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The Air Force Is Exploring A Deadly New Role For The B-1B Lancer


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Yeah, I remember reading about that in Flypast. Armed with SRAM's. They were turned over to TAC in the latter half of the 1980's IIRC. Probably warranted forward basing to be viable I think, thats what SAC did with most of the other medium bombers.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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Yes, but you can't take back islands with ships that are at the bottom of an ocean. Essentially, you are stuck with the problem that someone describing the problem of protecting the US DoD from hacking once used in a TV documentary. In order to protect the Pentagon from burglary, it is necessary to secure every single door and window in the building against burglars. In order to burgle the Pentagon, the burglar only has to find one door or window that is unsecure. It seems pretty unlikely that any AD system is going to work 100% reliably against modern AShMs and ballistic missiles and the experience navies have had with AShMs so far does not bode well for the future. If one gets through, it's pretty much curtains for the platform it hits - at ;east for the duration of that conflict. For the price of one modern DDG, you can buy about modern 1200 anti ship missiles and they are only one of the threats modern surface units have to contend with. The math isn't going to get any better for the surface units in the near future.

This is why you have more than one carrier.

 

;)

 

 

A bunch of anti-ship missiles mounted on trucks can't cross a channel and go secure a bridgehead. To go on the offensive you have to take risks and you have to expose your ships to enemy defenses.

 

That's why you bring more than one ship and have capacity to suffer casualties. If you can't then you've already lost.

 

 

To be honest, no one is looking at losing the well over four thousand people that go with an aircraft carrier to a single missile conducting a lame WW2 reenactment these days. We are incredibly more risk averse than we were as societies even a short while ago. You can have more than one carrier, but, at $13 billion a piece (not including air wing) for the same price, the enemy can have about 10,000 anti ship missiles. Anti ship missiles are getting ever more technologically advanced and can come from beneath the surface, from trucks, from inside caves, containers hidden among others in container parks, farmyards, on civilian vessels, or be launched from much cheaper aircraft than the B-1B. Even the US does not randomly invade places, therefore the USN will have to enter areas where the enemy can predict them to be to have the desired effects. Then there is the potential casualty exchange ratio - how many missile trucks or 40' ISO containers would you have to blow up to equal the value of losing a CVN? The USN of course knows all this and does not intend to conduct opposed landings against peer opponents (hence all of the investment in LCAC, Osprey, ridiculous hydrofoil IFVs and implausible over the horizon strategies). Okinawa 2 is not going to happen.

 

As a student of military history, you could do worse than familiarise yourself with the performance of AShMs vs warships since 1967. It doesn't make for very reassuring reading.

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Yeah, I remember reading about that in Flypast. Armed with SRAM's. They were turned over to TAC in the latter half of the 1980's IIRC. Probably warranted forward basing to be viable I think, thats what SAC did with most of the other medium bombers.

After they were withdrawn by the USAF, Australia evidently bought 15 of them to supplement their own F-111 fleet.

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Im still astonished they took the B58 our of service when they did. I love what SAC did, but you cant help but think whilst they were emeshed in the Vietnam war, they allowed their technical thinking to lapse, certainly in their primary mission.

 

As for project pluto, bad ideas clearly come in circles....

 

https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1205006/russias-nuclear-powered-cruise-missile/

 

The future of SAC's bomber fleet was going to be the B-70 Valkyrie. The cost of the program and the perceived AD capabilities of the Soviets caused McNamara to kill it. They stared again with the more modest B-1A and, less publicly, the B-2.

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To be honest, no one is looking at losing the well over four thousand people that go with an aircraft carrier to a single missile conducting a lame WW2 reenactment these days. We are incredibly more risk averse than we were as societies even a short while ago. You can have more than one carrier, but, at $13 billion a piece (not including air wing) for the same price, the enemy can have about 10,000 anti ship missiles. Anti ship missiles are getting ever more technologically advanced and can come from beneath the surface, from trucks, from inside caves, containers hidden among others in container parks, farmyards, on civilian vessels, or be launched from much cheaper aircraft than the B-1B. Even the US does not randomly invade places, therefore the USN will have to enter areas where the enemy can predict them to be to have the desired effects. Then there is the potential casualty exchange ratio - how many missile trucks or 40' ISO containers would you have to blow up to equal the value of losing a CVN? The USN of course knows all this and does not intend to conduct opposed landings against peer opponents (hence all of the investment in LCAC, Osprey, ridiculous hydrofoil IFVs and implausible over the horizon strategies). Okinawa 2 is not going to happen.

