US anti-tank missile developments.
Going for the Kill against new Armour
The first major infantry anti-tank battle of the 1990s is raging as these lines are written.
In Angola, Jonas Savimbi's UNITA guerillas have been struggling since December to preserve their forward base at Mavinga against a heavily armoured offensive launched, under Soviet direction, by troops of the rigidly Marxist MPLA regime in Luanda.
Using the Hughes TOW and Euro-missile Milan missiles, the unguided Matra APILAS, MBB Armbrust and widely-produced 66 mm LAW anti-tank rockets, plus captured Soviet weapons, the guerrillas had (by end-January) already knocked out at least 50 of the MPLA forces' T-55 and T-62 tanks, together with dozens of BMPs and BTRs.
Despite their losses, the MPLA's troops - for the first time - are continuing to press forward, at least for the present. It seems probable that this is an act of desperation on the part of the Castro-style Luanda regime. Following the pull-back of the 50 000 Cubans who have done much of their previous fighting for them, the MPLA hard-liners must be dreading an imminent withdrawal of the 2 500 Soviet and 600 East German military advisers on whom they now depend.
The wind of change in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has not yet reached Angola. But the chances are that it soon will, just as it is likely to reach other "clients" for military advisers from the crumbling Eastern Block.
Does this mean that Soviet battle-tanks and other weapons will cease to be made available to totalitarian regimes in the Third World? Hardly. For as long as manufacturers in the West and in the developing nations are willing to export modern weapons systems, the flow of Soviet arms is likely to continue. Indeed, as Russia moves towards a market economy, the foreign exchange earned by arms exports, including battle-tanks, could become increasingly important to Moscow.
The US Army has most recently experienced action - of sorts - in Panama and, before that, Grenada. In future, it expects to orient a greater percentage of its units towards low intensity conflicts. Scenarios for some of these could, however, pit them against far stiffer opposition than the Panamanians. In certain situations, they could be faced with modern Soviet armour, or even western battle-tanks.
Meanwhile, the US Army wisely continues to develop its anti-tank missiles primarily to deal with the worst-case scenario for which its heavy divisions are designed: a war against the Soviet Army, equipped with some of the world's latest and most powerful armoured fighting vehicles. Unlikely this may be, in the present climate, but who knows what the future will bring?
Soviet battle-tanks from the T-64 onwards combine heavy-calibre main armament, of 125 mm or more, with multiple layers of advanced laminated armour on their frontal arcs. This was found to defeat early-generation Milan, HOT, Dragon, TOW and Copperhead anti-tank missiles in NATO inventories, not to mention shoulder-fired anti-tank rockets, with their smaller diameter warheads.
In addition, since the mid-1980s even the older Soviet tank models have been frequently fitted with applique Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) blocks on their glacis and on the front, sides and top of their turrets. ERA is designed to break up the molten jet of metal formed by an incoming shaped charge (HEAT) warhead.
Some Soviet tanks have been seen and photographed with ERA blocks piled two, and even three layers deep, though this must raise questions of sympathetic detonation, and probable concussion of the crew inside.
Attack Modes and Warhead Designs
With only one exception, all anti-tank missiles designed for direct frontal attack use shaped-charge warheads. Hence the Soviets' introduction of ERA. (The exception is LTV's developmental Kinetic Energy Missile.)
To improve their chances of penetrating both laminated Soviet armour and ERA, new warheads have been developed for most of NATO's in-service direct attack missiles and their successors. The new warheads incorporate a small precursor charge, to set off the ERA, and an increased calibre main charge which follows through the resulting gap in the ERA milliseconds later, to attack the main armour beneath.
The other attack mode adopted in some new missile designs is to go for the top of Soviet tanks. There are fewer ERA packages on the turret top (to allow space for hatches, sighting systems, antennae, etc.) and the main armour there is inevitably thinner. The ideal aimpoint, however, is the base of the turret ring at the rear, where it adjoins the virtually unarmoured engine compartment. A hit in this area is likely to cause a catastrophic kill.
The requirement for top-attack missiles to be fitted with a precursor charge, therefore, is reduced and the main charge can be smaller. This is often of the Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP) type, previously known as a Self-Forging Fragment (SFF) warhead.
Top-attack requires the missile either to dive onto the tank from above, or to overfly it and fire its two charges sequentially downwards, generally at the same aimpoint. Whichever top-attack approach is adopted, the use of advanced sensors and processors is therefore mandatory.
