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Naval Surface Fire Support, Is It A Viable Option

Naval Surface Fire Support, Is It A Viable Option?


CSC 1995


SUBJECT AREA - Strategic Issues








Author: Major B. T. Kowalski, United States Marine Corps


Thesis: In this volatile world, does the United States still possess the naval surface fire

support assets necessary to continue to project power from the sea?


Background: The present force structure of the United States naval services is stretched

alarmingly thin. In the fall of 1994, these limited military assets were being deployed

throughout the far corners of the world. As the United States Navy continued to respond

to various regional crises, the number of its surface combatant ships continued

throughout 1994 to decline. As downsizing occurred, the Navy had, for the second time

this century, found itself with the five inch gun as its largest naval gun in the active fleet.

Is the five inch naval gun even a viable option for consideration in support of an

amphibious operation? If it is not, what is the Navy doing to correct this shortfall? Does

the nation still need naval surface fires, or can ground forces merely rely upon sea and

land based air assets to provide all of its early fire support needs?


Recommendation: Current weaponry, in the form of the five inch naval gun, continues

to be a valuable asset. The future of naval surface fire support holds great potential. The

key to the United States possessing the requisite naval surface fire support assets to allow

it to continue to project national power from the sea, will rest upon the abilities of

military men to justify the need to develop and maintain those proposed future weapons





The issues and ideas presented in this paper are based upon information


extracted from unclassified interviews and publications. Readers, especially those


that have access to classified material, should be aware that some facets of future


weapons systems addressed in this paper are thus unclassified. Even though the


author had access to classified material, he chose not to utilize it. The purpose of


this paper is to present ideas in an unclassified form so that its analysis and concepts


can be freely disseminated and discussed. The differences between information


available in some of the classified publications that the author had examined and the


unclassified sources that he opted to use are not of any great significance in regard


to the basic concept of the issues that will be discussed.


Throughout this paper the reader will encounter the terms naval surface fire


support and naval gunfire support. Though related, they do not share the same


meaning. Naval surface fire support is that fire support that could be provided by either


naval guns, rockets, or missiles. Naval gunfire support is that portion of naval surface


fire support provided by naval guns, currently limited in size to that of the five inch naval




This paper was initiated while the four Iowa class battleships were still in the


inactive, 'mothball', fleet. This inactive status would have enabled the battleships to


return to the active fleet in a time of national crisis within a reasonable period of time.


The original paper focused on a concept of recommending one of the battleships be


brought back on duty as a reserve training ship. This recommendation, if acted upon,


would have maintained a trained, ready, proficient crew able to take a fully functional


battleship to war with only a short period of preparation. Considering the speed in which


current conditions in the world change, this concept of having one of the Iowa class ships


in this reserve training ship status would have facilitated the rapid introduction of the


battleship's superior firepower in a major regional conflict. This naval reserve fleet


battleship concept would have ensured that the Navy would be capable of providing at


least one fully capable naval surface fire support platform to a theater commander.


A fire support platform that could deliver conventional short range five inch naval


gunfire, long range sixteen inch naval gunfire to 20+ nautical miles, and strategic long


range fires with its thirty two Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) to a range of


approximately 1,000 nautical miles.


Currently, the Navy does not possess naval gunfire systems larger then the Mk-45,


5"/54 caliber gun. The only other surface to surface weapon system currently available in


the fleet that is capable of providing fire against land targets is the TLAM. However,


this weapon has one major disadvantage; it is a very expensive, though accurate weapon


that would generally best be employed against strategic targets deep in enemy territory.


Future surface to surface missiles systems and an improved naval gun are not


projected to enter the fleet until after the year 2000. The limitation of having only one


type of naval gun, though fully capable of engaging close range tactical targets, and a


missile such as the TLAM that is currently best employed against stationary strategic


targets, leaves the theater commander to contend with a naval surface fires gap. This gap


forces the commander to rely more upon air to surface fires in order to attack operational


targets, such as the enemy's theater reserves or corps artillery assets, that in the past


would have been engaged by the battleships sixteen inch guns.


Regrettably, a decision was made to remove the four Iowa class battleships from


the 'mothball' fleet. Thus, on 12 January 1995, the last of the world's battleships were


struck from the Naval Vessel Register. The battleships now are gone with virtually no


chance of ever returning. This decision to strike these ships from the record prompted a


major shift in both the direction of this paper and its focus. It changed again in mid-


March 1995, after the successful test firing of a ship launched Tactical Missile System


(TACMS) against a land target. Finally, it altered direction once again, the first week of


April 1995, when the author learned of a decision that had been made in late-March


initiating an Operational Requirement Document (ORD) for the development of a 5"/62


caliber gun as the next gun system to be tested, refined, then fielded in the fleet after the


turn of the century.





In this volatile world, the United States could discover that its naval surface


combatants capable of providing naval surface fire support are over stretched.


Thus, the United States might become incapable of neither projecting power abroad


nor protecting those forces it deploys in support of national policy. The country


could find itself extended beyond its ability to quickly respond to even one major


regional conflict, much less the two major regional conflict requirement of the


current National Security Strategy. Does the United States still possess the naval


surface fire support assets necessary to continue to project power from the sea?


If not, what is the Navy doing to correct this shortfall? Does the nation still need


naval surface fires, or can ground forces rely upon sea and land based air assets to


provide all of its early fire support needs during amphibious operations?


The present force structure of the United States naval services is stretched


alarmingly thin. In the fall of 1994, these limited military assets were being deployed


throughout the far corners of the world. Where were these commitments? The following


illustrates the dilemma: to Southwest Asia, to counter the provocative movement of Iraqi


forces near the Kuwaiti boarder; to Haiti to restore democracy; to Guantanamo Bay,


Cuba and Panama to support Cuban refugee operations; to Italy and Turkey, where air


assets control the airspace over Bosnia and northern Iraq; and to the Far East, where


forces remain alert in order to respond to the periodically tense situations on the Korean




As the United States Navy continued to respond to these numerous regional


crises, the number of its surface combatant ships continued to decline throughout 1994.


This reduction in available naval assets, combined with an increase in taskings resulted


in a higher tempo of operations. Additionally, as downsizing occurred, the Navy had, for


the second time this century, found itself with the five inch gun as its largest naval gun in


the active fleet. So far, the nation's naval assets have been able to meet the demanding


deployment requirements. Can this high operational tempo be sustained indefinitely?


Recently, the United States Navy made the decision to strike from the inactive


fleet the last four of the world's functional battleships, those of the Iowa class. The


nation has stripped itself of its only viable over the horizon (OTH) surface fire support


assets. In this unstable world, can a maritime nation such as ours afford to lose the long


range punch of the big gunned battleships prior to the fielding of the next generation of


naval weapons? In the initial stages of an amphibious operation, the landing force may


need to rely upon air and sea based fires in order to provide cover during the movement


of the landing force from ship to shore. After the landing, air and naval surface fire


support may be needed to interdict the movement of an enemy counter-attacking force.


Does the United States currently possess the ability to blunt an enemy mechanized


counterattack during the initial phases of an amphibious operation with a fire support


asset other then air?


During this period of ever shrinking budgets, should the concept of naval surface


fire support be retired? Within today's budget minded, and operationally active military,


only a limited number of military personnel have had benefit of having substantial


classroom training and live fire experience. In today's military, only a limited number of


individuals have actually fired naval gunfire in any actual hostilities. Why? Because, in


the two decades following the war in Vietnam, the United States has not been involved in


conflicts requiring substantial participation by its naval gunfire platforms. Even though


some naval gunfire was utilized in Lebanon and Grenada, it was limited to a relatively


short period of time and under fairly restrictive rules of engagement. The most recent


contribution of naval gunfire, as a portion of that larger group of fire support assets that


may comprise naval guns and missile systems now known as naval surface fire support,


occurred during the 1991 Gulf War. During that conflict, naval combatants launched


Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) against strategic targets deep into Iraq, and


the last two active battleships, the USS Missouri (BB-63) and the USS Wisconsin (BB-


64), provided naval gunfire support to forces ashore with their sixteen inch guns.


Because of the Persian Gulfs shallow waters and mine threat, the Navy's modern five


inch equipped combatants were kept at such a great range from the coast that they were


incapable of being employed in roles similar to those of the destroyers and cruisers of the


World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam eras: ships that in the past routinely conducted


bombardment missions against enemy positions in support of ground troops. Ironically,


in a conflict which highlighted the latest and the greatest of the country's smart weapons,


the only ships that were capable of being employed in the classic role of providing naval


gunfire support against tactical targets were the two remaining Iowa class battleships.





Chapter PAGE


















Chapter One







On the surface combatants of today's Navy, there are only two weapon systems


available to be employed against land targets. The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile


TLAM), an expensive missile best suited for the engagement of static, long range


strategic targets, and the five inch naval gun, generally utilized against tactical targets


close to the beach because of its limited range (roughly 23,000 meters). Since the TLAM


will most likely remain in the near term as weapon reserved for use against operational


and strategic targets, this chapter will focus upon the ability of the five inch gun to


support operations in the littoral areas of the world.


