A US Navy carrier, the USS Roosevelt, undergoing "full-ship shock trials" using live explosives.

A US Navy carrier, the USS Roosevelt, undergoing “full-ship shock trials” using live explosives.

You’d expect the nation’s top weapons tester to be a stickler about testing. But there’s “rigorous testing” and then there’s “let’s shoot cruise missiles at you and see what happens.”

It’s not that the Navy is wimpy about testing. The service conducts “full-ship shock trials” like the USS Roosevelt test pictured above, where it sets off a huge explosion next to a ship with a test crew aboard, as in this video of the destroyer USS Winston Churchill:

The Pentagon’s famously tough Director of Operational Test and Evaluation wants to Navy to speed up such shock testing on its new aircraft carrier, the cutting-edge and high-cost USS Gerald Ford. (More on that below). But a shock trial tests the ship’s structural strength, not its ability to shoot down incoming anti-ship missiles moving at hundreds or even thousands of miles per hour.

Even DOT&E doesn’t want the Navy to shoot live missiles directly at ships with live people on them: They want the Navy to build a new “unmanned test ship” and fire the missiles at that. Before the Navy can really say its latest self-defense systems are ready for prime time, DOT&E argues in its latest annual report (click here for full coverage), the military needs to test them under the most realistic conditions: at sea, installed on a real ship, with real missiles inbound. You just have no real sailors onboard in case the defenses don’t quite work as planned.

At issue is the new version of the Navy’s workhorse destroyer, the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class, whose Aegis system is designed to detect and destroy incoming enemy aircraft and missiles before they can hit any part of the US fleet. According to DOT&E, the Navy’s current testing set-up can’t provide a real workout for the major upgrade intended for the new “Flight III” version of the Aegis destroyer, which will be the centerpiece of the fleet’s air and missile defenses for decades to come.

This has been an issue between DOT&E and the Navy for a while. Last year, DOT&E not only formally warned of “severe shortfalls” in the testing strategy but refused to approve two different Navy test plans.

“We cannot afford to not test future DDG-51 combat systems and radars under stressing conditions,” said a senior defense official (emphasis mine). “An unmanned Self-Defense Test Ship (SDTS) is therefore essential for an adequate operational test.  Previous testing using the existing SDTS equipped with the combat systems used on aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships has revealed that without the use of an SDTS, critical problems in defending against certain proliferating and dangerous threats would not have been found.”

The Navy does already have a “Self-Defense Test Ship” (SDTS), the former destroyer USS Foster — what one article called “the world’s biggest remote control ship” — on which it installs various self-defense equipment on and then shoots at to see if they work. (A human crew takes the Foster out to the designated test area, but they get off and run it by remote control before the shooting starts). Just last year, for example, the Foster was fitted with the latest version of the Navy’s Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), a last-line-of-defense weapon to shoot down enemy missiles on the final approach, and conducted a successful test.

DOT&E’s problem is that the Foster isn’t set up to carry the much larger and more complex array of self-defense systems that will go on the Flight III Arleigh Burkes. And you can’t test them one component at a time because the hard part is getting them all to work together. The Flight III design replaces the heart of the Aegis defense system, the SPY-1 radar that first entered service in 1981, with an all-new Raytheon Air & Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) using the latest “active phased array” technology to greatly enhance performance — in theory.

The actual performance is what DOT&E wants to test, which by their analysis requires at least installing a whole AMDR on the Foster and more likely building an entirely new test ship, “an unmanned SDTS equipped with an AMDR and the DDG 51 Flight III Combat System.”

“The cost of building and operating an Aegis SDTS is small when compared to the total cost of the AMDR development/ procurement and the eventual cost of the 22 (plus) DDG 51 Flight III ships that are planned for acquisition ($55+ Billion),” says this week’s DOT&E report. “Even smaller is the cost of the SDTS compared to the cost of the ships that the DDG 51 Flight III Destroyer is expected to protect (~$450 Billion in new ship construction over the next 30 years).”

“Moreover,” DOT&E goes on, “the SDTS is not a one-time investment for only the AMDR/DDG 51 Flight III [testing],” because it could be used for future systems as well.

But it’s hard to convince the Navy to buy a whole AMDR and Aegis set-up for a test ship that will never go to war, especially hard in these difficult budget times.

The new carrier USS Ford is afloat but still unfinished.

The new carrier USS Ford is afloat but still unfinished.

The service and DOT&E have also deadlocked for years over conducting a “full ship shock trial” (FSST) on the Navy’s new flagship aircraft carrier, the CVN-78 Gerald Ford (pictured above). With the notable exception of the small Littoral Combat Ship — which DOT&E has a whole separate list of misgivings about — Navy warships are designed to take a hit and keep fighting, and any significant hit or even near-miss will send shock waves throughout the ship.

The Navy is shock-testing key components of the Ford individually. But DOT&E wants to test the whole ship by sailing it out to sea and setting off huge explosions next to it in the water, as in the picture and video at the top of this article.

