Naval gunfire support is ultra-quick, unaffected by weather, never worries about enemy air defenses, and has saved the lives of many soldiers and Marines over the years. In Vietnam and engagements like Lebanon in the 1980s, this role was performed by Iowa class battleships and their 16-inch guns, firing shells the size of small Volkswagens up to 20 miles inland in a marriage of reactive firepower and sheer intimidation.
Nobody has battleships on call any more. These days, the high end of naval gunfire support options involves the not-yet fielded DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers/ light cruisers, $3+ billion, 14,500t ships with the most advanced air defense systems and sonars for protection, and a pair of 155mm howitzers on board that can rapid-fire GPS-guided ammunition 80-100 miles inshore. In the middle we have European countries with 100-127mm naval guns, and abortive efforts like Germany’s MONARC system that aimed to increase range and punch via a 155mm mobile howitzer turret on a frigate-sized ship.
Then there’s the low end, where Finland is funding a study that’s about as far away from the DDG 1000 idea as you can get – but may be very effective in its own right…
SURVICE Engineering Co. in Belcamp, MD received a $25 million cost-plus-fixed-fee with cost reimbursable contract. They will handle munitions effectiveness and target delivery schedules for the analysis division of the USAF Air Armament Center. Some of the major programs managed by the center include the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-air missile, High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile radar-killer, HARM Targeting System, JASSM, JDAM, Miniature Air Launched Decoy, Sensor Fuzed Weapon (those infamous “cans of whup-ass”), and the Small Diameter Bomb.
This effort covers technical and analytical studies and analyses, theoretical investigations, computer programming and program documentations, mathematical computations, and special operation analysis. At this time, $174,987 have been obligated. Solicitations began Feb. 2007, negotiations were complete May 2007, and work will be complete May 2012. The Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA9200-07-C-0056).