Thursday, 13 January 2011

New Missile For Littoral Combat Ships?

It is being reported on and that a new missile has been selected for the United States' Navy's Littoral Combat Ships (L.C.S.).

The Raytheon Griffin will replace an earlier Raytheon missile system which was recently cancelled after multiple failures.

Details of the Raytheon Griffin missile can be seen at

It is of similar size to a man portable anti-tank missile and consequently has a surface launched range of just 3.4 miles.

This is considerably shorter than the cancelled Non Line Of Sight (N.L.O.S.) Precision Attack Missile (P.A.M.) which the Littoral Combat Ships were intended to carry.

N.L.O.S. had a range of about 25 miles.

The very short ranged Griffin will be outranged by almost any potential threat system.

It is also likely to be out ranged by the Littoral Combat Ship's own 57mm and 30mm cannons.

It also has a very small warhead which is likely to be ineffective against any naval vessel.

About the only target this missile will be useful for is small fast boats which generally have weapons which are ineffective at all but the shortest of ranges.

Thankfully there are plans for a longer ranged version at a later stage.

This will still leave these vessels with a less than impressive weapons fit.

They will be of little use against land based threats.

That is an unfortunate quality in a warship meant to fight in the "littorals".


The Bald Cuban Press said...

I think the key phrase here is "little use". These ship can't defend themselves nor do they have any effective offensive capability. So really, what are they? Combination helicopter platform/cabin cruisers?

GrandLogistics said...

Hello The Bald Cuban Press,

they appear to have been purpose designed for water skiing.


Chuck Hill said...

I can see the missile on Coast Guard Cutters as small as the 87 ft WPBs.

I think you may be under estimating the range. Suspect they will at least exceed effective range of the 30 mm.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

the missile is similar in size and weight to the Javelin anti-tank missile which has a range of a mile and a half.
Though there was some mention of a longer ranged version being built in future.

This missile raises an interesting question.
It would clearly be possible to mount half a dozen of these on any surface combatant or patrol boat.

In which case,why do we need a Littoral Combat Ship?


GrandLogistics said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

you were correct,I did underestimate the range slightly.
It is 5,500m or 3.4 miles in the surface to surface role,a bit more than the 2 miles I estimated.
I shall edit the post to that effect.

I can't help but wonder if this weapon is intended for the ship's helicopters as well as or instead of the ship it's self.


The Bald Cuban Press said...

I agree with GrandLogistics. Why can't these missles just be mounted on any ship or helicopter? Why a specialty class? Should only the Littoral ships have a defense against small boats? By the way, I had the same objections for the fielding of NLOS. AND GrandLogistics is right again. They would be not only great for water skiing, but also parasailing.

Chuck Hill said...

Or we could put the missiles on the merchant ships transiting the Straits of Hormuz and let them take out the crazies.

No I don't see why the missile shouldn't be ubiquitous. If you can put it on a HumVee, then it's not much more demanding than a .50.

D. E. Reddick said...

The Israeli Spike NLOS missile system would be a much superior weapon to the Raytheon Griffin. Spike NLOS has a 16 Nautical Mile range and an apparently larger warhead.

Choosing the Raytheon Griffin is a truly 'grasping-at-straws' form of self-castration and limiting of options.

TheRagingTory said...

"It also has a very small warhead which is likely to be ineffective against any naval vessel."

Define "ineffective".

Its unlikely to achieve a one shot kill, however.
A hit from a single Carl Gustav, two 66mm and two 84mm rockets disableded most of the weapons on a Corvette, and had it remained in range, more hits would have sank it (obviously)

Its easy to dismiss a Javelin sized weapon, until one hits the bridge.

Not that I think the LCS makes any sense of course

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

the small boat threat is on my list of blog posts to write in future.
With missiles like this widely available,small boats look even less of a threat than they have been in the past.

There is another big negative to Griffin though,it has a minimum engagement range of 1,000 metres.
That is a lot longer than the similar Javelin and more than is desirable for use against small boats.


GrandLogistics said...

Hello TheRagingTory,

very good point.
Another Falklands War example is the
A.R.A. Alfarez Sobral.
She was hit by 3 Sea Skua missiles,each with a warhead 5 times the size of a Griffin's.
One of those took out her bridge.
She returned home and is still in service today:

If you do an image search you will get a good idea of the damage done to her.

It would take a very lucky hit from a Griffin to disable a suface combatant.
But Griffin does have a very interesting feature which should be standard on every anti ship missile:
Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact.

That is exactly what you need to swamp a ship's air defences.


steve said...

Two little words; big gun.

Chuck Hill said...

Bottom line is that it takes a lot of hits above the water line to sink most ships, but it usually only takes one torpedo under the keel.

My rule of thumb is that you need one pound of ordnance (bombs or shells) for every ton of displacement to have a good probability of sinking a ship. They are usually disabled by only a tenth of that.

I was wondering about Griffin's minimum range. That is too much. Where did you find that. I posted on the missile also.

TheRagingTory said...

Well, thats me told.
I suppose size really does matter then.

I think anything with air defences is going to blow the LCS out of the water at 80km, so thats not much of a factor.