When discussing the value of the five inch naval gun with members of both the


military and civilian communities, many questions will arise. Is the five inch gun too


small of a weapon, with a limited range, to be of value in major operations in littoral


theaters, to include those requiring amphibious operations? Has the world of amphibious


warfare evolved to a point where there is no longer a need for a naval gun? Should the


concept of naval gunfire, as a form of naval surface fire support, pass into history books?


Although future commanders may have to rely upon it to support amphibious operations,


some members of the military do not seriously consider naval gunfire a viable naval


surface fire support asset. In addition to the limited naval surface fire support assets


currently available, another problem has also arisen: a possible over reliance upon


aviation. The Marine Corps, while allowing its artillery assets to shrink, is therefore


placing an increased reliance upon its air assets to support future amphibious operations.1


Following the nation's success in the 1991 Gulf War, the focus of attention has been on


the superb accomplishments of the country's air assets. But that was the LAST WAR!


The Israeli forces were dealt a severe blow in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War partially because


it became to dependent upon the past successes of its air force in the 1967 War. Could


the United States make the same error?


Should the fire support available from 5"/54 caliber naval gunfire be discounted,


or allowed to slowly disappear? In the past, ships armed with six inch and smaller guns


have provided vital support in amphibious operations. For example, during World War II


there are numerous actions where such support provided by destroyers and light cruisers


(cruisers equipped with six or five inch guns) proved to be critical to the success of


various amphibious assaults.


Ships involved in operations such as those conducted at Sicily, Salerno, and


Normandy proved invaluable to the success of the landing force. In regard to Sicily and


Salerno, the fire from these ships blunted strong Axis armored counterattacks that could


have pushed the landing force back into the sea. At Normandy's Omaha Beach on D-


Day, June 6, 1944, as the Army's Sherman tanks and artillery were lost in the pounding


surf, the destroyer became the primary fire support asset for the ground forces pinned to


the beach.2 This aggressive employment of the five inch guns directly contributed to the


eventual reduction of the German defenses allowing the American forces to finally move


off the beach.


There are many instances of the successful utilization of six inch and smaller


caliber guns. Guns that when properly utilized have proven to be the deciding factor in


the success of some actions. Admittedly, the current five inch naval gun and its


ammunition lack the lethality to successfully engage hardened targets. The successful


use of the five inch gun hinges upon its utilization against those targets that are most


susceptible to its high rate of fire and fragmentation pattern: targets such as infantry units


in the open, in trenches with no or limited overhead cover, artillery positions,


communications/radar sites and antiaircraft positions. Typically these targets are those


that would pose the greatest threat to forces during amphibious operations. Future


landing sites may be selected so that the enemy's artillery and antiaircraft batteries would


most likely be exposed in open emplacements; an area where a well thought out


countermech plan could isolate the landing site, canalizing and delaying the deployment


of a counterattacking armor formation. The five inch gun, delivering high rates of fire


upon formations attempting to pass through choke points, will, because of its smoke,


dust, and blast effects, seriously degrade the observation capabilities of the personnel


within enemy armored vehicles, strip those vehicles of supporting dismounted infantry


and engineers, and slow the advance of the enemy's counterattacking force. These naval


fires combined with a well planned coordinated air effort could ensure not only the


successful establishment of the beachhead, but additionally severely degrade the


effectiveness of the enemy's mobile reserve force.


Additionally, it is also capable of providing superior fire support to


reconnaissance assets operating beyond the range of artillery weapons on the coastal


flanks of the amphibious objective area (AOA). The most significant capability of the


current naval gun is very much similar to that same capability it had successfully


demonstrated in conflicts since World War II. The ability to remain on station and


provide continuous fire support. As a former enemy noted:



Fire power of warships must not be underestimated. ... The fire curtain provided

by the guns of the Navy so far proved to be the best trump cards of the Anglo-

United States invasion Armies. It may be that the part played by the Fleet was

more decisive than that of the air forces because its fire was better aimed and,

unlike the bomber formations, it had not to confine itself to short bursts of fire.



Except from a German military periodical

regarding the effectiveness of naval gunfire

during the Allied invasion of Normandy3



In numerous conflicts, naval surface combatants have demonstrated that they are


fully capable of supplying the ground force commander with 24 hour, all weather fire


support. This fire support has often been the deciding factor in circumstances that


required an immediate response. Even though aircraft are capable of delivering an


overwhelming volume of fire power in a relatively short period of time, history has


proven that aircraft assets are hard pressed to provide continuous support 24 hours a day.



World War II



Six inch and smaller caliber guns played important roles in numerous actions


during World War II. One example of the superior value of these guns in support of


ground forces can be found by examining 'Operation Avalanche', the invasion of Salerno.


This operation clearly demonstrated how effective and useful the smaller caliber guns


can be in support of an amphibious assault. When naval guns are applied in concert with


other assets at the operational commanders disposal such as air and artillery, they can


have a decided impact upon ultimate success or failure of the amphibious operation.


Students of amphibious warfare should note that in this operation Allied forces


landed in lightly defended areas, hoping to quickly establish sufficient combat power


ashore prior to a counterattack by an extremely capable enemy. The defender did not


possess the assets to defend all of the possible landing sites, but did have the ability, even


with the Allied control of the air, to respond to an amphibious assault with a strong


mobile defense. The German's relied upon quick armor counterattacks aimed at


defeating the assault prior to the buildup of sufficient combat power. These


counterattacks were consistently met with furious naval gunfire. Hence, naval gunfire


played an important role at Salerno.





Of all the operations of World War II, 'Operation Avalanche' best


demonstrates the value of six inch and smaller caliber naval gunfire against infantry


and armored counterattacks by a sizable, competent, and determined enemy.


Salerno should be required study for students of amphibious warfare. Salerno clearly


demonstrated that successful coordination of all of the commander's fire support assets


creates a synergistic effect that will overcome other minor operational shortcomings.


The superb utilization of air, artillery, and naval gunfire in a coordinated effort


repeatedly blunted German counterattacks. Thus, this concerted combined arms effort


made a forcible entry against an extremely capable enemy possible.


Following the Italian government's announcement of an armistice on 8 September


1943, the German forces in Italy were forced to adopt a defensive strategy that relied


upon a strong mobile defense: a defense capable of delivering a prompt and decisive


counterattack whose objective was to defeat the assault forces prior to their establishment


of sufficient combat power ashore.4 At Salerno, had it not been for the successful


coordinated employment of all of the Allies fire support assets of air, artillery, and naval


gunfire, the Germans would have achieved their objective.5


At the time of the assault, Germany's Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, the


Commander in Chief South, had minimal forces to defend all of the southern Italian


mainland: only three Panzer divisions, three mechanized divisions, and one airborne


division. The German Tenth Army, under the command of General Heinrich Von


Vietinghoff, attempted to drive the Allies back into the sea by counterattacking with four


Divisions, with a strength of 600 tanks and armored vehicles, supporting infantry, and




The preponderance of naval gunfire support at Salerno was provided by ships


armed with six inch or smaller caliber guns. The employment of the fires from these


ships were limited in range to roughly 24,000 meters for the six inch guns, and 13,000 to


16,000 meters for the various caliber of five inch guns.6 This range restriction prevented


the Allies from utilizing naval gunfire against the four counterattacking German divisions


while they passed through the mountain roads that lead to the Allied landing area; this


range limitation thus allowed the Germans the opportunity to deploy their formations on


the Salerno Plain. Even though the Germans had been able to deploy their forces in open


areas, the smaller guns proved to be extremely effective against armored formations.


Even though many cruisers and destroyers were credited with killing the older Mark IV


tanks, what made these ships such a valuable assets was not the ability to kill the tank.


Rather, it was their ability to strip advancing tanks of supporting infantry and engineer


assets while effectively suppressing the armor formation's supporting artillery.


The successful employment of the ships equipped with six inch and smaller naval


guns became an important factor in the blunting of repeated German counterattacks.7


During the initial fighting, German tanks advanced quickly upon the newly established


beachhead. The cruisers USS Philadelphia and USS Savannah both launched spotter


aircraft and discovered a group of advancing tanks. The Philadelphia opened fire and


was credited with destroying seven of these tanks with the fires from her fifteen six inch




Even though the Germans attacked with dogged determination, their attacks were


halted by the devastating fire from the six inch and smaller guns of American and British


cruisers and destroyers that were positioned just a few hundred yards off the coast.9 By


the end of the evening of 9 September, General Vietinghoff requested that the German


Air Force concentrate their attacks on the naval gunfire support ships in the Gulf of


Salerno. He considered the elimination of these ships, most armed with six inch or


smaller guns, as the "Prime prerequisite for repelling the Allied invasion."10 Despite


repeated attempts by the Luftwaffe on 9 and 10 September to sink or drive off the fleet, it


remained to support the beachhead.


By the afternoon of 14 September, the combination of both Allied air and naval


gunfire assets appeared to be destroying the German forces. This was a fortunate event,


for Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, Commander of the U.S. Fifth Army, and his staff


had wrestled with the idea of a possible evacuation. Noting the effects that the air and


naval fires were having upon the Germans, General Clark, who earlier had been


concerned about the possibility that the operation could have become a disaster and his


forces pushed back into the sea, began to feel more confident. He, by the evening of 14


September, now felt that the German attacks were starting to loss their momentum.


