This article is intended to address some glaring weaknesses in the US Navy's current littoral doctrine. The Navy's inability to provide the necessary level of ship-based fire in support of amphibious operations has been self-evident since the 1990's retirement of the Iowa class battleships.  What is needed is a true commitment to new vessels providing the necessary firepower for such operations. I will focus here on three such classes.

      The first is the Pegasus PHM class  fast attack vessel (below). Six of these small, 50+Knot vessels were introduced toward the end of the Cold war, and have since been forced into early retirement.  Similar craft are needed in the Navy today for their ability to travel high speeds above the waterline and beyond the reach of torpedoes and sea mines.  The Pegasus as originally armed mounted a 76MM RF gun, and twin quadruple Harpoon ASCM launchers. Since this missile fit does not match today's littoral mission requirements, it should be modified as follows:

     The Harpoon ASCM tubes should be replaced with trainable Hell-fire box launchers and a gyro-stabilized 2nd Gen FLIR, tied in with a high-mast mounted MM wave Longbow radar array. In this way, Hellfire missiles could be used for direct attacks on coastal fortifications, as well as attacks on small Fast Attack craft likely to be found operating along a contested coastline.  Also, a Goalkeeper 30MM CIWS for point-missile defense and close-in surface engagements should be mounted.  

     This vessel could zip along the enemy coast at 50+ knots, drawing fire to be dealt with by fleet and TACAIR attack, or with it's own weapons. A modified Pegasus class would also be very useful for screening friendly landing craft from attack by hostile fast attack craft, shore bombardment, and general reconnaissance duties.  Today's Navy lacks a swift, maneuverable, missile armed vessel.  A modified Pegasus class is the answer.  There is also no doubt that the Pegasus would also find considerable peacetime employment in our nation's never-ending "War on Drugs".

      The second vessel type which can provide immediate help is a modification of the five early Ticonderoga class cruisers (below).  The biggest single weakness of today's Navy is the total lack of sufficient shore bombardment capabilities. This is the role the pre-VLS Ticos should fill. This is made possible by the introduction of two additional warheads -one already in development- for the new SM-4 LASM (Land Attack Standard Missile). With it's fairly large warhead, good speed and long range, the SM-2 is a natural fit as a deep attack/shore bombardment missile, so the USN has wisely chosen to adapt it to this role. This missile brings a lot to the table, allowing any SM-2 capable vessel to trade it's SAMs for LASMs.  This missile is guided by a simple GPS device, and possesses a 125lb unitary blast/frag warhead. Unfortunately, a 125lb warhead is not effective as an area saturation weapon, nor does it possess adequate anti-armor punch.

     Once the various warheads gain IOC, the SM-4 LASM system will equate to a naval contemporary of the US Army ATACMS theater ballistic missile, as fired by the MLRS SPLL (Self Propelled Launcher-Loader).  In this vein, I propose replacement of the aft helicopter hanger, maintenance, and refueling/tankage facilities with a gyrostabilized, slewable US Army MLRS armored box launcher. An internal magazine and autoloading device would allow for approximately one dozen 2x6 sealed container reloads of M26 MLRS rockets to be carried. An autoloading magazine of this type would allow for a greatly increased rate of fire over land based equivalents. 

      This weapons system would yield a total of 160 standard US Army M26 rockets. Each M26 rocket contains 644 M-77CEM submunitions and can cover an area nearly the size of a football field with a dense pattern of bomblets. M26 rockets have a range of 45Km, and would be ideal for laying an initial saturation barrage on beach-head fortifications at the point of assault. Because of the high ammo consumption of it's rocket systems, the helo pad will be maintained for rapid ammunition resupply.