Well, if ASMs are the end all be all, why doesn't the UK have a brace of those and dispense with the Royal Navy? What's that? You still need to project power? Well, then how are you going to do that with some Container Mounted ASMs?

 

For an ASM to hit it has to have targeting data. To get that you need sensors. To use those you usually need to emit radiation, some can be passive. Weapons and weapon systems are a game of rock-scissors-paper set of measure/countermeasure. Remember when everyone was pointing to Iraq having heavily defended airspace? Aircraft were useless right?

 

I think you're over simplifying things in the same vein of "The Japanese Bombed Pearl Harbor, what use are ships against aircraft?".

Edited by rmgill
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Perhaps it's an oversimplification, but the trend is very much away from the survivability of the surface ship toward the ascendency of the missile. If the USN did not believe that themselves, they would not be looking so hard at long range AShMs and dual role SAMs on ships, arming USAF B-1s with them and having the Army get into multidomian warfare with their own anti ship missiles - even the SS(G)Ns are regaining AShMs (allegedly). Some of the reasons for the change are technological, some of it is economics and some of it is geography. There have been a few reversals, but surface ships are certainly appearing more vulnerable and getting less relevant at influencing the land domain due to their vulnerability and the crazy economics of putting aircraft and weapons on aircraft carriers and other surface warships rather than on land based aircraft or platforms. Personally, I think your question as to why we purchased two carriers is highly relevant - I'd like to know why we purchased them too.

 

If you want to take WW2 as an example, we both really started out with a lot of expensive eggs in a small number of baskets with aircraft carriers. The most effective ones you had survived Pearl Harbour through chance. Later, the outcome of the battles of Midway and Coral sea were decided largely by luck. It could have gone the other way and WW2 in the Pacific could have taken significantly (perhaps years) longer. In 1941 there was no way of attacking major warships effectively at a distance economically, but this would change with the advent of the Kamikaze. Remember that you and your allies could massively outbuild the Japanese navy, strangle their maritime commerce and cut them off from fuel. Now you are facing an enemy that can produce thousands of what are effectively non biological kamikazes and which can massively outmatch the USN in any shipbuilding contest. They are not remotely as dependent on maritime imports and they could quite easily pull off a Pearl Harbor style attack too.

 

I would like to say that carriers are useful in other scenarios, and they certainly are, particularly in peacetime, but it's really hard to come up with ones that justify the massive expense. The excellent Gator carriers you have are more than sufficient and vastly more economical for most of those missions and losing one would be whole lot less painful too.

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You need 2 things to kill a carrier. One is good targeting data. Secondly, you need saturation. Now whilst I can believe the Chinese have the latter, and are working comprehensively on the former, the Russian's still seem to have largely the same assets the Soviets did, and in far fewer numbers.

 

Is the Carrier doomed? Of course it is. No weapon system under the sun is preeminent forever. But I can remember people saying manned combat aircraft were doomed in the early 1960s, then in the 1970s it was the main battle tanks, in the 1980s it was the carrier. And we are still waiting for all these things to happen. One day they will, but up till the day it happens these things will still be useful.

 

I remember saying about 20 years ago on this grate site that I thought carriers for us were a mistake. But we got them, and they are bloody good ones and we may as well use them. And we really ought to reflect on why the Russians, whom continually deprecate carriers as a mistake, have one of their own they refuse to bin despite it being junk, and the Chinese have 2. Is very funny. :)

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Perhaps it's an oversimplification, but the trend is very much away from the survivability of the surface ship toward the ascendency of the missile. If the USN did not believe that themselves, they would not be looking so hard at long range AShMs and dual role SAMs on ships, arming USAF B-1s with them and having the Army get into multidomian warfare with their own anti ship missiles

When was RGM/UGM-109B developed? When was the dual mode function of Standard Missile developed? 1967?

 

This is not new. It's just realignment of priorities.