The Germans found themselves in a situation that was becoming more and more


difficult. Because of the Allies successful utilization of their air, artillery, and naval


gunfire assets against tactical and operational targets, the Germans discovered their fuel


running low, their troops dispersed, and their tanks and artillery reduced to inadequate


numbers. While ships fired mission after mission against tanks, artillery, and infantry


positions, Allied air assets swept inland disrupting the German lines of communications,


bombing roads, railroads, and bridges.11


The operation, that was at one point a near disaster, had been saved. The Allied


Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower had declared "that superior air power had


proved the decisive factor in the operations eventual success." However, his Deputy


Commander in Chief and Commander of the 15th Army Group, General Sir Harold


R.L.G. Alexander; his Commander of the U. S. Fifth Army, Lieutenant General Mark W.


Clark; and the Commander of the British Tenth Corps, Lieutenant General Sir Richard


M. McCreery, maintained that the unremitting naval bombardment had done the most to


crack the German morale and drive them from the Salerno beachhead.12


In support of the above views, the feelings of the enemy should also be noted.


Regarding the effects of naval gunfire, General Vietinghoff wrote:



The attack this morning pushed on into stiffened resistance but above all the

advancing troops had to endure the most severe heavy fire that had hitherto been

experienced; the naval gunfire from at least 16 to 18 battleships, cruisers and

large destroyers lying in the roadstead. With astonishing precision and freedom

of maneuver, these ships shot at every recognized target with very overwhelming




On the night of 15 September, General Vietinghoff made the following


recommendation to Field Marshall Kesselring:



The fact that the attacks which have been prepared fully and carried out with

spirit, especially by the XIV Panzer Corps, were unable to reach their objective

owing to the fire from naval guns and low flying aircraft makes withdrawal



The important aspect of the action at Salerno is the value of the naval gunfire


support provided by the six inch and smaller caliber naval guns. These guns, working in


a successfully well coordinated effort, in conjunction with aircraft flying close air support


missions and artillery, effectively kept the Allied forces from being driven into the sea.






Even though naval gunfire played a smaller role in the Vietnam War than in


World War II and the Korean War, facets of its utilization in that conflict should be


discussed. Journalists, television reporters, and photographers consistently brought the


ground and air war into the American household on a nightly basis. The naval gunfire


ships that sailed off the coast and provided close fire support for the ground troops


ashore, as well as deep fires into North Vietnam also played an important, although


generally unknown, role in the war.


What did naval gunfire ships do during the Vietnam War? There are many


instances of the superb use of naval gun fire, but one instance provides a unique picture


of the utilization of the five inch naval gun and its importance in a war with an


established artillery capability in country and an unchallenged command of the skies.


The date was 22 February 1969. At 0106 (1:06 a.m.), the battleship New Jersey,


while in the process of firing an unobserved fire mission near the Demilitarized Zone


(DMZ), received an urgent call for fire from a Marine outpost. This outpost, known as


'Oceanview', was located roughly a 1,000 meters south of the DMZ and manned by


twenty Marines. Under attack, it was in danger of being overrun by a force, estimated by


some sources, to contain as many as 180 North Vietnamese Army regulars.15

Because of the close proximity of the Marines to the target location, the 16 inch


guns of the battleship would provide only periodic fire support during this intense night


of firing.16 The ship immediately responded to the Marine's call for fire with two 5"/38


caliber gun mounts (The 5"/38 caliber gun mounts on the New Jersey contained two guns


per mount). As gun crews manned other mounts, they also began to fire. Soon four, five


inch mounts firing a total of eight guns, along the port side of the ship, were involved in


the fire mission. As the action intensified, the New Jersey's fires were augmented by the


five inch guns of the Coast Guard cutter Owasco and two Marine artillery batteries.17


By 0633, the firing finally came to an end. The five inch guns of the Coast Guard


cutter Owasco and the battleship New Jersey had directly contributed to the survival of


'Oceanview'. As men came out onto the decks that morning, they found the port side of


the ship near the five inch mounts full of empty powder canisters. In the course of that


evening, the New Jersey fired 1,710 five inch projectiles. The guns had grown so hot,


that the paint had been scorched from their tubes and the grease from the recoil slides


was bubbling.18 The most significant part of this action was its final result. Because of


the small five inch gun in a war with total dominance of the air, the Marines of outpost


'Oceanview' were saved by the crucial aid provided by ships performing a traditional


naval gunfire support mission. In this instance, it was the five inch gun, not the mighty


sixteen inch, that proved to be the appropriate weapon in the survival of outpost







The 4.5 inch naval gun proved to be a valuable tool to the British forces operating


ashore in the Falklands in 1982. Even though the threat of air attacks in the latter part of


the conflict limited the use of naval gunfire to night bombardments, the effect proved to


be devastating to the Argentine troops. Major General Mario Benjamin Menendez, the


Argentine commander of the Falklands, stated that naval gunfire was the principle cause


for his troops losing their will to fight.19


Prior to this conflict, there had been debate within the government of Great


Britain as to the need for even a single 4.5 inch gun on future classes of ships. Following


the conflict in the Falklands, the vocal skeptics disappeared and the British government


decided to retain naval guns on their surface combatants. A decision was not only


reached to continue to mount naval guns upon future warships, but to fit a single 4.5 inch


gun onto the Broadsword class ships that had originally been designed without guns.20


During the Falklands War, the British conducted 63 naval gunfire bombardments.


In these, over 7,900 rounds of 4.5 inch ammunition were fired in only 14 weeks time.21


What contributed to the success of the British employment of the 4.5 inch guns as not


only a weapon to destroy or neutralize targets, but also as a psychologically effective


weapon? The British naval gunfire, including the harassment and interdiction fire, was


adjusted so that the effects were directed at specific targets, not just delivered randomly


to a given area known to be occupied by Argentine forces.


In the Falklands, trained and experienced spotters directed the fire from Royal


Navy's ships. This allowed the fire to be quickly adjusted from the initial point of impact


onto the target. Even though there were few Argentine soldiers injured by the fire, the


shells were adjusted to land as close to, if not directly upon, Argentine foxholes, bunkers,


and trenchlines.22 This conscious effort to achieve accurate delivery upon Argentine


positions made the likelihood, or psychological fear, of injury all the more greater.


Consequently, the outcome of these fires was all the more effective. This is an intangible


effect that can not be discarded. The effect of a ship firing even if it is only setting on


the horizon at dusk, can un-nerve an enemy force that must be pushed out of an area. If


it effects 10-20% of the foe's force, it may well directly contribute to an operation's


eventual success. This is clearly illustrated by the well delivered British 4.5 inch naval


gunfire bombardments upon positions occupied by new, inexperienced Argentine troops.


The effect of these 4.5 inch naval guns was far greater than many would have thought,


for those who have not been on the receiving end of a high explosive projectile do not


fully appreciate its relative impact. As one Argentine soldier stated;



We were very demoralized at that time because we felt so helpless, we couldn't

do anything. The English were firing at us from their frigates and we couldn't




An additional important lesson can be learned from the British actions in the


Falklands. HMS Arrow, equipped with only a single 4.5 inch gun mount, was assigned to


provide fire support for the advancing infantry during the assault at Goose Green.


Shortly after the attack started, the Arrow suffered a mechanical failure in its gun amount


and was incapable of supporting the attack.24 This mechanical failure caused the


premature departure of the Arrow. The sudden loss of the only assigned naval gunfire


platform forced the artillery unit that had been lifted into the area by helicopter to expend


far more ammunition then previously anticipated. This unexpected expenditure of


artillery ammunition resulted in a degrading of the artillery capability to provide the level


of support to the attacking infantry as was previously anticipated.25


Ships assigned a direct support mission to ground forces should possess two guns.


If the only ships available to provide fire support are, like the USS Arleigh Burke class


guided missile destroyers, equipped with only a single gun amount, steps should be taken


for the assignment of multiple ships to be on station in the same general area. This


would facilitate the rapid replacement of a ship on the gunline that may experience a


some form of mechanical problem that would prevent its ability to provide support to


forces committed to battle.


That concept may sound rather rudimentary, but it is an error that can easily take


place. For a year and a half later, a similar error of assigning a ship equipped with a


single mount, and without a designated replacement in the area, would be made in







Following the withdrawal of Marine forces from the Beirut International Airport,


small groups of Marines continued to operate within Lebanon. In addition to the 100


Marines assigned to provide protection outside of the American Embassy offices in west


Beirut, Marines were stationed in the mountains east of the city functioning, as the press


had guessed, "presumably as artillery spotters for the U.S. Navy ships offshore."26


On 29 February 1984, an Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO)


firepower control team's observation post located east of Beirut came under fire from


three artillery units. The USS W.S. Sims, a Knox class frigate, was assigned to support


this team. The Sims was equipped with a single Mk-42, 5"/54 caliber gun mount and


delivered fire directly into the hostile artillery position until it suffered a mechanical


failure. This terminated the ship's fire for effect after firing only three of the requested


ten rounds. The battleship New Jersey was in the area, but the target was beyond the


range of its smaller 5"/38 guns.27 The restrictions placed upon the employment of the


sixteen inch guns within Lebanon precluded their utilization during this mission.


