Keeping The "Gunfire" In Naval Gunfire Support
AUTHOR LCdr. Mark C. Kelsey, USN
SUBJECT AREA - Operations
Evolving concepts of the amphibious assault will exploit
capabilities to land forces in relatively unopposed areas from over-
the-horizon (0TH) wherever and whenever possible. However
circumstances may still require assaults against defended beaches and
landing zones. In a worst-case combat environment, the seaward
approaches to the objective will be defended by a combination of
surface-to-surface missiles, coastal defense guns, and mines.
With budget pressures expected to reduce the aircraft carrier
force level to 12 carriers -- and possibly as few as 10 -- in FY-95
and with dramatic reductions in forward-deployed forces, the Naval
Surface Fire Support (NSFS) platforms may be the only supporting arm
available to provide the responsive, close and continuous all-weather
fire support during the early phases of the amphibious assault.
Unfortunately, the current NSFS inventory cannot satisfy this
requirement. First, the range of the current 5-inch/54 and 5-inch/38
guns is too short to isolate the beachhead from coastal defense
weapons. Second, the accuracy of the 5-inch gun is insufficient
against mobile armored forces and hardened point targets. Finally,
the lethality of the 5-inch gun is inadequate against these same
Increases in the present level of NSFS, now at its lowest since
the late l94Os, are necessary. The technology is available for large
improvements in the very near future. Just as the "amtrac" provided a
technological answer to a crucial tactical requirement that led to a
strategic victory, so to can the adoption of the imaginative,
practical solutions provided herein, make up for the shortfall in
But if we are not prepared to pay for fire support on a scale
which is adequate to underwrite success in opposed landings, then we.
should accept squarely that, whatever capability we now possess, it
will no longer be one of power projection ashore.
KEEPING THE "GUNFIRE" IN NAVAL GUNFIRE SUPPORT
Thesis Statement: The currect inventory of Naval Surface Fire Support
(NSFS) platforms is inadequate to support Marine Corps requirements
due to primary dependence on 5-inch guns.
I. U.S. Navy's Mission
A. Power Projection
1. Amphibious assault
2. Naval Bombardment
B. Fire Support
l. Naval Guns
II. Contribution of Naval Guns
A. World War II
1. European Theater
2. Island Campaign of the Pacific Theater
B. Korean War
C. Vietnam War
A. Growing Land-Sea Interface
B. Amphibious assaults
l. Unopposed Landings
2. Defended Beaches and Landing Zones
C. Soviet-style Coastal Defense Principles
D. Weapons of War
1. Common Weapons and Weapons Systems
IV. NSFS Capabilities
A. Nature of War
B. Power Projection
2. Naval Guns
A. Enhance Amphibious Forcible Entry Capability
B. Develop Long-Range Surface Fire Support Capability
l. Near-Term (High Pay-off Improvements to Existing Systems)
3. Long-Term (Evolutionary Replacement of Existing Systems)
Title 10, U.S. Code, defines the U.S. Navy's mission as " . . . to
be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained
combat operations in support of U.S. national interests." (24 :913)
The Navy's functions are to conduct sea control and power projection
operations. Power projection operations are those aspects of naval
operations which attack the enemy's homeland, bases, or defensive
positions. They include amphibious assault and naval bombardment of
enemy targets ashore in support of land campaigns. Although Mahan,
the preeminent naval historian, generally disregarded the utility of
naval artillery and of sea-borne infantry assaults against targets
ashore, power projection from the sea is a mission of growing
significance. (2: 83) Naval commanders need to pay more careful
attention to the interaction of sea forces with the events on the
ground. One good reason for this: there will be more interaction in
Complete understanding of the amphibious operation must include
recognition of its chief limitation -- the vulnerability of the
landing force during the early hours of the assault. Strength ashore
must be built-up from zero combat power ashore to a coordinated,
balanced force capable of accomplishing the assigned mission.. The
build-up must be quick and uninterrupted and must include forces
strong enough to overcome the enemy. In an amphibious operation, the
total combat power available to the commander is the sum of maneuver
and fire support. All amphibious operations rely upon fire support
from the sea. It is the only surface support available during the
initial stages of the landing. The effective use of fire support
available from the various supporting arms is often a deciding factor
in the success of the Amphibious Task Force (ATF) mission. The three
available supporting arms are aircraft, artillery, and naval gunfire.