       Since the magazines are to be full of ground attack munitions, a dedicated point defense SAM system will be needed. I propose the installation of fore and aft Mk31 RAM 21cell launchers. The fire-and-forget IR/RF RAM missile would provide a powerful point defense against swarm missile attacks.  Finally, the twin Phalanx CIWS mounts should be replaced by the more potent 30MM Goalkeeper CIWS. This system, with it's excellent Signal-Flycatcher radar, would be a significant improvement over the Mk15 Phalanx Block II, and would provide a lethal surface attack system for close-in defense against small vessels. It could also be used to detonate any mines detected in the ship's path.

        The two 5"/54 gun systems will remain unchanged, with the exception of an increase in barrel length to 62 calibers, as is already planned by the USN for Ticonderoga class cruisers.  As it becomes available the USN 155MM FGS (Future Gun System) should be retro-fitted in place of the 5" armament. Appliqué reactive armor blocks ,composite armored plates, and RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) coatings should be mounted to protect the ship from the hazards found when operating as close as 10NM from a defended coastline. The single most important modification to this vessel, and the heart of the integrated weapons system, would be a dedicated and fleet wide integrated Fleet Fire Direction Center (FFDC). This would provide real time data transfer, allowing for immediate, prioritize, and appropriate fire to be called by friendly amphibious forces.

     As a dedicated component of the FFDC, a US Army Fire-finder counter battery planar array should be integrated, this would minimize the threat faced by US landing forces in the face of enemy artillery fire.  The SPY-1A phased-array radar and AEGIS sensor suite will be maintained to allow for a complete 3D view of the battle space in the AO (Area of Operations).  Also operating as an integrated appendage of the FFDC, remotely piloted vehicles (RPV's) would be a key component of the total weapons system, allowing for precise and timely indirect attacks on enemy forces both on the front, and deep behind the FEBA (Forward Edge of Battle Area). There are many existing RPV's which could be adapted to this role, with a compliment of six being an ideal number.

     The final class of vessel is a modern adaptation of a design steeped in US Naval tradition. What I propose is a monitor type vessel of the exact length (88 feet) and beam (47feet) of a Landing Craft Air Cushion, to be carried in the well-decks of USN amphibious assault vessels (below), and released as the fleet closes to within 50NM of the enemy coast. From this point, the monitors will steam to within a mere thousand meters of the beachhead and proceed to engage targets with sustained direct/indirect fire. Further, once the beach is secured by friendly forces, the monitors could anchor close to shore and act in the classic role as sea based artillery, firing in support of operations farther inland.      

      Obviously, a vessel operating in the enemies lap will be subject to intense counterfire. To meet this threat, the monitor will feature a hull and turret of the same armor and protection level as an M-1A2 Abrams MBT. The combination of Chobham and DU238 armored plate mounted by the M-1A1HA and newer Abrams has proven to be extremely resistant to the effects of enemy fire in battle, and is therefore the PERFECT choice for the mission requirements of the monitor. This armor, combined with the monitor's low-profile, outer RAM coatings, and sea-water cooled/away from hull exhaust, would bestow upon the vessel the ability to operate in even the most intensely defended coastal waters for hours on end.

      Such a vessel would be heavy (approx.1000tons), but nearly impervious to all but the largest shaped charge missiles, such as the US Maverick. The armor package of the A2 Abrams has proven able to withstand multiple short-range hits from US 120MM APFSDSDU tank main-gun rounds, and can withstand even a Hellfire AGM hit without penetration.  The monitor should be internally constructed to provide for a high level of compartmentalization.  The demonstrated ability of the Abrams tank to withstand multiple heavy weapons hits and yet continue to fight intact would be greatly enhanced in the monitor through the use of this feature. This is because the types of very large HEAT warheads that would be necessary to penetrate the heavy Chobham/DU238 plate tend to create rather small holes, relying on the jet of molten gasses and metal to score a "kill". With compartmentalization this jet would be fully contained, leaving the rest of the vessel fully battle-ready.

