AirSea Battle Starts to Add Substance to Concept

AirSea Battle Starts to Add Substance to Concept

Navy and Air Force personnel with the AirSea Battle office are in the early phases of putting some substance to the concept the two services have trotted out before Congress since the announcement of the Pacific Pivot two years ago.

“We’re looking out ahead about how we can take some of these concepts in AirSea Battle and put them through force development activities, exercises, wargames and experimentation,”  Col. Jordan Thomas, Air Force lead in the Pentagon’s AirSea Battle office, told Military​.com.

The two services, who together comprise the bulk of the AirSea Battle operating concept, recently conducted a series of exercises aimed at establishing integrated command and control.  At this year’s Red Flag exercise in Nevada, for example, the two services worked on better connecting the two services, said Capt. Phillip Dupree, Navy lead in the AirSea Battle office.


“You can reduce the number of sensors you have to have in a given region, or you can build trust in relying upon another sensor if your sensor has a problem – if the information going to your sensor is contested by jamming,” Dupree told Military​.com in an interview.

AirSea Battle, or ASB, is an operating concept designed to help U.S. forces gain access to contested areas and project power. Air Force and Navy leaders said the new concept is needed in order to deal with advanced worldwide threats. Advances in ballistic missiles, jamming equipment and anti-aircraft weaponry have forced service leaders to review strategies going forward.

In particular, potential adversaries are now armed with longer-range ballistic missiles, jamming equipment and advanced anti-aircraft weaponry, among other things.  This means access to strategically vital coastal areas, waterways and ports could well wind up being  heavily “contested” or challenged by adversaries in the event of conflict.

This amounts to a need for stealth capability, long-range strike and high-tech or resilient systems able to operate in a more challenging “jamming” or electromagnetic environment.

Anti-Access/Area-Denial, or A2/AD, is the other buzz word that has gained steam in recent years as military leaders try to sell Congress on their modernization programs. It’s hard to sell multi-billion dollar development programs for next generation bombers and submarines when reviewing the recent ten years of combat against basic military technologies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In terms of specific tactics, Dupree said AirSea Battle aims to disrupt enemy C4ISR, destroy A2/AD capabilities and defeat the effects of weapons launched against U.S. forces.

“We have to have options on each of these three lines of effort. It is about creating corridors and pockets when and where they are needed,” he explained.

Congressman Randy Forbes, R-Va., Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, is one of the key decision makers when it comes to future defense budgets and he’s a supporter of the AirSea Battle concept. He said the AirSea Battle office will need to prepare combatant commanders for A2/AD environments and help optimize joint doctrine.

Forbes, whose subcommittee oversees funding for many Navy and Air Force systems, emphasized the need to develop next-generation platforms and technologies even though the Defense Department must also balance a nearly trillion dollar cut to planned spending over the next decade.

In terms of specific tactics, Thomas and Dupree mentioned a 2011 demonstration at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake facility, Calif., wherein a Block IV Tomahawk missile was re-targeted in flight by an F-22 fighter jet.  Block IV Tomahawks, engineered with GPS and inertial guidance capability, are designed to be re-programmed in-flight.

“These low-signature platforms would be able to deliver an effect that shapes the A2/AD environment.  That buys you a pocket or a corridor for some higher signature force,” said Dupree.

Since its inception, Thomas said the AirSea Battle effort was not intended to exclude the other services, but many Army and Marine Corps officials have perceived it that way. AirSea Battle leaders said Marine Corps and Army officials have a role in the concept.

However, the Marine Corps and Army stood up their own version of AirSea Battle – the Office of Strategic Land Power –  in what was seen as a response. Thomas said the AirSea Battle office is working with the new strategic land power office.

One analyst, who was among the initial group of thinkers to envision and articulate AirSea Battle, drew from history to explain how wargaming and exercises can greatly help forces shape strategy and prepare for a range of contingencies.

“Our Navy in the 20s and 30s wargamed something called ‘Plan Orange,’ which was a contingency plan in the event of war with Japan. By doing this they began to refine carrier operations in terms of how the carrier would fit in with the fleet,” said Andrew Krepinevich, President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

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“He said the AirSea Battle office will need to prepare combatant commanders for A2/AD environments and help optimize joint doctrine.”

The fact that there is an “us vs them” with these two offices going on at the Pentagon is not a recipe for “optimizing” anything.

It’s too bad they don’t start adding some ships and planes to their “master plan”. Wouldn’t that be novel?

USN isn’t asking for it in this budget climate, but the surface Navy needs a new class of large fast cruisers to put high powered large aperture radar in the CSGs.

With radar, size matters, performance scaling with the cube of the effective aperture diameter. The Arleigh Burke DDGs are not large enough to carry radars with apertures exceeding 14 feet in effective diameter, while AMDR could scale beyond 36 feet. Some are pushing for the LPD-17s hull design to be redesigned into a new class of CGs, but those are far too slow, very much slower than a CVN, and would bog down the operational maneuver of a CSG, and would need near 4x the propulsive power and related fuel consumption to add 50% more speed.

A new large CGN could keep up with a CVN, could carry large radar and power it, could carry a large load of missiles in VLS/PVLS to deal with combined swarms of air, missile, and surface threats, and could have C2 capacity to serve as flagship of a CSG. And it would not add to the refueling logistics burdon.

AirSea Battle is a response to China’s A2/AD, a means of coping with threats PLA/PLAN are working hard at developing, including stealthier air threats, and faster moving anti-ship ballistic missile threats. Larger and more powerful radars are needed to provide time to react to counter these threats. A new CGN is needed to carry that radar.

