Guided Weapons–Getting Closer?

Lockheed Martin animation of Hellfire employment from an LCS

It looks like the Navy is beginning to field some weapons that are appropriate for the Coast Guard’s mission of preventing maritime terrorist attacks while addressing concerns that using weapons in US ports may cause collateral damage.

We talked about this concern recently.

I have always felt this mission had to devolve onto the smaller vessels, because the larger cutters don’t spend much underway time around US ports and when they are in port they usually cannot be gotten underway quickly. For this reason the WPCs need to be able to perform the mission.

Navy Recognition has news of progress on two of these systems, Dual Mode Hellfire and Dual Mode Brimstone.

The Longbow Hellfire is already present in the US inventory in large numbers and is being adopted for the LCS anti-surface module. The Brimstone is very similar in size, warhead, and range (about 8,000 yards), but has the advantage of a datalink that allows a “man-in-the-loop” which I think is desirable. Unfortunately, so far the USN is only looking at Brimstone as an air-launched weapon.

Test of Brimstone against two 40 foot maneuvering targets, discriminating between the targets and similar sized craft

Test of the Griffin. (Note limited damage)

A third system, SeaGriffin has a smaller footprint and warhead and has had a shorter range (only 43″ long, weighing 33 pounds, with a 13 pound warhead, surface to surface range of 5,500 meters), but it appears that the latest version may have a longer range, than either Hellfire or Brimstone, perhaps up to 18,000 yards (assuming they have, as reported, triple the previous range). The latest version of SeaGriffin does have a man-in-the-loop capability. Griffin is already being deployed on US Navy Cyclone class PCs. There are lots of photos showing the relatively small size of this system here.

I have never expected that extreme range was an important consideration for Coast Guard weapons, but for the anti-terrorism mission (or enforcing a blockade in wartime), we probably need the ability to engage from outside 4,000 yards (beyond the effective range of the 25mm Mk 38), because inside that range, there are a number of systems that might be added to a ship that could have a good probability of quickly disabling our vessels.

I still believe none of these weapons is capable of quickly and reliably stopping a medium sized ship or anything larger. For that I think we still need at least a light weight torpedo, but these weapons would significantly improve the chances against vessels of any size and particularly against small high speed maneuvering targets. Equipped with these, a Webber class cutter could be better able to fulfill this mission than a National Security Cutter with its 57mm guns.

85 thoughts on “Guided Weapons–Getting Closer?

  1. I think those weapons should be fitted for the FRC, OPC and NSC. Their may come a day when we need those kinds of weapons such as Lightweight torpedos to stop a medium to large ship & missiles such as Brimstone, Naval Spike NLOS or Hellfire. I can see the FRC being armed with either Brimstone, Naval Spike NLOS or Hellfire for wartime use. Even the Future OPC and NSC can be up armed with Brimstone, Naval Spike NLOS or Hellfire missiles on top of Lightweight torpedos. Though I wonder, what would the Wartime role be in any future conflict that the OPC, FRC and NSC would play.

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  3. FIRST EVER Guided .50 Cal Bullet
    Posted July 11, 2014 in Ammunition by Steve Johnson

    DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) have done their first live-fire test of a optically guided .50 caliber bullet. Watch it hit a target in the below thermal video … From Darpa.mil … DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program [Read More…
    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/07/11/first-ever-guided-50-cal-bullet/

    • You would assume that if they can guide a .50 cal. that they could also make guided 25 and 57 mm projectiles. I know the French made guided 100 mm projectiles.

  4. Once these weapons are debugged and proven, watch for them to be deployed on many types of craft. The Griffin is already being fitted to the Cyclones and the Longbow to the LCS. The Mk VI is slated to be fitted with something or another… A relatively easy way to add precision firepower to small platforms.

