The 21st Century and the U.S. Navy

Jul 95 No 7, (signed to press 20 Jul 95) pp 74-78
by Major M. Boytsov

What will the world be like in the 21st century? Who will come to threaten the country and with what? What capabilities must the armed forces possess to protect national interests? What qualitative level and quantitative makeup of the navy is necessary? All these questions inevitably arise in long-range planning of navy development in each major naval power, for the cycle of designing, building and operating the main types of ships occupies a period of from several decades to a half- century.

Forecasts such as the following now can be found in foreign literature:

in the first decades of the 21st century the world will have four strata; the first stratum will comprise the main powers such as the United States, the European Union in the form of a certain United States of Europe, and also China, Russia and several other multinational or national formations; the second stratum will be regional powers such as India, a unified Korea, Brazil and so on; the third will be the developing states; and the fourth all other countries;

one-fifth of the states will have four-fifths of world income, and another fifth, the so-called other countries, one percent;

the main powers and individual regional states will be capable of inflicting unacceptable damage on any enemy on the globe by employing mass destruction weapons and/or conventional weapons, and regional states will be capable of doing so to any enemy in their region;

the presence of mass destruction weapons in several dozen countries will create the threat of survival of a world population that is 50 percent urbanized;

a demographic explosion in Africa, Asia and Latin America will cause an avalanching migration of people into prosperous countries of Western Europe and North America and into lightly populated areas of other continents;

the outbreak of territorial and economic disputes, a rebirth of militant nationalism and a manifestation of centrifugal tendencies on social, ethnic and religious grounds with use of military force is not excluded against a background of global and regional deterioration of ecology, polarization of rich and poor countries and strata of the population, and exacerbation of the struggle to possess food, energy, raw material and water resources, including the ocean.

It is noted that U.S. leaders clearly see that the world would be merciless toward their rich country were it to lose power and competitiveness of the economy, political and financial influence, and the Armed Forces' capability of absolute and selective deterrence. The United States cannot permit the revival of that enemy or competitor who would become capable of calling into question both the survival as well as the prosperity of that state. Therefore the Americans are doing everything to see that their country is the greatest power in the world with global responsibility whose interests would be respected by all. Therefore to preserve its security and prosperity, it must strive for world leadership and exert an effect on processes occurring in it without surrendering positions it has achieved.

According to U.S. military strategy, which now is called the strategy of flexible and selective activation of the Armed Forces, its primary goals (preserving existing stability and stopping aggression) are achieved by performing three missions: peacetime operations, deterring and preventing conflicts, conducting combat operations to win victory. Military presence in forward areas and the possibility of moving forces and assets to any region of the world are considered the basis for this.

But whatever the U.S. national strategy in force is called, its essence is to reach any region of the world with nuclear and conventional weapons from positions of geocentrism. Strategies of branches of the Armed Forces such as "global reach/global power" for the Air Force or "power from the sea in forward areas" for the Navy clearly show their direction. "The purpose of U.S. naval forces remains the same--influencing by power and projecting the nation's influence across the seas to the waters and shores of foreign states both in peace as well as wartime," states the transoceanic strategy. "The most important role of naval forces is to be activated in forward areas to prevent conflicts and exercise control of crises."

Navy strategy in effect since 1994 is based on use of the global and operational maneuver of Navy and Marine forces in support of their flexible presence in forward areas and on the capability to deter and to deliver powerful fire damage on enemy forces at sea and on land to the range of available weapons. Already in the 1990's U.S. naval forces present in forward areas have "access" to 85 percent of strategic installations and cities of the globe, are capable of destroying them on 75 percent of land territory, and can conduct amphibious landing operations on 80 percent of the ocean coastline. With consideration of changes which have occurred in the global situation since the beginning of the current decade, views of the U.S. military-political leadership on methods of stopping crises and conflicts in the world are reflected in the following statements.

"From a global standpoint today, war appears to be a luxury which only poor nations can allow themselves," declared Z. Brzezinski in 1991. Others assert that "now economics has become an alternative to war." It is believed that the threat to peace and stability now stems above all from regional crises and conflicts, the place and time of outbreak of which are impossible to predict, and also from the proliferation of mass destruction weapons. Therefore, the Americans assume, main attention must be given to preventing and settling regional crises and main efforts must be concentrated not on the capability of conducting lengthy, costly combat operations, but on methods of limiting a conflict and preventing war.

