Magazine article National Defense

Land Attack Boats Boost Combat Clout

Magazine article National Defense

Land Attack Boats Boost Combat Clout

Article excerpt

The Navy increasingly is focusing on its war-fighting role ashore. A combination of forward presence and ability to hit targets deep in enemy territory has provided U.S. military commanders with the means to launch attacks on the enemy while limiting the threat to pilots.

One weapon of choice in conflicts in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia in recent years has been the Tomahawk land-attack missile fired from surface combatants and submarines.

These sea-based attacks on enemy installations ashore, however, are only one of the many missions the Navy must be ready to fulfill.

The Navy now faces a critical opportunity to enhance its ability to support land battles. The service will have to decommission four

of its 18 Trident ballistic missile submarines when they are slated to become inactive in fiscal years 2003 and 2004. But the Trident class SSBNs, with a 42-year service life, will still have two decades left of useful service life.

instead of decommissioning these four nuclearpowered boats, the Navy has studied the possibility of refueling them and converting the subs to guided-missile submarines (SSGNs). By modifying the 24 missile tubes originally designed to launch nuclear-tipped missiles, the Navy could outfit each Trident with either 154 Tomahawks or a combination of 140 Tomahawks and two Advanced Seal Delivery Systems capable of carrying up to 66 special operations personnel. …

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