The fleet of the future?

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The fleet of the future?

Postby Raj Ahten » 2017-01-23 07:55pm

So here is a topic I've been thinking of a bit lately since a good friend of mine recently started working on nuclear submarines. What does the fleet of the future look like? Will carriers continue to be the premier weapon system in naval combat? This is a question that has been hotly debated ever since world war 2 and the coming of age of the submarine. But with the advent of ever more capable anti shipping missiles and perhaps the promise of hyper-sonic missiles and other threats in the future are carriers just big targets now? Then there is the cost to consider with new carriers, especially US carriers, costing untold billions are they just too damn expensive?

From what I've gathered subs seem to be the underappreciated weapon in naval warfare. It's hard to tell though because very few naval clashes have happened against peers since world war two. Carriers continue to be seen as the be all end all because all the US really does is bomb people with very limited capabilities for the most part. But with cruise missiles and other advanced weapons getting cheaper and more widespread eventually small and non state actors will have the capabilities to really threaten the current status quoe fleet structure. Then again, ship board lasers and other defense systems may make missiles in general obsolete.

So what say you SD.net?

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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-23 09:26pm

Skimmer's probably expounded upon this topic for forever.

And I wonder where BART BLADE is now. For all Hyperthyroid Pachyderms Crotcheting Appendectomies' terribleness in terms of humanity, when it came to this stuff the Bart Blade and all the Balls said Lt. Etc. and so on were on point in this topic. Who better to deal with wunderwaffens than the fasc... ehehehe. ;)

Raj Ahten wrote:Will carriers continue to be the premier weapon system in naval combat? This is a question that has been hotly debated ever since world war 2 and the coming of age of the submarine. But with the advent of ever more capable anti shipping missiles and perhaps the promise of hyper-sonic missiles and other threats in the future are carriers just big targets now? Then there is the cost to consider with new carriers, especially US carriers, costing untold billions are they just too damn expensive?


Anti-missile defenses and lasers are getting better too... and at some point, what would be the difference between a super-missile arsenal ship vs. a carrier full of stealth aircraft and drones carrying super-missiles as well?

The obsolescence or not of carriers depends on the context of the nation employing them. If you want to just do area denial, impenetrable regional defense ala China and Russia, then smaller fleet-defense carriers supporting missile-laden craft and coastal missile batteries and anti-sub platforms and other anti-ship and air-defense area-denial assets will be sensible.

Massive carriers for persistent long-range expeditionary freedomizing of countries, carriers that each have more air power than most nations of the world combined, are a specialized evolution for a specialized role for global powers that do things no one else can do. In a way, because the US Navy is pretty much the only one that does this, one could say that this really is and already has been an extinct/obsolete/inapplicable concept for most nations' militaries. But one could say that what's obsolete for one nation isn't for another nation.

From what I've gathered subs seem to be the underappreciated weapon in naval warfare. It's hard to tell though because very few naval clashes have happened against peers since world war two. Carriers continue to be seen as the be all end all because all the US really does is bomb people with very limited capabilities for the most part. But with cruise missiles and other advanced weapons getting cheaper and more widespread eventually small and non state actors will have the capabilities to really threaten the current status quoe fleet structure. Then again, ship board lasers and other defense systems may make missiles in general obsolete.


That's a very US-centric view. Like my previous paragraph alludes to. Only the US has supercarrier fleets - the other great powers have lesser-carriers in more complementary supporting roles. On the other hand, more and more nations are getting budget submarines. Kilos and Japanese, Nordic, German and French diesel subs are selling.

So the shift you're alluding to is happening as we speak and has already happened elsewhere. Of course, such is the dominance of the US military that its concepts (which are incredible but really something non-US nations would be hardpressed to apply in their own contexts with their own limits) form our default view of what military/naval/army/airforce affairs should be... when in fact most of the world can't do that and has to make do with different arrangements. Something like logocentrism. The actual dominance of the US military worldwide translating to symbolic dominance and thus translating to dominance in *how* we *think* of such matters... our very thoughts!

