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WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/27/2021 1:51:31 PM   
BeirutDude


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So I'm been working on some PLAN/PLAAF vs. U.S./Japan scenarios for a 2022 conflict (two done so far) and looking at a scenario about a month into the war. My assumption is by that point, both side will have expended most of their PGM, or have remain stockpiles reserved for contingencies (Taiwan for PRC) and Russia/Korean Peninsula for the West.

Thoughts? Am overly pessimistic on the use of PGMs? I just really see most being used inn the first two-three weeks of a conventual war.

_____________________________

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/27/2021 2:02:07 PM   
BDukes

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: BeirutDude

So I'm been working on some PLAN/PLAAF vs. U.S./Japan scenarios for a 2022 conflict (two done so far) and looking at a scenario about a month into the war. My assumption is by that point, both side will have expended most of their PGM, or have remain stockpiles reserved for contingencies (Taiwan for PRC) and Russia/Korean Peninsula for the West.

Thoughts? Am overly pessimistic on the use of PGMs? I just really see most being used inn the first two-three weeks of a conventual war.


Agreed they'll go fast and there are fewer factories/sites that actually make them now. Can't remember the novel, but in one book China actually targets a facility in the CONUS because it was the only site to manufacture X missile. On the flip side, 3D-printing and a number of other things have made the supply side of things a little easier.

I would definitely put a hard stop to the high-tech engineering dependent missiles (JASSM's, T-Hawk's, etc.). I think the bolt-on stuff (JDAM, GBU) stuff be far easier to manufacturer along just-in-time type of timelines. Then there is the issue of getting the stuff where they need to go.

Mike


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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/27/2021 3:06:49 PM   
thewood1

 

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As I've said a lot, the next big war will be a war of missile attrition. Can belligerents replace and replenish missiles fast enough? PGMs fall into this, but the build time for a PGM kit for an iron bomb is hours. An SM-6 is weeks per missile. And as we've seen in CMO, a theater-wide conflict can quickly consume hundreds, if not thousands of missiles.

Looking at budgets back to 2011, the US has tens of thousands of PGMs and PGM kits. But only has about 1000 SM-6s and 2000-3000 SM-2s in stocks. One good hit on a forward base stock could leave the US very short of needed missiles.

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/27/2021 4:12:35 PM   
Gunner98

 

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This will absolutely be a problem. I tried to address it for NF in this Blog. When you consider a Phoenix Missile took longer to produce than a WW2 CVL, you get an idea of how steady state was in the 60-80s. I do believe things have gotten much better though.

For the US - yes, but more acutely for US allies. One of the biggest issues in NATO defence spending (and I assume it is the same with Oz, Japan etc) is that countries have not been purchasing the anticipated number of missiles. So to keep the assembly lines open (in the US) the US needs to buy more missiles than it wants to. I think you can track predicted expenditure of some types (AIM-120) for some countries in hours, perhaps days but certainly not weeks.

For 'bolt on' kits there shouldn't be a problem, certainly for the 30 series - they are as common as dirt. You would be hard pressed to find any of the 10 or 20 series any more, and not likely after a few weeks of war. But for the 40 & 50 series you could put limits, the LJDAM takes more engineering so - only if you wanted a scenario feature - you could limit them. (the 54 & 58 are Laser only though, and are now more common than the 34/38).

For missiles, as thewood1 suggests you should start at the budget statements, and from there make assumptions. There is lots of scope for interesting scenarios focused on logistics, and/or just limiting the player with a plausible storyline.

When you consider the real world implications, not only of production, but storage, testing, maintenance, upgrades, repairs and just where in the world you put them. This becomes complex.

B

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/27/2021 4:20:44 PM   
CV60


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quote:

This will absolutely be a problem. I tried to address it for NF in this Blog. When you consider a Phoenix Missile took longer to produce than a WW2 CVL, you get an idea of how steady state was in the 60-80s. I do believe things have gotten much better though.

For the US - yes, but more acutely for US allies. One of the biggest issues in NATO defence spending (and I assume it is the same with Oz, Japan etc) is that countries have not been purchasing the anticipated number of missiles. So to keep the assembly lines open (in the US) the US needs to buy more missiles than it wants to. I think you can track predicted expenditure of some types (AIM-120) for some countries in hours, perhaps days but certainly not weeks.

