Bolt from the blue: as aerial combat becomes a distant memory, the emphasis in aircraft armament is now on the ground attack role, with growing demands for day and night all-weather precision weapon delivery against fixed and moving targets, the minimum of collateral damage and the ability to out-range increasingly effective ground defences.
This effectiveness limitation does not apply to Russia's 122 mm S-13L, which weighs 75 kg and carries a 31.8 kg warhead, making it a threat to bridges and command bunkers. It will be interesting to see if a laser-guided version of Russia's 480 kg, 340 mm S-25 is also produced.
On a more modest level, in 2003 the US Army awarded to General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products (GDATP) a contract to act as systems integrator for the Block I development of the guided version of the 70 mm APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System). APKWS is the company's new name for the Hydra-70 rocket, although the old name was still in use when the US Army placed a five-year contract for continued production in May 2005. BAE Systems of Nashua, New Hampshire, is to provide the Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker, which is fitted between the warhead and the motor, and employs fixed sensors in the leading edges of its four foldout control canards. This location for the guidance and control section is to permit a wider range of warheads than a nose mounting.
The APKWS has a launch weight of only 12.0 kg with a 3.95 kg warhead, making it highly suitable for drone applications. The US Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate has recently developed a four-round launcher for use on platforms such as the SAIC Vigilante unmanned helicopter.
The generation of anti-tank guided weapons represented by the Raytheon BGM-71 Tow and the MBDA Hot has proven to be fundamentally sound and suitable for extensive developments.
Some 85,000 examples of the 24 kg MBDA Hot have been ordered by 18 countries. The latest version is the Hot 3, with considerably improved terminal effectiveness and anti-jamming performance. The Hot 3 has been chosen for the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter, but the German Army is hoping for funds to replace it with the 48 kg Eads-LFK Trigat-LR, employing imaging-infrared guidance. The Trigat-LR was designed to meet a Franco-German requirement for a fire-and-forget anti-armour missile with a range of five kilometres (compared to 4.3 for the Hot and 3.75 for the basic Tow), which is probably the maximum distance at which a tank can be seen from the air under most European operational conditions. If required, the range of the Trigat-LR could be extended to seven kilometres.
Raytheon has manufactured over 660,000 Tow missiles, and the series remains in service in more than 40 countries. The Tow-2A Bunker Buster is scheduled to be fielded on the US Army Stryker vehicle. The anti-armour Tow-2B is designed for fly-over top-attack, using two downward-firing explosively-formed penetrators and thus lacking the nose probe of the direct-attack round. The Tow-2B Aero has a low-drag nose and a longer control wire, allowing its improved aerodynamic range of 4.5 kilometres
to be fully exploited.
The Tow-2B RF has a one-way stealthy radio command link that provides an alternative guidance means to reach that range. This RF version has been demonstrated successfully, but still requires further development. Early in 2005 the US Army signed a $ 32.3 million contract with Raytheon for the further production of the Itas (Improved Target Acquisition Systems) for Tow. The US Army and Marine Corps already have fielded more than 7000 ground vehicle-and helicopter-mounted Itas advanced fire control kits. The Tow-2B with Itas has been selected as the US Marine Corps next-generation AAWS-H (Anti-Armour Weapon System--Heavy).
In replacing ATGWs initially designed for a Central European war, the wider market demand is for longer range coupled with a reduced flight time (i.e., supersonic cruise) and a lock-on-after-launch facility. Earlier requirements for a fire-and-forget capability now appear to have been superseded by a desire to retain man-in-the-loop guidance in order to minimise friendly fire incidents and collateral damage.
Some of these requirements are already satisfied by the Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II, which cruises supersonically and has a range of over eight kilometres. Over 18,000 Hellfires have been manufactured for the US services and 14 export customers, and more than 1000 rounds were fired in Iraq.
The Hellfire II is currently available in four forms. The baseline 45 kg AGM-114K has a Heat (High Explosive, Anti-Tank) warhead, and employs laser spot homing. Target designation can be provided by a forward air controller. The AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire (which weighs 49 kg, typical of later variants) has the same warhead, but includes millimetre-wave radar guidance for adverse weather engagements and fire-and-for-get capability. It is produced as a joint project with Northrop Grumman. The laser-guided AGM-114M has a blast-fragmentation warhead that is effective against ships, caves, lightly armoured vehicles and other urban targets.
