Mighty Mites: Zumwalt, “high tech” and China

Zumwalt reshaped the Navy’s effort to replace large numbers of aging World War II-era vessels, a plan called “High-Low.” Instituted over the resistance of Admiral Hyman Rickover and others, High-Low sought to balance the purchase of high-end, nuclear-powered vessels with low-end, cheaper ones —- such as the Sea Control Ship — that could be bought in greater numbers. Rickover, the Father of the Nuclear Navy, preferred buying a few major ships to buying many ordinary ones. Zumwalt proposed four kinds of warships to fit the plan; in the end, only the Pegasus class of missile patrol boats and the Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7) class of guided missile frigates became reality, and only six out of the planned 100+ Pegasus class hydrofoils were built. But the Perrys stood as the most populous class of U.S. warships since World War II until the advent of the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) destroyers.”

Wikipedia

USS Oliver Hazard Perry

USS Oliver Hazard Perry

Brad wrote about the Houbei missile boats. Small, fast, with stealth tech and anti-ship missile launchers.
At 36 knots, its just 12 knots shy of the Pegasus’s 48. But that’s still fast for a patrol ship. And it’s cheap.

Houbei class missile boat

Fear my l33t missile skillz!

Admiral Zumwalt wanted to expand the Navy as the USSR was building up. The Sea Control Ship was a mini-carrier, with VTOL aircraft. That fighter was supposed to be the XFV-12but the Navy had to settle for the British designed AV-8 when Rockwell couldn’t deliver.

Artist conception

Between the SCS, the Perry class frigates and the hydrofoils, Zumwalt wanted to expand the Navy quickly. He didn’t see the ships as a replacement for the big ships but as a way to meet the Reds. Those three ships could hold the line until the big carriers and cruisers could be brought to bear. They’d protect the carriers and add firepower to the cruisers. The SCS would chase the subs away from the strike groups as its aircraft added to the big carrier’s wing. The Pegasus and Perry’s would missile spam the Soviets. With all their powers combined, the Soviet Navy would wilt under Navy firepower.

Pegasus-class hydrofoils

Pegasus-class hydrofoils

It was called the “High-Low” mix. For every big ship, dozens of smaller ships could be bought along side it.

The Soviets had their Kiev class. It was a mini-carrier and a missile cruiser in one. They liked’em so much that they went full carrier.  One sailed, the Cold War ended before the second one could be built. Guess where the second carrier is? (Hint: CHINA!)

In the end the “Nuclear Navy” won out. Like the “Sea Shadow“, most of the ship Zumwalt wanted had fewer crew. Less people for officers to boss around. Rickover wanted his subs and the carrier skippers wanted their big decks. The Pegasus class was limited to a few ships, all withdrawn after 1993. The SCS was seen as an outright threat to the big carriers and the Marines had the “Gator Navy” so the SCS never left the drawing board when Zumwalt retired. The Perry class served for many years. However they are limited, worn out and the navy wants to withdraw them from service. Their replacement is the Littoral Combat ship.

$$$

Next War-itis cast in steel

How did the Navy honor Zumwalt? Two of the most expensive and trouble plagued ship building programs in American history.

“Lawmakers and others have questioned whether the Zumwalt class costs too much and whether it provides the capabilities the U.S. military needs. In 2005 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the acquisition cost of a DD(X) at $3.8–4.0bn in 2007 dollars, $1.1bn more than the Navy’s estimate.[52]

Specific issues have been raised about the design:”

4.1 Ballistic missile/air defense capability
4.2 Missile capacity
4.3 Naval fire support role
4.4 Structural problems
4.5 Tumblehome design stability

Zumwalt Class Destroyers, #Controversy


“On 23 August 2010, The US Navy announced a delay in awarding the contract for 10 ships until sometime near the end of the year.[58] A meeting of the Defense Acquisition Board scheduled for 29 October 2010 has been delayed and The Navy has indicated that no decision on the contract can be made until this meeting is held.[26]

The GAO found that deploying the first two ships will delay the overall program because these two ships were not available for testing and development so changes may have to be made in the second pair of ships during their construction instead of being planned for before construction started.[59] The U.S. Navy responded that “Early deployment brought LCS operational issues to the forefront much sooner than under the original schedule, some of which would not have been learnt until two years on.””
Littoral combat ship

In other words, a massive “fuck you” to the man who cared so much about the US Navy. Two large costly ships that may not be able to fight, one of the ship classes even has his name.

I bet Wired Magazine and the New York Times still think it's a casino.

Ex-Varyag under two.

China hasn’t been standing still. Most of their Cold War era ships were scrapped or are now floating theme parks. They are studying the carrier they bought cheap and have large missile to take ours out.

Between that carrier (and it’s follow on), the DF-21 missile and that fast missile boat, the waters around China could get nasty real quick. With the small Houbei zipping around, the PLA can harass Taiwan and put a dent in our operations. Their carriers are nowhere near the size, firepower or punch of one 90,000 ton US carrier. They don’t need to be. With the newer missiles, cruisers, frigates and destroyers, they can get protection. With the Houbei’s they can add that to their sting. With the DF-21 hitting our carriers (and its sister missiles hitting our airfields in the pacific), GAME OVER.

Sound familiar?

It’s a damn shame that the Navy Brass is hung up on the NEXT BING THING[tm].  The LCS doesn’t have a single mission module that works right. But the modules are it’s firepower, with out them it’s just got a wimpy deck gun. The Zumwalt class has delay after delay. Of the planned 32, only 3 will be built. T-H-R-E-E. The both LCS versions been shown underway covered in rust.

China, like Russia, sells to who ever has the money. That some of the potential buyers for the fast missile boats and new frigates hate our guts is a bonus. It’s sad The Navy just might have it’s head handed to it by a high-low mix. The same idea they spurned so long ago.

4) Small ships can only damage a well-equipped Navy if many of them attack at once. A number of explosive-laden suicide craft in a tight waterway such as the Straight of Hormuz could be remarkably effective

5 Reasons the U.S. Navy’s Scared (and What They’re Doing About It)

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One Response to “Mighty Mites: Zumwalt, “high tech” and China”

  1. […] So the DoD wants to shift to the Pacific. Here’s the reason why they should be worried. The Russian plane has a radar that poses a deadly threat to fourth generation aircraft. The Chinese are putting a real fighter on board the carrier most lefties think is just for show. So a real fighter with their new navy. […]

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