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The War Nerd / April 1, 2009

War Nerd Update:

The U.S. Navy, Stuck With Its Own Harpoon

All day I’ve been thinking about the Navy and the fact that it has no defenses at all against ballistic missiles. The main point, the one I was trying to make in my last story, is that when something comes along like this and you’re tempted to say, “Well, they must have thought of that already, they must have some defense in mind…”-when you start talking like that, just slap yourself and remember all the other military traditions that kept going long after anybody with sense knew they were finito.

The most obvious example is European heavy cavalry trotting into longbow fire again and again. Crecy demonstrated that knightly charges were suicide against the longbow in 1346. But the French aristocracy had so much invested in prancing around on their damn steeds that it took another demonstration, at Agincourt in 1415 to even start to get them thinking about it. I’m no math wiz but I think that 1415 minus 1346…yup, that’s 69 years between catastrophes. Lessons learned? None.

These dodos always have one thing in common: whether it’s knights charging with lances on very expensive horses or top gun brats like McCain zooming onto carrier decks in history’s most expensive aircraft, you’ll always find that the worst, most over-funded services are always the ones where the rich kids go to show their stuff. Seriously: why are there aircraft carriers? For asses like John McCain to crash on. Why do they keep getting funded long after they’ve been shown up? The same reason knights were galloping around pretending that the longbow hadn’t turned half their friends into pincushions: because it was a way of life for the richest and dumbest people in the country and they weren’t about to let it go.

It’s weird the way war nerds who are up to the minute on the specs of this or that weapons system never think hard about what those specs mean. Let me tell you the example I’m thinking of here. Y’all remember the Harpoon, the US Navy’s first dedicated anti-ship guided surface to surface missile, right? Good ol’ AGM-84? A fine weapon by all accounts. You’ll remember it entered service in 1977.

Long time ago, right? Jimmy Carter, the peacenik jerk who got us in this Iranian mess, was still president, unfortunately. People still drove American cars and spoke English. Olden Times, in other words.

Well, instead of just paging through Jane‘s and drooling over the Harpoon’s range and 221-kg warhead (don’t bother lying, I spent years doing that stuff myself and I know), think about what that weapons means in terms of this key sentence from my last story: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.” Now put that together with the fact that the Harpoon, way back in the Disco Era, had a cool little feature called “pop-up.” And what it meant is that the Harpoon itself worked as a ballistic missile. So even in our own inventory, we’ve had a weapon lying around for decades that could have taken out all our carriers.

What “pop-up” means is-well, it’s actually kind of cool and for once I can talk my old fave, hardware, without feeling like a tool. So anyway, the Harpoon has an interesting trajectory. It’s fired from vertical or diagonal tubes on the deck or the hold of surface ships, but there are other models that can be launched from aircraft or even subs. If you’ve seen video of a harpoon launch, you see it zoom up from the tube, then slide down to fly level, just above the waves, so’s to avoid enemy radar.

But once the Harpoon’s own radar has spotted the target, does it keep flying level to slam into the side of the ship? Nope. I’ll quote from the owner’s manual: “Once a target has been located and the seeker locked…the missile climbs rapidly to about 1800m before diving on the target (“pop-up maneuver”).”

DN-SN-86-05289

American-fired Harpoon wastes a pesky Libyan missile corvette back in 1986.

In other words, the Harpoon does a last-minute transformation from wave-skimmer to ballistic missile. If you diagrammed its flight path, seen from the side, You’d get a capital “P” lying on its back, with the loop of the “P” being the pop-up maneuver.

The reason the Harpoon was designed to hit the target from above rather than the side is simple: a ships defenses are configured to stop planes (and missiles, even though they don’t work against missiles and everybody knows it) coming in diagonally or horizontally. To repeat that sentence again–and I’m going to keep repeating it till everybody realizes what it means–”ships currently [just like in 1977 when the Harpoon entered service] have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

So we have the Navy’s own weapons system testifying against it: way back in Carter’s time the Navy bought a weapon that was designed to hit ships like a ballistic missile, yet now, forty years later, USN ships have no defense against ballistic missiles.

It gets worse. The Navy didn’t even want the Harpoon at all. It was only adopted because after seeing Soviet-made anti-ship missiles destroy the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967, a few of the more honest R&D guys at the Pentagon forced the Navy to shop for their own model. The Navy-remember, they’re just like the French heavy cavalry brass of the late 14th century, trying real hard not to think about the real world-didn’t like the idea of anti-ship missiles at all. They were the equivalent of the longbow: unmanned, longrange, un-chivalrous weapons, and you couldn’t drink with them at the officer’s club.

But the Eilat sinking was so embarrassing it forced a few hungover sober moments. Here’s the pride of the Israeli navy, the INS Eilat, formerly HMS Zealous, doing what surface ships do best: lookin’ good and being completely useless. Yes, useless. I’m sick of softplaying it and I’ll say outright: any surface vessel bigger than a patrol boat is useless scrap iron, and the story of the Eilat proves it. 

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261 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. mechagodzilla  |  March 31st, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    How do you carry out a class war in the Navy? In that light, how do you feel about the subject matter of the book The Pentagon Wars?

  • 2. az  |  March 31st, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    mechagodzilla: it’s called Battleship Potemkin, dude. Such an underrated movie.

  • 3. geo8rge  |  March 31st, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Your article is about obsolescence not death. Obsolescence is not a problem for a government agency. What will kill the carrier is the collapse of the US economy and the retardation of US people. The British probably cannot afford Trident and to be a nuclear power. I bet they give up or share costs with the French. For fun you might look up something called fogbank which is needed to make nuclear missles, but the US forgot how to make. That is to say the German Jew that last knew how to make it died. The US airforce should put a wanted add on Alibaba for it, ha ha ha. Seriously all these weapon systems that come about during and after WWII were at least half built by foreign talent. These days the only people who want to live here are third world peasants. Maybe if UK collapses, and Europe goes Islamo the US will get some engineering talent.

  • 4. littlebigman  |  March 31st, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Whenever the day comes when some nation or group (China, Iran, Somalis) decides to turn our ships into “artificial reefs” (to paraphrase), no one, (atleast no one who lives off the coast whereever this happens) is going to be laughing at our hubris for long. Most of these ships run off of nuclear reactors now, add to that that they’ll be blown to smithereens or riddled like swiss cheese, and you’ll long for the days of oil spills.

  • 5. littlebigman  |  March 31st, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Also, while I’m at it, it’s time to start paying up. That’s right, show some love to the eXile. Think of it this way: The Saudis do it all the time with their Islamic “charities”. And charities indeed. It’s for a good cause after all, covering the class war in the US. Next stop: going IRA on those fuckers. So stop making excuses and start doing the right thing. You know who you are.

  • 6. aleke  |  March 31st, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I’m not really looking forward to Chinese domination.

  • 7. Moo  |  April 1st, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Let’s pretend this is an alternate universe where we’ve suddenly all become sane: Why not just sell all eleven carrier groups to the Chinese? (Assuming they’ll take them.)

    Instant debt reduction!

  • 8. Anonymous  |  April 1st, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Posting a comment to get even more value for my 18 euro.

  • 9. Indifferent  |  April 1st, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Isn’t this like saying, “ships currently have no defence against meteor strikes?”

    Since when is ballistic missile guidance in any way capable of homing on a moving vehicle? If there’s anything more innovative to this technology than Russian-style military “not having analogs in the world” pot-beating, it would have been worth an analysis in the article.

  • 10. jonny.m  |  April 1st, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    OK so they’ve developed this ballistic missile — how many do they have in production? How many have they already made? Those are the numbers that need to be addressed, I think. How worried I am about this depends on the answer to those questions.

  • 11. mx?  |  April 1st, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Welcome back, sir.

  • 12. Alok  |  April 1st, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I think that is why the Chinese, despite all their financial muscle haven’t bought up a carrier or three with spare change from anyone willing to sell (aka Russians). Also why the Soviets were probably not great fans of the carrier battle group strategy during the Cold War and are now selling their carriers on the cheap to gullible idiots in the Indian Navy (who are burning up money building a carrier instead of half a dozen nuke subs and 50 conventional ones).

    Unfortunately for us Indians, we took our naval lessons from the Royal Navy post WW I instead of our own naval greats like Angre & Tanaji who had no use for big guns and fat galleons.
    Small consolation: Pakistan cannot afford a navy. But I bet the Chinese see our floating targets and have a good laugh over some haka noodles.

  • 13. Homer Erotic  |  April 1st, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Indifferent, I think you might not have read the article very carefully, maybe you were in the middle of getting ready for work or something. The Harpoon missle that Brecher describes sure sounds like something that has a targetting system, and it can behave the way a ballistic-missle could upon acquiring the target. And the Styx missles that destroyed the Eilat and consequently convinced the Israelis to scale down their navy, weren’t even ballistic-missles, just simple anti-ship cruise-missles.

  • 14. Hal O'Brien  |  April 1st, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    “I’ve just read one of the most shocking stories in years. It comes from the US Naval Institute, not exactly an alarmist or anti-Navy source.”

    No, not exactly anti-Navy. In fact, very pro-Navy.

    Which means, not unlike the “missile gap” of the 1960 US Presidential campaign, when an advocacy group for a branch of the military just *happens* to find an Important, Unexpected Threat, and it just *happens* to announce this threat right around budget time for the Congress…

    Well, let’s just say I’m a wee bit skeptical.

    This strikes me as a request for more money for ABM work, long as trillions of dollars in new money are floating around inside the Beltway.

  • 15. Hal O'Brien  |  April 1st, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Pull quote from Tom Barnett on this topic:

    ( http://thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2009/04/relax_and_dont_get_sold_prolif.html )

    *^*^*

    (W)e have to ask ourselves to place these amazing warfighting scenarios in the context of the actual world we find ourselves inhabiting today. Anybody out there who thinks we will slowly advance through some big-war scenario that sees the Chinese repeatedly sink our carriers is simply nuts. We would elevate rapidly, signaling that intent all the way. On the far side there wouldn’t be a Taiwan you could inhabit, and China would end up getting crushed in a pointless manner. America would still be around, but deeply wounded by events.

    In short, there is no faster way to turn both the US and China into secondary powers that to engage in some pointless war over Taiwan.

    And yet, in a tough budgetary environment, expect to see oodles of carrier porn and fighter jet porn and all manner of force structure porn teased out endlessly. This isn’t about defending Taiwan; this is about defending contracts and jobs and budget shares.

    In short, it’s a glorious sort of Orwellian phrasing: others’ weapons kill, ours are for security; other nations’ weapons are offensive, while ours are strictly defensive.

  • 16. Indifferent  |  April 1st, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DF-21
    “These would combine manoeuvrable reentry vehicles (MaRVs) with some kind of terminal guidance system.”

    “some kind??”

    “WOULD???”

    Come on, this weapon is plasma stealth all over again – does not and never will exist in any usable capacity, except buzz. Homing seeker electronic sensors don’t survive re-entry, end of story. The Harpoon is NOT a ballistic missile!

    Love the rest though.

  • 17. Indifferent  |  April 1st, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    What’s troublesome is that Brecher is using the USN as his very source of info for berating the USN. Of course (can he really not see it??), this is exactly what they want us to do – please! berate the USN! We’re defenseless against this non-existent, hypothetical weapon! Spend more tax dollars developing useless BMD now, only for ships – enough protecting Poland from nonexistent imaginary Iranian weapons already!

    What’s going on? Did the USN give a big donation to the site? This is the oldest fundraising strategy in the Pentagon book – remember the Su-30MKI’s imaginary AA-12 success against USAF F-15 in Indian exercises (so please save the children by buying more F-22s)? Brecher’s no tool – what’s going on?

  • 18. Indifferent  |  April 1st, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Oh, it’s April Fool’s Day. duh

  • 19. Cal  |  April 1st, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    The U.S. Navy spent billions trying to develope a stealth warship in the 1980s when the world’s first stealth warship was contructed in the 1860s – it is called a submarine.

  • 20. Realist  |  April 1st, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Bless you War Nerd!

    The military is a safe haven for dumb fucks who refuse to adapt to any development whatsoever, come hell or high water. Its a trademark. Its not just the navy.

    Missile accuracy is probably not all important. Once someone decides to go after a carrier group, the gloves are off. A tactial nuke of modest yield somewhere around or (particulary nasty) UNDER a group would cashier the whole ayeaye gang. Also, there is not a lot of redundant stuff on modern warships. Blast damage alone would send most vessels back to the drydock, the bigger the worse.

    geo8rge has it figured out:

    Budgetary constraints and brain drain will prove to be more lethal to the Navy (AF if you like) than any weapon system. I doubt very much we will ever see the grand US vs. China faceoff, it will be a slow death in the numbers.

  • 21. Neil  |  April 1st, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I spent 4.5 years aboard the USS Enterprise in M Division and can tell you with absolute certainty that the expansion joints on the four main condenser seawater scoop injections are made of vulcanized rubber. I suspect it’s the same in every other steam powered Navy ship. Rubber ain’t armor.

    It would have been a terrible tragic disaster but I wonder if wouldn’t have been a blessing in disguise if the Hajis had sunk the New Jersey with some of those Styx missiles when it was shelling Lebanon back in 1984.

  • 22. 23Skidoo  |  April 1st, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    @Alok, Chinese DID buy a Russian carrier:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_aircraft_carrier_Varyag

  • 23. harv  |  April 1st, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    we were too busy shelling eachother to give a fuck about that piece of shit new jersey…which was only there for useless political cinematics anyway

  • 24. Sublime Oblivion  |  April 1st, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    First off, I agree with the article. However, I have a question – why do you think the Chinese (and the Russians as well, for that matter) have tentative longterm plans to develop aircraft carriers themselves?

    Is it disinformation? For prestige like the USN? To harass small poor countries?

    Also, I was thinking – would it become technologically feasible to kill an anti-ship ballistic missile with rapidly firing rail guns or lasers in the next few decades?

  • 25. boredofnames  |  April 1st, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Escorts can shoot down incoming BMs in their terminal phase until their SM cells are empty; they can carry far more SMs amongst them than China could lob at a CVBG. Something coming down fast and hot is easy to shoot down.

  • 26. DisappointedReader  |  April 1st, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Are we suffering from a sudden attack of retardedness lately? The whole *POINT* of the CIWS system was to shoot down weapons such as the Styx and Harpoon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_CIWS

    “Have no defense”??? Either the author was a moron, deliberately lying, or that statement was taken so far out of context it needs an export permit. Heard of AEGIS lately? SM-3s, anyone? They’ve shot down fucking satellites with them, FFS. It’s an ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE SYSTEM. We can argue effectiveness, cost, deployment status, or whatever else, but to claim that there’s no defense mechanism is obvious bullshit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIM-161_Standard_missile_SM-3

    For a hardware nerd, this article is an example of Epic Fail. C’mon now.

  • 27. mil history buff  |  April 1st, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Carriers aren’t there to fight other ships, they are there to provide a mobile airstrip from which we can lazily pound countries which cannot fight back, i.e. Vietnam, Iraq, Serbia, and their ilk. The good admiral is right in that the Navy is not there to fight. We have no naval peer to fight that wouldn’t go to nukes in short order, making our gold plated weapons systems (F-22, M1, etc…) irrelevant. The Navy is there to project US power. For killing muslims, or serbs, or any other people that happen to be in season in Washington.

    The Soviet Navy, whose mission was denial of the sea to its enemies, focused on subs and antiship missiles. They developed a great variety of them, supersonic ones, sub launched ones, huge ones that attacked as networked packs. Their mission was to kill enemy ships, and arguably, they developed a formidable arsenal to do just that.

    The US surface Navy post WWII has been used as artillery. In Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I, Yugoslavia, Gulf War II, Afganistan the Navy provided firesupport against opponents that had no means of hitting back. So our Navy hasn’t fought in over 60 years, and understandably, hasn’t evolved for that mission. I’m not sure why it should either. We’re not remotely close to fighting any country with a credible navy. And not surprisingly, countries that do have potential to challenge our Navy, are either allies (Japan, France, UK) or nuclear armed (Russia, China) so the deterrent level is quite high.

  • 28. Allen  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Great article … the carriers are obsolete topic is always fun.

    A thought about the Jimmi Carter reference and Iran. (This is not the first time you have brought it up). It would be interesting one day to see a “what if” article about America trying to suppress the Iranian revolution, like so many think should have been done.

    I think it’s something of a gross exaggeration to assume it would have been so easy — especially coming on the heels of Vietnam.

    There’s a tendency to assume Khomeini coming to power was just like a stuffy reactionary traditionalist type deal that would have fallen over easy. In reality Khomeini’s politics were revolutionary and new for Iran … the result of guys like Ali Shariati bringing in the influence of a lot of French philosophy and politics — guys like Sarte and Fanon who also made a big impression on Pol Pot.

    The result was a kind of reactivation of a side of Shi’ism that hadn’t been seen in a hell of a long time … you might have to go back to the early Safavid days to find Shi’ism so far back into its “justice or martyrdom!” roots.

    Actually, a lot of Khomeinis’ political stuff reads like French Marxism. There’s a lot of “only revolutionary struggle brings freedom” type stuff and a lot more talk about the working and middle classes than you would expect.

    The result is that in 79′ Khomeini had most of the Iranian left and right on his side, which is maybe why Foucault (another one of the French Philosophy circle) gushed about it being the first “post-modern” revolution — because it was so basically fucked up.

    But at the end of the day the forces behind Khomeini were overwhelming — 75% of the country by some counts. That’s basically why the Iranian army didn’t even bother … thinking in cold war mode, would it have been worth walking into that mess? A huge country with a massive population — 75% of which hated America’s guts back then (for good reason I might add … considering the whole Mossadegh affair).

    Would it have been better to walk into that and let the Soviets arrange Vietnam-two for the U.S., or would it be smarter to sit back and let the Soviets have a go in Afghanistan?

  • 29. Jacking off over my AK  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Missiles have been far in advance of defensive technology for decades. Nuclear missiles with multiple warheads capable of engaging independent targets have been in existence since the 70′s.

    I remember playing the wargame harpoon a few times when I was younger. So long as your destroyer/frigate/whatever only had to deal with a couple of warheads at a time, they could probably manage. Obviously me and my friends quickly worked out that you just ‘swarm’ enemy ships with missiles, and they hadn’t a hope. And the best way to swarm is of course to have dozens of PT boats instead of a few capital ships.

  • 30. Brokenrecord  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 2:21 am

    So, a CIWS can swat a few inbound missiles. Hopefully more than a few; it’s burning ammo at 6,000 RPM and it’s got that huge tower of rounds.

    So, let’s charitably say that the point defense systems on a carrier can swat any existing inbound anti-shipping missile 100% of the time.

    Hell, let’s say that it can even swat any ten inbound missiles 100% of the time.

    How high does it go? CIWS cannot shoot down an arbitrary number of missiles. That plate armor the heavy cavalry was wearing probably deflected arrows pretty well too when the knights asked for a demonstration. The problem was that, relative to a knight, arrows and longbowmen are really, really cheap. Can the armor deflect a thousand arrows? In the joints? In the horse the knight is riding on, that probably isn’t wearing full armor?

    Let’s even take this realistically rather than fairly; life is realistic, not fair. Iran is looking like a fine place to send the carriers now; they’ve been hyped as a threat for a while now, and their air force is no match for the US Navy (they have mostly US hardware, no surprises in the air-to-air arena). You are Iran. You have maybe 10% of the cash on hand to buy supercavitating torpedoes, supersonic sea skimming missiles, suicide boats, UAVs, and anti-ship ballistic missiles as it would take to buy a carrier with a full complement of aircraft.

    How many missiles does that buy? Enough that if you threw them at a carrier task force all at once that it would saturate their point defense? I certainly don’t claim to know for sure, but I have a hunch.

    Try this sometime; assemble a large group of British sailors (using prostitutes if necessary). Say the word “exocet” to them. Record the results.

  • 31. Aiwass  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 2:34 am

    For someone stressing how hardware isn’t the end of it all, he’s certainly eaten the longbow myth whole. Did the longbow help at Crecy and Agincourt? Sure. It helped keep the bulk of the French forces on foot. But had it been that alone, the British archers would have been massacred. Full armour at the time provided superb protection against both longbow and melee attacks, could be fought in very well, and for all their faults the French knights really knew how to gut someone up close.