The latest version to enter service is the AGM-114N, which was used from US Marine Corps Bell AH-1W SuperCobras during the invasion of Iraq. It has a MAC (metal augmented charge) thermobaric warhead that is optimised for enclosed structures, the hot blast reportedly being produced by adding aluminium powder between the outer casing and the PBXN-112 explosive fill. The US Army's $ 90 million Buy 11 contract, awarded in April 2005, included 900 AGM-114Ns and will extend production into 2007. Not yet available in the marketplace is the [I.sup.2]R Hellfire, which has a 256 x 256 focal plane array, and is a private venture being developed by Lockheed Martin.
The 50 kg laser-homing Denel Aerospace Systems Mokopa is now in production for the Rooivalk helicopter and provides a range of ten kilometres.
In Europe, the 50 kg MBDA Brimstone is a derivative of the helicopter-launched Hellfire. It was designed to meet a British requirement for an autonomous anti-armour weapon for fast jets, providing safe delivery in the face of shoulder-launched Sams of five to seven kilometres range. The Brimstone employs active millimetric-wave radar and an automatic target recognition seeker. It is now operational on the RAF Tornado GR4, replacing the BL755 freefall cluster weapon.
Although the Brimstone is still new, the British Ministry of Defence is evidently considering the possibility of replacing it at some stage with the 49 kg Lockheed Martin Joint Common Missile (JCM), which is under development for US Army and Marine Corps helicopters and the latter's fixed-wing aircraft, with a view to replacing Tows, Hellfires and Mavericks. The JCM is to provide a range of 16 km from helicopters and around 28 km from fast jets. it combines a tri-mode seeker (semi-active laser, millimetre-wave and imaging infrared) with a multipurpose General Dynamics warhead and an Acrojet/Roxel pulse-sustain rocket motor. Flight tests were scheduled for the spring of 2005, leading to service entry in 2010. Some 54,000 JCMs have been planned for the US services alone.
In December 2004 the Pentagon published a proposal to terminate the JCM programme due to concern over cost escalation. However, Congressional approval would be required to stop its development and Lockheed Martin (which won the contract only in May 2004) has published its estimated unit production costs, reducing from an initial $ 80,000 to $ 60,000. The future of the JCM should be settled in the near future with the publication of a Pentagon road map for all its land attack systems.
Recent conflicts have raised concerns over correct target identification, thus reducing the attraction of a fully autonomous missile. One result has been increased interest in the use of an optical fibre, with the missile feeding a video image back to the operator. One leader in this field is the Rafael Spike-ER, formerly referred to as the NTD. It weighs only 33 kg in its launch canister and has a range of eight kilometres. The Spike-ER can be locked on after launch, but if locked on before it can proceed autonomously using an auto-tracker. It is normally fired in a lofted delivery for top attack. Day/night operation can be provided by a dual CCD/IIR seeker. The warhead has a rolled homogeneous armour penetration capability of 1000 mm.
Members of the Spike missile family have been purchased by Finland, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Singapore (if the ground-launched Spike-LR is included). A company named EuroSpike has been formed in Germany to provide further marketing throughout Europe. EuroSpike is a joint venture by Rafael, Diehl and Rheinmetall Defence Electronics.
The Soviet Union led the West in abandoning wire guidance when in 1978 it introduced the 31.8 kg tube-launched, radio-guided KBM 9M114 Kokon (AT-6) with a four kilometre range. This was followed by its marginally supersonic derivative, the 9M120 Ataka-V (AT-9), likewise using the Shturm-V radio saclos guidance system. The Ataka-V has a range of six kilometres. Both of these missiles were to be replaced by Russia's 45 kg (59 kg in its launch tube) KBP 9M121 Vikhr (AT-16), a supersonic missile that uses laser beam-riding and is suitable for use on both rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. Maximum range is ten kilometres. The Vikhr was first deployed with Russian forces in 1996.
In 2004 KBP unveiled its proposed replacement for the Vikhr in the form of the Hermes family of missiles. The air-launched Hermes-A combines inertial mid-course guidance with laser terminal homing. Maximum range is 18 km, but a proposed tandem booster would allow this to be increased to 100 km.
Modern warhead technology allows a main battle tank to be disabled by a relatively light ATGW, but a more general tactical target set demands a heavier warhead and consequently a larger missile.