     For this reason each of the turreted weapons should be housed in individual compartments and fed from armored magazine chutes. This would allow the weapons systems to continue to function should the turret be breached. Clearing all personnel from the upper turret deck during battle would ensure that all crewmen were safely located below the waterline, and thus fully protected from direct fire weapons.  Such a heavy vessel as this would require serious propulsion, so I propose the use of twin 1,500hp Avco Lycoming AGT-1500 gas turbines, as those installed in Abrams. These powerful plants are compact, reliable, and quiet- just what the doctor ordered.  An under armor APU should also be installed, to allow for station keeping and systems power when the turbines are shut-down, or even when lost due to battle damage.

      A twin outlet jet-drive, coupled with twin titanium reinforced Kevlar rudders round out the propulsion system.  I have obviously gone to great lengths to conceive a vessel capable of withstanding severe punishment in order to bring it's weapons to bear for sustained fire.  That fire will be provided by a single steeply sloped, high rate of traverse, gyro-stabilized turret featuring twin 5"/62 USN RF Light Weight Gun Mounts (LWGM). A large auto-loading magazine of 300rds of 5" shells is integral to the Monitors mission of sustained direct fire. Sustained ROF for the 5" LWGM is 20RPM per gun. We therefore have conceived a vessel capable of firing one 5" shell every 1.5 seconds for seven and a half minutes straight.

      Additionally, a co-axially mounted 30MM Goal-keeper CIWS capable of +75 deg elevation, with an extended magazine capacity of 5,000rds should be incorporated. With a range of 1500+ Meters, this weapon could be used for direct engagement of shore fortifications, small vessels, mines, and of course, missiles. The Signal-Flycatcher and surface search radar systems should be mounted on the turret roof, and encased in a heavily armored enclosure. A 2nd Gen gunner's Flir and commander's independent FLIR viewer will also be mounted on the turret roof, also in heavily armored boxes.  For it's primary AD capability the Monitor should sport a single Mk31, 21cell RAM launcher mounted on the afterdeck. This system would provide significant anti-helicopter and point missile defense capability in a 360 degree arc. 

     Finally, my design allows for up to six externally mounted 2.75" FFAR (Folding Fin Aerial Rocket) Hydra 19cell rocket pods to be mounted on the turret sides. These would allow for an initial stand-off barrage of up to 114 rockets as the Monitor initially closed with the shore.  Resupply should be accomplished through the use of an armored afterdeck hull elevator. This will allow for rapid underslung helicopter resupply from fleet ships farther out to sea.  Fully loaded for combat, the Monitor's sealed hull should sit no higher than 18" above the water line, making it quite hard to detect, and harder still to hit. 


Here is a brief example of how these vessels might be used as a key component of the combined amphibious fleet.

      A foreign and hostile coastline looms on the horizon as the US 11th MEU and escorting vessels steam inexorably into harm's way.  Iraq has again invaded Kuwait, but the Saudis have refused to allow US heavy forces to stage from their kingdom. Knowing this, Saddam Hussein has oriented his defenses to overlook the Persian Gulf. His forces have prepared elaborate beach obstacles and mine fields, and have liberally sown the Gulf with anti-ship mines. Worse, they have pre-sighted all the likely landing sites for massed artillery barrages at the first sight of US Marines coming ashore. Saddam has also positioned his elite Republican Guard heavy divisions at strategic points along the gulf about 30NM inland, in order to quickly crush any attempted landings by US forces.

     Earlier in the night, fighters flying off the decks of the carriers USS Reagan and USS Nimitz struck a heavy blow, attacking Iraqi airfields and SAM sites in the KTO to ensure local air-superiority for US Amphibious forces. A never ending CAP of Phoenix armed F-14D Tomcats keeps Iraqi MIGs from trying to take part in the opening hours of the second Gulf War.  At 0300, and still 50NM from the primary invasion beach, the LSDs USS Wasp and USS Bataan flood their respective well-decks and deploy three Monitor class gunboats each. The monitors form into a loose line abreast formation about 2KM across, and begin the 2+hour cruise to their assigned sector. 