    No, what won the battles for the English were first and foremost discipline, terrain, and tactics. Take up a good position, and then either let the French exhaust themselves in the mud and then box them in, or just stand there in goo order and repel the various unorganised and uncoordinated attacks coming our way. The longbow itself has no greater claim to glory here than the dismounted English knights who had to take the brunt of the French attacks in melee.

    As for heavy cavalry in general, it continued to play a major part on the battlefield well into the 17th century, at which point massed musket fire meant that the armour was redundant (longbows can be stopped easily, heavy muskets not so), and then shock cavalry would remain useful at least through the 18th century, requiring further improvements in infantry fire-power to be replaced.

  • 32. Dave Bell  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 2:37 am

    The difference between the Harpoon and this new weapon is range, and that matters a lot.

    Carrier-based planes can destroy the enemy launch platforms before they get close enough to shoot.

    Sub-launched Harpoon was the killer. It’s hard to keep subs out of range. And US carriers are big enough to survive, and fight, after a hit. The carrier admirals had some reason to carry on. But the writing, as they say, was on the wall.

    This new missile means the launcher doesn’t have to be close. And Mach 10 ballistic trajectories are not the same as a pop-up.

    They’ll not give up. And battleships were still useful after Pearl Harbor. But the intrepid aviators of the USN might have to give upon the Top Gun stuff, and start learning how to drop bombs.

  • 33. diletant observer  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 2:51 am

    One of the readings I find interesting is Ben Richs “Skunk Works” and the Navy reaction about Loockhed proposal for a Sealth submarine (subs don’t look like that, we ain’t buying them). The other thing I thought is although carriers are vulnerable how can you displace/maitain such an amount of air power to/in far locations so easy (well, you can always argue, is it necessary?). It also springs to mind the perception about the Russian military power prior to 1914 and what become of it after put to the reality test (yes, yes, I know, 1904/05, Port Arthur)…

    best,

  • 34. P2O2  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 3:19 am

    @DissapointedReader

    Let me quote from Wikipedia: “If the KW intercepts the target…”

    If Chenese BM has ability to maneuvere your SM-3 is useless.

    One idiot on one of the hubris-based blogs the Inet is replete with once said – “because the Russian aircrafts are in so desperate state they need to use S-400 for defensive works against the West fighters and bombers” (or something similar in the meaning). The poor man forgot the S-400 is designed to shoot down BMs!

    My advise – let the US Navy augment any Carrier Strike Force with another carrier class ship (about 40 000 DWT) and put on her deck two batteries of S-400 bougth from Russia! Simply as that! :)

    Regards

  • 35. JDoe  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 4:12 am

    War Nerd,

    You make same pretty egregious assumptions that aren’t stated. Mainly that most of your arguments refer to the littoral region.

    Refer to the development of the LCC by the USN.

    As to the anti-ICBM issue…you’re spot on…unfortunately, the launch of ICBMs present a very precarious issue, specifically that the defender does not know if it is aimed at a battle-group….or a city.

    Thus, their use is somewhat hindered. If the US sees something entering the upper atmosphere (as any ICBM must do in order to rech its target), the US will ramp up, and hopefully not, launch their own. Simply put, as the defender, you have no idea where it’s going.

    Yes, a soft argument against cold-hard military facts…but when have military facts ever properly informed tactical decision making in something as sensitive as the use of ICBMs in any manner?

  • 36. zealot  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 4:20 am

    Actually, I think you will find that it was Eisenhower who got you in that iranian mess. Carter just refused to wade in any deeper.

  • 37. NelC  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Back in the day, le jeune école thought that masses of torpedo boats were the answer to the battleship arms race. But the problems with small boats were the same then as they are now. Big boats use proportionately less fuel, take the weather better, have longer range, can see further, are cheaper in terms of bang-per-buck and buck-per-tonne, and you can’t build a fleet ops room and its relevant gear in anything smaller than a cruiser.

    A submersible drone-carrier, for example, might be less vulnerable to this kind of super-weapon, but its stealthy virtue would work against it being any kind of capital ship; it would need to surface to communicate with the rest of the fleet. Maybe splitting the roles of the big carriers into several smaller carriers would mitigate the vulnerability to some extent, but then several small carriers would be more expensive than one big one with the same capacity.

    I think we’re stuck with the big surface ships for a while yet. They’ll just keep layering on the defences until the next big war provides the acid test of what works and what doesn’t.

    By the way, has no-one mentioned the Standard SM-3 Block IIa yet? True, it’s untested under war conditions, but it is an anti-ballistic missile defence that has the virtue of actually existing, as opposed to this Chinese superweapon that, at the moment, is about as real as The Red October.

  • 38. Carpenter  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Can’t wait to see the neocons’ dreams blow up over the Gulf. Get on with it and declare war against Iran already; I want to see all those Russian-made missiles in action, taking down U.S. sitting ducks. Do it, for America’s sake just as much as Iran’s.

    I came to think of how new weapons can take down yesterday’s hulks when I read this story:

    A new weapon has appeared in Iraq: Russian-made RKG-3 grenades, which weigh just five pounds and, attached to parachutes, can be lobbed by a teenager but can penetrate the American military’s latest heavily armored vehicle, the MRAP. The grenades cost as little as $10, according to American military officials, who would not say how often they have killed soldiers.

    Sounds like we are going to hear more interesting stories in the Middle East, doesn’t it? The modern battlefield never favors the fortress.

  • 39. Alex  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 6:10 am

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4231116.html

    The above link references the advancements in laser weaponry. This particular device is tagged as an IED hunter.. they have several other models being developed for other roles including active missile defense. Essential once targeted the laser burns a whole through the missile rendering it useless. Until they can develop a ballistic missile capable of faster than light travel this will be a viable defense.

  • 40. Jasen Comstock  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 6:37 am

    I think you are wrong about this one Gary. the DF-21 isn’t really anything new, is it an improvement over the Russian Sun-somethings ship killer missiles they supposedly have been selling to Iran? This missile has to use radar and electronics to find and kill its target. I am not an electronic warfare expert but the friends of mine who were (albeit on my carrier back in the 90′s- early 00′s) were pretty confident that anything requiring radar to find its target was not going to be finding the carrier, it probably won’t survive turning its radar on a few minutes before launch.

    The Chinese are better off hitting us like you have preached before: small boats, cheap mass of missiles at a close range. A carrier could be overcome by less then 100 Chinese special forces types with cutting torches.

  • 41. JMHM  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 6:39 am

    I believe there is a future for aircraft carriers in modern combat, but obviously not in the current configuration. Refitting the carriers to function as drone carriers would make them relavent again. Carriers could sustain a constant defencive perimeter with hordes of semi-autonomous UAVs – some functioning as deep sensors akin to a fleet of miniature AWACs – some would act as decoys (ECM, Chaff, Flare etc) and some would be small weapon platforms configured as hostile missile “hunter-killers”. By shifting the focus to UAVs, carriers would be able to sustain a safe defence perimeter, and still be able to launch long range assault operations.

  • 42. Warbuff  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Gary you are right! Carriers are floating targets and the navy brass should realise it before it’s too late. But the problem is: How to replace Carriers? A small boat navy is probably the best way to sink (big) ships. But naval battles are pretty rare today. Carriers are more important in providing support against ground targets or intercepting planes. Sure those things could be done by rockets. But e.g. for intercepting a plane a rocket is a kill tool. You can’t just check if it’s a civilian airliner which got lost and thus entered your perimeter. And for ground targets you need some control.

    Sure Drones get more and more popular (even with those stupid airforce/navy guys). But for a Drone to replace a fighter/bomber you still need a large enough landing/starting ramp. Sure you could decrease the size of the Carriers. But they’d still be large.

    In the military history techniques and weapons were not only replaced after big disasters. They were replaced when something more powerful was available. So sure the knights got lighter and lighter but they really got only replaced when tanks were available. Battleships were replaced when Carriers were available and so on.

    And I guess using small boats could be quite problematic on the high seas. Sure the Iranians can easily control the Gulf with small ships. But it’s a different thing if you have to coordinate and supply them in the open sea.

    Of course a carrier is just a thing for navy guys to brag about. But other nations fear them (except for China and probably Iran). So you have to get this message out before you can replace your carriers or else people won’t take you serious. And that is – for us war nerds a sad fact – but more important than real battle capabilities if you remember the last 60 years.

  • 43. ChumashCasinoSanta  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 7:04 am

    April’s Fool

  • 44. Warbuff  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 7:06 am

    @25. boredofnames
    @26. DisappointedReader
    Reliable interception of a ballistic missile is a pipe dream. That’s why even the most modern systems today have a pretty dim success rate. And that despite the money and time hammered at them.

    And don’t forget: You can shoot down several missiles but one miss and your done for.

    And of course the Chinese will probably use some decoy/jammer techniques. You know they read Janes, too.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penetration_aids

  • 45. miles  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 7:58 am

    your wrong. they travel in carrier groups and the destroyers would give adequate protection against the missile threat. the carrier is just one aspect

  • 46. P2O2  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 8:52 am

    To all defendants of US Allmighty Naval Flattop Power.

    Do you remember the famous incident when a Chinese submarine surfaced near US flattop a few miles away?

    Nice reminiscences. Regards.

  • 47. elmer_the_arse  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Very witty article as usual, but alas, for once there’s nothing new here.

    Battle groups are little more than mobile airbases. You can think of it as a small Diego Garcia that can be docked closer to the fight to provide logistics and air support.

    I would assume that if there’s a credible treat to aircraft carriers during an action, the plan would require a pre-emptive massive attack on possible sources. If you have air superiority, you have a good chance of keeping the treat at a sufficient distance to foil the attack.

    AFAIK there’s no technology yet that could move all that support close enough to the action to make a difference in the fight – and you want to keep the fight away from your borders as much as possible.

  • 48. Warbuff  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 9:08 am

    @45. miles
    There is not reliable way of intercepting a ballistic missile. Yes, even SM-2s have a high enough fail rate!

    Don’t forget: It doesn’t matter how many you shoot down. If you miss one you’re dead.

  • 49. ChukChansiGoldResortCasino  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I heard that some are agree and others are against that…

  • 50. Tomasz Wegrzanowski  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I’ll defend the French knights and American Navy.

    Yes, there are forces that could easily defeat them both. But that’s not their only use – French heavy cavalry was brilliant against peasant revolts, and American Navy is brilliant for bombarding third world shitholes. As you know perfectly these kinds of wars are much more common than confrontations between equals.

    So even though you’re correct, Chinese could sink half the career fleet, careers still do have some uses.

  • 51. Allen  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 11:35 am

    If the laser pipe dream/cash cow ever really does come true (what is it decade three now?) … well that will be the beginning of the end of expensive manned aircraft in any case won’t it? If you think about it and extrapolate a little.

    And hence the end of the aircraft carrier … One way or another the floating cities will have no other role than decorating the Ocean floor.

  • 52. Cam  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Gradually an ever-more-invincible Traveller fleet evolved.

    “At first,” Lenat later wrote, “mutations were random. Soon, patterns were perceived: more ships were better; more armor was better; smaller ships were better; etc. Gradually, as each fleet beat the previous one…its lessons were abstracted into new specific heuristics.”

    http://www.aliciapatterson.org/APF0704/Johnson/Johnson.html

  • 53. Nestor  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Maybe they should go back to that pykrete floating island design for the carriers

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Habakkuk

  • 54. FOARP  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Total nonsense. Saddam lobbed Scuds (a ballistic missile, in case you’ve forgotten)into Kuwait during Gulf War II and almost every one of them was shot down. A defence exists, whether it could cope with a massed attack or more hi-tech missiles is another point, but a defence exists.

  • 55. goat_farmers_of_the_CIA  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    FOARP,
    Brecher is talking about naval defenses against BM. There’s no naval version of the Patriot – only the Standard, the latest version being the SM 3, which has not been able to shoot down a ballistic missile in a real test. All that fuss about the sat it did kill is completely irrelevant – a sat is easier to shoot down than a BM, which can take evasive maneuvers while diving, and deploy decoys.

  • 56. Anonymous  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    The subs, bombers, and ICBMs still provided Mutually Assurred Destruction last I checked, so we only need other stuff for fighting guerrillas. A carrier is no use against guerrillas, but guerrillas are also no use against a carrier. So they’re not vulnerable, although they may be yet another useless government pork project.

  • 57. Leper  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    The Navy brass honestly cannot accept the idea that their surface fleet can be easily sunk. Unfortunately America’s diplomacy depends upon the Navy’s carriers.

    An example of the effectiveness of cruise missile barrages can be seen in the results of the 2002 Millennium Challenge wargame. The missile barrage, combined with an armada of smaller boats using conventional and suicide attacks would have cost the Navy 16 ships and 20000 lives. The Navy’s response to this result was to “refloat” the sunk ships and continue as if they had not been sunk.

  • 58. CiH  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 2:08 am

    Hmmm, this little gem from Janes website.

    http://www.janes.com/news/defence/jni/jni090401_1_n.shtml

    China’s Ministry of National Defense spokesman Senior Colonel Huang Xueping said, ‘China has vast oceans and it is the sovereign responsibility of China’s armed forces to ensure the country’s maritime security and uphold the sovereignty of its coastal waters as well as its maritime rights and interests.’”

    Col Huang added that China is “seriously considering” adding an aircraft carrier to its fleet, because “the aircraft carrier is a symbol of a country’s overall national strength, as well as the competitiveness of the country’s naval force”.

    So I guess there is a ‘big ship’ willy-waving faction in Chines naval decision-making circles as well. Will the anti-carrier missile team get sent away for a nice ‘re-education’ summer camp for their unwelcome input!

  • 59. FOARP  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 3:05 am

    @goat_farmers_of_the_CIA

    What was done with the Patriot can also be done with the Standard. The difference between 1991 (when very few or even none of the Scuds were hit) and 2003 (when most of them were) were mainly upgrades in software and radar.

  • 60. pakk  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 3:26 am

    I’m not a specialist in the BM field, not unlike everyone here. Still, I have a few thoughts.

    First of all, Dong Feng 21 is a MRBM which was deployed in the late 70′s, so we are talking about “modified Dong Feng 21″ here.

    Secondly, will the missile employ a nuclear or conventional warhead? This does make a difference. If we assume they made it accurate enough to use a conventional warhead (I admit Dong Feng 21 has enough payload to carry a conventional warhead of reasonable yield) then it would mean the Chinese have far outpaced the rest of the world in the area of missile-based navigation systems. I have extreme doubts about that because Chinese navigation systems are generally crude copies of soviet types, or equally crude developments therof. Soviet systems themselves, to be honest, have always been rather crappy compared to Western developments. I say so because some of my relatives were intimately involved in the development of these (Soviet) systems.

    If the gooks want to deploy these missiles with nuclear warheads, they have not discovered America here. The USSR had a (seemingly) quite potent system of this kind, R-27K, in the early 70′s. It was not deployed, however, for the reason which are not really known. One option is that it was not as good as advertised, and launch tests were actually stage-managed to conceal the missile’s weaknesses (Russians tell a lot of lies and exaggerations about their weapons systems, even more so than Americans). Another option is that the LAST thing which bothers you in a nuclear conflict are enemy carrier groups. Moreover, these missiles would still have to be deployed in reasonable quantities (i.e. in dozens) which would considerably weaken the USSR’s NLBM capabilities in the light of the SALT treaty.

    The Chinese do not have such treaty-imposed limitations. However, deployment of such missiles in a nuclear-armed configuration might not be sensible for them, too, because they are diverting resources from developing their strategic nuclear strike capability. Not a very wise thing to do, especially considering that employment of nuclear-armed “modified Dong Feng 21′s” in combat will most certainly trigger an IBM exchange where they have little chances.

    (A ‘nuclear war’ is still very much a possibilty, and IT CAN BE WON)

    BTW, I don’t understand why this matter is such a ‘sensation’ because the US Naval Institute reported this information back in 2004 (try to google it) and neither then nor now do they have proof that this thing can work in a conventional configuration.

    What I suspect is that this ‘leak’ is eventually intended to persuade the US Congress and the US taxpayer to throw more money into a black hole known as ‘development of airborne and space-based directed energy weapons systems’ – all those lasers, I mean..

    As for “low-value attacker penetration” – well, if we want the ‘attacker’ to have enough speed, payload and stealth to penetrate, the weapon will only be ‘cheap’ compared to the carrier itself. The attack has to be SIMULTANEOUS to fool the group’s ADS, remember, and to assemble enough Persians in Cessna’s AT THE RIGHT TIME IN THE RIGHT PLACE under the conditions of total US air superiority to pull off such type of an attack won’t be easy, to say the least. You can do this ‘Soviet Navy style’, by employing a large number of cruise missiles, but the fleet commander will need a DAMN LOT of tactical skill. And lastly, to hit a carrier does not mean to sink it. This is the way it’s built to be. If you want to actually sink the “floating target” – the number of missiles required for the attack grows EXPONENTIALLY.

    And yes, you don’t need carriers to fight WWIII. You need them to project power, and they have done this job brilliantly. That’s why ‘rising powers’ want more of them.

  • 61. CrystalPalaceCasinoNassau  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 7:11 am

    They set places, to use those carriers as artificial reef for sea life.

  • 62. Jack Boot  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Reality check: China and the USA are in a co-dependent relationship – “Chimerica”, as it has been called.
    China needs the US market to absorb its exports, while the US needs China to finance its deficit.
    Any major rupture (eg sinking a US carrier in the process of “liberating” Taiwan) would throw both countries into depression, if not nuclear war.
    Surely the Chinese regime won’t court suicide for the sake of an offshore PC factory.

    Of course, the Iranian regime is a whole ‘nother smoke. If China were to sell such hardware to Amen-Jihad & Co, all bets are off…

  • 63. homo  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 8:19 am

    What are you guys still arguing about? It’s common knowledge that everyone in the navy is gay…

  • 64. JFreshInEffect!  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Don’t try and tell me the Chinese can manufacture a ballistic missile to hit a moving ship. They can’t. The Best Russian ICBM’s rely on near misses and they have the know how and experience to make them. The US’s BM’s are more accurate and can hit a target most of the time , but to hit a moving target like a oceangoing ship… your smoking paint.

    Also most modern early warning system have been designed to track Ballistic Missiles. If one were so much as moved to a launching pad, or a silo door opens, either the US or Russia would know pretty quickly.

    A BM is a very impractical weapon against a relatively small fast moving ship.

    On the other hand traditional Anti Ship missiles and subs will do the job just fine.

    So carriers are done..but the US air force already knows this that’s why they are quickly developing the following game changers.

    Global Strike Fighters (Ramjets,Scramjets)
    Unmanned long range Bombers and Fighters

    That will be the real revolution in military power.

    Every world dictator would be in fear not knowing if a robot strike aircraft piloted by some video game nerd just left Colorado 20 minutes ago to bomb him while he’s sitting on the John within the next 5 minutes, on the US presidents order.

    Some despot is giving a live televised speech about Yankee Imperialism, and the Prez doesn’t like what he’s saying, so he bombs him mid speech.

    So in the future we might not need carriers.

    read: Wired For War

    http://www.amazon.com/Wired-War-Robotics-Revolution-Conflict/dp/1594201986 – 282k

  • 65. UBoot666  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 11:45 am

    A ‘near miss’ is, in mil spec terms, quite acceptable to any outfit deploying nukes. Given the [expected MAX] 12-minute transit time, just how distant from a nuke detonation point would any surface vessel get? If one were to bet USN or incoming missile (or worse, an umbrella of them), I would waste money on anything on the surface.

  • 66. eXile fan  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 11:54 am

    fuck tom clancy! fuck his fans, too!

  • 67. George  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Gary,
    As much as I love your comments about war and the army, you need to look again at what the Navy brings to the table.
    There have been ship killer missiles for over 40 years. Sheffield went down with a single hit from an Exocet. ONE shot. Stark and Roberts each took a similar hit. They survived by extraordinary work of their crew and the fact they were in flat calm seas.
    Ballistic missiles are NO threat to moving targets, you need guided missiles.
    Remember, Congress wants to cut 25% out of the Defense budget next year. This is called a boogy man. You need them to help your service preserve a larger share.
    This is just the latest, that poor diesel boat that surfaced in the middle of the carrier battle group is old new now and the Navy needs a new boogy man. This missile story is it.
    Army really does not need a boogy man, but AF is despriate.
    Obama lied, he will NOT rebuild and repair the military. He will NOT take care our vets. Hell, he wants vets to buy insurance to cover their own battle injuries.
    For that matter, even the dog for the White House was just a campaign promise…worthless.