    • These (the APKWS guided 70mm rockets, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/APKWS) are smaller and shorter ranged than the missiles we were discussing above but they are also a possibility. The warhead is relatively small, about the size of a 76mm gun projectile, but that would be adequate for a lot of potential targets and launchers could be mounted on remote controlled stabilized platforms either with or without a machinegun also on the mount. Relatively small boats without installed laser designators could use hand held laser designators to designate the target.

      • Bottom line you need to install the Longbow systems and FCR on a WPC, since the m299 launcher can do both hellfire and DAGR or what ever guided rocket you use.It would be a lot cheaper than a dual purpose SeaRam system.

      • Lyle, no need for fire control radar. Can handle it with optics. Depending on the missile it can home using semi-active laser, meaning we shine a laser on the target and it homes on the reflected energy, or missile can be given an image to home in on, or in the case of the Brimstone or the latest SeaGriffin, the missile will datalink back the image of what it sees and the operator can confirm, redesignate, or abort.

      • you would need the fire control radar for the Brimstone or longbow hellfire. The latest Brimstones are dual mode guidance. I think it would be better off with dealing with swarm attacks. But adapting the M299 Launcher for ship board use would allow you to tailor the weapons fit to the mission at hand. especially the different warheads of the Hydra 70’s.

      • While it might be useful, really, you don’t need a separate dedicated firecontrol radar on the ship for either Longbow Hellfire or Brimstone. If you fire in the laser mode you do need a laser designator. Targets can also be designated off some search radars. The Longbow Firecontrol Radar (FCR) would be useful in a cluttered environment and for engaging multiple contacts.

    • I don’t think we are going to be putting it on the LCS. I think it is more like testing it out as a Penguin replacement for the fleet. Now because of their small size I could see them putting it on the WPC or WMSM. But not a Frigate size ship in USN service. It seems to me that they are so desperate to put something on this ship that they are not thinking clearly. JMO

      • The NSM is smarter than Harpoon and longer ranged in spite of its smaller size. That being the case, the ability to carry more weapons and potentially swamp the adversary’s defenses makes this a potential Harpoon replacement. Short of the country getting into an existential war, don’t think we will see these on any cutters, but maybe I am wrong.

        Part of the reason there seems to be a strong likelihood of these weapons entering the US inventory is that they are designed to fit inside the weapons bay of the F-35, something the Harpoon cannot do.

      • Penguin is getting o-l-d, which is why the Norwegians started development of the NSM. Since they are also an F-35 customer, they designed it for integration from the start, and I agree, that fact alone (plus that Harpoon is also getting outdated), will make the NSM an “easy sell.” Add in it’s different variety of seeker, it’s flexibility (due to size and weight) to arm MH-60s and potentially smaller surface ships like LCS, OPC, and even the PCs, and it’s stronger warhead than Griffin or Hellfire, and it starts looking really good. I’ve always been a fan of this size of weapon, as it’s the most-capable weapon which is flexible/appropriate for a wide range of small-medium platforms. I’ve talked up the Penguin here at Chuck’s before, and the NSM is the natural successor system.

  5. http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140724/NEWS04/307240087/LCS-conduct-test-Norwegian-missile?sf28991456=1

    Navy Times article about the NSM being tested from an LCS in Sept. at Pt. Mugu. While pointing out that this means nothing and is just a test, I find several things, mmmm, interesting shall we say?

    -Capt. is very enthusiastic.
    -This is first SSM launch from LCS (no NLOS, Griffin, Hellfire, or even Harpoon has been test-launched from an operational platform [LCS] yet).
    -Norwegian frigate test-fired an NSM at Rimpac last week (c’mon, it was a sales demonstration…).
    -Enthusiastic comment about the unique seeker.
    -And a mention of development of a submarine version, which I haven’t seen publicized before.

    Awful lot of enthusiasm/interest for something the US isn’t interested in. The only negative mentioned was the missile’s 100 mile range isn’t exploitable with the organic sensors on the LCS. (Apparently, he has not heard of a helicopter and forgotten the LCS has a flight deck…)

    I find the idea in the article that Hellfire and Griffin could be “placeholders” until a better system comes along as laughable. Here is a mature system, already deployed by an ally, and developed from a system the USN already has, which is at least 5 times more capable. It’s major flaw: Not invented here and not built here.

