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"The Navy Needs More Firepower" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian12 Jan 2021 5:00 p.m. PST

Counting hulls and emphasizing advanced platforms obscures the real problems…


Lascaris12 Jan 2021 5:11 p.m. PST

So my concern with articles like this are that the US with roughly 4% of the global population spends almost 40% of the total world military spending. This includes roughly 3X China's and almost 10X Russia's.

How are we so outnumbered and outgunned given the vast expenditures that we make? I imagine part of that is that we pay an almost living wage for our military whereas I imagine in China especially the cost is much, much lower, but does that really explain the delta?

I worry that we have programs like the Zumwalt, slated for 30+ ships, ended up with 3 and even those we cannot afford the ammunition for their guns or the LCS, the whole procurement of which has been a head scratcher for anyone who follows the USN. (A little context I'm an 8 year Navy vet and a reader of Proceedings so while I don't know much, I do know a little!)

Garand12 Jan 2021 6:18 p.m. PST

Well, one thought that comes to mind is that a living wage in China or Russia may be quite different (& cheaper) than a living wage in the USA. So in terms of raw dollars, China can make savings because it doesn't need to pay its soldiers the same as in the US, which can be invested in equipment & technology.


Inch High Guy12 Jan 2021 6:44 p.m. PST

Personnel costs are roughly 25% of the defense budget.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2021 8:43 p.m. PST

Part of the issue is that we need to defend two coasts, while an enemy really needs only to be competitive from one. That means if all other parts were equal, we'd still have to spend twice as much. But everything else isn't equal.

Personnel costs are lower, but so are procurement costs. A Russian built aircraft costs about 1/3 the cost of a Western built one, and Chinese built aircraft are even cheaper. The parts are cheaper, the raw materials are cheaper, and the labor to build them is cheaper.

Does the US need to get better at procurement and stop wasting money? Absolutely. The Navy bet big on building future weapons that were not really ready for prime time, coupled with Chinese intellectual property theft that made our new tech China's as well. China is not stupid, and with their rapidly growing manufacturing base, they didn't sit idle.

But even if we were purely efficient at building our own platforms, we'd still be spending 3-4 times more than these rivals just due to the strategic and economic factors I mentioned.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2021 12:06 a.m. PST

Yep, many/most of the modern naval vessels being produced are pitifully armed compared to those built during the height of the Cold War, and before that.

Soviet vessels have always had a lot of throw-weight, while Western ones have been less well armed, especially the ultra-modern ones. This was especially demonstrated by those of the RN during the Falklands conflict in their own defense, when they had to team vessels up in order to adequately protect themselves from air attack (which doesn't even broach the issue of offensive throw-weight).

Of course, many/most modern US naval vessels built after the Cold War seem to be suffering from such major design failures too.

Many European Cold War era missile boats were better armed than today's much larger, and more expensive boats and ships.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2021 7:01 a.m. PST

"Naval aviation does not solve the problem"

That's an extremely weird premise to explore and this article is definitely a plea for more shipbuilding and/or funding. It's sort of like the Kansas City Chiefs saying that without Patrick Mahomes and their starting receivers that they would have trouble scoring! They do have them, however, so they're a Super Bowl contender.

CVBGs are the great equalizer in all this. Several squadrons of F-18s with all kinds of missiles will definitely ruin someone's day and you just can't ignore that to argue for more ship hulls. On top of that you have the U.S.' SSNs, which are going to be out there hunting the enemy's fleet as well. When you have those two things going for you, ship hulls that can throw more SSMs are a bit down the priority list.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2021 7:29 a.m. PST

Part of the issue is that we need to defend two coasts, while an enemy really needs only to be competitive from one.

Not only that. The US as a global superpower has to project power across vast distances, while China (even though its "blue water" capability is increasing) is mainly concerned with operating in its littoral waters (SCS and ECS).

arealdeadone13 Jan 2021 2:50 p.m. PST

A big part of the problem is that USN ships are under equipped. Even the many of the Arleigh Burkes lack anti shipping capability whilst the LCS have virtually e none. New frigates pack the same punch as smaller Chinese and Russian corvettes.

Number of US attack subs will decline 20% in the next 10 years.

The other big issue is carrier wings are shrinking in size – from 80+ aircraft in 1980s to 50-60 currently with more cutbacks to come.

Western ship design has emphasised air defence and USN also land attack with non stealthy subsonic cruise missiles, not naval anti shipping ops.

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