This kind of test, of course, takes time and money — particularly time. The Navy wants to conduct the full-ship shock trial eventually, but not on the Ford itself. Instead, they want to hold off for “five to seven” years and conduct the trials on the second ship in the Ford class, the Kennedy (CVN-79). If they test the Ford itself, it will take another “four to six” months to enter service at a time when the carrier fleet is smaller than it has been since the early days of World War II.

“The Navy is committed to delivering a survivable ship to the fleet, and to executing both an adequate shock program and live fire test program for the Ford class,” Christopher Johnson, spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), wrote in an email exchange with Breaking Defense. “We believe this is best accomplished by recognizing the low technical risk associated with conducting full ship shock trials on CVN 79 while making CVN 78 operationally available at the soonest possible time.”

The Navy has some grounds for saying this approach is relatively “low risk” because it’s done the same thing with other classes of warship, the first one in the water as fast as possible and only conducting full-ship shock trials on the second ship or even the third. DOT&E says that’s not good enough, especially with a ship as loaded with new, complex, unproven equipment as the Ford. But with a budget grown tight and a carrier fleet spread thin, the Navy and the Pentagon’s top leadership are unlikely to change course.

Comments

  • Gary Church

    Lets launch 250 mach 3 anti-ship missiles (which would cost about as much ONE F-35 fighter) and see what happens. And let’s make sure they are not 1980 vintage short range “test” models launched one at a time in a rigged test to sell interceptor missiles to the Navy. Make sure each is executing VIOLENT terminal attack maneuvers at 30 or 40 G’s and deploying their own countermeasures while using multiple sensors in random frequency and spectrum hopping mode. Make sure there are a variety of spoofing suites available so a mix of different jamming/penetration/evasion programs are used by the missiles. Launch them in tight waves and program them to arrive in the target area all at once or whatever is determined will be the most difficult problem for defensive systems.
    That thousand foot barn on a flat ocean and her escorts will easily be able to defeat them. Well, maybe the first half a dozen. Maybe. The other two hundred and forty four will be a problem.
    You may as well say you have a machine gun that can shoot down ALL the machine gun bullets another machine gun is shooting at you. But they would not say that because it is too close to the truth.

    • Geoff

      Shhhh! Reality is overrated…

    • jgelt

      I said something akin to this on the last carrier article. I was told how the defense systems could handle an attack with hundreds of targets. Reminds me of the movie Aliens:

      Ripley: How many drops is this for you, Lieutenant?
      Gorman: Thirty eight… simulated.

      • Gary Church

        There is something about that movie that is just so awesome. I have dialogue memorized also. I must have watched it a hundred times before I finally burned out on it. My favorite line is, “THEY CAN BILL ME!”

  • Chernenko

    I fail to see the need for a new test ship. If the Aegis system was tested on a seaplane tender, why can’t a Spurance class destroyer be fitted with the new radar system. Seems like a waste of money. Today I was on the Yokosuka waterfront and I saw the Uss Lassen covered in rust, while all JMSDF hulls were gleaming. Let’s square away are house first before we get new toys.

    • Gary Church

      Not enough profit in knocking the rust off C. Almost any activity we engage in anymore has to put dollars in someones pocket without doing a thing for it. Gaming the system is now the U.S. work ethic; not honest effort for a days wages. We pay illegal aliens low wages to do the manual labor and our corporations off-shored most of our blue collar industry decades ago for higher profits. We make sure those illegals sweat while paying lawyers small fortunes to get their companies out of paying taxes.
      But the right wing propaganda machine blames it ALL on unions. Right.

      That rant aside there is probably a different reason; I am sure our sailors are not afraid of work and rust does not indicate the ship cannot fight. I was stuck in Japan several days and I will never forget how clean it was; no trash blowing in the streets and not even gum on the sidewalks. It makes our cities look third world. No wonder they keep their ships immaculate.

      • paulrevere01

        speaking of damnable outsourcing and treason by corpses, this little nine minute piece made me wonder just why we, the US, are spending such gigantic piles of lucre on a military at all, just to have our corpses so blindly follow the money right to China…this will stun ya, I’m sure.

        http://www.youtube.com/embed/Lvl5Gan69Wo

        • Gary Church

          It is why I get so upset with conservatives; ultra-liberal nonsense is a minor issue compared to bought-dog politicians letting the corporations destroy the middle class. Conservatives have been manipulated and brain-washed into thinking these psychopathic entities we have created called Corporations are not a problem while gay marriage is the apocalypse. It is ass backwards and the uber-rich love the unwashed masses being so stupid. Corpse is not a good slang term- they are living beings according to the law. And now that they won a battle they have been fighting for decades and can anonymously donate vast sums to buy more politicians we are in big trouble. But “Obama is a Muslim” so that takes care of anyone worrying about becoming an actual slave. We are so stupid we deserve what is coming. Natural selection. China is only doing what is good for China and if it becomes the Chinese century and the end of the American Empire then we only have ourselves to blame.