 

- even the SS(G)Ns are regaining AShMs (allegedly). Some of the reasons for the change are technological, some of it is economics and some of it is geography. There have been a few reversals, but surface ships are certainly appearing more vulnerable and getting less relevant at influencing the land domain due to their vulnerability and the crazy economics of putting aircraft and weapons on aircraft carriers and other surface warships rather than on land based aircraft or platforms. Personally, I think your question as to why we purchased two carriers is highly relevant - I'd like to know why we purchased them too.

 

Surface ships have been eggshells with hammers for decades. You either get more eggs or you make them more defended. We go with both. Everyone else has 1-2 eggs or no eggs.

 

 

If you want to take WW2 as an example, we both really started out with a lot of expensive eggs in a small number of baskets with aircraft carriers. The most effective ones you had survived Pearl Harbour through chance. Later, the outcome of the battles of Midway and Coral sea were decided largely by luck. It could have gone the other way and WW2 in the Pacific could have taken significantly (perhaps years) longer. In 1941 there was no way of attacking major warships effectively at a distance economically, but this would change with the advent of the Kamikaze. Remember that you and your allies could massively outbuild the Japanese navy, strangle their maritime commerce and cut them off from fuel. Now you are facing an enemy that can produce thousands of what are effectively non biological kamikazes and which can massively outmatch the USN in any shipbuilding contest. They are not remotely as dependent on maritime imports and they could quite easily pull off a Pearl Harbor style attack too.

How many carriers were lost to submarine attack?

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So, with that super weapon, why do we still have carriers?

Oh, right. We built weapons and sensors to counter the submarines.

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We could do more to that end. We have decimated our ASW capability and are struggling to get it back, and the Americans have allowed their carrier based ASW to wither away to little more than flying tankers.

 

That said, how hard would it be to build an ASW Osprey and cover all the bases? Pretty easy. Although the USN would be in a considerably better place if it hadnt allowed ALL its Frigates to wither away in favour of LCS.

 

Ultimately you come down to the central problem, how easy is it to find a Carrier Battle Group at sea. And it isnt. Its an emerging problem with China, but can someone demonstrate to me that the Russians are capable of keeping pace with a CVBG at sea and getting into attack positions? Because ive read alarmist articles about how they can get off the US East Coast or prowl around Faslane naval base, but they dont seem to do a lot more than that.

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IIRC, the largest carrier lost to submarine attack was the not-yet-completed IJN Shinano (sunk by USS Archerfish).

Thats right, she was a sister to the Musashi and Yamato. Though that one was a bit of a trick, because they hadnt yet fitted the watertight doors that might have saved her.

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You need 2 things to kill a carrier. One is good targeting data. Secondly, you need saturation. Now whilst I can believe the Chinese have the latter, and are working comprehensively on the former, the Russian's still seem to have largely the same assets the Soviets did, and in far fewer numbers.

 

 

 

 

To hide, a carrier must stay far from enemy shores. To matter, it must approach them, operate its carrier wing, and solve most of the targeting problem for the enemy.

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You need 2 things to kill a carrier. One is good targeting data. Secondly, you need saturation. Now whilst I can believe the Chinese have the latter, and are working comprehensively on the former, the Russian's still seem to have largely the same assets the Soviets did, and in far fewer numbers.

 

 

 

 

To hide, a carrier must stay far from enemy shores. To matter, it must approach them, operate its carrier wing, and solve most of the targeting problem for the enemy.

 

 

You can easily spot a carrier group from a satellite if the enemy has access to such. And yes, when a carrier group takes action they certainly cannot hide.

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You need 2 things to kill a carrier. One is good targeting data. Secondly, you need saturation. Now whilst I can believe the Chinese have the latter, and are working comprehensively on the former, the Russian's still seem to have largely the same assets the Soviets did, and in far fewer numbers.

 

 

 

 

To hide, a carrier must stay far from enemy shores. To matter, it must approach them, operate its carrier wing, and solve most of the targeting problem for the enemy.

 

 

You can easily spot a carrier group from a satellite if the enemy has access to such. And yes, when a carrier group takes action they certainly cannot hide.

 

 

Not sure about 'easily' or that satellites will be around long after a war starts. Still, there will come a day that when the balloon goes up, the enemy's surface fleet is hunted down and wiped out by AI Status 6 and such type weapons, wherever in the world it attempts to hide. Even in WW2 it was hard to hide the presence of carriers in a region because of the impact it had on radio traffic. But approaching an enemy shoreline when the enemy is known to have missiles that cannot be shot down? Not an option. Carrier power projection is done against pier rivals.

