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.
Threats facing U. S. Navy forces are evolving rather than disappearing. Replacing waves of Backfire bombers, Slava-class antiship missile cruisers, and carrier-busting Charlie-class guided-missile submarines are Exocet-carrying F-l Mirages, shore-based Silkworm missiles, sophisticated new mine technologies, scores of potent missile-armed coastal patrol boat variants, and diesel submarines optimized for the very littoral waters envisioned as the next battlespace. Fundamental threats remain while delivery methods and sophistication levels continuously improve.
In adapting current assets and dwindling budgets to our new littoral strategy, planners must focus on three areas:
► Diesel antisubmarine warfare (DASW)
► Mine countermeasures (MCM)
► Antiship missile defense (ASMD)
More than 400 diesel submarines are in operation worldwide today, with their ranks growing rapidly. Technological advances such as air-independent propulsion and low-power nuclear plants promise increased stealth and operational capability. Inexpensive but relatively sophisticated mines of unquestioned lethality have flooded the world market in recent years, affording potential foes an area-denial capability that can provide deterrence even without being deployed: the mere statement that an area is mined often is sufficient to deter entry. The proliferation of antiship missiles small enough to be delivered by highly mobile small coastal patrol boats—not to mention aircraft or shore bases—exponentially compounds the
equation as compared to open-ocean operations. "
Recent naval operations in littoral waters, including Op eration Earnest Will (Kuwaiti re-flagging) and Operation ai Desert Shield/Storm, emphasized requirements for main- ci taining sea lines of communication. These actions include c offensive strikes against hostile naval forces, enforcemef a' of embargo sanctions, antimine warfare, and defense >s against missile-armed fast patrol boats. n;
Many of these missions were performed by detached le surface combatants with embarked tactical naval heli ni copters, outside the protective umbrella of fixed-wing cal rier aircraft. Unmanned aerial vehicles have demonstrate^ tf some potential for reconnaissance missions but lack th1 s| demonstrated versatility and weapons-delivery capabili si
ties of helicopters. tr
Given current plans for increased use of detached suf h< face action groups, it becomes clear that plans must ^ made to deal with adversary C£
pabilities in the demanding littom P£ environment outside the protec be
tive cover of carrier-based ai( re craft. Future tactical naval heh copters can contribute to tb tr< fleet’s ability to deal with thoS1 av multiple threats: they provide tb Pe most versatile and cost-effectiv‘ "'i
answer to these problems.
Surface ships cannot detect $ tiship missiles with flight profit below the ship’s radar horizon'" str
neither can they detect the laun^ ^ ing vessels. U.S. surface ship; tat without embarked aircraft have ^ na
true tactical over-the-horiz°( ev
(OTH), long-range targeting ci pability, even though they ab
possess a strategic strike capab’1 .
ity if equipped with the Tom3 !nl
hawk weapon system. Tactic3 In'
naval helicopters can extend bo1 J111
the passive, electromagnetic detection range and the acti' ,er radar horizon of surface ships by as much as 800%.
The submarine threat highlights a second major surf^ ship operational deficiency: lack of on-board ASW ^ ^
tection, localization, and attack capability. Although ^ e always out of the range of non-aviation surface sh1 P( weapons (as in the ASROC system), modern diesel-det ^ trie submarines operating in acoustically noisy littoral ^ ^
ters generally retain the ability to deliver their offens*' . u weapons while remaining outside surface combatant ^ §
sor range. The first warning of trouble may be the soCf **
of torpedo screws on the surface ship’s passive sonar sf ~
tern. Without the threat of airborne ASW, submarines ^ operate with relative impunity outside surface ship A$ vni weapon’s ranges—but the success of helicopters with b0' r inner and outer zone ASW is well documented.
che^ helij ; cat rate^ c tft ibili'
[ suf st V
y & ttOI^
1 ait heli' , tti‘ thos£ le tli( :ctiv‘
2 ^ mf!
V <fc ;h Hf . SU'I -eld il v'1* ;nsiv t sd soul' ir $f. ss
Finally, without minesweeping ships or helicopters, surface combatants give up a large measure of operational freedom in waters that may be mined. Sensors now available for use on naval helicopters can provide surface ships with their own mine countermeasure capability.