Regrettably, no plans had been made to ensure that another ship equipped with a 5"/54


caliber gun system would be readily available to replace the Sims in case of a mechanical




Fortunately for the ANGLICO team, those three rounds that landed directly into


one battery's position were sufficient to suppress not only that one battery, but the other


two batteries as well.28 A lesson that had been learned by the British at the Falklands to


ensure that sufficient assets would be available so as to ensure proper support had been



Persian Gulf


Unfortunately, naval gunfire assets have not always produced the superior results


that were achieved as previously described. If this occurs, a naval gun's poor results are


not necessarily the fault of any inherent limitations of the weapon system. In today's


world of "Smart Munitions", one adage must be remembered: "the dumber the weapon


system, the smarter the people who employ it must be." The most important and most


overlooked basis for the inability of naval gunfire to achieve the desired results is not


usually the fault of the weapon system, but is caused by the inability of men to fully


understand the inherent capabilities and limitations of their weapons. Thus, to achieve


the desired results, the weapon must be used properly.


One example will illustrate where this was not done. On 19 October 1987, the


United States government decided to release the firepower of its naval surface forces in


the Gulf. Four US surface combatants shelled two connected offshore oil platforms that


were supposedly a base for Iranian gun boats. This firepower demonstration was in


response to Iranian attacks upon US registered and other shipping within the Gulf. The


Reagan Administration wanted to send a message to Iran.: Washington had restrained


itself this time, but might respond with greater force if Iran continued 'unprovoked


attacks' on shipping in Gulf.30


Earlier in 1987, a joint working group had been discussing how to achieve the


maximum effect with naval gunfire against various types of targets that could be found


within the Persian Gulf One of these was an oil platform very similar to the type fired


upon on the 19th. It was decided that the best way to ensure a set of platforms would be


destroyed would be to follow some very simple rules:



1. That the ships should be positioned so that the long axis of the target


and the ship's gun target line would be aligned in order to maximize the effect of the


inherent range variations along the gun target line.



2. That only one ship should engage the target at a time so that shipboard


spotters would not mistake another ship's impact as their impact and attempt to adjust the


wrong projectile.


3. If a trained airspotter was available, he should be utilized.


As a senior naval officer, who had extensive experience on the gunline in


Vietnam, noted: The method regarding the way an oil platform would be engaged was


the most logical way to engage a target that presented such a profile, or words to that


effect. For what had just been discussed in this joint group was merely elementary naval


gunfire common sense.


The day of the firing, four US destroyers, the USS Kidd, the USS Leftwich, the


USS John Young, and the USS Hoel, fired 1,065 five inch projectiles against the two


connected oil platforms.31 The method of engaging an oil platform type target that had


appeared as such as simple problem to the members of a joint working group proved to


be a source of many problems for the ships in the Gulf. The ships initially did not fire


one ship at a time. These vessels were not positioned so that the long axis of the target


coincided to that of the gun target line. Also, the school trained pilots of a Light


Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter detachment on the scene were not


utilized. Only the ship's onboard spotters were used to adjust fire. Why were the so


called naval gunfire common sense aspects missed? Could this be the indicator that there


may be a training deficiency regarding the characteristics of the naval gun and how to


best employ them? And what kind of a message did this action send to the world?


In this case, naval gunfire did not produce the effects desired. This was not


because of any shortcoming of the weapon system, but as the result of the inability of


men to understand the inherent capabilities and limitations of the five inch naval gun


system, and to utilize its firing characteristic to their maximum advantage. The result, an


attempt to send a political message of strength instead sent a message of impedance.


The naval gun is a proven commodity. It has clearly established its value in


support of amphibious operations. When employed properly, it possesses the ability


to produce superior results, delivering accurate, responsive and overwhelming firepower


upon an enemy. The greatest limitation of the naval gun is not any inherent characteristic


of the weapon system. Rather, the greatest limitation of the naval gun is the inability of


those who employ it to possess the knowledge of how to achieve its maximum potential


effects, and to employ the weapons systems accordingly.


Chapter Two













With the retirement of the last of the Iowa class battleships, the United States has


removed the last remaining long range surface to surface weapon system capable of


providing support to the commander on the tactical level. Currently, the Navy has no


naval gunfire systems larger then the 5"/54 caliber gun. The current argument that air


can assume the fire support duties normally associated with naval gunfire during an


amphibious operation may not always be true. Aviation assets may be required to deal


with other higher priority targets. This could leave the Commander of the Landing Force


(CLF) in a position where a sizable portion of the available aviation assets will be


dedicated to respond to a higher priority threat, while his minimal artillery assets are just


in the process of coming ashore.


As the draw down in forces and material continues, frugality must be exercised in


the use of our limited assets. With the growing requirement for air to accomplish the


neutralization of targets that at one time would have been engaged by the big guns of a


battleship or a heavy cruiser, it must be remembered that close air support aircraft could


also be a limited battlefield asset which must be used judiciously. Why? The limited


amount of available air ordnance in the theater is also a piece of the future battlefield that


should not be overlooked. Thus, when air engages targets that are close to the


amphibious or helicopter landing zones, there is less available to influence the deep


battle. The opportunity to fight the enemy long before he can effectively engage the


ground combat element may be lost or greatly reduced.


Additionally, a military force must not limit itself to a strategy whose fire support


for any type of operation relies too heavily upon air power, as the Israeli's defensive


strategy following the 1967 War had, for this could be an invitation for disaster. It


would be easy for someone to take notice of this vulnerability, develop a strategy, as did


Arab nations for the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and then demonstrate an ability that could


severely degraded the capabilities of one's air power. The United States needs to remain


flexible. It should be capable of achieving satisfactory fire support results with not only


airpower, but naval surface fire support assets, improved artillery assets, and armor. The


commander needs a "tool box full of weapons." A group of weapons that provides the


commander with the ability to choose a single weapon, or combination of weapons to


achieve a desired endstate.


The surface Navy of today is still fully capable of providing a superior level of


support. There are many misconceptions regarding the overall value of the five inch


naval gun. Admittedly, it is limited in range. In optimum conditions , while firing a


standard high explosive projectile, the gun will achieve a range of roughly 23,000 meters.


There are positive and negative aspects of every weapon within the possession of the


armed forces. Is the Cobra attack helicopter of lessor value because it can not travel as


fast, as far, or with the same ordnance as an F/A-18? Is the 7.62mm machine gun of


lessor value then the 50 caliber machine gun because it doesn't possess the same


capabilities? The question regarding the overall value of a weapon system is not to be


based upon what it can't do. It should be based upon what it can do.


The problem with the naval gun, is that there are few people within the armed


services with the experience and understanding of the true value of the weapon. Instead


of merely examining the negative aspects of the five inch gun, the positive capabilities,


that are often forgotten, should be brought to light. Aspects of the weapon that are


seldom discussed, but are truly valuable.



High Rates Of Fire



Because the operation of the gun and the loading of its ammunition is


accomplished automatically, the Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber gun mount, manufactured by


United Defense's FMC Corporation, is capable of delivering a greater volume of fire then


an artillery battery consisting of six M198, 155mm howitzers. For example, if that


artillery battery was capable of firing its maximum rate of fire of three rounds per minute


per gun, it would be able to deliver a total of eighteen 155mm projectiles upon a given


target within one minute. A Spruance class destroyer, equipped with two five inch


(127mm) guns, could equal or surpass that number of projectiles firing only one of its


guns for one minute. Why? Because the Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber gun is capable of a


sustained rate of fire of twenty rounds per minute per gun. If firing both of its guns, the


ship would be capable of delivering forty rounds in one minute as compared to the


artillery battery's eighteen.


If an infantry regiment is involved in an operation, it will often have an artillery


battalion in support. If the battalion, consisting of three batteries and a total of eighteen


M198 howitzers, massed its fire upon one target, it would, in optimum conditions, deliver


fifty-four projectiles within one minute. If the direct support ship, responding to a call


for fire from the infantry battalion that it was supporting, was joined by the general


support ship that would be assigned to support the regiment, the two ships, if each were


equipped with two guns, would be capable of delivering eighty projectiles within the


time of one minute.


When considering these numbers, it must be remembered that the artillerymen


who are manhandling their projectiles will eventually grow tired. As they tire, their


maximum rate of fire decreases. The five inch gun is automated, and does not tire as a


human does. The naval gun's high rate of fire has often left an indelible impression upon


our enemies.


The effect is so immense that no operation of any kind is possible in the

area commanded by this rapid-fire artillery, either by tanks or infantry.




Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

German Army, Commander of German

forces, Normandy, 1944.32


Ammunition Availability



Ships equipped with the five inch gun generally carry 600 projectiles per gun


mount. Therefore, a Virginia class cruiser equipped with two five inch gun mounts


would usually carry approximately 1,200 projectiles. This amount of ammunition greatly


exceeds the logistical capabilities of a single artillery battery. Ships also have the ability


to be relieved on station by another ship that will assume its fire support mission. This


will allow a ship that has been firing on the gunline to replenish its ammunition and other


supplies well over the horizon and then return in approximately four to six hours.


What Ships Are Available For NSFS, And What Are They Equipped With?


