U.S. Navy Seriously Considering Distributed Lethality for its Amphibious Forces

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Naval Forces News - USA
 
 
 
U.S. Navy Seriously Considering Distributed Lethality for its Amphibious Forces
 
By Stelios Kanavakis - Senior Defence Analyst
The US Navy is planning to transform every surface unit into a “floating armoury”, which will be capable of firing weapons under the distributed lethality concept. In an A2AD environment, especially in the Asia-Pacific theatre or areas such as the Persian Gulf or the Black Sea, surface units will have to use most of their weapons defending them, leaving fewer payloads for offensive operations.
     
The US Navy is planning to transform every surface unit into a “floating armoury”, which will be capable of firing weapons under the distributed lethality concept. In an A2AD environment, especially in the Asia-Pacific theatre or areas such as the Persian Gulf or the Black Sea, surface units will have to use most of their weapons defending them, leaving fewer payloads for offensive operations.
CGI: LPD 17 class amphibious vessel fitted with 8x NSM as seen on Kongsberg's booth during SNA 2016.
     
The House Armed Services Committee considered these issues in the H.R. 4909 – FY17 National Defence Authorization Bill and ordered the Navy to take the next steps in addressing them.

US Navy’s attack submarines are the type of units that can use their full package of weapons against enemy forces. According to the committee, although the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) of the Virginia Block V submarines is a capability that will be retained, the retirement of some of the VPM units in the future will leave a serious gap.

The House Armed Services Committee also considered that a factor restricting the availability of a large package of weapons for offensive operations is the difficulty of the surface units to reload their launchers with new missiles. Weapons replenishment is even harder in the Asia-Pacific area of operations, where the distances to and from ports are very long.

For these reasons, the committee calls the Navy to review the alternatives that would result in an increased striking capability. As such, the committee wants the Service to conduct a research on the possibility of integrating the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System on the Landing Platform / Docks or other striking options on amphibious units. That would be in line with the Navy’s concept of distributed lethality.

The committee expects the Secretary of the Navy to brief its members on the findings of the research, by 1 October 2016.

The innovative idea of distributed lethality has gained great support from the Navy in a period of tight budgeting. The Service will have the ability to increase its strike capabilities not by building new ships but through equipping with more weapons its current platforms. It will be a paradigm shift for the Service and the personnel given the current situation, where every unit is designed to do a specific job within the fleet and officers and crews are trained for respective contingencies.
     
U.S. Navy video on Distributed Lethality
     
Comment by Xavier Vavasseur, Chief Editor
At the Surface Navy Association's (SNA) National Symposium held in January this year, Navy Recognition saw many examples and interpretation of this concept by the naval defense industry.

Kongsberg of Norway was showing Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) fitted aboard San Antonio class LPD (as seen in the CGI above).

Advanced Acoustic Concepts (AAC, a joint DRS/Thales company) was showing a video of DDG 51 Flight III fitted with a CAPTAS-4 Variable Depth Sonar (VDS).

Make sure to check our coverage of Sea Air Space held in a couple weeks as for sure there will be more examples of the distributed lethality concept.
 

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