     They are followed at a distance of 5 miles by the USS Yorktown, the first of the "new" breed of shore bombardment rocket cruisers to complete her refit and re-join the fleet.  For the past day a pair of Pegasus hydro-foils had been flitting along the coast of Kuwait, goading the Iraqi defenders to engage, thus revealing their well concealed positions. This data was of course automatically forwarded to the Fleet FDC aboard Bunker Hill for fire mission planning. The six RPV's of the Bunker Hill had been in continuous operation for the past twelve hours as well, so there was no shortage of Iraqi targets in the AO. 

      As the small armada reaches a point 25NM from the beach, the main body of the fleet, some 50NM at sea, begins it's first combat action of the war. The Arliegh Burke DDG's Milius, Porter and Ramage open fire simultaneously, firing TLAM after TLAM at distant strategic objectives. They will reach their targets at 0500- H-Hour.  This will precisely match the impact time of over 100 AGM-86C CALCM cruise missiles launched by B-52's flying from Diego Garcia.  The Yorktown, operating under strict EMCON, pulls parallel to the coast as she closes to within 15 miles. The monitors continue on, slowing to a mere 5kts as they themselves close to within 3NM of the coast. Their small above-water profile and extensive RAM coatings make them nearly invisible to radar. Their low silhouette and the dark night sky deprive the enemy of visual detection. They cut their engines and go to APU back up as they reach station 2NM off the coast, depriving even FLIR equipped enemy forces from detecting their presence. 

     The section of beachfront that had been chosen for the main invasion was less than ideal, the beach was rough and rocky with shallow approaches. Therefore, it was not as heavily defended, as at this moment it was occupied by a regiment of deeply entrenched Iraqi infantry conscripts with heavy artillery support.  Still a formidable defense, but preferable to the much stronger enemy forces arrayed at the prime invasion locations.  For the individual sailors and Marines, there was nothing to do now but wait......

     At 0445, far from the actual invasion point, a team of USN SEAL commandos, supported by the 76MM guns and Hellfires of two Pegasus PHMs, launches a diversionary feint against Iraqi beach fortifications. The SEALS, set off satchel charges along the waters edge to simulate heavy artillery fire, and engage the surprised defenders with intense small arms fire.  At 0459, the Iraqi leadership back in Baghdad was busy debating if this was indeed the actual attack... Then the cruise missiles hit.  The generals would never know it was but a feint, and their last act while they still had comms was to inform the theater commander that the attack had already begun, far from where it was just about to start.

     At precisely 0500 the FFDC of the Yorktown sends a one word digitally-encrypted burst signal to all US vessels, "Execute".  Instantly, the quiet pre-dawn silence is shattered by twelve 5" guns and the ripple firing of 684 Hydra rockets.  The Iraqi troops, sleeping in their positions, are instantly awakened by the manmade thunder a mere two miles distant. As they peer over the edges of their fighting positions they catch their first glimpse of the monitors. Eerily backlit by the exhaust plumes of continuously ripple fired MLRS rockets from the box launcher of the Yorktown the Monitors are barely visible, even at this distance.  Now a mere ten miles to sea, Yorktown fires one rocket every two seconds, pausing at every twelfth launch to reload her Box launcher. The automated reloading cycle takes but 15 seconds, and is again followed by the trace of rocket after rocket being fired into the night sky. By this time, the Iraqi soldiers were being pounded by fourteen 5" guns, as the Bunker Hill had opened up with her main guns at the same time as the monitors.

      Much farther out to sea, some 100NM away, the guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf also received the "Execute" order, but a full 5 minutes early. Already, a list of 100 GPS target coordinates had been provided by the FFDC of Yorktown, therefore, the Captain of the VG needed only to utter a single command, "Initiate launch".  Sitting at a console a few feet away, VG's Weps officer turned a key, and pushed a button. This triggered the ship's VLS systems, as topside 100 SM-4 LASM Block-I missiles rippled off into the sky, arcing in the direction of the Persian Gulf.  Global Hawk reconnaissance flights had precisely fixed the positions of the Twalkana division of the Republican Guard. This was a heavy division featuring the best equipment and soldiers of the Iraqi army, and ironically, this would also be the cause for it's own doom. This division was positioned some 30NM inland, and was responsible for reinforcing the beach currently being attacked in the event of invasion.  The US CINC had decided this would be an unfavorable course of events, and had thus directed that it be dealt with during the initial bombardment.  Back aboard the Yorktown the order was given, and a total of sixty SM-4 LASM SADARM missiles were ripple fired in two minutes time. Their targets were the pre-determined GPS coordinates of the various battalions that formed the Twalkana heavy division. 

