This html article is produced from an uncorrected text file through optical character recognition. Prior to 1940 articles all text has been corrected, but from 1940 to the present most still remain uncorrected. Artifacts of the scans are misspellings, out-of-context footnotes and sidebars, and other inconsistencies. Adjacent to each text file is a PDF of the article, which accurately and fully conveys the content as it appeared in the issue. The uncorrected text files have been included to enhance the searchability of our content, on our site and in search engines, for our membership, the research community and media organizations. We are working now to provide clean text files for the entire collection.
As the United States engages the post-Cold War world’s new international realities, two elements will dictate force structure and operational doctrine: fewer resources in military budgets and emerging threats that are diverse as well as unpredictable. As a result, joint and combined operations are becoming routine, with the Navy and Marine Corps team concentrating on expeditionary missions. The National Security Strategy’s emphasis on regional threats demands flexible and effective naval surface fire support (NSFS) for these increasingly important expeditionary missions.1 With its current force structure, however, the U.S. Navy cannot provide this critical support.
During a future regional crisis, the inability of surface combatants to influence events ashore directly will hinder the on-scene joint task force (JTF) commander in the completion of his mission. As the number of carrier battle groups is reduced, innovative force combinations will fill the void. The newest force structure developed for this role is the maritime action group (MAG), which has two to four units consisting of cruiser, destroyer, frigate, submarine, and land-based long-range naval patrol aviation assets.2 The importance of having sustainable and lethal NSFS capability on board MAG surface ships increases considerably when carrier battle group or Air Force tactical air support is not available. A future embassy evacuation or other humanitarian operation could require a Marine expeditionary unit to operate under hostile fire, with a MAG for support and no fixed-wing air cover. In such a scenario, only the NSFS capabilities inherent in the MAG will provide the JTF commander with deep, on-call fire support.
An Expeditionary Mission Requirement
Effective NSFS capabilities on board Navy vessels are crucial to an expeditionary force’s combat potential when it is responding to regional crises. Inadequate NSFS places ground units at great risk and constrains their operations ashore. Enemy defenses that could have been suppressed or destroyed by effective NSFS will inhibit freedom of maneuver. Without adequate NSFS capabilities, assault units ashore become more dependent upon close air support, heavy armor, and artillery for fire support. Marine units or Army airborne forces reacting to a crisis will not have such equipment in sufficient numbers for some days or weeks. With the Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary mission focus, some small-scale conflicts would not require Army heavy forces to be moved from the continental United States. In this situation, effective NSFS becomes even more critical in filling the firepower void.
A lethal NSFS weapon system can be of significant assistance in the successful prosecution of the expeditionary mission. A ship’s inherent mobility and sustainability provides a unique NSFS weapon platform capability to the commander operating in the littoral battlespace. NSFS supplies on-call fire support in all weather and around the clock against enemy forces or strong points. Shore bombardment prepares the amphibious objective area for assault and assists ground forces advancing along a coastline. The ground force commander must have this capability readily available, particularly during establishment of an amphibious lodgement, when combat powet buildup is slow and troops are most vulnerable. NSFS weapon systems must provide effective afloat fire support to avoid unnecessary ground casualties or aircrafl attrition.
Operating independently, NSFS can play a substantial role in battlefield interdiction by targeting enemy units, installations, supplies, and communications in a littoral region. Currently, targets in littoral areas can be attacked effectively only by air strikes or Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, which are expensive and limited in number. These systems could concentrate on high-value deep targets, if effective and lethal NSFS weapon systems with the ability to perform the interdiction or strike role within 100 nautical miles of any coastline can be developed.
NSFS is not a substitute for air power, but it can provide continuous on-station fire support, placing a greater amount of ordnance tonnage on target compared to the ait sorties available from a carrier battle group during a 24- hour period. NSFS is an adjunct to air power: more suitable for some targets in dense air defense environments and invulnerable to attrition or capture. A capable NSFS weapon system is a combined-arms multiplier of comba1 power.