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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby B5B7 » 2017-01-23 10:00pm

CVs are obsolete - white elephants - small ships and subs are the future. Submarines are already the premier warship.
CVs have no defensive purpose - can base your fighters and bombers on land. Their only purpose is power projection - basically an aggressive role, unless you extend the concept of defense as fighting "over there" instead of at home, which has been a favorite pastime for the USA for over a century.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Tribble » 2017-01-23 10:19pm

Will we eventually reach the point where submarines can be easily tracked, regardless of depth / ocean currents etc? If so, apart from being able to do things like travel under ice sheets submarines may have a more limited role in the future, as their primary advantage over surface ships is their ability to operate relatively undetected.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-23 10:38pm

B5B7 wrote:Their only purpose is power projection - basically an aggressive role, unless you extend the concept of defense as fighting "over there" instead of at home, which has been a favorite pastime for the USA for over a century.


It can also be defending allies and vital interests threatened by regional assholes. Which is relevant to people over here where I am. Sure, that can be seen as an aggressive or at least expeditionary act, vs. defensive isolationism. Sure, saving Albanians from Serbian genociders and protecting bodies of water from pirates and rogue nations and bully-powers that want to mine vital routes or island-grab is one side of the coin vs. the other side which is imperialism of all kinds that the US is guilty of, invasions, regime-propping, everything. I hate trying to reconcile my anti-imperialism with bog-standard US militarist talking points that I can actually see some sense in... Ugh.

Anyway...

Air cover is vital for non-carrier fleets. Large helicopter carriers already do ASW. Standard CVs with Tomcat-like interceptors provide fleet defense. Against enemy maritime bombers that can be vital.

Land-based fighters and bombers can't accompany a non-CV fleet operating near enemy regions vulnerable to enemy land-based missiles and/or bombers.

And CVs are important parts of effective conventional and non-conventional deterrents. Sure they are vulnerable, but they can also represent an equivalent kind of prowling long-armed retaliatory hurt-capacity as any bomber, boomer or ICBM force...

But yeah, sure, I can agree that the US itself - and any other prospective state - can survive without the supercarrier fleet. Allies and foreign vital interests will be affected. But for isolationism purposes, sure supercarriers can be dropped.

Non-supercarrier CVs would still have regional defensive uses. Ala China and Russia. But those are an entirely different kind of CV vs. the US-style ships...
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-01-23 10:57pm

Lets review reality for manned submarines

1) highest cost per ton of major warship types
2) lowest payload fraction
3) lowest endurance at sea
4) shortest service life

That sounds like an amazing place to focus all naval efforts!

Oh and also some navies now have serious problems crewing the damn things.

The 'subs will replace everything' meme actually predates WW1, except people meant literal submarine battleships that would sink things with guns, but more seriously it appeared in the 1970s when people claimed missiles would sweep warships from the surface of the sea. They also claimed the F-15 was too big, and that tanks were obsolete. They keep coming up with new reasons why such things must happen, and surely will!

Submarines are invaluable for certain roles and networked weapons and launching underwater drones is going to expand those roles, but probably more at the expensive of additional manned submarine hulls. Not replacing major surface warships.

The number one point of the submarine is stealth. It can't fight too much or it has a zero percent change of avoiding detection at which point it will never defend itself from a concerted attack because of 1-2-3-4.

Carriers are the end all of naval power because they carry airplanes but aren't vulnerable to car bombs. Airplanes will destroy everything else, including the damn subs, given enough time. Even nations that don't have carriers have serious amounts of land air power including ASW aircraft.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Lonestar » 2017-01-23 11:15pm

Jesus man this reads like some weird community college homework question

Raj Ahten wrote:So here is a topic I've been thinking of a bit lately since a good friend of mine recently started working on nuclear submarines. What does the fleet of the future look like? Will carriers continue to be the premier weapon system in naval combat?


