surface Fire Support".] [The U.S. Navy reported in the April 1987 edition of "All Hands" that the original cost of bringing the battleships back in the 1980s was $110 million per ship, but the actual cost after modernization and recommissioning was $455 million. See: Bureau of Naval Personnel, "Back on the battle line".] but this does not include an additional $110 million needed to replenish the gunpowder for the convert|16|in|mm|0|adj=on guns because a survey found the powder to be unsafe. In terms of schedule, the Navy's program management office estimates that reactivation would take 20 to 40 months, given the loss of corporate memory and the shipyard industrial base.

Reactivating the battleships would require a wide range of battleship modernization improvements, according to the Navy's program management office. At a minimum, these modernization improvements include command and control, communications, computers, and intelligence equipment; environmental protection (including ozone-depleting substances); a plastic-waste processor; pulper/shredder and wastewater alterations; firefighting/fire safety and women-at-sea alterations; a modernized sensor suite (air and surface search radar); and new combat and self-defense systems. The Navy's program management office also identified other issues that would strongly discourage the Navy from reactivating and modernizing the battleships. For example, personnel needed to operate the battleships would be extensive, and the skills needed may not be available or easily reconstituted. [The U.S. Navy reported in the April 1987 edition of "All Hands" that while battleships have larger crews than other vessels the level of training required and the criticality of that training were less than that required of a crew aboard an Sclass|Oliver Hazard Perry|frigate|2. See: Bureau of Naval Personnel, "Back on the battle line".] Other issues include the age and unreliability of the battleships' propulsion systems and the fact that the Navy no longer maintains the capability to manufacture their convert|16|in|mm|adj=on gun system components and ordnance.

Although the Navy firmly believes in the capabilities of the DD(X) destroyer program, members of the United States Congress remain skeptical about the efficiency of the new destroyers when compared to the battleships. Partially as a consequence the US House of Representatives have asked that the battleships be kept in a state of readiness should they ever be needed again.109th Congress, House of Representatives. Report 109–452. National Defense Authorization Act of 2007. p. 68. Accessed 26 November 2006] Congress has asked that the following measures be implemented to ensure that, if need be, "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" can be returned to active duty:
#"Iowa" and "Wisconsin" must not be altered in any way that would impair their military utility;
#The battleships must be preserved in their present condition through the continued use of cathodic protection, dehumidification systems, and any other preservation methods as needed;
#Spare parts and unique equipment such as the convert|16|in|mm|adj=on gun barrels and projectiles be preserved in adequate numbers to support "Iowa" and "Wisconsin", if reactivated;
#The Navy must prepare plans for the rapid reactivation of "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" should they be returned to the Navy in the event of a national emergency.These four conditions closely mirror the original three conditions that the Nation Defense Authorization Act of 1996 laid out for the maintenance of "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" while they were in the Mothball Fleet.cite web | title = BB-61 IOWA-class (Specifications) | url = http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/bb-61.htm | publisher = Federation of American Scientists | accessdate = 2006-11-26]

Alternatives to Naval Gunfire

During the period of time in which the battleships were out of commission in the United States several technological updates and breakthroughs enable naval ships, submarines, and aircraft to compensate for the absence of big guns within the fleet.

Air superiority

The earliest challenge to naval artillery was the advent of aircraft and armour piercing/incendiary bombs, which could be used against land based targets in support of troop formations ashore. Although in its infancy during and after World War I, some saw the potential for aircraft and sea based air support and envisioned the role it would have in future conflicts. Among the more notable individuals within the United States was Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. Mitchell had served in World War I, where he eventually commanded all U.S. aircraft in the war and was responsible for leading Allied aircraft in support of the ground offensive during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, one of the first coordinated air-ground offensives in history. Mitchell's experience in World War I lead him to believe that battleships were out of date, and he became as increasingly vocal proponent of air power. [Mitchell, William. "Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power—Economic and Military", p. 119. Dover Publications, 2006. ISBN 0486453189]

In 1921, Mitchell first demonstrated to the world that battleships and other gun dependent vessels could be sunk by aircraft loaded with heavy bombs. In one of his most famous demonstrations, Mitchell convinced the Navy to allow bomb loaded aircraft to attack the German dreadnought SMS|Ostfriesland, a battleship taken as a prize of war by the United States in 1918. Although the Navy had placed strict rules on the bombing exercise, Mitchell and his men violated the rules and attacked the battleship head on, which caused the vessel to sink in a mere 22 minutes. [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/navybomb2.htm Vice Admiral Alfred Wilkinson Johnson, USN Ret. "The Naval Bombing Experiments: Bombing Operations" (1959)] ] Although downplayed at the time this would have a dramatic effect on U.S. policy, leading to increased research and development for aircraft. [Reid, John Alden. "Bomb the Dread Noughts!" Air Classics, 2006.]

