Friday, February 12, 2016

US Army considering Coastal Artillery and Air Defense capable Strykers? USAF no longer believed to guarantee air superiority.

via Breaking Defense.
The 155 mm howitzer is just one weapon being considered for “coastal artillery,” Rossi told me. Anti-ship projectiles could also be developed for the Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS), which has a 43-mile range, or the Army Tactical Missile System(ATACMS), which ranges 185 miles.
What the Army is not studying, Rossi said, is buying anti-ship cruise missiles, which would be an entirely new weapons system rather than a modification of an existing one. That news will be a disappointment, if hardly unexpected, to legislators like House seapower chairman Randy Forbes and thinktanks like the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, which have advocated the US Army get into the shore-based cruise missile business to counter China’s growing navy.
And then this...
After the Cold War, “we took the ‘A’ out of ‘air and missile defense’ in many ways…and we focused on missile defense,” Rossi told the AUSA conference. The Army focused on shooting down ballistic missiles and assumed the Air Force would sweep the skies of enemy aircraft.  That assumption is no longer valid in the face of Russian and Chinese anti-access/area denial forces whose primary purpose is to keep American aircraft and ships at bay. The congressionally chartered National Commission on the Future of the US Army singled out short-range air defense (SHORAD) as a major Army weakness....One of the Army’s initiatives to counter Russia is upgunning its eight-wheel-drive Stryker with a 30 mm automatic cannon. The original intent was to destroy light armored vehicles like the Russian BMP — but that’s not the only application, argued Markowitz: “We start to get 30mm Stryker airburst munitions, that might have some air defense capability.”
This is good news.  The idea of Army Artillery being able to help in the littoral fight instead of pushing its aviation aboard Navy ships is a serious step in the right direction.

The idea of airburst munitions is a joke though.  Quite honestly I view that as more of a money play than a real plan to deal with shortfalls in air defense.  Considering the distance at which enemy attack helicopters will launch anti-tank missiles (not to mention attack fighters) the 30mm gun just doesn't give you enough reach.

What this does do is help push the idea that its possible which will allow them to get the upgrade across the entire fleet instead of just the Strykers in Europe.

The most interesting part of the story?  It is now assumed by all that the USAF will not achieve air superiority, much less air dominance.  The USA's primary ground force is now planning to fight under the threat of enemy air.

USAF concepts have been failed...and it would behoove the USMC Ground Combat Element to pay close attention to Army initiatives regarding air defense (not the Stryker push...the next move to adopt an anti-air missile/laser system).

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