    • Bill, when you say “…developed from a system the USN already has…” I presume you are talking about Penguin. While Penguin is in the US inventory, but its use was limited to helicopter launch. I don’t believe the US ever used from surface ships or fixed wing aircraft. (It, like the NSM, has been used by other countries as a Coastal Defense battery).

      The NSM does have longer range and seems to be better packaged, but the Navy is developing a new missile, the LRASM or Long Range Anti-Ship Missile that will take advantage of the full volume of the VLS. We may end up with the NSM limited exclusively to the F-35.

      • While DARPA is working on LRASM, for now, the only operational systems on the horizon are air-launched. While testing of a VLS-launched version is happening, the Navy has said it is waiting for the OASuW Increment 2 version for a surface-launch version. That is pretty far off, possibly never, depending on funding (politics) and operational decisions.

        However, more to the point – and what I was too brief about in my prior post, I see a need for a medium-size missile. Smaller than Harpoon/LRASM, but bigger than Hellfire/Griffin. The Penguin’s (and NSM) size makes it ideal for Corvettes, OPVs, Helos, and submarines. Yet it is still big enough to have decent range and warhead size.

        DARPA/Navy are planning to put LRASM on the F-35, but that will be an external load. While LRASM has some stealth shaping, I wonder if it is as stealthy as the plane? Also, will the pylon be equally stealthy, both before and after deployment of the missile? (I’m sure the engineers are working on that, but my point is I bet USN will not buy any NSMs for the F35. Other F-35 customers will…

        If US buys NSM, it will probably be to arm helos to “upgrade” (modernize) from the old Penguin. Where the US is missing the boat is buying NSM for LCS, OPC, and possibly the PCs (if a follow-on class is built).

      • Here’s a source that covers the current ups and downs of the LRASM program:

        http://news.usni.org/2014/03/13/navy-hold-contest-new-anti-surface-missile

        Two other points:

        The US puts all its eggs in one basket far too often. How many ASMs did the Soviets develop in the 60s and 70s? If some flaw develops in LRASM, the USN will be forced to continue soldiering on with the Harpoon while either LRASM is fixed or a new missile developed… Part of the problem is the insane costs of weapon development, but if contractors knew more than one system might make it to production, I think padding of R&D costs would go down too.

        Second, Harpoon, and now LRASM, use only radar guidance (with GPS assist in some ways), but Penguin & NSM bring in a totally different threat for the enemy.

  6. Brimstone would be way to expensive for peacetime use in the Coast Guard, even Hellfire is probably too expensive. Griffin would be about as expensive as I can see the USCG being able to afford to train with and operate on a bunch of cutters, and I suspect they’d go even cheaper with one of the 70mm guided rockets.

    • The US already has a large inventory of Hellfires. They have to be stored somewhere, so putting them on cutters might be relatively cheap, but there are other considerations.

      The Navy pays for weapon systems on Cutters.

      The gun systems on the NSCs and OPCs cost more than an outfit of missiles.

      Comparing the cost of rounds is not a meaningful way to compare the costs of weapons. How much does the launcher (or gun) cost? How many people are required to operate and maintain the systems? How much does training cost?

      The cost of missiles of this sort is a small fraction of the cost of operating these cutters.

      And really, what is the cost of failure?

      • I absolutely love your site, but I don’t agree with you on this Chuck. Even if you just put the systems on the OPC’s and NSC’s that’s 33 ships and 33 ship crews (or more depending on how it is manned). If the USCG is going to be proficient in using these systems, all those crews will need to train with it, which means launching it. Each Hellfire is 100k (more than the annual cost of an enlistedman), and Brimstone I think is quite a bit more. You’re talking about a lot of money, and there are higher priorities for both the USCG and the USN.