The general mission of naval gunfire is to provide responsive
fire support for the assault of the objective by destroying or
neutralizing the following:
(1) Shore installations that oppose the approach of ships and
(2) Defenses that may oppose the landing force.
(3) Defenses that may oppose the post-landing advance of the
landing force. (7: 1-1)
Efforts to bolster the Navy's power projection capabilities have
focused on getting the TOMAHAWK Ship-/Submarine-Launched Cruise
Missile (SLCM) to sea and replacing the aging, carrier-based A-6E
INTRUDER all-weather, day-night attack aircraft. There have been
no corresponding improvements in naval gun systems since the Korean
War. (20: 9)
In 1983, responding to a question posed by Senator Sam Nunn
(D-GA), then-Marine Corps Commandant General Robert H. Barrow said:
The current Naval Surface Fire Support inventory is inadequate
to support Marine Corps requirements. First, the range of the
current 5-inch/54 and 5-inch/38 families is too short to isolate
the beachhead from Warsaw Pact artillery. Second, the accuracy
of the 6-inch gun family is insufficient against mobile armored
forces and hardened point targets. Finally, the lethality of the
5-inch gun family is inadequate against these same targets. (23)
Unfortunately, the 5-inch/54 MK 42/MK 45 rapid-firing gun will be the
largest caliber gun carried by U.S. warships when the two remaining
battleships, the USS WISCONSIN and the USS MISSOURI, with their
16-inch/50 guns, are retired in FY-92.
In the opinion of many people, opposed amphibious landings are a
type of naval warfare that is now only a part of history and that any
fire support requirements beyond the capability of the 5-inch gun
could be assigned to carrier aviation or deployed Marine air assets.
History books are replete with reminders that the key to successful
amphibious operations lies in close partnership between the landing
force and the forces afloat. The most important aspect of that
partnership was ample, responsive firepower; firepower which could
kill, suppress, disrupt, and cause dispersion. The British learned
that lesson at Gallipoli during World War I. When the Royal Navy was
unable to support key attacks with naval gunfire, the Anglo-French
landing forces were driven back to the crowded beaches, where they
suffered appalling casualties before the final evacuation.
These same people believe the size and configuration of the U.S.
Navy should be based on scenarios for the most likely intervention or
crisis management rather than the worst-case threat of general war.
However, a fleet which is designed to meet only the most probable
threat may be incapable of surviving the worst. Doctrine and tactics
can be adjusted, but attempting to scale up less capable or incapable
ships to fight against an overwhelming threat won't work.
It is through the use of violence -- or the credible threat of
violence, which requires the apparent willingness to use it -- that we
compel our enemy to do our will. (6: 11 ) The current Naval Surface
Fire Support (NSFS) capability doesn't present a "credible threat" of
"A good gun causes victory, armor only postpones defeat."
-- Vice Admiral S. O. Makaroff (1l: 270)
On March 9, 1847, General Winfield Scott made the first
amphibious landing in American history at Veracruz, Mexico. The
landing was unopposed and 10,000 troops came ashore without loss
of life. (16: 147)
In the early 19:30's at Quantico, Virginia, Fleet Marine Force
(FMF) leaders began to work on the problems of conducting amphibious
operations, which they found required new combat techniques and a
high-degree of combined-arms coordination, as well as special landing
craft and weapons. The fundamental problems of seizing a defended
beachhead were initially addressed by Major Earl H. Ellis, a protege
of Major General John A. Lejeune. Major Ellis foresaw that naval
gunfire and air strikes would provide the fire superiority that
conventional artillery could not provide while waves of landing craft
brought infantry, machine guns, light artillery, and tanks to the
beaches. It was expected, and history has shown, that the
concentrated violence of the beach assault could carry the Marines
through the beach defenses.