This, of course, is expensive. A current line of development that offers high promise of providing greater capability at lower costs is for manual control of the missile from the launcher, with the image viewed by the missile sensor relayed back to the operator via a lightweight fibre-optic cable. The same cable also carries the guidance commands up to the missile. This design allows the guidance command processors to be installed back at the laucher, where they can be used again and again. It still requires a TV or FLIR sensor in the missile, however, to enable the operator to see where it is going and direct it accordingly.
In the United States, this approach was pioneered by the Army's Missile Command (MICOM), at Redstone Arsenal, under the designation FOGM, or Fiber-Optic Guided Missile. The MICOM prototypes have achieved hits at ranges of 10 km. A Boeing/Hughes team has now been contracted to further develop the design to production status, and expects to triple the range. The Boeing/Hughes designation for the developed version is the Non Line-Of-Sight, or NLOS, missile.
Multi-role and Multi-platform Weapons Could Save Costs
The US Army's current strategic re-think, combined with the reductions in its budget, should logically lead it to put a premium on genuinely multi-role and/or multi-platform weapons.
The NLOS/FOG Missile is just such a weapon. Although originally designed by MICOM as a tank-killer, it has so far been funded primarily as an anti-helicopter missile, under the Forward Area Air Defense System (FAADS) programme, where there was money available. With its astonishing potential range of 30 km, and its further demonstrated capability as an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) for reconnaissance, however, NLOS technology could reasonably qualify for additional anti-tank and UAV funding. If parochial vested interests were overcome, it would displace certain single-role candidates and utilize the Army's dwindling funds to maximum effect.
A second dual-role system developed so far for air defence is the Oerlikon/Martin Marietta Air Defence/Anti-Tank System (ADATS), which has just completed impressive US Army troop trials against aerial targets. Mounted on a Bradley, the ADATS will accompany forward armoured units on the battlefield, where it is more than likely to be in close proximity to hostile tanks and infantry combat vehicles.
The principal airborne targets for the 8 km-range, laser beam-riding ADATS will be Mi-24 Hind, Mi-28 Havoc and Hokum helicopters, plus the Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack aircraft - all of which are armoured. Using the existing shaped-charge/fragmentation warhead, the Canadian Army has successfully fired the Mach 3 ADATS against tanks, and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is now working on a new warhead with further increased anti-tank capability.
If this is successful, there seems no sound reason for the Army not to consider deployment of the ADATS in both of its originally designed roles. It might therefore serve not only as the Line-Of-Sight, Forward-Heavy (LOSF-H) element of FAADS, but possibly also as a supplement to the dedicated heavy anti-tank system with which the Army is seeking to replace its obsolescent M901 Improved TOW Vehicles.
What, then, are the anti-tank missile developments currently being pursued in the United States?
Dragon Approaches the End
Right now, the basic platoon anti-tank missile in US Army service is the McDonnell Douglas Dragon, first introduced almost 20 years ago, and subsequently produced by Raytheon. While the basic version will spoil the weekend for the crew of any tank it hits from the front, and knock off a track - if not penetrate - when fired from the side, it will not go through the frontal armour of any Soviet tank more recent than the T-62 (i.e. any of the Soviet tanks which may remain facing Western Europe).
The Swiss were the first to recognize this, and developed a new warhead for the Dragons they procured. An American version of this warhead is also believed to have been incorporated into Dragons sold to Saudi Arabia, which became known as Dragon II. Nearly 5 000 retro-fit warheads of this type have been ordered by the Netherlands, and the US Army and Marine Corps plan to procure about 15 000 of the same kits, pending deliveries of the Dragon successor.
Apart from its warhead problem, the Dragon suffers from lack of range, an easily detectable launch signature, and the exposure of its operator. It takes an exceptionally brave man to squat behind the elevated launcher for 11.2 sec, while he guides the missile to impact against an oncoming enemy tank no more than 1 000 metres away (this is less of a problem for the Swiss, who deploy their Dragons in pre-prepared positions).
McDonnell Douglas is now offering a so-called Dragon II Plus for export, featuring a further new warhead (with a precursor charge on a telescopic nose probe), and a new motor giving a maximum range of 1500 metres in 8.8 seconds. It also includes a new day/night sight and an improved missile tracker. The US armed forces are not procuring it.
AAWS-M, a Dragon Successor at Last
After at least a decade of aborted efforts, the US Army finally decided in June 1989 on its preferred Dragon successor. Designated the Advanced Anti-tank Weapon System-Medium (AAWS-M), it is now in full-scale engineering development (FSED) by a Texas Instruments and Martin Marietta joint venture company. In the proof-of-principle firings which won them the 36-month FSED contract, the TI/Martin team fired 22 early prototype missiles and achieved 14 hits, compared to the 14 firings and six hits stipulated as a minimum by MICOM.
