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Outstanding Headline

March 12, 2010

CDR Salamander posts on  the test firing of new Iranian anti-ship cruise missile from a new destroyer. Not trying to make more out of the tiny vessel than it is, really a light frigate or corvette, he declares:

At least someone has an ASCM

And adds the following commentary:

So – how is the ASCM inventory, training, and capability in our Surface Navy? Ahem.

“-1” if you take the lame LCS ASW weapons dodge of “… our helicopter/aviation/off-board weapon system will do that… ” answer – as if aircraft are always in an up status, with weapons, with the right weather, with the right crew rest, with a timely targeting solution … etc … etc …

Revealing an over-dependence by the Navy on last century naval airpower, over 40 years after the sinking of INS Eilat and the dawn of cruise missile warfare at sea. That last means any Third World country with a modest industrial capability and some foreign technical assistance, can compete with the 20th Century superpowers that still possess the greatest aerial armadas ever devised, with a vastly greater cost contrast to this amazing but increasingly irrelevant achievement.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. CBD permalink
    March 16, 2010 10:23 am

    Thanks for the info. Hadn’t heard that…and it’s idiotic (unless you’re ensuring that the only useful rounds are the expensive rounds).

  2. Chuck Hill permalink
    March 15, 2010 4:25 pm

    B Smitty,

    Thanks, still you would think that you could still fire the conventional 155 rounds, even if they might be less accurate. Unless they made it a smooth bore.

    Believe I read that the projectile and powder are separate.

  3. B.Smitty permalink
    March 15, 2010 12:17 pm

    IIRC, they reduced the rifling twist in the AGS to make developing LRLAP easier, at the cost of eliminating compatibility with existing 155mm projectiles.

  4. CBD permalink
    March 15, 2010 11:37 am

    Not clear on that. I know there’s a difference between some naval and land guns in terms of the use of ‘fixed’ ammunition on ships (in cartridges vs. shell + propellant bags). I think that ships have gone to fixed ammo to increase firing rate (although the old guns all ran with shell + bag).

    According to NavWeaps, they cut the traditional ballistic ammo from the program (likely to preserve the LRLAP as the only available round), but it would seem to not be that big of a challenge to convert some of the long-range conventional rounds to ‘fixed’ ammunition.

    The LRLAP is almost certainly not compatible with existing land systems.

    The above seems most likely to me, unless the diameter of the round is actually not the same 155mm, which is odd, but has happened before.

  5. Chuck Hill permalink
    March 14, 2010 6:03 pm

    I read recently here:

    that the 155 mm is not compatible with the standard land based 155s and that no conventional round had been produced.

    Can this be true? Have we made a 155 that cannot shoot any of the many 155mm rounds developed for the armies of the world? Are we just trying to make logistics difficult?

  6. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 14, 2010 2:30 pm


    Yeah, Otobreda has what may be a superior gun system with their lightweight 127 / 64 gun. There are four ready munitions bins with each holding 14 rounds (I think). That provides for up to 56 rounds of ready ammunition on the mount. Also note that the barrel is longer at 64 caliber than the 62 caliber length used in the latest USN 127 / 62 mounts. The German and Italian navies are acquiring this new, lightweight, stealthified gun system.

    Otobreda 127/64

  7. Jed permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:35 pm

    CBD and Reddick

    What about OTO Vulcano family of extended range and guided rounds ? Available (or being developed ?) in both 127mm and 155mm calibers, and with long range GPS guided (land attack), precision guided (semi-active laser) and special “anti-ship” (Imaging Infra-Red guided) versions.

    With your FireScout UAV hovering at wave top height lasing the targets, plus IIR guided shells added to the mix with your Tomahawk / ArcLight “high-low mix” – I would not want to be one of the bad guys….. :-)

    Actually not sure any of the guns will provide enough range to join in this missile based anti-ship scenario, but how about some helo launched weapons to add to the mix, say an Sh60 delivered NSM ??

  8. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 8:49 pm

    Wouldn’t mind the Mk 71 8″ gun, but I think it may be too late…especially as missiles take over (and thus there is less of a justification to spend the MCLWG’s weight difference on a gun). Who knows, maybe some Marine infantrymen will rise to be SECNAV, SECDEF and CINC (simultaneously) and will build a dedicated landing support ship (IFS/LFR-like) onto a Destroyer hull and 8″ of belt armor…but until then, I think we’re unlikely to get beyond 155mm guns.