  • 68. JFreshInEffect!  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    A near miss is unacceptable for a conventional weapon.

  • 69. Tony M  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    There is, or was such a thing as a guided ballistic missile. Back in the late 1980′s the US deployed the Pershing Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. It’s mission was to decapitate the Russian leadership in a first strike scenario. Its had an inertial guidance/GPS/terminal radar mapping targeting system that maneuvered to ensure a 50 foot COP at the end of its trajectory. And it had a penetrating nuclear warhead to dig the Soviet leadership out of their bunkers. That stuff was from almost 30 years ago. Why would anyone think that the Chinese aren’t capable of building a similar system today? The Russians are now deploying a bigger maneuvering ICBM with their sub fleet and in land based installations. This is technology that was mastered long ago.

    Fact is, carriers are nothing but massive floating coffins in a hot war. With the proliferation of fast, mobile land based cruise missiles with massive conventional warheads and the ability to network and communicate in flight, no navy can operate safely in littoral waters anywhere in the world today.

    The US Navy being invulnerable is just myth. The author is not only correct, but he understates to potential for disaster. Just as the airplane and the torpedo were equalizers for the capital ships in the earlier 1900′s, cruise missile spell the end of conducting surface warfare with large naval vessels.

  • 70. Indifferent  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Well at least they made the article free again – it sucked having the most mainstream-suckered War Nerd ever as the premium content. Can we talk about some Russian garbage now – combat helicopters lacking RWR, “stealth” aircraft festooned with right angles, 1960s vehicles used to invade Georgia, and those MiG-29s Algeria rejected? How is there not a ground-breaking, Pulitzer article in that sh!t?? For crying out loud, we can read about USN Harpoon “pop-up” in any 199X video game manual.

  • 71. FavoredComb  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I’m sorry, but the author is being idiotic and sensationalistic.

    First, this capability is NOT new. The Chinese have has this ability for YEARS with the SS-N-22 (NC: Sunburn). All this is is a longer range option.

    Second, do you HONESTLY THINK that China is going to use even “tactical” nuclear missiles against U.S. forces? Doing so would be the most moronic move in the history of warfare since we’d undoubtedly retaliate, and China would pay – in spades.

    Third, there is a reason why carriers are in carrier battle groups. These things do not go unescorted anywhere and have AEGIS and other systems protecting them. The likelihood of even multiple missiles making it through AEGIS, RAM, and Phalanx CIWS is rather unlikely.

  • 72. FavoredComb  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Also, I’d like to know what psychics the Chinese are employing to know the exact coordinates to U.S. carrier groups.

    It’s the equivalent of saying, “BUT THE CHINESE COULD FIELD NUCLEAR DEPTH CHARGES/TORPEDOES AND SINK OUR ENTIRE BOOMER FLEET AND NUKE ALL OF AMERICA!”

    HOW?! While the Chinese have stolen their share of secrets from us, I highly doubt they know where these ships are all the time. Not only is that information classified, but it is also information that needs to be very up-to-date in order to be useful. Knowing where a carrier group was 3 days ago means zip.

  • 73. GenPolkovnik_Nikolai_Solovtsov  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    ПУСК!

    Съешьте дерьмо и залаяйте на луне!

  • 74. homo  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    DESTROY THE DAMN SHIPS. END SODOM AND GOMORRAH.

  • 75. JFreshInEffect  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    “There is, or was such a thing as a guided ballistic missile. Back in the late 1980’s the US deployed the Pershing Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. It’s mission was to decapitate the Russian leadership in a first strike scenario. Its had an inertial guidance/GPS/terminal radar mapping targeting system that maneuvered to ensure a 50 foot COP at the end of its trajectory. And it had a penetrating nuclear warhead to dig the Soviet leadership out of their bunkers. That stuff was from almost 30 years ago. Why would anyone think that the Chinese aren’t capable of building a similar system today? The Russians are now deploying a bigger maneuvering ICBM with their sub fleet and in land based installations. This is technology that was mastered long ago.”

    The Pershing was what I was talking about in my post. 30 years ago was when the US and Russia’s military industrial complex had a blank check. Some of the tech from 30 years ago still has not yet been superseded. The US is using Minutemen missiles not the far superior Pershings/MX missiles, due to past treaty’s.

    About the technology. IT WAS NOT MASTERED! It never was.

    The Pershing was meant to fight a final nuclear war, and doubtless claims for accuracy were hyped for propaganda purposes. And that accuracy is in regards to hitting a STATIONARY target like a fucking city, not a boat moving at 30 knots.

    The last few Russian BM tests have not gone too well, and they’re time tested experts who have built thousands of missiles and have a well developed space program. The Chinese have only built around 400 BM’s total.

    Yes carriers are dead, I agree agree with Brecher, but from cheap anti ship missiles and subs not BM’s…

    I call bullshit on china being able to hit a moving boat with a conventional ballistic missile, no matter how may PS3′s and Iphone components they got wired into that shit.

    Same goes with that bullshit anti sat test.

  • 76. Nergol  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I notice that even equipped with those “1960s vehicles”, the Russians still managed to beat the Georgian army and all their fancy American equipment like a redheaded stepchild.

    Just something to consider.

  • 77. Garibaldi  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Come on people, haven’t you been paying attention? We’ve got high-powered lasers now. A few years and missiles (and airplanes…) will be completely obsolete.

  • 78. urmom  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    There will be particle beams on carriers faster than ur mom drops flips her skirt up in the change room after the game, Brecher, you pinko commie faggot.

  • 79. Cape Horn  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Here is why the article is somewhat retarded.

    The author thinks that modern states will go to war with other modern states. Only modern states have carriers or at least one – U.S., U.K., China, Russia, etc.

    But we all know modern states EXCLUSIVELY fight against weaker states – whether their south american, African, middle east, etc.

    The Carrier is a launching pad for easy massacring. Those states CAN’T EVEN THINK about touching the carriers.

    The carrier is not useful at all against modern state, granted. They’re big, slow, and weak. But it’s just a platform for killing weak societies anyway.

  • 80. Carpenter  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Gotta love FavoredComb’s response:

    I’m sorry, but the author is being idiotic and sensationalistic.

    First, this capability is NOT new. The Chinese have has this ability for YEARS with the SS-N-22 (NC: Sunburn). All this is is a longer range option.

    Second, do you HONESTLY THINK that China is going to use even “tactical” nuclear missiles against U.S. forces?

    So, it has been known for some time – well, that settles the matter then, what a retort!

    And an attack on the U.S. Navy would lead to war.

    DEAR GOD, why didn’t we think of THAT? That an attack on the U.S. Navy would lead to WAR! Well, that totally shows the invulnerability of the U.S. fleet.

    Except, of course, in a scenario where a war has already started. Which is what everyone else except FavoredComb was discussing.

    Be careful when you throw around the “idiotic” label, FavoredComb.

    (And of course, FavoredComb’s third argument: carriers will be protected by bullets flying through the air and hitting the bullets coming at the boats. So there. Yeah: and Scud missiles were all shot down. Stop reading U.S. military propaganda, honeycomb. Please.)

  • 81. Juancho  |  April 4th, 2009 at 12:22 am

    This is a bunch of BS. There is no defence against anti-ship ballistic missiles because nobody has any.

    The problem is terminal guidance. The warhead would have to have some kind of tracking ability and it would need to be able to distinguish the carrier from the escorts. This would require some kind of radar which requires a power source, etc. If the warhead is going MACH 10 it would need a serious radar with serious range which requires even more power. Any guidance/power package takes up space which in turn reduces the size of the warhead. All of this would require a larger than normal MIRV.

    Russian Kingfisher missiles would fly at MACH 3.5 and drop down vertically. The Tico & Arleigh Burke Aegis cruisers are designed to shoot down massed missile attacks for all profiles including sea skimmers and high MACH divers.

    The AGM-84 Harpoon doesn’t pop up so it can avoid ship defenses, that’s nonsense. In fact popping up only makes them more vulnerable. The reason they pop up during terminal phase is to lock on to the target. When you’re skimming over the water at 10ft the on board radar can only see so far. It needs to pop up at a predetermined distance to search, acquire and lock on to the target, by popping up the radar can see farther. If the target isn’t where it is supposed to be the missile starts a search pattern, then if it finds the targets it will try to lock on to the largest ship if there are multiple targets.

    If these anti-ship BMs were out there this technology would be an issue for all surface combatants. It would not be a problem only for CVs.

    And your whole small ship argument is retarded. It doesn’t only come down to loss/cost. You have to think of the ability to project power. Super powers need ships that can travel very far. A fleet of tiny ships would require constant refueling. Because they have limited range the refuelers would have to be close to any hot zone, then that would be another vulnerability. Plus I don’t think the crews would be thrilled bobbing in the mid Atlantic with sea state 5 or higher. Small boats work in littoral warfare, not in the wide open ocean.

    Overall this blog entry is a big fail.

  • 82. FavoredComb  |  April 4th, 2009 at 1:40 am

    “So, it has been known for some time – well, that settles the matter then, what a retort!”

    And what a wonderful strawman.

    The point is, the author is making a big deal like this is earth shattering news that blindsided everyone. It’s not the case. This has been reality for the better part of 15 years. Yet, still, the author is acting like the damn sky if falling.

    “DEAR GOD, why didn’t we think of THAT? That an attack on the U.S. Navy would lead to WAR! Well, that totally shows the invulnerability of the U.S. fleet.”

    Another strawman (is that the only way you’re able to debate – your arguments are so weak that you must resort to fallacies?).

    My point was that using a NUCLEAR WEAPON on U.S. forces would mean NUCLEAR RETALIATION. In other words, unless the Chinese lost their god damned minds – it ain’t gonna happen.

    “Except, of course, in a scenario where a war has already started. Which is what everyone else except FavoredComb was discussing.”

    Both the DF21 and Sunburn are dangerous because they can utilize nuclear payloads.

    Let me spell this out for even a simpleton like you: Using nuclear weapons against the United States WILL bring nuclear retaliation. Unless the Chinese wanted to lose a few cities, they aren’t going to do it. Thus, since they aren’t going to be using nuclear payloads, the effectiveness of both these weapon systems is dramatically reduced. In fact, they would probably be less suitable alternatives to other anti-ship missiles.

    “Be careful when you throw around the “idiotic” label, FavoredComb.”

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Let me tell you, when you start turn around mutually assured destruction in someones’ argument to mean “DURR, THAT MEANS WE AIN’TS GONNA HAVE NO WARS ANYMORE,” then you have already LOST the argument.

    “(And of course, FavoredComb’s third argument: carriers will be protected by bullets flying through the air and hitting the bullets coming at the boats. So there.”

    So now you’ve boiled down AEGIS, and RAM/Phalanx CIWS systems into “shootun boolits.”

    I think it’s apparent you don’t know what you’re talking about here.

    “Yeah: and Scud missiles were all shot down. Stop reading U.S. military propaganda, honeycomb. Please.)”

    And here we are comparing apples to hammers.

    When SCUD launchers turn into aircraft that fly over the ocean and launch missiles or turn into static missile silos that launch MRBM, you let me know.

  • 83. pakk  |  April 4th, 2009 at 1:51 am

    2 Juancho:

    (i’m not disputing the arguments)

    Actually, R-27K DID have a radar, a (primitive and bulky) computer, and a small second stage rocket engine for maneuver.

    However, as far as I understood, the missile was never accurate enough when used against mobile targets becasue it had to start maneuvering quite early, and it was quite probable the 2nd stage engine wouldn’t have enough energy to finish the job. For those reasons it was being tested-launched against STATIONARY targets.

    “There is no defence against anti-ship ballistic missiles because nobody has any.” Exactly. But IF SOMEBODY HAD THEM, which defence would you think of? Yes, directed energy weapons! That’s why I think the whole story is just a cheap trick to ask for more money to develop these systems..

    Lastly, please read ‘ICBM’ in my previous post instead of ‘IBM’. Apologies for the misprint.

  • 84. Carlito  |  April 4th, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Carlton Meyer over at g2mil.com has been saying something similar for years.

  • 85. Carlito  |  April 4th, 2009 at 3:19 am

    FOARP, you are wrong. Re-check the story. Next to no Scuds were shot down in the Gulf War. That was the initial offical version, but it got exposed as a load of bollocks.

  • 86. Roland Dobbins  |  April 4th, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Arcing terminal-phase unpowered, kinetic hit-to-kill ballistic warheads at moving targets over such long distances simply doesn’t make sense, there are too many variables; if such a technique were practical, there would already be land-based applications. The only way this makes sense is with a nuclear payload, and that can already be delivered via torpedo or swarming ALCMs/SLCMs, as you’ve pointed out.

    DSPS would pick this up immediately, and it would likely precipitate a strategic exchange. The ChiComs haven’t a prayer of winning (and, yes, I’m an uncreconstructed Cold Warrior who firmly believes it’s possible to win a nuclear war, for some meaningful value of ‘win’) a strategic nuclear exchange with the US, unless they’re able to pull some kind of massively effective counterforce type of attack which takes into account the boomers, and this isn’t it.

    This is a PLAN psyop aimed at the Obamoids, plain and simple, intended to give them a face-saving way of deconflicting the Taiwan Straits in the face of a seemingly ‘indefensible’ attack mode which can plausibly be spun to the hoi polloi. Given the massive ignorance and incomptence of the Obamoids (they make the hapless Carter & Bush II administrations look like the Founding Fathers), it’s possible that some of them may actually buy it – but that’s just gravy for the ChiComs.

    As you’ve also pointed out, it’s been said that there are two types of ships in the U.S. Navy – subs, and targets. This has been true since the late 1960s (especially given the SIGINT/COMSEC windfall the Walkers gave the Soviets), and it hasn’t required any fanciful anti-ship ICBM nonsense to make it so.

    You’ve no doubt already noted that the only semi-practical way to do this kind of thing is as a FOBS variant (i.e., something like Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s THOTH), and yet there’s not mention of FOBS whatsoever in any of the discussions. That alone tells me that nobody of weight takes it seriously, for the abovementioned reasons, except the Obamoids for their own reasons and USN as a scare tactic to keep said Obamoids from terminating their ABM programs.

    But it gives the Obamoids political cover to back off on Taiwan, and it seems to be achieving the desired effect. So in that regard, we should already regard it as simply another in a long, largely-unbroken line of joint Guoanbu Third Bureau/PLA Second Department ‘Autmn Orchid’ sucesses.

    And note that Dr. Pournelle’s THOR (aka ‘rods from God’) would make a hell of a lot more sense, and have the additional property of not making DSPS light up. If the ChiComs are smart – and we all know they are – that’s what they’ll actually be working on, in all likelihood.

    None of this invalidates your theses about the obsolescence of carrier groups, the fact that this kind of thing has been possible for the last 60 years, et. al. But let’s not fool ourselves that it takes some kind of fictional super-DF-21 to accomplish what a few tungsten telephone poles dropped from LEO can do just as easily, and with far less expense and risk, heh.

  • 87. Aes  |  April 4th, 2009 at 6:19 am

    War nerd dude aren’t you reading your own posts? The age of large scale war is OVER. It doesn’t matter one bit whether carriers are good at war or not. The important thing is that they look scary to the primitive bits of our brain & they do that job very well.

  • 88. Belisaurius  |  April 4th, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Alright, first off, the DF-21 is an inertia driven weapon, once it targets a location (rather than a vehicle) it can’t change course. (drawback of high supersonic velocities). Yes, it does have a radar array for target verification, but not the wing surphase to do anything about it. Carriers, on the otherhand, are moving. The DF-21 is very similar to the SCUD in terms of range and capacity and the US navy has seen SCUDs before. What a carrier fleet does is change course and cosidering that a fleet is generally moving 24/7, this leaves then with plenty of inetia to play with. The kicker, all navy ships have been hardend against nuclear attack, it would talk either a direct hit or a very near miss to destroy one.

    Small boats just aren’t tough enough to weather air strikes and not powerful enough to sink a carrier, this is due to two features, first being about a foot of steel armor, the second being the shear size of the carrier and the ability to close off compartment when taking on water.

    As for Anti-Ship Missile? Patriot Missile system PAC-3, Or rather, a similar system. True, the carrier itself doesn’t mount this, but it does have a fleet that does.

    My final point, Carrier fleets are no worse off than millitary forts. yes, it’s possible to kill it with ballistic and anti-ship weapons, but this is even more true for the Pentagon, or New York City. The fact is that a mobile airport anywhere there is water of sufficient depth is a strategic blessing.

  • 89. Plamen Petkov  |  April 4th, 2009 at 7:30 am

    I lived in United Stupids of America for 22 years. I don’t trust the US government to tell me the right time of day, forget about stuff such as the real inflation numbers or the real unemployment numbers. What they claim is highly doubtful and Gary is a fool for taking them at their words. This is probably just another lie to justify their asking for more billions of dollars.
    Same as how everyone knows the Star Wars system is a total failure but that doesn’t stop the gov from continuing to pour billions into it. No wonder the is the USA is the ONLY industrial nation in the world that is not giving good medical coverage to their own citizens. What was the new budget for the Pentagon, 270 billions or something?

    to George: where did you read the congress wants to/is gonna cut 25% of military budget? Show me the links so I can be sure. What the US military asks, the US military gets. The last president to try to cut spending by signing up that missile thready with the Russians was disgracefully kicked out of the White House. His name was Nixon.
    Of course Obama is a liar. I NEVER expected him to be anything else.

  • 90. Me  |  April 4th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hey Americans, how about projecting some running water into that tent shelters where your unemployed now dwell. That would be a nice projection to start with.

  • 91. Solsys  |  April 4th, 2009 at 11:24 am

    1904 : the nascent japanese navy used torpedo boats to sink large pre-dreadnought russian warships.

  • 92. Allen  |  April 4th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I think Gary’s point is that surface ships are vulnerable to missiles period — because there is only so much you can do about them. With huge numbers of missiles and targets, and with sophisticated missile designs there’s a good chance that a shrewd military planner with access to a lot of such toys can sink even the most advanced fleet.

    As for Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles specifically, if you read the article one now does exist … China is the only country on Earth to have an ASBM.

    Additional:

    http://www.defensetech.org/archives/004265.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-ship_ballistic_missile
    Wikipedia

  • 93. Juancho  |  April 4th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Here is another scenario.

    China has a new magic CV killer ballistic missile. The USN is very scared and leaves the carrier battlegroups parked in port and out of range.

    The admirals decide to park 20 SSNs of the Chinese coast to start sinking all Chinese shipping.

    Chinese subs… only a handful are modern and outclassed by the USN. Chinese ASW, not that impressive. Good luck with that.

  • 94. Nergol  |  April 4th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    FavoredComb;

    The Chinese have told us point-blank that they’ll nuke every US city west of the Rockies if we step off on them over Taiwan – or anything else, presumably.

    So tell me – what exactly can you find in the history of the Politburo of the People’s Republic of China which would indicate to you that they either 1) do a lot of bluffing or 2) are the tiniest bit squeamish? Because frankly, I can’t find a thing that would make me think that.

    Or perhaps you think that they would allow the US Army to roll tanks through Tiananmen Square without resorting to nuclear strike. If so, whatever you’re drinking – order me a case.

  • 95. Johnny Rico  |  April 5th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Yes, thank you JuanCho.

    This whole piece is more than retarded.

    Since when was US carriers going against China and Iran the be-all and end-all?

    US carriers have been extremely successful for a long time. You forgot to mention that. These aren’t B-1s.

    The War Nerd has lost his touch. (Maybe he never had it)

    If the US knew China had 1000-mile radius anti-ship ballistic missiles, why would it put its carriers within that range?

    What can these “theoretical” missiles do to land-based (ie Taiwan, Japan, Korea) fighters.

    As was sarcastically alluded to earlier, China is in fact attempting to acquire carriers via Ukraine.

  • 96. doug the drifter  |  April 5th, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    So, the Dong sounds pretty cool. Where can I get one?