        I think having all cutter crews train with some sort of missile system makes sense, and installing a cost effective one on some cutters makes sense too. If a cutter is forward deployed for an extended period of time I could see putting an expensive system on it, but I can’t see doing it on 33 or more ships. And like you’ve said, it’s probably needed on the smaller cutters more than the larger ones, because they’d be the ships in a position to respond to a terror threat, which would mean even more cost to use an expensive missile.

      • James, I certainly don’t expect every one to agree with me. It would make a very boring conversation. But like you I see this as needed more on the WPCs than the larger ships, because if the need arises WPCs are much more likely to respond than the larger ships.

        With these types of weapons, while occasionally firing a live round is desirable, I believe training is more likely to be done by simulation. Earlier there was an article referenced in regard to test firing an NSM from an LCS and the article noted that only a single missile (a RAM) had been fired from any LCS, this in spite of the fact that there are four ships in commission, they have all been equipped with this missile system, and the oldest is approaching six years old.

  7. I know what you are saying. And you’re right, they are very careful about firing live ordinance because of the cost. Any missile system would be an additional cost though, so the cost of the gun system isn’t relevant, because they’re not going to take guns off of USCG cutters.

    Let me try my argument another way. I think Griffin would probably be a better Coast Guard weapon than Hellfire, because it would be safer in crowded waters and it would have less collateral damage, and it’s lighter and smaller. Griffin is probably not well suited for swarms, but at least at this time, that is not a big threat for the USCG. What the USCG needs is a precise, low collateral damage missile. And preferably one that is cheap and easy to operate. A 70mm guided rocket would meet this need as well.

    NECC and the Riverine Squadrons have been looking at small missile systems for their patrol boats that would seem to meet USCG requirements.

    The reason I have a strong opinion on this is that I think it is an important issue. USCG is regularly called on for port security overseas, and that isn’t’ going to change. Retrofitting ships for missiles and training the crews takes time. We’ve seen that with the Cyclones in the Persian Gulf. It seems to me that a precision strike is an important capability that the Coast Guard needs to add, because spraying hundreds of rounds in a crowded US or foreign harbor is going to be a problem.

    I’d take the 80% solution in this case, because I think the other services could bring heavier capability if called for. And I’d rather have some missile capability in the USCG than none, which is what I think will continue to be the case unless the USCG lets budget decide the system.

    • I like (but don’t 100% agree with) what both of you are saying, but… I think we are all guilty of 1 big mistake: We should define the threat first, THEN look for a system to address it. Too often we look at what new systems are being tested or developed, and then look at the platforms the CG has or is planning, and the threat only gets an oblique mention. I’ve read here at Chuck’s comments about certain specific threats, such as: LPG tankers, containerized weapons (presumably as a CG threat – while still on board the container ship), and small boat swarm attacks (which I presume is looking at Iran and PatForSWA, more than home waters, but maybe not…), but then, there are a lot of vague threats like “merchant ship” and “small boats.”

      That is a WIDE variety of target types. A Griffin against a container ship? HA!! A Penguin or NSM (or worse yet, a LRASM) against a small suicide boat with no missiles?? Oh brother!

      I’ve always doubted the validity of Griffin and to a lessor extent Hellfire. Great tracking for a small highly-mobile target and the warhead will certainly do the job, but unless the small boat has a stand-off weapon that poses a serious threat from a distance, I’m sure the Mk110 would be equally effective. And if the small boat does have a standoff weapon, I’m not sure the Griffin or Hellfire have enough range. A passive target, like a small merchant would be an appropriate target, but again, wouldn’t the Mk110 work there?

      Just trying to expand the conversation to a different perspective. Hopefully a more effective perspective. I know you think of the threat, but I think the threat should be the primary focus, and it seems we get caught up in the systems.

