Small Vessel Hellfire Vertical Launch System

Photos: Above, Modular Missile Launcher, also seen below amidships on the Textron CUSV (Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle). Note relatively small size and innocuous appearance. 

Textron Systems’ CUSV with Surface Warfare payload at SAS 2019

Naval News reports that, at this year’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Textron showed one of their Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) craft equipped with a remote weapon station and a modular vertical launch system for the Longbow Hellfire.

I find the Hellfire VLS particularly interesting, as it might find application on Coast Guard cutters. The launcher appears to be about 2’x2’x7. The missile itself is 64″ long (1.6 meters), 7″ in diameter (17.8 cm), with a 13″ span (33 cm).

The CUSV is about 39′ (12 meters) in length. The CUSV’s load space is reportedly 20.5′ x 6.5′.

This earlier report indicates a missile shoot from a CUSV is expected in 2019. 

There would of course be concerns about how to mount these missiles on a cutter. The effects of the smoke at launch on he crew and the possible effects of the engines ingesting the smoke would have to be considered.

The planned transfer of six Webber class cutters to Bahrain, to replace the six Island class cutters assigned to PATFORSWA, might provide the incentive necessary to plan and test a Hellfire installation on this class.

14 thoughts on “Small Vessel Hellfire Vertical Launch System

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    • Have you heard any more about that small vertical launcher as shown on the Textron USV a while back?

      Seems an excellent small footprint way to add some needed punch to smaller vessels. With the ongoing “pushing and shoving” in the Gulf things like this could become important in a hurry.

      • Have not seen anything on the small VLS but they have recently been testing the 24 round launcher on an Independence class VLS after having proven it on a Freedom class VLS so they will probably soon have these available for all the LCS. I can’t believe it is too difficult to scale down the system to launch six or eight missiles for vessels the size of the Webber class, but right now the Navy does not have a demand for it. The similar sized Cyclone class PCs are in limbo at the end of their service lives. The smaller MkVI patrol boats apparently will stop at only 12 boats. Unmanned surface vessels may be in the future, but that is still way out there. There might be an export demand, but in the US only the Coast Guard has a real need for the smaller system. We could use the systems on our larger ships as well as the Webber class and on the WPB replacement when it comes along.

    • I’m surprised at MK VI production stopping at 12. I thought they were well regarded. I guess priorities are strongly changing to blue water peer adversary warfare.

      Sounds like the CG will be exactlly where it should not be; on it’s own.

      As you’ve said many times, priorities which change in a hurry if the Persian Guld turns hot or if God forbid there is some sort of seaborne terrorist incident.

    • I think JAGM is using the same missile body as Hellfire, at least initially. Hence, the range of JAGM should be essentially unchanged from Hellfire.

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