  • 97. Jon the Baptist  |  April 5th, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Good article. What’s funny is that we’ve all known this even as little kids playing battleship. Everyone who’s anyone who has played battleship KNOWS the aircraft carrier is a giant floating duck waiting to be sunk. I guess they never played that game.

  • 98. chinaman  |  April 5th, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    From Janes:


    However, the PLA would need to make substantial advances in missile guidance and countermeasures in order to achieve the very high precision required to attack a moving target. To do so, the US Office of Naval Intelligence noted: “The current TBM force would be modified by changing some to the current missiles’ re-entry vehicles to manoeuvring re-entry vehicles with radar or infra-red seekers to provide the accuracy needed to attack ships at sea.”

    http://www.janes.com/defence/naval_forces/news/jdw/jdw060118_1_n.shtml

  • 99. Chase.Hamil  |  April 5th, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    While China’s incoming carrier destroyer is on its way, there should be time to lauch most of one of the ship’s squadrons (15+ planes) carrying our own best-in-class nukes. We lose a carrier – they lose a big chunk of mainland China.

  • 100. Nergol  |  April 5th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Since when was US carriers going against China and Iran the be-all and end-all?

    When the government spent billions of dollars we don’t have to build useless white elephants. I saw something on 60 Minutes tonight about near-bankrupt hospitals turning away cancer patients. The amount of money it took to build these useless behemoths would have paid for a lot of chemotherapy.

    US carriers have been extremely successful for a long time. You forgot to mention that.

    That’s because all they’ve done for the past 60 years is pound on third-world shitholes with miniscule navies and Air Forces. Guess what – China ain’t exactly Serbia. The PLA ain’t exactly the Taliban. People who can’t see that could be in for a very nasty shock.

  • 101. Not Patton  |  April 5th, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    As other people have pointed out, the whole purpose of a carrier group is to project air power globally. It is much cheaper to have a carrier group ready to move out to hotspots at a moment’s notice than it is to maintain airbases at every possible hotspot.

    As far as the navy not learning its lesson over 60 years, it’s really a lot less than that. The idea of non-nuclear nations having advanced anti-ship missiles is relatively new (once they go nuclear the hardware war really doesn’t matter anymore). The idea of non-nuclear tinpot “rogue” nations that we like to bomb so much having advanced anti-ship missiles is an even newer idea.

    Navy brass probably saw the Falklands incident as a lucky shot by one plane or two that the British weren’t expecting (which it pretty much was). So the thought that existing point defense would keep them safe was still worth keeping the (relatively) cheap air power projection around.

    A non-nuclear country that we’d like to bomb like Iran is a pretty new development. I’d say carriers are less a result of stuffy bourgeios rich kid Navy brats and more the fact that the risk of losing a carrier in a likely conflict has until recently not outweighed the benefit of cheaper mobile airpower.

  • 102. Not Patton  |  April 6th, 2009 at 12:02 am

    ALSO as other people have pointed out: this probably isn’t a matter of credible threat as it is about posturing and budgets, just like all modern developed nation war. China postures to remind us to not be so brazen about our dicking around their waters, our Navy drums up a scare story to get a bigger budget.

    The idea of China actually pulling the trigger and attacking our fleet would be like a CEO shooting up the office building of the company paying him tens of millions a year; it just doesn’t make any sense.

  • 103. pakk  |  April 6th, 2009 at 1:55 am

    2 Nergol:

    If you wipe out a few cities, you don’t win the nuclear war.

    Try to find some good books on the military history of the cold war and understand why the USSR and the USA (or is it the USSA now?) had to keep a force of 1,000′s of ICBM’s when that was well in excess of ‘wiping out’ their respective cities. Or why both sides had to retain their nuclear subs as ‘the ultimate retaliation weapons’.

    If the Chinese start an ICBM exchange with the US, the WHOLE OF CHINA will be wiped at the expense of (arguably) 5% of the US population and without posing any existential threat to the US.

    The (even nascent) US BMD capability will reduce the likely US damage further. That, BTW, was one of Russia’s main arguments against the denounciation of the ’72 BMD treaty: this act makes the nuclear war MUCH MORE LIKELY because you literally have a chance of getting away with murder.

    And the whole “nuclear winter” story is still a hypothesis based on mathematical assumptions which cannot be verified. Except by experiment, of course..

  • 104. A Nonny Mouse  |  April 6th, 2009 at 2:31 am

    You’re wrong about one thing, Becker-cheap missile technology favors defenders, not attackers, just like John Mearsheimer argued way back in 1983. It’s a chapter in Conventional Deterrence. He was right then, and he’s right now.

    Which means, of course, that we could be defending ourselves a lot more cheaply than we are now, too. But that’s almost as unpopular as pointing out how cheap and effective mines (also known as IEDs nowadays) are.

  • 105. fajensen  |  April 6th, 2009 at 6:58 am

    The Tico & Arleigh Burke Aegis cruisers are designed to shoot down massed missile attacks for all profiles including sea skimmers and high MACH divers

    “Shoot Down” .. yah that’s da plan, not!

    Even IF you actually hit the sucker, most of the mass is just going to continue happily on it’s trajectory at whatever MACH number it already had.

    A pile of several-km/s-Junk *will* make a lasting impression on your new flight-deck (including the stupid face of the inbred Tom Clancy fanbois gawking at it)!

  • 106. Nergol  |  April 6th, 2009 at 11:36 am

    If the Chinese start an ICBM exchange with the US, the WHOLE OF CHINA will be wiped at the expense of (arguably) 5% of the US population and without posing any existential threat to the US.

    Oh God – not the “winnable nuclear war” bullshit again. Hasn’t this been tagged as ridiculous insanity for fifty years or so?

    I live within ten miles of a Primary Target. As one of the 5% (roughly fifteen million human beings) whose radioactive incineration you feel would be an acceptable price to pay for the ability of the United States to continue waving its dick around the world, let me say: Fuck You.

  • 107. Steve B.  |  April 6th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Hey War Nerd! have you seen this?

    (From an article about current US defense spending.) “The military would buy more speedy ships that can operate close in to land.”

    Maybe they do realize the direction their navy needs to go (and just not Obama’s Congress).

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090406.wgatesweapons0406/BNStory/International/home

  • 108. CB  |  April 6th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Someone said Gary’s mistake was in assuming that we would engage in war with an even vaguely comparable enemy. Ha, don’t read War Nerd much then. Suffice to say one of Brecher’s most common messages is that it’s all about asymmetrical war these days, and large nation state vs nation state conventional military conflicts are largely a thing of the past. But nevertheless, it’s the potential for that kind of conflict that motivates carriers and carrier groups. You don’t need an air craft carrier to battle Somali pirates, and they’re struggling to find uses for carriers in Iraq — as a documentary I watched about the very subject showed, they fly recon missions that strictly speaking they aren’t needed for. Mostly they hang around just to be there in case Iran tries anything in the Gulf, but any dust-up with Iran would quickly fall into the actual-warfare category we’re all assuming isn’t very likely.

    Funnier than that was the comment that you can’t just consider the carrier itself, because there’s a whole battle group. Yeah, we know, the navy knows, everyone knows. Yet carriers are still vulnerable.

    Even more LOL-worthy was the comment about how a supersonic ballistic missile is very much like a SCUD in terms of range and payload, and thus something the navy is used to. Yeah, I don’t think range and payload are the chief attributes for comparing and contrasting in this case.

    It’s funny how people keeps thinking more hardware will save them in a situation where the attacker has all the advantages because every expensive anti-missile advancement has a cheap and uncomplicated way around it. Reactive armor on tanks was defeated with a tiny additional shaped charge on the RPG. Anti-missile systems will be defeated by some simple evasion maneuvers and countermeasures. Like the basic equation that says carriers aren’t worth it, you’ll spend 100x what your attacker does and still not be as effective. Forget sinking the things, all it takes is a good hit on the flight deck, and the control tower, and you’ve taken out the carrier’s most powerful assets — it’s planes and its communications.

    We’ve already run wargames where a carrier group was shown to be vulnerable (understatement) to many small attackers. Now we have navy sources admitting they have no defense against BMs (which has never meant 100% ballistic, it only means part of the flight is ballistic).

    Give it up. Gary is right on this one. Carriers are there to project our air power over countries that don’t have the strength to resist. They’re about being GloboCop, not actual military power. In any real dust-up against a real enemy count them out. No that’s not likely, especially if we try to avoid it. But the inadequacy of our surface navy for the task is another reason we should try to avoid it.

  • 109. pakk  |  April 6th, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    2 Nergol:

    A-ha, that’s what the Chinese keep their nukes for! For the US, 5% would be (under normal circumstances) an intolerable loss of life, even if far from being an ‘existential threat’.

    For the Indian or Paki (ok, I CAN say ‘paki’, I ain’t no Prince Harry, haha) military, 20-30% is tolerable. As they used say to say in Russia, “yesho narozhayut” (i.e. “they’re gonna produce more of their kind”). Or, if you allow me to quote Mao, “300mln Chinese are enough for the
    survival of mankind.”

    Nuclear war was rendered ESSENTIALLY unwinnable by the SALT, START and BMD treaties, and this was a VOLUNTARY choice made by the US and Soviet leadership to prevent nuclear war from happening.

    So you should re-address your f%?kyou’s towards JW’s advisors who, in my view, failed to evaluate the implications of throwing the BMD treaty in the dustbin.

    Because, if 5% is too much; what about 0.5%? 0.1%? Where is the threshold? In which circumstances? There is a whole set of new questions with no easy answers.

    However, what I wanted to say is that the Chinese, unless they will be lead by imbeciles, WILL NOT initiate an ICBM exchange with the US. As simple as that.

    As for the symbiotic economic relationship between the US and China mentioned by a few guys here, it has been more like a huge Ponzi scheme driven by US addiction to debt on one hand, and Chinese addiction to the cheap renminbi, on the other. A true ‘economic MAD’, as Larry Summers once said. The next Cuban Crisis will definitely be a US-China issue, but it will be an economic Cuban Crisis. And it may only be A FEW MONTHS AHEAD..

    P.S. As for the winnable nuclear war being “tagged as ridiculous insanity for fifty years or so” (mind ‘tagged’).. It was 45 years ago, to be precise, and it was because LBJ wanted to win the election.

    P.P.S I’m not a US citizen)

  • 110. tom  |  April 6th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Someone above called the obama version of the bushies, the obamoids.

    I’m not anti Obama at all, but if you are going to coin a term, how about barakis?

    It doesn’t spell as well as it sounds.

    If it takes off, you all heard it here first. Please send money.

  • 111. homosexual  |  April 6th, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    “Fail?” Whatever. This article generated a record number of comments … nerds are comin outta the woodwork like there’s no tomorrow. That in itself isn’t a “fail.”

  • 112. Brian  |  April 7th, 2009 at 11:35 am

    “So our Navy hasn’t fought in over 60 years, “

    Except for that minor dustup in the Gulf with Iran in ’88 – Operation Praying Mantis.

    Ask the Iranians how effective the US Navy is at surface action.

  • 113. Sam  |  April 7th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Wow right on target / on time! Gates is on PBS news right now (4/7/9 18:24 EDT)talking about ballistic missile defense spending for the Navy. Not that it’ll work…

  • 114. Allen  |  April 7th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Questioning American military hardware is sure to bring out the comments. If there’s one thing many Americans, even many lefties, love it’s America’s military “superiority”. They love it more than Jesus.

    Reminds me of that old Carlin bit … a War lovin’ people.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDkhzHQO7jY

    Of course Non-Americans and general all-around smart asses love to challenge America’s over priced military junk, just to bask in the recriminations and incredulity.

  • 115. Drew M  |  April 8th, 2009 at 5:53 am

    US Navy aircraft carriers don’t need missile defense because they are used to attack countries that don’t have missiles! I read enough of War Nerd’s article to get the feeling that he would never make that very obvious point.

  • 116. geo8rge  |  April 8th, 2009 at 7:02 am

    News Flash: Somalies take American crew hostage. Somalia is about a day from task force Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran. Let’s see what all those carriers do. According to Navy enthusiasts the Somalies should be quaking in fear and just cough up the hostages with an apology note, Sorry we thought they were from a POC country.

  • 117. JR  |  April 8th, 2009 at 8:37 am

    “nerds are comin outta the woodwork like there’s no tomorrow.”

    Uuuuum, No. That is a fail.

  • 118. JR  |  April 8th, 2009 at 8:43 am

    And 114 is like, ummm…. 2 more than 112. That is also a fail.

    You should see the shit on my blog that pulls 5 times that many comments. 114 doesn’t even rate on Perez Hilton.

    exiledonline is a horribly promoted site. But maybe not. Maybe it just sucks, that’s why nobody reads it.

    Maybe most of the articles (like this one) are stupid, don’t mean anything, and don’t deliver the insight that is implied.

    Maybe The War Nerd is a not a nerd but a complete narcissist who doesn’t know what the fuck he is talking about and is highly over-rated by his groupies.

  • 119. aleke  |  April 8th, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Maybe you should try fark.com

  • 120. RJ  |  April 8th, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    @JR, you wouldnt have just bought an aircraft carrier by any chance?

  • 121. Indifferent  |  April 8th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    More like the exception that proves the rule. The fact that this article sucks and knowledgeable fans are complaining about it shows that War Nerd IS (*normally*) awesome, and we ARE qualified and objective to recognize the difference.

    I’m half ready to believe there was some kind of falling-out, and this was an experiment with ghostwritten articles that went horribly wrong.

  • 122. homosexual  |  April 8th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    JR: Just because your site doesn’t have spam bot protection doesn’t mean you can count the insane amount of posts they generate …

  • 123. wYSe Guy  |  April 9th, 2009 at 3:30 am

    @ 117
    Maybe it is…I still like it.

  • 124. Spence  |  April 9th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    These things are full of aviation fuel, munitions and nuclear reactors. You could probably blow one up with a .44 if you could get close enough. I dunno like if it was in Norfolk or whoring in Manila?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/rocket-threat-to-ark-royal-1369466.html

  • 125. Nergol  |  April 9th, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I was 11 years old in 1984. Nobody believed in a winnable nuclear war then. I guess that’s proof that we have, indeed, become markedly stupider as a country in the last 25 years.

    Say hi to Auntie Entity for me after your “winnable nuclear war”. I’ll be elsewhere, listening to Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix jam…

  • 126. Nergol  |  April 9th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    JR;

    And the best-selling newspaper in the country is, by far, the National Enquirer. That doesn’t mean it’s a better news source than the Washington Post of Christian Science Monitor. I already know that more Americans would rather read Perez Hilton than the War Nerd. Most Americans are fucking morons. How do you think we ended up with the likes of George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the White House?

  • 127. ATW  |  April 10th, 2009 at 10:55 am

    The Israelis want a war with Iran. So Obama will have to comply sooner or later.
    Then we will see how effective the Chinese clones of Russian anti ship missiles in the hands of Iran will be against the US carrier…

  • 128. Dan  |  April 10th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I can summarize my rebuttal to this article in a now classic American paraphrase: “It’s about the planes stupid.” The article spends plenty of time discussing the vulnerabilities of carriers, and capital ships in general, but none of their advantages. Today’s warfare has a pyramid of military superiority.

    Space – not pivotal yet but it’s getting there

    Air

    Sea

    Ground

    If you decisively control one level, you can make the lower levels unsustainable for an opposing military force. A carrier provides militaries the ability to project air power anywhere in the world. This ended the age of battleships. Even super battleships such as the Bismark and the Yamato were unable to stand up to a determined air assault. Pearl Harbor gave everyone a wake-up call, not just the Americans.

    Let’s talk about the article’s principle argument, carriers are a very vulnerable high value asset. This is true. That’s why carriers never travel the seas alone. They always travel at the center of a battle group or task force including destroyers, cruisers, supply ships and often submarines.

    A guided missile cruiser by itself is a formidable warship capable of performing several missions. In a carrier group, it has only one role: protect the carrier. The same is true for every other ship in the carrier group, because air power trumps sea power. Up to now, the serious threats to carriers have been air based or surface based anti-ship missiles. The Navy has several layers of defense against an incoming missile threat including early detection radar, electronic countermeasures, antimissile missiles fired from planes or ships, and gun systems like the CWIS as a last line of defense.

    In a time of war, a battle group is prepared to defend against a determined missile attack. Let’s say a military force launched a barrage of 100 missiles. Such an attack would certainly wreak havoc on a carrier task force. But 100 missiles don’t pop out of nowhere. If a country is planning to sink a carrier group, they have to first catch the carrier group by surprise, and second cope the retaliation.

    Of course ballistic missiles are a different animal vs your typical anti-ship missile. It’s effectively a vertical attack vs. horizontal attacks of today. This is especially bad for a carrier since a major blow to the flight deck renders it useless. Ballistic missiles are very good at hitting ground targets. But they are not presently known for their ability to hit moving targets. A carrier traveling 30 knots performing evasive maneuvers with electronic countermeasures is not a stationary target. But lets assume the Chinese have worked out how to hit a moving with a ballistic missile. Now we reach the article’s greatest thrust, that the US Navy does not have countermeasures against a ballistic missile attack.

    I’m willing to believe the US Navy does not have a ballistic missile defense in place today. Ballistic missiles have not been used much in surface naval warfare. However the US Military as a whole does have countermeasures against ballistic missiles. The Pentagon has an entire agency dedicated to missile defense. If fact, if you go to their website (mda.mil) you’ll find a story about the Navy completing sea trials on their existing weapons system to take out ballistic threats. Meanwhile, the Army has Patriot missiles vastly improved since Operation Desert Shield, and the Air Force is working on all sorts of toys. If Boeing ever gets this goody in the air, ballistic missiles won’t be the threat they are today.

    So will ballistic missiles become a threat to carriers and other large ships? Perhaps. But countermeasures will arise. Oh and if a ballistic missile site is discovered you can bet a carrier group will bomb it after B-2 stealth bombers take out enemy radar.

    The article’s second thrust called for a halt to constructing large ships in general since they are nothing but large targets with lots of lives astake. The article called for construction of scores of fast “disposable” ships to replace existing capital ships. This is actually an interesting argument with both historical and contemporary precedents. In America’s early years many argued small inexpensive gunboats were a much more effective and economic purchase for defending America’s coast. Losing a single gunboat is must less costly in terms of lives and dollars compared to losing a whole frigate. Gunboats were endorsed by Congress and constructed. The experiment proved several things.

    1. Gunboats were brutal to maintain. Their smaller size and greater numbers meant significantly more work was required to maintain a fleet of gunboats compared to a few frigates. Thus gunboats were often in disrepair.

    2. Gunboats are less versatile than large ships. Their small size makes them ill suited for overseas campaigns. Lack of stores and poor seaworthiness make ocean crossings impractical.

    3. Gunboats of the time really couldn’t stand up to a ship of the line. In the war of 1812, there were a couple engagements involving gunboats and the Royal Navy. Only a couple Royal Navy ships with more cannons and sturdier vessels could decimate the underpowered gunboats. On an interesting note, the very well built American frigates could in turn make short work of Royal Navy ships twice their size. (The USS Constitution wiped out every enemy ship she fought. Seriously, it wasn’t even close.)

    On the other hand, gunboats can have teeth. The Royal Sweedish Navy is almost entirely comprised of corvette class ships and they pack a pretty good punch. Small boats with the right armament have a way of ruining a big boat’s day in a hurry. This happened with the USS Cole, and almost happened over a year ago in the Straits of Hormuz when five Iranian powerboats played chicken with three US warships. So the article does have a point about large ships being large targets. But while a corvette or a gunship is a weapon, a destroyer is a total weapons platform with of missiles and lots and lots of guns.

    Still, destroyers and cruisers are secondary to carriers which brings me back to my opening remark: It’s about the planes stupid. Air superiority cannot be undersold. If a military controls the air they can control everything below it. A carrier’s purpose is to deliver planes, missiles and bombs to project military force. The threats to carriers will continue to grow because their strength can take the battle to the enemy’s shoreline which is where you want to fight your battles. (One day France will figure this out.) Carriers will remain an integral part of military strategy until:
    Air superiority is no longer the advantage it is today (that will be a really bad day for humanity)
    Aircraft are no longer require operational bases at sea (B-2 stealth bombers operate solely from US Soil)
    All Naval Surface warfare becomes completely unsustainable.
    I cannot imagine a situation causing the later to come true.

