It’s not official yet, but it looks like the Navy has found a missile system for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The Navy had been planning to use a system that was being developed by the Army called Netfires, also referred to as the NLOS-LS (non-line-of-sight, launch system), but the project proved overly ambitious and expensive, and worst of all inaccurate.
The newly selected missile is the Raytheon Griffin. It is small and light, with a warhead intended to limit collateral damage, only 43″ long, weighing 33 pounds, with a 13 pound warhead. In its current form it has a relatively short surface to surface range of 5,500 meters, but there is talk of extended range version. It uses GPS for attacks against fixed targets and semi-active laser guidance against moving targets. In addition to finding a home on the LCS, it looks like all four DOD services will use it, on a wide variety of platforms, and it will be produced in very large numbers, driving the price down. The picture below shows four mounted on a HumVee. The missile is already being used by special forces units including some of their supporting C-130s. Its being used on UAVs where its light weight means that three Griffins can replace each Hellfire. Among others it is expected to be used on the Navy’s shipboard RQ-8 Fire Scout which the Coast Guard is also considering using.
Here is a pdf with more information: http://www.ausa.org/publicatio..
I know a lot of people will roll their eyes when I talk about giving the Coast Guard access to missiles, but think about it. This weapon can give a patrol boat stopping power that only our largest cutters have now. Perhaps more importantly, when we use force, we want it to be precise, to destroy only what we intend. The 76 mm and 57 mm guns we have on our ships now are potentially much more destructive. Even when we fire a 25 mm, .50 cal, 7.62, or an M-16, it can land thousands of yards behind the target, in places we never intended, including among innocent civilians. When you absolutely, positively, have to stop someone, this may be a better choice.
Like anything if used on the right mix of cutters and locations. For example units doing international patrols, or overseas duty. But I would not arm the entire fleet with missles, it is costly and uneeded most of the time.
Most of the time we don’t need .50 cal or even 7.62. When we don’t need them we lock them up. The nice thing about this is that it potentially is no more trouble than a .50 cal. and you can have it when you need it. The cost should be far less than a permanently installed deck gun. A concern would be making sure they didn’t get stolen. Major cutters and armories at major shore units should be able to provide adequate security. Groups might temporarily issue them for specific missions.
When I entered the service arming USCG helicopters with machine guns was unthinkable, but things change. We may yet see something like this on CG aircraft, certainly not all the time, but for specific missions.
I agree in the right place they are worthwhile. Through I am always more concerned with our role in safety inspections and SAR work. That to me is our first role and most important because of its greatest impact. I want to see an expansion of USCG inspections and ability to put holds on vessels for safety and enviromental reasons.
A bit more information on the missile and other LCS mission modules:
Pingback: Precision Machine Guns? | Chuck Hill's CG Blog