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New littoral combat ship weapons taking aim at the attacks of small boat swarms

File photo of The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) fires at a target during a gun exercise as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Malaysia 2015. (U. S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop/Released)

The Navy plans to launch two small boat attack craft raids against the Littoral Combat Ship to prepare the ship for the great war by the testing of a new suite of integrated weapons systems and sensors, including missiles, guns, drones and inflatable boats.

The next “fast inshore attack craft raid” events are designed as part of a formal Initial Operational Test & Evaluation plan for a-LCS-mounted Surface-to-Surface Missile Module designed, among other things, “counter potential swarms attacked small armed vessels,” a Navy statement from Naval Sea Systems Command, Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Fighters said.

The Rocket Module consists of 24 ship-fired Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30-and 57 mm guns, 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats, helicopters and vertical-take-off and landing ship-launched drones. Ship-launched Hellfires, for example, can make use of all-weather millimeter wave radar, inertial guidance or semi-active laser targeting to fire on enemy ships, helicopters, fixed-wing assets, or drones attacks in the LCS. The concept with the general module is for any platform to function as a “node” in a larger network.

Forward operating drones, for example, can send real-time images to helicopters and ship-based fire control radar, enabling faster response time. Armed helicopters may be more likely to find and attack targets as they are identified and transferred from other assets, such as drones, submarines or ship-based sensors. By extension, all of these systems can cue deck-mounted small arms for the closer-in threats, such as 30mm and 57mm guns. This warfare tactic, reflected by the larger platforms such as Carrier Strike Groups, is the creation of an integrated, layered defense system designed to defend on the different ranges and against a wide area of the potential attack systems.

Small, fast-transport-11-meter inflatable boats are also considered to be an indispensable element of the Surface Warfare Mission Packages, the Rocket Module is designed to support. Often used as a quick access or small assault vehicles for the Navy SEALs and other Special Operations Forces, these boats can provide ships ‘ crews with an opportunity to leave the ship and “engage” the approach of the small boat attackers, allowing yet another element of the defense.

Swarming small boat attacks are regarded as a very serious battles provide for Marine war-planners, who work with a decided recognition that this form of threat is very large when it comes to combating terrorism and major warfare on the open ocean. The strategy with a small boat attack against the larger platforms is versatile; multiple, rapidly moving points of small missiles and gunfire attack are of course much harder to spot and target. The aim with this tactic is to overwhelm, confuse, or simply larger than the number of ship-defense weapons systems, such as sensors, interceptors, and deck-mounted guns.

This phenomenon can be explained in terms of what is called “dis-aggregate” operations, if on a smaller scale than is generally thought. Not only a more scattered group of small boats are more difficult to target, but the emerging networks technology enables them to coordinate, to share target information and phase integrated missions, while further away from each other. Navy and Marine Corps strategists, now the planning for the future of amphibious warfare, are in service of these concepts with respect to the ship-to-shore amphibious attacks. Dis-aggregated, but still strong network of attack nodes offer attacking commanders with a broader range of options and the increase of the possibilities to defend itself against incoming shore attacks by avoiding a more condensed or linear ocean attack.

The proliferation of longer-range mobile cannons, for possible development of lasers, electronic warfare or ship-launched drone attacks make the prospect of swarms of armed, fast small boats even more dangerous for the ships. Moreover, there is no reason small boats manned crews could not carry and fire portable land weapons, such as Rpgs, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles aimed at the ship structures or hand-launched attack drones filled with explosives.

Of potentially even greater concern, quite possibly, is the advent of unmanned small attack vessels is not hampered by any need to protect a manned crew. They were able to approach much closer to each other, without having to avoid incoming fire from ship defense weapons. The US Navy is already testing and developing of a “ghost fleet” of unmanned small ships to perform a range of missions to include reconnaissance, mine and submarine detection and, of course, forward operating attack missions, the firing of weapons and manned crews stay safer distances. The U.S. Navy, however, is of course not the only country with the technological sophistication to develop and operate unmanned small boats. The current global threat circumstance is that the U.S. Navy recognizes they need to know how to defend against this type of attack.