  • 129. mk  |  April 10th, 2009 at 11:13 am

    The exile is a bolshevik bullhorn, so you can expect articles designed to garner opinion unfavourable to American global operations. It’s still entertaining and I hope it doesn’t go away.

  • 130. Allen  |  April 10th, 2009 at 11:35 am

    It’s true that aircraft carriers are a good way of intimidating the hell out of any country with a coast and noticeably inferior military capability. I’m sure Gary, or anyone, will give the buffs that.

    It’s also true that a War with China, for example, is not likely due to the nuclear deterrent.

    But the question becomes — why spend billions on super advanced carriers when simpler, cheaper, variants will do the same job? You’ve already relegated the surface navy to a niche role, which is in fact the truth.

    The question is going to be how small the niche can get … can a country like Iran neutralize the threat of the U.S. surface fleet with enough missiles?

  • 131. khc  |  April 10th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    This has to be an April Fool’s Joke in some fashion. Everyone knows that the admiral quoted is actually right: the job of the French knights, I mean, US Carriers, isn’t to “fight,” at least not regular armed forces with an ability to shoot back. It is to run down peasants–or 3rd rate militaries without the means to strike back. Only idiots would try to throw knights against an army of properly trained and equipped archers–which is why there was a 90 year gap. Nobody would be so foolish as to send carriers against China–or even start an armed conflict with the Chinese (or, with the US in case of the Chinese). All these are just bunk–like the talk of a big conventional conflict in Europe in 1970s.

  • 132. abprosper  |  April 10th, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Flat out, there will not be a peer war between the US and anyone else. The US will be lucky if it doesn’t become a hollow state in 20 years

    So unless some 3rd world rat hole gets a hold of some really cheap ballistic missiles or hyperbaric torpedoes the fleet is pretty safe.

    They might get a carrier with small boats but thats replaceable.

    What will kill the fleet (and what the Navy agit-prop is all about) is the upcoming economic collapse. Sooner than later cuts will be made and after the cuts have become so severe that US cities are ungovernable and 5 or 10 states are near to leaving the union then finally the budget will get a steep cut.

    This means no more big projects and like any agency the Navy wants to preserve its budget

  • 133. Nergol  |  April 12th, 2009 at 2:21 am

    Dan;

    Yeah, I notice how American air superiority brought us victory in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Vietnam. It’s all about the planes, after all.

  • 134. Seriously  |  April 12th, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Dude, talk about something else then the same, repeated, third-time article about fucking carriers, and write more often, and quit whining like a little girl that you guys have no fucking money. Seriously. You’re fucking awesome, though.

  • 135. zealot  |  April 13th, 2009 at 2:44 am

    yeah, doooode…

  • 136. afu  |  April 13th, 2009 at 4:48 am

    In a conventional war, the war nerd is completly right, carriers are useless.

    But that is not what they are really good for, and that is empire building missions against 3rd world countries that don’t have anything close to a navy. They allow the U.S. to park a bunch of bombers right off the coast and bomb away to their hearts content without having to worry about messing around with other countries airfields.

    Of course, if bombing brown people in pickup trucks is really worth all the money is an open question.

  • 137. Taiwanese Harpoons  |  April 14th, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Work of a ghostwriter? Nothing of this is news. Warnerd in a coma from to much diet coke?

  • 138. Luther Poon  |  April 14th, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Where the hell is Brecher/Dolan? His beloved Somalia pirates hijack an American ship and take its captain hostage, igniting a week-long international drama, and The War Nerd falls silent? WTF? He was all over the Russian/Georgian dust-up, but when his favorite irregulars on Earth pull their biggest, most daring stunt to date, he has nothing to say? Timing, as they say, is everything in life.

  • 139. Truman  |  April 14th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Prestige; Gentleman I read this heated debate and all I can think of is that you do not know, or have never known.

    Loose Lips Sink Ships

    The anti American Crap is typical of Commie propaganda. The only Dog that craps on my lawn, is my Dog.

    LOVE it, or PLEASE leave it.

  • 140. denk  |  April 14th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    “it seems that U.S. Navy admirals provoked this incident. Rumors from the current defense review that large aircraft carriers and surface ships are less valuable nowadays has alarmed the U.S. naval establishment. The Navy’s favorite sales pitch is that aircraft carriers keep China from invading Taiwan, which is false. The entire U.S. military/industrial/congressional complex has complained about the Bush administration’s reluctance to ignore public opinion and begin a major military spending spree.

    http://www.g2mil.com/May2001.htm

  • 141. Pizza de Oveja  |  April 15th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I remember back in the 80′ies I used to play this great boardgame called 6th fleet…and even when we were little kids playing, we discovered early on that a masive missile attack by the commie player with his group of tupolev heavy bombers turned the all powerfull american task forces into new coral reefs in the mediterranean in a single 150+ kitchen missile attack (to paraphrase Mr nerd). The game turned boring after that because if the bombers were allowed to attack, it was always the same result, and those bastards could attack from a lot of hexes! way beyond the US cap.
    That being said, I had these thing for carriers due to topgun and the final countdown movies so it never ocurred to me that carriers were useless and latter I assumed the new aegis system was designed precisely to counter that threat so obvious that a pair of nerds discovered it when they were kids playing a common board game.
    Obviously if someone uses nukes armies and navies would be useless, thats a common known fact since the 50′ies nothing new there but if nukes star flying around well..that would be the least of our problems, so discarding the use of nukes I would suggest they start building AA floating fortreses with a thousand R2D2 with a hard-on (or better the new machine guns I saw on tv that fire the bullet stock of the whole liberia in seconds). When precision is at doubt fire more of it to improve the odds…A LOT MORE! Like you see on those kamikazee movies on the pacific.
    The us navy is not going to have its flagship to be a pt-boat man, not even on kenedy times, so that is not an option.

  • 142. dlo  |  April 15th, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I don’t think the guy is off, but really:

    —-
    Aside from countermeasures, support, maneuverability, and tactics, the F-16 has no defense against certain enemy weapons
    —-

    —-
    Aside from countermeasures, support, maneuverability, and tactics, the m1a1 tank has no defense against certain enemy weapons
    —-

    —-
    Aside from countermeasures, support, maneuverability, and tactics, the apache has no defense against certain enemy weapons
    —-

    Coincidentally, the same story with an aircraft carrier. Ok. Except maybe the maneuverability part. Every weapon in every arsenal can be trumped. Why is this any different?

  • 143. smallcager  |  April 15th, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    In skimming the story and comments, you seem to have missed last week’s announcement of a plan by the Russians to build 6 subs to carry missiles that are designed to destroy our carriers. Everyone else in the world has the same plan – and we are going to lose the next oil war.

  • 144. Davidson  |  April 16th, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Aircraft carriers are not destined to be used against nations that can defend themselves, they are to be used against nations that can’t, like Iraq, Afghanistan etc. Obviously any country that can fire a decent size missile can defend itself. Even if the missile misses by a few hundred yards, it does not matter, just the explosion and the wave it creates will quickly disable even the most expensive carrier. In France we have solved this problem, the Charles de Gaulle is always ‘en panne’ and almost never leaves its docks for more than a few days. Ha! Ha! Ha!.

  • 145. Facundo Carril  |  April 16th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Simply part of their power projection strategy. In terms of range even, if handled with care at the appropiate distance, carriers, still serve the purpouse of acting as overseas airstrips. Now, if you are gonna run into their harbors in those “show off” kind of mission, yeah, you are probably fucked. Anyway, all has to do with what the powers behind the industrial military complex wanted to sell basically. Surely making carriers delivers some nice money. Doesnt actually matters if they are usefull or useless. Wake up people, war has only been a bussines into which the bankers of america decided to put the american effort as a nation. Since ww1 and ww2…if we dont realize quickly we are all gonna be fucked under some gigantic police state, in USA or anywhere else on the planet.

  • 146. A J Batz  |  April 17th, 2009 at 8:18 am

    I’ve been reading with great interest everyones take about the what-ifs. Without going into too much detail I was in Nam and saw the New Jersey fire computer guided 16 inch shells at Tiger Island. For those who weren’t there, Tiger Island was a stronghold for Charlie to fire on Naval ships with SAS missiles and a protection barrier for small boats that would come out periodically and mount attacks on US Navy ships. The USS Bainbridge had been hit by such a missile killing 6 radarmen and others on the bridge. Tiger Island could be picked up on air search radar with elevation of 12k feet. After the New Jersey fired on the island for 5 days, the island could barely be seen on the surface search radar. My point is that whatever the circumstances called for, adjustments will be made to accomodate.

    As an added example, I grew up in an area where aircraft were always being tested.
    One saturday morning, I was walking to work, I was 15 at the time. As I heard the familiar scream in the distance of a jet coming close by, I looked to my right to see a test model of a jet, orange in color, with twin tail fins come across in front of me. It was flying very low to the ground and then it made a vertical thrust, shot straight up and disappeared into the blue. I, of course, had not known that what I was seeing was a prototype of the F16, some 8 to 10 years before it actually went into production. Again as I got out of the service, I was talking to friends of mine in the intelligence and research community of the Armed Forces and had heard about a smart bomb that could zero in to with in 6 inches of it’s target. Again, that was some twenty years before it was actually used in the first gulf war.

    All I’m saying is that, minds greater than ours probably have been working on something that started 10 or even 20 years ago that may be ready for use even now.

    Spectulation is great as long as it is constructive.

    Thanks for time.
    God Bless

  • 147. Jerry Mandel  |  April 17th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    1. The longbow was used in battle long before Crecy. The inovation that did the job was the armor-piercing arrow head.
    2. If we scrap carriers, we have no way for shorter range aircraft to attack targets and refuel/rearm rapidly for more airstrikes per day. The B-1, B-52, and B-2 bombers take too long to reach targets.
    3. Russia has also created a missile which is claimed to be able to change course in midflight to defeat our so-called anti-ballistic defenses.

  • 148. Joe Severa  |  April 17th, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Sort of silly to take at face value this War Nerd nonsense. What Admiral would take his carrier into the midst of the action described in this game? Every plane & helicopter today has tremendous range, the carriers LAUNCH them from many miles away, & what about today’s radar & such for detecting subs & what not, this game is BS???

    Just one carrier off the Somalia coast could eventually take out both the hijackers mother ship & these fly-like attack boats, what is the Western World waiting for?

    Waste of time as usual.

    SageNot

  • 149. Ron Raridon  |  April 17th, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Please don’t include explicit profanity as you did in the Nerd report! It’s better to use +++ or xxx. We can get the meaning without being so explicit! I find it personally offensive.

  • 150. Owen K.  |  April 17th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    It is unusual to question a US Naval Institute Report, but perhaps no more unusual than questioning a CIA report on the status of WMDs in Iraq. This is one report of which I am skeptical. First of all, Mach 10 is hypersonic speed. Hypersonic speed is defined as an object moving at Mach 5 or above in the fluid (atmospere) in which it is moving. It has been known in aviation circles, that hypersonic speed is not possible to achieve in the earth’s lower atmosphere due to friction and extreme heat buildup. There is no known metal or alloys that could withstand the kind of temperatures that hypersonic speed would build up in this evironment. Second, how much power would it take to propel such a weapon to that speed range, and hold it all the way to target? Third, how could a warhead possibly survive the kind of temperatures mentioned above. Fourth, what type of contols would have to be employed to manage such a weapon system at hypersonic speed? I believe this report is in error. I don’t know where or how it was obtained, but if I were a US Navy official, I would have to classify it as highly suspect.

  • 151. James  |  April 17th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    As a former Marine helicopter pilot, who did it forever, this subject gives me a real hardon. I was forced into 6, six month plus deployments aboard U.S. ships and I love diss’en the Navy. What the nerd said here certainly goes for my particular specialty as well. As a CH-46 pilot who had the misfortune of flying in some real shit from time to time, I used to hold my breath from the moment I launched until I landed. Talk about having your pants down around your ankles! Helicopters are even worse death traps than the big ships. Then when I wasn’t sticking my neck out in the helo, I was a huge target back in the wardroom. I can’t believe I made it 28 years in one piece. Jesus Christ. I gotta be careful in crosswalks here in California cause I used up all my luck long ago. Good article though, GOD damnit.

  • 152. Jaime Dacanay Jr  |  April 18th, 2009 at 6:38 am

    love this article

  • 153. Camabron  |  April 18th, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    The Americans have stuck to carriers because they are offensive -as opposed to defensive- weapons to project imperial power on WEAKER countries over seas. They would never get into a war with a real army like China.

  • 154. Ralph Apton  |  April 18th, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Serious and scary article which should be sent to major cable news commentators and their producers in order to stimulate some national debate and thought.

  • 155. bell  |  April 19th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    North Korea has long known about the weakness in us carriers and as a result us ships dont even think about a confrontation on the seas with them. It was only a matter of time before the news caught up.

    20 years ago I read an article on chinese concrete ships which were undetectable and armed with rocket torpedos.

    So the question is asked, why keep building these floating coffins?

    simply stated, the more the merrier. With increased capability to knock out carriers increases the need for more carriers. Also carriers are closely followed by relatively inexpensive frigates who give off a carrier signature which increases the carriers chances of survival. What many people fail to realize is that most ships and men are expendable, suicide ships if you will. And they follow the carriers very closely.

    One other tidbit, phased array radar is such a monumental leap in weapons technology that a fight between an Aegis ship and any other combatant would be like machine guns to sticks. When the Navy says it hasnt a defense from this threat, they mean a specific defence system delegated for that specific weapons system.

  • 156. old-faithful  |  April 19th, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    first of all, the chinese will not know where a carrier is. second, a ballistic missile may be fast (at mach 10) but that is a trajectory that is going straight down no matter how unpredictable it’s flight path is, it will never be able to turn on a dime at mach 10 or it will break up.

    the aegis radar system has been improved to track down and shoot down ballistic missiles. the chances of a ballistic missile hitting a carrier is close to zero. I do agree with you that if an all out attack is launched then a carrier might have a problem but not an impossible task of defending itself. a carrier has a defence perimeter of hundreds of miles 24 X7 which includes both air and sea perimeters where nothing within that radius can come close and threaten it.

    if you’d have served on board a carrier you would know. while carriers are becoming obsolete, it’s not because they are indefensible, it’s because they are becoming too costly to operate. drones will one day replace all fighter aircraft, and when that happens, a carrier will be manned by less people and will be smaller in size which would make it even harder to track and attack. add the fact that stealth technology is now being adapted into navy ship’s designs then we have the makings of a fleet that are efficient, requires less manpower to maintain, and easier to defend. one thing that most people know is that by the time the public start speaking of military weaponry obsolecence the Pentagon already has something to replace it.

  • 157. fajensen  |  April 20th, 2009 at 6:39 am

    What Admiral would take his carrier into the midst of the action described in this game?

    An Idiot – Like Sir Winston Churchill against the Turks in 1915.

  • 158. Dr. Phil  |  April 20th, 2009 at 8:03 am

    First, let’s set the record straight–the “Prince of Wales” and “Repulse” we sent to find the German battleship, “Bismark”, and subsequently sunk by it–NOT to repulse a Japanese invasion.
    Second, anti-ship missles have existed for a long time and the British got a taste of them when they lost several ships to them in the battle over the Faulkland Islands.
    And finally, the carriers are used for regional wars and humanitarian endeavors–sort of like giant police cars, if you will, since we have been the defacto policemen of the world for some time now. If the big one comes, we are all just toast anyway.

  • 159. Chas Clifton  |  April 20th, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Carriers may be vulnerable, yet the Chinese are building their own all the same:

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090420/D97MBEC80.html

  • 160. Adm Nelson  |  April 20th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Anyone who’s ever played “Harpoon” knows that incoming missles are no prob, baby. That’s what AEGIS is for.

  • 161. JIM MOORE  |  April 21st, 2009 at 6:23 am

    PROFANIY IS THE FEEBLE ATTEMPT OF A WEAK MIND TO EXPRESS ITSELF FORCEFULLY.
    (THE WEAKER THE ARGUMENT, THE GREATER THE NEED FOR PROFANITY.)

  • 162. good and true  |  April 21st, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Gary, you are out of your depth, and should confine yourself to stories about petty tyrants putting down peasant uprisings. You are totally at sea on matters naval – no pun. Serious! A Navy’s targets are the enemy’s sea lanes, its merchant marine, and then the enemy’s navy. CBGs do a great job of that and help the US project power all over the globe. The Russians don’t plan to fight a sea lane battle with their land mass spanning the entire Eurasian landmass and two oceans, so all they need to do is use their navy strategically by keeping their boomers in shallow waters and raining down hellfire half way across the globe shd it be necessary. China has never been a naval power for some very silly reasons. A navy being a large group of professionally led people, operating far beyond the reach of the Emperor/flunkies/and now the Commie Party tends to acquire a life of its own and starts to dream up troubling notions like progress freedom liberty etc., So it shd be kept in leash – much like the late USSR did. But the Chinese party hacks are also given to a touch of silliness and have actually begun to imagine that with all the bright lights they have been hanging out on the streets the people they lord over may actually want to die for the nation rather than run away to the West. So they are now thinking of a blue water navy. Nothing is impossible and China might yet master the art of carrier operations in the next century. I shan’t go over your ignorant ramblings about the DF21, but rest assured that should even a single USN carrier be sunk, the sinker can kiss his country goodbye. The USN lost 12 carriers in WW2 and about 40 subs. Who was it who won that war?

  • 163. Ardarich  |  April 21st, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    dr. phil: I have to say that you aren`t right: although the Prince of Wales and the Repulse took part in the hunt against the Bismarck, neither of them became sunk by it, just the battleship Hood. Later both of them were sent to Singapore, and get bombed to pieces by the Japanese on the open sea, being sent to fight without a single supporting airplane.

  • 164. GHynson  |  April 23rd, 2009 at 11:17 am

    China can “TRY” and destoy one of our carriers with thier so-called “ship killer” missles.
    The second they “try”,.. one of our ballistic subs would prolly wipe China of the map with thier 20+, sub launched, city killer ICBM’s.

  • 165. p6867  |  April 25th, 2009 at 7:15 am

    I love how everyone who disagrees with you (164, 162 etc) says “you’re not right and if we lose one we’ll nook em” like the fact that we have nuclear weapons just negates the fact that we’re dropping money on a US fleet that could be taken out by a larger version of the LTTE navy and air force or a shit load of dirty Persians in cessnas or a cheap chinese missile wall.

    Old faithful(156)’s post is just terrible. Under his logic where people who served on a carrier just inherently understand the problems facing them in a way the rest of us can’t, and we should all trust in the Aegis sounds a lot like if i were to use my experience as a Cav Scout in the Army to claim we’re winning the Iraq War because we kill more people. Just because you’ve been there doesn’t mean you’re an expert.

  • 166. Cloyce  |  April 27th, 2009 at 7:55 am

    @ JFreshInEffec

    Yes, they are designed to hit a moving target since they rely on a Radar/IR/digital image multi-guidance system. And they use conventional warhead, not nukes.

    Chinese PLA officials said that the most difficult part of this tecnology is to keep the missile manouvrable once they have reentered in the atnosphere, and since the speed is very high, they have very little time for manouver.

  • 167. Cloyce  |  April 27th, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Just some more info to clear the confusion.

    To spot the coordinates of the US carrier, the chinese will use the Over The Horizon radar (OTH), both fixed and mobile radar. Chinese have already mastered that tecnology.

    this link provides some infos : hXXp://club.xilu.com/junshi/msgview-821258-90381.html

    The article says that any large vessel can be spotted at 3000km of distance, and the new DF-21 have terminal guidance capability to hit that vessel with conventional warhead.

    I think most of you are us propaganda soaked. Why so many of you thinks that all the good stuff that chinese have are russian copies?

  • 168. Cloyce  |  April 27th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Since I’m quite updated on this matter, I will provide you with a credible scenario.

    PLA officials have always said and repeated hundred of times that :
    “Instead od hitting the BIRD, it’s much easier to hit the NEST”.

    Since the Taiwan Crisis, they have got a vast series of missile-delivered cluster munitions aimed at taiwan airport. You know, if the runway is damaged, planes can not take off.