      • The problem is that we do not have a single threat, we have a full spectrum of possible threats, and we probably need a range of solutions, but from practical point of view I think there are two primary cases. I tend to think of the threats as being either

        1. Small fast, highly maneuverable, small craft that mix easily with innocent small craft traffic, that are hard to hit, but are not that tough.
        2. Larger vessels that may be relatively easy to hit, but are damage resistant and hard to stop.

        While the distinctions can blur at the edges, I think the dividing line is around 100 tons

        For stopping medium to large ships I have consistently suggested a light weight torpedo, not because it will sink the target, but because it should be able to reliably immobilize it, even larger missile systems like Harpoon, Penguin, or NSM may not be able to do that, and there may also be minimum range issues. Larger heavy weight torpedoes could also do it but they are extremely expensive and perhaps more importantly have a large physical, training, and maintenance footprint so are probably impractical for the Coast Guard.

        For the smallest targets Griffin would definitely work, but so would Hellfire or Brimstone, and they would also be capable against the high end of the first target set and perhaps against the lower end of the second target set.

        I don’t see the collateral damage issue with the Hellfire or Brimstone, due to warhead size, as being that significant. On the other hand, the Hellfire, since it does not have a man in the loop system, is more likely to acquire the wrong target, but there are, presumably, training and tactical measures that can be taken to minimize that possibility.

      • We might say that rather than using a single Hellfire or Brimstone on a target that proves difficult, we could use multiple Griffin or 70 mm guided rockets and that is to some extent true, but the larger missiles are more likely to penetrate more deeply if that is an issue, and the 70mm guided rockets are relatively short ranged possibly putting the cutter within range of improvised defensive systems on the target vessel (not that we can always choose the range, but hopefully we might have the option).

      • Indeed, but once we’ve identified the general spectrum of the threats, then we could more cogently discuss what system(s) would work best for what threat. I like your cut-off around 100 tons, but there should be another category I believe, of 5000 tons and above. In that category, 3 principles should apply:

        1) It is most likely a threat during full scale war operations;
        2) If not in a war setting, the most likely available and appropriate means to deal with it is disabling propulsion; and
        3) If disabling is not an acceptable solution, heelp from Air Force and Navy would most likely be needed.

        For threats below 100 tons, I can’t imagine anything Hellfire or Griffin could do that the 57mm can’t. If something that small is a threat because it’s carrying its own AShM, such as a Styx, then the Hellfire doesn’t have the range to keep the threat at a safe distance anyway.

        For threats above 100 tons (and up to 4999 tons, if we use my next cut-off), I’m not confident a small missile’s warhead would be sufficient. Possibly 2 or 3 Hellfires on a 125-150 ton vessel, but it could take a lot od Hellfires to disable a 4500 ton ship… This is where I think the argument for the 5″ gun makes sense, although there is a range issue there too (in case we wanted to stay out of range of the threat vessel’s weapons).

        Your torpedo idea has always made a lot of sense, and if the powers that be thought about it, this type of weapon would be applicable to most of the range of threat vessels (everything but small boats). A steerable, acoustic ly-tuned, homing torpedo, designed to go for the propeller noise makes tremendous sense. The same tubes could be used in wartime for ASW torpedoes, eliminating one factor of a “needed upgrade” to get cutters on a war footing.

      • I’m really thinking peacetime, that the opposition is a terrorist group planning on using a ship:

        1. to transport a group of suicidal terrorist in something like the Mumbai attack or
        2. to place a weapon in US territory (attacking a bridge, nuclear power plant, a CVN, or SSBN or setting off a nuclear device in an urban area), or
        3. a combination of the two, placing a weapon and releasing suicidal terrorists to create chaos.

        In the first case they would almost certainly use either a fishing boat or large pleasure craft.

        In the second case as we have seen in the case of the USS Cole even a relatively small vessel can do a lot of damage, but they could use something much larger. As we saw in HMS Campbeltown;s raid on St. Nazaire (https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2011/02/03/a-tale-of-two-harbor-defense-organizations-part-one-2/) even a small ship can take a lot of punishment and place huge amounts of explosives on its target. And the bigger the transporting ship, the harder it will be to stop.