The contributions of naval guns in various World War II
amphibious operations, such as the landings on Sicily and at Salerno
in Italy, clearly demonstrated the decisive role of naval gunnery in
blunting major infantry and armored reserve counterattacks against
landing forces. In Sicily, naval gunfire supported our own advancing
troops, up to eight miles inland. "So devastating in its effective-
ness," wrote General Eisenhower, was this shooting, "as to dispose
of any doubts that naval guns are suitable for shore bombardment."
(17: 258) During the initial stages in the European Theater, the major
caliber gun (8-inch and larger) platforms defeated axis armored
counterattacks, primarily by stripping them of their infantry and
engineer support. On 14 September, 1943, after naval gunfire from (at
least 16 to 18) battleships, cruisers and destroyers had helped to
blunt the German counterattack at Salerno, Panzer commander General
Vietinghoff wrote, "with astonishing precision and freedom of
maneuver, these ships shot at every recognized target with over-
whelming effect." The next day, Marshal Kesselring ordered a general
retirement, "in order to evade effective shelling from warships."
(17: 356) Success of the Normandy operations hinged on the avail-
ability of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers for gunfire support.
Nothing was more certain than that very heavy naval gunfire would be
necessary to break down Germany's Atlantic Wall. The beginning of a
massive buildup began on 7 June. Although the troops had scant
artillery and tank support from their own elements that day, they
enjoyed ready and accurate naval gunfire support, which frustrated the
enemy's attempt to counterattack. At Omaha beach, two fire support;
ships, the 32-year old ARKANSAS and the TEXAS, shot off 771 rounds of
14-inch on D-day. "Without that gunfire," wrote Rear Admiral J. L.
Hall, Commander XI Phib Force Omaha, "we positively could not have
crossed the beaches." (17: 403) The destructive punch and accuracy of
observer-adjusted 16-inch fire facilitated the landing at Utah beach.
The U.S. battleship NEVADA even reached 10 miles inland in answer to
calls for fire support. In addition, experimental LCTs (Landing
Craft, Tank) carrying tanks and self-propelled artillery, delivered
8,000 rounds of unaimed 105-mm during the run to the beaches. Just
prior to touchdown of the leading waves, nine rocket craft fired a
9,000-round barrage. After the war, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt,
commenting on the numerous occasions when naval gunfire support had
prevented German counterattacks at Normandy, stated, "the fire of your
battleships was a main factor in hampering our counter-stroke. This
was a big surprise both in range and accuracy."
The value of naval gunfire in support of the amphibious landing
and subsequent operations ashore was particularly evident in the
islands campaigns of the Pacific Theatre. The Japanese penchant for
concealing heavily reinforced defensive positions required an
accurate, high velocity, major caliber weapon system to ensure the
assault would not be stopped at the beach. On Iwo Jima, Lieutenant
General Kuribayashi built a network of emplacements either deep under
concrete cover or underground. Pre-D-day bombardment was conducted by
six battleships and five cruisers who employed 14,000 rounds of major
caliber ammunition. The ships defeated over 76% of the beach
defenses during only ten hours of bombardment over three days. Had
those defenses not been silenced, a difficult but successful
amphibious assault would, instead, have been a failure. On D-day
alone, seven battleships, eight cruisers, nine destroyers, and 39
gunships delivered 3,000 rounds of major caliber ammunition, more than
10,000 rounds of 5-inch and 6-inch, and over 20,000 5-inch rockets.
Throughout the Iwo Jima campaign, naval gunfire supported the V
Amphibious Corps with a total of more than 251,000 naval projectiles.