The Current Inventory
The current inventory of Navy NSFS weaponry lack* sufficient range, accuracy, or penetration capabilities to I be effective in a fire-support mission. The primary nav^ guns available for NSFS are the 5-inch/54-caliber Mk 4-1 and Mk 42 found in Spruance (DD-963)-, Kidd (DDC' 993)-, and Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class destroyers^ Ticonderoga (CG-47)-, California (CGN-36)-, VirginW (CGN-38)-, and Belknap (CG-26)-class cruisers; and Tarawa (LHA-l)-class amphibious assault ships. TheS£ 5-inch/54-caliber guns are inadequate for effective NSF$ .
The maximum range for 5-inch guns is 12 nautical miles (nm).3 Adequate sea room for safe navigation fuf' ther reduces the 5-inch gun’s inland reach. Such a shot1 range fails to provide the required fire support for troop5 ashore and severely limits the littoral area that can be if' fluenced. All 5-inch ammunition types are designed f°J( blast effect and maximum fragmentation, which is idea* for soft targets or antiaircraft fire. Another naval gun, tb£ OTO Melara 76-mm Mk 75, is mounted in Oliver Ha~ ard Perry (FFG-7)-class frigates and Pegasus (PHM-F class hydrofoils and conducts NSFS as a secondary mi5' ( sion. The 76-mm gun’s range is 9 nm, and its ammunitio11 is similarly designed for blast and fragmentation rath£f than penetration.4
None of these guns can successfully engage harden^ emplacements, such as blockhouses, pillboxes, and dug' in positions. With the exception of a mobility kill, curre1" naval guns would not be effective against main battle tank’ or other armor. Additionally, existing guns with available
unguided ammunition have a circular-error probable (CEP) of 300 meters, requiring many additional r°unds to hit point targets or cover area targets and limiting their use against targets close to friendly forces.5
Recent events illustrate our current NSFS capabilities, during Persian Gulf engagements in April 1988, more 1,000 5-inch rounds were fired to destroy an oil platform.6 Such an inordinate expenditure on one small, undefended target highlights the 5-inch gun weapon system’s unsuitability for NSFS. Considering an ammunition mag- az*ne’s finite capacity, large expenditures against a few targets is unacceptable.
In contrast, the battleship’s 16-inch guns have the caPability to penetrate 27 feet of reinforced concrete or 16 'nches of armor plate.7 The 16-inch gun’s range is 20.8 nm, and extended-range ammunition—already designed— mcreases its range to approximately 40 nm.8 The Missouri (BB-63) and the Wisconsin (BB-64) demonstrated their mghly effective NSFS capabilities during sustained fire- SuPport missions in Desert Storm. With the battleships’ decommissioning, current fleet NSFS weaponry is lr|adequate.
A combination of near- and long-term programs can correct the Navy’s NSFS deficiencies. Combat effective- ncss must be the primary consideration in NSFS, but sus- binability, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and maximum JjSe of existing technology and hardware should be the
riving criteria guiding NSFS weapon system procurement decisions. In the near.-term (3-5 years), the correc- hve effort must concentrate on making existing NSFS jVeapon systems more effective. Mid-term (6-9 years) and °ng-term (10-12 years) solutions must examine new technologies and adaptations of other services’ weaponry for Use in the NSFS mission.
To achieve the greatest improvement in fleet NSFS caPability, any near-term solutions must minimize techno-
8'cal risk and cost. An outstanding initial step would be
The Navy’s 5-inch/54-caliber gun is a fine weapon, but to become a decent fire-support weapon in the near and mid term, it needs new projectiles—designed specifically for the job.
to improve 5-inch gun weapon system capabilities. The 5-inch/54-caliber guns are mounted on more than 100 active ships and ships under construction. Significant improvements in the weapon’s range, accuracy, or penetration capabilities will pay high dividends in increased NSFS effectiveness and flexibility.
