Navy Considers it’s Beyond-the-Horizon Future

Navy Considers it’s Beyond-the-Horizon Future

The Navy is in the early phases of considering new sensors, aircraft and weapons it could add to its beyond-the-horizon strike and cruise missile intercept system, service officials said.

The system, called Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA, uses a Standard Missile 6 and an E-2D Hawkeye aircraft as an airborne sensor to track and destroy approaching cruise missiles at much longer distances than existing technologies can.

NIFC-CA uses an airborne sensor and the SM-6 missile to enable ships to locate and destroy approaching threats from distances well beyond the existing radar horizon, Navy officials said.

Although still in the middle of a rigorous testing regiment in preparation for deployment in 2015, the NIFC-CA system is showing promise and leading Navy thinkers, developers and futurists to contemplate additional uses for the technology.

“Can we develop other sensors which we can incorporate into the architecture of the future? What are future platforms going to have to do with NIFC-CA? Is the Joint Strike Fighter going to have a role with NIFC-CA? Is there a UAV component that we could use in the future?” Capt. James Kilby, Deputy for Ballistic Missile Defense, AEGIS Combat Systems and Destroyers in the Surface Warfare Directorate, told Military​.com in an interview.

Working in tandem with airborne sensors, the SM-6 missile uses an active and semi-active seeker to locate and guide itself toward targets beyond the horizon, said Michael Campisi, senior director, SM-6, Raytheon.

“The SM-6 is a multi-mission missile. It uses active and semi-active modes that are part of the ability to intercept beyond the line of sight. The booster gives you the range and the active mode gives you the over-the-horizon ability,” Campisi said.

The Navy has more NIFC-CA tests planned in coming months.

“Every test is incrementally more difficult than the previous one where the target gets smaller, faster or farther out,” Kilby said.

NIFC-CA’s framework establishes a foundation upon which other technologies could be integrated, he added.

“When you think about NIFC-CA – what we’re talking about is integrated fires. That involves weapons and sensors. How can I leverage future weapons and sensors to make that system more robust? That is the exciting part about NIFC-CA,” Kilby said.

NIFC-CA could allow ships to be closer to the shore in some instances because the ship would have the technology to thwart or destroy land-launched anti-ship cruise missiles. At the same time, there may be instances where NIFC-CA would enable a ship to operate and accomplish its mission objectives at greater distances, Kilby added.

One analyst said NIFC-CA extends the Navy’s strategic range..

“NIFC-CA extends your range dramatically. You are beginning to see the stirrings of a Navy that is going back on the offensive. When the wall fell and we lost our near peer competitor at sea, we got very good at strike. We didn’t think as much as we did in the 80s about the use of the Navy offensively,” said Bryan McGrath, managing director at FerryBridge Group LLC, a defense consulting firm based in Easton, Md.

“The concept of integrated fire control is it is all about breaking what has been a slavish relationship between the sensor and the shooter; integrated fire control allows you to employ weapons to their max kinematic ranges,” he said.

Much of the discussion regarding the Pentagon’s Pacific rebalance hinges on forward presence and developing technologies able to overcome Anti-Access/Area-Denial threats such as long-range, guided anti-ship cruise missiles designed to prevent ships such as carrier groups from entering closer to the coastline.

The NIFCA-CA is slated to deploy with Navy forces in 2015 as part of the Teddy Roosevelt battle group, so this cruise missile defense technology will be protecting the fleet soon.

NIFC-CA is part of the Navy’s upgraded Aegis ballistic missile defense system called Baseline 9, which is being engineered into destroyers now under construction such as DDG 113 through DDG 118. Baseline 9 is already engineered onto a handful of platforms including the USS John Paul Jones, a destroyer– and two cruisers, the USS Chancellorsville and the USS Normandy.

Baseline 9 uses a common source code for a variety of applications so as to be able to tailor in functions and applications as needed, Kilby added.

In fact, Baseline 9 is able to integrate air defense technology with ballistic missile defense, or BMD, capability, he explained.

“Now I’ve got an integrated baseline that allows me to do three different things. I can be in ballistic missile defense only mode for my most challenging threats, I can be in IAMD (integrated air and missile defense) mode where I can do both ballistic missile defense and air defense, or I can be in air defense only mode for the most challenging air and surface cruise missiles,” Kilby explained.

Kilby also explained that the Aegis technology uses what’s called a ballistic missile signal processor which analyzes the spectrum by using both medium band and synthetic wideband returns. This allows for an increased ability to discriminate a target from a group of objects, he added.

The Navy is already working on the next Aegis baselines now being developed to succeed Baseline 9.  A new Baseline is slated for 2016 which will incorporate a new larger and more capable SM3 Block 2A missile and yet another Baseline is being developed for 2020 which will integrate a new, far more capable radar system called Air and Missile Defense Radar, or AMDR, Kilby said.

“Aegis Baselines are configurations of computer program which speak to all the weapons and sensors that they touch,” McGrath said.

Developing NIFC-CA is an integral part of the Navy’s broader post-Iraq and Afghanistan strategy which seeks to return the service to a more pronounced surface warfare emphasis and what’s called blue-water combat. This involves a re-balance to the Pacific as well a focus on anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare and integrated air and missile defense, among other things.

