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Far reaching propositions: sea-based, barrel-launched guided projectiles and conventionally armed cruise missiles are already demonstrating considerable effectiveness. The same is true of land-based weapons. Several countries are now working to exploit the full potential of such weapon systems for the precision engagement of critical targets at the beachhead, on the extended battle-field and far beyond. (Complete Guide).

The emergence of ship- and submarine-launched cruise missiles as the precision weapon of choice in all recent major conflicts, coupled with America's plans for the Block I land attack version of the DD(X) Future Surface Combatant, which is now set to replace the projected Zumwalt-class DD21, have turned a spotlight on naval fire support for ground forces and on the military and political advantages of striking land targets from the waters that cover most of this planet. The following discussion looks firstly at gun-launched guided projectiles and then at surface- and subsurface-to-land missiles.

Naval forces, which during the Cold War emphasised deep-water roles, are now seen more in terms of littoral operations to support amphibious forces and lightly-equipped quick-reaction army units that have been inserted (for example) to stop and reverse an invasion, to impose a ceasefire between warring factions or to attack terrorist bases. Seaborne platforms provide global mobility without the diplomatic problems of ground bases. Submarines can act as a deterrent without disclosing their location or even their presence in the area. Both surface and subsurface vessels have the ability to carry large-calibre weapons and sophisticated fire control systems. Large calibres in turn provide scope for guided rounds.

The global leader in naval surface fire support (NSFS) is the US Navy, which is significantly improving its guns and ammunition. Today's 54-calibre Mk 45 five-inch (127 mm) gun has a range of only 24 km, but United Defense's Mk 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun System with a 62-calibre barrel will fire the rocket-assisted Raytheon Systems Ergm (Extended-Range Guided Munition) or EX-171 to a range of 117 km. The Mk45 Mod 4 is being installed on 27 Arleigh Burke class destroyers (beginning with the DDG 81, USS Winston S Churchill) and as a retrofit to at least 22 Ticonderoga class cruisers (starting with CG 52).

The Raytheon Ergm, which is subjected to 12,000 G at launch, dispenses 72 XM-80 dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM). Its circular error probable (Cep) of less than 20 metres is achieved by means of an Interstate Electronics GPS receiver with high anti-jam performance, permitting the use of a low-cost IMU (inertial measurement unit). Possible future developments include a unitary warhead.

The US Navy's DD(X) Block I is expected to use the 155 mm Advanced Gun System (AGS), built by United Defense and capable of firing a new series of munitions out to a maximum range of 185 km. Typical munition weight will be over 91 kg, compared to 48 kg for the 127 mm Ergm. In August 2000, United Defense awarded preliminary four-year contracts for a Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) to Raytheon Systems and Science Applications International (Saic). A third possible contractor is Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, which built more than 30,000 Copperhead 155 mm laser-homing artillery rounds for the US Army, and was responsible for the five-inch Deadeye derivative for the US Navy (a project now abandoned). The company's baseline round would have GPS/INS guidance, but variants with seekers are also proposed.

For the future, it may be noted that General Dynamics is also proposing a Compact Vertical Gun System (CVGS) for submarines. France's Giat is studying a 155 mm course-corrected Pelican cargo round, and Italy's Otobreda is reportedly working on an extended-range 127 mm projectile with a GPS/ IMU-guided subcalibre warhead.

Russia's KBP has successfully developed the 152 mm Krasnopol laser-homing round, and the Ukraine's Tochnost division of Progress is promoting the somewhat lighter Kvitnyk, but both appear to be intended to improve army weapons. The technology is nonetheless available to develop a guided round for the Russian Navy's 130 mm AK-130 water-cooled twin-barrel gun.

Israel, on the other hand, offers Navlar. A fully stabilized naval artillery rocket system, the Israel Military Industries Lar cluster or high-explosive payloads is useable in all practical sea-states against shore and inland targets. According to the manufacturer, longer range and high fire concentration, gives the Navlar "a clear advantage over naval guns". The systems can be installed on a variety of vessels to serve as a main weapon system -- even on vessels as small as 1000 tonnes. Manufacturer of rockets, motors and rocket systems for artillery, anti-armor, missiles and satellite launchers, RSD has developed the the LAR-160 rocket for the Navlar, which has an effective range of 45 kilometres (although this can vary with the models). The launcher can fire a salvo of 26 rockets in 50 seconds and can be reloaded in less than ten minutes.

Land-based Artillery

It should be noted that these artillery-related developments are also lifting land-based artillery out of the purely battlefield environment into true long-range weapon systems equivalent to the naval gun programmes. All the long-range developments mentioned lay stress on range but they do so at a hefty price and, as yet, few field gunners seem willing to pay that price. Nevertheless, by exploiting existing technologies, field artillery range potential has been extended considerably over the last few years.

