Russian and Chinese A2/AD Has Forced US Navy to Move Naval Strike Underwater but Even That May No Longer Work

Missile strike on peers can now only come from subs, but even these may not survive long after

The illusion now is that supposedly “cheap, expendable” (when has the US MIC last been able to build something that is cheap??) surface drone ships can do the job where guided missile destroyers and subs can not, but if anything that’s even less feasible

The U.S. Navy is preparing to ink one of the largest contracts in its history with General Dynamics Electric Boat and the firm’s partner shipyard Huntington Ingalls Industries that will make the new generation of attack submarines a major force in strike warfare.

The Block V Virginia contract is expected to produce 11 boats with eight Virginia Payload Modules, and will triple the Virginia’s Tomahawk Land Attack Missile capacity to 40 missiles per hull. Experts say that the new Virginia Payload Module will also be large enough to accommodate boost-glide hypersonic missiles like those the Navy is developing with the Army.

But the logic for the Virginia Payload Module has always been about replacing the Ohio-class guided missile submarines retiring in the 2020s. Because submarines have been the Navy’s go-to asset to penetrate areas threated by Chinese and Russian surface-to-surface and anti-ship missiles, attack submarines loaded with strike missiles would have to be the ones to get close enough to be able to launch land-attack strikes.

That model upends decades of the surface Navy’s supremacy in the world of strike warfare from the sea, but experts are beginning to question the logic of giving the strike warfare mission to submariners in an era of great power competition. With Russia and, to an even greater extent, China investing heavily in anti-submarine technology, does it make sense to give a stealthy asset a mission that will blow its cover?

Bryan Clark, a retired submariner and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, wonders if the surface fleet is the best place inside the force to house the strike mission.

“I think the requirement may be changing,” he said in an Oct. 22 phone call with Defense News. “Over the past 10 years there has been a real emphasis on the submarine as the one tool we have that may be able to get into contested areas — the East and South China seas, up in the north Atlantic, etc.

“That’s changing now: These countries are investing in their own anti-submarine warfare systems. China has put a lot of money into ASW systems, they are installing surveillance systems akin to our SOSUS [sound surveillance system]. So the idea that our submarines are our go-to asset to gain access, that may not be true in the next few years as it was in the past 10, so there is a question as to whether we should be investing in submarines to maintain the undersea strike capacity.”

‘Increasingly vulnerable’

The issue is not just that submarines run the risk of being detected, which is an ever-present risk anytime a submarine leaves the pier, but that it won’t be able to create the volume of fires that the surface fleet could, especially with new concepts in development such as a large unmanned surface vessel that could act as a kind of arsenal ship.

“The surface fleet is likely going to be our best strike capacity asset in the next decade,” Clark said. “Submarines are going to be increasingly vulnerable, so the question becomes: Do I want to take my [Virginia Payload Module]-equipped SSN, put it inside the South China Sea to launch strikes, get counter-detected and harassed for days afterward? I lose it from the fight for a long time just evading attacks.

Whereas if you used unmanned surface vessels, those can launch just as many cruise missiles as a Virginia class, many times cheaper; they can rotate, get reloaded and just keep launching strikes at a much higher rate of fire as you would ever get out of the SSN force.” [Obvious claptrap, a surface drone ship is going to be destroyed even much sooner.]

Jerry Hendrix, a retired naval flight officer and analyst with The Telemus Group, agreed that the surface fleet is likely going to be the place to house a strike capability, especially in the era of mass hypersonic fires, because of the cost it would impose on the U.S. to try to match Chinese capabilities on subs.

“I think there is a powerful argument to distribute these weapons across the surface force,” Hendrix said. “If you can create a strike weapon that allows the surface force to stand outside of DF-21 and DF-26 range and shoot three-pointers from outside, then yes. To create mass and volume in the submerged force is twice to three times as expensive as it is to create that volume from the surface force.

“So there is a solid argument just from the standpoint of cost. If I was trying to create 2,000 tubes of hypersonics — which are much more massive than Tomahawks, wont fit into a Mark 41 vertical launch system and hence will have to go into a different configuration — to create that mass in the submerged force is going to be very expensive.”

The Navy is looking at back-fitting destroyers with larger vertical launching system tubes to accommodate so-called prompt-strike weapons, Defense News reported in June. But some analysts say the mission is better suited for a large unmanned surface vessel.

“I think this is going to one of the main things driving the design of the large unmanned surface combatant,” said Dan Gouré, an analyst at the Lexington Institute think tank. “We’re back to arsenal ship: long-range, park it into a surface action group of carrier strike group — kind of like a surface version of the SSGN.”

Source: Defense News

  1. Drew says

    Wouldn’t be a lot cheaper and safer not to faq with Russia and China?

  2. Séamus Ó Néill says

    We are all witnessing the collapse of the empire in all its forms. America is a drug ridden, obese, amoral cesspit. Its infrastructure is crumbling at an exponential rate, It’s bankrupt, both morally and financially. It’s homelessness has rocketed and its citizens have taken to defecating in the streets like wild animals. It only knows genocide, war and destruction and it can’t find a way back to anything approaching normality….it can only plan for more of the same.