One approach is to add a rocket motor to a guided bomb. An early example was the 1323 kg Boeing AGM-130, effectively a TV/IIR-guided GBU-15 cruciform wing weapon with an underslung motor. Range from medium level release is up to 75 km. Based on a 1000 kg Mk 84 bomb, the GBU-15 and AGM-130 are comparatively heavy weapons, with application restricted to large aircraft such as the Boeing F-15.
The TV-guided, 1200 kg Denel Aerospace Raptor II combines a swing-wing kit and a rocket motor. The Raptor II is in production and an accuracy of three metres at up to 120 km is claimed. In 2004 Denel unveiled its Umbani wing-kit for 250 kg Mk 82 and 500 kg Mk 83 bombs, with improved guidance to allow a selectable impact angle. Aimed at application on South Africa's Saab/BAE Systems Gripen, Denel proposes a powered Umbani with a rocket motor to give it a 120 km range.
This integration of the rocket motor into the body of the missile clearly reduces drag. A comparable approach is used in the 1045 kg TV/IIR-guided Rafael Spice, which has an automatic target recognition facility based on imagery that is loaded prior to take-off. The baseline Spice has no datalink, being intended for use from single-seat aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-16. Despite its short wings, a range of 60 km can be achieved from high-level release.
The bomb kit with the lowest publicity profile remains the Sagem AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire), based on a 250 kg bomb with GPS/INS navigation and later with an IIR seeker. A wing kit will provide a range of over 50 km from altitude, a figure that will be increased later by the addition of a rocket motor. In September 2000 Sagem was awarded a contract to develop and produce 3000 examples of a baseline version, providing ten-metre accuracy under all weather conditions. A later version will achieve one-metre accuracy under day or night conditions.
Another little-known missile is the MBDA PGM series, which has been produced in both the PGM500 and PGM2000 forms with 500 and 2000 lb blast-fragmentation warheads, the complete weapons weighing a nominal 404 kg and 1060 kg respectively. Each is available with laser, TV or IIR guidance, and has a range of 15 to 50 km, depending on release altitude. The PGM was specifically developed for the United Arab Emirates and is in service on the country's Mirage 2000s and is expected to be cleared for the F-16E/F (Block 60). A longer-range derivative powered by two rocket motors is envisaged.
One of the most widely used tactical missiles is the Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick, which weighs 210 or 310 kg (depending on the warhead), and has been produced with three types of guidance: TV, IIR and laser homing. Over 68,000 rounds have been manufactured for the American services and 28 export customers. Approximately 600 were fired in Afghanistan and over 1000 have been used in Iraq. A lock-on-after-launch facility is being tested to permit its aerodynamic range of 40 km to be fully exploited and to allow the Maverick to be carried internally in the Lockheed Martin F-35. Lock-on-after-launch involves the addition of a digital link and GPS/ inertial mid-course navigation.
Russia's closest equivalent is the much heavier (700 kg) Vympel Kh-29 (AS-14), which has similar sensor options and a maximum range of 32 km.
The Rafael Popeye/AGM-142 is much heavier than the Maverick, since it is designed to carry a larger warhead over a longer range. Development began in the early 1980s, primarily because of Israeli concern over rapidly improving Soviet-built surface-to-air systems. The TV-guided Popeye 1 with a 450 kg blast/fragmentation warhead entered production for domestic use in 1989, when the US Air Force (facing similar threats in Central Europe) conducted its own trials under the designation AGM-142A Have Nap. An alternative imaging infrared seeker was developed later for the AGM-142B. The AGM-142C/D has an 1-800 penetration warhead and TV/IIR guidance. By 1998 the US Air Force had placed orders for a total of 755 rounds with Rafael and later PGSUS, a joint US-based venture by Rafael and Lockheed Martin. Australia is believed to have ordered from PGSUS around 130 examples of the 1360 kg AGM-142E for its F-111Cs.
The most recent version is the 1125 kg AGM-154B Have Lite, which has the same 95 km range as the AGM-142E, and was developed to suit the Boeing F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 and AP-3C.
MBDA and Saab Bofors Dynamics are collaborating on the study of a family of air-to-surface modular munitions. The concept was presented at Eurosatory in June 2004 and starts with the MCT, which stands for 'Missile de Combat Terrestre' with a range of 2.5 km, proceeds through a four km range version with nose and tail cruciform wings through to an eight km range air-launched variant equipped with swing-wings, plus a variant of the latter with a turbojet engine to extend range to 100 km. A multi-effect warhead carrying up to three tandem hollow charges is also mentioned.