Initial operational tests of AAWS-M are expected to take place at the end of 1991 or early 1992, low-rate initial production is scheduled to begin in 1992, and high-rate full-scale production in 1994. The AAWS Programme Manager at MICOM, Col. Earl Finley, told Armanda International during an exclusive interview that the basic US requirement is for 68 000 missiles and 5 000 command launch units (CLUs), of which one fifth are destined for the Marine Corps.
Weighing some 20 kg, the TI/Martin design is the world's first manportable, fire-and-forget, top-attack missile. It also has an optional direct attack mode, for use against tanks not fitted with ERA. According to Col. Finley, range is "in the 2 000 metres bracket".
The CLU contains a 6X magnification day sight, an Imaging IR night sight with selectable wide field-of-view and 8X magnification narrow field, the fire-control electronics and the battery. All switches and the firing trigger are currently mounted on foldaway handles beneath the CLU, though Col. Finley says these are to be modified.
The missile in its expendable launch container is clipped onto the CLU for operation, and the seeker's long-wavelength, Imaging IR staring focal plane array (FPA) is then activated and quickly cooled. The FPA's 64x64 element mercury cadmium telluride detectors, operating in the 8-10 micron bandwidth, are said to provide excellent target discrimination and tracking by day or night, in moderately degraded weather, cold and smoke.
Once the seeker is switched on and cooled, the operator is presented with a video of its view in his sights. He then places a cursor box over the desired target to designate it, locks on, and fires.
The launch motor burns for 0.1 sec in the tube, ejecting the missile in "soft launch" free flight. At a safe distance of 3-3.5 metres, the smokeless flight motor ignites and the missile heads directly towards its target, guided by the seeker and on-board processor via thrust-vector controls.
Before reaching the target, the gimballed guidance system programmes a bunt in the trajectory, bringing the missile up above the target tank, and then down onto it in a diving top-attack. The advanced warhead is detonated by a contact fuze on impact.
The baseline AAWS-M warhead, by Physics International, is designed to knock out all current MBTs and the next generation Future Soviet Tank (FST-1). But a successor to it is already being developed by Conventional Munitions Systems (an MBB subsidiary) to defeat the two following generations of Soviet main battle tanks, FST-2 and FST-3.
The contract won by TI and Martin Marietta last 21 June included the first $80 million increment in what is expected to be a total $170 million FSED award. TI is primarily responsible for the seeker and CLU, and Martin for the warhead, guidance electronics, control section, airframe and propulsion system. According to Col. Finley, low-rate initial production will be split between them, 60% for Texas Instruments and 40% for Martin Marietta on the first lot (planned as 1214 missiles and 120 CLUs to be ordered in 1992), and 50/50 on the second lot (5010 missiles and 388 CLUs in 1993). The two companies will then compete against each other for the annual full-rate production contracts, starting in 1994.
A Texas Instruments spokesman told Armada International in Dallas that his company is working on a more optimistic total US requirement than the figures given by Col. Finley. He said that his firm anticipates US procurement of 73 545 missiles and 5 752 CLUs (presumably including Foreign Military Sales quantities for the Government), the first full-rate production contract being for 9 800 missiles and 702 CLUs. These would all be delivered by mid-1996. In the TI plan, the final batch of US AAWS-Ms, to be ordered in 1997, would be for 21116 missiles and 1440 CLUs.
TI and Martin estimate that if potential international requirements are included, the total AAWS-M programme value could be as much as $4 billion.
AAWS-H, Follow-on to TOW
Col. Finley is also Programme Manager for the Advanced Anti-tank Weapon System-Heavy (AAWS-H). This programme is intended to provide two stand-off, day/night, all-weather missile systems to replace the current Hughes TOW. * LOSAT Kinetic Energy Missile
The most urgent requirement is to replace the Army's M901 improved TOW Vehicle and its weapon system. Developed by Emerson in the early 1970s, the M901 mounts an elevating armoured launcher containing twin TOW tubes and periscopic sight head on an M113 APC. It is deployed alongside M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley IFVs in armoured and mechanized infantry units.
Apart from the M113 vehicle's relative lack of armour protection and mobility compared to the Abrams and Bradley, even the most recently deployed version of the TOW, the TOW2A, is considered to have shortcomings against new Soviet armour in the Line-Of-Sight Anti-Tank (LOSAT) role.
The Army has therefore placed its top priority for AAWS-M LOSAT on the development of a hypervelocity Kinetic Energy Missile (KEM) system by LTV.
