Skip to comments.Boeing’s New Missile for Littoral Combat Ships
Posted on 01/18/2012 7:59:22 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Boeings New Missile for Littoral Combat Ships
Last week we showed you this photo I took of a mysterious missile that Boeing had on display at the Surface Navy Associations annual convention just outside of DC.
I had never seen, or heard of, this missile before and no one at Boeings booth could talk about the weapon. Well, a spokeswoman with Boeings Phantom Works division just emailed me to explain that the Joint Air-Breathing Multi-Role Missile (JABMM) is being designed for use by the Navys Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Remember, the sea service replaced the canceled Non-Line of Sight missile system as one of the LCS primary weapons with Raytheons tiny Griffin missile a munition that was originally designed as a smaller alternative to Hellfire antitank missiles for use by UAVs. Well, the JABMM is a purpose-built weapon designed to take out fast moving enemy ships, aircraft and possibly even incoming missiles, explains Phantom Works spokeswoman Deborah VanNierop in the following email:
The JABMM or Joint Air Breathing Multi-Role Missile is a surface engagement weapon enlisting air breathing propulsion capabilities for greater range than some current solid rocket propelled missiles. It could be used as an air interceptor or surface engagement weapon against fast moving vessels.
The JABMM is designed to fit into deck mounted canisters aboard U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for ease of ship integration.
The JABMM would be launched out of its canister by a solid rocket booster and then at take over speed the turbo-jet air breathing engine would take over.
The JABMM is currently a conceptual design.
Read more: http://defensetech.org/2012/01/18/boeings-new-missile-for-littoral-combat-ships/#ixzz1js9d5X7l Defense.org
Crap, I couldn’t get away to go to SNA, too busy.
There’s often odd little models or brochures hidden away in the big contractor booths.
Yet another clever acronym.
The Traitor-in-Chief will send one to Ahmadingyjerk soon.
Considering that the fastest vessel is considerable slower than any air target, this sounds kind of stupid. It's either going to be way faster than it needs to be to take out a surface target or not fast enough for air interception.
LCS-the joke that keeps on giving.
Are the chines for stability or stealth? They make it look a bit like the SR-71.
A billion dollar missile for a billion dollar boat.
How fast, how far?
doesn’t LCS stand for “Less Capable Ship”?
And considering it’s currently a conceptual design means it won’t see the fleet for at least a decade - four or five years after LCS dies (hopefully). Something along the lines of LM’s LOCAAS would fit better in the littorals and every VLS-equipped ship could carry them.
It’s still at concept stage, so guess we won’t know for a couple of years. If they decide to proceed with it, that is.
How fast, how far?
So this thing is basically a V-1 for coastal combat vessels?
According to its critics, it’s got all the drawbacks you have listed in addition to being very expensive.
“What are its drawbacks, in your opinion? Too lightly armored, poor performance, limited armament?”
Yes,,, and much much more!
As Sukhoi has said, it is all of the above plus cost (and to this also add problems such as one variant having cracks in its hull and the other variant having really aggressive corrosion).
For instance, in terms of performance/capability/armament/cost, compare it with the Horizon Class Frigate (picture below) that has a phased radar (similar to AEGIS, but instead of a PESA like AEGIS it is an AESA), long-range warning radar, anti-ship missiles, long-range anti-aircraft missiles in a 48 cell VLS launcher (the Aster series, which coupled with the phased array radar give a capability like that of the Standard missile + AEGIS), torpedoes, range that is double (in nautical miles) that of the LCS, greater stealth capability, ability to carry up to 2 helicopters, etc. For around the same cost (unitary cost according to Deagel is $770 million).
Or, for another example, take the Spanish F100 - has the US AEGIS system, has 8 Harpoon missiles, 32 Standard missiles, 64 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles, and a helicopter for anti-sub duties. It is basically a 'baby' Arleigh Burke destroyer. More expensive than the LCS, but far more capable (unitary cost $971 million).
Or the French Lafayette class:
LCS: Controversies & Cautions
The cost and size of LCS ships are now comparable to other countries high-end naval frigates. As the US Navys primary low-end vessels in the future fleet, they will be expected to perform many of the same roles. The cargo holds size has created some challenges in fitting all of the required equipment into the mission modules, without compromising high-end performance at the modules particular tasks. Even so, LCS ships can be expected to perform the mine countermeasures role very well, and the frigates traditional anti-submarine role reasonably well, thanks to their helicopters, array of robots, and rapidly upgradeable systems.
Other traditional roles for frigate-sized vessels are more controversial. The biggest controversy surrounds the ships one area of severe inflexibility: their weapons fit.
Present LCS designs dont even carry torpedo tubes, or vertical-launch systems (VLS) that could accommodate present and future attack and/or defensive missiles. Even with the Surface Warfare module installed, LCS ships will carry a very light armament set for a major naval vessel: a 57-mm Mk 110 naval gun system; RIM-116 SeaRAM short range defensive missiles; 30mm cannons that would replace very short range Griffin launchers if installed; 12.7mm machine guns; plus any missiles or 70mm rockets carried by its accompanying helicopters (up to 2 H-60 slots or up to 4 MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV slots).