For 'bolt on' kits there shouldn't be a problem, certainly for the 30 series - they are as common as dirt. You would be hard pressed to find any of the 10 or 20 series any more, and not likely after a few weeks of war. But for the 40 & 50 series you could put limits, the LJDAM takes more engineering so - only if you wanted a scenario feature - you could limit them. (the 54 & 58 are Laser only though, and are now more common than the 34/38).

For missiles, as thewood1 suggests you should start at the budget statements, and from there make assumptions. There is lots of scope for interesting scenarios focused on logistics, and/or just limiting the player with a plausible storyline.

When you consider the real world implications, not only of production, but storage, testing, maintenance, upgrades, repairs and just where in the world you put them. This becomes complex.

B


Remember, there will also likely be fewer targets for the PGMs also. Both sides will have suffered extensive attrition in their major weapon/C4ISR systems

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/27/2021 10:28:11 PM   
BeirutDude


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Great insights! Much along the lines I was thinking. Very limited loads of the major missiles/SAMs/AAMs and more JDAMs, Dumb Bombs, etc. I was thinking much attrited squadrons and composite squadrons.

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/27/2021 10:44:48 PM   
Gunner98

 

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quote:

composite squadrons.


You can have a bit of fun with the names - when I merged the 57th FS Black Knights and the 493rd FS Grim Reapers, was torn between the Black Reapers of Grim Knights.

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/30/2021 12:55:48 PM   
Eggstor

 

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I think the production problem would also hit the free-fall bombs and larger-caliber shells. Part of the reason the Forrestal fire was so bad was the US Navy was digging deep into the stores for old (and unstable) Mk65 1000-lb bombs to cover a production shortage of Mk83s. I also seem to recall a shortage of 8" shells at points during the Vietnam War, and the US having to buy back "excess" 8" shells from Germany to mass-produce the first bunker-busters of Desert Storm.

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/30/2021 1:18:12 PM   
Gunner98

 

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I think you may be right but it would be a much lesser problem than complex missiles. The classic ammunition shortages of history show that usage will vastly outstrip production of almost any type. In 1914 it took 3 months of consumption before the world was short on artillery shells, other shortages have popped up regularly in almost every conflict. But they are almost routine, so fairly easy to overcome.

My suspicion wrt the Mk65 is that it was more a case of expending the old before using the new, the fire on the Forrestal was in 67 so those Mk-65s were probably only about 25 years old +/- a couple years. A fairly reasonable age for a munition, but time to move it along. Did it contribute to the fire - probably, but the new Mk.83s were cooking off as well.

Also the GBU-28 used the 8" gun barrel, not the shell. The bomb was fused with a BLU-109 but a hard casing was needed to achieve the penetration desired. I wasn't aware that 8" shells were purchased from the Germans but that doesn't surprise me. The Germans were selling everything in site during the early '90s and the US was probably firing far more than anticipated in its last few 8" Battalions. I wouldn't be surprised that a few of those gun barrels were German come to think about it.

B

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/30/2021 2:39:42 PM   
Randomizer


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One big problem with munitions is that a shortage of a single component can depress production and create shortages.

The famous British "Shell Shortage" of 1015 was actually a fuze shortage as artillery fuzes were complex, demanded a high degree of precision to manufacture and required rigorous quality control and proofing. By the summer of 1915 there were some 3.5 million filled shrapnel shells in UK factories awaiting fuzes. But it wasn't only ammunition, the UK produced about 5,000 machine guns in the first five months of the War to Germany's 40,000. In WW2 both sides experienced shortages of items like mines, torpedoes and depth charges but the land campaigns of 1939-40 were too short to manifest major shortfalls in Army munitions' stocks and by the summer of 1941, the belligerents had had two-full years to put their pre-War industrial mobilization schemes into action.

If the current trend of tiresome, low-intensity for-ever-wars continue it is unlikely that significant munitions will be in short supply for long.

-C

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/30/2021 6:15:16 PM   
Sharana


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I'm having trouble imagining the situation where the (near future) conflict keeps going a month into the war. If it was regionally contained then that is not such of a consideration, USAs stockpiles are deep enough. If the s**t hits the fan for real leading to full scale conflict with everything but nukes ... in 1 month there will barely be combat capable assets (combat + support planes, SAMs and Radars, ships and subs) and infrastructure to support them, PGMs would be secondary consideration.