          I am not that progressive; I took a test on a website and am just a little left of center. But I am left and while I get angry at the left for their moronic causes I positively rage at the right for what they are doing.
          Divide et impera is killing us- right and left.

          • paulrevere01

            You’re a studied man Gary…I share most of the sense that you present…that ‘corpse’ quip does, imho, flow right on into the idea of the zombie like behavior they exhibit…mindless, self-centered care not for life and quest for profit only actiions.

            Per ‘bought-dog’ politicians, I find the terms ‘battle’ and ‘fighting for’ rather vanilla when in the face of it we can trace the deep manipulations of the masses clear back to Ur which to my mind requires a much more desolate sling of words…
            Consider that Bernays with Morgan, Warburg, Loeb, Rockefeller et al monies, took the arts of crowd programming to the heights we are now experiencing…far too great a mass of US citizens have zero abilities to think critically and are frightenly easy to distract…truly an exemplary example of sheepuhlz…the pattern is repetitious to the point of Wizards and Oz’s and curtains being de rigueur and the implications of same proving thermonuclear in potential for humanity, and even the planet…

            For a self professed Christian nation to NOT have reacted to the marching band sale and tout of ‘GREED IS GOOD’ back in the 80′s, was a hueueueueuege skull n crossbones replacement of Old Glory and the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus.

            Guess I’ve wandered off the site topics…massively…sorry folks, I’ll try and contain my heart burn.

          • Gary Church

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_of_the_Self

            I watched this documentary on Bernays in a community college psych class. I don’t know if it is on youtube.This film and the characteristics of a psychopath were the high points and the rest was mostly “psychobabble.” This film was a real eye opener and changed my world view. You are right; thanks for wandering and yes, I feel your pain.

          • paulrevere01

            Tks…I’ve looked into that entire enslaught a bit and have always felt it to be similar to nanotech, genetic engineering, AI etc in that they are very smart sandbox kindygardeners taking apart a one of a kind 150k signed addition Swiss Watch…very difficult to view.

          • paulrevere01

            here’s the Youtube link in case you want a refresher…looks like it is in ten minute increments.

            http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLECD73AEED6720B65

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    In time ( Money Crunch on this planet called Earth) it is going to come down to foot soldiers, guns with a few bullets. We lose that don’t we against China or Russia, India too I guess? We better find a way to make Peace or be a subjugated partner of the Enemy.

    • Rage

      The nukes will be used before it comes down to strictly troops on the ground that are outnumbered and outgunned. We are the only Country that has used them, and if backed into a corner like the one you describe, we would do it again. The concept of MAD doesn’t really apply anymore-we have interceptors that can effectively destroy re-entry vehicles and/or their associated warheads. To my knowledge, the Countries you mentioned do not. Will some nukes hit us? Yes….but far fewer than the number that will land on our adversaries.

      • Gary Church

        MAD is still in effect. You are….not being realistic if you think our few missile interceptors will save our nation from near complete destruction. Those MARV’s are impossible to defeat; simply decoys will far outnumber anything we can throw up there. We will completely destroy anyone that dares to launch on us but we will not come of it much better. It is the reason there has been no war between any nuclear power and probably never will be. Proxy wars are a different matter as are “incidents” that might involve ships being sunk or firefights on disputed ground.

      • ycplum

        The problem with our ABM system is that it has not been realistically tested against a reentry warhead. It probably is effective for short and medium range missile like the modified Scuds, but warheads like the one the major powers uses are very different. Our ABM system would not be very effective against SLBMs on a depressed trajectory due to the short time to target. While the warheads would not be accurate enough to knock out hardened targets, it is more than enough for a city.
        Even if we have a high percentage of kills, most major powers have enough to warheads that if only 5% gets through, it would destroy this country as a social and political entity. The disruption to the nation caused by a disaster to a single city (e.g. Katrina and 9-11) was severe. Imagine a dozen major cities hit simultaneously.
        The concept of MAD still applies to a modified degree. It deters an all out war or one that creates an existential threat (the actual existence of the country itself). However, it leaves cold wars and proxy fights at the conventional level.

  • Geoff

    History repeats itself.

    WW2 we went to war with the Wonder Weapon of its time…the Mk 14 submarine torpedo, touted by the US Navy as the most advanced in the world, with its super duper Tippy Top Secret magnetic detonator. There was only one problem. It didn’t work. Not only did it not work, it’d never been realistically tested. At all.

    For the first couple years of war, the USN brass insisted it worked. We lost many subs. We lost thousands of men. We lost most of the Pacific. Japanese shipping delivered their cargoes, Japanese warships sailed around with our torpedoes literally bouncing off their sides. For years, the USN response was to fire sub skippers who told them their torpedoes didn’t work.

    Do we REALLY want to go to war AGAIN with ships and hardware that haven’t been tested properly? Which costs more? Defeat, or victory? Building another $20 billion dollar carrier, only to find out it has major design flaws? Finding out in combat, the new Aegis AMDR system has flaws…after we build $500,000,000,000 worth of new ships? After we get our butts kicked all the way back across the Pacific, AGAIN?