LtGen Kuribayashi reported to the Japanese General Staff in February
1945, that, "the power of American warships . . . makes every landing
possible to whatever beachhead they like." (10: 28) Another successful
amphibious assault in the Central Pacific, made possible by prolonged
naval gunfire support against fortifications ashore, occurred at
Okinawa. Before the first troops touched shore at Okinawa, the Navy
had fired a total of almost 45,000 rounds of shells, 30,000 rockets,
and 22,500 mortars. On D-day, LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) gunboats
led the amphibious assault to pound the beaches with a last-minute
barrage of 4.5-inch and 5-inch rockets, 4.2 inch mortars, and 40-mm
shells. A hundred yards astern came a wave of armed (and armored)
LVTs (Landing Vehicle, Tracked), their 76-mm howitzers ready to take
up the effort when the gunboats reached the abutting reefs and had to
turn back. (1)
The Korean War confirmed the importance of ample supporting fire-
power for operations such as the Inchon landing and the naval
evacuation of Hungnam. Long-range naval gunfire (battleship missions
averaged 32,000 yards; cruisers, 22,000 yards) support was directed at
hard targets (blockhouses, covered artillery emplacements, and
personnel shelters). 5-inch guns had little or no effect against
coastal defense positions. An indication of the relative lethality of
various naval rounds follows:
Naval Gunfire Amphibious Operations (19: 43)
Projectile Relative Value per Round
compared to 105-mm HE
5-inch HC 1.3 to 1.4
8-inch HC 2.8 to 3.7
16-inch HC 7.6 to 14.9
Viewed from a different perspective, as approximate equivalents in
terms of neutralization capability:
(1) One 16-inch HC (high capacity) round is 5.4 to 11.5 times as
deadly as a 5-inch HC round.
(2) One 8-inch HC round is 2.0 to 2.8 times as deadly as a
5-inch HC round.
Consequently, assigned missions were designed to harass, interdict,
and neutralize infantry and light armored vehicle movement.
Amphibious operations proved their viability again in Vietnam,
where they were used to provide flanking and blocking maneuvers.
Naval guns performed important missions during the Vietnam War -- in
amphibious assault, gunfire support, and shore bombardment. Most of
the fire support ships were destroyers whose 5-inch guns were too
small to do much damage and too short-ranged to do it far inland.
However, the battleship NEW JERSEY, reactivated at great expense, was
on station from September 1968 to March 1969 and fired 3,615 16-inch
shells, mainly to support the 3rd Marine Division operating along the
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the 101st Airborne Division during bloody
fighting in the A Shau Valley. (14: 144) Naval gunfire support
requirements in Vietnam reconfirmed World War II and Korean War
experiences with the 5-inch gun. Specifically:
(1) The 5-inch gun could not meet range requirements which
routlnely exceeded 30,00 yards.
(2) The 5-inch gun projectile lacked the essential punch to
defeat typical hard targets. (26: 7)
Amphibious landings since World War II have demonstrated the
growing land-sea interface and have made use of new equipment and new
tactics. Recall the stunniny operations at Inchon, the Falkland War
where the British destroyer GLAMORGAN was struck by land-based
missiles, the United States swift use of airciaft and warship mobility
in taking Grenada and, most recently, the amphibious operations in the
Persian Gulf that were confounded by minefields. The trends of
increasing weapon range, accuracy, and lethality foreshadow:
(1) A change in the form of defense.
(2) A further erosion of the distinction between land and sea
As a result, power projection by amphibious forces is evolving into a
struggle between land forces, which have greater recuperative power,
and sea forces, which are less easily targeted because of their
mobility. (11: 157) For example, during World War II, the Japanese
gradually learned that a more effective defense against landing
assaults backed by overwhelming naval firepower was to develop inter-
locking positions rather than to expend their forces at the beaches.
The postwar period has seen technology enhancing the ability of
amphibious forces to penetrate to their targets, and at the-same time
for defensive systems to prevent that penetration. The measure-
countermeasure cycle places a premium on surprise, since once a system
is known to exist and its characteristics are understood, it is
usually possible to devise countermeasures that will reduce or
completely negate its effectiveness. The cycle is analogous to that
which began in the late 1830's when the United States adopted the
shell gun. The answer to the incendiary shell gun was iron. The
"race" between guns and armor -- between penetration and protection --
has become a war between increasingly sophisticated scouting and
antiscouting sensors. (16: 125)
While evolving concepts for the conduct of the amphibious assault
will exploit the capabilities to land forces in relatively unopposed
areas from over-the-horizon (0TH) whenever and wherever possible,
circumstances may still require assaults against defended beaches and
landing zones. Moreover, the landing force once ashore in the
objective area must be prepared to face the type of violent counter-
attacks using highly mobile, mechanized forces that the threat
In a worst-case scenario, the seaward approaches to the
objective will be defended by a combination of multiple rocket
launchers and surface-to-surface missiles, coastal defense artillery,
and mines. A perfect example can be found in Southwest Asia, along
the Kuwaiti coastline, where Iraq employed classic Soviet coastal
defense principles. The intricate defensive system is designed to:
(1) Engage at long range to destroy the enemy in the water.
