New Small Missile System for the LCS–Coast Guard Applications?

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:

Navy Close to Choosing Griffin Missile for LCS

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.

Mission Modules, a Possible CG System?

For those who might be interested, here is a “pdf” with a bit of information on how the Navy is implementing their mission module concept on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Unfortunately the information only covers the 30 mm gun and 60 round missile system. They are also developing mission modules for ASW and Mine Warfare.

I like the concept for the Coast Guard, in that it provides a way for Cutters to be designed to be armed for wartime missions without the service bearing the cost of maintenance, training, and personnel in peacetime. It might be applicable to the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and possibly other cutters, such as future icebreakers and arctic patrol cutters.

There have been some difficulties with the surface to surface missile (SSM) system being developed for the LCS, the non-line-of-sight launch system (NLOS-LS), which began as an Army project, but which has now been taken over by the Navy. There is a relative recent summary of the status of the project here. It does seem the Navy is going to develop something to fill this perceived need, as well as the existing hole in the decks of the LCSs. There is some additional pictures and information here. If the Navy does get NLOS-LS working, it may also be useful on much smaller vessels. Looks like a 15 round launcher might fit on the FRC.