  9. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 8:42 pm

    Yet more scary… :)
    I’ll say, however, that I think the ERGMs are as-yet immature. I think we’ll get working rounds by 2015 or so…which makes me wonder if the Flight III Burkes shouldn’t trade up to the 155mm (I know, we just changed to the 127mm/62).

    I see 155mm (the most matured caliber, thanks to land artillery) rounds already reaching 40km with base bleed/rocket-assisted projectiles (in 155mm/52 howitzers). At current, the G6 with ERFB rounds, the Bofors HEER rounds and the AS90 and various US howitzers with the M982 Excalibur (Block 1a-2) have reached as far as 42km.

    The proposed 155mm gun for the USN (155mm/62) should be able to squeeze more range out of conventional rounds, perhaps up to 25 or 30km (which would be great). The base bleed/rocket assisted rounds will reach 50km or more (using the Excalibur).

    My question is whether we can prove the 59nm (109km) the LRLAP achieved in tests in real combat. It would be nice…but it’ll probably cost over $50k/round. I believe it’s in our future…but I’m not sure how certain the program is.

    On the good news side, the Denel V-LAP rocket-assisted round reached 56km in testing, and is reported to reach as far as 67km from a modified howitzer. Maybe we should consider buying some foreign tech if the LRLAP falls through?

    I see the 5″ guns as limited, even with the upgrade from 54 calibers to 62, because any tech is easier to fit into the 155mm caliber and there’s a greater market force pushing for improved 155mm rounds (so more must be invested to shrink it to 127mm). The ERGM (and BTERM) was canceled due to performance failures and rising costs, dooming the 5″ guns in comparison to their 155mm brethren. DID has a nice article on the subject.

    The AGS is a bit large for most ships, but the gun and turret could be used on smaller ships, with a more limited magazine…and do a nice job of support on land or at sea. I guess it’s time to get the ScanEagles on every ship to conduct ISRT at those ranges!

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 13, 2010 6:49 pm


    I’ll up your frightful by another level.

    Consider if you were within a 100 or so kilometer engagement envelope. If our DDG or CG had a 127 / 62 gun system (or a 155 mm or 8-inch naval gun system) with extended range munitions then you could shoot a time on target series of terminally guided rounds at the target (matched to the arrival time of the various missiles). Even if they -somehow- successfully engage the converging swarm attack of two different missile types then they’re still going to suffer serious damage and degradation of their systems when six, eight, or ten naval artillery shells arrive simultaneously in approach to a target that’s actively emitting in every electromagnetic and lightwave spectrum as it defends itself against the missiles.

  11. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 4:41 pm

    The thought: Frightful. A powerful version of the high-low split…especially if your radar-fire loop is slow.

  12. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 13, 2010 4:11 pm


    I had forgotten about reading that thread at Military Photos. “Lt-Col A. Tack” does post the most interesting sorts of things at

    Imagine a target having several of these improved Tomahawk ASMs showing up on the horizon and then having a couple of hypersonic Standard ArcLight ASMs suddenly make an appearance. Slow, subsonic evasive attackers along with very fast, hypersonic shipkillers would be a difficult mix to counter-act. The hypersonic ArcLights would likely perform a climb & dive maneuver so as to simply punch a hole from top deck through ship’s bottom. Possibly breaking the keel while flooding the ship would be perhaps worse than what large warheads might do with above the waterline strikes.

  13. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 3:47 pm

    Good point.

    There used to be an anti-shipping version of it that, for some reason, was retired in the 1990s (I guess part of that ‘we have no more enemies on the high seas’ idea). Their idea sounds like a modernization of that old plan. The Block IV Tomahawk is already supposed to have some improved anti-ship features…which is important, since the Block III Harpoons were canceled. A good corporate opportunity to push out your competition!

    They could be useful if given an upgrade on their shaping…maybe a radar altimeter in place of the normal land-mapping radar to provide low-level flight.

    Some more on the various TASMs from military photos: Link.

  14. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 13, 2010 12:54 pm


    This thread reminded me of the following Aviation Week report regarding a prospective new anti-ship version of the Tomahawk.