Government officials from Britain, France and Sweden met in May 2005 to discuss collective funding of technology demonstration work relating to a possible European Modular Munition (EMM), a family of weapons that could be applied to helicopters and armoured fighting vehicles. Germany, Italy and Spain may join the programme. Providing a range of 8 to 24 km, the EMM could enter service as early as 2015.
The leader in the anti-radiation missile category is almost certainly the 365 kg, supersonic Raytheon AGM-88 Harm, which is employed by three US services and six foreign nations. Over 2000 were fired during Operation Desert Storm, but only 408 were used in the invasion of Iraq. The Harm employs passive radar homing and has a maximum range of 130 kin. A precision navigation upgrade for the US Navy, German Air Force and Navy and the Italian Air Force has added satellite and gyro navigation, so that an attack can be continued effectively if the emitter is switched off. The upgrade also makes it possible to minimise fratricide by specifying permissible missile impact zones and forbidden zones of exclusion. A side advantage is that this also allows the Harm to be used against various non-radar targets.
The US Air Force F-16CJ/DJ currently has the pod-mounted Harm Targeting System (HTS) to R6 standard, allowing the missile to be fired in a range-known mode, the aircraft sensors providing only directional information. The new R7 standard or Sting (Smart Targeting and identification via Networked Geolocation) provides double the detection range and generates target location accurately from information supplied over the Link 16 datalink, thus allowing the emitter to be attacked with the low-cost GPS-guided Boeing Jdam bomb. The R7 Sting is to enter service in September 2007. The Air Force plans to upgrade its existing 207 R6 pods to this standard and increase its inventory total to 290.
The US Navy is meanwhile funding the development of a Mach 3.2 AGM-88E Aargm, which retains the motor and warhead of the Harm but will have a new dual-mode (passive radar and millimetric-wave) seeker. The Aargm may later have a ramjet-rocket and a Quick Bolt datalink to provide target data from external sources. The prime contractor is Alliant Techsystems (ATK), and the missile is due to enter service in 2009.
BGT has been funded by the German government to perform a technology demonstration programme based on the ramjet-powered, 230 kg Mach 3 Armiger. This will have a Bayern Chemie ducted rocket and a 20 kg warhead (in place of the 66.4 kg Harm warhead). It will have passive radar homing and an imaging infrared seeker.
The MBDA Alarm is the first antiradar missile to provide an extended search time using a rocket-boosted climb and a parachute descent. The Alarm is in service on the RAF Tornado.
Russia's principal radar hunters are the Tactical Missiles Corporation's 320-kg Kh-25MPU (AS-12), which has a range of 40 km, and the 600 kg Kh-31P (AS-17), a ramjet-powered weapon with a range of 100 kin. The rocket-powered, supersonic Raduga Kh-58E (AS-11) can reach out to 160 km.
Turbines for Cruise
The increasing range of ground-based air defence systems, coupled with a growing unwillingness to risk lives in remote conflicts, has raised the profile of cruise missiles, especially in the context of destroying enemy defences in the first wave of attacks. For some smaller nations they offer the prospect of being able to deliver a weapon of mass destruction over a substantial distance with little risk of interception.
The potential threat posed by cruise missiles was brought home by recent reports that in 2001 Ukrainian weapon-dealers smuggled twelve Raduga Kh-55s to Iran and six to China. The Kh-55SM (AS-15), which can be carried by Russia's Tupolev Tu-95MS and Tu-160, has a range of almost 3000 km and is nuclear-capable, although these examples were exported without warheads. The AS-15 is designed to combine inertial and terrain-reference navigation but could still pose a serious threat in the absence of the required terrain-reference data.
Reports indicate that Russia is developing a stealthy nuclear-armed replacement for the Kh-55 series in the form of the Raduga Kh-101. The corresponding versions with conventional warheads arc the Kh-555 and Kh-102. The Kh-555 has television guidance in the terminal phase, which suggests that it has been simplified for export.
America's equivalent of the Kh-55 is the nuclear-armed Boeing AGM-68B Alcm (Air-Launched Cruise Missile). The conventionally armed version, the 1475 kg AGM-68C, carries a 680/1360 kg blast/fragmentation warhead and has a nominal range of 1100 km. The AGM86D has the AUP-3M penetration warhead, and became operational in 2002. Some 153 AGM-86C/Ds were fired during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The sale of long-range cruise missiles is in principle restricted by the 34-nation MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) agreement, relating to systems capable of delivering a 500 kg warload over a 300 km range. The current market is illustrated by the case of Australia, which has a requirement for a follow-on stand-off weapon, known as Air 5418 Phase 1, to arm the AP-3C and F/A-18. The weapon will bridge the gap between the retirement of the F-111C and AGM-142E in 2010 and the introduction of the F-35 in 2012 or (more likely) later. It is required to be capable of striking fixed and moving targets on land or in a littoral scenario. Deliveries are due to run from 2007 to 2009.