Army and company officials are reticent about KEM details, perhaps partly because of a series of unsuccessful firings at ranges of 4-5 km last year. The failures were attributed to the very thick exhaust emitted by the high-thrust Hercules motor, which prevented the missiles from receiving laser guidance updates. Development is, however, continuing at high pressure.
The KEM system consists of a retractable quad launcher mounted in the troop compartment of a Bradley with its turret removed. On the armoured roof of the launcher is fitted a mini-turret containing a Texas Instruments FLIR target acquisition and tracking sight, together with the laser that provides guidance updates to keep the missile on the FLIR sightline.
The tube-launched missile is 2.85 metres long, has a diameter of 0.16 metres and weighs 77 kg. It has no warhead, fuze or target sensor, and its control mechanism has no moving parts. The KEM relies for a kill mechanism on a high-density rod penetrator in its forward section, which impacts at a shattering 1524 m/sec speed. The penetrator rams its way through any amount of ERA and laminated armour by sheer brute force.
Also in the forward section are the guidance processor and the firing circuit boards for the attitude control motors. The latter are derived from technology demonstrated by LTV in the highly successful FLAGE experiment of 1987, when a hyper-velocity missile manoeuvred to intercept an incoming Lance tactical ballistic missile at (3 700 metres) altitude.
The tiny attitude control motor cartridges are positioned in a radial array around the missile circumference. Firing of selected motor cartridges varies the angle of attack, giving a full 3-D manoeuvre capability.
On firing, the KEM exits the launch tube spinning. A simple roll reference sensor provides the vertical reference for firing the attitude control motors at the correct roll position. An after-looking sensor is fitted at the tail to receive guidance updates from the pulsed laser transmitter on the launcher.
Further details on the LOSAT KEM programme are currently classified. * LOSAT Hellfire
In case the KEM fails to complete development, or is severely delayed, the Army last year funded Emerson Electric to demonstrate its proposed Ground-Launched Hellfire-Heavy (GLH-H) system as a potential alternative LOSAT weapon.
The GLH-H system is essentially a Bradley turret module (including its 25 mm Bushmaster cannon), with eight Hellfire missiles mounted in two armoured quad launchers, one on each side. A Hughes G/VLLD laser designator is fitted in the turret, which is powered by uprated GE Aerospace electric drives to handle the extra weight. Each of the 7 km-range, supersonic Hellfires weighs some 46 kg.
The GLH-H is adaptable to M113, Bradley or Marine Corps LAV chassis. For the Army demonstration this year, it is being mounted on an M901 Improved TOW Vehicle (M113 variant).
In its initial configuration, the GLH-H uses the current laser-homing version of the Hellfire. Growth to a full fire-and-forget system is scheduled, however, by fitting the missile with either Imaging IR or millimetrewave seekers, both of which are in development for the Hellfire.
Also in development are an improved anti-armour warhead and a digital autopilot. Further developments to the missile by Rockwell are planned to include an extended range motor and boundary layer thrust-vector control. * AMS-H
The Army considers that the current BGM-71E TOW2A version of the existing Hughes missile will remain viable as a crew-served weapon until the mid-1990s. The so far low priority replacement programme, known as the Anti-tank Missile System-Heavy (AMS-H), is running at least 18 months behind AAWS-M.
Whereas the AAWS-M is a one-man platoon weapon, the AMS-H is intended to be deployed at company level with light, airborne, air-assault and mechanized infantry units on Bradley IFVs, Hummers, and potentially the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter. It is required to be compatible with existing TOW launchers, in order to take advantage of the 14 000 TOW launch platforms currently in the US Army inventory.
MICOM's Col. Finley told Armada International that the AMS-H is also to have a similar range to TOW (4 000-5 000 metres), and that it will use the new, second-generation FLIR sights to be developed for the TOW. These will extend the operator's optical target acquisition and tracking range out to maximum missile range, by day or night.
Unlike the TOW, however, the AMS-H is to be a fire-and-forget missile, with target lock-on before launch and automatic target tracking in the missile. To assess the technical feasibility and costs of meeting this requirement in a TOW-size missile, MICOM awarded preliminary contracts to Texas Instruments and Hughes in March 1989. Each contractor is to provide three seekers for ground-based trials in July this year, in order to demonstrate target acquisition, lock-on and the ability to maintain target tracking at ranges of over 4 000 metres.
If these seeker trials are successful, MICOM could exercise options in the present contracts to order six prototype missiles from each company for initial flight trials in 1991 or 1992.