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Sounds cool. Now if only we can keep it out of the hands of the Threat and other competitors for a while maybe we might ahead for a while.

Navy needs an air and missile defense cruiser, a large fast warship able to carry a much larger aperture radar than a Tico platform or Arleigh Burke platform can carry, a larger load of missiles, lasers, etc., all integrated on the same warship. I am not criticizing the subject matter of the article. Better off board sensors, better networked systems, better integrated defense, are all highly advantageous. But the other guy is always looking to break your kill chain, and disrupting communications among separated systems is one way to do that. That is why it is also important to have a warship capable of independently providing air and missile defense for the surface group using systems that are organic to that warship. One does not replace the other.


“Although still in the middle of a rigorous testing regiment…”

This is just another system that is not ready yet. Let’s dump a couple of $B into it and see if it works.

It has wings. Therefore it must be taking away money from the Just So Failed. Kill any funding threats to the F-35.

No, a cruiser built on the San Antonio hall with a nuke plant over 150 megawatts each, gas turbines cannot provide the power output for the new electronics. Also the navy needs about 25 to 30 of them. 2 per carrier, 1 per amphib group each with about 400 vls missiles on multi-platforms. Also the larger platforms would allow more crew comfort and staff.

We won’t always have a E-2D available. But one day having a aerostat or long-endurance UAV use sensors to direct missiles beyond the horizon will increase the standoff between us and the next generation of unduly fast anti-ship missiles. And with height comes GMTI to pick out moving targets from ground clutter, so it’ll increase p(Kill) against skimmers.

No response to stealth missiles…should we hope our adversaries do not go in that direction? If an opponent uses a mix of stealthy and non-stealthy missiles to lull us into complacency (e.g, “we can spot all of their missiles!”) , it’ll give them a few hits against American ships until we wise up to it.

Well nice but Russia and China have a counter strategy they shoot hundreds of missiles at you and your sea sparrow and phalanx shoots 90 out of a hundred and the last ten still get you.

The biggest longest-ranged missiles are unlikely to be cheap enough to throw around. You’re correct in that until we design a ship with lots of VLS tubes to simply throw out enough anti-missile missiles that we could theoretically be behind when it comes to a nation-state’s worth of territory to produce and throw out IRBM’s.

Guess the solution will be to push aegis ashore from land facilities forward, and force the opponent to eliminate the missile defense umbrella before it can push beyond the island chains and prevent the Navy from pushing in.

Suffice to say a procurement of a new very large cruiser will be seen as competition for limited budget dollars for new CVN’s. It’s sad how we’ve chosen aircraft carriers and blindly put more aircraft carriers above everything else.

A large air and missile defense CG based on the LPD-17 platform would have speed adequate for use in the gator navy. It would also be well suited to use as a BMD picket ship. I suspect that the diesel electric plant may be adequate for those mission, would not need a nuclear power plant. Since propulsive power requirement rises in excess of cube proportion to speed, a small reduction from maximum speed frees up significant power. The speed profiles of those missions don’t impose sustained high power requirements.

It is the CSG that needs the CGN, as that CGN should have the speed and endurance of the CVN. The LPD-17 platform would need 4x the propulsive power to sprint with a CVN, and that would require a lot more than a nuclear power plant. They need one CGN for each CVN, no more, no less. For everything else the less expensive large CG would be adequate. Combat systems, radars, missiles, launchers, other weapons, etc. could be common among both classes, CG and CGN.

More shore duty billets for FC’s…

They won’t ask for a new big cruiser in this budget environment.

I think it unravels badly from there. More powerful radar with much larger aperture is needed to detect and defeat increasingly stealthy threats and/or hypersonic threats. Without the big cruiser and its large aperture AMDR, large load of missiles, lasers, etc., to protect the CSG, they risk being forced into operating the CSGs at greater distance from peer level adversary, and lack the aircraft (FB-23?) needed to do that. That reduces the future utility of the CVN against peer level adversary. Reduced utility leads to reduced demand and reduced numbers, slowing the pace of builds, increasing unit costs. Increasing unit costs in combination with reduced utility kills political support, and the CVN follows the path of the BB.

The CSGs need a new CGN.

‘It is the CSG that needs the CGN, as that CGN should have the speed and endurance of the CVN. ”

I still find it strange how /nothing else/ in the CSG has the speed and endurance of the CVN anymore, and we think this is okay. Not sure when a carrier would ever want to be alone, thus it would always be limited to the speed of its escorts.

Unless carriers can strike at the ranges of the missiles we expect to encounter (and/or the range of the electric surveillance systems) we will be in range of enemy weapons.

We’re building a lot of new DDGs, so my guess is they intend to simply throw enough DDG’s forward of each CV and amphib to detect things early. Or, in the absence of fancy cruisers with big radars, they will simply turn the CVN into a massive radar picket and give it the radar detection mission as well. In which case, the CVN becomes a more expensive target, and potentially self-illuminating. And with a defensive missile loadout that favors hitting cruise missiles at single or double-digit kilometer range (and no organic BMD), the CVN won’t have many opportunities to defend itself.

