Launch Sequence

Launch Sequence

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Shipboard Lasers Are Becoming Reality"

Norman Friedman writes in USNI Proceedings World Naval Developments: Shipboard Lasers Are Becoming Reality | U.S. Naval Institute
Defense contractor Lockheed-Martin received a Navy contract this year to deliver a high-energy shipboard laser system with two separate but linked capabilities by 2020.
Lockheed Martin image
The “high energy laser and integrated optical-dazzler with surveillance” (HELIOS) system will combine the ability to attack and destroy unmanned aircraft and small boats with an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability linked to a long-range, high-resolution camera. The camera system includes a laser with the ability to damage—“dazzle”—sensors on unmanned aircraft.

The Navy and other services also hope that lasers will provide a capability to respond to high-performance targets, particularly missiles. An antimissile laser system would not need to distinguish between decoys and actual missiles and instead could employ its nearly unlimited capacity to attempt to destroy all of them without needing to husband scarce defensive missiles.

The promise of electric weapons—including not only lasers but also particle beams—largely motivated the Navy’s move toward all-electric ship propulsion with the Zumwalt - (DDG-1000) class destroyers. The hope was that in combining propulsion with auxiliary power plants, ships would gain electric power capacity sufficient for such weapons.

With both the Russian and Chinese governments developing hypersonic antiship cruise missiles, the need for new antiaircraft weapons has become more urgent. A defensive missile ought to be at least as fast as its target, so that it can maneuver into position to intercept. (Faster is better.) Navy Standard Missile air defense interceptors have speeds ranging from Mach 2.5 up to about Mach 4, depending on the specific variant. (Antiballistic missile interceptors are much faster.) “Hypersonic” missiles by definition travel no slower than Mach 5, with China’s DF-17 having a claimed speed of Mach 10. At such rates of travel, the time available for an engagement would be extremely short. A defender responding to a Mach-10 missile launched at a range of 1,000 miles would have eight minutes to acquire, classify, engage, and destroy the threat.
The "kamikaze threat" has been around for over 70 years, hypersonic missiles are just a much faster variant. As I have said before, no matter how fast the missile, the speed of light is faster.

Lockheed press release on this here:
The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a $150 million contract, with options worth up to $942.8 million, for the development, manufacture and delivery of two high power laser weapon systems, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and counter-Unmanned Aerial System (counter-UAS) capabilities, by fiscal year 2020. With the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance (HELIOS) system, Lockheed Martin will help the Navy take a major step forward in its goal to field laser weapon systems aboard surface ships.

"The HELIOS program is the first of its kind, and brings together laser weapon, long-range ISR and counter-UAS capabilities, dramatically increasing the situational awareness and layered defense options available to the U.S. Navy," said Michele Evans, vice president and general manager of Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors. . .
Lockheed Martin image
HELIOS combines three key capabilities, brought together for the first time in one weapon system:

- A high-energy laser system: The high-energy fiber laser will be designed to counter unmanned aerial systems and small boats. The energy and thermal management system will leverage Lockheed Martin experience on Department of Defense programs, and the cooling system will be designed for maximum adaptability onboard ships. In addition, Lockheed Martin will bring decades of shipboard integration experience, reducing risk and increasing reliability.
- A long-range ISR capability: HELIOS sensors will be part of an integrated weapon system, designed to provide decision-makers with maximum access to information. HELIOS data will be available on the Lockheed Martin-led Aegis Combat System.
- A counter-UAS dazzler capability: The HELIOS dazzler will be designed to obscure adversarial UAS-based ISR capabilities.
More here:
“Our beam control technology enables precision equivalent to shooting a beach ball off the top of the Empire State Building from the San Francisco Bay Bridge.” Paul Shattuck, Director of Directed Energy systems
I sure hope so.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Nigeria: How Not to Fight Local Pirates and Sea Kidnappers

When local armed criminals take advantage of rules prohibiting their targets from also being armed, you get reports like this Shipping lines at crossroads over private armed guards
As the world’s navies could not control vast area in the high seas to secure all ships
sailing to various ports, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in 2011 approved an interim guidance to shipowners, ship operators and shipmasters to use privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships transiting the high risk piracy areas in the Gulf of Guinea and other zones in the Gulf of Aden.
The development made ship owners to pay as much as $60,000 to armed security guards to secure and protect vessels and crew.

For instance in Nigeria, shipping lines claimed that they spent over $200 million annually to protect cargoes and their crew by placing armed guards on board merchant vessels because of the menace of armed robbery in the Niger- Delta area.

However, the Federal Government said last week that such practice would no longer be business as usual for liners sailing on Nigerian waters.

Nigerian coasts have already been labeled as the hotbed of piracy and sea robbery.

The Government said that it was illegal and against Nigerian constitution for private armed guards to operate onboard vessels.

Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, in Lagos, said that there were reasons to be worried about armed guards.