Yes. Specifically, they will be for countries that desire to have an ability to project significant force against other countries far from their shores, and to protect merchant shipping.



This is a question that has been hotly debated ever since world war 2 and the coming of age of the submarine. But with the advent of ever more capable anti shipping missiles and perhaps the promise of hyper-sonic missiles and other threats in the future are carriers just big targets now?


You do realize you're just repeating the same thing the thing the Jeune École crowd said over a hundred years ago, right? Just replacing Torpedo boats and torpedoes with missiles?

Samller countries like cheap anti-capital ship weapons because they seem to be much cheaper with better bang for the buck. It ignores that the countries that can afford many largish capital ships can also afford countermeasures for those cheapish weapons systems.


Then there is the cost to consider with new carriers, especially US carriers, costing untold billions are they just too damn expensive?


No. Personnel costs are the biggest expense in the US military, not systems.


From what I've gathered subs seem to be the underappreciated weapon in naval warfare.


Why do you gather? What makes you think that?

The USN actually fully funded a modern Swedish Submarine 10 years ago to be home ported out of San Diego for a few years. We also routinely train with South American navies subs. After the Canadians got their new-to-them SSKs working right we now routinely practice with them.

Beyond the expense we're spending training with foreign navies and their subs, plus our own, we're also spending a lot of cash money on new SSNs. Given how the USN has mostly been engaged in strike warfare since WW2 or so, you would think we would simply not be spending a lot of cash on them. But we are.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Raj Ahten » 2017-01-24 12:00am

Thanks for indulging me folks. The questions I were asking were a bit simple anyway as they pretty much ignored the wider strategic context which is most of those that can afford and have the inclination to field large carriers or advanced subs in any meaningful numbers are members of the nuclear club (or are in alliance with nations that are.) A lot of the other fights are between nations that can't really afford large navies or where borders are on the land (often both) so any naval aspect is a side show.

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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-24 12:13am

South East Asia and coastal Asia in general is having an SSK purchasing spree BTW.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-01-24 12:44am

Yeah but that's because the Chinese navies submarine force is fast gone from 70 pieces of crap to now about 50 worthwhile submarines and 20 pieces of complete crap. They aren't amazing, but they are no longer all jokes as life was well into the 1990s. For other powers in the region a submarine force is appealing because it has a fair probability of inflicting some kind of loss on the enemy fleet, no matter how strong it is. A deterrent force. Nothing else really changed in naval warfare to cause this. Both sides are heavily interested in barrier patrol missions because Pacific distances are still crazy for diesels.

Some of the value of the SSK is going to get replaced by families of underwater drones and very advanced naval mines I reckon, but that process, already underway will take long enough that its still certainly worth buying an SSK new right now. They don't last forever though, pressure hulls are rated for finite numbers of dives. That's one of the reasons why submarine forces guzzle money, at least if you actually operate your subs in peacetime. More then one third world navy in the cold war didn't bother with that pesky idea, or simply kept worn out subs on the rollcall because STRENGTH! China was not amazing on this either, though its slowly been increasing its operating tempos and of course, formed its first carrier task force, if still without a full air group.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-24 04:09am

Yeah, I wasn't saying this is some great paradigm shift - though for previously paltry SEAsian forces, it is! - I was just directing Raj to this trend since he likes his unterboots.

I think the Philippines should still take your suggestion - sell rice to North Korea in exchange for a limitless supply of sea mines. :P
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby madd0ct0r » 2017-01-24 10:33am

Will laser cruisers (if they ever work at scsle) weaken the role of aircraft? If you can see it, you can shoot it. I guess stealth helps a bit there but it could see a role for very armoured destroyers in the biz
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Adam Reynolds » 2017-01-24 03:51pm

madd0ct0r wrote:Will laser cruisers (if they ever work at scsle) weaken the role of aircraft? If you can see it, you can shoot it. I guess stealth helps a bit there but it could see a role for very armoured destroyers in the biz

Lasers aren't quite the revolution that they are often claimed to be. All they really do is decrease costs relative to defensive missiles. Which is nice, but doesn't really change the underlying situation. If the laser emitters themselves are sufficiently expensive, swarming tactics would be even more effective than against something like AEGIS, because while you can throw up a large quantity of defensive missiles against a single raid, you cannot use lasers in the same sense. Lasers are superior against smaller raids as you cannot bleed them dry in the same sense as a missile magazine that generally cannot be reloaded at sea. The systems that could be reloaded at sea, as well as having the ability to point towards the target in the same sense as a laser were all retired from service years ago.