In powerpoint land the powerful radar on a CVN illuminates targets which are passed via magic datalink to the DDG’s which launch missiles cued by the larger CVN. Alternately, destroyers far enough forward will detect things before the CVN and engage independently and accordingly.

Tomorrow’s electronic battlefield will require unprecedented interaction between a host of weapons systems. The Threat is any nation or nations that would restrict the free flow of inter-global commerce, whether it be terrorists or our chief competition. Thanks to the first world’s economic policies of the last several decades, and the lax security in technological protections, we have given self-threatening capabilities to our competitors. Now the West is faced with its fruits–the need for increased anti-missile systems and satellite defense. Will each carrier group be a potential Pearl Harbor? Can a possible glitch in a complex sub-routine allow the potential for more redundancy? These are questions we must ask ourselves as the Threat cast more nets into our intelligence community.

Missile and anti-satellite threats are old ones.

No western stupidity required for that one. We’re at the point where from an industrial standpoint the ability to outproduce the enemy has shifted from the United States to the PRC. On the plus side, most of those factories are geared to civilian export goods, and much of it is just low-end stuff that is cheaper to make in the PRC than America. Most of it is structured around export, so it’s connected by rail to ports…presumably, much of it can be easily located and destroyed. And accordingly, it’s not always easy to shift civilian production to military goods. For that, the PRC needs an export market for weapons to “practice” mass production techniques and to iteratively improve their designs.

At last, a coherent naval tactical policy. Aviation assets locate the target, and long-range precision-guided weapons prosecute the target.

They will come up with a long range anti ship weapon and send in the drones armed to the teeth. What ever is left after that will receive a long range anti ship weapon hit from our surface ships. If there is anything left after that the Navy in the tradition of surface ware fare will move in and wipe out the remaining ships with a surface action supported by any remaining drones. The submarines would attack before and after the drone strike and then continue to strike if not sunk until enemy is gone. Also subs can be the forward observer as ell for the long range anti ship weapon strike.

Take a quick look at the Maersk B-class of fast cargo container ships, which in terms of size and performance compares very well to the USS Sacremento (AOE-1) class of fast combat support ships.

Each of those four AOEs used half of the boilers and propulsion systems from PCU Illinois (BB-65) and PCU Kentucky (BB-66), the two unfinished battleships in the USS Iowa (BB-61) class. ADM Arleigh Burke (CNO 1955–1961) had been a big proponent of building those. Sacremento was placed into commission in 1964.

The Maersk B-class use too much fuel to be competitive in moving shipping containers, but they point to what could be possible in performance from modern support ships in the CSGs.

“Each B class ship is 294 metres long, with a beam of 32 metres, a draft of 13 metres and a gross tonnage of 48,800GT … designed to have a service speed of 29 knots ahead (and 19 knots astern!), though the Boston, the first of the class, reached a remarkable 32 knots during trials” — excerpted from the article at the following link. http://​www​.buteman​.co​.uk/​n​e​w​s​/​l​o​c​a​l​-​h​e​a​d​l​i​n​e​s​/​but

The A-Bs and Ticos have adequate speed, but do use a lot of oil at ~30+ knots.

Each B class ship is 294 metres long, with a beam of 32 metres, a draft of 13 metres and a gross tonnage of 48,800GT; all are registered in London and sail under the British flag.

Our home for the afternoon is the raft’s ‘mother ship’, the Maersk Beaumont, which was launched in December 2007 and is the newest member of the B class — though she was also the first of the class to go into lay-up in the loch back in July, alongside the Sealand Performance.

On the bridge of the ‘Beaumont’, Maersk’s fleet superintendent Stewart Kerr explains that the B class was built in Germany for the specific purpose of taking cargo by high speed from China to the USA. Each was designed to have a service speed of 29 knots ahead (and 19 knots astern!), though the Boston, the first of the class, reached a remarkable 32 knots during trials.

But running ships at that kind of speed requires an awful lot of fuel, so when the recession began to bite in the autumn of 2007, Maersk’s search for economies quickly fell upon the B class. In fact, they have never operated on the route, or at the service speed, for which they were intended.

“The price of oil at one point rocketed to $700 per tonne,” Stewart continues, “and these ships will burn three hundred tonnes of fuel a day at full speed, which just wasn’t viable.

“So they went to different trades around the world — the Beaumont took refrigerated cargoes between south America and Europe — and were de-rated to run at slower speeds, which saves a hell of a lot on the environment, and saves Maersk a hell of a lot of money on fuel.”

Reducing the vessels’ service speed to 12 knots cuts fuel consumption to 50 tonnes a day. But the world’s economy failed to pick up, and with gross over-capacity among the world’s container ships, Maersk decided that putting the B class into lay-up was the most economic option.


That puts the insane cost of high speed and conventional fuel into perspective. Yikes.

Means we aren’t operating anywhere far away from a CVN, or naval patrol craft range, any time soon.

Probably too soon for UAVs to be kicked off of destroyers or fired from VLS tubes.


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