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Small boats, manned or unmanned, could launch electronic warfare attacks, hit with small arms or even fire various kinds of larger weapons. They are extremely difficult to defend for many reasons, one of them simply being numbers and redundancy; if there are so many spread out, yet fast-approaching small boats, it could be difficult for deck-mounted ship guns or overhead assets such as drones or helicopters to destroy enough approaching targets at one time.

The proliferation of longer-range mobile guns, to include possible emergence of lasers, electronic warfare or boat-launched drone attacks, all make the prospect of facing swarms of armed, fast-moving small boats even more dangerous for surface ships. Furthermore, there is no reason small manned boats could not carry and fire portable land weapons such as RPGs, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles or various kinds of medium-caliber portable guns aimed at ship structures.

Swarming small boat attacks are regarded as extremely serious combat concerns for Navy war-planners, who operate with a decided recognition that this kind of threat is quite substantial when it comes to both counterterrorism and major warfare on the open ocean. The strategy to counter small boat attacks against larger platforms is multi-faceted; multiple, fast-moving points of small missile and gunfire attack are naturally much more difficult to recognize and target.

This phenomenon can be explained in terms of what’s called “dis-aggregated” operations, if on a smaller scale than is typically thought of. Not only are a more dispersed group of small boats more difficult to target, but emerging networking technology can enable them to coordinate, share target information and stage integrated missions while farther away from one another. Navy and Marine Corps strategists, now planning for future amphibious warfare, are employing these concepts when it comes to preparing for large-scale ship-to-shore amphibious attacks. Dis-aggregated, yet closely networked attack nodes provide attacking commanders with a wider range of options and increase possibilities to defend against incoming shore attacks by avoiding a more condensed or linear ocean assault.

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Category: Science