    Antiship Missiles Engage Diverse Targets

    May 6, 2009

    By Bill Sweetman

    At the U.S. Navy League exhibition in Washington this month, Raytheon Missile Systems will unveil an upgrade to the BGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk Block IV land-attack cruise missile that will make it a multirole weapon capable of hitting moving ships. The package has four elements: An active electronically scanned array, millimeter-wave seeker provides target acquisition and homing; a passive electronic surveillance system is for long-range acquisition and identification; the 1,000-lb. blast-fragmentation warhead is replaced by a shaped charge; and the two-way data link gets more bandwidth.

    The missile is designed to kill or disable large, hardened warships in difficult environments such as littoral waters, over a greater range than Boeing’s Harpoon/Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), the U.S. Navy’s standard antiship missile. The Raytheon warhead is twice as large as SLAM’s, and the 900-naut.-mi. range is six times greater. This is not an antipirate weapon, and it is not hard to guess which navy is the most likely target.

    The new Tomahawk is designed for networked operations. It would receive targeting data acquired by manned or unmanned aircraft or satellites monitoring the target fleet, and could transmit radar imagery to a shadowing aircraft for final identification of a target. Multiple coordinated missile attacks would overwhelm defenses. One scenario has a Tomahawk popping up to image and identify a target and updating missiles below the horizon.

    Raytheon claims that the antiship Tomahawk could be developed within 36 months of a go-ahead decision. They would be produced by modifying Block IV missiles as they cycle through recertification programs.

  15. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 11:50 am

    I saw that about the time you posted it. Hopefully they do it this time. ArcLight follows the Fasthawk, Hystrike, HyFly, HyTech, JSSCM, and RATTLRS programs, all meant to develop supersonic strike systems. ArcLight at least has the possibility of success given the historic flexibility of the Standard Missile family. As far as their subsonic, stealthy vartiant of the LRASM goes, I’d say that they should just adapt the NSM/JSM and try to make it work out of the Mk 41.

  16. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 13, 2010 11:10 am

    I placed the following in the Breaking News section back on February 4.

    There’s a plan for a SM-III based hypersonic strike missile that would be could be launched from aircraft, submarines, and Mk-41 VLS cells aboard surface warships. If truly hypersonic, then the missile warhead could simply be a dense kinetic penetrator and still be capable of destroying conventional targets such as surface warships. The following report is from Aviation Week.

    Darpa Eyes SM-3 For Hypersonic Strike

    Feb 4, 2010

    By Graham Warwick

    The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is seeking funding in Fiscal 2011 for ArcLight, a program to flight-test a long-range, high-speed strike weapon based on the Raytheon SM-3 ballistic-missile interceptor.

    ArcLight will be based on an SM-3 Block II booster stack and a hypersonic glider, and designed to carry a 100-200 pound payload more than 2,000 nautical miles. The weapon will be compatible with the Mark 41 vertical launch system and capable of launch from U.S. Navy warships and submarines as well as Air Force assets.

  17. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 12:37 am

    Kowsar (or Kosar): Locally produced C-701 or TL-10

    Noor: C-802

    Nasr-1: C-704 ( (updated C-801) also reported to be the Chinese TL-6, but that is disputed.

    As I stated, their main missiles are all copies of Chinese missiles…all very dangerous, but copies. Like the ‘new’ Saegeh jet that was a slightly modified (tail split) F-5. More on the Saegeh. For scale, link. These are dangerous, especially if they’ve been able to acquire the means of production for even the relatively simple and basic F-5 airframe. The Israelis have made avionics upgrades to Brazilian F-5s that allowed them, with the Derby missile, to destroy a flight of French Mirages during exercises in 2006 (towards end, under ‘race’). The jets still pose a serious threat, especially with good radar direction and missiles. Iran may not have either of these, but could still pose a reasonable risk to any nation entering its territory.

    PS, it turns out, after having pulled the above together, that Aviation Week covered much of this today.

  18. D. E. Reddick permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:13 pm


    The ASCM / SShM / SSM fired by that new Iranian ‘destroyer’ may have been a Chinese C-802. However, the Iranians appear to be producing their own naval cruise missile. Look in the Breaking News section here at New Wars and go back to March 7 to see what I noticed regarding the new NASR 1 cruise missile being touted by Iran.

  19. CBD permalink
    March 12, 2010 9:54 pm

    By Iranian you mean Chinese? Like the rest of the ship, a copy. A dangerous copy, but a copy.

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