Sunday, November 1, 2015

Beyond Harpoon and Storm Shadow (and Tomahawk too...?)



SDSR 2015 – Issues, analysis and recommendations going towards the review

Budget


Army 


Royal Air Force 
Royal Navy 
Beyond Harpoon and Storm Shadow (and Tomahawk too...?)








The Tomahawk problem

Not everyone has taken notice of the fact that Tomahawk was / is about to go out of production. The 2016 US Navy Budget request had a ZERO at the voice “Tomahawk”, with no new rounds to be procured. Eventually, Congress stepped in and
added funding for a new TLAM purchase to keep the production line open a bit longer.
However, the expanded defence budget crafted by Congress goes well above the amount of money that the Obama administration wants to spend, and the president has vetoed it.
Eventually, days ago a bipartisan agreement on spending limits for the next two financial years has been reached, meaning that the worst scenario will be avoided… but also meaning that the 2016 defence budget is going back to the table for corrections meant to shave 5 billion dollars off the list. The unrequested TLAM production might or might not survive the re-examination of the budget document.

TLAM might soon be out of production, and this consideration might have helped the Royal Navy in getting some funding to procure "additional Tomahawks", as mentioned in passing in the 10 Year Equipment Plan, 2015 edition. 65 TLAM rounds were requested in July 2014 and authorized by the US government, but there is news of only 20 having been effectively purchased, in september the same year.
If production ends, the Royal Navy will then have to depend on its stock, which is unfortunately pretty limited (it once consisted of 65 missiles, might be a few more now) and all composed of encapsulated missiles meant for submarine, torpedo-tube launch.
No Vertical Launch rounds in stock mean that, if production closes, the TLAM will NOT be an option for Type 26, unless the RN is able to convince the US Navy to sell some of its stock (far larger, numbering possibly up to 4000 rounds).

A major US (and UK participated) upgrade and refurbishment programme for TLAM is indeed about to start, but production of new rounds might be over soon. It will be, unless plans change in the next 2 financial years or so.
Under the current US Navy planning, recertification of existing TLAM rounds (and technology insertion) begins in 2019, using already existing TLAM stocks, with no new acquisitions.

Meanwhile, the Tomahawk successor, the Next Generation Land Attack Weapon (NGLAW) received a first 5 million funding line in 2015 with this motivation: 


Funding is provided for a Next Generation Land Attack Weapon (NGLAW), a weapons system that is long range, survivable and can be launched from multiple surface and submarine platforms. NGLAW will incorporate evaluated existing and emergent technologies to support an improved strike capability with an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) no later than 2024.

This effort will enter the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) phase of the acquisition cycle in FY15. Upon completion, the Department of the Navy will assess the results of the AoA and make a determination on a preferred material approach, the phase of the acquisition cycle the program will enter, and when the NGLAW weapon will achieve IOC.


"Amusingly" enough, by the time the Royal Navy chooses what to do with the MK41 on Type 26, the TLAM production line might be closed already, making Tomahawk actually a non viable solution.

There is the possibility that Congress will impede the US Navy’s attempt to terminate Tomahawk purchases exactly as it impedes the USAF from grounding the A-10 fleet. But it might also not happen. 
There is the possibility that TLAM will evolve and change face to become NGLAW and succeed to itself with a new, advanced variant and with production restarting within a few years. But it might also not happen.

The Royal Navy is involved in the Tomahawk enterprise and in the recertification and upgrade programme, but is unlikely to have much of a say in what happens with US Navy purchases and successor plans.
The Royal Navy itself could keep the TLAM production line open for an additional year if it purchased a significant number of rounds (above 100), either in the submarine variant or VL variant, or both. But this will require quick thinking and available money.
If indecision continues to win the day, the Royal Navy risks to fall in the gap between the end of TLAM production and the start of the production of the new US land attack missile, whatever it ends up being.