According to modern views, powerful, highly mobile, multipurpose national, bloc and multinational rapid reaction forces represented by components of all branches of armed forces except nuclear are a very important means of preventing regional conflicts. And multinational (coalition) forces operating with the goal of preventing a crisis or conflict and settling it are the most advantageous from the standpoint of financial and material outlays and from the standpoint of reducing personnel losses. But strategic deterrence must be accomplished by all kinds of weapons including nuclear, and quantitative predominance of an enemy with mass armies must be contraposed by qualitative technological superiority in command and control, communications and intelligence systems and in military equipment (especially precision weapons and highly effective means of airlifting and sealifting troops, forces and equipment). It is believed that the role of the Navy and Marines in accomplishing a presence in forward areas and in operations against shore is unique and will grow steadily.

While now the U.S. Navy's principal missions constantly in effect are presence in forward areas, fleet- against-shore and fleet-against-fleet operations to win supremacy at sea and in maritime areas, deterrence by strategic nuclear weapons and support of strategic sealifts, its sphere of strategic missions can expand in the not-too-distant future. Three other missions will join that of deterrence by strategic nuclear weapons and preservation of a nuclear reserve:

support to Armed Forces in a TVD [theater of military operations] (combating enemy tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft, delivering strikes against strategic enemy targets primarily with conventional weapons, and in special cases also with nuclear weapons);

strategic defense (defense of U.S. territory against limited ICBM, SLBM and SLCM strikes);

space supremacy (destroying or neutralizing enemy reconnaissance, navigational, communications and other spacecraft in any orbits and inserting reconnaissance, communications and other satellites into space from ships and submarines for establishing or restoring friendly space systems).

And so several directions of U.S. Navy development can be traced. Deterrence by strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons will be supplemented by deterrence with conventional weapons, and to an ever growing extent. Disruption of the enemy's will and ability to wage war must be supported by the destruction of selected target complexes such as key sectors in the manufacture and production of raw materials, stockpiles, power systems, transportation, communications and so on, with an expansion in their breadth and geography through use of long-range conventional weapons with CEP's approaching zero.

In the area of making naval forces and assets more versatile, maximum saturation of surface, undersea and airborne platforms with offensive and defensive missiles and with other combinations of assets capable of performing both strategic and operational as well as tactical missions is envisaged, and they may be used for combating enemy ballistic and cruise missiles targeted not only against friendly forces at sea, but also against the territories of one's own state and of its allies. A concentration of platforms with 2,000-3,000 precision weapons operating at a range of from several thousand meters to 2,500 km and capable of engaging 1,000-1,500 targets will permit winning supremacy in individual zones or regions of the sea, air and outer space. In the area of command and control, communications and intelligence, the creation of more sophisticated equipment (particularly shipboard and satellite equipment) for tracking not only ballistic missiles, but also aircraft and low-flying cruise missiles, must be supported by development of the 30-300 GHz band. By 2010 it is planned to make an abrupt leap in quality and speed of managing the battle (engagement) based on all the latest achievements of science and technology and thereby ensure victory in information warfare.

Thus, the following are becoming principal components of the "new revolution in military affairs" for the United States: predominance of mobile operations, which will be supported in the Navy by the creation of various combat and auxiliary seaborne and airborne platforms for new kinds of weapons and their supporting assets. It is expected that in the first half of the 21st century the U.S. Navy order of battle will have up to 450 ships and vessels. One can judge their characteristics based on requirements being placed on the surface ship of the 21st century. She must be multipurpose--employ precision weapons, provide fire support in conducting amphibious landing operations, provide ABM defense in a TVD, oppose the air, surface and subsurface threat, conduct battle both in the open ocean as well as in coastal areas, and also possess high survivability, provide a base for helicopters and drones, and have standardized launchers for employing missiles for various purposes, including ABM interceptors. The missile unit of fire aboard them will be up to 500-1,000. Inasmuch as the delivery of precision strikes is considered to be the basis of success in the modern battle, engagement, campaign and war as a whole, the U.S. Navy and Marines will have a considerable quantity of precision weapons already in this decade. Ideas were advanced for creating multipurpose assets for the Navy with consideration of lessons of the war against Iraq. These are general-purpose ballistic missiles with calibers of 83, 30, 21 and 12 inches launched from SSBN's or from general- purpose vertical launchers, with various platforms. Like the employment of SLCM's, their employment is considered effective in delivering strikes against shore, intercepting ballistic and aerodynamic targets, combating enemy satellites, inserting friendly assets into space, and also destroying submarines. It was presumed that general-purpose ballistic missiles will have a range up to 3,000 km, subsonic SLCM's up to 3,700-13,500 km and supersonic SLCM's up to 1,600 km.