An indication of one possible way ahead can be detected from recent South African innovations. One is the 155 mm Velocity-enhanced Long-range Projectile (V-Lap) from Naschem, already in limited production. By combining extended range full bore (ERFB) ballistic streamlining, base bleed (BB) drag reduction and rocket assistance, Naschem has managed to produce a projectile with a range of about 50,000 metres. Naschem has now gone one further with the development of the Pro-Ram. On this, ram jet technology has been added, something that does not become viable or practical until high velocities have been reached, further extending potential range to over 70,000 metres. No one can claim that measures such as the Pro-Ram are low cost, but by developing well-tried techniques to an extreme, they are not beyond the realms of practicality.

To ensure such long range projectiles can still land somewhere within a confined `footprint' around their intended target, GPS target and projectile location have to be combined with various means of trajectory correction. The latter is achieved by controlling spoiler surfaces from a nose-mounted fuze body or a similar module.

The US land-based equivalent of the LRLAP is the 155 mm ERDPICM (Extended Range, Dual Purpose, Improved Conventional Munition) XM982, sometimes known for marketing purposes as the Excalibur. This is yet another futuristic development programme headed by Raytheon Systems.

Unlike the South African approach, the XM982 relies upon its aerodynamic gliding capabilities, imparted from flip-out canard and tail fins, to achieve ranges of over 40,000 metres. Once the XM2001/XM2002 enters service it is anticipated that XM982 maximum range will be extended to over 57,000 metres. Once again, target location, glide navigation and trajectory guidance precision will rely on on-board GPS modules specifically developed by L3 and, as with the naval LRLAP, M85 bomblet or unitary (bunker buster) warheads will be carried. Anti-armour or counter-battery submunitions are other warhead possibilities for the future. A guided circular error probable of six metres is anticipated. Entry into service is planned for the 2006-07 timeframe.

Guided Rockets

From 2003, US Navy ships equipped with the Mk 45 Mod 4 gun and Ergm rounds will have a new Naval Fire Control System (NFCS), which will also support the Lasm (Land Attack Standard Missile) and TacTom (Tactical Tomahawk). The Claws (Common Land Attack Warfare System) is slated to supersede the NFCS.

The Raytheon Lasm is a variant of the anti-air warfare Standard Missile (SM), which is operational on 160 combatants of 13 navies, including the US Navy's Arleigh Burke class destroyers and Ticonderoga class cruisers, all of which fire the weapon from Lockheed Martin Mk 41 vertical launch systems. The Lasm employs GPS/INS guidance and a modified Mk 125 blast/fragmentation warhead, which is detonated by a Mk 45 proximity fuze in a near-vertical descent. The first of three flight tests was carried out in November 1997, and Lasm is due to be deployed in FY 2004. The US Navy plans to convert up to 1200 older SM-2 Block II/IIIs to Lasm configuration. Static tests in March 2001 demonstrated the dispensing of Textron Systems BLU- 108 and Northrop Grumman (Aerojet) Sadarm anti-armour submunitions from a Lasm fuselage section. The Lasm has been tested over a distance of more than 90 km, and future development is expected to include a substantial range extension through the use of an improved rocket motor and booster.

Another American rocket-powered land attack missile is the Lockheed Martin Polar (Precision Over-the-horizon Land Attack Rocket), which is essentially a GMLRS (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System) rocket with a 30 per cent longer rocket motor. The GPS+INS navigation of the GMLRS provides a CEP of less than 15 metres. A typical warload for either weapon would be 404 M85 DPICM submunitions with self-destruct fuzing to eliminate the hazard of duds. Four Polar rockets can be loaded into the Quad-Pack Mk 25 VLS canister. The system is designed to deliver accurate, high-volume fire support for amphibious and land manoeuvre forces.

Turbines for Longer Ranges

Like the Standard Missile, the turbojet-powered, radar-guided Boeing BGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship weapon, which first flew in 1972, was designed initially for the US Navy. The Block II upgrade is aimed at expanding the Harpoon's usefulness by giving it near-precision delivery against land-based targets and the ability to discriminate ships close in-shore. This is accomplished by using the low-cost inertial measuring unit from the Boeing Jdam and the GPS receiver and mission computer from the company's Slam-ER (Standoff Land Attack Missile -- Expanded Response). The Block II can be fired from all current Harpoon platforms, using either existing command and launch equipment or the new Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System. It is a Boeing-funded development, although there is hope of the US Navy funding an upgrade of its Block ICs in FY04. Denmark is having its Harpoons brought to this standard, and Taiwan is buying new-build Block IIs.

