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Issue No 8 ,
May 2018
 
  Published by Dar Assayad Arab Defence Journal
Highlights   المعلوماتية العسكرية تكنولوجيا الدفاع حول العالم العالم العربي تحديث السلاح الافتتاحية رسالة الناشر
MISSILES OVER THE WATER

The availability of guided missiles for offensive use against shipping has a longer history than many imagine, for it was during the later years of the Second World War that German developments in stand-off rocket propelled weapons were first used against Allied warships. These relatively unsophisticated flying bombs became operational in both unpowered glider and rocket-powered versions, and were guided by radio commands from the launching bomber aircraft. The techniques proved to be highly effective and many ship targets were destroyed. Thankfully for the Allies, very few of these weapons were in service as hostilities approached a conclusion, and so their use didn"t make any difference to the outcome of the war, but over the next ten years, as a new Cold War developed between the West and Communist forces led by Russia and China, the value of anti-ship missiles grew and became a growing priority throughout the world. The post-war generation of naval ships incorporated large numbers of radar-directed rapid-firing guns to defeat attacking aircraft. They also increasingly carried ship-to-air defensive missiles to counter approaching high-speed combat jets.
As the threat to the naval ships changed, with a need to counter low-level attacks by manned aircraft, a new generation of rapid reaction defensive guns and missiles were also introduced, and this, in turn, led to a growing need for navies and air forces to develop specialised anti-ship missiles that could be launched from aircraft, ships, submarines and coastal missile sites. The 1970s and 80s saw a huge increase in such weapons, covering in scale weapons ranging from small missiles to be used against fast coastal boats, corvettes, frigates and destroyers, to heavier weapons suitable for attacking and destroying larger ship targets such as supply ships, missile-cruisers and even aircraft carriers. Today there are hundreds of different missiles in service, and under development, that can be used to destroy everything afloat, including very small lightweight attack craft, as well as major strategic naval assets such as aircraft carriers and assault carriers. Anti-ship missiles have been used in action in many regional conflicts, including in the waters of the South China Sea, off Vietnam and Korea, in the Middle East during the two Gulf Wars and other incidents, and in the Mediterranean, and also in the South Atlantic, where during the Falklands War both Argentina and the UK used anti-ship missiles against each other with very significant damage caused and many ships lost.

Much publicity in recent years has drawn attention to a powerful joint Russian/Indian anti-ship missile, the Brahmos. This is based on the design of the P-800 but is a very much improved missile which has grown to new versions. It is a supersonic sea skimming weapon with inertial mid-course and satellite guidance and an active radar homing seeker. Brahmos Mk 2 is a lighter upgraded version that is under development for air-launching and is expected to be carried by the Mig-29 and Su-57 as well as the SU-30. It is also hypersonic and represents one of the most capable anti-ship missiles available in a crowded market. Russia is also developing an even faster hypersonic anti-ship and land-attack cruise missile in its Zircom programme. A more exportable Russian long-range anti-ship missile is the SS-N-27 Sizzler, or 3M-54 Kalibar. This can be air-launched or fired from ships and submarines and has a rocket booster and a turbojet engine for cruise. After launch it cruises towards the target at subsonic speed before a final sprint to the target at up to Mach 2.5 at very low level with a 200kg warhead. It is available in multiple versions and in air-launched form can typically fly up to 300 kms. China has developed its own version of this missile in the form of the CJ-1.
In the West, all the major missile manufacturers offer anti-ship missiles in all size and performance categories. One of the most widely used is the Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon, which can be carried by most maritime patrol aircraft, such as the P-3 Orion and P-8 Poseidon, as a stand-off anti-ship weapon. Raytheon"s Standard Missile 6 is the latest version of this powerful two-stage rocket-powered Mach 3.5 weapon to be developed for the US Navy from an anti-aircraft and anti-missile role to also include anti-ship capability. In Europe, the MBDA group produces many anti-ship missiles, with a whole new generation family under development. The UK is leading on the new Sea Venom lightweight high subsonic sea-skimming anti-ship missile, optimised for use by naval helicopters as a replacement for the highly successful Sea Skua, which has been in service since the late 1970s. Sea Venom is effective against fast in-shore attack craft and surface vessels up to coastal patrol or corvette size warships. Spear 3 is a new generation precision attack weapon using modules from the lightweight Brimstone missile and will hit surface targets very accurately at up to 130kms distance. A rival to Sea Skua is the AGM-119 Penguin from Kongsberg in Norway which is suitable as an anti-ship weapon for naval helicopters and fixed-wing jets, including the F-16, and carried aboard small naval vessels. Kongsberg is also developing its NSM (Naval Strike Missile) and JSM (Joint Strike Missile) as a ship or air-launched sea skimming anti-ship weapon. It is integrating the missile onto the F-35s being ordered by Norway, and proposing the weapon with Lockheed Martin for the US Navy"s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile requirement.
Within MBDA Germany continues to build its Otomat turbojet-powered long range high subsonic sea-skimming missile while France continues to develop its well-known high subsonic, sea skimming Exocet anti-ship missile family. In Sweden, the Saab RBS-15 Mk 3 long range anti-ship missile is being upgraded with a new all-weather capability with range out to 250kms and Algeria is to use it aboard its two Meko frigates. New anti-ship missiles are also being developed by Turkey and Iran. Clearly this market is extremely well served today, with even more capable missiles due to enter service over the next decade.
 
 
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