These deficiencies do not afflict all surface combatants. Aircraft carriers, for example, have fixed-wing aircraft that can resolve many, but not all, of these deficiencies. Helicopters are important even when carrier aviation is available and on station, because the carrier ls a high-value target. In certain circumstances, though— naval gunfire support, for example— less capable unmanned drones may ^eet mission requirements.
But for surface combatants other ihan aircraft carriers—cruisers, destroyers, and frigates—the multimis- Sl°n capability, flexibility, and decentralized basing of tactical naval helicopters remain important qualities, decentralized basing on board all air- capable ships affords commanders unparalleled flexibility. Air support must be available on demand to respond to real-time threats.
Surface ship commanders will be reed from total dependence on carrier aviation services. In turn, carrier skippers gain rotary-ing flight-deck and Wind-limit flexibility for local missions.
The following list of fundamental force capabilities ^hould stimulate further analysis:
Missions—All missions have day-night and visual/in- strurnent flight rules requirements. These include: antiship 'b'ssile defense, antisurface ship warfare, antisurface ship argeting, OTH targeting, ASW, mine countermeasures, naval gunfire spotting, combat search-and-rescue, medical evacuation, and vertical replenishment. Capabilities for all other utility missions normally associated with rotary wing aifcraft are assumed.
. Airframe—Multiengine helicopters capable of operatic from aircraft carriers and all air-capable ships in the 'aventory. Folding rotor blades and tail section for mini- jaant deck footprint, cargo hook, rescue hoist, medical liter, anti-ice capability, in-flight/single point refueling. Min- auim crew of three, two passengers. Performance aracteristics: gross weight within limits for all air caPable ships; dash speed of 150 knots; ability to land sine engine at sea level/30 knot wind/expendables removed; Perate 100 nautical miles from the ship with two hours Ration time (full ASW/ASUW weapons load). Avionics—Multiple UHF/VHF/HF radio, satellite com- unications, identification friend-or-foe, global position- g system, inertial navigation, Doppler navigation sys- % radar altimeter, integrated tactical displays, encrypted re°-audio datalink, digital data processor, multimode tj ar> electronic sensing and measuring equipment, an- rssile radar and infrared plume detection system, in- r.JSe synthetic aperture radar, forward-looking infrared ar system (magnified), video sighting system (magnified), mine countermeasures, light detection and ranging, magnetic anomaly detector, sonobuoy receiver and processor, active low-frequency dipping sonar.
► Weapons—Two MK-46/50 ASW torpedoes; one Penguin antiship missile; four Hellfire missiles; four Sidewinder missiles or eight Stinger missiles; forward-firing .50 caliber or 20-mm gun; 7.62 door-mounted machine gun; 60 rounds chaff/flare mix; 25 sonobuoys, rapidblooming air-launched chaff.
► Support—All ships must have the capability to recover, handle, store, maintain, service, fuel, arm, and launch
tactical naval helicopters. Parts and personnel support must be adequate for extended deployments, to include storage, maintenance and berthing.
Each air capable ship (excluding aircraft carriers) should embark two helicopters. When ships deploy with a single helicopter, maintenance readi-
The Navy operates many H-60s, including SH-60B LAMPS Ills and HH-60H search-and-rescue helicopters. No single helicopter can do it ail, but the basic H-60 airframe with snap-in modules offers great promise.
ness rates and crew rest limitations provide surface commanders with 60-79% availability. With two helicopters, aircraft availability jumps to virtually 100%.
Fleetwide airframe commonality would improve deployed mission-capability rates by reducing stock requirements and increasing force-wide cannibalization opportunities.
Cost is always important. With five distinct tactical helicopter models currently serving the fleet (SH-2F/SH- 3H/SH-60B/SH-60F/HH-60), production, supply, support, and battle group cross-deck support are more complicated, less efficient—and more expensive. Airframe commonality would reduce costs and raise mission readiness.
Lack of forward-firing guns and standoff antiship sensors and missiles remains a serious deficiency, but existing systems could be modified relatively inexpensively and quickly. The requirement was validated by Royal Navy Lynx helicopters armed with Sea Skua antiship missiles during operation Desert Storm; unarmed U.S. Navy tactical helicopters were relegated to vectoring the Lynxes
The best option is to reduce variation and increase ca-
Table 1: Naval H-60 Series Capabilities Summary
pability in current progra: minimizing costs while i creasing efficiency, capabilii and availability. Modificati' of existing H-60 series pfl grams is the most efficient cost-effective course of actii Table 1 provides a summi of current H-60 capabiliti' and limitations.