    This article is the latest in a series of recent articles doing a hatchet job on DOT&E. DOT&E job is to determine shortfalls and failures in defense programs, and they have a pretty good track record. All these dysfunctional defense programs we keep hearing about…the LCS, P-8, F-35, etc.? Thank DOT&E for doing their job and ignore articles from the defense industry telling us why DOT&E should NOT be doing their jobs.

    • Gary Church

      Yes, I also read somewhere we did research on using oxygen in our steam torpedoes instead of air but did not pursue it. The Japanese read about this and did their own research and created their long lance oxygen torpedo. More sailors died off Guadalcanal then marines and soldiers on the island itself because of that weapon. The naval wonder weapon of the war was the one nobody knows about- the counter mine. It counted the number of ships (or sweeps) passing over it and then after a random number armed itself. No way to sweep for it reliably. Dropped by B-29′s at night it almost completely shut down sea traffic going in or out. And anything off the coast had to avoid our submarines. The Japanese were totally screwed- and it was not aircraft carriers or fire bombing their cities that did it- they could not grow enough food to feed themselves. Even if they accepted starvation for a portion of their population we were ready for that to with the 1945 version of agent orange.

      I have a hard time believing any surface combatant is worth spending money on. Submarines are the only survivable asset and with sea glider autonomous UUW’s that may not last long enough to justify new construction. We are in the age of missiles and robots and just do not know it yet IMO.

      • Geoff

        Actually, the Long Lance sank more Japanese ships than US ships, for exactly the reasons we didn’t pursue it. Dang thing were dangerous, and get a fire on-board, they cooked off…which, with a half ton warhead, wasn’t a joke. With a few exceptions, the Long Lance wasn’t responsible for USN ship losses off Guadalcanal…early war IJN excellence at night fighting, and poor USN tactics was. Even the long range bit the IJN in the butt, most notably when a Long Lance sank the worlds first dedicated amphibious assault ship at extreme range…problem was, it was IJN.

        Speaking of mine warfare, that’s something that DOT&E has highlighted as a point failure in the LCS program. The mine hunting systems proposed to be used in the LCS MCM mission module didn’t work. Ditto for the ASW packages. Ditto for the ASuW packages. Ditto for the LCS itself not being shock tested, in spite of supposedly being built to Lv. 1+ specs…something no one even knows how to quantify. Shouldn’t we, before building 52 of them, at half a billion dollars per pop?

        New tech…again history repeats itself. It seems every new generation new tech, new techniques are going to revolutionize warfare. They rarely do, but things always change, and the wheel always turns. Look at Big Guns. With the new ammo coming out, with greatly extended ranges, want to bet there won’t be a resurgence of Big Guns? Armor, even? They’re talking 60 miles for 76mm, for a couple thousand bucks a shot vs $500k-1 million for a missile to get the same result. 155mm, 127mm with up to 100 mile ranges. Anti-cruise missile rounds, that can maneuver. ZUMWALT with a pair of 155mm. Railguns in the pipeline. Lasers. What changes are they going to bring? What’s going to happen when the only missile with a chance of getting through is by swamping defences with hugely expensive hypervelocity missiles that cost more than the target, and can be destroyed by a laser burst costing pennies?

        • Gary Church

          Hmmm. More Japanese ships sank by the long lance than American? A pressurized bottle of oxygen is just not that dangerous- even on a submarine. It is a hazard yes, but you are wildly exaggerating. I am going to throw the B.S. flag on that one. As for missiles being more expensive than the target I am throwing the flag on that one also. That is a whopper.
          I suspect I said something you did not like and you are stretching the blanket so you can push your own agenda. Resurgence of Big Guns? A laser burst costing pennies?

          You seem knowledgeable but you have been drinking too much defense business Kool-aid.

          • Gary Church

            Show me your list Geoff (this is from wiki on the type 93 torpedo and ships sunk by what the Chief Naval Historian of the U.S. navy called “by far the most advanced naval torpedo in the world at the time.[4])

            Dutch cruiser HNLMS Java 27 February 1942 by IJN cruisers Haguro and Nachi

            Dutch cruiser HNLMS DeRuyter 27 February 1942 by Haguro and Nachi

            Dutch destroyer HNLMS Kortenaer 27 February 1942 by IJN cruiser Haguro

            Battle of the Java Sea: actions at Sunda Strait entailing the hunting down of Allied stragglers by the IJN:

            British cruiser HMS Exeter (68) 1 March 1942 by IJN destroyer Ikazuchi

            Australian cruiser HMAS Perth (D29) 1 March 1942 by IJN cruisers Mogami and Mikuma

            American cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) 1 March 1942 by IJN cruisers Mogami and Mikuma

            Battle of Savo Island:

            9 August 1942 by IJN cruisers Chōkai, Aoba, Kako, Kinugasa, and Furutaka:

            U.S. cruisers USS Quincy (CA-39), USS Vincennes (CA-44), and USS Astoria (CA-34) 9 August 1942

            Battles of Solomons/Tassafaronga/Guadacanal/Kolombangara/Ormac Bay/Santa Cruz Islands/Vella Lavella:

            Dutch destroyer HNLMS Piet Hein 19 February 1942 by IJN Asashio

            Destroyer USS Blue (DD-387) 22 August 1942 by IJN destroyer Kawakaze

            Aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) 26 Oct 1942 by IJN destroyers Akigumo and Makigumo

            Cruiser USS Atlanta (CL-51) 13 November 1942 by IJN destroyer Akatsuki (also sunk later during the battle)

            Destroyer USS Barton (DD-599) 13 November 1942 by IJN destroyers

            Destroyer USS Laffey (DD-459) 13 November 1942 by IJN destroyers

            Destroyer USS Walke (DD-416) 14 November 1942 by IJN destroyers, one of which, Ayanami was crippled and scuttled that night

            Destroyer USS Benham (DD-397) 14 November 1942 by IJN destroyers; later scuttled by USS Gwin (DD-433)

            Cruiser USS Northampton (CA-26) 30 November 1942 by IJN destroyer Oyashio

            Destroyer USS Strong (DD-467) 5 July 1943 by IJN destroyer

            Cruiser USS Helena (CL-50) 5 July 1943 by IJN destroyers Suzukaze and Tanikaze

            Destroyer USS Gwin (DD-433) 12 July 1943 by IJN destroyer

            Destroyer USS Chevalier (DD-451) 6 October 1943 by IJN destroyer Yugumo (also sunk later during the battle)

            Destroyer USS Cooper (DD-695) 3 December 1944 probably by IJN destroyer Take[8]

            Dutch cruiser HNLMS Java 27 February 1942 by IJN cruisers Haguro and Nachi

            Dutch cruiser HNLMS DeRuyter 27 February 1942 by Haguro and Nachi

            Dutch destroyer HNLMS Kortenaer 27 February 1942 by IJN cruiser Haguro

            Battle of the Java Sea: actions at Sunda Strait entailing the hunting down of Allied stragglers by the IJN:

            British cruiser HMS Exeter (68) 1 March 1942 by IJN destroyer Ikazuchi

            Australian cruiser HMAS Perth (D29) 1 March 1942 by IJN cruisers Mogami and Mikuma

            American cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) 1 March 1942 by IJN cruisers Mogami and Mikuma

            Battle of Savo Island:

            9 August 1942 by IJN cruisers Chōkai, Aoba, Kako, Kinugasa, and Furutaka:

            U.S. cruisers USS Quincy (CA-39), USS Vincennes (CA-44), and USS Astoria (CA-34) 9 August 1942

            Battles of Solomons/Tassafaronga/Guadacanal/Kolombangara/Ormac Bay/Santa Cruz Islands/Vella Lavella:

            Dutch destroyer HNLMS Piet Hein 19 February 1942 by IJN Asashio

            Destroyer USS Blue (DD-387) 22 August 1942 by IJN destroyer Kawakaze

            Aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) 26 Oct 1942 by IJN destroyers Akigumo and Makigumo

            Cruiser USS Atlanta (CL-51) 13 November 1942 by IJN destroyer Akatsuki (also sunk later during the battle)

            Destroyer USS Barton (DD-599) 13 November 1942 by IJN destroyers

            Destroyer USS Laffey (DD-459) 13 November 1942 by IJN destroyers

            Destroyer USS Walke (DD-416) 14 November 1942 by IJN destroyers, one of which, Ayanami was crippled and scuttled that night

            Destroyer USS Benham (DD-397) 14 November 1942 by IJN destroyers; later scuttled by USS Gwin (DD-433)

            Cruiser USS Northampton (CA-26) 30 November 1942 by IJN destroyer Oyashio

            Destroyer USS Strong (DD-467) 5 July 1943 by IJN destroyer

            Cruiser USS Helena (CL-50) 5 July 1943 by IJN destroyers Suzukaze and Tanikaze

            Destroyer USS Gwin (DD-433) 12 July 1943 by IJN destroyer

            Destroyer USS Chevalier (DD-451) 6 October 1943 by IJN destroyer Yugumo (also sunk later during the battle)

            Destroyer USS Cooper (DD-695) 3 December 1944 probably by IJN destroyer Take[8]

          • paulrevere01

            Gulp…

          • Gary Church

            I gulp when I think of a future similar list of ships sunk by anti-ship missiles. The new missiles are unstoppable; the technology has advanced far beyond any defense. That people say otherwise is sad but understandable considering the money involved.

          • Geoff

            Oh dear…we hear that every time something “new” comes along. History really does repeat itself. What next, “the bomber will always get through”? Bayonet charges perhaps?

          • Gary Church

            You are babbling now. Give it a rest.