    During the developement of the DF-21-based ASBM, some PLA officials said they will go for cluster munitions if they can’t solve the accuracy problem with the new missile.
    The F-18s can not take-off/land safetly with too many little holes on the deck.
    Besides, if only a single bomblet hit your catapults, your warplanes will not be able to take off.

  • 169. Jeff  |  April 27th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    No time to read all 168 comments — but if China were planning to use ASBM’s (anti-ship ballistic missiles) to destroy a large segment of the US fleet, it would have to be a mere sideshow to what they would do– because use of ballistic missiles to destroy such extensive US military assets would call for nuclear retaliation by US land based ICBM missiles. The reason the Chinese won’t use these ASBM’S is the notion of stratefic nuclear deterrence. Launch of ASBM’s from mobile or stationery sites in China will promptly record on our sensor assets around the earth– so the fact of the launch would be known within seconds to the National Command Authority. The US can hot launch a salvo of ICBM’s within 15 minutes. China knows this. So as the first ASBM was hitting or exploding above it’s first US carrier, several 500 kiloton warheads would be, oh, about three to five minutes from targets in China. Don’t think for a moment that strategic planners in both countries know this and anticipate this scenario.

    The only time China will launch these types of weapons against our carriers, is if they are simultaneously launching a nuclear first strike againt the contintental US. I don’t believe China is prepared to do that even to retake Taiwan.

    China will probably use more conventional weaspons systems to interdict or dissuade US Fleet assets from interfereing in a Taiwan seizure…something much less likely to trigger a nuclear repsonse from the US.

    Also– China herself is working on building her first aircraft carrier. They must not be that convinced of their uselessness and vulnerability.

  • 170. staghounds  |  April 28th, 2009 at 3:41 am

    People always use Prince of Wales and Repulse for the proposition that surface ships are vulnerable to aircraft, therefore carriers are the way to go.

    I never hear Midway used to prove the same proposition, because both sides had carriers. But really, it’s a better example- it’s just a matter of good luck and code reading that the USN won.

    Midway proves that ALL big surface ships are targets. When you shoot at a target enough, you’ll hit it.

    As the comments make clear, our carriers are just convenient airfields for third world policing, and very expensive tripwires for nuclear war.

  • 171. reallythough  |  April 28th, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Did anyone else notice that my comments aren’t worth reading?

  • 172. reallythough  |  April 29th, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    your good, your real good..

  • 173. some.hacker  |  May 3rd, 2009 at 12:58 am

    One thing you are forgetting: the United States has these things called ICBM’s. You are absolutely right: a surface fleet is all show nowadays, and they don’t call them “bomb magnets” for nothing, however, the same thing can be said about cities. Sinking a carrier battle group may be tactically arbitrary, but doing so would be strategic suicide, because killing 10,000 sailors in a day is a very good reason to start launching nuclear weapons against military targets. It’s a World War 3-starting proposition.

  • 174. Anonymous  |  May 6th, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Fact is, in war, anything is a target and nothing is safe. Nothing.

    Nobody said carriers were unbeatable.

    They are just another tool, just the the m16 is.

  • 175. unker  |  May 10th, 2009 at 6:07 am

    You’re all fucking retarded

  • 176. Anonymous  |  May 16th, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Okay, and now for some deflating:

    The DN-21 is theoretically able to kill a carrier. That is, if it´s operating country finds the carrier (pretty hard actually, there´s a lot of ocean out there), correctly projects it´s course and relays this data to hte missile unit in a short time. That´s the problem here. A MRBM like the DN-21, even if it has been modified with a maneuvering warhead, will only have a rahter small engagement circle that has to be set when the missile is fired. Should the target leave that circle by the time the warhead goes into final descent, it won´t hit anything.

    Even better, right now the DN-21 only has one warhead configuration: A 300 kiloton nuke. And somehow I don´t think that anyone, including the Chinese, would be crazy enough to do that, not with the US being capable of permanently solving China´s overpopulation problems in less than a hour.

    Add to that that the SM-3 that is right now entering service is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles (and even satellites) and suddenly, the DN-21 doesn´t look as hot anymore.

    “Well, instead of just paging through Jane’s and drooling over the Harpoon’s range and 221-kg warhead (don’t bother lying, I spent years doing that stuff myself and I know), think about what that weapons means in terms of this key sentence from my last story: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.” Now put that together with the fact that the Harpoon, way back in the Disco Era, had a cool little feature called “pop-up.” And what it meant is that the Harpoon itself worked as a ballistic missile. So even in our own inventory, we’ve had a weapon lying around for decades that could have taken out all our carriers.”

    WOW. This is just purely retarded. Are you honestly triyng to equal an ASM with a ballistic missile? Seriously, what are oyu smoking? And can I get some?

    Hint: Any ASM has a pop-up mode. It´s part of their normal attack profile. And modern shipborne point-defense can engage them perfectly well.

    (In fact, the chance to hit a US carrier inside its CBG is, for all intents and purposes, zero as long as you aren´t able to overload the entire point-defense of the battle group, which requires dozens of missiles coming in simultaneously, aka the Cold War Russian Missile Massacre. One should note that the Missile Massacre consisted of a whole regiment of Badgers launching a full alpha-strike, which adds up to about 120 ASM coming it in one single wave. And even then the russians themselves expected 3-5 hits out of that.)

    A ballistic missile, on the other hand, has a final descent velocity of several kilometers per second, far faster than any ASM. That´s why it´s so hard to intercept the buggers, especially if they can maneuver. And again, SM-3 offers a good chance to do it regardless.

  • 177. Anonymous  |  May 16th, 2009 at 3:40 am

    (cont.)

    And it is really nice how Gary goes into complete retard-mode first with his erroneous retelling of Cracy and Agincourt. (Hint, Gary: The French got shredded because of bad weather, bad terrain, bad leadership and assualting an enemy hunkered down in a pretty much perfectly fortified position. Heavy cavalry would still be an effective and necessary part of any army all the way to the US Civil War.)

    And then he tries to paint all surface vessels as useless by trotting out a single example. In which it was the Israelis being smug bastards and not taking the normal safety precautions that caused the disaster. In other words, he tries to paint a human error as the technical failure of a weapons system. And that doens´t evne adress how the Eilat was far from being a truly modern vessel at that time.

    “The difference between the Israeli navy and ours is simple: the Israelis learned their lesson and switched to smaller, lighter missile craft.”

    No, they didn´t “learn their lesson”, you moron. They simply can´t AFFORD any modenr ship in that weight class.

    “No more ocean-going muscle cars to act like giant magnetized targets. The newer Israeli boats are small enough that when you lose one, like they did in the 2006 war to land-based Hezbollah surface to surface missiles, you don’t suffer 100 casualties.”

    Yeah, always that pesky “if”. Because a bigger ship with an actual point defense system would, unlike the Israeli bucket, not even be a viable target for such a jury-rigged, home-made ASM. It would blow the thing into smitherrens miles before it ever hit. Firing a single missile at an AEGIS-equipped warship is like trying to kill a tank by throwing fragmentation grenades at it.

    “There are some real interesting computer modeled naval war games that seem to be telling us that’s the way to invest your naval budget: lots of small ships carrying big missiles.”

    And just as many, if not more, in which your swarm of small missile craft gets massacred by a carrier wing before ever even seeing any targets they could attack.

    “Another way would have been to develop an effective defense weapon against ballistic missiles.”

    Lo and behold, the Standard Missile 3.

    “or you go the U-boat route the Germans took when they realized the age of the battleship was over, sticking to subs.”

    And now for another round of historic ignorance by our War nerd. Funnily enough, both the WWII and the modern german navy operate surface vessels. And not small ones, either.

    The whole reason for the U-boat-war was that the Kriegsmarine would not be able to match the Royal Navy in terms of big surface vessels. Hence, the Kriegsmarine was never meant to achieve naval superiority, but just to deny it as much as possible to the Royal Navy.

    As it stands, carrier will be the king of the sea simply by their mobility, attck power and attack range for the forseeable future. Not invincible, but bloody hard to get and with a big stick in hand. Just as always.

  • 178. Anonymous  |  May 16th, 2009 at 3:53 am

    “We’ve already run wargames where a carrier group was shown to be vulnerable (understatement) to many small attackers.”

    The only one I can remember would be the Millenium Challenge 2002. During which the red force cheated like hell, and in a way that can´t be repeated in reality. (Things like teleporting assets around at will, inventing additional forces that were not on the reds original troop roster etc.)

    “Now we have navy sources admitting they have no defense against BMs (which has never meant 100% ballistic, it only means part of the flight is ballistic).”

    Bull-fucking-shit. There´s a massive differrenc ebtween the pop-up attack of an ASM carried out at, at best, about Mach 4 and a ballistic missile warhead coming down from low orbit at a speed of Mach 10+.

  • 179. Anonymous  |  May 16th, 2009 at 4:21 am

    “Even if the missile misses by a few hundred yards, it does not matter, just the explosion and the wave it creates will quickly disable even the most expensive carrier.”

    AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA.

    No. Seriously, no. A freakin’ Tsunami would have problems taking out a carrier. The wave from a few tons of eplosives detonating a few hunderd yards away will barely sway a supercarrier.

    “Yeah, I notice how American air superiority brought us victory in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Vietnam. It’s all about the planes, after all.”

    Iraq: Conventional Iraqui military forces completely wiped out in a matter of weeks. The remaining fighting was/is carried out agianst lightly armed militants hiding withhin the civilain population. Said militants have no way to actually overcome the US presence in the country save for hoping that their continued resistance eventually persuades the US to leave.

    Afghanistan: See Iraq.

    Vietnam: See above, with the US losing the nerves.

    I find your stupid attmept at equalling conventional warfar eand guerilla warfare mildly amusing, if moronic.

    “First, let’s set the record straight–the “Prince of Wales” and “Repulse” we sent to find the German battleship, “Bismark”, and subsequently sunk by it–NOT to repulse a Japanese invasion.”

    LOLWUT? It were the PoW and the Hood. And only Hood was sunk by Bismarck achieving a one-in-a-million hit. PoW retreated after being hit a few times as she had just been subject to a complete overhaul and had massive teething problems at the time.

    “Midway proves that ALL big surface ships are targets. When you shoot at a target enough, you’ll hit it.”

    With the little proposition that you have to find the target and being enough assets into range. A CBG is not a very cooperative target in that regard.

    “They are just another tool, just the the m16 is.”

    THIS. Fucking THIS.

  • 180. porkers-at-the-trough  |  May 27th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I wuz going to let this one slip by, but Exiled keeps hammering on this theme, (today, “The Chinese Are Getting Into The Floating Target Racket . . . Whoops, Guess They Forgot To Read Brecher’s Memo”) so here goes:

    Guess Exiled AND Brecher FORGOT TO READ “Gary’s” own post (from way back): “Wars are fought by RICH MEN’s proxy/mercenary armies.”
    Now given America’s horrific WWII kia loses to establish the world-wide empire we all take as a ‘given’ today (500,000 US KIA WWII?), could America (with our far larger population today) afford to loose EVERY MAN on EVERY CARRIER, in every US carrier battle-group, if that was what it took to maintain her imperial presence?
    Ab-so-lute-ly.
    And Gary is forgetting the rule of his earlier post: the guy with the bigger, more expensive weapons tend to win the battles. NOT always, especially given the capabilities of today’s ASM’s. But IF you want to get a lot of men & equipment from “point A to point B,” a BIG SHIP(s) will get you there faster, safer, and more comfortably than small ships.
    The “sacrifice manpower” angle of course goes double, triple, quadruple for the Chinese: just in MANNING those carriers, the establish INFRASTRUCTURE to TRAIN their personel in naval ops, in extended ops, in extended supply, in aircraft logistics, and in ECM competence (just to mention a few). Those capabilities do NOT just come from paper studies, or manning the motorized zodiac boats.
    Right now China (thanks to American consumers) has money to burn, and MILLIONS of unemployed – and they are sitting just 5-10-15 years behind US technology in so many areas… and they won’t close that gap just by building zodiac boats (or even just advanced ASM’s)
    sorry, Brecher/Exiled, you guys losing your touch?
    (PS: The Chinese spent a FEW BILLION on The OLYMPICS just to look good. Spending a FEW HUNDRED BILLIONS to take up where the Japs left off in 1941 is sheer fun for ‘em!)

  • 181. James Johnson, ex nuke  |  May 29th, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Just some comments having served on a variety of naval vessels (including a submarine). No one is suggesting that the guided ballistic missile is nuclear, it would be a conventional warhead. Any serious attack would be coordinated attack from multiple directions, using many missiles to swarm the task force’s defenses. A 99% success rate in shooting them down doesn’t matter if just one gets through to damage the carrier to prevent flight ops. Chinese have recon satellites, they have a good idea where the task forces are. China is the worlds supplier of microchips and computers, Russia isn’t. What prevents them from using all that technology to improve their weapons? Modern ships are not armored. They have redundant systems, and multiple compartments to control flooding and fire, but a 50 cal AP round, and certainly a 20 MM round would have a good chance of going in one side of the superstructure an out the other for a US cruiser or destroyer. Fire is the real fear of a sailor, you put it out or you swim, and a warship is chock full of flammable and explosive substances. The flight deck of a carrier is somewhat armored as planes have been known to crash on them. But once you penetrate that the rest of the ship is somewhat soft. Also you don’t have to sink a carrier to neutralize it, just damage the flight deck enough to prevent or greatly impede flight ops. Regarding a guided ballistic missile, if it is actively guiding and being fed target data (maybe from the recon satellite) its final course corrections would be small. At mach 10 a 30 knot warship is not going to move far enough to require large changes. Also at that speed, and using decoys, countermeasures and evasive courses, the missile would be much harder to hit than those used in the ABM tests. A flight deck makes an excellent radar reflector to a active radar open ocean search recon satellite that is directly overhead, not to mention in the terminal guide phase of an attack.
    The Chinese are not dumb, they may not share our societal values but do not underestimate them. If I was planning on taking on a carrier task force relatively cheaply, have 3 surplus container ships carrying modular anti-ship launchers manned by a few hundred ‘volunteers’, remember the Chinese culture does not place the value on human life that we do. Launch a few hundred conventional anti-ship missiles from multiple directions to saturate defenses, maybe add in a few aircraft and a sub to get everyone’s attention fixated on the the cruise missile attack. Then launch a dozen of the guided ballistic missiles. If 75% miss or are shot down that means that 3 will hit the target.
    The Aegis system is powerful, but you can only engage so many targets at a time, and can launch anti-missiles so fast. You just have to have attacking missiles coming in faster than they can be shot down to succeed. And damaging the carrier is as effective as sinking it. If it can’t do flight ops then it can’t do its mission.

  • 182. Military Industrial Complex Worker  |  May 29th, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    War Nerd,

    I think you have it right, but not for quite the right reasons. Eilat demonstrated the potential of cruise missiles against ships and we followed suit to develop Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile and Harpoon. But our ships also have radar-directed Phalanx mini-guns which will shred to bits cruise missiles within their fields of view.

    Ballistic missiles can be taken care of by the Block 4A and SM3 variants of Standard Missile. It was an SM3 that exploded the large re-entering satellite last year.

    During the Cold War, the very real threat was sufficient numbers of cheap submarines and guided missile cruisers, both using ballistic missiles. But systems like Standard Missile Block4A, SM3/LEAP, Evolved Seasparrow, and Phalanx were developed to counter the Cold War threats.

    The real threat nowadays are stealthy vessels (like low-observable ships and submarines), combined with cavitating torpedos. Unless viable countermeasures are developed against such a threat, this could be a real game changer.

    By the way, all this being said, we will NEVER fight the Chinese in a major war. They are a friendly country.

  • 183. SPL  |  June 2nd, 2009 at 1:58 am

    Excuse my poor English, but I have to reply:

    To destroy a carrier with an antiship ballistic missile (AShBM), it has to be within 2,000 km. to the AShBM launcher, and located with exactitude. This is not easy as people thinks. With new systems like F-35 or UCAS the strike range of the Carrier Strike Group grows substantially. Is a really big area to search for anything. Even a big ship.

    Moreover, to the date, the Chinese has not made any known trial of their nearly “mysthical” AShBM, why do you think the “bad guys” weapons always function and yours not? How the Chinese solved the problem of the terminal guide? What if the carrier saturates the “target zone” with decoys and/or electronic countermeasures?
    How many AShBMs you have to spend to sink even a single carrier? How many you buy? Remenber DoD estimates China has only 60-80 conventional DF-21 with 60 launchers.

    Moreover, you say a strike of “Cessnas” or “mass produced” chinese missiles could destroy a carrier, well… AEGIS is proved as a nearly invulnerable shield against subsonic cruise missile in live fire exercises. I know it. Every Tico CG can manage 12 targets at the same time (2 missiles to each), every Burke 9. Each CSG has 1 Tico and 2 or 3 Burkes. This means 30 to 39 targets AT THE SAME TIME. The 3-4 escort vessels of EACH battlegroup could carry 320 to 416 SAMs (even more, if they are ESSM-equipped). How many Cessnas or missiles you got? And I not mention the Super Hornet (and in the years to come F-35) of the CAPs.

    The main threat to a CSG is a submarine, followed by a mass strike with supersonic cruise missiles, if they works as they MANUFACTURERS (the guys that SELLS the expensive toys) says. By now, Chinese have stopped to buy Russian supersonic cruise missiles and rely in their more modest subsonic models… (why?).

    Aircraft carriers are not invulnerable (anything is it), but are still useful. Think about this: who benefits with a “new and powerful threat” to the USN… the same USN and high-tech companies who made high-tech toys to counter the supposed high-tech toys of the other guys.

  • 184. Diogenes  |  June 5th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    PLAN acquisition of a carrier is about power projection, yes, but not at the US.

    In the medium term, the PRC goals involving naval power are all about the economy. China is a net importer of a lot of things, particularly oil, and while the US is a bugbear, it’s also a pretty rational one where trade is concerned.

    But China’s other neighbours are not necessarily so good at playing well with others.

    Vietnam and India have had armed conflicts with the PRC since 1949, and geography puts them in the right place to wreak havoc on Chinese trade through the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

    China claims ownership over the Spratly and Paracel island chains, which have rich oil fields that are only lightly exploited (because it is currently quite expensive to do so, in fairness). Vietnam and the Philippines dispute that claim.

    PLAN strategy to guarantee the trade routes through the South China Sea and the sovereignty over the Spratlys and Paracels has two strands – the first is the construction of a “string of pearls”, a series of commercial ports which happen to function quite nicely as naval bases through allied powers in the area – Bangladesh, Myanmar/Burma, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. Indeed, Sri Lanka could not have won its recent victory over the LTTE in its civil war without PRC materiel aid, part of the price for which is PLAN use of Sri Lankan port facilities.

    The second strand is the development of a blue water navy, with accompanying naval air. Not to fight the USN, but to deter Vietnam, India, Thailand, and the Philippines from getting too uppity.

    This isn’t to say the PRC will have things their own way. India and Japan both have sizeable militaries with blue-water ambitions of their own (that new Japanese “aviation destroyer” or whatever it’s called looks like a baby step towards STOVL op to me) when it comes to regional power projection. And if you were in Beijing, would you really want to trust in the sanity of nuclear-armed India, or the beneficence of Japan? I personally would be building, buying, borrowing, or blagging new ships, missiles, and planes as fast as my manufacturing output could generate the cash for them.

  • 185. Alquanole  |  June 8th, 2009 at 7:01 am

    James Johnson,
    your tactics looks very much like that used by Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper during Millennium Challenge 2002.

    And it worked.

  • 186. Sysalis  |  June 17th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Sir Its called the Aegis system and its whole point right now is to kill such a thing. besides a flotilla of small craft? its a joke, its called a battle group, one lone large ship is easy pickings but a small fleet all acting in unison with constant air coverage is not.

  • 187. DarkBauer  |  June 28th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Have you EVER heard of Lockheed Martin’s AEGIS Combat System? Does a hardware nerd like you know something about AN/SPY-1 radar system? These are advancements designed to counteract Ballistic Missile and in general, air, surface and subsurface Threats. Your article is a Monumental Fail.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegis_combat_system

  • 188. Patrick Mecartea  |  July 7th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Actions have consequences. So the Chinese take out one or more of our carriers. One trident sub could easily answer that attack with 24 MIRVed missile in each of it’s missle tubes.

