Naval question

What do the experienced military folks on here think about this article?

The author (months ago) asserts that aircraft carriers have never really had any defenses against ballistic missles anyway, so all this talk about Chinese missiles we're seeing in the MSM is muchado about nothing.

Here’s the sentence: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

That’s right: no defense at all. The truth is that they have very feeble defenses against any attack with anything more modern than cannon. I’ve argued before no carrier group would survive a saturation attack by huge numbers of low-value attackers, whether they’re Persians in Cessnas and cigar boats or mass-produced Chinese cruise missiles. But at least you could look at the missile tubes and Phalanx gatlings and pretend that you were safe. But there is no defense, none at all, against something as obvious as a ballistic missile.

The author goes through a bit of history, even citing the US's own Harpoon program.

Another money quote

The lesson here is the same one all of you suckers should have learned from watching the financial news this year: the people at the top are just as dumb as you are, just meaner and greedier.

Since the MSM and some wire services are now running stories about Chinese ballistic missiles -- and I'm always skeptical when wire services run military systems stories -- can the folks who were actually in the Navy provide any insight?

Happy weekend.


I was in the Navy

but it was prior to video-game technology taking over the dark art of war.

In those days, we practiced defensive drills all the time. Ships never travel alone, so We had plenty of capabilities spread over a few square miles of ocean, usually a dozen or so ships in the company of an aircraft carrier, or at least a helo carrier.

It's hard to imagine that this story is accurate, but you never know.

I was in the Navy

I was the Weapons Officer on USS Semmes (DDG-18) when we received the Harpoon missile system back in the early 1980s.

In other words, the Harpoon does a last-minute transformation from wave-skimmer to ballistic missile.

When the author refers to the Harpoon as a "ballistic missile," he is guilty at least of a strange misunderstanding of terminology, and that leads the critical reader to question other statements and conclusions.

The term "ballistic" means that the weapon acts like a bullet, shot from a gun, without any kind of internal propulsion or guidance. A "ballistic missile" has an internal propulsion system for its boost phase, but the booster shuts down and the missile is then on a ballistic trajectory. The Harpoon is in no way a "ballistic" weapon.

James is correct that ships rarely travel alone. Force defense is organized for the entire task force, utilizing the assets of the task force, against all kinds of threats. In particular the carrier's own assets (in the form of fighter jets) are utilized as an air screen, providing defense against attacking aircraft and missiles.

An anti-ship missile that can fly at Mach 10 would certainly be a challenge, but the deployment and launching of such a missile would create opportunities for early warning and detection. Mach 10 is pretty damned fast (roughly 100 nautical miles per minute).


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Follow the thread

The article in question uses another (linked) article/website to provide a foundation for its premise, but if you look at the board of directors for that organization, you'll see a whole lot of defense lobbyists, investment counselors, fund managers, etc. There's Navy folks as well, but it's an industry group, nonetheless.

Observation #2: missile defense has a multi-billion-dollar potential for these folks, at a time when money is drying up for their other defense sectors.

Just food for thought.

Reading the comments... the linked article also provides more insight and debate over the conclusions drawn.

And here's the basic physics problem:
-- A missile (call it "ballistic" if you want);
-- Range to target is 1200 NM;
-- Missile velocity Mach 10 (100 NM per minute) at some point during flight;
-- Target size, about 4 football fields;
-- Target course and speed, variable course up to 35 knots.

I have trouble imagining a maneuvering system that could deliver this weapon to its target.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

I, also, did active duty in the Navy, but it was still left-over

from WW2.(1960-66)But some things don't change, and that is there are always 'top' people, (Admirals, Generals, contractors, etc.) willing to spread fear among the citizens to keep the money pumping. Most of the 'command' people I came across from my lowly position were real good politicians, but you would hate to serve under them in time of war. So, I will take this as just more bullshit from some flunky who has been pumped on what to put out for a war tired public, in case they(the public) are wanting to shift course.

I suspect any missile, ballistic or under power, with

current active target seeking guidance would have little trouble acquiring and hitting a carrier. That doesn't mean the missile couldn't or wouldn't be shot down, but new laser and infrared guidance systems are darned accurate. The anti-missile defense would need time to become aware of the threat, acquire it, track it and compute an intercept. A surface to ship missile flying a few feet above the sea at supersonic speed is a formidable threat.

A ballistic missile, to achieve great distance must also reach heights where it would be detectable by radar. Once on it's downward trajectory it would be a difficult target. Think of trying to shoot down a mortar shell before it hits.

Such an attack would likely cause an all out war and the first response would likely be from on station subs.

Stan Bozarth