SHIP CLASS Number of Ships Available Number of Guns Per Ship



Spruance class destroyers 31 2 Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber guns


Kidd class guided missile destroyers 4 2 Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber guns


Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers 6 1 Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber gun


Belknap class guided missile cruiser 1 1 Mk-42, 5"/54 caliber gun33


California class guided missile cruisers 2 2 Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber guns


Virginia class guided missile cruisers 2 2 Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber guns


Ticonderoga class guided missile cruisers 27 2 Mk-45, 5"/54 caliber guns


Just as the six inch and smaller caliber weapons that had participated in various


operations from World War II through the 1982 Falklands War greatly contributed to the


success of amphibious landings by delivering high rates of accurate fire, so could the five


inch gun of today. During operations, such as the amphibious assault conducted at


Salerno, where naval fire caused smoke, dust, and explosive fragmentation that slowed


the advance of approaching armor formations and stripped the tanks of their covering


engineer and infantry support, today's five inch naval gun, that possesses even greater


range and lethality than it predecessors, could produce a similar effect.

That effect, combined with a coordinated air effort, could smash an enemy


counterattack and ensure the successful establishment of the force beachhead and the


following operations. For naval gunfire can still be utilized to effectively contain the


enemy and protect the lodgment phase of an amphibious operation. Since future landing


sites will most likely have a road network nearby that would facilitate our push inland,


naval fires will be capable of blunting the enemy's counterattack against our landing site


along these same routes. Along these avenues of approach, a well thought out naval


gunfire countermech plan, utilizing the 5 inch guns, could isolate the landing site by


canalizing and delaying the successful deployment of the enemy's counterattacking armor


long enough for the commander to bring to weight the power of air attacks to destroy the


enemy threat. As demonstrated by past history, the successful employment of the naval


gun rests not upon the characteristics of the gun, but solely upon the abilities of those


who employ it.


Chapter Three






With the striking of the Iowa class battleships from the naval register, the Marine


Corps lost the long range fire support capabilities of the most effective naval surface fire


support ship that had ever existed. The United States Marine Corps now has been forced


to develop a strategy that places a high degree of reliance upon air power to support the


initial phases of amphibious operations.34 In support of these future operations in littoral


areas the greatest limitation of aviation assets will be their inability to maintain sustained,


and uninterrupted support of ground forces.


There is no argument that carrier based air strikes are capable of delivering an


overwhelming volume of fire power in a short period of time. Regrettably, the


sustainability of the effects of air power are at times limited to that brief moment in time


immediately following the impact of the last piece of air to surface ordnance that has


departed the aircraft. The availability of aircraft for a given operation will be dependent


upon various conditions within the theater. If there are no friendly nations in the vicinity


of the amphibious operations (AOA) from which land based air operations can be


conducted, such air assets may be forced to transit from distance bases. Hence, these


distant land based air assets may only have the ability to remain on station for a relatively


short period of time.


The number of aircraft carriers are also declining in number. Thus, their


availability within the theater at the time of the initiation of an operation will greatly


impact upon the amount of air support available to the ground commander. If the United


States has only one or two carriers located within striking range of the AOA, the carrier


air wings will be hard pressed to provide continuous close air support (CAS) sorties.


Responding to the demands of a major regional conflict that may appear, the carriers,


even if operating under perfect cyclic operations, may not be capable of supplying


uninterrupted aircraft sorties to the ground commander. Not only will the carrier air


wing commander have to be concerned with the scheduling of aircraft for CAS missions,


he will have problems such as the allocation of aircraft, the maintenance of air


superiority, the maintenance of the aircraft themselves, and the amount of ordnance


available. Remember, there is also a finite amount of ammunition available on the


carriers, and the transferring of ordnance from an ammunition ship to the carrier will


have an impact upon the ship's cyclic air operations.


Even when weather is not a factor and there is complete mastery of the air above


the battlefield, CAS aircraft may not always be readily available. When called upon to


engage targets of opportunity, there could be a gap between the time in which the target


is identified and aircraft are capable of attacking it. During this brief moment, the enemy


may slip away or inflict serious damage upon friendly forces. This inability to provide


continuous, uninterrupted air support to the ground commander highlights the need for


weapon systems aboard ships capable of providing both long and short range naval


surface fire support.


Future strategies for coping with belligerents will be determined under many of


the same constraints as in the past. The ability to develop a successful military strategy


in support of operations in littoral theaters will be based upon three considerations: the


geographic characteristics of the proposed area of operation, the enemy's defensive


strategy and degree of military preparedness in the proposed landing areas, and our


nation's military ability to cope with those conditions. The United States must possess


the material and maintain a level of training that will enable its armed forces to deliver


an appropriate response in support of the national strategic goals.


Since the next conflict may occur unexpectedly, the military must retain the


ability to respond to a varied set of coastal conditions and possible enemy capabilities.


Thus, what capabilities should the naval surface fire support assets of the fixture be


capable of providing to the commander at the operational or tactical level? What should


these fires accomplish? Would ground force commanders not want naval surface fires to


facilitate maneuver, create exploitable gaps, impede the enemy's freedom of movement,


and destroy those battlefield functions that would be critical to the enemy's ability to


effectively degrade a successful assault and build up of combat power ashore? To


accomplish these tasks, weapons systems must be available that are responsive,


dependable, and versatile. They must also possess a range that would be capable of


supporting over the horizon operations in littoral theaters.


In addition to the "traditional" naval gunfire missions of providing destructive


fires, preparation fire, counter fire, suppressive fire, and area neutralization, a recent


report to Congress regarding the future of naval surface fire support (NSFS) considered


the following missions as being critical:




-Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), especially during the

critical period just before and during the actual landing.


- Suppression of enemy artillery threatening both the Helicopter Landing

Zones (HLZs) and the beach Landing Zones (LZs).


- Highly responsive call fires in support of force landings and subsequent



- Interdiction of enemy reinforcements moving to counter the landing.35


In addition to those critical mission requirements, these weapon requirements

were identified:


- Some NSFS elements must have ranges of 50 to 70 nm.


- Guidance will be required to provide effective fire at these extended



- A mix of warheads will be required to defeat the broad spectrum of the

targets expected to be encountered. Warheads currently fielded in

U.S. Army systems, or under development, appear capable of

defeating most NSFS targets.


- Particularly in the maneuver warfare context, highly responsive fire is



- Advance targeting, communications and coordination systems will be

critical to maximizing NSFS capabilities.36



What future fire support assets will be able to accomplish these tasks? In


addition to an improved version of the five inch naval guns and ammunition


possessing an extended range capability that is currently under development, there


are four proposed variations of missiles that are based upon weapon systems already


in existence.37 Three missiles of the four missile systems that are being examined will


be capable of functioning from launchers that are currently found onboard today's naval


surface combatants. For example, the Standard Missile Autonomous Homing Round


(SMASHR), also known as the Fire Support Standard Missile, a variant of the SM-2


Standard Missile, is capable of being launched from the Mk-13, Mk-26 and Mk-41


launching systems. The Sea Standoff Land Attack Missile or Sea SLAM, a variant of the


air launched Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM, AGM-84E)38, will be capable of


being launched from the same Quad Launcher as the Harpoon missile or the Mk-41


Vertical Launching System (VLS). Though not initially listed in earlier studies as one of


the systems being considered as an NSFS option for tactical or operational targets, the


Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) has been the subject of recent studies by the


Pentagon regarding its possible use as a means to strike armored formations located deep


in enemy territory.39 These studies have addressed the TLAM's capability of being


utilized as a vehicle to deliver advanced submunitions such as the Brilliant Antitank


(BAT) and the Wide Area Mine (WAM). These three missiles are already certified for


shipboard use, and, as already noted, capable of being launched, after the completion of


minor modifications, from equipment already onboard ships.


The fourth missile under consideration as a future NSFS weapon is the Navy


TACMS, a variation of the Army's missile the ATACMS. At this time, Navy TACMS


has not yet been certified for shipboard use. Additionally, the Navy TACMS presently is


not capable of being launched from any launchers currently fielded on naval combatants.


This problem can be overcome, and engineers of Loral Vought Systems have already


formulated various reasonable solutions. (These solutions will be addressed later in this




Technological developments made within the past several decades have brought


about the creation of precision weaponry so accurate that the desired goal of "one round,


one kill" is now a virtually reality. Hence, fewer rounds are needed to successfully


engage a target. But the cost of that weapon may make the engagement of some targets a


cost prohibitive endeavor.


The proposed new gun and missile systems should not merely be examined as


stand alone weapon systems. After evaluating their value as a single system, they should


be evaluated as part of a total concept that utilizes a combination of various NSFS


weapon systems installed aboard the same ship. This would allow the future commander


to have the ability to engage targets with the most cost effective or most abundant


weapon at his disposal. This will enable his fire support personnel to choose from a


variety of weapons that may include the inexpensive naval gun, a mid-range missile, and


a long range missile. With the development of a variety of naval surface fire support


weapons, the commander of future operations would be able to choose the means that


best suits the desired end.