A sizeable extension to the Royal Navy’s stock of Tomahawk missiles is arguably a strategic priority regardless of the Type 26’s armament decision. In fact, the TLAM is going to be in use for at least 15 more years after the recertification. But while the US Navy can live off a vast stock, consuming it over time and filling the holes with the new Land Attack weapon when it enters in production, the Royal Navy can’t live long on the current stock. 60 – 100 missiles can be fired very, very quickly if a major operation, or several small ones, take place in the next few years.
Basic prudence suggests that a significant expansion of the stock is indispensable to make sure that the RN doesn’t run out of one of its most important and most often used weapons years before a replacement is available.

A decision will also be needed for shaping the post-Tomahawk era.



Tomahawk developments

One major capability development for TLAM Is the cooperatively funded US Navy/United Kingdom Joint Multi-Effects Warhead System (JMEWS) / Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD). The JMEWS introduces much greater capability against Hard and Buried targets, while retaining the same blast-fragmentation effects already available. This new multi-effect warhead, first demonstrated in 2010 with perforation of a target protected by reinforced concrete, would greatly expand the range of targets that TLAM can effectively destroy.

Other enhancements in development include multiple or multi-band antennas, an integrated single box solution radio and Third-Party In-Flight Targeting (3PT). These changes enable the Tomahawk to fly attack profiles that increase its chances of surviving against complex air defence systems; allow the missile to send imagery back to base and permit the missile to loiter and be re-targeted in flight.
Experiments stateside have included TLAM retargeting from an F-22 Raptor in flight, providing a glimpse of the possibilities that would be opened by F-35s working with TLAMs as “wingmen”.
JMEWS and these enhancements are almost certainly going to be part of TLAM’s future, ensuring it remains relevant for another 15 years after 2019.

Separately, Raytheon is continuing to work on the Multi Mission Tomahawk concept, which introduces an active radar seeker (in addition to the existing guidance system) to enable much expanded moving target (and anti-ship) capability. The RF seeker is another element that could be included in the 2019 refurbishment and recertification programme. Raytheon hopes to win the US Navy’s interest (and funding), and is effectively pitching the Tomahawk MMT against LRASM and JSM for the US Navy’s Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment 2 requirement. Lockheed Martin's LRASM for now has only been selected for OASuW Increment 1, which is an urgent programme for adding improved, modern anti-ship capability on U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers.

Increment 2 will address the requirements for an advanced, autonomous, anti-ship missile capable of being launched from the air, surface and sub-surface, and the solution for the requirement has yet to be selected.



The Future Cruise & Anti-Ship Weapon

The FCASW has been on the list of potential joint UK-FR projects since the Lancaster House agreement. It is a programme name that has been around for a while, but that has made virtually no progress since. Its long-term aim is to replace Harpoon, Exocet and Storm Shadow / Scalp.  

Replacing Tomahawk and Scalp Navale is going to be more a problem, because of the strike range: the 2000 + kilometers range of TLAM is what makes it truly a strategic weapon, and any downgrade to that reach reduces the number of targets that can be reached far inland from launch zones out at sea. FCASW might or might not attempt to generate the same kind of strike radius: it will most likely depend on early decisions that hinge on how to sustain and then replace the TLAM capability. If the UK decides to follow the US efforts in that area, then Tomahawk replacement will not figure among FCASW requirements.

Jane's is reporting that there should be a first phase of joint concept studies starting next year, and a technology demonstrator in 2019 if we are lucky. Assuming that the british SDSR goes the go ahead and confirms the funding, things should start moving.

