Is the large Missile Destroyer/Cruiser becoming obsolete?


SampanViking

The Capitalist
Super Moderator
VIP Professional
Working on the basis of the old adage "never build a weapon that you cannot afford to lose" I do wonder if the growing sophistication and accuracy of anti ship missiles and long range targeting is making the larger offensive warships obsolete?

China's PLAN is the new and modern blue water navy of an emerging major economy and world power. The organisation lacks historical baggage is currently in middle of inventing itself, literally creating itself from scratch. When you look at where its energies and investment is being focused, you detect four distinct areas: Submarines, Frigates, FAC's and Landing/Docking Amphibious ships etc. Submarines express their own logic, so I only propose to look at surface combatants. Noticeably lacking are substantial numbers of larger ships, Destroyers, Cruisers even Carriers (although we keep being told at least one is currently being built).

Looking at the mix of ships that are being built, I am tempted to wonder if Chinese strategy is form Blue water Battlegroups of "Mother" Docking Ships which are protected by Frigates and within which the main Offensive Surface power is provided by Type 022 FAC's operating from the Motherships.

The advantages of such a strategy is that these FAC's are fast, quite stealthy, small and harder to target and hit, while getting the maximum number of AShM into the battle zone as possible (you no longer need big ships to carry the big guns). In addition these boats are cheap and quick to build and the loss of one only inflicts light casualties and does little to blunt the overall offensive potential of the attack group as a whole.

I would welcome some informed opinion.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
I think the main reason the PLAN does not have a great many large surface combatants yet is more to do with the fact that they only recently developed the technology to make such large ships worthwhile.

We are already seeing what appears to be a large mass production effort being made with the 054As, and I feel the PLAN will do the same thing with its DDG force once they have settled on a final configuration.

The rumored new batch of destroyers ordered may shed some light on this, but ultimately, we are not likely to get anything concrete for some years yet.

As for using the 022s as long range strike assets. Well that is kinda like a more expensive but less effective version of aircraft carriers.

You need a huge mothership to carry even a modest number of these things any distance, yet they are a lot slower, have fewer numbers and are less self-sufficiency then modern naval strike fighters a similar sized carrier could carry.

022s are coastal defense FACs, which a secondary long range assault capability. But they are not suited to blue water operations, and any role you can think for them can be performed better or cheaper by naval aircraft or long range cruise/anti-ship missiles.
 

Scratch

Captain
In that case, the prime target I guess would be the mothership. And once destroyed, I imagine the FACs are pretty helpless on the open ocean.
These smaller ships are also not able to carry big/multiple sensors for area surveillance. There's less room for comms and flag rooms, impeding C3 of the group.
 

montyp165

Junior Member
Short-ranged armoured gunboats in the 19th century threatened the dominance of the traditional ship-of-the-line, as did later torpedo boats in the 20th century, but improving technology and power-projection requirements eventually led to the development of more powerful surface combatants able to face those challenges. The same thing I think will occur here also, as newer technologies appear.
 

crobato

Colonel
VIP Professional
Torpedo boats were the threat to the battleships and dreadnaughts at the turn of the 20th century. In the Battle of Tsushima, torpedo boats showed their worth against the Russian battle fleet and took their toll.

It was against the torpedo boat---ironically, a genus of ship the Czarist Russians themselves championed---that a ship called the Torpedo Boat Destroyer was conceived. Later on, the name was simply shorted to Destroyer.

FACs are not cost effective in the open sea. It does not mean they cannot be used in the open sea. They can. But for the trouble invested, the ratio of benefit is not good enough. You would need for example, a disproportionate number of replenishment ships, which themselves are vulnerable.

The 054As are complete blue water systems. Note, for frigates they are typically equipped with cloned radar systems that are associated with large Russian destroyers like the Mineral ME type radar or the larger Fregats. The Mineral ME itself allows for OTH scanning and surveillance.
 

Londo Molari

Junior Member
You have to also consider that FAC cannot operate properly in deep ocean and rough sea states.

Also in terms of their offensive surface power, launching FACS from a mothership is much slower and has much more limited range compared to an aircraft carrier.

I think PLAN is just taking its time to build up to larger surface combatants. Given its geographical location, economic size and responsibilities, obviously its priorities will not be identical to USN. But I don't see an overall strategy that's profoundly different.
 

AssassinsMace

Brigadier
If China does have a working ASBM, why not a naval version? Most AShMs launched from ships and aircraft will be out of range. The only thing left is protecting it from subs. It's probably going to have to be a larger vessel to accomodate a number of these weapons.
 

Titanium

New Member
Working on the basis of the old adage "never build a weapon that you cannot afford to lose" I do wonder if the growing sophistication and accuracy of anti ship missiles and long range targeting is making the larger offensive warships obsolete?
Well, Gary the "War nerd" certainly seems to agree, that the Big ships are just BIG targets for the Anti-Ship Missile"

I’ve been saying for a long time that aircraft carriers are just history’s most expensive floating targets, and that they were doomed.

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yehe

Junior Member
Well, Gary the "War nerd" certainly seems to agree, that the Big ships are just BIG targets for the Anti-Ship Missile"

I’ve been saying for a long time that aircraft carriers are just history’s most expensive floating targets, and that they were doomed.

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well, aircraft carrier basicly means airdefence radius of the fleet are the airlaunched missle range + aircraft combat radius, short of submarine , there isnt much of any other threat to a aircraft carrier, SSN or navalized ASBM however could possibly end a carrier, but then again, niether SSN nor ASBM could ever have the same kind of striking power as a carrier, so carrier is also a formidable psycological weapon to put pressure on the opponent. Afterall a war is best won when its won without a fight.
 

King_Comm

Junior Member
VIP Professional
Well, Gary the "War nerd" certainly seems to agree, that the Big ships are just BIG targets for the Anti-Ship Missile"

I’ve been saying for a long time that aircraft carriers are just history’s most expensive floating targets, and that they were doomed.

Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
The "War nerd" failed to realise that "Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack" is only the first half of a sentence, the second half of that sentence is omitted by the Naval Institute, which is "therefore, congress should give more funding to the development of shipborne missile defence."
 

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