He noted that the private armed guards would not perform their anti-piracy duties in a way that does not escalate violence, involve unlawful use of force or cause international incidents.
Good golly. Why not sent out engraved invitations to the bad guys?

Oh, yes, the Nigerian government plans to offer up some sort of "investment" in security boats and the like to protect those they are looking at removing their protection:
The Managing Director of the authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, said at a stakeholders’ meeting in Apapa, Lagos that the management was considering a number of strategies to check the attacks.

The managing director noted such strategies when reinforced, would bring to book those behind the attacks on vessels berthing at the Lagos Port Complex.

Usman noted that more patrol boats would be acquired to patrol waterfronts.
Good luck with that.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Have Gun WIll Travel "Bad Bert" (1960)

Probably not this Bert.

On Midrats 20 May 2018 - Episode 437: Fighting the Great War at Sea, with Dr. Norman Friedman

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 20 May 2018 for Midrats Episode 437: Fighting the Great War at Sea, with Dr. Norman Friedman
As we approach the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World
War, it is good to reflect back on the impact of WWI on the growth of our modern navy, and the echoes it has to the present day.

For the full hour our guest to discuss this and related issues will be Dr. Norman Friedman. As a starting point of our discussion will be some of the perspective brought out in his 2014 book from Naval Institute Press, Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology.

As described in the review at Amazon, “While the overriding image of the First World War is of the bloody stalemate on the Western Front, the overall shape of the war arose out of its maritime character. It was essentially a struggle about access to worldwide resources, most clearly seen in Germany's desperate attempts to counter the American industrial threat, which ultimately drew the United States into the war.”

Dr. Friedman has had a long career in weapon and system analysis for
the U.S. Navy, DOD, and industry. He has authored numerous histories of naval weapons and platforms with a concentration on the connection between policy, strategy, and technology. With over 40 published books, he also has lectured extensively and served as an adviser at the highest levels of government and think tanks.

His Fighting the Great War at Sea won the Lyman prize awarded by the North American Society of Oceanic Historians. He recently published a history of fleet air defense, Fighters Over The Fleet, and is about to publish a history of the British battle fleet during the Victorian era.

He received a Ph.D. in solid-state theoretical physics from Columbia University.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Better Late . . .

The Freedom variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) conducted a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia May 11.

The Milwaukee fired four longbow hellfire missiles that successfully struck fast inshore attack craft targets.

During the evolution, the ship's crew executed a scenario simulating a complex warfighting environment, utilized radar and other systems to track small surface targets, simulated engagements and then fired missiles against the surface targets.

"The crew of the USS Milwaukee executed superbly and the test team ran the event seamlessly, both were critical in making this event successful," said Capt. Ted Zobel, LCS Mission Modules program manager.

This marks the completion of the first phase of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) Developmental Testing (DT) for the LCS Mission Modules (MM) program. This was the first integrated firing of the SSMM from an LCS. Additionally, this was the second at-sea launch of SSMM missiles from an LCS. SSMM leverages the U.S. Army's Longbow Hellfire Missile in a vertical launch capability to counter small boat threats. Initial operational capability (IOC) and fielding of the SSMM is expected in 2019.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rest in Peace, Tom Wolfe

The world is a little colder as Tom Wolfe has died.

I'm pretty sure I read him first in my teen-age "car phase" somewhere around 1965, when The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, his first collection of essays came out in book form. I think that some of his style might have rubbed off on writers at Car and Driver during those heady days. On me, too. Just as some aspiring writers copied Hemingway's style, I strove to emulate Wolfe. Most of my high school English teachers seemed to have missed the level of my success in accomplishing my goal. On the other hand, my mother was a professional writer whose short stories had sold in various major magazines of the day, and she both read and enjoyed Wolfe and, I came to understand, she didn't find my adoptions of his style to be too . . . outre'.

When studying sociology, I found his Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, to pretty much cover the area of what we now call "political correctness" as well as make "peer pressure,"  "in crowds," and similar ideas come to life. In short, I still laugh at those people he skewered (and at those who have followed them in kind). As written about in Commentary magazine by  Joseph Epstein in 1971 here:
For the essence of Radical Chic is precisely that it is devoid of content. At the moment in America it runs much lower down the social scale than the Leonard Bernsteins of Park Avenue. At least in part, it is behind such phenomena as the radical professors (those guerrillas with tenure, in Irving Howe’s phrase), closet revolutionists working at high salaries for large corporations, and upper-middle-class students in search of a political high. What the Bernsteins’ evening accomplished, with the indispensable aid of Tom Wolfe, was, by exaggerating an already bizarre phenomenon, to show it up for the foolish, misguided, and ultimately self-destructive tendency it really is.

I was fortunate that in my senior year in college, Mr. Wolfe came to my English class and spoke with us about writing and life. I have never forgotten his polite kindness to us.

Rest in peace.