    Would the Chinese really be that stupid. There leaders can run but how many years will they have to live under ground.

  • 189. antiUSAF  |  July 19th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Nah, Carriers still have a use, what is useless is the USAF, that needs to be merged back with the Army or integrated with the Navy

  • 190. Andy  |  July 20th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    On June 22, 2007, the USS Decatur, using the operationally-certified Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System (BMD 3.6) and the Standard Missile – 3 (SM-3) Block IA missile, successfully performed a “Hit To Kill” intercept of a separating, medium range, ballistic missile. The target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, HI. The Aegis-class cruiser USS Port Royal, Spain’s Álvaro de Bazán class frigate MÉNDEZ NÚÑEZ (F-104), and MDA’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) mobile ground-based radar also participated in the flight test. FTM-12 (Codename: Stellar Athena) was the first to use an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer as the firing ship.

  • 191. Stu  |  August 10th, 2009 at 8:10 am

    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/news/press_releases/2009/080409_LM_USSBunkerHill_AegisOA.html

    Modernized Guided Missile Cruiser USS Bunker Hill Runs Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Open Architecture in Combat Tests

    MOORESTOWN, NJ, August 4th, 2009 — The guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), recently modernized with Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT]’s open architecture Aegis Weapon System, completed an operational trial of its full combat system.

    The Combat System Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT) evaluated the ship’s Aegis Combat Systems for combat readiness through comprehensive surface and anti-air warfare exercises, including manned raids and electronic attack scenarios, as well as thorough testing of the systems’ tactical data link and air defense capabilities. The air defense testing was the culmination of the CSSQT, when the Aegis Weapon Systems onboard USS Bunker Hill successfully engaged multiple missile targets.

    “This qualification trial underscores the operational value the Aegis modernization program delivers to the fleet,” said Orlando Carvalho, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Surface/Sea-Based Missile Defense line of business. “The same systems engineering excellence that developed the original Aegis Combat System for the USS Bunker Hill is now delivering an enhanced system that leverages the speed and affordability of commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and open architecture software, while continuing the Aegis warfighting imperative to pace the threat.”

    The Aegis Weapon System is the world’s premier proven naval defense system. Its precision S-band SPY-1 radar and missile system seamlessly integrate with its own command and control. Its ability to detect, track and engage targets ranging from sea-skimming cruise missiles to ballistic missiles in space is unmatched.

    The 91 Aegis-equipped ships currently in service around the globe have more than 1,000 years of at-sea operational experience and have launched more than 3,500 missiles in tests and real-world operations. In addition to the U.S., Aegis is the maritime weapon system of choice for Australia, Japan, Norway, South Korea and Spain.

    Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.

    Media Contact: Kathy Baier, 856.722.3006; 609.472.7954 (cell)
    Kathleen.m.baier@lmco.com

    For additional information on Lockheed Martin Corporation, visit: http://www.lockheedmartin.com

  • 192. Concerned Citizen  |  August 22nd, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Half the people on this message board are fucking clueless. Anyone who thinks that carriers don’t have a use in the 21st century should be forcefully relocated to some third-world shithole where they will quickly learn why power projection matters. Specifically, when tons of explosive is dropped on their sorry heads from a US plane which took off from the coast of whatever savages we’re currently bombing via our carrier group.

    We’re a good-damned superpower whether you pussies like it or not. Act accordingly. We have certain obligations to the citizens of our democratic empire, and these include securing natural resources from brown people. When exploiting the resources of these primitives, it is always ideal to prop up a despotic regime friendly to our interests–but sometimes we have to get our hands dirty and do the work ourselves.

  • 193. cloudsandskye  |  August 24th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    “…or you go the U-boat route the Germans took when they realized the age of the battleship was over, sticking to subs. Because one way or another, if we get into it for real with China or even Iran, all our ships are going to subs, one way or the other.”

    After the invention of sonar, along with the use of depth charges (a rather primitive weapon), 75% of the German U-boats were destroyed in WWII, and that was before the Allies started bombing their shipyards. Submarines are hardly the naval holy grail.

    As for missiles, the U.S. Navy is not ignoring the issue. The Ageis system has tested successfully against ballistic missiles and is currently installed on 21 U.S. Navy ships. Against cruise missiles, the Mk 15 Phalanx Gatling gun system is being replaced by the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile, which is currently installed on seven U.S. Navy ships.

  • 194. Belyeu  |  October 18th, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Dufus, the Dongfeng 21 is nuclear tipped medium range ballistic missile.

    BTW, Aircraft carriers are all being equipped with advanced anti missile technology.

    You do not deserve to call yourself a war nerd.

  • 195. James  |  October 24th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    “This is a bunch of BS. There is no defence against anti-ship ballistic missiles because nobody has any.

    The problem is terminal guidance. The warhead would have to have some kind of tracking ability and it would need to be able to distinguish the carrier from the escorts. This would require some kind of radar which requires a power source, etc. If the warhead is going MACH 10 it would need a serious radar with serious range which requires even more power. Any guidance/power package takes up space which in turn reduces the size of the warhead. All of this would require a larger than normal MIRV.

    Russian Kingfisher missiles would fly at MACH 3.5 and drop down vertically. The Tico & Arleigh Burke Aegis cruisers are designed to shoot down massed missile attacks for all profiles including sea skimmers and high MACH divers.

    The AGM-84 Harpoon doesn’t pop up so it can avoid ship defenses, that’s nonsense. In fact popping up only makes them more vulnerable. The reason they pop up during terminal phase is to lock on to the target. When you’re skimming over the water at 10ft the on board radar can only see so far. It needs to pop up at a predetermined distance to search, acquire and lock on to the target, by popping up the radar can see farther. If the target isn’t where it is supposed to be the missile starts a search pattern, then if it finds the targets it will try to lock on to the largest ship if there are multiple targets.

    If these anti-ship BMs were out there this technology would be an issue for all surface combatants. It would not be a problem only for CVs.

    And your whole small ship argument is retarded. It doesn’t only come down to loss/cost. You have to think of the ability to project power. Super powers need ships that can travel very far. A fleet of tiny ships would require constant refueling. Because they have limited range the refuelers would have to be close to any hot zone, then that would be another vulnerability. Plus I don’t think the crews would be thrilled bobbing in the mid Atlantic with sea state 5 or higher. Small boats work in littoral warfare, not in the wide open ocean.

    Overall this blog entry is a big fail.”

    I am 100% behind Juncho on this one. I can tell for reading warnerd for awhile technology isn’t his forte. He’s not a technology guy, he’s more the type that has a good instinct for people and the way they think. However he’s applying those feelings to the technology and that doesn’t work. Technology is based on the laws of physics and not on emotional subjectivity. When it comes to why and how people fight Gary has great insights; but when it comes to technology – an engineer he is not. In fact that can be said of a lot of war nerds except that their egos can’t take it.

    I think this was covered on strategypage awhile ago and after I slogged through the debate about the dongfeng there it was clear to me it was a neat idea with limited usefulness.
    From what I gather Brecher’s concerns are not really an issue. He’s evaluating the CV fleet as if they had no means to attack and neutralize targets before they become a threat, which they can do better than most air forces with their AWACS, planes and missiles. Let alone better than most navies that do not possess those! In short I think sometimes people on their internet think with their emotions and passions instead of with technical knowledge and that doesn’t work when speaking of technical issues.

  • 196. Lysander  |  November 9th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    While Gery’s point about carrier vulnerability is likely true, we should note that carriers have not been used in a major ship vs ship engagement in an awfully long time.

    The purpose of carriers since WWII is not naval battle but to sail to small 3rd world countries and intimidate/bomb them. For that purpose, carriers are still useful.

  • 197. MAD  |  November 16th, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Some readers question whether the chinese have the missile to attack a carrier.If the Chinese can send a guy into space ,there is no reason to doubt their missile carrier locating ability. I know it’s like looking for water in the desert.
    I believe the PLA have the means to locate any carrier if not now will be in the not too distant future.
    The PLA are not looking for a fight with the US.This is China 2009 not Mao’s China when the US could easily have destroyed with nw. Not any more.
    The reason is the PLA have nw as a deterrent. That’s why the US has not threatened the use of nw in the 1996 crisis.Yes the PLA is nuclear outgunned but any use by the US will trigger a Chinese response.Imagine a situation where China has no nuclear deterrent. Then Taiwan could have become independent and China would be
    subject to US nuclera blackmail.
    The US better get used that China can’t be bullied or pushed around. They are no more the peasants’ army.Those days are consigned to history.

  • 198. easss  |  December 6th, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Even the ww2 era battleships would be fine for leveling some 3rd world shithole.

  • 199. Stephen  |  December 10th, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    The new ASM missiles will be designed to operate in swarms communicating with each over wirelessly. So the sunburn missile popping up to acquire the carriers location will tell the other sea skimming missiles where to go so they can stay close to the sea undetected.

    The fist ballistic ASM arriving will not be able to maneuver in time so instead of carrying a warhead it will be a dedicated targeting missile armed with powerful radar and sensors to pinpoint the enemy ships and tell the next wave of missiles where to go to destroy the carrier.

    The Chinese have a space program so they will also have surveillance satellites. And if America starts shooting those down China will start shooting down American satellites they have already demonstrated the ability to do this, allot of Americas smart weapons and tools depend on these satellites. So any Sino-American war will quickly escalate to full scale thermonuclear war.

  • 200. Wargames Nerd  |  December 18th, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Lesson of Crecy 1346: Don’t make a mounted charge head on against bowmen who occupy higher ground and are behind fortifications.

    Lesson of St. Pol 1346. Don’t make a mounted charge head on against bowmen who occupy higher ground and are behind fortifications. Instead dismount and hack them pieces with swords and axes.

    Lesson of Poitiers 1356: When attacking on foot, don’t attack enemy knights. They are difficult to kill. Attack instead enemy archers, they die easier.

    Lesson of anything between Poitiers and Agincourt: Don’t fight fair. It is too risky.

    Lesson of Agincourt 1415: Have discipline and have a centralized command. Don’t make a mounted attack head on against enemy archers behind fortifications. Don’t attack enemy knights on foot.

    Lesson of Patay 1421: Enemy archers are a roadkill when they are on the open and not behind fortifications and not supported by enemy knights.

    Lesson of Castillon 1453: Archers are no match for cannons.

  • 201. Wargames Nerd  |  December 18th, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Just to remember:

    1) PoW and Repulse had no decent air defence system. The Royal Navy HACS system was a dog.

    2) USN radar controlled AAA system worked far better. Not a single USN battleships were sunk by air power after Pearl Harbor sneak attack.

    3) USN aircraft carriers usually sailed next to USN battleships because of their enormous AAA firepower. The battleships provided flak umbrella to protect the carriers from Japanese aerial attacks.

    4) Not a single warship underway have ever been sunk with a ballistic missile.

    5) When a warship has been sunk by a missile, it has always been either surprise, unprepared status, under skeleton crew or gross incompetence by the crew.

    6) Nukes won’t sink a capital ship unless it is a ground zero hit.

  • 202. Chun Wa, Lau  |  December 20th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I just want to point out one thing: Which one is more of a concern?

    1) A aircraft carrier being sunk by missiles from adversaries

    or

    2) The consequences of the adversaries to confirm that they have absolute disadvantage to the US in every possible prospective?

  • 203. zeno  |  December 26th, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    While all of this is true, neither the die-hard delusional reagan neocons or the delusional liberal disarmament democrats will ever admit to it.

    America’s leadership could not be more incompetent.

  • 204. zeno  |  December 26th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    While all of this is true, neither the die-hard delusional reagan neocons or the delusional liberal disarmament democrats will ever admit to it.

    America’s leadership could not be more incompetent.

  • 205. zeno  |  December 26th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    While all of this is true, neither the die-hard delusional reagan neocons nor the delusional liberal disarmament democrats will ever admit to it.

    America’s leadership could not be more incompetent.

  • 206. GM1  |  December 30th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    *Yawn*
    SM-3 dude.

  • 207. RickyD  |  January 9th, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I’m glad to see that SOMEONE (Wargames Nerd) knows what a ballistic missile is – OBVIOUSLY not the author.

    4) Not a single warship underway have ever been sunk with a ballistic missile

    And thanks to the many poster who rightly pointed out that there ARE defenses against ASBM’s

    yeah Gary – just keep saying whatever is running in your brain, who needs facts or research?

    SMRT

    :-)

  • 208. sconzey  |  January 19th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Jeune ecole ftw :D

    But yeah, honestly: wastage, inefficiency and gross incompetence in a publicly-funded enterprise? Tell me something new.

  • 209. /k/  |  January 23rd, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Whether or not the author is right, I’m grateful to use this article to turn typical AMERICA STRONG gloating threads about carriers into a debate between ASBM’s and SM-3′s.

  • 210. Ace  |  January 23rd, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    How about the single Exocet fired by the “formidable” Argentine air force that whacked the British ship in the Falklands?

  • 211. GaryB  |  January 24th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Well, there are ballistic missile defenses, but point taken. I always thought about using a “mob” approach. Bunch of modular vessels, maybe underwater capable that can just come together and self-assemble whatever is needed from a floating airfield, to an instant port, to just scattered missile launching platforms. The whole world is going to move to Drones anyhow — each boat could carry several.

  • 212. jenpalex  |  January 25th, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Sounds like what the USN need is an anti-USN. With its own separate, secret capacity and budget. Officer it with all your bright guys. tell them to mount attacks on the USN. Anybody who succeeds gets to replace the commander of the ‘dead’ unit.

  • 213. DAK  |  February 2nd, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Here’s a novel concept, the US can stop trying to pretend being in everyone else’s damn business. China is not going to invade or occupy the US. As long as you don’t try saber-rattling with those 100,000 ton floating cities and their bevy of sheep-dog support vessels then you really have little fear of this hypothesis being tested. End the empire first and then sit down and do an honest threat evaluation based on “live & let live”.

    Besides the USNI’s fear-mongering has nothing to do with obsoleting the USN’s crown jewels (the $4B nuclear supercarrier). Everyone with 100 miles of Annapolis is too damn busy suckling on the teet of Newport News Shipbuilding to suddenly have a change of heart. I am quite positive the real motivation behind this dire revelation is the desire to soak up even more funding for a VLS version of a Theater Ballistic Defense Missile.

  • 214. Empiric  |  February 7th, 2010 at 2:50 am

    A lot of posters seriously underestimate the Chinese when it comes to hi-tech. Twenty years ago they made copies of Russian junk but not now. Thanks to American corporations trying to outcompete each other, the Chinese can now make anything the US can make and in much bigger quantities. The Chinese make copies of most Western consumer products (their ipod is in some respects better than ours), and it is a small step from there to weapons and surveillance systems. The Chinese can track stealth aircraft (It was a Chinese modified radar that made it possible to shoot down the F-117 over Bosnia, which then resulted in the bombing of the Chinese embassy by the USAF in retaliation).
    China has more honours students than the US has students and so can run so many more r&d programs than the US won’t be able to keep up. In the next few decades the Chinese will leave the US in the dust technologically. Assuming of course the US economy doesn’t collapse first, with its bloated military budgets and misplaced spending priorities. There is a precedent for this – the Italians had the most powerful military in the world, the best aircraft, ships etc throughout the 20′s and early 30′s but had spent so much that by the time WW2 started they didn’t have the resources to compete and had to look to the Germans for assistance against the second line aircraft the Brits used against them. The US is risking putting itself in the same position and while it has traditionally been immune to foreign attack, the developments that allowed the US to become a world-wide bully work both ways, and the US can no longer expect the Atlantic and Pacific to provide much of a protective buffer.

    Second is that while defenses against ballistic missiles have been tried (and found wanting) a much more likely threat comes from supercavitating underwater missiles.
    Iran already has some, as do the Russians and the Germans. Although the Germans have been working on an anti-supercavitating supercavitating missile, it is a lot further off than the next conflict and without it there is nothing that will stop one (or hundreds) which means that all those escort vessels are useless at anything other than knowing something is coming. Hence why the Iranians are shouting from the rooftops that they have them. Even if the Germans are successful, the US will be reluctant to buy them even if they are shwon to be necessary, with the result that American companies will have to duplicate much of the work, at great expense and much delay.

    Not that this will make the super-carriers obsolete – in order to project force airfields near the field of operations are required and whether this is with manned aircraft or drones, this will not change anytime soon. The Russians did not go into carriers for a very good reason – they are traditionally a land empire and sea-lanes are irrelevant to them. You can close every Russian port and sink every Russian ship and the empire will not be unduly affected. Germany was the same way. The Chinese on the other hand are not limited to a single land mass and have a history of projecting their power across the water and so a carrier (or several – you can be sure they won’t build just one) actually makes a lot of sense for them.

    These things said, the only way the US and the Chinese will end up at war is because of continued American belligerence. The US has engaged in more (generally illegal) invasions of other countries than any country in history and it now has a lot of enemies. The Chinese are now engaged in a massive arms build up only because the US Navy paraded 7 carrier battle groups off the Chinese coast and the Chinese didn’t (at that time) have anything to counter it. You can bet that they do now. FWIW all of the Asian countries are currently building up their respective militaries like crazy and it is only a matter of time before there is a major war in Asia (and you can be sure that the US will be implicated).

  • 215. RICHARD  |  March 5th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    How far can you run in 12 minutes?

  • 216. Jim  |  March 5th, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    You are being a bit dramatic. The Aegis System using the Extended Range Standard Missile has proven that we can get a hard kill or Skin To Skin kill on a Ballistic Missile. They are the heart of the missile defense system. My guess is that the Chinese are a bit behind us in Satellite guidance and although a carrier… See More is quite large, you still have to find it to hit it. The Pacific ocean is a big pond and if we were anticipating a hot war with the Chinese, I don’t think the People’s Revolutionary Army (yes, the Chinese Navy is part of that) would be allowed to get within detection distance of one of our flat tops before being destroyed.

    I think you are talking about things you are not qualified to speak of, and your crude language makes you seem a bit retarded.

  • 217. Robb  |  March 5th, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    We know one thing for sure. There are many more armchair experts and confused bloggers than missiles and ships or dollars, yuan and Rubbles to buy them!

  • 218. William  |  March 5th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    I would suggest that this blog should be discontinued as it seems to include the facts and many great plausible and possible scenarios for defense strategies, present and future for any opposing military strategist to study all in one place. Why publish the results of the wargames?!!!!!!!
    or any other military data on the web!!!!!
    Just a thought on how to improve our security.

  • 219. Tech  |  March 5th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Not to worry we are security guards for Communist China already and gave them a nice oil pool in Iraq and they just got their Caspian gas pipeline. We got the poisonous drywall and Walmart keeps being supplied and they agree to still accept our dollars. With Ford and GM, CAT, HP, Microsoft, Walmart, Boeing, Nick Rockefeller and Goldman Sachs living over there(Chindia) there will never be an attack. Business is a war, and war is a business and we lost long ago, the globalist Jewish NYC Rothchild globlalists sold us out from within years ago. Chindia is a market ten times that of the USA. See ya at our next Bilderburg meeting or Trilateral when we bring in Obama or whoever we stick in and explian what how the real world is going to work.

  • 220. Qaz  |  March 6th, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Mr. Brecher, please publish your thoughts on the likeliest “next war” (i.e., as you might strategize? For example, just as Hitler developed a game plan, what might Amadinijad’s 10y game plan encompass (e.g., a U.S. EMP attack prelude to Persian Gull/oil fields takeover; alliances with highest oil bidders (China?))?

  • 221. Concerned Citizen  |  March 14th, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I’ve been itching for this day for some time–let China threaten our carriers. As an American, I grow tired of our forces fighting in the deserts of the Middle East. It’s time we find a worthy adversary–albeit one that is inferior and will ultimately lose.

    So bring it on, China. Your hubris and disrespect to the global order will only alienate you further, while America slowly but surely moves troops from the Middle East to where they belong–in PACOM, off your coasts, watching your futile efforts to build a modern military force. Anyone who doubts this should feel free to research our recent buildup on the military colony of Guam. Why do you think we are placing 8,000 some Marines, along with another permanently stationed offshore aircraft carrier?

    For if history is any indication, when America is pushed to shove, when you force our hand, we will respond with a force unlike any other. America didn’t work this hard to become global hegemon post-WWII to throw it out the window because of a bunch of Chinese punks think they have an idea how to rule the world.