     Meanwhile, the monitors' initial FFAR barrages had been directed at a number of previously ID'd forward C3 bunkers, and their HEAT warheads were viciously effective against the concrete fortifications, effectively decapitating the defending Iraqi troops.  High above, a pair of stealthy FLIR equipped USN RPV's surveyed all. As soon as an RPV detected so much as a muzzle flash firing from an Iraqi position, it's exact grid position was entered into the Fleet FDC database for subsequent automatic engagement.  The monitors all received targets automatically updated and prioritized in real-time from the Fleet FDC, so not a shot was wasted. As soon as a target was deemed destroyed by the RPV operators, it was removed from the database, automatically removing it from the monitors target lists. For three straight minutes the Iraqi's suffered, as in excess of four precision aimed 5" shells impacted among their line every second.  Three minutes was the amount of time it took for the first of the M26 rockets to reach the scene. The Weps officer of Bunker Hill had ordered the rockets fired in a "walking" pattern across the breadth of the Iraqi line, some 3KM across. These rockets were joined by the missiles fired some minutes earlier by the Vella Gulf, coordinated in advance to provide a "time on target" effect with the rocket barrage of the Yorktown. What this meant was that the initial missiles from both barrages would reach the battlefield at precisely the same moment.

     For the next several minutes it seemed to the Iraqi's in their holes as if hell itself had come to visit. The initial M26 rocket bombardment released a total of 103,040 M77 combined effects munitions bomblets. The SM-4 LASM's fired from VG added another 15,000 submunitions to the mix. The missiles had all been fused to provide maximum area coverage, resulting in substantial dispersal overlap.  The grunts on the receiving end endured a punishing bombardment, the submunitions pounding the whole of their line with unrelenting mercy. This bombardment lasted for more than eight minutes, as this was the time required for the Yorktown to ripple fire her 160 M26 rockets.  All around them, the Iraqi infantrymen could hear the screams of the wounded as the crescendo of exploding bomblets finally faded.  

     This sudden relative calm was interrupted by the sound of six 30MM Avenger gatling cannons opening up at once. The Monitors had used the rocket barrage to gun their engines and charge to within 1,500M of the coast. Their 5" guns depleted, they made good use of the Avengers, tracers spewing forth from the big cannons in streams of continuous fire. Back and forth along the Iraqi line they strafed, with the unerring accuracy of a gyro stabilized gun aimed by a 2nd Generation FLIR.  Originally designed to defeat MBT's, the high-velocity DU238 slugs cut through reinforced concrete positions with ease. These were alternated with HE rounds, loaded in a 50/50 mix. 

     The monitors were now within 1,000M of the coast, and every Iraqi system in range was returning fire.  Most rounds just zipped by, missing the low-profiled monitors. While the Iraqi infantrymen did score hits, their relatively small weapons were unable to do any damage.  The monitors responded to this return fire with remorseless efficiency, putting highly lethal seventy round one second bursts into position after position, systematically decimating the opposing fortifications.  By this point there would have been little doubt to an impartial observer that this was the primary US invasion point, but the cruise missiles (TLAM's fired by the fleet and the CALCM's by the B-52s) had knocked out most key Iraqi C3i facilities. The word to higher HQ would not get out, at least not in time to matter. 