          • Borealis

            So anti-ship missiles, equipped with technology that has gone fundamentally unchanged for decades, is an unstoppable threat…yet railguns and lasers, which are demonstrating potential in their infancy…will not work? Huh?

            Same craziness as thinking a hypersonic anything can execute “violent terminal maneuvers” while maintaining both speed and structural integrity.

          • Gary Church

            Yes, that’s right. It’s not crazy but I am not going to let you make me dig up a bunch of references and post them so you can just deny it with no proof like you have already shown to be your favorite ploy. You cannot prove your infant weapons are going to work and I can prove that missile technology has changed radically and violent terminal maneuvers at supersonic speeds are a characteristic of the new weapons. So….I am done with you Mr. Kool-Aid. Not playing with you anymore.

          • jgelt

            As long as we have desert enemies, there are lot of potential applications for lethal and non-lethal laser weapons. The first problem with lasers is that the energy attenuates rapidly in humid conditions. Laser range gets heavily compromised by fog, mist, rain, snow, smoke and dust. Unless some truly physics bending tech comes along they are not an all weather defense system.

            The second problem is that if a lasers target is highly polished, it will take much longer for the laser to be to incapacitate or destroy it. If lasers come into general use expect really shiney missles.

            Rail guns are exciting due to their range and all weather capability. The size of the projectile will make it difficult for countermeasures to be effective. The best fire rates are currently at 6-12 rounds per second. The other issue seems real but is harder to pin down is barrel wear. Most of the articles and papers don’t even address this issue. Global Security mentions the number 4. The most recent test seems to be happy with firing 8 shots.

            In the long run the future of a surface fleet depends on overwhelming technological advantage. That assumptions is dubious. .

          • Geoff

            The Type 93 really was a beast…and ideal for the tactics the IJN developed it for. But the war they planned to fight, wasn’t the war they got.

          • Geoff

            Yes, blah blah blah, another instant expert created by Wikki…in total, less than 2 dozen Allied ships are known to have been hit by the Type 93. Of those, I think around 12-14 were hit solely by a Type 93. The rest, sank from damage inflicted by a combination of battle damage by torps, gunfire, and air dropped ordnance.

            How many IJN warships were sunk by on-board explosions induced by combat damage from various sources? Many? Just how many isn’t really known for certain. But it was a lot more than 12-14. Or 24. IJN lost numerous ships to battle damage a USN ship would have survived…the Type 93 was a direct cause in numerous known instances.

          • Gary Church

            Okay. You have your opinion and I have mine Mr. Kool-Aid.

          • jgelt
          • Gary Church

            Thanks J- more info than the wiki. I had the story wrong about them reading about us doing research; your link clears that up. If Mr. Kool-Aid had supplied some references on 93 oxygen hazards instead of just making stuff up I would have been nicer to him.

          • Geoff

            What was that pressurized bottle of highly flammable oxy attached to? Besides a crapload of also highly flammable kerosene fuel? A honking huge half-ton warhead composed of fairly unstable explosives perhaps? As far as fuel/oxidizer fires on “even a submarine”…you might want to read reports of the sinking of the Kursk.

            IJN damage control sucked…if the torps (and reloads) didn’t get jettisoned over the side fast enough, bad things happened. How many IJN warships took damage? Ummm…pretty much all of them? Several good studies on the LL out, based on current analysis of IJN after-action reports that are just now getting translated. Oddly, there’s tons of material available that hasn’t ever seen the light of day…all of it in WW2 era Japanese naval speak, that only a few experts can truly translate reliably.

            Reading is fundamental. The phrase was “swamping defences with hugely expensive hypervelocity missiles that cost more than the target”. “Swamping” would tend to indicate large numbers of missiles, each extremely expensive. Not “one”.

            “I suspect I said something you did not like and you are stretching the blanket so you can push your own agenda.”

            Seek help. Pananoia is a bad thing.

            “Resurgence of Big Guns?”

            Current events, guy. New developments are stretching the range of guns out incredibly. 155/127mm out to 60-100 miles. 76mm Volcano rounds for the 76/62 systems pushing the range out to 40 miles with both guided/unguided rounds, to include anti-cruise missile rounds. 80 rounds of guided 76mm rounds from a standard mount in less than one minute. How is that going to impact the utility of ASuW missile systems going forward, when gun systems outrange quite a few of the standard missile systems currently fielded, and the sensor systems supporting them?

            “A laser burst costing pennies?”

            Again, current events. Railguns and lasers use electricity!!! It’s cheap, it’s plentiful! That day isn’t here…yet. But it’s closer. There are multiple navies indicating they’ll have a functional point defense laser weapon on-line in the next 5-10 years. Kool-Aid, it’s not. A defence industry money pit for tax dollars, yes.

