Get Ready, Russia, China and North Korea: America Wants Naval Super Mines

    Michael Peck

    Security,

    How would they respond? 

    “Typically, mine delivery has been a low-altitude operation, largely because of the drift of a parachute-retarded weapon,” Pietrucha writes. Today’s minelayers essentially use the same techniques as B-29s did over the Sea of Japan in 1945, “often requiring multiple passes with inaccurate, parachute-retarded mines. A B-52 mine-laying pass occurs at 500 feet and 320 knots—too slow to be safe in fighters or the B-1B Bomber. The F-18 and P-3 employ similar profiles, leaving the laying aircraft low, slow, and predictable—a contributor to the loss of one aircraft and crew in Desert Storm’s only mine-laying attempt.”

    Mines are the ninjas of warfare: silent, deadly and a bit unsavory. Sneaky weapons that are extremely effective not just for the damage they cause, but also for the fear and uncertainty they sow.

    Naval mines are especially potent. American air-dropped mines in Japanese waters in 1945–chillingly but accurately code-named Operation Starvation–sank more ships than U.S. submarines in the final months of the war. The 1972 mining of Haiphong harbor helped drive North Vietnam to the peace table, while Saddam Hussein’s underwater booby traps threatened U.S. naval supremacy in Desert Storm. “In February 1991 the Navy lost command of the sea—the North Arabian Gulf—to more than a thousand mines that had been sown by Iraqi forces. Mines severely damaged two Navy warships, and commanders aborted an amphibious assault for fear of even more casualties,” says a U.S. Navy mine warfare history.

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