National Interest Article: Naval fleets have become easier to target and expensive to protect

According to an article in the American “National Interest” magazine, naval warfare is witnessing a continuing revolution, the pace of which is accelerating in the era of deadly drones and guided missiles, all of which are cheap weapons and available in abundance.

The article's author, James Holmes, head of maritime strategy at the Naval War College and a non-resident fellow at the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, pointed out that the cost of weapons is an important factor in wars, as are naval fleets and naval vessels. Bullies have become cheap these days, but defending them is expensive. It is expensive, not to mention dangerous.

Last week, the Houthis launched an anti-ship missile toward the Red Sea, which came no closer than a mile to the U.S. destroyer “Gravely” before it was shot down by a ship-borne weapon system, he said. Was to detect and destroy missiles – known by the acronym “CIWS” – a weapon capable of firing 4,500 projectiles per minute from a radar-guided Gatling gun.

The author further stated that the sequence of events aboard the destroyer remains a mystery, and we may not know what actually happened. He acknowledged that Navy leaders would keep details of the events secret for fear of drawing the attention of current or potential enemies to the U.S. Navy's weaknesses.

The radar and missile defense systems aboard the destroyer were unable to detect the Houthi missile, except when it approached the CIWS system.

This is worrisome

CNN quoted Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying on its website that the concern was that the Houthi missile had come very close to the destroyer Gravelly.

In turn, analyst Carl Schuster – a former US Navy commander – said that the Houthi missile, traveling at about 965 kilometers per hour, was about 4 seconds away from hitting the US warship before it was destroyed.

By far the weapon of choice in the Red Sea is the latest model of the SM-2 missile, which costs about $2.4 million a shot, while a copy of the surface-to-surface and surface-to-surface SM-6 is priced at Rs. -The air-to-air missile costs $4.3 million. The SM-3 Interceptor Ballistic Missile System costs $36 million.

The author explained in his article that – with developments in military aviation – the coast guard had the means to attack fleets operating long distances from the coasts, and large areas of sea were now at their disposal. Within arms reach.

He said firearm ammunition used to be cheap and is now expensive. The military industry struggles to produce precision-guided munitions in large quantities and at a rapid pace due to its complexity and the intermittent demands of naval forces in peacetime.

The National Interest article states that by far the weapon of choice in the Red Sea is the new model of the SM-2 missile, which costs about $2.4 million a shot, while a version of the SM-6 ground-based and Air-to-surface missile, $4.3 million. The SM-3 Interceptor Ballistic Missile System costs $36 million.

The article points out that the US Navy is consuming a limited number of missiles at a rate faster than the defense budget can finance new versions and the ability of weapons manufacturers to produce replacements.

The author believes that US military operations against the Houthis, although necessary to secure freedom of navigation because they are an invaluable public interest, deplete the limited stockpile of weapons that are needed in areas such as the western Pacific Ocean May take place in more important theaters of operation. , where China is located, which represents the greatest “challenge” for the US Department of Defense (Pentagon), or around the waters of Europe, where China poses a “lesser” challenge but is still a source of concern for Washington. Is. ,

The US Navy is consuming limited missiles at a faster rate than the defense budget can finance new versions, and the ability of weapons manufacturers to produce replacements for them.

In other words, the more war material ends up in the Middle East, which Holmes argues in his article is of secondary importance to US national interests, the less it will be available for the region of East and West Eurasia. Which is paramount. United States.

How can the Pentagon and the Navy avoid the consequences of the high cost of firearms ammunition, limited industrial capacity, and declining Navy weapons stockpiles?

4 basic ideas

The author, an expert in the field of maritime security, responds by saying that there are four basic ideas that help resolve this dilemma. The first and second are humanitarian in nature and apply in the short term, at least in theory.

  • first thought: This lies in prioritizing strategic considerations within the US national security apparatus. In the author's view, no country is able to give every location on the world map the highest priority, as this would require it to consume the largest possible amount of its resources. An indefinite period.
  • Second Thoughts: The United States must inspire its allies and partners to take some responsibility, because ensuring freedom of navigation is a shared responsibility of all countries that benefit from and are protectors of maritime navigation.
  • third thoughtRebuilding the US defense industrial base and replicating the experience of manufacturing essential war equipment in large quantities, as happened in the two world wars and the Cold War.
  • Fourth thought: Correcting the unequal exchange cost ratio between cheap threats and expensive defense systems.

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