Programme Manager Col. Finley stressed that he was talking about a direct-fire top-attack weapon for the AMS-H (i.e. similar to the AAWS-M), though he said "this does not mean that NLOS missile technology cannot be used". He added that, "If I had the money, I could go to full-scale development of AMS-H in 1991. AAWS-M will then be in flight test and the software will be wrapped up".
Texas Instrument's proposal for the AMS-H is, in fact, a bigger, longer-range version of the AAWS-M. Hughes is expected to propose a derivative of its TOW2B, possibly incorporating the Wireless Command Link it has already demonstrated, plus autotrack/auto-cue to allow simultaneous engagement of multiple targets.
Hughes produced its 500 000th wire-guided TOW in 1989, when the US Army finally decided it was time to qualify a second source for the missile and selected McDonnell Douglas.
The current version is the TOW2A, first deployed with US Army units in W. Europe in September 1987. Designed specifically to counter modern Soviet tanks fitted with ERA, it features a telescopic nose probe fitted with a precursor charge and updated guidance software in the launcher.
Three NATO countries have ordered the TOW2A, and others are expected to follow shortly.
Perhaps coincidentally, Hughes began development of the TOW2B in September 1987, to provide a top-attack variant capable of defeating FST-1. First deliveries to the US Army are scheduled in April 1991.
The TOW2B is designed to overfly its target, firing two Aerojet EFP charges separately downwards at it as it passes. The EFP warheads are triggered by an active laser proximity fuze supplied by Thorn EMI from Great Britain.
The US Army is currently canvassing prospective bidders for development of new FLIR night sights for the TOW. These will use second-generation, staring focal plane arrays that will allow the missile to be used to maximum range at night. Two contractors are expected to be selected in 1991 for development of the new sights, which will also be used with the AMS-H follow-on to TOW.
As we closed for press, first details of the US Army's new five-year budget plan were reported. Significantly, the plan includes cancellation of a number of existing anti-tank missile programmes at the end of their FY 1991 production runs, in order to concentrate more money on developing next-generation systems such as AMS-H. According to initial reports, the missile programmes to be terminated include the TOW.
The air-launched Rockwell Hellfire is also reported to be on the "hit-list" in the Army's new five-year plan. Just what this will mean for current and future users of the AH-64 Apache helicopter, on which the Hellfire is the primary weapon system, is not yet clear. AMS-H is not, at present, planned to have anything like the range or warhead power of the Rockwell missile, and is not currently intended to arm the hundreds of Apaches in US Army service.
If the decision to terminate the Hellfire programme is confirmed and the AMSH programme is not realigned, it could, conceivably, open up a considerably wider export market for the European fire-and-forget TRIGAT anti-tank missile. The heavy ATGW3-Long Range version of the TRIGAT is in development by the Euromissile Dynamics consortium for helicopter as well as vehicle launch. At 5 000 metres, the ATGW3's range will not be as great as the Hellfire's, but military trials are not scheduled until 1997, anyhow.
Perhaps even more seriously for the US Army, potential Hellfire termination also raises the question of what missile will arm its future LHX scout/attack helicopters. These, too, are currently planned to carry the Rockwell missile. A growth version of AMS-H could be one solution, but when would it be available?
The Hellfire is being produced by both Rockwell and Martin Marietta. In addition to the US Army's AH-64 Apaches, it is operational on the Army's OH-58D AHIP scout helicopters and the Marine Corps' AH-1J and AH-1W Super Cobras. An Israeli order for Hellfire-armed Apaches is imminent, and the Netherlands is reported to be close to a similar order. The missile system has also been fully tested on the UH-60, a version of which is expected to be ordered from Westlands for the British Army.
The British are also examining the Hellfire as a potential anti-tank weapon for their RAF Harrier V/STOL aircraft. Designated Brimstone, this version of the Hellfire would be a fire-and-forget weapon, fitted with a millimetre-wave seeker being developed by Marconi.
In the ground role, the Hellfire is already entering service in Sweden, where it is tripod-mounted for coastal defence and is known as the RBS-17. Produced by Bofors, the RBS-17 has a specially developed blast-fragmentation warhead for use against landing craft and other shipping. Norway is closely following the Swedish programme. In the United States, this version has been tested by the Navy from an LTV Crossbow launcher, with an Israeli El-Op designator, on an SES-200 surface effects ship and on a coastal patrol boat.
Last September, the US Marine Corps conducted tests from a palletized launcher on a Hummer, achieving eight hits out of nine firings. These tests included target designation by a remotely controlled robotic vehicle. Future ground tests will include the Emerson GLH-H, on an M113.