With the recent shift in strategy to supporting warfare in the littoral areas of the


world, there emerged an interest within the Department of Defense in using the TLAM to


engage tactical targets such as tanks, artillery, and armored vehicles. During the 1991


Gulf War, the TLAM was used to destroy stationary, strategic targets such as


communications centers and headquarters buildings in Iraq. In the course of that


conflict, 288 TLAMs were fired but none were in support of vertical envelopments or


amphibious operations.40 In fact, twenty three TLAMs were utilized just on the attack


of the Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters alone.41 This is not to be considered overkill, for


they were dedicated to the destruction of one extremely significant strategic target.


The older versions of the TLAM needed a detailed program in order to reach their


target. The requirement for detailed planning and data for the missile's onboard terrain


following maps were characteristics that did not lend themselves to the engagement of


mobile targets.After the Gulf War, modifications were made that increased the TLAM


Block III version to a range of roughly 1,000 nautical miles. Additionally, the missile is


now equipped with a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS)


for its mid-course guidance in place of the Terrain Contour Matching system of guidance.


This upgrade reduces planning and mission preparation time, thus increasing the missile's


flexibility and responsiveness regarding its employment against various types of





The Block IV version of the TLAM will, like the Block III, incorporate the use of


Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. This newer version will utilize an


autonomous imaging infrared (IIR) seeker for terminal guidance in place of the older


Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) system. This version of the TLAM


will also possess a satellite data link communication capability that will allow a


controller to adjust target selection while the missile is in flight.43 This capability will


facilitate the engagement of more mobile targets, but two questions immediately arise.


First, the weapon, with related launching materials, will cost the taxpayer approximately


$1,000,000.00 per launch. Is this a cost effective way to attack operational or tactical


targets? Second, if the TLAM is employed against tactical targets, there will be one less


long range strategic target that may not be engaged. Those strategic targets that are 1,000


nautical miles away from the ship, deep in enemy territory, will most likely be protected


by at least a moderately sophisticated anti-air missile system. The most critical


consideration regarding the employment of the TLAM is that even if the missile gets shot


down enroute to the target there is no pilot to be concerned about. The limited and


expensive. TLAMs should be reserved for those high value strategic or operational targets


that require extremely precise delivery accuracy and that may possibly be located in high


threat areas.


Even though the TLAM Block III and IV versions are far more responsive than


the older versions, they still require a relatively small amount of time, roughly 20 to 60


minutes, to prepare for launch. Therefore, it will not be as responsive as some articles


may suggest and may prove to be unsuited to reply to urgent calls for fire from Marines


or soldiers that need to engage a target immediately. In this tactical capacity, the TLAM


fails to meet one of the critical mission requirements for NSFS: to provide "highly


responsive call fires in support of landing forces and subsequent maneuvers."44


Strategically, the TLAMs performance of delivering accurate fire upon high value


strategic targets, as demonstrated in the Gulf War, has been superb.





The Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) was initially designed to be fired


from a static launcher located on a surveyed position. The Navy version of the Tactical


Missile Systems (TACMS) is a superb next step in this family of missiles. During the


1991 Gulf War, the ATACMS proved to be an outstanding asset to the ground


commander. First fired in combat on 18 January 1991, the missiles were both accurate


and lethal.


The LORAL/Vought Systems Corporation has taken the ATACMS missile, given


it a GPS inertial navigation capability, and demonstrated in February 1995 that it is


capable of being fired from a ship. Because of this GPS/INS guidance capability, the


Navy TACMS will be capable of providing the future NEF/MEF commander with


extremely accurate, long range fire support. The Navy TACMS will have a range in


excess of 100 NM.45 One of the two proposed variations of the missile for employment


onboard ships will be the newly designed Navy TACMS which will be capable of


crying approximately 750 submunitons.


Prior to the 1992, LORAL had proposed the creation of a fire support ship based


upon the concept of mounting TACMS launchers onboard a converted maritime


prepositioning ship. This concept was greeted by the Navy with numerous questions


regarding the following issues: the ships vulnerability to enemy action, the affordability


of dedicating a ship of that size merely to provide a launching platform for the


positioning of numerous TACMS launchers, and the need for the large number of


TACMS involved in LORAL's proposal. By 1995, the older concept of employing this


extremely capable weapon aboard ships had been replaced by two far more viable




LORAL/Vought Systems Corporation has proposed two different conceptually


feasible methods for launching the Navy TACMS from ships. The first is relatively


simple. It proposes that the TACMS be fired from a Concentric (Cocoon) launcher,


similar to the Quad Launcher that is utilized by the Harpoon missile. The second method


is to launch it from the current Mk-41 Vertical Launching System. In either case, the


capability of utilizing the GPS/INS mid-trajectory guidance eliminates the need for the


stable launcher position requirement of the original ATACMS.


The major limitation of the of firing the TACMS from the Mk-41 VLS is this: the


TACMS is a very hot missile and will erode the materiel that lines the walls of the VLS


cells at a faster rate then any other missile system in the naval inventory. This will


require the ships that fire TACMS to undergo costly maintenance in order to refurbish


those launch cells at a faster rate then normal. In addition to the rapid eroding of the


walls lining the cell, these large missiles are an extremely tight fit. Even though the


engineers of LORAL/Vought believe that these problems can be overcome, the TACMS


appears to be better suited for firing from a Quad type launcher instead of the VLS.


The deck mounted launcher has one major limitation: its employment on ships


will be dependent not only on available deck space, but on the amount of weight that the


space upon the deck will be able to accommodate. For example, the weight of the


smaller Harpoon missiles and their Quad Launchers are less then that of the proposed


Navy TACMS and its Quad Launcher. The difference in weight between one system and


another becomes an important consideration when examining the feasibility of mounting


material aboard certain ships. For example, to replace a lighter weapon system with a


slightly heavier one could pose problems for ships, such as the Ticonderoga class


cruisers, that already have topweight restrictions.



The TACMS Quad Launcher systems should be capable of being mounted, once


weight considerations are examined, in the same stands that support the Harpoon Quad


Launcher. The TACMS fire control would then interface with the ship's fire control


system for initialization and targeting; with the GPS/INS, this should yield a delivery


accuracy that would be within the standard GPS accuracy of 16 meters. The critical


factor in the employment of any of these missiles utilizing the GPS/INS will be


dependent upon the target's location being not only accurate from the spotter, but based


on the same GPS system as utilized by the missile. i.e., the spotter could be using an


older map the is based upon a different system then the GPS is utilizing. With the target


location source and the missile's guidance system utilizing the same GPS coordinates, the


normal problems involving target location inaccuracies will virtually become nonexistent


With this accuracy, the Navy TACMS will prove to be well suited to attack targets, such


as surface to air missile systems and the operational reserves, deep in enemy territory.



This missile is merely a slightly different version of the of the already proven air


launched SLAM. It has a proposed design that will make it capable of being launched


from either the standard Harpoon Quad Launchers, found on most of the Navy's surface


combatants, or from the Mk-41 Vertical Launching System. Possessing a range that


exceeds 60 nautical miles, the Sea SLAM uses GPS/INS to provide mid-course guidance


and an IIR for terminal guidance. The Sea SLAM is capable of providing an extremely


accurate means to deliver either one of a variety of submunitions, such as Sense And


Destroy Armor (SADARM) or BAT, or a 300 pound warhead. The only significant


limitation of this weapon system is that it will require some form of terminal guidance,


such as the a Walleye datalink, in order to achieve its pin point delivery accuracy.


Another concept, though not found in any of the sources that were utilized to develop this


paper, would be to possibly develop a variant of this missile that would employ a laser


seeking capability in order to provide the missile with its terminal guidance. This would


allow greater utilization of the missile by ground forces that currently are already in


possession of various laser designation systems.


Standard Missile Autonomous Homing Round (SMASHR)


also known as the


Fire Support Standard Missile




A variant of the Navy's Standard Missile, the SMASHR will utilize a GPS/INS


system which will provide the missile with both mid-course and terminal guidance.46


With the Mk 56 motors, taken from the obsolete SM-1s, the SMASHR will be capable of


engaging targets, depending upon the weight of the payload, at a range between 50 and


100 nm. With the newer Mk-104 motors, the missile will be capable of engaging targets


between 100 and 200 nm.


One of the key aspects of this newer variant of the Standard missile, equipped


with the Mk-104 motor, is that it possesses the capability of being launched not only


from the Mk-41 VLS but also from the Mk-26 and Mk-13 launchers. This means that the


SMASHR would be capable of being fired from all of the active fleet's guided missile


cruisers, guided missile destroyers, modified Spruance class destroyers that have been


equipped with the Mk-41 VLS, and even the Oliver Harzard Perry class guided missile


frigates. Only one modification would be required in order to utilize this weapon on any


of the previously mentioned ships: the interface between the missile and the ship's fire


control for initialization and targeting.