       The Yorktown's SM-4 LASM SADARM missiles had by now reached their target area. At an altitude of 30,000 feet each missile deployed nine SADARM submunitions. These deployed parachutes, slowly descending from above. Far below, the armored vehicles of the Twalkana division were arrayed over an area many miles across, and several miles in depth.  As the SADARM submunitions drifted back to earth, a downward-looking IR seeker, backed by a millimeter wave radar, in each submunition began to scan the battlefield. The SADARM sensors would not be disappointed, as there were several hundred prime targets directly beneath them. At an altitude of 10,000 feet the parachutes were cut free, and the SADARM's began to rapidly descend, small fins steering them to a position directly above whatever unlucky vehicle was closest.  Downward they fell until they were a mere 15 meters above their respective targets.  

      It was at this altitude that the self forging fragment in each submunition was fired downward at a velocity of 14,000 feet per second. Slicing through the thin top armor of the tanks and APCs, the SFF penetrators drove straight through, often blowing right out the bottom of the vehicle and deep into the ground below.  Of the 540 SADARMs dispensed, three had parachute failures, twelve failed to lock, and two were duds. The 523 remaining BATs targeted a total of 425 vehicles. Some hit hot engine compartments, some others hit turrets. In all cases the resultant explosion was quite impressive.  In less than twenty seconds it was all over. Reduced to below 50% strength, the CINC could now rest assured that any Iraqi counterattack would be minimal. 

      At this point, an entire battalion of Iraqi towed 122MM guns located 10 miles behind the line was finally reached by a frantic Iraqi FO, and a fire mission was undertaken. The eighteen guns were well dug in and firing at pre-plotted grids. It was a simple adjustment to engage the monitors a scant one and a half klicks off-shore. As the first rounds were fired, they traced high into the early morning air.

      Twenty miles away, a technician in the FDC of the Yorktown noted the "incoming" indicated by the Fire-finder counter battery radar, and observed as the system automatically plotted and engaged the Iraqi howitzers. Topside, the fwd and aft Mk26 twin rail launchers rotated to vertical, where a total of four SM-4 LASM Block-I missiles were loaded automatically. The launchers immediately swiveled to the proper azimuth and elevation and fired. This process was repeated once more, as a total of eight high supersonic missiles raced to their targets, ripple fired and outbound less than thirty seconds after the Iraqi guns' initial salvo.

      The first wave of 122MM shells fell a little short of the center monitor. The Iraqi FO ordered, "Add 100 and fire for effect!"  The second salvo was right on target, and shells landed all around the monitor. She rocked violently in the artificially created wakes, but her wide beam and bottom heavy hull ensured that capsizing was an extremely remote possibility. Just then two 122MM shells scored lucky direct hits. The first shell struck the afterdeck and shattered the Mk31 RAM launcher. The second impacted just aft the bow, the blast destroying the commanders FLIR and damaging the port 5" gun tube.  The hull however, was completely intact. The monitor's commander ordered a withdrawal, and the Conn operator wheeled violently to port, punching the throttles of the turbines and accelerating away. The other monitors, all now low on 30MM, followed, firing their Goalkeeper 30MM's even as they raced away at 20+Kts. What remained of the enemy fired in vain at the retreating vessels.

      Meanwhile, the Fleet FDC aboard Yorktown was automatically informed that the monitor's were withdrawing, and ordered the first wave of loitering AV-8B II PLUS attack jets in, ceasing fire with it's own 5" guns to avoid an "inflight conflagration".  It was just then that the SM-4 LASM Block-I missiles fired in counter battery began their downward arc high above the unwitting Battalion of Iraqi artillery.  The gun crews had just gotten back into their protective holes after firing, and so some would live to tell their tale, for now at least.  At an altitude of 3,000 feet each LASM "broke apart" dispensing 150 one pound CEM bomblets. The bomblets from each missile impacted in a uniformly dense pattern about 75 meters in diameter, destroying or disabling two-thirds of the guns, and killing or wounding 70% of the crews.  In a matter of seconds, what was once a battalion of artillery was reduced to no more than a badly disorganized battery.