As the table illustrates, existing naval helicopter hi the sensors or capability 1 provide for all three ship d* ficiency requirements di! cussed earlier. The best sol' tion to date involves modular-airframe concep called the “F-Tub,” by Navi Air Systems Command an United Technologies/Sikorsl Aircraft managers. The pr( gram envisions a comm0
to targets. The inherent flexibility and fleet-wide basing of naval helicopters suggest that arming them would provide high returns for brown-water naval operations.
Finally, the move from blue- water operations to shallow- water littoral areas has modified the submarine threat from Soviet nuclear boats to a much wider variety of diesel and air- independent propulsion (AIP) threats. The minimal acoustic signatures of diesel and AIP submarines require different detection and localization tactics and equipment for reliable prosecution; active sonar is the key.
Only two of our current naval helicopters, the soon-to-be-retired SH-3H, and the new SH-60F (both carrier based), have active dipping sonars. Although SH-60B upgrade plans include active low-frequency dipping sonar in the late 1990s, the current situation leaves smaller air-capable ships with limited helicopter active-sonar capability (monobuoys and hull-mounted systems only). One solution being tested involves joint deployment of SH-60B LAMPS Ills and SH-60F helicopters on board the smaller air-capable ships such as cruisers and frigates. This solution involves significant loss of capability (the SH-60F has sonar only—and lacks other sensors such as radar and electronic sensing measures) and airframe commonality supply/support problems.
Current naval helicopter problems center around availability, supply, unit cost, weapons, and shallow-water diesel ASW. Decisions regarding future tactical naval helicopter forces, including funding, procurement, basing, and employment should attempt to maximize resolution of surface ship deficiencies while providing sufficient numbers of capable and supportable airframes at minimum cost.
There are force alternatives. The first option is to accept additional risk. We could decide neither to operate tactical naval helicopters, nor modernize our current capability. Surface forces in the littoral would simply accept increased vulnerability to air, surface, and subsurface threats. This is unrealistic.
The second requires changes in strategy, and poses a question: do we need to operate in the littorals, near mines, submarines, antiship missiles, and other assorted threats? Why not remain in the relative safety of blue waters? This option also is unrealistic because littoral operations are a de facto requirement for the exercise of influence by a maritime power.
A third option involves acquiring additional resources. Although this is not entirely impossible, the potential for significant increases in tactical naval helicopter program funding appears limited.
SH-60 airframe, which should be prewired at the facto! to accept a wide variety of mission-system modular pad ages that would be deployed with the aircraft. These pad ages could include all sensors and weapons described1 Table 1, available for snap-on/plug-in installation as P quired. This concept is well aligned with Joint Staff ai> OpNav thinking that foresees the high technology of id proved sensors, airframe commonality, and standoff m> tirole weapons as the way of the future.
Airframe commonality and systems modularity wod simultaneously provide the means to reduce costs, increa5 operational capability, and enhance readiness. Modul3 sensor/weapons kits would provide battle group cold manders and ship’s captains increased flexibility to pla£l the correct sensor and weapons package on scene ■' minimal time. Four helicopters from two air-capable sM? could provide all sensor/weapons capabilities listed 1 Table 1.
Reduced costs and increased flexibility translate id' wider deployability and the potential for increased ava1' ability. Airframe availability, as discussed above, juiW to nearly 100% for individual units when surface sM commanders operate dual-aircraft detachments. Supp°! commonality in the “F-Tub” modular concept wod' also improve parts availability by reducing variation 0 support requirements. Currently the avionics and missi011 systems of SH-60B/SH-60F are almost universally compatible, greatly complicating cooperative battle gr°l supply/support.
Widely dispersed, flexible, multimission, organic, P* vide the low-cost organic air capability the Navy xs£$ Now is the time to provide means to meet those ends^
Commander Dahl is assigned to the Naval War College, Newport, R*11 Island. He has 3,000 flight hours in SH-60Bs, largely with HSL-42-
tent, and sustainable, tactical naval helicopters can P1