Sunday, May 12, 2024

Bill Crawford: Cheap Drones may Dramatically Change Naval Warfare

Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, employing over 11,000 workers, is the largest shipbuilder on the Gulf Coast and is currently constructing Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock.

Sen. Roger Wicker has risen to the position of Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In that role, Sen. Wicker, a strong advocate for a 355-ship Navy, will play a key role in keeping America’s shipbuilding infrastructure relevant.

“The focus from Washington on producing a stream of new warships is also creating a fleet that some inside the Pentagon think is too wedded to outdated military strategies,” said a NY Times article entitled Faced With Evolving Threats, U.S. Navy Struggles to Change.

Due to the emergence of sophisticated drones, the Navy may need “to recalibrate its fleet to rely more on smaller surface vessels,” suggested an article by the Center for the National Interest.

“What we're seeing in Ukraine may end up revolutionizing naval warfare,” argued Drones and AI are rewriting the rulebook on naval warfare — with uncertain consequences published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “The transformation of naval warfare by drones, driven in part by artificial intelligence, is happening at breathtaking speed.”

“Technology advancements haven’t just pushed the boundaries of warfare; they’ve eroded the decades-long monopoly the U.S. held in defense technology, leveling the playing field in worrying ways, Mohammed Soliman, director of the Middle East Institute’s Strategic Technologies and Cyber Security Program, said in a Defense Scoop article. “Drones epitomize this shift. Cheap, lightweight, targeted, and easily replaced, they pose a significant and often invisible threat.”

It’s not that the Navy is unprepared, it’s the cost to defend against swarms of cheap drones.

According to the Hoover Institution, “U.S. Navy missiles intercepted more than 70 drones fired at vessels in the Red Sea by the Houthi tribe in Yemen. Drone costs to Iran (Houthi’s supplier): $2 million. Costs of the U.S. Navy’s SM-2 missiles fired: $140 million.” Likewise, the U.S. Navy and Israel together expended an estimated $1 billion to repel over 300 Iranian drones that cost between $80 million and $100 million.

“Many counter-drone solutions focus on modifying air defense systems to detect and intercept drones,” said the Defense Scoop article. “While these are good point solutions, the cost exchange ratio is not favorable. The U.S. needs to consider rapidly fielding lower-cost, more effective solutions.”

The types of ships in our 355-ship fleet and the role of Ingalls Shipyard may need to change. Sen. Wicker will be at the center of those decisions.

“There is a time for everything … a time to tear down and a time to build” – Ecclesiastes 3:1,3.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.


Porky Wicker said...

Yo Wicker, how are the Littoral Combat Ships working out? You know, the ones that don't perform but have contributed to the "military indu$trial complex?"

All 32 of them at a cost of $28 billion?

Oh wait, two of them have already been parked because they are the Navy's "Edsel." (POS). Also butt ugly.

Navy Veteran

Anonymous said...

The military industrial complex won’t like cheaper solutions.

Anonymous said...

Not just the Navy but all aspects of warfare are NOW affected. Building planes for pilots is cost ineffective when you can eliminate the risk and cost of human participation and also exploit the precision of drones. Same thing with big ships. Same thing with tanks. We will be the last country to take full advantage because the Pentagon and Congress is completely in bed with the armament industry. We are talking billions maybe trillions in obsolete purchases. It's for defense so it's alright. Right?

Hookah said...

The Obama administration backed and supported Saudi genocide in Yemen. How many times will the US war machine intervene and make the world more dangerous?

I wish I had a fraction of the $$$ these defense contractors are slipping into this corrupt politicians pockets.

Saltwaterpappy said...

So long as there is international commerce on the high seas, and threats from bad actors, there will always be the need for a blue water fleet to protect that commerce.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those self driving tanks and ships. I still remember when they told every truck driver to pack it up since fleets of those self driving semis were on the way. You do understand UAVs still have pilots right?

And the ole armchair General author ought to mention that Iran scored zero battle damage for that 100 mil, Not a great ROI.

Much less a great sales pitch for their craptastic drones and missiles. Meanwhile they are climbing higher on hit lists every day.

Anonymous said...

11:37 - you might should consider asking your question of former Secretary Mabus, with many of the problems with the Littoral's being with the Navy's failure in both design and operation.

Anonymous said...

11:37, yep that's the dick that shutdown the charity hospitals in Mississippi!

Anonymous said...

Wicker is simply following in the footsteps of Lott and Stennis.

"Gentlemen; Down in my hometown of Pascagooler, Missippi, they's plenty room to dock sixteen more destroyer frames."

"You boys up there at Boeing are surely aware that down in Greenville, Missippi we got an unused air base with two parallel 7000 foot runways. I'm looking at nine of your contract requests as we speak." (John C. Stennis)

Anonymous said...

just like in 1982 during the falklands war between argentina and england, when the british learned the hard way that a $10,000 air launched missile could destroy an $2 billion dollar warship.

Anonymous said...

" Wicker is simply following in the footsteps of Lott and Stennis.

Wicker knows that he will never have the power as Stennis ...
Moreover, I doubt there will ever be an aircraft carrier named the USS Roger Wicker.

Anonymous said...

The military industrial complex with never allow anything "cheap."

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