There are also two other aspects regarding the adoption of this missile. The first


is that the Navy already has personnel onboard each of those surface combatants trained


in the handling, maintaining, and testing of Standard Missiles. In short, the Navy already


has an established foundation for the employment of this missile system. Many


thousands of dollars will not be spent in order to train personnel in various routine tasks


that are associated with the maintenance of a missile system. In fact, the same personnel


that would be taking care of the already proven SM-2 surface to air missile would be


qualified to maintain this proposed variant. Additionally, the logistics consideration,


regarding the shipping, storage, and resupply of the Standard Missile are also firmly




The second, and possibly a more important aspect, is that the adoption of this


missile system could rapidly increase the number of surface combatants capable of


providing naval surface fire support without adding one new ship to the fleet. There are


fifty one Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates within the Navy's active and reserve force


structure. These frigates, equipped with only a 76mm Mk-75 gun and Mk-13 missile


launcher, are currently not considered to be capable of supplying naval surface fire


support. If the SMASHR was adopted by the Navy, these extremely cost effective ships


could significantly increase the Navy's ability to project fire power from the sea. For


these ships that require a crew of less then 200 officers and enlisted are capable of


carrying forty missiles. Though a forty missile storage capability, in which only a


fraction may be made available to accommodate the SMASHR, does not appear to be


many when compared to the eighty-eight missile capacity of the Kidd class guided


missile destroyers, it is still a capability. These frigates could be assigned to an


Amphibious Task Force as an escort providing anti-air protection with the standard SM-2


missile, and anti-submarine protection with an embarked LAMPS helicopter detachment.


Once within the AOA, these ships, while still providing limited anti-air and anti-


submarine protection, could provide some NSFS with the SMASHR.


The SMASHR may be fitted to carry various payloads that include either


submunitions or a standard 250 pound warhead. It can also be readily assembled from


various missile components that are already in production. Hence, the SMASHR appears


to be the missile system that could be fielded in the immediate future. This would allow


the long range gap that was created with the early demise of the battleships to be closed.




By far the most inexpensive means of firing at the enemy is still the naval gun.


But many will still dispute the value of a gun system. Some within the naval services


stress that ships providing naval surface fire support must remain over the horizon in


order to preclude being damaged by anti-ship missiles, long range coastal artillery pieces,


or mines. But, one fact should be recalled: the Ticonderoga, an Aegis cruiser, came in


close to the beach in order to fire into Lebanon in the mid 1980's, and the Lake Erie,


another Aegis cruiser, was extremely close to the beach off of Somalia in early 1995 in


order to provide naval fire support for the Marines covering the UN withdraw if needed.


There will be times in the future, as in the past, where ships equipped with short range


five inch naval guns will close on the beach and deliver fire support to ground forces.


Even though the Navy will continue to examine the long term possibility of


acquiring a larger gun, such as a 155mm naval gun, and the possible development of


advanced propellants, such as a Liquid Propellant or an Electrothermal-chemical (ETC)


capability47, the near term solution to improving the capabilities of the naval gun will


rest upon the enhancement of the current five inch gun. In March 1995, the Navy


Department decided to develop, as a near term solution, a 5"/62 caliber gun as the next


gun available in the fleet.48 An Operational Requirement Document (ORD) has been


drafted and is currently being reviewed. The gun will have a minimum ballistic threshold


of 20 NM, and an objective range of 25 NM. For the use of an Extended Range Guided


Munition (ERGM), it will have a minimum threshold range of 41 NM and an objective


range of 63 NM. Both of the two ERGMs under consideration are based upon the earlier


technological developments of the older Semi-Active Laser Guided Projectile


(SALGP).49 The proposed projectiles will utilize a GPS/INS for mid-course and terminal


guidance and are projected to exceed the ORD's objective threshold range.


Anticipated to be ready to be installed and tested on board a DDG-51 class guided


missile destroyer near the turn of the century, the new 5"/62 caliber gun will bring to the


fleet the superior capability of being able to engage targets to ranges of 20-25 nm with


low cost ballistic projectiles, and precision engagement of mid range targets with the


utilization of one of the ERGMs to ranges within 63 nm.



Global Positioning System Guidance



Even though the GPS/INS capability will substantially increase the overall


effectiveness of the previously discussed weapons systems, it will still be limited in its


ability to destroy extremely small point targets. Why? Because its accuracy will be


effected by the standard GPS error of +/-16 meters. Unfortunately, there is also a chance


that the ability to achieve a reasonability high degree of delivery accuracy may be


severely degraded by an external source. The GPS that guides many of the United States'


prized precision guided weapons is capable of being jammed.50 A jamming capability


would severely degrade the accuracy of a 'Smart Weapon.' This jamming capability


could effect weapons such as the Block III and Block IV versions of TLAM, the Sea


SLAM, the Navy TACMS, the SMASHR/ Fire Support Standard Missile, and the


proposed ERGMs for the naval gun. Even though this is a relatively new technological


capability that many nation's with limited defense budgets may consider, it will not be


able to totally prevent the successful engagement of targets within their territory.


Special GPS receivers capable of resisting a high level of jamming are not only


under development, but are actually available today.51 The key aspect of overcoming


this problem will be limited to the emphasis placed upon it by the senior members of the


Department of Defense. While working within various budgetary restrictions, they must


decide whether the Navy can afford to gamble with the prospect of a future enemy having


the ability of turning its 'Smart Weapons' into 'Dumb" ones.



Observation of the Battlefield



A critical element in the use of any of these new longer range weapon systems


will be the ability of the supported agency and the firing platform to rapidly process


target information, to observe the target area, and to control the engagement of the target.


The various options for the observation of the target area include ground observers,


aircraft, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle's (UAVs). The past use of UAVs in the


observation of ballistic projectiles, such as those UAV observed battleship fire missions


during the Gulf War, have proven to be very effective. In 1993, the Navy integrated the


Pioneer UAV with the Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM). Additionally, the Navy


would now like to expand this capability to incorporating the UAVs with the Block IV


variant of the TLAM.



The future of naval surface fire support thus holds great promise. The weapons


systems presently under consideration will enable a commander to choose the


appropriate weapon to achieve his desired endstate. These weapon systems will permit


the United States to project naval power in support of national policy to distant shores.


The ability for the future commander to have these valuable assets at his disposal will


rest upon the abilities of those members of the military responsible for justifying the need


for the development and fielding of these weapon systems.


Chapter Four










Future conflicts in this highly unstable world may prove to be "come as you are


contingencies." With the public's desire to reduce federal spending, multiple agencies


compete for their share of an ever shrinking budget. It is incumbent upon the naval


service to present a credible argument for the funding required to maintain a force of


ships, planes, and personnel that will enable it to respond to current and projected crisis.


The government and its military cannot become so enamored with the success of


Operation Desert Storm that it fails to remember that the United States fought that


conflict as part of a multilateral coalition against an opponent who not only fought the


coalition unilaterally, but whose Army lacked the will to win, In the future the country


may find that it could face belligerents that have learned from the passed, identified


appropriate lessons, and conspire to take some form of multilateral action against the


United States.


In the 21st Century, the United States will not have the luxury of having the time


to develop skills that were neglected. It must possess the foresight to continue to develop


and build the weapon systems and ships that will enable the nation to project power in


order to defend the country's interests. The strategic military force structure and its


resources must be capable of projecting an appearance of staggering power. There must


be a capability to conduct operations with such overwhelming force that an enemy is


compelled to bend to our will or refrain from acting at all. For this reason, a balanced


mix of air to surface and surface to surface weapons systems must be maintained that

can be applied as needed. Failure to maintain this ability could result in embarrassing


and costly ventures. In this era of instantaneous telecommunications, this morning's poor


performance on the battlefield will be this morning's lead story on CNN's Headline News.


On his last day of active service, Admiral Henry H. Mauz, the former Commander


of the Atlantic Fleet, challenged the Pentagon's Bottom Up Review during his retirement


speech in Norfolk, Virginia. One point of contention was that the fleet had been forced


to cope with budget cuts, an increased operational tempo, a higher cost of doing business,


and a reduction of ships.



The world out there is becoming more volatile, ... Other crises will happen. There

could well be another crisis like Desert Storm......As far as overseas presence

goes, it is true we don't have to be everywhere all the time anymore. But we have

to be there with enough forces, enough of the time, to be creditable and to add to

deterrence....We can't just put a flag on a frigate and call it forward presence.




Admiral Henry H. Mauz, USN

From his Change Of Command

speech 5 October 1994.52




It is interesting to note that only two days after Admiral Mauz made this speech,


Iraqi forces moved in an extremely provocative manner to an area close to the Kuwaiti


border. This action sparked a rapid movement of both men and material from the United


States to Southwest Asia. Luckily, the United States still possessed the ability to project


sufficient power in order to keep this possible belligerent from initiating hostile action.


The failure of a maritime state to maintain a strong, balanced naval force could


drastically reduce its ability to project power. As it losses its ability to pose a credible,


sustainable threat, it may loss its ability to compel an enemy to change its actions without


the eruption of an armed conflict. In October, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff;


General John Shalikashvilli stated:



The times are clearly such that the demands on the armed forces are very




The most significant limitation in the Navy's ability to project power with current


NSFS assets is its lack of sufficient cost effective long range surface to surface fire


support assets. Even though the current five inch gun is a valuable fire support asset, it is


generally under rated, under utilized, lacks the capabilities to fire projectiles that carry


submunitions, and is currently incapable of providing long range fire support. These


shortfalls can be overcome if decision makers continue to support and fund the


development and production of the next generation of naval surface fire support


weapons. These, along with the improved five inch gun with its ERGM, will allow the


nation to successfully project power in the early 21st Century. For naval surface fire


support will still be a viable option in the future if supported not only by the Congress,


but by those within the military who are responsible for justifying their need. The current


problem: how will power be projected while these newer weapons are under




The nation's strength has always been based upon flexibility and resourcefulness


during its conflicts. Dependence upon one asset strips us of this concept of flexible


response. An over dependence upon aerial firepower on the tactical and operational level


may make the United States extremely predictable, and vulnerable. The strategic


employment of Tomahawk missiles against Iraq, both during the 1991 Gulf War and


those strikes that took place shortly after it, must not be confused with tactical


employment of missile systems, for the Tomahawk is an expensive weapon, that


currently lends itself to strategic targets. With the limited range of the current five inch


naval gun, air power becomes the only option for projecting power on the operational and


tactical level from over the horizon. As a nation, the armed forces must be able to bring


a variety of assets to the theater of operations in order to compel the future enemy to


yield to our nation's desires.