        In each of these cases there is no real upper limit on the size of the ship that might be used. In the first case a vessel might be seized at sea, but in the second and third case, it is likely to require some time in port for preparation and modification of the vessel, but we cannot assume this is impossible because there are reports that terrorist organizations already control some ships, and there are various ports around the world that are either poorly policed or actively hostile to the US where this type of work might be done.

        My fear, is that the situation is likely to develop with little or no warning, That no assistance from the other armed services will be available to respond in a timely fashion and that none of the larger (76mm and 57mm equipped) cutters are likely to able to respond.

        Equipping the WPCs with both a light weight anti-surface homing torpedo and something like Hellfire would give them potentially effective weapons against the whole spectrum of threats while minimizing the chances of collateral damage. The missile would be effective against the small, fast, highly maneuverable targets, while the torpedo would be able to disable even the largest targets and would probably sink targets from 100 to 1,000 tons.

      • I like it. I also think the technology for your torpedo idea is nearly COTS. A 12.75″ torpedo with acoustic homing and add in a steerable option, so operators could go around other vessels and have high confidence the weapon is on the target vessel is all current to older technology.

    • Range is approximately 8 miles, about the same as the old 5″/38 and of course much more accurate. Actually longer range than the effective range of any of the guns the Coast Guard has ever had.

    • This is a much larger missile than the ones we have been discussing, but still smaller than the Harpoon with a smaller warhead. It is in many ways an improvement over the Harpoon, being both stealthier and smarter, and I think you could carry at least three and perhaps four in place of a pair of Harpoon.

      Still there is no assurance the Navy will include it in their inventory, although I am sure the LCS community is hoping that will happen.

      I don’t see these being mounted on anything smaller than MEC/OPC, so it probably would not be available for defending a harbor in the case of a terrorist attack, although its range might make it possible to fire it from a moored cutter, acting on targeting from another unit.

      For harbor defense, the Poles are using them as mobile coast defense batteries mounted on trucks. In the US, by law, this is still the Army’s job, except for naval bases where it is a Marine responsibility.

  8. The plans for the missiles on the LCS are about what is expected: a requirement based on existing weapons followed by a competition ignoring that those same weapons are already available as is.
    A few guesses on the competition? The competition will have the NSM partnered with an American firm (Lockheed?), Raytheon will have an upgraded tomahawk or a wholly LRASM design, and there will be two other compettitors with joint European partners whose ideas will be promptly ignored since the fix is in for either the NSM or Tomahawk adaption anyway.
    The competition will take till at least 2017. In the end we will probably still buy the NSM we could have had in 2015, but with an American avionics package that will increase the price by 1/3 and this version wont reach IOC til 2019….longer if we spend more money and manpower against the latest middle-eastern threat.
    Does that sum up our usual aquistion strategy here in the US?

  9. Found this on http://www.eaglespeak.us/. It is a video in which five apparent pirate boats attack a US cruiser. The cruiser responds with what I believe is .50 cal. What I believe is most interesting is the segment from approx. minute 4:00 to minute 5:10 during which time the cruiser engages a single boat with the apparent intention of destroying it. It is at night. We cannot really tell how far apart the cruiser and the pirates are, but it looks like they were close. The target was not particularly fast. The pirates did not make a direct approach allowing a relatively leisurely response. Still it did take over a minute to destroy this boat when apparently a gas tank was hit causing it to explode.

    Closure rate for a suicide boat could easily exceed 60 knots so a boat can close the entire effective range of a .50 in less than a minute. As we have seen elsewhere it may not really that easy to stop a small boat. Things that might make it even more difficult are making the boat smaller, making it faster, providing ballistic protection for the operators and critical components, or eliminating the operators by making them remotely controlled.