The Harpoon Block II+ is planned to have an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker (possibly in addition to its active radar) and automatic target recognition. The standard unitary warhead may be replaced by a dispenser containing eight Bat or 153 CEB submunitions. It may also be given the stretched fuselage projected-for the Block ID to increase range (currently given as 124+ km), and a penetration warhead such as the Royal Ordnance Broach.

The Block III is a longer-term (beyond 2008) project, aimed at major improvements in target acquisition and recognition, using a three-mode seeker and a datalink. A vertical launch version is also under consideration.

The Boeing AGM-84E Slam (Standoff Land Attack Missile) is a variant of the air-launched Harpoon, equipped with a Maverick IIR seeker and a Walleye datalink. A ship-launched variant has been tested under the designation Sea Slam, and the manufacturer states that (despite its fold-back wings) the AGM-84H Slam-ER can also be adapted for a ship launch.

Other Western anti-ship missiles are also being promoted in land-attack form. Examples include the Saab Bofors Dynamics RBS 15 Mk 3, the Alenia Marconi Systems Otomat Mk 2 Block IV. and the Kongsberg NSM. Eads Germany is teamed with Bofors on the Taurus cruise missile series, which includes a ship-launched KEPD 150-SLM.

Eads is also the principal contractor, teamed with MBDA, for the Polyphem missile series, which employs fibre-optic guidance. This has several advantages, including being unaffected by jamming and decoys, and able to provide reconnaissance capability. It is being promoted under the name Triton for use from submarines against a variety of land-based, seaborne and airborne targets. The Triton is scheduled to be tested from a submarine in 2003 and to be fitted to the German Navy's Type 212 submarines (while the Polyphem will arm the service's K-130 class corvettes).

In late 2000, MBDA revealed plans to develop a long-range derivative of the Scalp cruise missile, designated Scalp Naval, for use from the French Navy's future frigates and Barracuda submarines.


In order to fill the gap between Lasm and the long-range Tomahawk, the US Navy plans to equip the land attack version of DD(X) and possibly some submarines and Aegis destroyers and cruisers with a supersonic Advanced Land Attack Missile (Alam) that will be effective against C3I and logistics infrastructure, artillery, moving armour, medium bunkers, tactical missile launch units and infantry mechanised units.

A two-year multi-contractor demonstration/validation phase began in FY 2001, and the development phase is due to start in FY 2004, leading to IOC in 2010. Currently, one of the potential contractors is Lockheed Martin, arriving with proposals that include a variant of the US Army Atacms (Army Tactical Missile System) Block IA. The company describes its Alam as an all-weather, fire-and-forget missile with a range of 555 km, stabilising fins, a solid rocket motor and inertial navigation with satellite positioning updates. It is compatible with the US Navy's Mk 41 VLS, and is proposed with a variety of unitary, submunition and penetrator warheads.


In terms of operational experience, the principal land attack missile is undoubtedly the Raytheon BGM-109C/D Tomahawk, of which 288 were employed in the 1991 Gulf War and more than 1000 have been fired since. The US Navy is believed to have had almost 2000 Tlams stockpiled at the start of operations against the Taliban. The BGM-109C has a 450 kg high explosive warhead and the -109D dispenses 166 CEB submunitions. The Block II used in Desert Storm demonstrated extreme accuracy, due to Dsmac (digital scene-matching area correlation) navigation in the terminal phase, but required lengthy planning. The Block III that was introduced in 1993 employs GPS to reduce planning time, a lighter but more effective warhead, increased fuel and a more economical engine. The US Navy is having up to 800 earlier models upgraded to the latest Block IIIC standard with improved Dsmac. The UK has purchased 65 Block IIICs for use from its submarines.

The Block IV or Tactical Tomahawk is due to enter service in 2003, emphasising affordability, and introducing battle damage assessment, in-flight retargeting, loiter capability and mission planning from the launch platform. It will have an IIR seeker, alternative submunitions, (possibly) a long-rod penetrator warhead option and a radar-based Precision Terrain-Aided Navigator (Ptan). The United Kingdom is reportedly interested in buying up to 300 TacToms for use from later Type 45 destroyers and future submarines equipped with the essential vertical launch systems (VLS).

Although currently an effective weapon, Tomahawk cruises at a relatively slow speed and is potentially vulnerable to advanced air defence systems. The US Navy has been studying a ramjet-powered Mach 4 replacement under the designation Low Cost Missile System, which is unofficially referred to as Fasthawk. The name Counterforce apparently refers to a related test programme. In 1997, Boeing won a three-year contract to demonstrate applicable technologies.