This includes using not only the weapons organic to the motorized
rifle division, but also all other assets that can be brought to bear
on the ATF while it is in transit to the amphibious operations area
(2) Employ overlapping crossfires just off the beaches.
(3) Push the enemy back into the sea. If the enemy manages to
land, an effort will be made to literally push him back into the sea
by bringing maximum firepower to bear, and launching a decisive
counterattack before the enemy landing force can build-up power
(4) Maneuver weapons and manpower behind the beach to shape the
The Marine Corps Weapons of the World Handbook highlights the most
common weapons and weapons systems available in the worldwide
expeditionary environment (and used by Iraq) to support this defense
in-depth strategy. (25) They include:
100-mm Field Gun M-1955 21,000 meters
100-mm Antitank Gun MT-12 21,000 meters
122-mm Howitzer D-30 21,900 meters with RAP
122-mm Field Gun D-74 24,000 meters
130-mm Field Gun M-46 27,490 meters
152-mm Gun-Howitzer D-20 24,000 meters with RAP
152-mm Self-Propelled Howitzer M-1973 30,000 Meters with RAP
(2) Multiple Rocket Launchers and Surface-to-Surface Missiles
122-mm Multiple (40) Rocket Launcher BM-21 20,500 meters
SS-1C/SCUD-B Surface-to-Surface Missile 300km
FROG-7/VOLGA Surface-to-Surface Rocket 70km
T-54/T-55 Medium Tank 21,000 meters
T-62 Medium Tank 20,000 meters
T-72 Medium Tank 20,000 meters plus
Each year the weapons of war become more destructive, more
accurate, more transportable, more numerous, and more available. The
proliferation of technologically sophisticated weapons, combined with
the demonstrated willingness of the recipients of these weapons to use
them, poses a dangerous threat to U.S. naval forces deployed overseas.
Limitations on the ability of warships to operate within range of
land-based weapons of comparable [or greater] striking power have
never been greater than they are now. For example, more than 30
Third World countries possess some combination of ship-, air-, or
submarine-launched antiship cruise missile, and more than 10 of those
countries have coastal defense missile batteries. (25)
The days when the poor and destitute countries of the world
equipped their military units with only antiquated arms are long gone.
The ATF today may find itself facing a foe with weapons every bit as
modern and deadly as its own. Security and peace will need to be
earned in the future, just as they have in the past.
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with
the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
-- Thomas Jefferson (1l: 223)
Maneuver warfare and attrition warfare represent alternative
ways of thinking about the nature of war. Attrition warfare, a mutual
casualty-inflicting and absorbing contest where the goal is a
favorable exchange rate, focuses on the successful delivery of fire-
power. It is the protection of fire[power] that allows us to move in
the face of the enemy and it is the destructive force of fire[power]
that adds menace to our movements. (6: 27) Unless the Navy is able to
fight and defeat opposing forces at the beachhead, the ability to
launch deep strikes will be of limited value.