By World War II naval aircraft had evolved to the point where they posed a threat to battleships and other naval vessels that lacked sufficient anti-aircraft defense. During WWII air raids accounted for the loss of warships and merchant vessels of all types, including the battleships "Conte di Cavour", "Arizona", "Utah", "Oklahoma", "Prince of Wales", "Roma", "Musashi", "Tirpitz", "Yamato", "Schleswig-Holstein", "Impero", "Limnos", "Kilkis", "Ise" and "Hyūga". These losses were sustained even after the introduction of the "All or Nothing" armor scheme (armor belts intended to protect battleships from guns of an equal or lesser caliber than their own) and the recognition of the role of airpower and the rise of various ship based anti-aircraft guns meant to improve air defense aboard ships. [Keegan, p. 264.] [cite web | last = Toppan | first = Andrew | title = World Battleships List: US Treaty and Post-Treaty Battleships | url = http://www.hazegray.org/navhist/battleships/us_wwii.htm | date = 2001-10-06 | accessdate = 2007-06-01 ] In addition to their role in attacking ships, several aircraft like the P-47 Thunderbolt were employed for close air support for ground based troops in Europe and in the Pacific. [cite web |url=http://www.vectorsite.net/avp47.html |title=The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt |accessdate=2008-10-07 |work= |publisher= Greg Goebel |date=2006-06-01 ]

By the time of the Korean War air power had been supplemented by the introduction of the jet engine, which allowed fighter and bomber aircraft to fly faster than had been possible with propeller drive airplanes. As with their World War II predecessors, the newer jet aircraft proved capable of providing close air support for ground based troops, and were instrumental in aiding UN ground forces during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. [ [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2297 National Museum of the USAF - Fact Sheet Media (F-86A/E/F Sabre)] ] [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p86_9.html American Military Aircraft (F-86 in Korea)] ]

The Vietnam War saw the introduction of helicopter gunships which could be employed to support ground based forces, and the experince gained in Vietnam would spawn the creation of several aircraft during and after the war designed specifically to aid ground forces, including the AC-47 Spooky, Fairchild AC-119, Lockheed AC-130, and A-10 Thunderbolt II, all of which are operated by the Air Force, and the F/A-18 Hornet which is operated by the Navy. In addition, the Army and Marine Corps operate UH-1 Iroquois, AH-1 Cobra, and AH-64 Apache helicopters for close air support, and these helicopters can be stationed onboard amphibious assault ships to provide provide ship-to-shore air support for ground forces. These aircraft would later prove instrumental in aiding ground forces from the 1980s onwards, and would be involved in the 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 invasion of Afganistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Missiles

Towards the end of World War II Adolph Hitler introduced the V-1 cruise missile and V-2 ballistic missiles in combat against the Allied forces. The missiles arrived too late to alter the course of the war, but after the fall of Nazi Germany the V-1 and V-2 rockets would form the foundations for the space race and for the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction by providing each superpower with Ballistic Missiles and Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles that could carry nuclear warheads.

Missile technology was not widely used in combat until the 1960s, when U.S. airplanes like the F-4 Phantom began carrying heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles for use against Vietnamese fighters during the Vietnam War.cite episode | title = Hell over Hanoi | episodelink = | url = | series = Dogfights | serieslink = Dogfights (TV series) | credits = | network = The History Channel | station = | city = | airdate = 2006-12-01 | began = | ended = | season = 1 | number = 1 | minutes = | transcript = | transcripturl = ] In 1967, Egypt sank the Israeli destroyer "Eilat" using a Soviet SS-N-2 STYX missile, [cite web |url=https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Cherbourg.html |title=The Cherbourg Boats |accessdate=2008-10-07 |work=Jewish Virtual Library |publisher=Doron Geller |date= ] and in the Battle of Latakia in 1973, the first battle between missile-equipped foes occurred, resulting in the loss of five Syrian vessels to Israeli-launched Gabriel missiles. By the 1980s missile technology had reached a point where the missiles were accurate and reliable enough to serve as striking arms and as close air support. In the Falklands War of 1982, Exocet missiles were blamed for the loss of several Royal Navy frigates and destroyers, ["The Battle for the Falklands", Max Hastings & Simon Jenkins, Pan Grand Strategy, 1983] and in the 1988 Operation Praying Mantis US Missiles were used to successfully sink a number of Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf.