          • Gary Church

            Kool-Aid. And you are a Kool-Aid peddler Geoff. It is always the next 5-10 years for these companies in the right congressional districts that get the defense dollars. These death rays and electric guns are…….a scam. They will not work as well as hyped and in any case all the tricks to incorporate into missiles to counter them have already been worked out and are ready to go. But our adversaries would much rather let us waste all our time and money on them and the defense business is more than willing to play along. That’s how you make money peddling Kool-Aid.

          • Geoff

            Oh, for the love of God, LOL…that’s so lame any reply is a waste of time.

          • Gary Church

            The reflective and refractory coatings and spinning the missile to dissipate directed energy effects are well understood. The evasion programs for missiles to defeat projectiles are also in existence and proven to work. Mocking me is not going to change that. The advantage has shifted overwhelmingly to offensive missiles and the laws of physics mean that shift is probably going to stay with us and change warfare just like gunpowder did.

          • Gary Church

            Oxygen is not flammable. It promotes combustion of fuel- just like air but more so. You are wildly exaggerating. The Kursk used hydrogen peroxide torpedoes if I am not mistaken. Not oxygen. Don’t get yourself in any deeper than you are.

          • Geoff

            Guy…it promotes “combustion of fuel” so well, that with an ignition source, the pure oxygen used in the Type 93 even steel will act as a fuel. The Kursk used hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizer…the resulting fire set off the kerosene fuel, which set off the warhead, which set off multiple warheads…just as the Type 93 did, oh so many times.

          • Gary Church

            A warship carries weapons and fuel that will burn and explode. If it did not it would not be a warship. The oxygen was an extra hazard the Japanese accepted in exchange for a longer range weapon. You are characterizing this advantage as a disadvantage. It was not or they would not have accepted the hazard and used them to sink so many ships. That they did sink so many ships despite you saying it was just a “few exceptions” I call a wild exaggeration. If you want to disagree and claim that it sank more Japanese ships than ours that is fine but at least own up to what you wrote- it is there for everyone to read you know.

          • Geoff

            I think the major issue…is that you, can only cut/paste from a Wikki article, and “argue” from a basis of what you read (and failed to understand) on the internet roughly 30 seconds ago. At the end of the day, I’m arguing with an ill informed idiot, who is parroting Wikki.

            G’day.

          • Gary Church

            Maybe. I can be a jerk- that’s for sure. Sorry we did not hit it off Mr. Kool-Aid. But it’s like they say,
            “Friends come and go, enemies accumulate.”

            And making enemies on the internet is soooo painless. If we were in a bar you might have broke my nose.

        • PolicyWonk

          You are correct regarding LCS – none on them have been shock tested, and none are scheduled as of yet. LCS is built to the Navy’s level-1 standard, where common fleet oilers are constructed to the level-2 standard.

          There are many problems with LCS, and all of the reports from external agencies (including the Navy’s Inspector General) doubt the LCS can perform the missions it is intended for. DOTE also notes is lack of basic armament, and points out that LCS is weakly armed even with the Surface Warfare package installed – let alone protected – for a ship of its size.

          The unfavorable reports on LCS have been coming for years, and the LCS cheerleaders say they are fixing the problems that seem to still persist year after year after year.

          At least the Ford and Burke class ships are being built to the full level-3 standard. But both classes of LCS should be shock tested ASAP before the taxpayers waste any more money building weak sea-frames.

  • SMSgt Mac

    Wow, 39 comments in the thread and the first one drove it off the rails.

    RE: Do we REALLY want to go to war AGAIN with ships and hardware that haven’t been tested properly? Which costs more? Defeat, or victory? Building another $20 billion dollar carrier, only to find out it has major design flaws?
    That’s the rub, isn’t it? The Navy believes in its test paradigm and the DOT&E aka ‘Office of Political Test Oversight’ doesn’t. I’m ‘shocked’, ‘shocked’ I say! –NOT
    What the DOT&E types ‘believe’ (but cannot know beforehand) is that shooting live weapons simulating threat weapons (no ‘free’ supply thereof BTW) into a ‘test’ ship provide data that will help some other ship with it’s survivability via clues to lowering it’s vulnerability. A tenuous relationship at best. The Navy, knowing it cannot afford to shoot at every class of ship design does the nest best thing to evaluate vulnerability. But vulnerability is only the second (literally) half the survivability story. Susceptibility is the first half, which the Navy (and all services actually) believes it can lower via better sensors, defensive and offense countermeasures, and operational techniques. The questions are reduced to two: 1. “Which approach will increase the survivability more?” and 2. Which organization has the experience and knowledge to make the best determination.
    I sense the real problem is that DOT&E has run out of air and land system programs to shoot at and their phony-baloney jobs are in jeopardy.

    • Gary Church

      I don’t think ships going to war is very realistic anymore Mac. They are like all those horse cavalry squadrons in World War One that just sat there. They would send infantry to get mowed down but not the cavalry (probably because that is where all the rich kids were).

      All I can say is the advantage has overwhelmingly shifted to offensive missiles. The new anti-ship cruise missiles are unstoppable. We are now in the age of robots and missiles but refuse to adapt; mostly it is about the money invested in legacy systems. Greed is driving denial. I understand why people go ape-shit when I post this but……that’s the way I see it.