In any discussion of power projection, the fire support
capabilities of aircraft must be considered along with those of naval
guns. Since 1946, naval forces have been called upon in 187 occasions
-- ninety percent of those in Third World countries. Amphibious
forces have participated in 100 incidents; carrier battle groups
(CVBGs) provided sea-based air support to the amphibious task force
(ATF) about 76% of the time. (9: 330) Nevertheless, aircraft suffer
from inherent limitations, such as the lack of an all-weather, day-
night support capability, a significant response time, and a lack of
lethality essential for destruction of hard targets. More
significant, however, is the question of the future availability of
carrier-based (and in some environments, land-based) aircraft to
support forcible entry on a hostile shore. Budget pressures are
expected to reduce the aircraft carrier force level to 12 carriers --
and possibly as few as 10 -- in FY-95. (3: 67) In addition, the
rapidly changing security environment has dictated changes to the
forward deployment of U.S. forces. This will be most noticeable in
Europe where a dramatic reduction in U.S. forward-deployed forces will
occur. Even in Asia, where potential regional aggressors have long
presented a more likely threat to stability than has superpower
competition, some reduction will occur. U.S. forces will face reduced
access to overseas bases as well as unacceptable restrictions on our
operations from those bases. Consequently, aircraft will shoulder
less of the fire support burden in future amphibious operations.
The unique qualifications of naval guns remain essential to
power projection ashore. Even so, the Navy would be hard pressed to
muster the kind of firepower that was available during World War II.
In 1946, the U.S. Navy had 23 battleships, 71 all-gun cruisers (with
6-inch or 8-inch guns), and 372 destroyers. As late as 1968, there
were still some 280 fire support ships, including one battleship and
ten cruisers. However, in the 1970s the Navy decommissioned more than
100 fire support ships.
Today, there are some 143 battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and
frigates with a fire support capability. The following table shows
the characteristics of the primary gun systems carried by existing
Naval Gunfire Weapons Capabilities (18: 14)
Gun Maximum Projectile Burst Rate of
Range Weight Radius Fire
(meters) (lbs) (meters) (rapid/sustain)
16-inch/50 38,000 (full) 1,900/ 200 2/1
22,999 (reduced) 2,700
5-inch/54 21,887 (full) 70 45 30/20
(MK 42) 12,200 (reduced)
5-inch/54 21,887 (full) 70 45 20/15
(MK 45) 12,000 (reduced)
5-inch/38 15,900 (full) 55 30 20/15
Current programs contain no real remedy for what has become a
critical shortage of naval gunfire support. The only significant
improvement will be in reliability' as additional CG-47 class
cruisers (two 5-inch/54 MK 45 guns) and DDG-51 class guided-missile
destroyers (one 5-inch/54 MK 45 gun) join the fleet. They will
replace the remaining DDG-2 class guided-missile destroyers (two
5-inch/54 MK 42 guns) and 40 FF-1052 class frigates (one 5-inch/54 MK
42 gun) as potential fire support platforms. Modern gunfire control
systems (GFCS) like the MK 86 GFCS may give them better accuracy, but
this does not begin to compensate for the reduced number of guns in
. . . it is not the free creation of the mind' of generals of
genius that have revolutionized war but the inventions of
better weapons and changes in the human material, the soldier;
at the very most the part played by generals of genius is
limited to adapting methods of fighting to the new weapons and
Third World conflicts have become more hazardous to our health.
Sophisticated weapons are eagerly marketed throughout the Third World,
adding to the potential violence of all forms of conflict regardless
of the opponent. Future belligerents are likely to be armor heavy,
rich in long-range artillery, and capable of tenacious defense of
their homeland. (13: 25) They will employ coastal defense weapons and
mines to fix, delay, and destroy the landing force and to create a
deadly no-man's land between the beachhead and the ATF.
The Marine Corps is pursuing alternatives to landing entirely
over the beach so that a foothold can be established ashore without
crippling casualties robbing the assault of its momentum. In the
initial Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Master Plan (MMP),
General A. M. Gray, Commandant of the Marine Corps, addressed
enhancing amphibious forcible entry capabilities through attainment of
a full over-the-horizon (0TH) amphibious assault capability.
.Specifically, Gen Gray said: "The use of new vertical take-off and
landing (VTOL) aircraft, advanced amphibious assault vehicles (AAAV),
and landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) will allow MAGTFs to conduct
amphibious operations from over-the-horizon distances of 26 miles or
more." (15: ES-2) In this manner, "we are able to avoid opposing
strength and attack from an advantageous position of our choosing
toward selected enemy weakness." (6: 59) To preserve the tactical
surprise, it will be necessary for the NSFS ships to remain over the
horizon until the point of attack is revealed.