Specifically, the Navy needs 5-inch extended-range projectiles with hard-target penetration capability and precision-guided accuracy. Such ammunition already has been developed. The 5-inch semiactive laser guided projectile (SAL GP), named Deadeye, successfully completed operational testing at sea and was approved for fleet use in 1982.9 The round has a combination high-explosive/conical shaped charge warhead that allows it to penetrate approximately 27 inches of rolled homogeneous armor—the equivalent of a T-54 tank—and it is highly accurate, with laser designation giving the round a two-meter CEP.10 Deadeye is a rocket-assisted projectile that increases the 5-inch gun’s range to 15 nm."
The 5-inch SAL GP round was designed using an earlier 5-inch infrared-guided projectile body produced for an antiair warfare role. Flowever, if the 5-inch SAL GP body is redesigned aerodynamically for best surface-to- surface flight performance, the range can be increased to 30 nm. The addition of global positioning system (GPS) guidance would yield a 16-meter CEP, independent of laser designation.12
The Deadeye fell victim to budget cuts in fiscal year 1989 and was not funded for production.13 Reintroduction and redesign of the Deadeye program would be the most rapid route to a highly accurate shipboard hard-target kill capability for the fleet.
A second near-term solution already has been developed that can significantly improve current NSFS capabilities. The 8-inch/55-caliber Mk 71 gun successfully completed its at-sea operational evaluation in the Hull (DD-945) in 1976 and was approved for fleet use in 1977.14 Program funding subsequently was canceled. The Mk 71 gun was designed specifically for installation in Spruance-c\ass destroyers as their forward gun mount and also could be fitted in Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Ar- leigh Burke-class destroyers. Available 8-inch projectiles are either high capacity or high explosive; existing armorpiercing rounds cannot be fired from the Mk 71 because of recoil system limitations.15 The current ammunition gives the 8-inch gun a maximum range of 20 nm with each round having a 600-meter CEP.16 Although this existing ammunition would return some enhanced area suppression capability, improved 8-inch ammunition would upgrade fleet naval surface fire support significantly.
Concurrent with the 8-inch/55-caliber Mk 71, an 8-inch SAL GP also was developed and successfully test fired at sea. With laser designation, the 8-inch SAL GP has a two- meter CEP and a maximum range of 30 nm. Its combi-
terminal guidance features were added.25 ANSR sign1
the mid-term period. The 8-inch/60-caliber Mk 71 gu[ °9re would add numerous technological improvements—sUc (hg ^
nation conical shaped charge/high-explosive warhead can penetrate approximately 43 inches of rolled homogeneous armor—the equivalent of a T-72 tank—making it comparable to the Hellfire missile in capability.17 Installation of the 8-inch/55-caliber gun in new-construction ships, a selective backfit program for existing cruisers and destroyers, and the production of the 8-inch SAL GP would provide the fleet with effective NSFS.
Another near-term solution uses existing hardware and can be widely distributed among fleet combatants with Standard missile capabilities. The Standard Missile Autonomous strike homing round (SMASHR) would use SM-
1 Mk 56 motor assemblies with GPS midcourse guidance! and would deliver either 550 M46 dual-purpose submunitions or a Bullpup A warhead.18 The M46 submunition has a combination conical- shaped charge/high-explosive war j head that is capable of defeating armor found on various; armored personnel carriers.19 The SMASHR would have a 60 nm maximum range and a 16-meter CEP, which caJ| be improved to two meters with the addition of a low-light level television seeker for terminal guidance.20 By usin? the SM-2’s Mk 104 motor assembly, SMASHR’s maximum range could be increased to 140 nm.21 SMASHR caj incorporate new guided payload advances—such as sense-1 and-destroy armor (SADARM) submunitions—to im-| prove its antiarmor lethality. Although fewer missikl rounds could be carried and each shot would be mucl>| more expensive than a gun projectile, the added range I and accurate area coverage make SMASHR a very at-| tractive NSFS weapon system.