It is already the case that if you fly into the launch envelope of most modern anti-aircraft missiles, you are dead. It is just that modern attack aircraft have standoff weapons that outrange the defensive missiles. This is why lighter anti-aircraft systems on land heavier than the Stinger have mostly been retired.

The horizon is also an extreme problem for lasers, which decreases reaction time considerably against sea skimming missiles, which is most of them. It is also a problem for most radar guided missiles, but that is what airborne radars and active radar missiles like the SM-6 are for.

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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby atg » 2017-01-24 04:57pm

Adam Reynolds wrote: because while you can throw up a large quantity of defensive missiles against a single raid, you cannot use lasers in the same sense.


Wouldn't this depend purely on the cycle rate of the laser and energy production of the ship involved? So say we don't have a combo that can work against a large raid currently, but in the future it should be possible as the tech improves?
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Jub » 2017-01-24 06:01pm

atg wrote:
Adam Reynolds wrote: because while you can throw up a large quantity of defensive missiles against a single raid, you cannot use lasers in the same sense.


Wouldn't this depend purely on the cycle rate of the laser and energy production of the ship involved? So say we don't have a combo that can work against a large raid currently, but in the future it should be possible as the tech improves?


You're ignoring the time it takes to destroy (or knock off course) the incoming weapons as well as the time it takes for the laser to aim at the next target. Not to mention cooling the weapon, as at a certain point heat build up will become an issue. These issues when looked at as a whole probably mean that we won't be getting rid of point defense missiles anytime soon.

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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-01-24 06:05pm

No because air exists and resists the passage of light and thermal energy. Look at a nuclear explosion, its an enormous wattage of heat and light involved, but its propagation is limited because of air absorption, it turns into blast wave. After a point more power will only reduce energy transmitted to the target at a distance.

In naval warfare this problem is greatly increased by the bad weather and sea spray found on actual oceans, as opposed to the flat calm lakes some people online seem to imagine the ocean is like all the time. Lasers rapidly loose all value in bad weather as well, aka rain, which means they can never be more then a supporting arm. The enemy isn't stupid enough to ignore this. And being a laser you can't fire over the horizon, which means against a low altitude target you've gone backwards compared to the latest missiles.

Lasers will be important, but in most weather conditions even a several megawatt one is probably not effective past 20km at low altitude. This is the whole reason why that Boeing Airborne Laser was on a plane that could fly at 35,000 feet, above about 98% of the earths air mass, and then fire further upward into space at rising targets. Once you are high this problem goes away, but that's a reason to build AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, yet again, and a laser equipped version of the F6D.

Ablative materials and ceramic armors are also not out of the question to protect missiles from laser attacks directly, the frontal cross section of a missile is small and in the case of supersonic weapons they've already been engineered for high heat resistance. Protecting the guidance system would be the biggest problem, but that could be addressed many ways.

Also railguns come into play being guided AA rounds, nothing but a throwback to the 60mm ETC cannon of 1990 era, and they could fire OTH in principle, though the main use is lower cost for ship self defense missions. Even RAM is already a 700,000 dollar missile. ESSM about twice that.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-01-29 01:03pm

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R44175.pdf

The relevant US congressional document for Lasers-Railguns and Hypervelocity Ammunition for artillery got updated late last year and can be found here. Open source, and not highly technical. FAS is just hosting it.