Both Rockwell and Martin Marietta are developing Imaging IR seekers for the Hellfire, but the key fire-and-forget development is the Longbow. This is intended to provide 227 of the US Army's Apaches (and 2 096 LHXs) with significantly increased target acquisition range, by day or night and in all weathers, together with an RF-homing millimetre-wave seeker for the Hellfire itself. Current plans call for a total of 10 500 autonomous seekers, use of which will significantly reduce the Apache's exposure time.
Being developed by Westinghouse and Martin Marietta under a $194.5 million contract awarded last August, the Longbow system consists of a mast-mounted millimetre-wave radar, an IBM radar frequency warning and direction-finder, an upgraded inertial navigation system, and a GPS receiver, all mounted on the helicopter. Combined with the new Hellfire seekrs, this will enable attack of tanks, trucks, SAM and AAA units (including emitting radars) and helicopter targets. Air-to-air Stinger missiles will also be fitted as part of the system.
The Army expects the Longbow to provide a tenfold increase in the combat effectiveness of the AH-64, and had been planning to decide on full-scale production in May this year. Whether the Army Chief-of-Staff's new five-year plan leads to termination of the Longbow remains to be seen.
FOG-M / NLOS
The Fiber-Optic Guided Non Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) missile system was fully described in the 1989 AUSA show report, published in the last issue of Armada International.
Since AUSA, the major event in the programme has been the cancellation of funding in the Defense Department's FY1991 budget request for development of the system to equip the Army's heavy divisions. This eliminates the 12-cell launchers which would have been mounted on tracked M993 MLRS carriers in the heavy formations.
It leaves system development essentially untouched, but realigns the programme entirely towards equipping the Army's light divisions. These will use six-cell launchers, mounted on AM General M1037 Hummer all-terrain wheeled vehicles that can be carried by Block 1 UH-60 Blackhawk and larger helicopters. The launchers are being developed by Emerson.
The full-scale development contract, awarded to Boeing and its prime sub-contractor Hughes in December 1988, called for a preliminary design review after nine months (i.e. last October), and a critical design review after 15 months. This is now imminent.
In addition, according to Boeing officials, the Army wants to be able to test company-produced hardware before this summer in order to support a potential decision to start three years of low-rate initial production later in the year. This decision may be put on ice under the new five-year plan. If the Army goes ahead, however, low-rate production will be concurrent with full-scale development, which is due to continue into 1992. Low-rate production is scheduled to provide 1500 missiles and several dozen fire units, sufficient to equip one unit down to platoon level.
Boeing and Hughes will set up dual production lines and conduct low-rate initial production on a 50/50 basis, before competing against each other for full-scale production contracts.
The MICOM-developed, hand-built FOG-M prototypes tested to date have a 10 km range, a fixed velocity of 100 m/sec, and a 4.5 kg thrust motor. Boeing officials told Armada International in Huntsville, Alabama that the NLOS system now in development, besides being fully producible to mil. specs., is required to have a range "substantially in excess of 10 km" (reportedly 30 km), a variable speed from the Williams International 45 kg thrust turbojet, and be fully compatible with operations in NBC and electronic warfare environments.
MLRS Terminal Guidance Warhead
According to one source, the US Army actually cancelled its continued participation in this multi-national NATO programme during its deliberations on the FY 1991 defence budget request. Faced with opposition from the allies, and the possibility that cancellation might lead to a complete breakdown in further trans-Atlantic cooperative programmes, however, the Army is said to have reversed the decision just before the budget request was handed to Congress.
If Armada's source is correct, it was a close call. Instead, the Army cancelled its funding request for the eight-nation NATO 155 mm Autonomous Precision-Guided Munition programme, which was at a very much earlier stage in its scheduled seven-year development. This leaves the "smart" shell field, at least in the United States, to the Martin Marietta Fire-and-Forget 155 mm projectile (see Armada International No. 6/1989, pages 62, 63 for details).
The US Army threat to the Terminal Guidance Warhead (TGW) for MLRS has not gone away, however. It remains on the "hit list" for termination in the service's five-year plan. Since the TGW programme has been held up as being one of the best examples of trans-Atlantic cooperation (despite its faults), we can therefore expect some fireworks from the European allies. The French, German and British armies all have formal requirements for the weapon.
The TGW is being developed for the 30 km-plus range MLRS by a four-nation industrial consortium called MDTT Inc. This groups Martin Marietta (US) with Diehl (FRG), Thomson-CSF (France) and Thorn EMI (UK).