I can't imagine WW3 type of (near future) scenario that develops the way we were reading in the WW3 themed 80es novels. Modern armies don't have such massive inventories anymore, production is high tech and as such in small amounts + highly concentrated. Combining that with the age of (very) long range PGMs it simply means that there is no save back as in the past, so the production capacity will be leveled. The factory that made (well made the final assembly would be more accurate) the F-35, J-20, high end missiles etc will be in ruins in the first days if not hours. And as production cycles are quite long nowadays + very concentrated and vulnerable production base there will be no option to produce weapons in order to keep fighting as it was in the past. Such modern WW3 will IMHO be extremely "hot" (as in very very high intensity) and just as damaging, but short spanned as there isn't that much hardware to throw around and option to replace the lost one with new production.

< Message edited by Sharana -- 3/30/2021 6:16:55 PM >


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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/30/2021 11:47:21 PM   
Coiler12

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: BeirutDude
Thoughts? Am overly pessimistic on the use of PGMs? I just really see most being used inn the first two-three weeks of a conventual war.


I'm not seeing, even with the contrivances of nukes totally handwaved away and the production bases totally undamaged, a conventional high-intensity, high-level conflict even lasting any longer than that at all. Even three weeks is really pushing it.

It's just very, very damaging.

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/31/2021 1:06:17 AM   
Gunner98

 

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I'm not so sure.

The virtually unopposed bombing campaign in Serbia which was specifically targeting Serbian military hardware came away, after 36000+ sorties with somewhere between 12 and 100 Serbian tanks killed out of 600, and wildly exaggerated estimates for everything else. Perhaps that is a fringe case but looking at months (Libya) or years (Syria) of bombing in a completely permissive environment and stuff still survives and operates.

I think that we get a bit of a rose coloured view of the effectiveness of air to ground munitions and PGMs in general, both from the game and from our real life experience bombing forces that aren't really shooting back.

During a pier to pier fight, there will be a lot of deception, counter strike and risk to strikers. So I think that the tempo of major operations may slow due to casualties and after a while due to munitions expenditure, but I would not count on the fight ending all that quickly. Is a high-tech WW I type stalemate likely - don't think so, but there will probably be quiet periods measured in weeks and months while forces muster and prepare.

B



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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 3/31/2021 7:09:55 AM   
guanotwozero

 

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While the Serbia campaign was largely unopposed it wasn't unresisted - the Serbian military seem to have been rather effective at hiding their assets from detection. Even the shooting down of the F-117 was a result of highly-disciplined practices that prioritised the avoidance of becoming a target. That contrasts with other nations who suffered much greater losses of similar technology as their methods were less effective.

There's an interesting analysis here:
http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2009-04.html

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 4/4/2021 2:17:27 PM   
SeaQueen


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It's hard to say, really. I think it's purely speculative how long the PGM stocks will hold out without actual numbers, and a campaign analysis to estimate the rates of expenditure. A month? A few weeks? Who knows?

It depends on a lot of things. #1 How much are each of the participating nations willing to spend on defense? More money means more munitions. #2 How long has it been since the last war? More time means more munitions. #3 How long do the munitions last? Bombs go bad, just like most things filled with chemicals. They expire, need to be removed from inventory and disposed of. Additionally, munitions require regular maintenance, testing and checkups. #4 What is the production capacity of the nations involved? Companies that produce munitions might be able to ramp up fast, or they might not have much room for fast expansion. It depends. Those are just a few of the broad considerations, I'm thinking about from a policy perspective.

It also depends on the munitions. A US LGB or JDAM isn't shipped "ready to go." They're built at the airbase. The ammo guys have a deployable assembly line that they can load in a C-17 and carry with them anywhere in the world, so they can set up shop and build the bombs they need there. Those kinds of precision guided weapons are a matter of attaching a relatively inexpensive guidance kit on to a relatively inexpensive dumb bomb, along with the necessary fusing options, and they're done. There might be lots of bomb bodies. How many guidance kits do you have? Good question. They can probably build them pretty quick, though. If you've ever seen one up close, they're mostly just sheet metal. The electronics package is fairly small on them and they have no propulsion. They're pretty simple as munitions go.

Other types of precision guided weapons are shipped more like a new iPhone, packed carefully in their exquisite, sealed packaging, pristine and untouched. JASSM would be an example of something like that. At most they plug them in and program them, but they're basically hands off. They just need to hang them on the plane and shoot them. Those are probably more hard to come by. They're so special that they are expensive to acquire and slower to build, by highly trained technicians in specialized factories dealing with advanced materials and electronics.