Furthermore, the rise of precision strike munitions in the 1970s and 1980s eliminated the need for a massive naval bombardment against an enemy force, as missiles could now be used against such targets to support ground forces and to destroy targets in advance of the arrival of troops. Guided missiles can also fire much further than the guns of any destroyer, cruiser, frigate, or battleship, allowing for strikes deep into the heart of enemy territory without risking the lives of pilots or airplanes. This lead to a major shift in naval thinking, and as a result ships became more dependent on missile magazines than on their guns for offensive and defensive capabilities. This was demonstrated in the 1980s, when all four recommissioned battleships were outfitted with missile magazines, and again in the 1991 Gulf War, when both "Missouri" and "Wisconsin" launched missile volleys against targets in Iraq before using their guns against Iraqi targets on the coast. The same conflict saw the first use of submarine launched cruise missiles when the "Los Angeles"-class attack submarine USS|Louisville|SSN-724 fired Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles into Iraq from the Red Sea.

Currently, the United States is looking into Non-Line-of-Sight Launch Systems, which would fire either Precision Attack Munitions or Loitering Attack Munitions; [cite web |url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/net-fires.htm |title=Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) |accessdate=2008-10-09 |work= |publisher=globalsecurity.org |date=2006-01-10 ] however the latter program has reportedly been cancelled due to rising costs and poor test performance.

Although ship fired missiles can provide support for shore based units they are susceptible to interception by anti-missile systems such as the Aegis Combat System and MIM-104 Patriot system developed by the United States and used by NATO and US-friendly nations. These systems were designed to track and destroy missiles before they can hit their intended target. Systems of this nature hae been in use since the late 1970s, but the technology used in such systems has improved over the years to allow for increased accuracy. The first widely reported instances of such systems working came in 1991 when the US Patriot and Royal Navy Sea Dart missile system successfully intercepted and destoyed Iraqi Scud and Silkworm missiles.cite news|url=http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/27/hms_diamond_launches_ouch_ouch/|title=New BAE destroyer launches today on the Clyde|author=Lewis Page|publisher=The Register|date=27th November 2007|accessdate=2008-04-21] [cite web|url=http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/du_ii/du_ii_tabh.htm|title=TAB H -- Friendly-fire Incidents|author=Bernard Rostker|publisher=United States Department of Defense|date=19th September 2000|accessdate=2008-08-11] [The success of the MIM-104 Patriot Missile Sytem in these engagements, and in particular how many of them were real targets is still controversial. Post war video analysis of presumed interceptions suggests that no Scud was actually hit. cite web | last = | url = http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/1992_h/h920407p.htm | title = Optical Evidence Indicating Patriot High Miss Rates During the Gulf War | accessdate = 2008-01-29]

Gun support

Although largely obsolete, naval gunfire has been used intermittently since the end of the Second World War. By and large, the guns are small caliber guns found on modern frigates, cruisers, destroyers.