As noted, the future of naval surface fire support holds potential. In the near


term, the current capabilities of the 5"/54 caliber gun, if combined as part of an adaptive


weapons package in which surface combatants would be equipped with the SMASHR


variant of the Standard Missile, the gunfire gap caused by the retirement of the


battleships could be closed. In the mid term, the ability to develop and field the


SMASHR, Sea SLAM, or TACMS, along with the fixture 5"/62 caliber gun with its


enhanced ERGMs, will enable the United States to continue to project power from the


sea well into the next century.


In preparing for the 21st century, the past must be remembered. In the 19th and


early 20th centuries, the mere presence of a battleship off the coast could prove to be


sufficient to compel a belligerent to adjust policy. Starting with World War II, the


historical use of that portion of naval surface fire support known as naval gunfire support


showed that its major limitation was not any of the inherent limitations of the weapon


systems, but by the inability of the men who employed those assets to understand those


weapons and achieve the desired results. In the future, men in leadership positions with


vision must ensure that the armed forces not only maintain a high degree of training and


readiness, but that they keep the elected officials of the country properly informed of the


importance of maintaining and developing the material assets needed to continue to


project a sufficient level of naval fire power. This must be a level of power that will


compel possible belligerents not to seek even a small demonstration of naval surface fire


support weaponry.




1 Chris Lawson, "Outgunned and outranged," Navy Times, 21 November 1994, 14+;

Admiral Jeremy M. Boorda, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, "An Enduring Vision Of

Naval Contributions," Defense 95, Issue 1, 1995, 18. In Adm Boorda's article, he states,

"Power projection, which we accomplish with an integrated package of sea-based

aircraft, sea-launched cruise missiles and Marine riflemen."; William J. Perry, Annual

Report of the Secretary of Defense to the President and the Congress. (Washington,

D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995), 194. When addressing naval surface fire

support: "With the return of its four battleships to inactive status, the Navy is studying

near- and long-term improvements in this mission area to support amphibious operations.

Currently most naval fire support is provided by tactical aircraft." Regrettably, the four

battleships were stricken from the Naval Register and are in the process of being

removed from the inactive 'mothball fleet' and disposed of, as noted in Navy Wire

Service release NNS042 and NWSA141, in accordance with existing law.


2 Captain Jack Gallant, USNR, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Washington, D.C.: Navy

Office of Information, Undated, circa 1994), 16-19.


3 Ibid, 28.


4 Major General Donald M. Weller, USMC (Ret), Naval Gunfire Sport of

Amphibious Operations: Past, Present, And Future. (Dahlgren: Naval Weapons Center,

1977), 26.


5 Robert Wallace and others, eds., The Italian Campaign; World War II

(Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1981), 61.


6 John Campbell, Naval Weapons Of World War Two (Annapolis: Naval Instititute

Press, 1985), 134-139.


7 Anthony Preston, Navies Of World War II (New York: Gallery Books, 1985), 189.


8 Des Hickey and Gus Smith, Operation Avalanche. The Salerno Landings, 1943.

(New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1984), 130.


9 Ibid, 145.


10 Weller, 32.


11 Hickey and Smith, 238.


12 Ibid, 343-344


13 Weller, 33.


14 Ibid.


15 Neil Leifer and Robert F. Dorr, USS New Jersey, The Navy's Big Guns, From

Mothballs To Vietnam (Osceola: Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers,

Inc., 1988), 91.


16 John C. Reily, Jr., and others, eds., Operational Experience of Fast Battleships

World War II, Korea, Vietnam (Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1987), 120-



17 Malcolm Muir, The Iowa Class Battleships, Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, &

Wisconsin (Dorset: Blandford Press, 1987), 114.


18 Paul Stillwell, Battleship New Jersey (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1986),



19 Chuck Myers, "Fire Support For Land Combat In Coastal Regions; The Answer Is

A Gun--On The Right Ship," unpublished paper written for the Defense Science Board's

Fire Support for Amphibious Warfare Study. (Dahlgren: Naval Surface Weapons Center,

Undated), 6.


20 David Miller and Chris Miller, Modern Naval Combat (New York: Crescent

Books, 1986), 92; Chris Bishop and others, eds, World Sea Power (New York: Crescent

Books. 1988), 112.


21 Myers, 6.


22 Robert H. Scales, Jr., Firepower In Limited War (Washington, D.C.: National

Defense University Press, 1990), 208-212.


23 Ibid, 211.


24 Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle For The Falklands (New York:

W.W. Norton & Company, 1983), 242.


25 Scales, 200.


26 Philip Williams, "U.S. Spotters Seen In Lebaness Village," UPI Press Item

Number 124, (February 1984); "U.S. Maintains Training Role For Lebanese", Daily News

(Jacksville, N.C.), 3 March 1984, Sec. A1.


27 The 5"/38 caliber gun is limited to a range of 16,640 meters compared to the

5"154 caliber gun that has a range of 23,691 meters. (John Campbell, Naval Weapons Of

World War Two, 139-142.)


28 The author had been the spotter who adjusted the USS Sims during this naval

gunfire mission.


29 Scales, 204.


30 Anonymous, The New York Times Index 1987: A Book of Record (New York: The

New York Times Company, 1988), 658.


31 Anonymous, "Punch, Counterpunch," Time, November 2, 1987, 62.


32 Gallant, 28.


33 The Mk-42, 5"/54 caliber gun mount is the predecessor of the Mk-45, 5"/54

caliber gun mount. The USS Belknap is the last of the available active gun platforms

equipped with this mount.


34 Report To Congress On Naval Surface Fire Supporr By The Secretary Of The

Navy, 17 July 1992. (Unclassified version, supplied by a manufacturer) 2-5.


35 Ibid, 1-1.


36 Ibid, 1-1, 1-2.


37 Captain Dennis G. Morral, USN, "Naval Surface Fire Support," lecture presented

at the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Va, 6 April



38 Mark Hewish and E. Hooton, "Stand Off And Deliver, Marines Need Long-

Range Fire Support," International Defense Review, October 1993, 802.


39 Robert Holzer, "New Munitions May Bolster Tomahawk, Pentagon Considers

Using Navy Cruise Missile To Strike Armored Formations." Defense News, October 17-

23, 1994, 4 and 90.


40 Vice Admiral H.C. Mustin,USN (Ret), "Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS),"

Unpublished paper. 15 July 1994, 2.


41 Ibid.


42 Rear Admiral Walter M. Locke, USN (Ret), and Kenneth P. Werrell, "Speak

Softly and..." Proceedings, October 1994, 32.


43 Glenn W. Goodman, Jr., "Pushing The Envelope, US Funds Key Missile

Programs Within Tight Budget Constraints," Armed Forces Journal International

(December 1994): 28-30.


44 Report To Congress On Naval Surface Fire Support By The Secretary Of The

Navy, 17 July 1992, 1-1, 2-12.


45 Briefing Booklet, Navy Tactical Missile System; A Joint Forces Opportunity,

LORAL/Vought Systems, March 1995.


46 J.D. Hagan, Naval Surface Warfare Center G30 Guided Munitions, Dahlgren, Va,

interview by author, 8 February 1995.


47 Ted Hooten, "USN Looks To Fill Fire Support Shortfall," Jane's Defense Weekly,

14 May 1994, 25.


48 J.D. Hagan, telephone interview by author, 4 April 1995.


49 The SALGP was part of the Navy's Guided Projectile Program initiated in 1969.

Also known as DEADEYE, it was a rocket propelled, terminally (Laser) guided

projectile. It was designed to provide the Navy with a cost effective projectile that had

longer range, improved accuracy, and a first round kill capability. Developmental testing

was conducted in 1979-80 at Dahlgren, VA. and White Sands, N.M. Regrettably, the

SALGP never entered production.


50 John G. Roos, "A Pair Of Achilles' Heels, How Vulnerable To Jamming Are US

Precision-Strike Weapons?" Armed Forces Journal International, November 1994, 21-



51 Ibid, 22.


52 Jack Dorsey, "Mauz Calls For Return To Stronger Navy Fleet, Boorda Hints He'll

Plan Such A Move," The Virginian-Pilot And The Ledger-Star, 6 October 1994, A1+.


53 William Matthews, "Shalikashvili Warns of Stretching U.S. Military Forces Too

Thinly," Defense News, 17-23 October 1994, 84.





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