Then there's things like TLAM, where even if you could build them fast, it doesn't necessarily matter because getting them out to the fleet is a separate problem. VLS tubes have to be replenished in port. Do you want to take a ship or submarine out of the fight to put more TLAMs on it, when they can be out there doing good work for the next six months? Maybe? It depends on the nature of the fight and what you're doing. I don't know.

So.. LGBs and JDAMs might last quite some time? JASSMs maybe not? TLAMs might be piled up on the pier, but the fleet is still out, so they are just sitting there? Who knows? They won't say what the real estimates are or how long things will hold out, so it's purely speculation. Certainly inventories are finite and EVENTUALLY things will start becoming more scarce. Maybe the less important thing is whether it's a month, a year or a few weeks, and more just recognizing that every fight might not be fought with super duper high-end exquisite weapons, and eventually more crude solutions will be necessary.

There's a reason they still train people to use dumb bombs, after all.

quote:

ORIGINAL: BeirutDude
Thoughts? Am [I] overly pessimistic on the use of PGMs? I just really see most being used inn the first two-three weeks of a conventional war.



< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 4/4/2021 2:22:38 PM >

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RE: WWIII: How long until PGMs are used up? - 4/4/2021 2:36:01 PM   
BeirutDude


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quote:

ORIGINAL: SeaQueen

It's hard to say, really. I think it's purely speculative how long the PGM stocks will hold out without actual numbers, and a campaign analysis to estimate the rates of expenditure. A month? A few weeks? Who knows?

It depends on a lot of things. #1 How much are each of the participating nations willing to spend on defense? More money means more munitions. #2 How long has it been since the last war? More time means more munitions. #3 How long do the munitions last? Bombs go bad, just like most things filled with chemicals. They expire, need to be removed from inventory and disposed of. Additionally, munitions require regular maintenance, testing and checkups. #4 What is the production capacity of the nations involved? Companies that produce munitions might be able to ramp up fast, or they might not have much room for fast expansion. It depends. Those are just a few of the broad considerations, I'm thinking about from a policy perspective.

It also depends on the munitions. A US LGB or JDAM isn't shipped "ready to go." They're built at the airbase. The ammo guys have a deployable assembly line that they can load in a C-17 and carry with them anywhere in the world, so they can set up shop and build the bombs they need there. Those kinds of precision guided weapons are a matter of attaching a relatively inexpensive guidance kit on to a relatively inexpensive dumb bomb, along with the necessary fusing options, and they're done. There might be lots of bomb bodies. How many guidance kits do you have? Good question. They can probably build them pretty quick, though. If you've ever seen one up close, they're mostly just sheet metal. The electronics package is fairly small on them and they have no propulsion. They're pretty simple as munitions go.

Other types of precision guided weapons are shipped more like a new iPhone, packed carefully in their exquisite, sealed packaging, pristine and untouched. JASSM would be an example of something like that. At most they plug them in and program them, but they're basically hands off. They just need to hang them on the plane and shoot them. Those are probably more hard to come by. They're so special that they are expensive to acquire and slower to build, by highly trained technicians in specialized factories dealing with advanced materials and electronics.

Then there's things like TLAM, where even if you could build them fast, it doesn't necessarily matter because getting them out to the fleet is a separate problem. VLS tubes have to be replenished in port. Do you want to take a ship or submarine out of the fight to put more TLAMs on it, when they can be out there doing good work for the next six months? Maybe? It depends on the nature of the fight and what you're doing. I don't know.

So.. LGBs and JDAMs might last quite some time? JASSMs maybe not? TLAMs might be piled up on the pier, but the fleet is still out, so they are just sitting there? Who knows? They won't say what the real estimates are or how long things will hold out, so it's purely speculation. Certainly inventories are finite and EVENTUALLY things will start becoming more scarce. Maybe the less important thing is whether it's a month, a year or a few weeks, and more just recognizing that every fight might not be fought with super duper high-end exquisite weapons, and eventually more crude solutions will be necessary.

There's a reason they still train people to use dumb bombs, after all.

quote:

ORIGINAL: BeirutDude
Thoughts? Am [I] overly pessimistic on the use of PGMs? I just really see most being used inn the first two-three weeks of a conventional war.




Thank you, good insights!

quote:

...just recognizing that every fight might not be fought with super duper high-end exquisite weapons, and eventually more crude solutions will be necessary.


Exactly my thoughts, for this scenario.


_____________________________

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, 1985

I was Navy, but Assigned TAD to the 24th MAU Hq in Beirut. By far the finest period of my service!

(in reply to SeaQueen)
Post #: 16
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