When FCASW is mentioned, the temptation is to think of the MBDA Perseus concept weapon, but while the Perseus is pretty likely to be considered as part of the exercise, the concept coming out of the study could actually end up being much, much different.
The CvS401 Perseus was MBDA’s Concept Weapon for the year 2011, and it clearly was inspired by the FCASW requirement: it was presented as a cruise missile capable of extremely high speed (up to Mach 3) and a range of 250 – 300 km. It was shown with a “triple” warhead consisting of a main explosive charge (around 200 kg) within the missile and two small (40 – 50 kg) inertial-guided, droppable “effectors” that could be used to strike a ship in multiple places with the same weapon; to hit multiple targets in the same area or simply to act as a large unitary warhead when necessary.
The missile would be able to cruise and attack from high altitude or to sea skim for maximum effect against enemy warships, and it would come with a multi-sensor seeker combining AESA radar, LIDAR and semi-active laser guidance.
It would be a multi-platform weapon, compatible with ships (MK41 and Sylver A70); submarines (standard 533mm torpedo tubes); aircraft and land-based launchers. 
The Perseus was clearly aimed at the UK-Fr requirement, but it remains a concept which has not left the CGIs yet, and calling the Future Cruise and Anti Ship Missile "Perseus" and expecting it to have the same kind of characteristics is a wild guess. Perseus promises a lot from an 800 kg weapon, and it looks like a complex and expensive system. Some of its features might not be part of the actual weapon emerging from the joint programme (assuming it does eventually emerge).
Perseus’s 300 km range also makes it way too short legged to ever be considered a fitting replacement of Tomahawk and Scalp Navale. 

Perseus shown while ejecting its two sub-munitions.

The FCASW concept phase will have to answer to a number of questions about range, warhead, seeker and intended strategy for penetrating inside highly defended bubbles of airspace. The Mach 3 speed of Perseus is particularly suited for anti-ship attack, as a sea-skimming, highly supersonic weapon leaves the targeted ship with a tiny timeframe available for attempting to shoot down or decoy the missile off target.
On the other hand, a high supersonic missile inexorably loses out part of its stealthness, as speed means heat (and higher IR signature) and also requires an optimization of the aerodynamics design that precludes obtaining the lowest radar cross section.
More speed and less stealth, or the other way around? LRASM settled for stealthness. FCASW might go in another direction.
But if speed is chosen, Mach 3 might be a rather modest target: while in the West supersonic anti-ship missiles haven’t had much space so far, in Russia and in Asia several supersonic weapons already exist. The Mach 3 Russia-India BramHos missile is already operational, and research is already moving on towards the hypersonic real, with speeds of Mach 5 and higher.
FCASW would risk to achieve high supersonic speed when the rest of the world achieves hypersonic speed, perpetuating the missile disadvantage.  

Another problem with Perseus /FCASW is that the date being suggested for ISD back in 2011 was 2030.
2030 might be acceptable for the RAF and Armee de l’Air and even for the Marine Nationale, since the first two can life-extend Storm Shadow / Scalp and the second is just now putting into service the latest block evolution of the Exocet and the new Scalp Navale cruise missile.
The Royal Navy has more urgent needs, considering that it still uses the ancient Harpoon Block 1C (with a 2018 OSD and an uncertain future); is faced by the possibility that TLAM production will end within two years and is planning to put in service a new frigate type beginning in 2022 that comes with 24 MK41 cells but not with a clear plan to achieve an anti-ship and land attack capability.

The urgent needs of the navy and the uncertainties of UK-Fr cooperation (Telemos is still fresh in the memory) bring forth painful questions about what to do. The FCASW concept of a single weapon able to do it all is fascinating and comes with the plus of keeping british industrial capabilities alive.
On the other hand, the US solution to both the Tomahawk and anti-ship problems will likely be ready earlier and, due to the large US purchases, might come cheaper and with a production line open for many years.

Two programmes might be needed: a collaboration with the US on the post-Tomahawk; and the FCASW for the post-Harpoon and post-Storm Shadow.



The Harpoon problem

Aside from money, one problem with replacing Harpoon is the different design philosophies followed by the vessels of the fleet. The Type 23 cannot be equipped with a vertical-launch anti-ship missile, but is not going to be completely out of service before 2036.