Pentagon’s threat assessment analysts have long worried that small boat attacks may, for example, be used by the Iranian troops to stop the flow of marine traffic through the dangerous and narrow Strait of Hormuz, the only passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean. At the same time, small attack craft can just as easily be launched on the open ocean by the host ships for the launch of offensive operations from safer distances. Not only could the boats carry sensing and reconnaissance missions, but they can also, of course, home-made explosives to jam a ship on radar, by flooding it with distributed attack nodes.

These are the reasons why the Navy is quick to prepare his ship on the basis of offensive and defensive weapons of these types of very serious threats. The formal test and evaluation phase is scheduled for the beginning of next year, as an important step in the direction of the operational status.

The service is also the armament of the LCS fleet, with a long-range, over-the-horizon Naval Strike Missile to extend the ship’s offensive attack to reach. The Navy is also now planning ahead to arm the Littoral Combat Ship with an emerging ship defense soft-kill countermeasures can identify, track and destroy incoming enemy torpedo fire, Marine officials said. The Navy plans to outfit its entire LCS fleet with the AN/SLQ-61 Lightweight Tow Torpedo Defense Mission Module (TDMM) as a way to strengthen the capacity of the vessel in order to succeed in both shallow water and open or “blue” water war, Navy officials told Warrior Maven.

The new TDMM attended two days at sea on testing several months ago to prepare for operational service on LCS ships. The technology makes use of an underwater acoustic projector, attached to a cable is removed from the aft to identify acoustic homing and wire-guided enemy torpedoes, service information, describes.

The digitally controlled system, travel, underwater, under the ship, makes use of acoustic technology. In a manner similar to radar above the ground, the return signal, or ping, is then analyzed to determine the distance, shape and speed of an approaching enemy threat. In the case of the Navy, the “ping” is, of course, the acoustic sound of the waves and not the electronic pings known to surface radar.

“The torpedo defense capability to the TDMM provides is set up for a potential implementation on all LCS ships and other small fighters,” a Navy statement earlier this year said.

Offered as a lighter alternative to the currently operational/SLQ-25 “Nixie,” the new TDMM is specifically designed for smaller warships such as the LCS, the Navy’s statements.

LCS Mission Evolution

The addition of this control technology to the LCS in accordance with the Navy the development of the strategy for the ship, which aims to broaden the mission scope to include a wider range of surface combat capabilities.

While the ship was conceived and developed as a multi-mission countermine and anti-submarine surface warfare platform for littoral operations, the Navy is attempting to quickly proceed to arm the ship for the major maritime combat.

The LCS’s shallow draft makes it possible to approach the island and the coast areas not accessible to larger vessels with a greater draft, adding offensive and defensive weapons to give commanders more options.

For example, if a LCS approaches shallow waters, ability to work in a more autonomous, or split mode and therefore is not able to rely on the control of protection of nearby larger ships.

Accordingly, the equipment of the ship with a better defense would better enable the platform to defend themselves, while being more independent of each other. This brings the additional benefit of reducing the risk to other surface combatants, in part because the LCS is designed for high-risk countermine missions in coastal areas, which larger vessels can remain at safer distances without being exposed to mines.

The previously published Marine Spread Maritime Operations Concept builds on the Navy’s much-discussed “distributed lethality” strategy. This strategic approach, in development for several years, emphasizes the need to more fully arm the fleet with offensive and defensive weapons and distribute forces as needed to respond to rapidly emerging near-peer threats.

of the reason is to go back in the direction of open or “blue water” combat capability against near-peer competitors emphasized during the Cold War. While the strategic and tactical ability never disappeared, it was stressed less during the last 10 years of the earth wars in which the Navy is focused on combating terrorism, the fight against piracy and things such as Visit Board Search and Seizure. These missions are of course still important, however, the Navy wants to increase significantly its offensive “lethality” to discourage or effective against high-tech opponents.

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