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What does the RN have in defence against Missile Boats?

Dr_Acula

Badgeman
I've been researching the Navies of other countries that we are most likely to have some sort of conflict with in the future (Iran, Korea, China etc.) and found that many of them use missile boats and corvettes armed to the teeth with anti-ship missiles. In the case of the Chinese Navy they have 80+ missile boats.

What does the RN have against them? Sea-Wolf has proved effective against missiles and Sea-Skua fired from a Lynx was also good against smaller vessels during the Falklands. However, I can just imagine the sheer volume of these boats would be too much for any Task Force, RN or otherwise, to handle!

Unfortunately, my opinion isn't based on much (if any) fact, which is why I ask here as some of you may have a more informed opinion, having served in the RN!
 

Dr_Acula

Badgeman
To provide honest answers would be a serious breach of OPSEC!

I doubt you'll get any more information than is readily available in any open source material.

I hadn't thought about that. Then again, I wasn't aware that there was much info on the capability of our ships that they weren't telling us!

This must be an issue that NATO has thought about though, because during the Cold War, the Commies built 400 of them! The RN took the submarine threat seriously (enough to scrap the bulk of our carrier force) so they must have given this credence.
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Book Reviewer
Quantity does not necessarily equal quality. The USSR built a vast fleet in response to the supposed US threat; a threat created to financially cripple the Soviet economy (which worked, resulting in the thawing of the Cold War)
 

Dr_Acula

Badgeman
We have plenty to counter missiles, in both hard kill and soft kill.

I don't want to appear as though I'm challenging you, but do you think the RN could handle the volume of missiles? (If the FBPs were used in volume, that is).

I suppose a fleet of 30-odd missile boats is a rather big blip on the radar screen, but I wouldn't put it past the Koreans to send their men on a suicide mission in order to sink a carrier/LPD!
 

tommo

War Hero
Yes the ships are more than capable to cope with multiple threats. Even the ships that don't carry any form of missile in surf to surf or surf to air capability still have other forms of hard kill or soft kill to deal with multiple threats.
 
Missile Boats are fantastic, as long as the enemy come to you, if you go and find the enemy FPBs are pretty rubbish; a quick glance at some of the memoirs post-WW2 will indicate the difficulty the MTBs/MGBs had in reaching the Med.

The RN has for a long time worked on a quality not quantity basis, ensuring that every vessel is capable of taking part in a TG Operation, whilst being able to defend itself against most threats if it were to act in isolation.

These two facts combined mean the RN believes that buying anything other than full-scale FF/DD is of limited value. This does mean that for the *specific* task(s) the majority of our FF/DD are carrying out they are vast over power, carry too many weapons of the wrong type and are not manned ideally, however, if they needed to fit into a TG based around a CVN or act as a SAG/SAU they would more than hold their own. This lack of flexibility within the Missile Boat fleet is the reason why we don't have any.

If our internal strategic reasoning were to change, then FPBs might make a comeback, but I doubt it.
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
Great in theory as they can ostensibly deliver lots of weapons cheaply. In reality missile boats die in their droves against an opponent with a modicum of capability and have never been able to deliver the swarm attack some think about. Problems include their poor seakeeping, targetting issues and a general lack of capability or self defence.

They are beloved of tom clancy style fiction authors, but not by credible navies.
 
P_T - as ever, it depends on what you use them for; up against a TG then they're pants, against a individual MV or less capable individual warship I'd lay odds on them winning. Lets not fall into the trap that just because they're not used in accordance with our doctrine they're no good; asymmetry can be used at sea as well as ashore.
 

flymo

War Hero
I'm inclined to disagree with the current thinking here. A couple of missile boats, over the horizon targeting, a couple of way points for the missiles and you have a threat coming at you from all directions and you have little idea as to where the threat originated.

Arab Israeli war anyone?

Happy to be shot down from my admirals position at the living room table.
 
I'm inclined to disagree with the current thinking here. A couple of missile boats, over the horizon targeting, a couple of way points for the missiles and you have a threat coming at you from all directions and you have little idea as to where the threat originated.

A quick appreciation of that plan:

FPBs - a secure base within 24 - 36 hours steaming, that is in effect a safe haven to allow repair and R'n'R.