The Type 45 could move on from Harpoon to a VL system, but only if the space reservation was used and two MK41 Strike Length modules (with a total of 16 cells) were slotted in. This might at some point happen when Ballistic Missile Defense becomes not a “nice to have” but a “must have”. As detailed in the previous article, the Royal Navy has already been putting work into BMD software for the Type 45 and has also funded a study into the addition of the MK41 modules and the integration of the SM-3 anti-ballistic missile.
In the meanwhile, four of the Type 45s are (slowly) being retrofitted with Harpoon, using the launchers and missiles taken from the decommissioned Type 22 Batch 3 ships. As of today, HMS Duncan and HMS Diamond have received their fit.
It is possible, but not certain) that all six Type 45s will receive the computers and wiring back-end that make Harpoon work, allowing the rapid transfer of the launcher blocks from one to the other.

The incoming Type 26, on the other hand, does not seem to have provisions to ever embark a missile unless it is vertically launched from the 24 MK41 cells. 
Today, there are many western anti-ship missiles that are fired from above-deck tubes, but there is very little choice in terms of vertical launch ASMs. This is going to change, at least in part, due to the renewed US Navy interest for anti-ship missiles.
The US LRASM is thus taking shape, and Norway intends to have a go at the US opportunity by developing its Joint Strike Missile for vertical and torpedo tube launch. The JSM will also be integrated for internal and external carriage on the F-35A and, if selected by the US Navy, could go on the F-35C as well. On the F-35B, internal carriage is not possible as the bays are 14 inches shorter, but external carry is an option. The FCASW will also be required to be compatible with vertical launch.

It is reasonable to assume that over the next decade or so, the availability of VL missiles will increase, while over-deck tubes will fall progressively out of fashion.
The problem, however, remains: it is hard to imagine the Royal Navy funding two anti-ship missiles at once (it is already hard enough to see it finding the money for one), so the option is arming the Type 26 and disarming Type 23s and, at least for a while, the 45s; or leaving the Type 26 itself without an anti-ship missile.

Given the obsolescence of the Harpoon and its single-mission nature, it would seem logic to procure a more capable and dual-role missile for use on the Type 26 and, subsequently, Type 45, even if it means accepting the loss of ASMs on the Type 23 while they have still more than a decade of service ahead of them.

But if FCASW continues to aim for the distant 2030, the Royal Navy will have to consider a big Harpoon life-extension, or an interim ASM solution with an off-the-shelf missile, or deal with well over a decade of nothing.



Storm Shadow Mid Life Upgrade

France has confirmed in its Financial Law for 2016 that the defence budget will include money to start the Scalp mid life upgrade. Originally, this was to be another joint programme, with the RAF interested in life-extending its Storm Shadow missiles, close “relatives” of the French Scalp. It is possible to find news of joint studies and technology developments dating back to 2004 if not earlier. Finally, for France at least, the actual upgrade might be about to start.
Requirements and aspirations voiced in the past years included a two-way data link for in-flight retargeting and a different seeker. At one point, the DUMAS (Dual Mode Active IR and Imaging IR Seeker), result of a joint UK – FR technology demonstration programme, was expected to be part of the MLU. DUMAS combined an active infrared scanning laser and a passive infrared detector which, used in conjunction with sophisticated algorithms, provided detection, imaging and accurate identification. 


No information is coming out from the MOD at the moment, but it is pretty likely that the RAF will still want to exploit the chance to share the costs involved in life-extending Storm Shadow. 
Despite writing off more than 200 million in Storm Shadow holdings after the 2010 review, reportedly. Which might mean having reduced the stock by 200 missiles or so... 

28 comments:

  1. It seems that it is still the plan for the storm shadow mid life refurbishment to start around 2017, so certainly seems that the timing allows it to be a joint project with France.

    http://www.contracts.mod.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/SellingtoMOD_Ed22.pdf

    Although the text in that document related to the mid life refurbishment is exactly the same as it was in the 2012 edition, We know the concept phase already started and that is sharing information with France.