That armament is closer to a support vessel than a naval surface combatant, and larger high-speed support designs like the JHSV would offer far more mission module space for reconfigurable specialty support ships. Naval analyst Raymond Pritchett has pithily described the current compromise as:
...3000 ton speedboat chasers with the endurance of a Swedish corvette, the weapon payload of a German logistics ship, and the cargo hold of a small North Korean arms smuggler.
The LCS weapons array also compares unfavorably with comparable-sized frigates that can perform the full array of anti-submarine, fleet air defense, and naval combat roles. The new Franco-Italian FREMM Class, or even Britains much older Type 23/Duke Class, outclass it considerably. So do smaller corvettes like Israels US-built, $260 million Saar 5 Eilat Class, and Swedens ultra-stealthy Visby Class. Even the tiny Danish Flyvefisken Class, whose swappable flex ship modules helped pave the way for the LCS idea, has a Mk 48 vertical launch system that can handle longer-range air defense missiles, and mounts launchers for Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
That may not matter against small boats like the Boghammers, fielded by the Iranians during their late-1980s guerrilla warfare at sea against the US Navy in the Persian Gulf. Unfortunately, many nations field larger Fast Attack Craft equipped with anti-ship missiles. Despite being 1/3 the LCS length and less than 1/3 of its displacement, their employment would create a threat that could attack an LCS from beyond its range of reasonable retaliation, with a weapon that the LCS lower damage tolerance may handle poorly.
Its telling that brochures for the International LCS versions offered by each team feature a major radar capability boost via the small SPY-1F AEGIS system, and are armed with torpedoes, anti-ship missiles and vertical-launch system (VLS) cells. General Dynamics trimaran offers 16 tactical length VLS cells for up to 64 RIM-162 ESSM anti-air missiles or VL-ASROC anti-submarine launchers, and adds torpedo tubes. Lockheed Martins international version, which attracted some interest from Israel before cost issues intervened, has 16 strike length VLS cells that could also accommodate anti-ship missiles, or land attack missiles.
Meanwhile, survivability has become an issue on 3 fronts. One is the slim margins created by a very small crew, leaving little margin for tasks like damage control if automated systems are damaged or fail. The others are the questions of shock/survivability testing, and of aluminum structures. The original concept for LCS was a ship whose damage resistance could save the crew, but not the ship, in the even if a significant strike. That was upgraded slightly to potentially saving the crew and the ship, but not continuing to fight while doing so. As the Exocet missile strikes on the HMS Sheffield (sank) and USS Stark (survived, barely) proved, even steel warships designed to keep fighting after a strike may see those margins tested. Navy revelations that the LCS ships would not meet even Level I standards, let alone the OPNAVINST 9070.1 Level II standard of the frigates theyll replace, has caused some consternation.
So, too, has the use of aluminum in ships exposed to hostile fire. The LCS-1 Freedom Class uses an aluminum superstructure, while the LCS-2 Independence Class is primarily an aluminum design. While both ships have had to certify to the same fire-proofing standards asked of other ships, aluminum conducts heat very well, and melts or deforms easily. If the ancillary fire-fighting systems, resistant coatings, etc. fail, or cannot handle a given situation at sea, structural integrity problems and secondary fires could become fatal concerns very quickly.
The emerging scenario in the USA is a cost for the base ships that continues to hover around $400-500 million each, plus weapons, electronics, and mission modules that bring the price per equipped ship to $550-650 million, even under the proposed new fixed-price contract. Thats no longer a cheap $220 million corvette class price tag. Its a price tag that places the USAs LCS at the mid-to-upper end of the international market for full multi-role frigate designs. Even as future procurement trends will make LCS ships the most common form of US naval power.
In that environment, unfavorable comparisons are inevitable. A versatile surveillance and special forces insertion ship whose flexibility doesnt extend to the light armament that is its weakest point, and isnt flexible enough to deal with anything beyond token naval or air opposition, wont meet expectations. Worse, it could cause the collapse of the Navys envisaged high-low force structure if the DDG-1000 destroyers and CG (X) cruisers are priced out of the water, and built in small numbers. That domino has already fallen, as DDG-1000/ DD (X), production has been capped at just 3 ships, and CG (X) was canceled entirely in the FY 2011 budget. As Vice-Admiral Mustin (ret.) and Vice-Admiral Katz (ret.) put it in a 2003 USNI Proceedings article:
Because the Navy has invested heavily in land-attack capabilities such as the Advanced Gun System and land-attack missiles in DD (X), there is no requirement for [the Littoral Combat Ship] to have this capability. Similarly, LCS does not require an antiair capability beyond self-defense because DD (X) and CG (X) will provide area air defense. Thus, if either DD (X) or CG (X) does not occur in the numbers required and on time, the Navy will face two options: leave LCS as is, and accept the risk inherent in employment of this ship in a threat environment beyond what it can handle (which is what it did with the FFG-7); or grow LCS to give it the necessary capabilities that originally were intended to reside off board in DD (X) and CG (X). Neither option is acceptable.
Especially if the low end has grown to a cost level that makes it equivalent to other countries major surface combatants, while falling short on key capabilities that will be required in the absence of higher-end ships.