The closest Russian equivalent to the land-attack Tomahawk is believed to be the Novator 3M14, a derivative of the 3M54E (SS-N-27), which arms the Indian Navy's Kilo class submarines and will arm that service's Krivak class frigates. Novator was earlier responsible for the 3M10 Granat (SS-N-21) submarine-launched, terrain-following cruise missile.

In 1997, NPO Mashinostroyenia exhibited a model of a supersonic Alpha missile, intended for both anti-ship and land attack operations and distinguished by a single ventral air intake. However, it seems likely that financial restrictions have led to this project being abandoned in favour of a variant of this manufacturer's P-800 Yakhont, which has a nose intake. The Yakhont is the export version of the 3M55 Onyx (SS-N-26) anti-ship missile, which will equip Russia's Severodvinsk submarines. There have recently been references to a Yakhont-M with a new seeker that is better suited to ground targets.

The Russian equivalent of Sea Slam is the IIR-equipped Zvezda-Strela Kh37, a derivative of the Kh-35 (SS-N-25) anti-ship missile, which has been exported to China, India and Vietnam.

Land based Missiles

The US Army Atacms (Army Tactical Missile System) Block IA has already been mentioned above in a naval context. For land-based applications the Atacms Block 1A is already a well-established weapon system with a maximum range of 332,000 metres. On land it is carried and launched from Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) mobile launchers, each Atacms launch module taking the same space as six standard MLRS artillery rocket pods. Block 1A missiles carry no less than 275 M74 bomblets. Atacms is produced by a large team headed by Lockheed Martin Vought Systems.

Block 2 Atacms will have the ability to carry six Brilliant Anti-armor Technology (Bat - see lead image on page 36) submunitions, all launched while the rocket is still in flight to allow each Bat to glide, detect and automatically home onto an armoured target for a top attack. Each Bat employs both infrared and acoustic sensors.

Block 3 Atacms, due to appear after 2006, will have a hardened warhead for the attack of hardened structures or buried installations. A planned Block 3B will have its range extended to 500,000 metres. Also proposed are Block 4 Atacms with blast/fragmentation warheads taken from surplus US Navy Harpoon missiles. Their range will be 300,000 metres while with the proposed Block 4B, with a deep penetrating warhead, the range will again be increased to 500,000 metres.

It can be appreciated that the Atacms is a formidable long-range system with few rivals. Similar in concept, but not in the same overall size and range bracket, is the Russian Smerch from the State Research and Production Enterprise `Splav' at Tula. Smerch (Tornado) is launched from a 12-tube mobile launcher to a maximum range of 90,000 metres, although some early production Smerch rockets could reach only 70,000 metres. Numerous types of warhead are available, including one that dispenses a miniature unmanned air vehicle (UAV). Once dispensed, the UAV uses a small pulse jet to fly a preprogrammed flight path using GPS for guidance. A stabilised on-board camera then transits ground images to a control post up to 70,000 metres away. In addition to the usual dual-purpose bomblets (one warhead can carry 646), other Smerch warheads include high blast/incendiary (thermobarics), antitank mines, anti-armour submunitions and hardened unitary warheads for the attack of structures.

One known export customer for the Smerch has been Kuwait. It is understood that the Smerch system, or something very close to it, is in production by the China National Precision Machinery Import & Export Corporation. Their version is the Al00, with a reported maximum range of 100,000 metres. The same concern has also developed the indigenous WS-1 system with a maximum range of 80,000 metres, although no known production of this system has yet been reported. Another Chinese long-range rocket system is the Norinco WM-80, which takes 165 seconds for the rocket to reach its maximum range of over 80,000 metres. Once again the warhead contains bomblets.

Away from the major weapon producer nations, several other nations have seen fit to develop their own long-range ballistic missiles. Nations involved in such activities include Iran, Brazil, Serbia and Turkey, among others. Few of them are anything more than the usual `launch and leave' unguided variety, although the Israeli AccuLAR 160 mm system does utilise a GPS-based Trajectory Correction System (TCS) that according to makers Israel Military Industries (IMI) can be retrofitted to other similar long range artillery rockets. Maximum range of the AccuLAR is over 45,000 metres. It is understood that Israel will be converting their MLRS launchers to accommodate the AccuLAR system.

As an example of the longer-ranging ballistic rockets, the Turkish Toros 260A is typical. Delivered from a truck-mounted launcher carrying two four-rocket pods, the Toros 260A can reach 100,000 metres. On impact, the high explosive blast/fragmentation warhead is augmented by a lining of some 30,000 small steel spheres.
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Author:Gander, Terry
Publication:Armada International
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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