Marine Corps Artillery Effectiveness Against Surface Vessels

Capt Caleb Brown, USMC

This thesis develops a numerical model for Marine Corps field artillery engaging surface vessels in littoral or maritime environments. We first introduce a terminal ballistics theory for standard artillery projectiles based on the geometric and material properties of artillery shell casings, high-explosive fills, and target parameters. The ballistics results are then fed into a three-dimensional probabilistic weaponeering analysis based on Monte Carlo simulations. A generic speedboat, a frigate, and a cargo ship were selected as target classes, and only vulnerable, mission-critical, or offensive target components were evaluated. Artillery effective area comparisons, for both ballistic and guided projectiles, were made against simplified vessel maneuverability areas. Results indicate that a highly responsive fire control system or sensor-guided “bomb-on-target” projectiles are required to successfully engage small, fast vessels. Results also indicate that field artillery can appreciably affect larger vessels’ power projection and navigation capabilities, but standard close-in weapons systems and hardened components require target saturation and larger average fragment size, in addition to requiring guided projectiles at long ranges. Recommendations for improving fragment penetration calculations, target vulnerability analysis, and determining optimum engagement parameters are also presented.

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Jul 05, 2017

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