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You need 2 things to kill a carrier. One is good targeting data. Secondly, you need saturation. Now whilst I can believe the Chinese have the latter, and are working comprehensively on the former, the Russian's still seem to have largely the same assets the Soviets did, and in far fewer numbers.

 

 

 

 

To hide, a carrier must stay far from enemy shores. To matter, it must approach them, operate its carrier wing, and solve most of the targeting problem for the enemy.

 

 

You can easily spot a carrier group from a satellite if the enemy has access to such. And yes, when a carrier group takes action they certainly cannot hide.

 

 

 

If you have access to such, and have command capabilities to process that information and relay it to strike groups capable of utilizing it in a timely manner. Its even more important for submarines, that will be reluctant to run at flank speed all the time for self evident reasons. Im not saying the Russians cannot do this anymore. Im suggesting they have yet to demonstrate they can still do it. And at the very least if they intend to, they really ought to have a bash at practicing it. But they dont.

 

Last I checked, the US have something like 9 CVBG's. The French have one. We will probably have at least one, possibly two. To combat that, the Russians have 67 Backfire Bombers and 6 Oscar boats, between two oceans. Then you compare it to the average air group on a Western aircraft carrier has something like 24-36 fighter aircraft, and maybe 8-9 ASW Helo's. The Russian fleet is growing, but I view it more as a concern vs merchant traffic. Taking on NATO CVBG's at sea is, without massive reinvestment, a non starter.

 

 

A Carrier doesnt need to approach an enemy's shores to attack. Thats what tankers are for. The British, clearly, will have an issue with this, though its by no means clear we cant do what we did back between the 1950's and the late 1970s, utilize buddy packs. An expensive way to use an F35, but what the hell, it would work.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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You can easily spot a carrier group from a satellite if the enemy has access to such. And yes, when a carrier group takes action they certainly cannot hide.

It is easy to spot a carrier from an optical satellite, sure. But tracking it in real time with EO is rather difficult to impossible. SAR satellites certainly can do that, provided they aren't being jammed - it seems likely that in a power contest between a ship board jammer and solar powered satellite several hundred miles up that the ship wins. The jamming would be subject to triangulation of course, but then again the jammer likely isn't the primary target. Also SM-3 Block II is pretty blatantly an ASAT capable system, so satellite survival might be in doubt.

 

That said I think the USN would have a hell of time operating surface ships inside the first island chain. However I think same-same for the PLAN, particularly if there was a CV parked just outside the first island chain.

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The fundamental problem is that anti-ship missiles cost little (let's say one million as a representative value) relative to the cost of their targets, and about as much as the missiles tasked to intercept them.

A missile system that defeats soft kill (by fusing active radar and imaging infrared or LADAR, for example) at that price could be used to deplete the defending task force's SAM ready munition stocks even if it's 100% unable to overcome the missile defence. That way a USD 1.6 bn destroyer that expends USD 100 million worth of SAMs would still eventually be wrecked with a munition expense of USD 110 million.

So even if you cannot defeat an operational missile defence you can still overcome the defences of a naval task force by missile attrition IF

  1. you have the launch platforms (cheap ways are dual use transport aircraft or launch from containers on container ships or on land) and
  2. can bring them into action to launch enough missiles.

Both seems very much possible for powers such as Russia or the PRC.

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The cost of interception is an issue. However the cost of an intercepted aircraft clearly has to be factored in, as well as the costs of any ISR assets lost as a part of the raid. I don't buy your transport aircraft idea; it would be non trivial to launch SSMs of sufficient range to make that viable. Minimally no one has bought into that idea yet.

 

As I said, the PLAN can likely track and engage a CV in the SCS, but when two B-1s can carry nearly 50 weapons, they face the same problem. A squadron of F-18s could carry the same amount and could easily range anywhere in the SCS from outside the 1st chain.

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The issue is not just cost of interception. The issue is also that interception is not possible against the most advanced systems now entering service.

So it is claimed.

 

 

Show me where the US Navy claimed it can shoot down a mach 10 hypersonic missile?

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