The new 111 kg warhead carries three Terminally Guided Sub-Munitions, or TGSMs, which use autonomous millimetre-wave seekers.
Each TGSM is 914 mm long, 110 mm in diameter (wings folded), and weights 18 kg. The mid-section lamella wings snap out after ejection from the carrier rocket, together with the tail control surfaces.
Prior to launch, the TGW and its unpowered TGSMs are programmed for altitude ejection, glide path, radar search and terminal trajectory. The TGSMs are ejected by gas bags from the warhead on the MLRS carrier rocket at altitude, before gliding down into the target area, where they search out and lock on the dispersed enemy tanks, then dive onto them.
A single MLRS launcher, firing all 12 of its rockets in a ripple, can thus theoretically destroy up to 36 enemy tanks at once.
All subsystems met or exceeded performance specifications during component demonstration tests that ended early in 1989. The most critical of these focused on the performance of the millimetre-wave seeker and the shaped-charge warhead.
A three-year system demonstration phase began in July 1989. This will end in mid-1992 with MLRS TGW firings in June and 12 TGSM dispense tests in July. It will be followed by 29 months of full-scale development, which is scheduled to start in October 1992.
Low-rate initial production is scheduled to begin in early 1995. This will build up to full-rate production over a three-year period, with the first operational TGWs reaching army units in 1996.
Army TACMS Block II Warhead
The 200 km-range conventional Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS (also described in our last issue, pages 58-60) is being developed by LTV initially to carry a Block I warhead containing 1000 dual-purpose M74 anti-personnel/anti-materiel bomblets. The first missiles with Block I warheads should be fielded late this summer.
The follow-on Block II warhead, however, is being specifically designed to interdict second-echelon armoured units, preventing them from reaching the battlefield. It has a blunter heat shield than the Block I weapon in order to accommodate a sufficient number of anti-tank sub-munitions.
The sub-munitions have not been selected, although a total of 26 development test launches had been conducted by the end of 1989 with a representative Block II warhead on ATACMS. These flight tests exceeded all specifications by substantial margins. The Block II design has a 30% heavier payload than the Block I version, 10% more range and proved to be 4-5 times more accurate than the US Army's requirement.
There are four candidate sub-munitions for the Block II warhead: the millimetre-wave TGSM being developed for the MLRS (this is preferred by the Europeans); two competing Imaging IR TGSMs by General Dynamics Valley Systems and Raytheon; and an undisclosed sub-munition believed to be the new Wide-area Anti-armor Mine (WAM). It may, however, be a Fuel-Air Explosive (FAE) weapon.
In mid-1989, the US Army awarded Raytheon a $20 million, two-year contract to demonstrate the proof-of-principle of its proposed IRTGSM, including extensive tests of the seeker and lethal mechanisms.
Martin Marietta is working with Raytheon under a $7.8 million sub-contract, drawing on its experience in the Assault Breaker technology demonstration programme that led to the ATACMS. The Army contract awarded to Raytheon calls for 26 sub-munitions, of which 18 are expected to come from Martin. First flight will be sometime this summer.
General Dynamics Valley Systems, which produced considerable numbers of IRTGSMs for the Assault Breaker, was awarded a similar proof-of-principle contract last August, valued at $19 million. In parallel, LTV was awarded a contract to integrate the two competing IRTGSM designs into the Block II warhead. This can accommodate 30 small (11.3 kg) IRTGSMs, or 18 of the larger (18.1 kg) MLRS sub-munitions.
Italy and France signed letters of intent to participate in ATACMS co-production several years ago, and the United Kingdom and Turkey are understood to be close to similar agreements. The German Army has delayed looking at the ATACMS until the future of the nuclear Follow-On To Lance (FOTL) is decided. France is said to have a potential requirement for more than 100 ATACMS missiles, which would involve the deployment of a further regiment of MLRS vehicles to carry and launch them.
In US service, the ATACMS will rely for targeting information on the Grumman/Norden JSTARS radar, to be carried on Boeing E-8A (modified B707) aircraft. When this comes on stream, probably in 1991, it will down-link target data to ground stations in West Germany and France, which will relay the information to the launchers.
The German Army ATACMS would rely on fire-control data from the Bundeswehr's CL289 drone and LAPAS, the French would use the heliborne Orchidee radar, and the British would obtain the necessary targeting information from their Phoenix and Astor RPVs.
LTV has held extensive discussions on ATACMS with French industry, with RTG and Dornier in West Germany, and with British Aerospace, Royal Ordnance, Hunting and Marconi in Great Britain.