Something to do OTHT with - either airbased or SM based. Either implies a significant amount of resources, and local air control or local sea control (respectively). If using an air-based OTHT method, you either have a helo or an MPA; there are no FPBs with helo facilities, so either a FF/DD in support or within range of land bases; MPA require a large base to fly and maintain them from, as well as at least 6 - 8 to maintain 24/7 coverage.

SM OTHT removes the biggest advantage of being a SM - remaining undetected. I don't know of many serious SM operating nations that do this on a regular basis.

OTHT means a worked up team, and secure comms. Neither hugely difficult, but generally not seen outside well established Navies.

Missiles with waypoints - reduces your OTHT platform to MPA/Helo, as you require a valid background shipping plot; it's a bit embarrassing if your waypoint is already occupied by another ship.

To get a multi-direction attack you will have to be relatively close to your target (or attacking from 360 degrees to start off with), whilst remaining undetected.

In sum - entirely do-able, but implies an area of operations close to the homebase, a significant resource base and a worked up Navy. Or a government that is willing to inflict collateral damage and a navy that is willing to absorb significant losses to ensure that the enemies Centre of Gravity is attacked.
 

Purple_twiglet

War Hero
Moderator
More to the point, if you can work up a team with OTHT and helos and the other issues required - why not invest in a few frigates instead?
 

flymo

War Hero
"Or a government that is willing to inflict collateral damage and a navy that is willing to absorb significant losses to ensure that the enemies Centre of Gravity is attacked."

Yup, that's my inclination; have many M/FPBs to account for the high rate of attrition. And with a range of circa 120 nm, MPB fired missiles could make life interesting.
OTHT? No-one has mentioned satellite yet ..
 
"Or a government that is willing to inflict collateral damage and a navy that is willing to absorb significant losses to ensure that the enemies Centre of Gravity is attacked."

Yup, that's my inclination; have many M/FPBs to account for the high rate of attrition. And with a range of circa 120 nm, MPB fired missiles could make life interesting.
OTHT? No-one has mentioned satellite yet ..

If you have real-time satellite feed, I'm thinking you won't need an FPB or two.

TBH, any Navy should be willing to absorb losses to attack the En's Centre of Gravity; the fact we can't is an indication of our FP focused doctrine.....
 

jrwlynch

Lantern Swinger
Great in theory as they can ostensibly deliver lots of weapons cheaply. In reality missile boats die in their droves against an opponent with a modicum of capability and have never been able to deliver the swarm attack some think about. Problems include their poor seakeeping, targetting issues and a general lack of capability or self defence.

They are beloved of tom clancy style fiction authors, but not by credible navies.

There's exceptions. In confined waters with air cover, or at least a disputed air situation, fast attack craft are part of a balanced force that can be very difficult to eradicate, and can pop out to cause harm when not expected: the German boats in the Baltic, and the Norwegians, are the examples of how you can effectively use FAC as part of your force if you know where and how you're expecting to fight.

As "the force"? In open waters, and/or with enemy air superiority? Forget it, you're doomed. Antony Preston devoted a chapter in "The World's Worst Warships" to the Fast Attack Craft, precisely because so many navies bought quick, cheap, heavily-armed sexy little boats before discovering they're expensive to maintain, break a lot in bad weather, and can't see very far. (But they offer more opportunities for keen two-ringers to get fast and entertaining command jobs, which is one reason they're popular in peacetime)
 

Ballistic

War Hero
I've been researching the Navies of other countries that we are most likely to have some sort of conflict with in the future (Iran, Korea, China etc.) and found that many of them use missile boats and corvettes armed to the teeth with anti-ship missiles. In the case of the Chinese Navy they have 80+ missile boats.

What does the RN have against them? Sea-Wolf has proved effective against missiles and Sea-Skua fired from a Lynx was also good against smaller vessels during the Falklands. However, I can just imagine the sheer volume of these boats would be too much for any Task Force, RN or otherwise, to handle!

Unfortunately, my opinion isn't based on much (if any) fact, which is why I ask here as some of you may have a more informed opinion, having served in the RN!

All hands muster on the upper deck.

Open spud lockers.

ENGAGE!
 
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