The MMP recommended that the Navy develop a long-range surface
fire support capability. The principal fire support requirement being
to neutralize enemy artillery and highly mobile, mechanized forces
that may threaten the assault element during the initial phase of the
assault. The goal: provide surface fire support with a 60 nautical
mile (NM) range and the accuracy, responsiveness, and mobility to
counter enemy fire support and to support troops in close contact.
There are a number of possible solutions. Some can provide a
good deal of capability in the short term at a surprisingly affordable
cost, others require a long-term commitment and ample resources. The
common thread is technology; utilizing or adapting off-the-shelf
technology to fill the requirements. The following NSFS improvements
should be pursued:
(1) Near-Term (High pay-off improvements to existing systems).
Although existing gun weapon systems do not provide the range,
accuracy, or lethality mandated by the 0TH concept, cost effective,
near-term programs exist to bridge the gap between the TOMAHAWK,
HARPOON, and aircraft on the one hand and the 5-inch/54 gun on the
other. Synopses on the two 16-inch programs are provided to show that
quantum enhancements in battleship firepower are possible by implemen-
ting the proposed range and lethality improvements. My recommendation
is to retain the USS MISSOURI and the USS WISCONSIN; forward deploy
them to the 6th and 7th Fleet, respectively; and sit back and reap the
(a) 16-Inch/50 Extended Range (ER) Program. The program
was designed to provide a 16--inch ER projectile and a GFCS for the
BB-61 class battleships. The projectile was designed as a 13-inch
subcaliber projectile, saboted to the 16-inch bore diameter and loaded
with either M46 or Sense and Destroy armor (SADARM) submunitions. The
concept was tested by Naval Surface Weapons Center (NSWC), Dahlgren
and several candidate rounds were recommended which extended the
6-inch range capability to 70,000 yards.
(b) 16-Inch/50 Product Improvement Program (PIP). The
16-inch/5O MK 146 improved conventional munition (ICM) projectile was
developed to provide submunition projectile capability for the BB-61
class battleships. The two types of ammunition that showed the most
promise for improving 16-inch gun lethality at extended ranges were
the M42 and M46 submunitions for use against anti-personnel/light
armor targets. An extremely effective area weapon, each of the over
500 M42/M46 submunitions will penetrate over two inches of steel, as
well as throw shrapnel over a wide area. The SADARM submunitions,
under development for the Army, will be dispensed over a target area,
descend by parachute, search the battlefield below them, and fire a
self-forging slug down at detected targets. The SADARM submunitions
will give the 16-inch guns their anti-tank capability. (12: ES)
(c) 5- Inch/54 Semi-Active Laser-Guided Projectile (SAL-GP).
Another improved munition, the 5-inch SAL-GP is a very accurate rocket
fired from a 5-inch gun tube. First shot hit probability was said to
be greater than 82 percent. It was designed to provide a one-shot,
hard point target, e.g., tank or bunker, killing capability. (12: B-1)
(2) Mid-Term. 8-Inch/55 MK 71 Major Caliber Lightweight Gun
(MCLWG). The 8-inch/55 MK 71 MCLWG was designed to provide fire
support out to 40,000 yards and is capable of employing base-bleed
and/or discarding saboted projectiles for much greater ranges. The
gun was operationally tested and evaluated on the USS HULL (DD 945) in
1970 and was approved for service use. The 8-inch/55 MK 71 MCLWG is
an "off-the-shelf" design, although considerable research and develop-
ment will be required to update the design. (12: C-11) The 8-inch/55
MK 71 MCLWG should be installed on all DDG-51 class guided-missile
destroyers during construction. In addition, the forward 5-inch/54 MK
45 gun on the DD-963 class destroyers should be replaced with the
8-inch/55 MK 71 MCLWG during regularly scheduled maintenance
(3) Long-Term (Evolutionary replacement of existing systems).