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  2. It's quite obvious that the solution to the RN's ASM problem is to fit the Mk.41 cells to the T45s in the short-term and commit to whatever missile the USN decides to buy. Before the USN decides what it wants the RN can focus on getting SM-3 integrated. The ideal end goal would be a mix of 8 SM-3 and 8 Harpoon replacements. The T45 lacks land attack at the moment so I can't see the pressing need to give it this capability, leave that to SSNs now and T26, when they eventually come along. In the interim before T26 run the T23s Harpoons until they're junk then ditch them and use the Mk.41 equipped T45s to cover any capability gaps.
    It seems such a nonsense that a platform as capable as T45 is still being starved of a relatively cheap upgrade which would massively boost it's utility and prepare the RN for a much larger deployment of the Mk.41 system on the T26, with the potential to de-risk that programme even more.

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  3. Surely the SPEAR 4 upgrade for Storm Shadow can answer all of the UK's requirements for anti-shipping and long-range land attack?

    Start by adapting the new engine, active radar and infrared homing already developed for the MdCN and putting it into an air launched stealth body to give a 1,000 kilometre+ missile to be operated by the MPA, F-35B and Typhoon for the land attack role. Then add whatever software is necessary to adapt for an anti-shipping role.

    Similarly adapt the MdCN for anti-shipping and operation from a Mark 41 launcher and/or submarine.

    Thus, you end up with one missile to hit both static and slowish moving targets at up to 1,000 kilometres distance with three variants - air, ship and submarine launched.

    Keep TLAM up-to-date through a joint programme with the US but use just for the longest range actions against static targets.

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    1. That is, really, asking for a completely new missile, in reality.

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    2. Yes I suppose it is but as the French have already done 75% of the work in getting from Storm Shadow/SCALP to MdCN a joint development between both nations for the rest shouldn't be too expensive?

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    3. The MdCN is a Tomahawk with less range, and with far less commonality with Storm/Scalp than the name suggests. The work necessary would still be very significant. But, depending on what comes out of the concept studies for the FCASW, MdCN components might figure as part of the project.

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    4. Why not put the Exocet MM40 Block 3 guidance and navigation into the MdCN and you've got a 1,000 kilometre range anti-shipping missile that can be launched from ships or submarines.

      Then all you have to do is make an air launched version!

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  4. While lacks range in comparison to Tomahawk, MdCN airframe is somewhat stealth, which offers some advantage for a sub-sonic ASuW missile. As far as ASuW warfare is concerned, longer range isn't necessary useful unless your targeting/tracking system can keep up. LRASM is based off JASSM-ER, more "stealthy" than any other weapons in its class according to its manufacturer. Even with additional guidance and navigation payload, LRASM's published spec states an operational range exceeds 400 km. In reality, it probably can strike target up to 600 km away. MdCN/Storm Shadow is slightly larger than JASSM-ER, I can't imagine anything close to 1000 km isn't technologically feasible.

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  5. According to Pentagon FY16 budget document, US Navy has merged its Next Gen Land Attack requirement with OASuW Inc2 program into a single program now being referred as Next Gen Strike Capability. It calls for a dual purpose long range missile that can be launched from ship borne VLS cells.
    Approximately 110 LRSM rounds have been selected for OASuW I, which is an interim solution limited to air launched platforms. US Navy fully anticipates open competition for the much larger follow-on OASuW II program, in which both LRASM and Tomahawk are likely competing candidates. Additionally US Navy also has a requirement for a smaller OTH missile to be installed on its future frigate fleets. Just days ago, they already announced to accelerate OTH missile deployment on existing LCS ships during FY 2017. One class of LCS will have Kongsberg NSM installed while the opposing class gets Harpoon Block II. Keep in mind that US Navy also has a separate requirement for an air launched standoff missile to be carried inside F-35 internal weapon bay. Two likely candidates already emerged: NSM derived JSM offered by Kongsberg/Raytheon and SOM-J offered by Turkey's Rocketstan with Lockheed Martin as its partner. So far, only Norway and Australia have settled on JSM for their respective F-35s. The competition is far from over.