  • 222. TeXan  |  March 14th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Great Article! Are the phalanx and goalkeepers 100% effective. If they are 100%effective, why do we have 2 systems?
    What percent effective are they against a target carrier that is prewarned that an attack may be coming with an Exocet type missle? Wasn’t the USS Roberts Prewarned about possible attacks? thanks for the article and the extensive comments.

  • 223. Bd  |  March 26th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Something else the Egyptians will tell you: if you lose air support because, say, a speedboat downs your aircraft carrier, there is no Plan B.

  • 224. FooMan  |  March 30th, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Now having read a little history I am having a flashback to congressional testimony over whether to fund the Forestall class aircraft carriers (6 decades ago), since the Navy did not (then) have a nuclear delivery option.
    I am the son (former commander of a carrier)and brother (former Executive Officer of a squadron aboard) of career carrier aviators and I object to your entire description(s) of the people who work and fly from them.
    As for your assertion of the “ballistic” approach of the Harpoon missile the pop-up is well below 10,000 feet and not ballistic at all. Harpoon (and Tomahawk, Exocet, Styxx, if it comes down to it) all use pop-up terminal maneuvers. They seek either radar emissions (which is why carrier groups routinely practice emissions control (EMCON) and if you hear an emission it is probably from a destroyer or cruiser. Or the heat from the engineering plant.
    If the carrier is in a high threat environment they would have an E-2 Hawkeye, and probably at least one of the their electronic warfare aircraft (EA-18g, or EA-6b Prowler) in the air. I personally have seen a Prowler practicing, track us at over 50 miles from the emissions of the only emitter we had aboard at the time (oh yeah I am Navy vet and life time military history buff), a small walkie talkie that was good for about three miles in clear air (at over 50 miles). Should someone light up an emitter that could track and find a carrier it won’t last long.
    The reason we have carriers is that when they come over the horizon we have just brought the world’s thirteenth largest air force (that’s it with one carrier). If we wanted the Somali pirates gone (political force of will) they would be gone, period!
    Foo

  • 225. Vanya  |  March 30th, 2010 at 8:46 am

    An American con talking about somebody else’s hubris? Pathetic! The more troops the US stations around China the more troops will soon be required to pacify the destitute and the unemployed in the US itself.

  • 226. sanity talks  |  March 30th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    dear god concerned citizen, how stupid can you get?

    you do realize the nation is already bankrupt, but this fact has been figuratively and literally papered over by printing fiat money and supported with propaganda from the finance industry and their media and political lackeys?

    so you write your grammatically and logically challenged posts about wanting to pick a fight with a nuclear nation? we’ve fought two losing wars against a bunch of sneaky guys in pajamas, AND you want another war?

  • 227. Diet Coke  |  March 30th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Here is how you find a carrier:

    1- put a spy on the carrier.
    2- give the spy a GPS.

  • 228. fajensen  |  March 31st, 2010 at 1:31 am

    which then resulted in the bombing of the Chinese embassy by the USAF in retaliation).

    The Chinese will eventually want revenge for that. But the Chinese are realistic people too, they know the direct way will not work.

    The Obvious Solution would be if some Jihaddi outfit suddently aquired decent weaponry and the capability to start shit near major US interests, like maybe within Yemen perhaps.

  • 229. Zhu Bajie  |  April 19th, 2010 at 5:37 am

    @Alok, Chinese DID buy a Russian carrier:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_aircraft_carrier_Varyag

    And they use it for a floating casino!

  • 230. Zhu Bajie  |  April 19th, 2010 at 5:40 am

    The real purpose of carriers is to sail around and look impressive. I took part in the bombing of North Vietnam in 1972, from the Kitty Hawk, and it looked impressive. But who holds the battlefield?

  • 231. Zhu Bajie  |  April 19th, 2010 at 5:42 am

    “They are just another tool, just the the m16 is.”

    The M16 sucks. That’s why everyone else uses Kalashnikovs.

  • 232. Zhu Bajie  |  April 19th, 2010 at 5:52 am

    “Col Huang added that China is “seriously considering” adding an aircraft carrier to its fleet, because “the aircraft carrier is a symbol of a country’s overall national strength, as well as the competitiveness of the country’s naval force”.”

    Every bad idea in modern China is justified with “That’s what they do in America!!”

  • 233. John S  |  April 23rd, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Having conducted studies for the Navy I can authoritatively state that you are completely incorrect is saying we have ‘no defense’ regarding the DF-21. You aren’t thinking creatively enough.

  • 234. Carbon  |  April 25th, 2010 at 5:06 am

    Fred Reed agrees:

    http://original.antiwar.com/reed/2010/04/23/damn-the-torpedoes-fools-greed-ahead/

  • 235. Geoduck  |  April 27th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    The New York Times finally jumps on the War Nerd bandwagon:

    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/04/26/world/international-us-russia-weapon.html

  • 236. Concerned Citizen  |  May 7th, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Most recently, the supercarrier Carl Vinson was repositioned from the East Coast to San Diego–bringing the city’s grand total to 3. Six of 11 aircraft carriers and 29 of 52 attack submarines now operate in the PACOM area of responsibility. There is serious talk of having a second permanently-forward deployed supercarrier as part of the current Guam buildup. And let’s not forget Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, along with our friends in the region: India, South Korea, Japan.

    The United States is aware of the asymmetrical Chinese missile threat, along with China’s belligerent conventional military, and is acting accordingly.

  • 237. whatwar  |  July 6th, 2010 at 4:19 am

    This whole AshBM business is just a part of an overall “solution” No doubt.

    For those who held Aegis as their “Messiah” needs to understand… Them CG’s and DDG’s carries a limited amount of SAM’s. The Carrier group WILL survive one or perhaps 2 Swarm attack. but what about the third? what will they do? throw coke can’s at them?

    A CSG (that’s Carrier Strike Group USN speak) consists of 1 or 2 Ticonderoga CG’s and 2 or 3 Arleigh Burke DDG’s

    There’s only so much SAM’s the whole Carrier group can carry. The Ticonderoga’s carry 80 SAMs and Arleigh Burke’s carry 50 odd. That’s 300-350 effective SM-2′s, the standard procedure is 2 SAM’s per incoming threat. In which case the carrier group will run out of SM-2′s by the second Swarm wave. then the carrier group will become floating targets.

    Yes yes I heard y’all screaming “ESSM”! Hey, if you have to use ESSM and CIWS against incoming missle you know you are in knee deep shit.

  • 238. James Lemoyne  |  August 6th, 2010 at 5:01 am

    I would think it possible to (1) improve ABM systems on carriers or support ships in the group to counter the DF21 and (2) consider deploying aircraft from smaller vessels – i.e. build a new generation of smaller carriers, thereby reducing target size while maintaining forward power. Surely the author must realise the vulnerability of the large ship is nothing new – has he heard of the torpedo? The problem is as old as the hills and hysteria helps no one.

  • 239. fuckyouall  |  August 10th, 2010 at 12:15 am

    i am really worried about the future of us, if the third world war really happened, how should us maintain his position of world leader. mr. obama had said in one of his speech that he, on behalf of the whold us, would never allow us to become the second most powerful country. then, if war pasted, what will happen, i really want to know.

  • 240. Cassius  |  August 24th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    maybe no balistic defense that is disclosed

  • 241. Aidan McSharry  |  September 6th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Please, thats garbage. You think that the world around the aircraft carrier is evolving and the aircraft carrier itself is standing still watching? the carrier evolves too. The Nimitz Class is nearing its end game, enter the CVNs, the Nimitz’s capable replacement. More advanced tracking systems, better radar, faster, more Phalanxes, and interception missiles to boot. id like to see the Dog Fat 21 get by that, not to mention, in war time, CARRIERS ARE NEVER ALONE! Ill be impressed if the missile gets past the 5 Aegis class cruisers gaurding the carrier and her 700 man crew. The Navy takes these things into account, if they thought the carrier was too vulnerable, they would have done something about it

  • 242. Aidan McSharry  |  September 6th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    @whatwar
    the carrier group would have turned tail after the first swarm and the CAP orbiting the carrier would then deploy to find out where they came from. then the second wave, missiles shot down. carrier is still chugging away ahead full. right before the third is launched, the CAPs would find the assailants and neutralize them or the carrier group would be out of range. if they were slow moving cruise missles, the phalanxes would just gun them down over and over

  • 243. Trinidad Gady  |  November 10th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Amaze! For a nice and researching the search engines all day just for this and that i ultimately thought it was right here!

  • 244. Stewart_in_London  |  November 19th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    How to whack a big fellow

    At 90% oil imports China isnt becoming the next global hegemon. They’d be coming at you on donkeys and ho fun electric bikes, the donkeys become the rations when the batteries run out.

    But in the great game they intend to mean business. And they’re just so big you cant square up to them. Dont forget that.

    Like ourselves a Chinaman loves something tasty at the weekend, but theyll pass on that for a nice bit of gear. Its just not as easy to get hold of as it was in great, grandfathers day.

    This is why the Brits are busy securing that ‘age old’ gap in the market. Our ‘modern’ expedition force are ‘carrying on up the kyhber’, ramping our demand led supply interventions, straight into the Turkic backside of Chinaland (we got our familiar HK drop off points too).

    Its pretty easy to shift that stuff in China, they lurve it, even keeps them from gambling, perhaps. Think about those cheap shipping containers going back every hour of every day, emptied of shite but not always!. Customs officials like a bit too.

    North Americans can ask Olly North about this kind of thing, but us Brits been there long time, we got Tea shirt.

    We would be better off using those carriers for ‘deliveries’. Better chance of pacifying the natives, they’d love us too!

    chin chin

  • 245. Z-man  |  February 27th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Clearly this dick head has never heard of Ageis.

  • 246. furioso  |  April 14th, 2011 at 10:20 am

    durning ww2 the luftwaffe used an anti ship missile to sink the regia marina italian battleship roma (or littorio im not sure) in 43 when she was going into neutral port-thats a ww2 anti ship missle

  • 247. Steve Drey  |  May 9th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    The article brings up interesting issues.
    Unfortunately it is written in a style more appropriate to a 12 year old.

  • 248. Johnny360.com  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    China will never fight against the U.S. why? China is the most populated country the in the world, I bet 60% of the people’s income are coming from manufacturing companies in which their products will be exported back to the U.S. Billions of people will simply starve to death. 500 super missiles might sink an aircraft carrier and kill thousands of enlisted personnel. BUT, even before the 1st supper missile could hit the carrier, thousands have died already due to counter attack.

  • 249. baby marino  |  November 18th, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the

    same best work from you in the future as well.

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  • 250. Bert and Ernie  |  December 8th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    China would become a glowing red country in the event of conflict between the USA and China.
    The US has so much nuclear content it would decimate the country and dynasty known as China.
    India would also likely fire all they possess at China and Pakistan.
    Obviously the world would, celebrate Pakiland being destroyed as that place is as backwards as Afghanistan.

    Also this blog waxing on and on about carriers its funny how China is now on a mad rush to build many super carriers so apparently they dont agree with you about them being useless.

  • 251. Phoenix Woman  |  January 23rd, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Bert and Ernie @ 250: You missed this piece by Brecher on China’s joining the yacht club:

    http://exiledonline.com/war-nerd-china-joins-the-yacht-club/

    Synopsis: China’s got one (1) carrier they’re building, which is an old half-finished 1980s-era USSR hulk they bought for cheap through intermediaries. Hardly a “mad rush”.

  • 252. Milkman Dan  |  March 5th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I do not agree with your opinion that downsizing ships is a way to go. Also you comparison with Israel and it’s WW2 era Z Class destroyer is misleading. In that scenario, ship built in 1944 was hit and sunk by that time relatively new and innovative weapon. Now, speaking about modern scenario, you cannot do pop-up attack with anything bigger then Harpoon easily. And Eilat was certainly not destroyed that way. USSR designed and build anti-ship missiles used to be very fast, especially in the final dashing sequence. And at the moment you try to do some aggressive pop-up maneuver with something dashing at Mach 2+, it either breaks up in mid-air or misses the target because of the inertia mechanics.

    Now, back to your downsizing ideas. If USA wants to keep it’s superpower status, then it needs to be able to actually project power. And power was always projected by Navies, it scaled up during centuries, from simple frigates and heavy frigates to first class ships-of-the-line and battleships and to aircraft carriers. Basically battleships and aircraft carriers are for diplomacy, what was gold for legal tender when it was cover by it. You can have some very nice ideas that you want some other not very friendly countries to adopt, but they will keep laughing at you. Until your battleships or aircraft carriers will arrive to shooting distance of their ports. Then you will get things done. Also it is a well known fact that whomever controls the seas, controls the trade. Considering how much dependent is USA at this moment on foreign trade, you have to be able to protect your trade lines, at the very latest. And because your trade lines are pretty much ocean wide, you need something bigger to keep them safe, then some lousy gunboat or fast attack boat. Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are not sunny Mediterranean see, much harsh conditions to operate in.

    Then, ballistic missiles are good at hitting hard programmed predefined targets, like war factories, cities (though city busting is now widely considered a counterstrike option in case of surprise first decapitating strike and as such lies on the back of missile submarines), nuclear missile silos and other like that hardened targets. When it goes up, it will hit its target in some 20-30 minutes, almost no matter what, if said target is on the other side of the world. But the speed comes with its prize. Steering such a vehicle is very hard and to effectively steer the warhead in speeds well over Mach 10, you have to start steering it before it re-entry the atmosphere. Even MIRV and MARV warheads will not buzz over your head like some overgrown bees. They will split in the very outer layers of atmosphere, maybe do some trajectory changes from one to another target before making final dive in and then go down to its target, literally “in flames”.

    So in the hypothetical scenario you described, USA ships having no ballistic protection against PRC ballistic missiles, we would have the situation that PRC army or navy is shooting at targets not very far away. The flight time of these warheads would be some 5 to max 10 minutes. You cannot shoot the bm’s on depressed trajectory in this case, because that would lower the accuracy. You need to launch them ballistic at very high speeds. You have to positively acquire target, very quickly calculate and extrapolate where the target would probably go and where it will be in another 5 to 10 minutes, program it to the missile warhead and launch it. Ship sailing at speed of roughly 30-32 knots, which is the speed of modern carriers, will make it roughly 10 kilometers in any possible direction. So shooting a ballistic missile is like a trying to find out a needle in a pile of hey. Sure, you can find it, but most likely not. Unless you go nuclear. But if you go nuclear, you do not even have to use ballistic missiles for that and whatever delivery vehicle you will choose, the receiving side will go nuclear as well.

    I would not be that skeptical about abilities of your Navy. Also I would not prize PRC weapons that much as you do.

  • 253. Milkman Dan  |  March 6th, 2012 at 1:42 am

    After giving it a bit more thoughts overnight, I would like to add some more to this discussion and to my comment. It may be possible indeed to score a direct hit on an aircraft carrier by Anti-ship Ballistic Missile and thus sink it in just one hit, but there is indeed a catch.

    1) Advanced targeting/locking/guiding system will be required. You will need a perfectly well working system and/or perfect satellite reconnaissance in place to achieve a valid lock-on at aircraft carrier group before your warhead will start re-entry. This is a bit complicated to achieve and the ability of target to actually move is not making it easier. Ballistic Missiles are good at shooting to standing targets, not the moving ones.

    2) Re-entry speeds over Mach 10 means that your warhead is closing in to its target at speeds excesing 12.000 km/h (sorry for metric system units, I’m from Europe, Czech Republic, not that good in miles and that stuff…). If your guidance system was working as expected so far, you achieved a valid lock-on, your warhead corrected its trajectory slightly because the target is moving and your warhead is now diving to the estimated aircraft carrier position and travelling 3-4 km every second. Because re-entry usually starts at height of 100-150 km over ground, your warhead has some 30 to 40 seconds to the target. Your terminal guidance software has to be state-of-the-art as with every passing second, the imaginary cone in front of the warhead, where it can score hit is getting tighter and tighter (due to inertia mechanics).

    3) Even if you correct trajectory well before re-entry, you have to be able to do some terminal phase corrections, because you cannot expect target to be a sheep being taken to the slaughter. This is going to be very tricky and it assumes you did some extensive research on steering vehicles at very high hyper-sonic speeds. We all know, from latest US financed research on high hyper-sonic unmanned vehicles, how complicated is to achieve this. To put it to normal speech, things that are fragile have tendencies to break up in the midair if you are trying to change its course. At speeds over Mach 10, warhead is definitely a fragile stuff. Also you would need some system to steer it, either by means of auxiliary rocket maneuvering system or some sort of flipped steering pads.

    Now, considering all of this, it is unwise to think that the rocket would hit aircraft carrier out of surprise. There would be a warning at launch, you have NORAD with its extensive launch warning satellite system exactly for that purpose. NORAD will calculate in real-time possible impact areas based on trajectory, speed etc and they will update this impact area every second until they will find out where it aims. At the moment they will find out you are aiming at blank see, do not expect that somebody will not say, hey, wait a moment guys, don’t we have a carrier over there in target zone? That will give the aircraft carrier group at least 2-3 minutes to maneuver, group will spread and every ship can move for 2 to 3 kilometers before impact.

    As I said, killing a ship this way is possible, though unlikely. Also, you have some fancy projects going on, US Navy was planning to build some 5-6 modern nuclear driven anti-missiles cruisers, larger then Ticonderoga class and equipped with laser guns and large rail guns as soon as these are available. I do not know if this idea was scrapped due to lack of funds, but exactly this system would provide excellent protection against BM strike. So the situation is not that black and white as it seems to be.

  • 254. Kurt  |  June 1st, 2012 at 11:20 am

    These missiles are just a new kind of kamikaze dive bomber. DF 21 test are lacking for this missile with claimed spectacular flight characteristics, including evasive maneuvers during homing. The problem with defense is gravity, you need rather a platform in the air to kill it.

    I think you are right by stating that the carriers of old are dated.
    While there’s no substitude for manned fighters and fighter bomber groups doing complex missions, a JSF bomber role and a A10 role can better be handled by unmanned very long range systems. These unmanned systems should be piston engine slow speed, simple low reflection constructions and do most of the time preprogrammed flying with human assistance limited to launch and recovery.
    A skyhook or just a monorail outrigger with a catch magnet from a scrapyard could do the launch and retrieval of such low tech devices from a wide array of platforms.
    Missiles remain important for fast strikes and some manned aerial platforms for conducting and countering complex air strikes.

  • 255. bear bear  |  June 24th, 2012 at 4:56 am

    The US always do things the most expensive way. they still believe in using SIZE as symbol of power, and hence SIZE to intimidate others. This arises from the classic American redneck farmer attitude where he loves his crude, big and macho V8, and if given a choice to play with an M4 or a .50cal, he’d definitely go for the big gun……cos BIG means kickin’ asses .

    So, that’s how the ultra expensively-run military machine resulted in a screwed up economy with 46mil in poverty, the HIGHEST Misery Index in 29yrs, massive unemployment and financial insecurity.

    You fucked yourselves, Americans.

  • 256. Shevalini Amin  |  September 1st, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

  • 257. General360  |  September 3rd, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    The only thing I can think of that would make this ”ballistic missile” useless is a EMP bomb or blast that would take out all the devices controlling it and send it crashing into the water, ground or break at the seams from the wind resistance and pressure but we have Solar Flares that can destroy anything electronic on the Earth so yeah

  • 258. Danno  |  May 8th, 2013 at 4:42 am

    “They could *not* give a damn what happens to the rest of us” would mean they don’t care. Saying “They could give a damn what happens to the rest of us” literally means they do care. Think about it!

  • 259. bad side effects of breast actives  |  June 26th, 2013 at 1:31 am

    I do not drop a leave a response, however after reading a
    great deal of remarks on this page The War Nerd:
    This Is How the Carriers Will Die (Updated Version) – By Gary Brecher – The eXiled.
    I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s okay. Is it just me or do some of the remarks look like they are written by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting at additional places, I would like to keep up with you. Would you list of every one of your shared pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  • 260. Mik  |  April 9th, 2014 at 2:39 am

    Guess the name of one of Britain’s new carriers – yep, Prince of Wales.

  • 261. Bob Newton  |  July 18th, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    April Fool, right?


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