Thursday, 24 June 2010

This Is What A Bottleneck Looks Like

The above picture was taken aboard the United States Ship Mesa Verde,another author gives his opinions on it on the informationdissemination blog.

Two CH53 Super Stallions,two AH1 Sea Cobras and two UH1 Hueys can be seen parked on deck in addition to the V22 Osprey landing on.

Note that while the Osprey is landing,none of the other aircraft can operate,infact there is not even enough space for them to spread their rotors.

This lack of space has a negative impact on air assault operations.

It takes time to move a helicopter onto the landing spot,open it's rotors,load and launch it.

That aircraft can then conduct an air assault on it's own,delivering a small force which will be vulnerable until reinforcements arrive.

Alternatively it can orbit the ship burning fuel whilst waiting for the other aircraft to be launched and thus limiting the range at which the assault may be conducted.

Both of these options are inefficient and tactically highly undesirable.

Flightdeck space is very cheap,aircraft are very expensive.

The lack of low cost flightdeck space on the San Antonio class precludes the efficient use of  high cost,high value aviation assets.

This flightdeck bottleneck makes the San Antonio class poor ships from which to launch an air assault.


Chuck Hill said...

Presume you would go with something more like Ocean?

tangosix said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

I was trying to make a comment about Galrahn's article more than the ship but I must admit I am not a fan of the San Antonio class either.

I concentrate mainly on British amphibious requirements which differ a good deal from those of the United States Marine Corps.

However,assuming that the Marines want to operate multi ship amphibious groups which can be split into sub units as required I can see why they would go for aviation ships with docking wells (L.H.D.s) and dock ships with aviation facilities (L.P.D.s).

The first problem with that approach is that the L.H.D.'s aviation facilities are heavily degraded by the need to have the docking well under the hangar.
This raises the hangar deck level causing topweight considerations to limit hangar and flightdeck size.

I favour a dockless air attack/air assault ship for this role instead.
British aircraft carriers have often carried landing craft on davitts which can provide some limited heavy lift to bring in those things helicopters can't manage post air assault if need be.
They can be seen on this picture of I.N.S.Viraat (nee H.M.S.Hermes):

The second problem with the American approach is that L.P.D.s can't really range enough aircraft on deck at once to generate a credible air assault capability on their own and the volume and weight given over to aviation and light ground forces means less is available for the things which can only be landed by surface means and of course the landing craft which provide those means.
If the dockship is the only vessel which can land heavy stuff,why waste it's capacity by cramming itwith lightweight units which can be landed by the aviation ships?

The L.P.D. then is rather reduced in it's ability to do the heavy work,it's primary task,in return for a marginal air assault capability.
While the L.S.D. is heaviliy restricted in it's ability to do it's primary air assault role in return for gaining a surface assault capability.

Without getting onto the subject of "connectors",I would rather see heavy units landed by high capacity,dedicated surface landing ships following up air assaults by light units from dedicated aviation ships.


Chuck Hill said...

At one time the USN had it's forces split that way.

LPHs took care of the air side and LSDs and LSTs took care of the surface side with only an incidental flight deck.

Chuck Hill said...

Perhaps something like these new Italian ships.

tangosix said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

I think the united States Marine Corps has taken the wrong direction with amphibious assault in recent years.

What they are procuring now is an expensive way of maintaining medium sized forward deployed forces.

There are more cost effective ways of doing things,which I hope to cover in a future post.