In the 1980s, such guns were used by US destroyers during the Lebanese Civil War to shell positions for the Multinational Force in Lebanon operating on the ground. Guns were also used by the Royal Navy in the Falklands War to support British forces during the operations to recapture the islands from the Argentinans. For example, the Type 42 destroyer HMS|Cardiff|D108 was required to fire at enemy positions on the islands with her 4.5-inch gun. In one engagement she fired 277 high-explosive rounds,cite web|url=http://hmscardiff.co.uk/rop.aspx|title=Report of Proceedings|publisher=HMS "Cardiff"—The 1982 Ship's Company|accessdate=2008-02-12] although later problems with the gun prevented continual use.cite book |last=Fieldgate|first=Barrie |title=The Captain's Steward: Falklands, 1982 |url =http://books.google.com/books?id=2YaHXQHxtuoC&pg=PA222&vq=cardiff&dq=%22HMS+Cardiff%22&lr=&as_brr=3&source=gbs_search_s&cad=5&sig=zY4maUS_8f6hs31s-xbV6dp4b34 |publisher=Melrose Press |year=2007 |pages=p. 222 |isbn=1905226462|accessdate=2008-03-11] Ship-based gunfire was also used during Operation Praying Mantis in 1988 to neutralize Iranian gun emplacements on oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. [cite web |url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/earnest_will.htm |title=Operation Earnest Will |accessdate=2008-10-07 |work= |publisher=globalsecurity.org |date=2005-04-27 ] Although the smaller calibure guns are effective in combat, larger calibur guns can be employed for psychological warfare purposes, and have compelled the surrender of enemy combatants during combat operations due to a sense of overwhelming firepower. One of the most recent examples of this was the bombardment of Iraqi shore defenses by the battleships "Missouri" & "Wisconsin" in the Persian Gulf War.cite book | chapter = V: "Thunder And Lightning"- The War With Iraq | title = The United States Navy in "Desert Shield" / "Desert Storm"| url = http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/dstorm/index.html | chapterurl = http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/dstorm/ds5.htm | author = United States. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. | location = Washington, D.C. | publisher= United States Navy | date = 1991-05-15 | accessdate = 2006-11-26 | oclc = 25081170] The shelling proved to be so devastating that when the latter battleship returned to resumed shelling the island the enemy troops surrendered to her Pioneer UAV launched to spot for the battleships' guns rather than face another round of heavy naval artillery support. [Federation of American Scientists. [http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/pioneer.htm Pioneer Short Range (SR) UAV] . Accessed 26 November 2006.] [National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. [http://web.archive.org/web/20080117120211/http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/pioneer.htm Pioneer RQ-2A] Dead link|date=October 2008. 14 September 2001. Accessed 26 November 2006.]

In addition, the Navy has looked into creating precision guided artillery rounds for use with the current fleet of cruisers and destroyers. The most recent attempt to modify the guns for longer range came with the Advanced Gun System mounts that were to be installed aboard the Zumwalt class destroyers, although the navy has been involved in the Long Range Land Attack Projectile and Ballistic Trajectory Extended Range Munition projects for over 10 years in an effort to develop Extended Range Guided Munitions.

In addition to funding research into various extended range munitions, the navy is also working on developing railguns for use with the fleet at some point in the future. The United States Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division demonstrated an 8 MJ rail gun firing 3.2 kilogram (slightly more than 7 pounds) projectiles in October 2006 as a prototype of a 64 MJ weapon to be deployed aboard Navy warships. The main problem the navy has had with implementing a railgun cannon system is that the guns wear out due to the immense heat produced by firing. Such weapons are expected to be powerful enough to do a little more damage than a BGM-109 Tomahawk missile at a fraction of the projectile cost. [cite web |url=http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/012007/01172007/251373 |title=A missile punch at bullet prices |last=Zitz |first=Michael |accessdate = 2008-10-07 |date=2007-01-17 |publisher=Fredericksburg.com ] Since then, BAE Systems has delivered a 32 MJ prototype to the Navy. [cite web |url=http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4231461.html |title=World's Most Powerful Rail Gun Delivered to Navy |last=Sofge |first=Erik |accessdate = 2008-10-07 |date=2007-11-14 |publisher=Popular Mechanics ] On January 31, 2008 the US Navy tested a magnetic railgun; it fired a shell at 2520 m/s using 10.64 megajoules of energy. [cite web |url=http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=34718 |title=U.S. Navy Demonstrates World's Most Powerful EMRG at 10 Megajoules] Its expected performance is over 5800 m/s muzzle velocity, accurate enough to hit a 5 meter target from 200 nautical miles (370 km) away while shooting at 10 shots per minute. It is expected to be ready between 2020 and 2025.

Recent developments

Prior to the reduction of ships in the DD(X) destroyer program it seemed unlikely that the above four conditions would have impeded the current plan to turn "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" into museum ships because the Navy had expected a sufficient number of DD(X) destroyers to be ready to help fill the NSFS gap by 2018 at the earliest; however, the July 2008 decision by the Navy to cancel the DD(X) program would leave the Navy without a ship class capable of replacing the two battleships removed from the Naval Vessel Register in March 2006. Although unlikely, the cancellation of the DD(X) destroyer program may result in a reinstatement of "Iowa" and "Wisconsin" to the Naval Vessel Register; by law, the Navy is required to maintain two battleships on the register until the navy certifies that it has within its fleet the operation NSFS capability that can meet or exceed the amount provided by the battleships, and with the Extended Range Guided Munitions program already cancelled in March 2008 and DD(X) destroyer program essentially cancelled in July 2008 the Navy does not appear to have met its needed criteria for battleship removal.

Notes

References

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* Coram, Robert. "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War". Los Angeles: Back Bay Books, 2004. ISBN 0-31679-688-3.
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