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    1. Adding to the above comments, personally I prefer Tomahawk ASuW to be chosen as the Next Gen Strike/OASuW Inc2. Anti-ship functionality can be added on to the existing TLAM inventory when re-certification process commences in FY 2019. Hopefully, this renewed effort will keep Tomahawk production line open for a few more years so our valuable allies such as Royal Navy can take full advantage of it. Besides ASuW seeker, Tomahawk line refresh also includes an enhanced perpetrator warhead called JMEWS, a substantial lethality improvement over LRASM's WDU-42 warhead
      I would also love to see Royal Navy purchases some ASROC from us, especially the new standoff VLA-ER variant. Launching from Mk41 VLS cell, it can travel over 100 km before the torpedo warhead enters water line, safely operating outside enemy subs.With Anti-air CAMM, land attack/ASuW dual role Tomahawk, and ASW VLA-ER (with UK Sting Ray torpedo integrated), Type 26 becomes a truly powerful multimission surface combatant.

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    2. Couple of comments on the above -
      1. Is "dual role Tomahawk" credible as an antishipping missile
      2. How much would it cost to integrate Stingray with ASROC (and is it even possible)?

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    3. The way i understand it, Next Generation Strike Capability is a "container" programme, sort of like "Complex Weapons" for the UK. It does not signal (at least not yet) an attempt to combine NGLA and OASuW Increment 2 into a single missile. It is a possibility, but it seems technically unlikely. Two missiles with commonality in some areas seem a more realistic outcome.
      The move of NGLA was planned: up to 2015 it was included under the Tomahawk system programme. The new arrangement makes more sense.

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  6. If we need a stop gap to keep the RN going while a new long-range all purpose ASuW missile is developed then Boeing are happy to update our Harpoons and double their range. See http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/who-will-supply-the-us-navys-next-anti-ship-missile/

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  7. Gabriele - as ever an interesting and insightful article which once again highlights the level of disfunction that appears to existing within the Forces and MOD. A couple of key questions for me are -
    1. In the anti-shipping role, is supersonic / hypersonic speed seen as the "key" for future credibility here?
    2. Is anyone else seeking to combine above speed and 1000km+ range for land attack purposes into one package? Is it even possible for a reasonable amount of money
    3. Is the requirement for air-launching vital here?
    This final point is intriguing to me - a very significant amount of money was spent on 900 Storm Shadows for the RAF and yet Tomahawk has proved to have far more utility as demonstrated in the huge effort to "include" the use of Storm Shadow in the Libya campaign and the recent write-off of hundreds of rounds.
    I would personally be suggesting that we should we be thinking about retirement without replacement for this capability and focusing all of our efforts on a long range sea launched system (or systems if we simply can't combine them) useable from our future 19ish DDG/FFGs and 7 SSNs

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    1. Regarding speed: yes and no. The US Navy's LRASM, as i said, is subsonic, and the OASuW Increment 2 contenders are all subsonic as well.
      However, in the longer term, the US is seeking hypersonic speeds as a way to defeat defence systems.

      Elsewhere, speed is already seen as key. Russian anti-ship missiles have long depended on that, and we should be thankful there wasn't a Cold War version of the battle of the Atlantic to find out how devastating they would prove to be. What a bunch of subsonic Exocets caused at the Falklands suggests that the kind of supersonic, multi-missile barrage the URSS could have fired would have been simply devastating.

      Hypersonic speed research is alive and well. A mach 5 or even mach 7 version of Bramhos is planned. But Bramhos is a 300 km or less system.
      1000+ km AND hypersonic speed is a target for the future. No idea how long or short it might take. China is working hard on it, too.