Projects were advanced for creating gliding ballistic missiles with an effective range of up to 1,400 km against shore targets and up to 630 km against submarines. The creation of a global SLBM (range 15,725 km) with 2-4 maneuvering MIRV's with a conventional charge on each and accommodation of 2-4 such missiles on SSBN's was assessed as possible. Their target kill probability is expected to be no worse than 0.9 with a CEP around 3 m. It was proposed to have ship electromagnetic guns in particular for delivering a 203-mm hypersonic guided projectile with kinetic munitions to a range of 185-925 km and electrothermal guns for air/ABM defense of ships in the closest zone. Possibilities of using laser, beam, kinetic and EMP weapons in the Navy were determined. It was deemed possible to arm ships with high-energy lasers for combating satellites and tactical ballistic and cruise missiles with a killing range of 600-800, 200-400 and 20 km respectively. Questions were studied as to the expanded use of kinetic munitions which penetrate soil, water and ice; shaped- charge, including multiple-stage, munitions (directional, aimed and deforming explosion); and creation of solid- propellant pressure-effect munitions and munitions using "reactive metals and elements," which, compared with conventional fougasses, increased the level of damage inflicted on ships and other armored targets by 2-4 times. In accordance with this, at the borderline of the 1990's the United States advanced the following options for creating 21st century ships:

a large nuclear powered submarine of modular design with a displacement of 8,200-10,700 tonnes with 8-24 launchers accommodating 8-96 general-purpose ballistic missiles or up to 216 SLCM's;

a small nuclear powered submarine with a displacement up to 5,000 tonnes with 4-36 SLBM's, general-purpose ballistic missiles and SLCM's;

air-cushion aircraft carrier displacing 9,000 tonnes with a speed around 80 kts and capable of carrying 27 aircraft and helicopters;

double-hulled catamaran aircraft carrier (29,700 t, 28 kts, 27 aircraft and helicopters, 244 general-purpose ballistic missiles);

surface combatant with 158 vertical launchers; attack destroyer (8,700 t, 28 kts, 212-288 vertical launchers with a unit of fire of up to 320 missiles); semisubmersible surface ship (4,800 t, 30 kts, 30 general-purpose ballistic missiles);

strategic missile catamaran platform (9,800 t, 28 kts, over 180 general-purpose ballistic missiles) and attack missile catamaran platform (8,600 t, 28 kts, over 180 general-purpose ballistic missiles);

attack ship with electromagnetic guns (7,600-10,200 t, 24 kts, 2 guns);

general-purpose assault ship (30,000-40,000 t, 20-25 kts) in the following versions: amphibious assault, air- capable, air defense, logistic support;

catamaran module--a mobile floating supply base (a cluster of three 600 t modules with a deck length around 1,500 m in a cluster of 3 modules, speed 18-20 kts); reconnaissance-strike air-cushion ship (450 t, 33-35 kts, 20 general-purpose ballistic missiles, 4 antiship missile launchers and 2 torpedo tubes);

remotely controlled naval target simulator craft (81 t, 35 kts, and simulation and deception electronics); air-cushion platform for operations under Arctic conditions, and many others.

Options for creating flying craft for the Navy included the following: new land-based patrol aircraft with standard armament or with general-purpose ballistic missiles; outfitting of patrol, attack and fighter aircraft with ABM interceptors in vertical launchers or on horizontal suspension; an advanced short takeoff and vertical landing fighter; several types of manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, including 3 types of high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft with great endurance (altitude to 21-26 km, speed 100-500 km/hr, endurance 2-60 days) launched from ships, shore airfields or with the help of rockets. In addition, options were examined for creating high-altitude reconnaissance dirigibles (20 km, 140 km/hr, endurance up to 30 days) and reconnaissance balloons (21-36 km, duration of operation one year). It is considered realistic to create an oceangoing wing-in-ground-effect transport vehicle weighing 5,000 tonnes having a payload of 1,500 tonnes and capable of delivering 1,200 tonnes of military equipment and cargoes and 2,000 servicemen to a distance of 20,000 km at a speed of 400 km/hr.

Nuclear munitions also were not ignored. The following requirements were placed on their next generation: yields from 10 KT to 1 MT, capability of changing yield in the course of employment, capability of penetrating soil, water, and through ice into water, use as neutron weapons and as a source of powerful electromagnetic pulse, and level of radioactive contamination reduced by an order of magnitude. The proposal was advanced to create a modular warhead for missiles which could be fitted with a conventional or nuclear munition aboard ship in five minutes. It was deemed realistic to create a nuclear-pumped "radio-frequency" munition intended for disabling seaborne, aerospace and ground-based electronic equipment with EMP from an altitude of 50-100 km within a radius up to 500 km (up to 50 km with shielding). Judging from materials of 1992-1994, the majority of these proposals on nuclear warheads either were frozen or were sharply limited, but the capability of realizing them within 3-5 years is retained.