Don't expect to find a great number of new gun systems being
developed. Instead, look for greater refinements in the range,
accuracy, and lethality of existing gun systems. Also, look for
greater application of land-based systems for use at sea, e.g., the
shipboard variant of the army's Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
(a) Assault Ballistic Rocket System (ABRS). The army's
Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is being evaluated for possible
use at sea. Designated the Assault Ballistic Rocket System (ABRS),
the weapon system can blanket an area the size of four football fields
with submunitions to create a killing zone. The baseline 9-inch
rocket carries.. 644 M77 or M46 submunitions, or bomblets, about the
size of a hand grenade. Research is underway to increase the 18.6
mile range to 60 NM using an 18.5-inch rocket and to improve the
warhead to make it suitable for heavy armor and hard targets such as
(b) Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) . The Senate
armed Services Committee, in a mid-July report, authorized $30-million
to "explore adapting . . . the newer, longer-range Army Tactical Missile
System (ATACM) to Navy use to provide fire support to Marines ashore."
The ATACMS is a surface-to-surface missile system with a range of more
than 150 miles. A Block II warhead that would contain 26 infrared
terminally guided submunitions (IRTGSM) is under development.
(c) Reconnaissance (Scouting/Antiscouting) . Indirect fire
weapons will require greater accuracy, which will demand better
reconnaissance and target acquisition capabilities. In Southwest
Asia, the reconnaissance/surveillance and target acquisition mission
was handled by the "Pioneer" unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). 26 out of
40 used were damaged: 6 lost, the remaining 20 repairable. The pay-
load: TV, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), laser designator, thermal
imager, EW, and still photos. The endurance can vary up to 7+ hours
or approximately 700 miles.
Just as the "amtrac" provided a technological answer to a
crucial tactical requirement that led to a strategic victory, so to
can imaginative, practical solutions make up for the shortfall in
naval surface fire support. (1: 247) The technology is available for
large improvements in the very near future.
1. Bailey, Maj Alfred D., USMC (Ret.). Alligators, Buffaloes, and
Bushmasters. University of Utah, 1976.
2. Barber, James A. "Mahan and Naval Strategy in the Nuclear Age,"
Naval War College Review, March 1972'.
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Washington, D.C. : Department of Defense, January 1991
4. Concepts and Issues. Washington, D.C. : Headquarters, United
Marine Corps, 1990.
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Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1969.
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First Century. Washington, D.C. : American Enterprise Institute
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Close It," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, September 1966.
11. Hughes, Capt Wayne P., Jr., USN (Ret.). Fleet Tactics.
Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1986.
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Development Option Paper for Naval Surface Weapons Center, 1986.
13. Iraqi Power and U.S. Security in the Middle East. Ft.
Leavenworth: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies
Institute, February 1990.
14. Lewy, Guenter. America in Vietnam. New York: Oxford University
15. Marine Air-Ground Task Force Master Plan. Washington, D.C.
Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, July 1989.
16. Millet, Allan R. and Peter Maslowski. For the Common Defense.
New York: The Free Press, 1984.
17. Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Two-Ocean War. Boston: Little, Brown
and Company, 1963.
18. Naval Gunfire and Supporting Arms Planning Reference Handbook.
Quantico, Virginia: Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
Marine Air-Ground Training and Education Center, January 1991.
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Marine Corps Schools. Marine Corps Educational Center.
Extension School, Apri l 1955.
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D.C.: Department of Defense. Office of the Director of Defense
Research and Engineering, November 1976.
21. Summers, Harry G. , Jr. Vietnam War Almanac. New York: Facts on
File Publications, 1985.
22. Thompson, W. Scott. Power Projection: A Net assessment of U.S.
and Soviet Capabilities. New York: National Strategy
Information Center, Inc., 1978.
23. Truver, Scott C. and Norman Polmar. "Naval Surface Fire Support
and the IOWAs," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1985.
24. United States Code (U.S.C. 1988 ed.) Volume Three. Title 10 --
Armed Forces. January 3, 1989.
26. Weapons of the World Handbook. Quantico, Virginia: Marine Corps
Combat Development Center. Marine Corps University, August 1990.
26. Weller, MajGen Donald M., USMC (Ret.). Gunfire Spport of
Amphibious Operations: Past, Present, and Future. Dahlgren,
Virginia: Naval Surface Weapons Center, October 1977.
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