The Navy wasn’t asking for enough money for ships even when nobody was minding the checkbook.

No one has yet to answer how we are gonna pay for all this.

The politicians don’t have the balls to roll back entitlement programs such as Social Security by 30% to fully fund AirSea Battle.

Hey, watch out now! I just turned 66.

I’ve got a great idea, let’s put the fleet of LCS out front and see how long they last in an air and sea battle ;-P

“In terms of specific tactics, Thomas and Dupree mentioned a 2011 demonstration at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake facility, Calif., wherein a Block IV Tomahawk missile was re-targeted in flight by an F-22 fighter jet.”

An Air Force which is no longer buying the F-22, and which will never be able to buy any more of them (the F-22 now being out of production) teams up with a Navy that is buying underarmed, fragile LCS “ships” which are not equipped to launch the Tomahawk of any block. Absolutely brilliant. Sheer genius. What could go wrong?

Quite. But the essence of this “new large CGN” concept is essentially the _Long Beach_ reinvented more than half a century later.

Look at the huge slab-sided deckhouse on that ship. Intended to mount the SCANFAR radar, a very early and clumsy precursor to what eventually evolved into Aegis.

Conceptualized when Dwight Eisenhower was President. Everything old is new again.

True. The need back then for a powerful radar was evident, and the need never left.

I wonder if the Long Beach could have mounted a modern SPY-1 if it had been kept around…

Maybe UCLASS or something like it will go to sea as a spotter, to find and direct TLAM missiles?

“Don’t take mine, take his”

The US needs to immediately address the ballistic missile threat with some offense not just defense. We need a new ‘arsenal’ ship concept that can carry dozens and dozens of ATK’s Intermediate Global Strike Missile (or some other missile).

We are ceding huge swaths of territory to the Chinese given their, now hundreds, of missiles that supoosedly have anti-ship capability.

The key strategy for A2D2 is political — the ability to shape regional country behaviors to enable US access to the region. Without “forward” bases within the inner island arc the US will be logistically stretch and any action will come at extreme cost. Invest in strong political relationship — Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore– they are now the frontline as was West Germany in the 1st Cold War. Military might — yes; but with astute political relationships.

A much larger radar adds a lot of weight high up on the ship. For seakeeping in higher sea states, stability is an important consideration, and otherwise similar a wider beam can provide more stability. A wider beam is also important in reducing the cost of including a nuclear power plant.

According to the US Naval Vessel Register… USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) has 66_ft beam. USS Long Beach (CGN-9) had 71.5_ft beam, not very much wider than DDG-51, and not able to carry radar that would be very much larger, so would not be enough of a game changer to justify the cost. The cruiser USS Alaska (CB-1), not listed on the US NVR, was a much larger warship, had 91_ft beam. All three of these ships exhibited similar draft, 30–32 feet.

Regardless size, Alaska and Long Beach are both obsolete designs. A new clean sheet design would be expensive to develop, and would be expensive to build in low rate production. It would be better to look for a current large fast ship design that could be a basis for a new class of large fast cruisers, two classes with enough in common to enjoy economy of scale. And if you are looking for large fast ships with nuclear propulsion, you don’t have to look very far.

The aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77), last of the Nimitz class, cost $6.2B roughly a decade ago, has a waterline beam of 134 feet. PCU Gerald R Ford (CVN 78),currently under construction, will be similar in size.

A2/AD is driving the change in doctrine. A CGN with a hull the size of CVN could carry very large radar, a large load of missiles in VLS/PVLS, the C2 of a flagship, and much else to counter the emerging A2/AD threats. That could be a game changer.

Two different classes of ships sharing very much in common below the waterline would increase production rate of major components and significantly decrease unit costs of follow on ships in both classes. I would argue for reusing the design of CVN-78 in designing a new class of CGN, sharing hull design, propulsion, etc. By comparison, a smaller ship of very different design could result in higher costs when both classes are considered.

why are you deleting my comments?

NNS would have to do it. They’re the only shipbuilders who can do carriers nowadays.

Funny how the next Battleship is derived from a carrier; when the first real carriers were derived from battleship/battlecruiser hulls. Full circle.

We can no longer rely on the DDG’s/CG’s to carry all the VLS of a naval force. If we anticipate being attacked from air and sea, most of those VLS loads will be defensive in nature. A CGN is such an inviting target it would warrant almost equal attention to a carrier (which could be a good thing).

Don’t give them ammo for more little tin cans.

If the F-22 can be modified to do it, additional aircraft could be modified to do it as well.

But they lack the stealth of the F-22 to do it from where it counts. The F-35 is nowhere near as stealthy, so it’s out. UCLASS maybe, but you can’t exactly do real-time targeting if under EMCON…

This concept has been around since WW2 Pacific.. The Navy, Marines, Army and Air Force all worked together in the Pacific to defeat the Japanese. Now only the tactics have changed but the concept remains the same. I see according to the article the fight between the services has not changed either since the early 40’s.
As far as the Cruiser goes it should be ended. Just make a radar that is more powerful on a smaller frame. The Japanese now can make a TV that sits in your hand. They can make cellphones and all kinds of gadgets. Surely they can make a radar smaller with enough power.
If not you got 7 Battleships that would be cheaper to bring back then to build a bunch of new ones.

Let the military generals prepare for it.We better get ready for the next government shutdown!!!

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