Of the two systems that remain in the running for Air 5418. the swing-wing, turbojet-powered 725 kg Boeing AGM-84K Slam-ER (Harpoon derivative) has the advantage that it is already integrated on the US Navy's Hornet and Orion. Some 14 were launched from P-3Cs during the 1999 Kosovo conflict, and three were fired from F/A-18Cs over Iraq in 2003. It has man-in-the-loop TV guidance, and the Slam-ER Plus has automatic target acquisition (ATA) capability. Against this, the Slam-ER is a relatively old concept with a modest range (270 km?) and a small warhead (the 227 kg WDU-40/B), and there are suggestions that its datalink can be jammed.
Until recently it appeared that Australia's most likely choice would be the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Jassm (Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile), a 900 kg (class) swing-wing weapon with a maximum range approaching 400 km. Described as the world's first stealthy conventional cruise missile, it has a dual-mode penetrator and blast/fragmentation warhead. The Jassm combines GPS/INS mid-course guidance with IIR terminal homing. The US Air Force plans to buy 4900 rounds by 2018, and the Navy 450. Over 250 had been completed by the end of 2004, when a $112 million contract was signed for Lot Four of 288 rounds, the first full-rate production batch. Planned developments include an extended-range Jassm-ER with a turbofan engine and a range of 1000 km, possibly to replace the AGM-86C. The Jassm may also receive a high-power microwave warload. A decision on Australia's choice is expected in early 2006.
Despite its advanced production status the Jassm is faced with further testing this year. From an Australian viewpoint, the main problem is that the US Navy has eliminated Jassm funding from its FY2006 budget, indicating that the RAAF must be prepared to fund integration with the Hornet and Orion.
Europe's 1230 kg MBDA Storm Shadow or Scalp EG and 1400 kg Taurus (Eads/Saab Bofors Dynamics) KEPD-350 are not shortlisted for Air 5418, possibly because their penetration warheads lack the operational flexibility required. Their nominal ranges are 250 and 350 km respectively. Some 27 Storm Shadows were fired from British RAF Tornadoes in the 2003 strikes on Iraq, and the series is also being produced for France (see the title picture of this article), Greece, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. In the third quarter of 2005, Britain, France and Italy are to agree a three-'Epoch' plan for further Storm Shadow/Scalp EG development. Epoch One, scheduled for introduction around 2010, is expected to include a one-way datalink for battle damage assessment. Epoch Two in 2015 will probably deal with navigation improvements, a new engine and warhead, a two-way datalink and anti-spoofing measures. Epoch Three in 2020 would involve more revolutionary changes. A batch of 600 KEPD350s is being built for the German Air Force, and the missile has also been chosen by Spain. Reports indicate that MBDA, Diehl and Rheinmetall are working on high-power microwave payloads for cruise missiles.
MBDA is also responsible for the ramjet-powered ASMPA (Air-Sol a Moyenne Portee--Ameliore), deliveries of which are due to begin in 2007, with a 300 kT nuclear warhead.
In a much lighter category, in 2004 Lockheed Martin unveiled its turbojet-powered Surveilling Miniature Attack Cruise Missile (Smacm). Equipped with a tri-mode seeker and the Locaas warhead, this would weigh about 63.5 kg and have a range of 465 km. Boeing is reported to be working on a dispenser-type cruise missile in the 500 kg, 2000 km class.
This review has been primarily concerned with ground attack systems, but some cruise missiles are now developed for dual-use, against both land and naval targets. This follows the example of the Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, which provided the basis for the land attack AGM-84K Slam-ER. Thus, the turbofan-powered MBDA MM40 Block 3 Exocet with a range of 180 km will lead to a corresponding AM39 version for the Rafale. The 630 kg dual-use Saab Bofors Dynamics RBS15 Mk 3 is likewise expected to appear with an RF/IIR seeker on the Gripen, while the 410 kg Kongsberg/MBDA NSM will arm the NH90 and EH-101.
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|Title Annotation:||Missiles: AGM/cruise|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2005|
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