Thats a bit of a shame really, I'd long been of the opinion that Hellfire/Brimstone (oh bugger me, I've only just got that!) could be fairly effective as an improvised anti ship missile.
But it seems that realisticly half a dozen hits equaly spaced down one flank would be annoying, but far from crippling.

Oh well, Storm Shadow needs a ship killing mode then.

Chuck Hill said...

Raging Tory, Certainly Hellfire/Brimstone hits would have an effect in quickly reducing an adversaries offensive power which is half the battle.

The Royal Marine at South Georgia got a quick mission kill so it was very effective.

I was only pointing out that to actually sink a ship takes a lot of ordnance, which gets a lot easier to land, once the adversary is disabled.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

I think it was one of the links I posted which said Griffin had a "minimal range" of 1,000 metres.
I hope that is wrong,it doesn't sound right for that class of weapon and it would be very limiting given it's expected role and already short range.

A lot of bigger,higher performance missiles do have minimum ranges of around a mile or more.
That is more than is required for safe arming,I assume they need the distance to get up to speed before their high speed aerodynamics start to work.

historically,pounding the enemy into submission with multiple rounds was the norm for naval warfare.

The "one shot,one kill" expectation is a modern development.

I plan to write something on this subject in the future,there was a sinkex on a certain oiler which makes a nice illustration.

I like your rule of thumb,it sounds about right.


Chuck Hill said...

My rule of thumb was based on WWII experience, primarily with shells which have a relatively low explosive content, and I primarily looked at standard displacement rather than full load. It was also probabilistic in that you might get a sinking with far less (Like Sheffield sinking after only one hit) or the ship might survive even more hits. Still it seemed a good approximation.

In the case of the ARA Alferez Sobral we had a 848 ton ship hit by 198 pounds of ordnance.

In the case of the Type A-69 Guerrico it was a 1,250 ton ship hit by about 60 pounds of ordnance.

Stark was 4,200 tons hit by approx 720 pounds. She probably would not have survived a third hit.

Missiles don't fit neatly because sometime their motors as well as there warheads cause damage and modern warheads seem to be more effective. Do you count only the weight of the warhead or the total missile weight?

If anything it probably over estimates the amount of ordnance required, but erring in that direction served the purpose intended at the time.

TheRagingTory said...

i was thinking of hood really, that was blown apart by a couple of hits, but that was unusual.
repulse and pow were hit dozens of times

Chuck Hill said...

Repulse and Prince of Wales are perfect examples of the way these things typically went. They survived the first two waves well, then in the third and final wave they took disabling hits that made it easy for additional hits to pile one.

What I saw happening with Battleships was that while sinking them was hard, disabling them was relatively easy. Radar and Fire Control systems that were necessary to shoot accurately at long range were relatively exposed. Electrical systems were subject to shock ie South Dakota at Guadalcanal. It was virtually impossible to protect props and rudders ie Bismark and POW.

GrandLogistics said...


I came across something interesting recently.
Prince of Wales had a very good anti-aircraft fit which did not do her much benefit.
Apparently the tropical conditions had had an adverse affect on elements of it seriously reducing it's effectiveness.
I can't recall the details.

Hood had inadequately protected magazines,a common feature on British ships of her generation,see the battles of Jutland and Coronel for example.

British warships have a long history of design defects from longitudinal subdivisions which led to many capsizing during the First World War to unreliable fire mains during the Falklands.


Chuck Hill said...

From what I recall of the POW in her fight with Japanese twin engine torpedo bombers, she had one Bofors 40 on the stern that was regarded as being as effective as all the other AA guns combined. The 2 pounders had a lot of problems with old ammunition left over from WWI. I also seem to remember there was some catastrophic damage when a prop shaft coming adrift and started whipping around.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

Prince of Wales did very well in the Mediterranean against aircraft.

She had 16 dual purpose 5.25" guns which were highly rated - they also armed anti-aircraft cruisers.
Her fire control and radars were advanced for the time too.

The heat in the tropics caused the radars and 2 pounder ammunition to fail and that was the death of her.

That and the shaft you mentioned shutting down most of her systems.

Pom Poms were not too bad for the time,not as good as a 40mm Bofors though.

Some interesting references from the wiki suggest that lack of a tracer round was a big problem for the pompoms:

Middlebrook, Battleship, p340:

The report does not note any 40mm Bofors kills or even hits from the Prince of Wales' Bofors gun,while hits from pom-pom fire were recorded by the crew of the Prince of Wales.

Middlebrook, Battleship, p340:

"It is considered that a Bofors with tracer ammunition in local control is a more valuable weapon than an 8 barrelled pom-pom in director control without tracer..."

Brown, A radar history of World War II: technical and military imperatives, p220:

Brown notes that 3 out of 4 type 282 radars were out of service when Prince of Wales departed Singapore.

Garzke and Dulin, Allied Battleships,p204:

notes that the remaining type 282 and two type 285 radars failed after the first torpedo hit.

Campbell, Naval Weapons of WW2, P67:

"...if control and mountings were of equal efficiency,the Bofors was reckoned to be twice as effective as the pom-pom against torpedo planes but not much better against very close range targets such as Kamikazes."