    • Geoff

      Read the actual article. At issue, is that the “DOT&E types” wants to test the new Aegis system capabilities. In other words, they want to test the “sensors, defensive and offense countermeasures, and operational techniques” under realistic conditions.

      So it seems the “DOT&E types” agree with you 100%.

      Note that the new Aegis system is the axle around which our entire national defense plans (more or less) revolve around, not only for the Navy, but for national BMD. I’d have to think rigorous testing of its capabilities (testing completed by someone other than the people selling it to us, overseen by someone whose career (and post-retirement job as “VP of Something”) is dependent the results) would be extremely useful before we “bet the farm” on it. If their systems work the way they say they will, why would they have a disagreement with testing them? Should we test the systems, before building a bunch new Aegis cruisers and aircraft carriers that are reliant on those systems? Or just hope for the best? Wouldn’t defense contractors, and the Navy brass responsible for program oversight NOT wanting you to test their system be a major red flag?

      Sure it’s expensive…but either way, testing the systems is going to either (a) show they don’t work as advertised, or (b) show they work, while providing a wealth of hard data to improve those systems, that otherwise wouldn’t be available short of actual war.

      “Which organization has the experience and knowledge to make the best determination.”

      Given the our Admirals collective track record to date, current and historically? The Mark 14 torpedo? The LCS program? The F-35? The hundreds of billions (trillions?) spent on hardware that never sees the light of day? Let me think about that…

      “Phony-baloney jobs?”

      Personally, I have a lot of respect for DOT&E, though they do tend to get carried away at times. Their reports usually make pretty good reading, don’t pull many punches, don’t tend to go along with the usual “oh well, that’s just the way the defense industry works” mantra, and point out the actual issues, failures, and shortfalls in the systems and hardware they’re evaluating. Which infuriates quite a few politicians peddling pork, and the defense contractors inflating the capabilities (and the price tag) of the garbage they’re selling us.

      How many crap systems has DOT&E shot down in flames over the years, that the defense contractors and the military oversight assured us everything was just peachy keen A-OK fine with? Right up until the program was cancelled…

      • SMSgt Mac

        First, Brave Sir Anonymous–Yes, phony-baloney jobs. As in NNVA (No Net Value Added.) See ‘Real’s comment. I see the voice of experience in spades there.

        Second. Part of the performance they speak of is how vulnerable are the systems being shot at. What doesn’t work if system x is degraded by being hit here, how much, how long, etc..

        Third, RE:” How many crap systems has DOT&E shot down in flames over the years, that the defense contractors and the military oversight assured us everything was just peachy keen A-OK fine with?”
        Feel free to name them. Criteria: DOT&E shot down in flames AND the programs managing said everything was A-OK.

  • Really

    DOT&E likes to impose scenarios that are at the extreme of a systems requirements, even if they fall within those system requirements and call them “warfighter effects”. Most folks refer to this as gold-plating. DOT&E would like to impose every permutation and computation of scenario, condition and threat for test regardless of the probability of occurrence. What makes this worse is they have no fiduciary responsibilities and no accountability to the Services or to the DoD 5000.02. In fact they own a section of the instruction, but they themselves do not follow it. They are supposed to be an oversight body that ensures adequate operational testing is conducted, but in this time of budget reductions (20% at headquarters of direct impact), sequestration, etc., they have begun to try and actually run the Services T&E events.

    The problem is live testing, while critical is only affordable within the budget and schedule provided. The Services in the 21st century use M&S that is anchored to live demonstrations to VV&A the M&S, so that it is benchmarked to perform and behave as the actual system.

    DOT&E would rather continue to perform live testing in non-operational configurations with non-representative scenarios for the purposes of justifying their current staff levels without recognizing the cost and schedule impacts. In the noted DDG-51 example, their estimate is woefully inadequate and is only to secure a SDTS, it does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars for modification, system procurement and O&M costs.

    In the real world where cost and schedule can mean the difference between fielding a needed system or not, or having a Nunn McCurdy Breach. This is why the Services, not just the Navy, are driven to be more innovative and efficient in testing vice unnecessarily depleting inventories and spending billions of taxpayer dollars
    to verify and validate system performance.

    DOT&E’s draconian methods are obsolete and not in alignment with
    the DoD’s drive to pursue accurate, anchored M&S based on limited live demonstrations, and evolve from the exponentially expensive and unnecessary live demonstrations that only exercise the system under test against a specific threat, in a specific configuration, in specific conditions. Live demonstration is important to VV&A the M&S, but it must be balanced with budgetary and schedule realities. DOT&E cannot seem to understand that M&S is an extension of live testing and is the only way to get at significant statistical probabilities of system performance.

    For the writer of this article, you stepped in it again… Understand radars don’t shoot anything and lastly you have proved that the name of this online magazine is truly about Breaking Defense, at least in terms of affordability.