      In general, if FCASW still aims for the 2030s, one would expect it to try and enter into new areas...

      Air launched cruise missiles have a role. And Storm Shadow is useful. But: as Tomahawk itself becomes able to deal with hard and buried targets (which are Storm Shadow's favorite target), TLAM will gain an even greater advantage.
      I think everyone will agree that purchasing less Storm Shadow in favor of a larger TLAM stock would have been a smarter approach, rather than going for a 950 to 65 RAF lead which operational experience has proven simply absurd.

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    2. Thank you for your replay Gabriele - much appreciated.
      On your point around air launched cruise missiles having a role- I completely agree with that but with the big caveat that, with limited resources overall and a big investment in theoretical cruise missile launching capabilities in the Navy (26 platforms) would it not make more sense to focus the RAF on short and medium range (ie up to Spear 3) and say that the Navy will pick up the rest?

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  8. ASROC concept is simple. A rocket booster with torpedo mounted on top. Stingray weight size dimension are near identical to American made Mk54 LWT. Cost and/or technical challenges relating to integration effort are not that big a deal. As for extended range VLA-ER variant, the extra range comes from a glide wing strapped onto the back of torpedo. Again, the wing kit itself is modular design and therefore can be adopted on any similar style light weight torpedo, with extra cost attached of course.

    There are countless debates regarding supersonic vs sub-sonic ASuW missile effectiveness. I just don’t see cost/benefit justification calling for a supersonic missile with significant reduced range and dedicated to anti-ship warfare. Also isn’t supersonic speed negates the stealth characteristic of a sub-sonic missile? The US originally developed two approaches for LRASM. One of them is a ramjet based supersonic booster and it was rejected for technical and cost risks. Hypersonic missile is a different story though. You are talking about a whole new level of capability.

    Lastly, I also agree with the gentleman's comments above questioning the utility of air launched high end weaponry or lack of it for RAF. You need bomber that can carry multiple loads of long range cruise missiles to be truly effective. A single shot fired from tactical aircraft just doesn’t cut it. In the realm of long range strike, sea based platform is far more superior. Is it possible for the last two boats in the Astute class to delay construction for a while so they can be integrated with Virginia payload module? Given the reality of UK military facing constant budgetary pressure during these challenge time. It be wise to go for off the shelf solutions as much as possible.

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  9. Supersonic versus subsonic debate somewhat is analogous to ballistic missile versus cruise missile. One is faster more powerful but highly visible to the defense system, the other one is slower but more maneuverable and offers low signature that's hard to detect. The western style of warfare seems to prefer the later option.

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  10. I think there is not reason for RN to hurry.

    The 1st T26 will come at 2022 followed by the 2nd in 2023. It is not surprising if these initial ship come WITHOUT any land attack missile, since the T23s they are replacing do not have any. You loose NOTHING there.

    You are NOT losing SSM, actually.

    Luckily (actually unfortunately), there are 2 T45s left without any SSMs. The harpoons on the 1st and 2nd decommissioned T23s can be transferred to these T45s. No reduction in number of escorts with SSMs.

    In this way, you can wait till 2020 or so to decide which way to go. In other words, you can wait for US decision.

    Personally, I prefer
    1: TLAM successor for T26s
    2: Canister-based SSM (JSM, NSM, next-Gen-Harpoon) for T45s and remaining T23s
    Either (maybe not both) could be integrated with F35B and typhoons.

    cheers

    Donald of Tokyo

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    1. addtional comments: One thing RN need to do is to modify their harpoons to "save the day".

      Donald of Tokyo

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  11. Have the UK tomahawks got the same range as U.S. Ones the first batch where limited to 1000 km and I think jsm is a good option vl ,canister , submarine and air fired options with land attack and anti ship could we get involved in its development?

