Naval forces are set to invest in littoral warfare capabilities

The growing importance of littoral water environments in modern warfare has resulted in countries incrementally investing in ships/crafts meeting these operational requirements. According to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, this will increase the demand for light frigates and corvettes, which have multi-mission capabilities and modular structures, and light combat ships such as Fast Attack Craft (FACs), mine-counter measures ships and patrol boats.

The company’s latest report, ‘Littoral Warfare – Thematic Research’, states that this trend is being witnessed across the world and will continue over the next decade to drive more investment in research and development of smaller, more robust and powerful naval vessels.

Littoral waters are the most complicated and challenging maritime environment. They entail platforms to cope with a number of threats including conventional and asymmetric threats. Significantly reduced warning time and shallowness requires high speed and maneuverability capabilities, lightweight composite superstructure, shallow draught and light tonnage from platforms. GlobalData’s report touches upon the importance and impacts on platform, sensor and weaponry design of littoral water. It also highlights technologic/macro-economic/regulatory trends and recent developments in this domain.

Captain Nurettin Sevi (Rtd.), Turkish Navy, Defense Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Due to the reaction of the global economic system to any crisis emerging in strategic sea routes such as straits and narrow passages, the focus of littoral countries across the world is shifting. In order to treat these risks and threats efficiently, countries must deploy ships that can carry out activities in littoral water or reinforce their existing strength. The ships operating in littoral water must have high speed, multi-mission capabilities, and modular structure to cope with potential threats.”

Littorals requires naval force composition different from open sea. Large surface combatants, such as aircraft carriers, destroyers, large amphibious, and support vessels cannot be used effectively in a typical narrow sea especially in high intensive warfare. They would be very vulnerable to anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) asymmetric threats and advanced mines. To overcome hurdles created by littoral waters, the US Navy has recently considered changing its force structure. The structure will be composed of a more distributed architecture including a reduced proportion of larger ships, an increased proportion of smaller ships, and a newly created category of large unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and large unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

Sevi concludes: “The main prerequisites for success in littoral warfare are suitable and diverse platforms, weapons, sensors and clear recognized maritime picture (RMP) and robust command and control. Littoral warfare also requires the closest cooperation among the services and forces of other nations.”

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