PHOTO : Rockwell's Ground-Launched Hellfire was successfully tested by the US Marine Corps last
PHOTO : September, with eight hits out of nine firings from a palletized launcher on an AM
PHOTO : General Hummer.
PHOTO : Boeing/Hughes' fiber-optic Non Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) missile has a reported range of up to
PHOTO : 30 km against both helicopters and tanks.
PHOTO : The Air Defence/Anti-Tank (ADATS) system, by Oerlikon/Martin Marietta, has just completed
PHOTO : highly successful US troop trials, including six hits in six firings against high-speed
PHOTO : manoeuvring fixed-wing targets, and hovering helicopters more than 8 km away. DARPA is now
PHOTO : developing an improved anti-tank warhead for the supersonic missile.
PHOTO : The Texas Instruments/Martin Marietta AAWS-M will provide infantry platoons with a
PHOTO : fire-and-forget, top attack anti-tank missile of 2000 m range, capable of operating by
PHOTO : day or night.
PHOTO : AAWS-M weighs about 20 kg and is carried and operated by one man. At least 5000
PHOTO : launchers and 50 000 missiles are to be ordered by the US Army and Marine Corps, for
PHOTO : delivery from 1995 onwards.
PHOTO : LTV's 1524 m/sec LOSAT Kinetic Energy Missile system is designed to defeat all explosive
PHOTO : reactive and laminated armour with its high-density penetrator.
PHOTO : The 77 kg Kinetic Energy Missile is 2.85 metres long and has a diameter of 0.16 metres.
PHOTO : Its penetrator, guidance processor and attitude control motors are all in the forward
PHOTO : section, ahead of the high-thrust Hercules motor.
PHOTO : Texas Instruments artist's impression of AMS-H, the intended TOW successor.
PHOTO : The Army has funded trials of Emerson's Ground-Launched Hellfire-Heavy (GLH-H), as a
PHOTO : safety net LOSAT in case Kinetic Energy Missile development in severely delayed or fails.
PHOTO : Texas Instruments is proposing a larger, longer range version of AAWS-M for the AMS-H.
PHOTO : Hughes may propose an AMS-H design derived from its overflight, top attack TOW2B, now in
PHOTO : development, but using a wireless command link. Hughes is currently funded to demonstrate
PHOTO : three AMS-H seekers in July 1990 from TI.
PHOTO : The US Army has been planning to arm all 2 096 of its future LHX scout/attack helicopters
PHOTO : with fire-and-forget Longbow versions of Hellfire. The Hellfire programme is now
PHOTO : threatened with termination, however. Shown here is the McDonnell Douglas/Bell LHX design,
PHOTO : competing against a Hughes/Sikorsky development.
PHOTO : Flight trials of a Westinghouse/Martin Marietta Longbow radar on an AH-64 Apache. The
PHOTO : mast-mounted MMW radar detects targets at maximum range, by day or night, and hands them
PHOTO : off to fire-and-forget Hellfires fitted with MMW seekers.
PHOTO : The Boeing/Hughes NLOS missile is powered by a 46 kg thrust Williams International
PHOTO : turbojet providing variable speed.
PHOTO : The NLOS programme has now been realigned to concentrate on systems for the Army's Light
PHOTO : Divisions. These will use six-cell launchers mounted on Hummers.
PHOTO : The MLRS TGSM is being developed by MDTT Inc., a consortium formed by Martin Marietta,
PHOTO : Diehl, Thomson-CSF and Thorn EMI.
PHOTO : Martin Marietta's Fire-and-Forget 155 mm projectile is a shortened version of the
PHOTO : laser-homing Copperhead, fitted with a dual-mode laser/IIR seeker.
PHOTO : The four-nation Terminal Guidance Warhead for the LTV Multiple Launch Rocket System will
PHOTO : fit each rocket with three anti-tank Terminally Guided Sub-Munitions, using m
PHOTO : millimetre-wave seekers.
PHOTO : Raytheon's proposed IRTGSM for ATACMS features an Imaging IR seeker and a tandem warhead.
PHOTO : First flight should be in June this year.
PHOTO : GD Valley Systems' IRTGSM for ATACMS is based on the considerable numbers it produced for
PHOTO : the Assault Breaker technology demonstrator.
PHOTO : LTV's ATACMS should be fielded this summer with a Block I warhead. The Block II warhead,
PHOTO : with blunter heat-shield, will contain either 30 IR-homing TGSMS or 18 of the larger
PHOTO : millimetre-wave-homing TGSMs being developed for the MLRS.
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|Author:||Furlong, Robert D.M.|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1990|
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