A final near-term solution is to recommission tw<>| Iowa (BB-61)-class battleships—one per coast—solel) for the NSFS mission. Operating costs can be minimize* by deploying a battleship only in the case of a region^ crisis and by maintaining unit proficiency by operatin' in U.S. coastal areas. A second option would place tw® battleships in the Naval Reserve, with much lower man'I ning levels. Manpower costs also could be reduced ei'l ther by deactivating or removing the remaining six see'I ondary battery 5-inch/38-caliber gun mounts to makf| room for other NSFS weaponry.22 Continued battleship operation would maintain a critical near-term capability and retain an experienced personnel cadre for emergency reactivation of the two remaining battleships. The on'I going availability of a battleship platform with its l^'l inch guns would give NSFS a highly robust capability-1
Mid-term solutions must include the examination newer technological improvements to current system* The autonomous naval strike round (ANSR) concept pm poses improved 5-inch and 8-inch naval gun ammuni' tion. A 5-inch ANSR would use existing 5-inch/54-cnl iber Mk 45 MOD 1 gun mounts but would achievl significant range improvement using rocket-assisted-pm jectile technology. The 5-inch ANSR carries 35 submunitions to a 50 nm maximum range or 56 M^; to 30 nm using a combination GPS/inertial navigatin' system guidance to maintain a 16-meter CEP.23 The ^ inch ANSR, using the 8-inch/55-caliber Mk 71 guf mount, delivers 133 M46s to a 100 nm maximum ran^ or 247 M46s to 60 nm and also achieves a 16-metfj CEP.24 A 175-pound unitary warhead in a 8-inch AN$° could be fired to 100 nm and strike a point target W1* a two-meter CEP if semiactive laser, infrared, or otlk(
icantly extends the inland reach of Navy ships in littof3' areas. *Nv
An improved 8-inch gun design could be deployed $ as a monoblock gun barrel design—that enhance production and maintenance characteristics of the current 8- inch/55-caliber gun.26 The newer design upgrades the recoil system, allowing growth in ammunition capabilities, while increasing the gun’s caliber.27 These improvements provide for the use of current armor-piercing rounds and increase the range of all existing projectiles by 10%, to approximately 22 nm.28 The new 8-inch gun design would provide much improved NSFS firepower with a variety of ammunition, giving the joint task force commander the ability to influence events more than 75 nm inland.
Several missile and rocket systems are possible midterm alternatives to fill the NSFS role. The Army’s multilaunch rocket system (MLRS) and tactical missile system (TACMS) are likely candidates. Each delivers a large payload of submunitions that is well-suited to attack large- area soft targets. New guided submunitions with hard-target kill capability that are under development, such as SADARM, also are compatible. MLRS rounds can reach targets 16 nm away and, using 12 rockets, saturate an area greater than four football fields.29 Each MLRS rocket carries 644 M77 submunitions, but it is unguided.30 Improved MLRS rocket range and guidance would be necessary for NSFS use. TACMS can strike targets out to 80 nm with each rocket carrying approximately 1,000 M74 submunitions. With GPS guidance, it can achieve a 16-meter CEP.31 Missile or rocket system adaptation to NSFS can provide tremendous shock and suppression capabilities from the sea, but initial shipboard loadout, uncertain replenishment capabilities, and the high cost per round raise sustainability questions.
Over the long term, new technologies must be investigated to correct NSFS deficiencies. Two new propellant types can increase both the 5-inch and 8-inch gun range and performance substantially. Liquid propellant and electrothermal chemical technologies combined with rocket- assisted projectiles can increase 5-inch gun ranges to 50 nm.32 The 8-inch liquid propellant or electrothermal chemical technologies gun would have a 100 nm range using rocket-assisted projectiles.33 Both the 5-inch and 8- inch ammunition still would carry M46 submunitions, achieving a 16-meter CEP with GPS guidance. These advanced-technology guns provide the extended range critical for NSFS effectiveness in the littoral battlespace.