     The jump jets had been flying a lazy orbit out in the Gulf, and they now dove to the deck, accelerating to 500 kts. The twelve Harriers came in parallel to and directly above the enemy line, releasing a half-dozen CBU-89 cluster bombs each. Immediately after release, they jinked and released flares, heading back to the Bataan. Several shoulder fired SAMs raced after them, but all fell short. The first air attack was followed ninety seconds later by the Harriers of the USS Wasp, who mimicked the first attack, again racing to sea once their bombs were away.  

      An Iraqi SAM emplacement that had managed to stay well hidden until now lit off it's radar and fired at the last Harrier. The USMC pilot got an immediate warning from his RWR, and tried to evade. Unfortunately, it was not his day. The SAM hit his port after exhaust nozzle and blasted a good bit of wing off as well. Dazed, the pilot could do nothing more than eject over the Gulf.  The SAM launch was seen by one of the orbiting RPV's, and was immediately entered into the FDC for highest-priority engagement.  All friendly aircraft now clear, Bunker Hill engaged the SAM site with her 5" guns, firing an even two-dozen rounds at it's GPS plotted location.  The carnage at the SAM site was evident, the RPV operator watching with satisfaction as a good 60% of the 5" shells landed within 30 feet of the launcher. 

      Visibility on the beachhead was now almost zero, due to the many hundreds of thousands of explosions and ensuing fires. Explosions could still be heard every one and a half seconds as the Bunker Hill continued to pound away with her 5" guns.  The RPV's circled overhead scanning endlessly for targets, the battlefield still quite visible through the optics of a second generation FLIR. Not many good targets remained. Even still, they directed 5" shells to rain down on individual foxholes that showed signs of life, or heavy weapons emplacements that didn't look totally destroyed. Hell, the RPV Ops figured, 5" shells are cheap, why be frugal? 

     It was amid this confusion, less than twenty minutes into the battle, that the few remaining shell-shocked Iraqi defenders heard the first squadron of Super Cobras sweeping in low from the sea, followed by over fifty CH-46 Sea Knights a few miles back. On the horizon, the first wave of twelve heavy vehicle laden LCAC's could just now be seen, racing in at over 40 knots.  As the Cobra's engaged the Iraqi fortifications with AGM-114N Hellfire missiles, rockets and 20mm Cannon fire, the Sea Knights raced around the flanks of the Iraqi positions, disembarking a reinforced battalion of Marines in the rear area of the Iraqi defense force. The LCAC's had meanwhile split up, and driven ashore, where they unloaded USMC M-1's and LAV armored vehicles on the Iraqi flanks.  Just as the LCACs and Sea Knights were racing back to sea, the Iraqis caught glimpse of a huge wave of LVTP-7A1 AMTRACKs heading in for a direct frontal assault.  The US CINC was pleased, as his forces had successfully enveloped the Iraqi held beach-head on all sides. The ensuing battle would be little more than a rout. 

                                                                                         William Clarke



Pegasus patrol craft are deadly        

William Clarke’s article was one of the more interesting reads I’ve consumed in a long time. Especially his simple and elegant solution to improve the usefulness of the Pegasus patrol crafts.

The Longbow system is an utterly amazing hunk of military hardware.  This would allow multiple Pegasus crafts to conduct rapid and lethal raids using coordinated strikes against both land and sea targets.  I’d hate to be the Harbor Master that sees a squadron of them swiftly approaching.  There wouldn’t be a harbor left after just a few minutes work.  Hellfire missiles are devastating and just thinking of 30 or 40 of them ripple fired into enemy coastal strongholds is just frightening.  Should we be forced to throw down with China, such a tool would be ideal for reclaiming the Panama Canal

However, I’d rather not totally lose the long range anti-ship punch that the Harpoon missile gives you.  Instead of refitting both racks, just refit one of them.  The Hellfires are easily and quickly reloadable.  Even on the bouncing deck of a fast attack patrol craft.

                                                                                             George Hill