Apparently as early 2016 unspecified members of the US military were planning to encourage the next administration to fund a demonstration of 100 simultaneous intercepts of cruise and ballistic missiles as a demonstration of CONVENTIONAL DETERRENCE.

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Yeah, I wasn't saying this is some great paradigm shift - though for previously paltry SEAsian forces, it is! - I was just directing Raj to this trend since he likes his unterboots.

I think the Philippines should still take your suggestion - sell rice to North Korea in exchange for a limitless supply of sea mines. :P


You could probably just produce them locally, the minor problem is your country has a disincentive to locally mass produce high explosives in that kind of tonnage because of the risk of diversion to terrorists. Everything should be viable locally though, advanced triggers, put on say 1 in 10 mines, might have to be imported but whatever. You generally store mines in pieces anyway. Of course you also need a way to lay them in large numbers quickly, which is a place where a NAVAL MILITIA would be handy.

Remember at a basic level mines and rice are the same thing, you can get both from ammonia nitrate products. One of the quiter things the US has tried to do in Pakistan is get them to shift away from ammonia nitrate so fewer IEDs get made, but since anything else costs more and Pakistan is ruled by ineffective morons like America now is that's never gotten far.

Also one problem with mine warfare is while random fishermen really could plant the fields, if you don't have accurate maps then the end result will be the US navy also keeps away, and China can then invade with shallow draft fish boats to stop the mine laying.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-02-01 04:29pm

Hey remember all those claims small boats would render anything larger then a large boat obsolete?

War in Yemen brings fresh evidence! Turns out even in semi confined waters, in the hands of a military that's whole structure is dubious, and in broad daylight suicide craft still not super effective weapons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_FiIq3h30o
https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=fa8_1485801067

So Saudi Al Madinah class frigate, about a 2,200 ton ship actually, withstands attack by suicide craft off Yemen. One of them detonates within what looks like under 25 yards with ~1,000lb of explosive off the stern quarter. 2 dead 3 wounded. First link is a news report, the second one has the full orbital clip.

Houthi propaganda reels are always horribly spliced together btw because they are smart enough not to give away all their operational details online to the enemy for free. They've got random people online claiming this was an SSM attack, and that the frigate was sunk, when it clearly turns away and keeps going, but the western reports and Saudi claim of suicide boats way more fits the evidence.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-02-01 04:43pm

Also not that it's really related, but my complaint with the Leopard 2 tank, and every attempt to ever claim it was the best tank ever, has been vindicated in the most deadly way possible in Syria. Which is the first place it ever saw major combat starting several months ago when the Al-Bab boondoggle battle commenced for Turket.

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Detonation of hull ammunition leads to turret ejection and total destruction of the tank and of course, not just 100% KIA in the tank but a high probability of anyone near the tank being killed too. Notice in that second wide angle wreck the entire front of the hull has been blown off the vehicle besides ejecting the turret. Some of these tanks were only destroyed like this because ISIL burned them after driving back the Turkish attacks following unknown disablement, but most are the result of ATGM hits or suicide bombs directly.

Also while I don't have a photo handy, its somewhere, the 'ultra destroyed' T-72 has been vindicated by Syrian combat too; assuming a couple of you might recall that controversial US Army Javelin test result from near 20 years ago now where the T-72 engine block was ejected. Some people thought maybe they put extra explosive in the tank for congress. But in fact it seems to just be what happens if the T-72 has almost all high explosive type rounds in the autoloader, and they all detonate together. As opposed to just all the gun propellent deflagrating.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Thanas » 2017-02-02 07:57am

Sea Skimmer wrote:Also not that it's really related, but my complaint with the Leopard 2 tank, and every attempt to ever claim it was the best tank ever, has been vindicated in the most deadly way possible in Syria. Which is the first place it ever saw major combat starting several months ago when the Al-Bab boondoggle battle commenced for Turket.