Numerous missile systems can be examined over the long term for employment in the NSFS mission. However, cost, on-call capability, and sustainability are principal concerns with missile systems. One proposal, the Sea Bear concept, is a relatively low-cost guided missile configured for launch from a vertical launch system canister or Harpoon launcher.34 Sea Bear would carry a 500-pound warhead or submunitions to 100 nm and would achieve a 16-meter CEP with GPS/inertial navigation system guidance. If a fiberoptic guidance system is used, a two-meter CEP can be realized to a range of 20 nm.35 For a high-priority target nearby or as an area-suppression weapon, Sea Bear could add an important dimension to NSFS.
To achieve the vision outlined in “. . . From the Seal and to sucessfully conduct the expeditionary mission the Navy requires a lethal NSFS weapon systems capabl^ of sustained fire support against diverse targets. But de spite the existence of 5-inch ammunition design in' provements, mature 8-inch gun designs, next-generatiol 5-inch and 8-inch ammunition concepts, and promisini missile systems, no definitive action has been taken to re alize the great promise of attainable NSFS systems. Give' the serious nature of the expeditionary mission in the lit toral regions, the Navy must address the deplorable stat< of NSFS. Budgetary pressures are immense and fundin; will remain limited into the foreseeable future, but an in vestment in NSFS capability is a cost-effective ford multiplier.
‘Naval surface fire support encompasses all weapon systems capable of deli^l ing supporting fire ashore such as guns, missiles, and rockets. See Scott C. Trj ver and Norman Polmar, “Naval Surface Fire Support and the Iowas,” U [*] Naval Institute Proceedings, November 1985, p. 130.
HUapt. Robert O. Crawshaw, USN, “What Is a Maritime Action Group?” U.S. Nav| Institute Proceedings, January 1993, p. 28.
’Bernard Prezelin, ed., Combat Fleets of the World 1993, (Annapolis, MD: Nav*| Institute Press, 1993), p. 786.
5J. G. Ferrebee, S. E. Anderson, and O. K. Blosser, “Naval Surface Fire Supp^jl Study,” Report by Naval Surface Warfare Center (Dahlgren, VA: Dahlgren Diy*| sion, July 1992), p. 31.
6“U.S. Sinks or Cripples Six Iranian Warships,” The Washington Post, 19 Ap^ 1988, p. A22.
7Prezelin, p. 786.
9J. D. Hagan, “Naval Surface Fire Support Concepts,” Report by Naval Surfo11] Warfare Center (Dahlgren, VA: Dahlgren Division, 1992), p. 6.
"Interview with J. D. Hagan, Naval Surface Warfare Center, G30 Guided tions, Dahlgren, VA, 18 February 1993.
“Interview with R. D. Cooper, Naval Surface Warfare Center, G32 Mk 45* inch/54-caliber Improvements, Dahlgren, VA, 18 February 1993. l2Ibid.
‘’Prezelin, p. 786.
“Scott Gourley, “U.S. Naval Surface Fire Support: The Gun Factor,” Military nology, August 1992, p. 35.
’’“Preliminary Assessment of 8-Inch Gun Ammunition Availability and DeveMl ment Status,” Report by FMC Corporation (Minneapolis, MN: Naval Systems vision, 5 June 1992), p. 7.
16Ferrebee, p. 36.
‘Interview with J. D. Hagan.
‘"Hagan, p. 13. l9Ibid., p. 21.
20Ibid., p. 19.
2‘Ibid., p. 13.
”Cdr. Robert W. Selle, USNR (Ret.), “The Best Kept Secret in Pentagon R°ol| 4E-686,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November 1992, p. 103.
2’Hagan, p. 14.
24Ibid., p. 13.
“Interview with J. D. Hagan.
^Truver and Polmar, pp. 130-131.
’’Hagan, p. 13.
“Ferrebee, p. 33.
’’Interview with Tom Doran, Naval Surface Warfare Center, G33 Electrotheh1^ Gun Program Manager, Dahlgren, VA, 18 February 1993.
"Ferrebee, p. 22.
Lieutenant Commander Morgan, a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Ac-J
emy, is a student at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff lege at Quantico, Virginia. He has served as ordnance officer on the Paul F. Foster (DD-964), combat systems officer on board 1 Gallery (FFG-26), and as material officer at Destroyer Squadron Twel