The so-called nonlethal weapon probably can be called a particular kind of precision weapon with a certain amount of lenience. It is being created in the United States and is intended for all branches of the Armed Forces. It is expected that such weapons will become the most used means in performing not so much tactical as strategic missions. It will provide the United States with "powerful new concepts of effect" and will permit "achieving political and military goals by ways previously impossible." While at a tactical level the "nonlethal weapon" will begin to be used, for example, to "neutralize servicemen who have intermingled with civilians and to control crowd actions," at a strategic level it will be used to show U.S. resolve with respect to a certain country. It is believed the weapon possesses high selectiveness in opposing, for example, mobilization of forces or escalation of a conflict, in destroying weapons (including mass destruction weapons) and means of their production, and also in disabling regional infrastructure systems of civilian and military communications, transportation, power supply and so on. It is planned to use "nonlethal weapons" both independently as well as in combination with "lethal" ones to achieve the greatest result. To combat personnel it is possible to use sound-emitting, light-emitting and laser units, and sprayers of substances acting on the physiology and mind. But EMP generators, short-circuiters of power transmission lines, computer viruses, chemical substances which eat away rubber and metals and make surfaces slippery, and quick- hardening adhesive, obstructing, concealing and other substances can be used to combat equipment. Many kinds and models of so-called nonlethal weapons that exist and that are under development remain top secret.

Another component of the revolution in military affairs is support of victory in information warfare. The United States calls this component different things: information struggle, information war, warfare against enemy command and control entities. It is based on use of existing U.S. superiority in the spheres of communications, cybernetics and information science, in modern methods of collecting, gathering and analyzing intelligence, in processing and transmitting data at a high rate, and in the methodology of modeling, i.e., on superiority in information systems, which permits destroying the enemy battle management system architecture while preserving their own battle management systems. The goals of information warfare can be characterized briefly: to blind, deafen, demoralize and decapitate enemy entities for command and control of the armed forces.

To blind means to disrupt the flow of intelligence from collecting entities to the enemy command element and also disrupt output of target designations and warnings from reconnaissance to command and control entities. To deafen means to use EW assets to neutralize enemy information networks. To demoralize means to saturate enemy information networks with false commands and reports misleading him and corrupting his command and control system. To decapitate means to destroy enemy command and control entities and their communications equipment. Successful operations of cruise missiles and aircraft which disrupted the Iraqi command and control and communications system in the first hours and days of the Persian Gulf war contributed to the realization of the importance of performing these missions.

But a certain euphoria from Iraq's defeat (a victory of the "world team" over the "national team," which was isolated and retired into an inert defense, as critics of this campaign write in the West) healed the Vietnam syndrome in the United States, moved the significance of such constantly acting factors as morale and national character back into the shadows, and revived hope for unconditional superiority of quality over quantity. In this connection and considering the U.S. Navy's breakaway in level of naval equipment from countries of Europe and the Asiatic-Pacific region by 5-10-15 years and the limitation of financing, it can be assumed that in the next few years and at the beginning of the next century emphasis in their development will be placed on creating mobile forces equipped with precision weapons, on further upgrading command and control and communications systems, and on computer support and reconnaissance. Construction of a series of nuclear powered aircraft carriers and of a series of landing ships which will comprise the backbone of expeditionary forces for the next 30-50 years will be completed and construction will begin on a new multipurpose nuclear powered submarine and a new multipurpose guided missile ship.

The concept of distributing firepower on the greatest possible number of combatant ships probably will see further development with the Navy's outfitting with reliable means of combating ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and satellites. The strategic nuclear reserve will consist of nuclear powered missile submarines. It is believed that because of all this and the upgrading, replacement and modernization of surface, submarine and air forces, they will succeed in achieving a total balance of the Navy and Marines. In this case the U.S. Navy will acquire the capability of full-fledged performance of offensive and defensive, strategic and tactical missions with conventional weapons not only in the ocean and coastal areas of dry land, but also in continental TVD's as well as in outer space. Completeness of realization of the existing backlog and the backlog being created in RDT&E in support of the U.S. Navy will depend on the world military-political situation and the amount of appropriations being allocated to this branch of the Armed Forces.