    • There is also this one (USCGC Bertolf’s Phalanx), I don’t know if they were actually trying to hit the target,or if they put in an offset, but the dispersion of the rounds is all over the place. Looks like to me they are trying to hit, and 3+ minutes later the target is still moving. Saw similar results of an exercise by a Destroyer, but they used 5″ and Mk38 as well as Phalanx.

  10. It doesn’t seem like they are going to do anything about uparming the deployed cutters until there is an incident, which will likely involve a loss of American lives.

    If we continue to deploy cutters to these places it is inevitiable that an attack will happen. It infuriates me that no action is being taken to prepare for it.

    • Here is a possible Harpoon replacement. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2328

      It is smaller than the Harpoon and it is vertical launch. I presume the LRASM (Long Range Anti-ship Missile) will be vertically launched as well.

      I was surprised to see that the “small surface combatant” e.g. the LCS 2.0 will not have VLS.

      Apparently the NSC does have some provision for mounting VLS (12 Mk56), but they seem to designed exclusively for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) which is a line of sight limited missile, primarily for AAW with a limited anti-surface capability. Have not seen anything that would indicate that the OPC will have provision for a similar (or better) upgrade, but maybe they just have not been talking about it.

      • I really like what they are talking about. I like the distributed lethality approach (although I’m not sure about putting antiship missiles on MSC ships). But all in all, I think it is a long overdue attempt to change the philosophy and outlook of the US Navy. I also like the idea of a variety of solutions, including off the shelf options like upgrading some TLAM’s during their 15 year warranty certification and buying some NSM’s as well as developing a high end LRASM. I really hope this group can effect some change in US Naval strategy.

        That said, it is 100 times more likely that a Coast Guard Cutter deployed to the Persian Gulf will have cause to fire a short range guided missile in the next 5 or 10 years than a destroyer or LCS deployed to the Western Pacific will need to fire a long range anti ship missile. It isn’t sexy or even terribly interesting to think about USCG policing actions, but neither are IED’s.

        In the real world equipping forward deployed cutters with appropriate means of defending themselves is far more urgent. I’m not some crazy that dreams of putting harpoons on every cutter, and I fully get that USCG ships are first and foremost, maritime safety and security ships, not warships. But what we have going on right now is akin to arming the police with .38’s to fight gangsters armed with Uzis.

        In my opinion not having something like Griffin or Hellfire on forward deployed cutters is insane, and I am convinced we will come to regret it sooner or later. At the very least we need some sort of pilot program to train USCG personnel for such a contingency.

        Sorry for getting on my soapbox.

      • The FF4921 Version has 12 mk56 while the FF4923 has 16 mk41. but who know what the NSC hull is truly capable of handling. I wonder why they never designed a stretched version of the NSC for the navy and make it a FFG, or an enhanced FF in the way of the Spruance destroyers.

      • No need to apologize, Anybody who reads my stuff knows I think we need some upgrades of our weapons, but they should not necessarily be the same type weapons the Navy needs. Having thought about it for along time my recommendations for peacetime outfit have boiled down to a small missile like Griffin/Hellfire/Brimstone to take out small but fast and highly maneuverable threats, and a light weight torpedo that can home on propellers to stop larger threats. And that we need to have them on everything Webber class and larger, and perhaps at least the small missile on the 87 foot WPB replacement whenever it comes.

        How cutter should be armed in war time is an entirely different question, but for conflicts like Vietnam, the systems above would probably be adequate.

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      • I like that the system is a self contained box. It would add a significant increase in armament to WPC and bigger sized cutters without any appearance of being up gunned. Even though cutters have been in the national defense business since the Act Creating a Naval Armament in 1797 some people worry about the “image” of over armed CG cutters. I personally think cutters should be equipped to defend themselves and the nation against all threats, at all times at home and abroad, but that’s just me. LOL

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  13. This from the German Navy blog Marine Forum, July 30, “Modified Longbow Hellfire missiles successfully tested for use as Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) on littoral combat ships… SSMM expected to become operational in late 2017.”

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