    1. i wish i could state it as eloquently as you just did

    2. David Bedford says

      Meanwhile China is building infrastructure all over the world with their BRI, Landing Rovers on the dark side of the moon, building 5G towers all over China, recreating the sun to make clean energy and turning their sand dunes into forests. America is doing the opposite of progress.

  3. Eol Awki says

    Russia and China’s defensive capabilities are rapidly outstripping the offensive capabilities of America. This should be a strong message to America to pull back its offensive forces and concentrate instead on defensive forces, thus ensuring America’s ability to survive and relieving the pressure of war on the the rest of the world.

    But of course this would mean the collapse of the Empire, and possibly America itself as its economic power is directly proportional to its ability to project military power.

  4. LS says

    All of this strikes me as madness. I would suggest they have no intention of ever using any of this shit. It is all about money for the MIC.

    1. thomas malthaus says

      Short of a nuclear conflict, the greatest weapons within the Russian arsenal are de-dollarization and revitalizing economic partnerships with friendly sovereigns.

      The dollar, pound, and Israeli shekel are on the outs.
      The euro may not be far behind.

      Spacibo, to Messrs. Putin and Solovyov.

      1. Canosin says

        more. … more…. pleeeeeze more sanctions……
        Mama Rossiya is enjoying a plentiful of sanctions… . leading to a revival of a huge industrial growth….. in science-based …. technological .. agricultural…. educational and spiritual development….. translating into military authority above the US and independence from western lackay states like UK, Germany, Scandinavian and the Benelux…… Russia has been reborn as a Superpower and will stay for a very long time. .. long after the DisUnited States of Zionist America is gone and forgotten…

  5. Canosin says

    obsolete……. the US Navy is overstreched in its operations….. down time has dramatically increased in all categories….. currently still 6 out of 11 active carrier in repair docks…. technology is outdated and extremely expensive…. three examples: the Zumwalt stealthy destroyer (harharhar) the Gerald Ford class carrier and the Independence class LCS….. a complete desaster in money for value. … and worthless…..
    the Chinese and Russian Navies have outnumbered the US fleet…. in all categories….
    and. ….. the Chinese are building lots of new subs, modern destroyers and especially focusing on ASW capabilities…. hypersonic weaponry included

    1. LS says

      There is no way this steaming pile o diversity could keep up with the Chinese. The idea is laughable.

      1. David Bedford says

        Not now that they survived the coronavirus biological weapon from the US, now they are the only country in the world enjoying positive growth and the Western world is cheering the next lockdown. They are speaking at their own funeral.

  6. Mary E says

    Sounds to me like the US Navy is running itself ragged trying to keep up with China and Russia’s weaponry! They just don’t have enough technologically educated people to do the job….and those that are up to snuff (educationally and innovatively) don’t have a grip on how best to push ahead of the others…they just can’t…but the big bucks keep being sent their way like they were accomplishing great things instead of doing trial and error kind of stuff….

  7. JustPassingThrough says

    So the idea is to build platforms to accomodate the Tomahawk??
    11 hulls * 40 missiles/hull * 1870000$/missile = 822,800,000$/shot

    Sounds like a winner.
    Make missiles.
    Make a lot of money.
    Don’t hit anything.
    Make more missiles.
    Make more money.
    Don’t hit anything.
    Wash, Rinse Repeat.

    Tomahawk Specs:
    The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile is a long-range, all-weather, jet-powered,
    subsonic cruise missile that is primarily used by the United States
    Navy and Royal Navy in ship- and submarine-based land-attack operations.Wikipedia
    Type:Long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile
    Place of origin:United States
    In service:1983–present
    Used by:United States Navy, Royal Navy
    Manufacturer:General Dynamics (initially), McDonnell Douglas, Hughes Aircraft Corporation, Raytheon
    Unit cost:$1.87M (FY2017) (Block IV)
    Weight:2,900 lb (1,315.42 kg), 3,500 lb (1,587.57 kg) with booster
    Length:Without booster: 18 ft 3 in (5.57 m) With booster: 20 ft 6 in (6.25 m)
    Diameter:20.4 in (0.52 m)
    W80 warhead (retired), Conventional: 1,000 lb (453.59 kg) high
    explosive or submunition dispenser with BLU-97/B Combined Effects Bomb
    or PBXN
    Detonation, mechanism:FMU-148 (Fuse: electronic, proximity) since TLAM Block III, others for special applications
    Engine:Williams International F107-WR-402 turbofan, using TH-dimer fuel, and a solid-fuel rocket booster
    Wingspan:8 ft 9 in (2.67 m)
    Operational, range:Block
    II TLAM-A – 1,350 nautical miles Block III TLAM-C, Block IV TLAM-E –
    900 nautical miles Block III TLAM-D – 700 nautical miles
    Flight altitude:AGL (Above Ground Level)

    Speed:Subsonic, ~Mach 0.74. about 550 mph
    Guidance, system:GPS, INS, TERCOM,(It uses a pre-recorded contour map of the terrain. ahhh ocean terrain?? ) DSMAC(ocean terrain??), active radar homing (RGM/UGM-109B)
    Launch, platform:Vertical Launch System (VLS) and horizontal submarine torpedo tubes (known as TTL (torpedo tube launch))

    1. David Bedford says

      Let me guess this is just information off the top of your head lol

      1. JustPassingThrough says


    2. thomas malthaus says

      I maintain NGOs do a considerable amount of damage as well.

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