To my knowledge Turkey uses outdated version of the tank and also used it without infantry support. Not gonna go into a debate on whether it is the best tank ever, but the way the Turks used it did not do it much credit.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-02 01:20pm

What *were* the flaws of the Leo 2 that made you, Skimmer, object to the proclamations of Leo 2's greatness?
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Thanas » 2017-02-02 03:22pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:What *were* the flaws of the Leo 2 that made you, Skimmer, object to the proclamations of Leo 2's greatness?


From what I remember the ammo storage is vulnerable.
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Re: The fleet of the future?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-02-02 04:29pm

I got to say the internet has gotten awash in image spam of this stuff in a way that wasn't true more then five years ago.

Here is hull with turret lifted out. Ammo just lives in tubes on the left, driver sits on the right.
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The turret ammo is partly isolated like this
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http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/attachmen ... pard-2.jpg
http://www.btvt.narod.ru/4/l2.files/leo2armor.gif


So half the front hull is ammo. The turret ammo has a bin to hide in, but the efficiency of this in battle seems iffy. Not that it doesn't help but for geometric reasons its more vulnerable to both the ammo and the crew compartment being preforated by one hit from the flank, compared to a turret bustle that's entirely to the rear. Several such shots from the tanks right flank are in terror-film reels. Judging from missile trail, with the AT-4.

MBT-70 was similar, with a lot of hull ammo not protected, on the logic it was less likely to be hit. but that doesn't help if the tank catches on fire. T-72 used similar logic, similar result. Its not that it was a terrible when it was new but it's not aged well, the Leopard 2 is basically the ultimate systems evolution of the WW2 configured tank, and probably a little more sane on the weight creep. The turret is much smaller overall then an M1 turret.

Thanas wrote:To my knowledge Turkey uses outdated version of the tank and also used it without infantry support. Not gonna go into a debate on whether it is the best tank ever, but the way the Turks used it did not do it much credit.


It'd make little real difference in this, the Leo2A4 had the first big armor upgrade including the tungsten, and filling in the preforated steel armor with fiberglass rods. Since then they could have been changed. The Leopard 2A6 has a lot more armor on the front of the turret, but its changes elsewhere are limited as far as horizontal armor goes. It also added more anti mine armor, which is important if your ammo is in the front of the hull.

Its not that really any other tank except the Merkava IV is any better armored against this, but that you can't avoid a lot of these kinds of hits if you want to use the tank as more then mobile artillery. At which point its really favorable if the tanks don't explode to pieces rampant. The Leopard 2 was very focused on tank to tank battles of the 1970s, and fielded quicker then the M1 was, because the T-62 threat was wwway past 9000, so it is what it is. But like the T-72 the 'low hit probability' thing in the hull has not panned out, weapons are too accurate and threats too diverse on any type of battlefield.

Only solution to this would be a whole new turret, which is exactly where the UK is heading with its Challenger 2 'upgrade' due to the fact that the German 120mm gun and ammo won't ever fit in its turret. Too bad Brexit will probably prevent some kind of insane intereuropean amazing three way program with France to design a new common 130mm NATO gunpod upgrade that fits all the respective tanks. Sure a NEW TANK as proposed has logic, but my logic is a damn gun upgrade might get built in 8 years and fielded on every vehicle, instead of 20 years spent on all new everything.


Turkish use has certainly been poor, but if they physically don't want to accept several hundred Turkish citizen casualties in one day they've got no real ability to breakthrough, and tanks would still have to stand up to lots of fire to execute that. Proper use of tanks against the level of opposition their facing from Daesh, which has bonus stocks of Kornet missiles from Palmyra to fire at the moment, basically comes down to commit an armored corps. That would just strategically obliterate ISIL in that region, but no such force exists anywhere on the Syrian battlefield. Other then that its creeping forward bite and hold tactics, I believe now at least 9 frontal assaults on Al-bab have failed, with 1-2 Leopard 2s captured for bonus, it looks like with close cooperation with the Assadists they are now finally trying to just encircle it with more bite and hold attacks.
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