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  12. Well I would have strongly put my money on LRASM until this ;

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-complex-weapons-agreement-with-france-as-uk-and-french-relations-deepen

    We are signing with the French for a cruise missile. Are we just talking about Storm Shadow upgrade.

    We would all love to think it Perseus, possibly SPEAR 3 qualifies as a “cruise missile “ ?

    What do you think ?

    Ben

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    1. SPEAR 3 is not quite a cruise missile, but aims for Stand-Off range. Though its warhead and seeker are thought for tactical targets, not for the kind of work Storm Shadow does. It has its place, also considering that the loss of ALARM for suppressing enemy radars requires a new solution for suppressing/destroying enemy air defence.

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  13. The primary questions are:

    (1) What enemy navy are (should) the RN planning on being able to fight?
    This is a big issue: the reality is that there are very few hostile nations with any meaningful surface navy. To the extent that any new western ASuW weapons are more likely to get sold and then used against us (e.g. Argentine Exocets) than used by us. So maybe we don't want to be spending money designing new ones?

    (2) What enemy land targets are (should) the RN planning on being able to fight?

    ***

    Re: combined anti-land and ASuW missile.

    (1) Long range ASuW is pretty pointless, the target is likely to move away, and a civilian ship likely to move into the target area, by the time the missile gets there.
    (Would you consider a 1000km range anti-tank missile? Of course not! The same idea applies to long range anti ship weapons.)
    Now you could say "but what if we make the missile really fast?" - which is a valid response. Unfortunately, physics rears its head; faster is a lot less fuel efficient; a large cruise missile could be subsonic with a range of 2000 km, or MACH 3 with a range ~300 km. Trying to do both, would require a ludicrously large missile, which I suppose you could do, but then you'd have very few, and they still take only 1 anti-missile to shoot down.
    Now, there *is* a solution to this. They are called aircraft. That's why we use them.

    IMHO the RN strategy should be for good helicopter-based ASuW, as a total system. Use off-board assets (AWACS, Sentinel, etc.) to detect, and then dispatch a helicopter to identify and prosecute. (Or an F-35, of course, for more complicated/demanding situations.)
    I say this in no small part as the most likely target for RN ASuW is a small gunboat or corvette.
    In terms of the threat from enemy long-range missiles: how are "they" meant to detect your ship at range anyway?

    (2) The guidance systems are significantly different. Even in terms of IR or radar, the maritime environment is significantly different: the nature of the clutter; the contrast of the target; etc.

    So in summary: I can't see any wisdom to a single missile for both tasks.

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  14. I notice that Eurofighter has revealed a Typhoon armed with six Marte ER anti-shipping missiles - see https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/dubai-eurofighter-tests-six-appeal-with-marte-er-mi-418866/?

    This integration is stated for Middle Eastern customers while the Marte ER is being developed for Italy http://www.mbda-systems.com/mediagallery/files/marte-er_background-1424430513.pdf

    One point of interest is that the Marte ER, unlike the Joint Strike Missile, would actually fit internally into an F-35B weapons bay.

    Thus, the Marte ER could become the UK's default air launched anti-shipping missile and with a range of over 100km that probably wouldn't be a bad thing.

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    1. The Marte ER is not integrated. It could be, if someone asks for it and puts the money forwards. The photos are years old, and date back to at least 2013. They are periodically resurrected to try and get some country interested. The only news is that they are offering to perhaps include a Marte ER integration in the P3E near the end of this decade, if someone pays.

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    2. But isn't it a problem that the F-35B will operate from carriers and presumably require an anti-shipping missile but there aren't any plans to carry one inside the weapons bay? Why are we paying so much to get stealth if we'll throw away this advantage by using externally carried missiles?

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  15. I wonder if Corbyn now wants the French Police to go to Syria to "arrest" ISIS? Pathetic. Speak softly, and carry a big stick. My thoughts are with our European brothers and sisters this day.

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