Saturday, September 28, 2019

LCS Giffords Naval Strike Missile

Here's a picture of the LCS Giffords with the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) angled box launchers.  The ship is carrying 8 missiles, one in each box, as shown in the photo below.  I apologize.  The photo image probably exceeds the normal blog display space (at least it does on my PC) but I wanted to display it as large as possible and the Blogger engine does not handle images very well.

NSM on LCS Giffords

I'm highly critical of the LCS, as you well know, but I have to be fair.  The NSM finally gives the LCS some actual punch.  Of course, targeting remains the challenge.  The NSM far outranges the ship's sensors.  The LCS will have to depend on an off-board sensor of some sort.

By the way, does anyone have any idea what that green discharge down the side is?

There's no particular point to this post.  It's just an interesting visual of the NSM mount on an LCS.


  1. Be nice to get rid of that pop gun and put a 3" in its place, provided the the hull can take it. Still its a step up.

    1. The existing 57 mm is 2.2". How would a 3" be an improvement? Did you have a specific gun in mind?

      I thought you were going to say, put a 76 mm in its place.

      And, you're right to wonder about the structural strength to take a larger gun. I suspect it can't, given how weak the rest of ship was built. The flight deck, for example, is a major disappointment, structurally.

    2. Was thinking of the OTO Melera 76mm Strales / DART ammo.
      Empty weight is 7.5 tons. The green discharge coming down the side could be from a condensate drain for HVAC cooling coils (copper), might react with the aluminum hull to get that color.

    3. Even the 75mm is still little more than a pop gun.
      The UKs very old tankettes had a 76mm gun.

      Would an LCS with a 76mm gun beat an LCS with a 57mm gun in a gunnery duel, sure, but is that its job?

      Big ships, the 76mm is probably the best the LCS can get.
      Smaller ships?
      Would three 30/40mm guns better at dealing with three suicide boats than one 76mm?
      Its an unfair comparison but the KGV class 48! 40mm guns to deal with aircraft and small boats.

      Shore bombardment, the 57mm/76mm can technically do it, but the 120mm rifled mortar would have no problem being ship mounted and would fire far more high ex down range than the 76mm

    4. "Its an unfair comparison"

      You think?! LOL

      "Would an LCS with a 76mm gun beat an LCS with a 57mm gun in a gunnery duel, sure, but is that its job?"

      Since we even have to ask the question, this implies a lack of CONOPS.

      "the 120mm rifled mortar would have no problem being ship mounted"

      Again, this is the lack of CONOPS. What's the LCS' mission? No one, least of all the Navy, knows. Without a CONOPS/mission we can't evaluate any given piece of equipment. Is it helpful or not? That depends on the CONOPS and we haven't got one. The LCS is still searching for a job. Until it finds one, the answer to any weapon/sensor question is 'maybe'.

      Very good comment.

  2. Was that the best place to put the NSM? OK, let's forget the LO picture because USN abandoned that even on the Zumwalt but they sure look exposed to water coming over in tough seas...better than nothing I guess. At least LCS has a little bit more punch now.

  3. The discolored trail down the side looks to me like particulates coming off the missile casing splashing over the side and hitting the ship. Hard to see how big the overhang is, but with enough pressure I could see it having enough force to make it.

    Accumulated dirt subsequently washed off by rain? Water washdown system? Working party with brooms and soap scrubbing the missile boxes to make them look pretty for the photo?

    Who knows...

    1. My first thought was simple green, an industrial cleaner coming out sump.

  4. On the Independence Class, the Hellfire missile launcher is positioned between the 57mm gun and the NSM meaning that all three of its offensive weapons are within, maybe, sixty to seventy feet of each other. One shot could take out all three weapons.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking then again, not that LCS would survive a hit to fight anyways.

    2. "One shot could take out all three weapons."

      Very good observation although, by official Navy policy, the LCS is not meant to take a hit and keep fighting so one hit anywhere is a mission kill and/or sink.

  5. "The NSM far outranges the ship's sensors. The LCS will have to depend on an off-board sensor of some sort."

    Isn't this true for most naval vessels? At least there's enough room to launch one or two ScanEagle UAVs with IR sensors. That would be a nice match for the NSM, which uses an IR sensor also.

    1. "Isn't this true for most naval vessels?"

      It is! This is the challenge for the Navy's distributed lethality concept (well, there's lots of problems with it but this is one of the big ones!).

      Unfortunately, a Scan Eagle is not an effective area search asset. In other words, you can't send one out and expect that it will, in short order, sweep a 360 deg area for 200 miles out from the ship. On a relative basis, the Scan Eagle sensor (whatever sensor it might carry) is like looking through a straw. It's a fairly limited field of view. Now, if you already have some idea of where an enemy might be then a small UAV is a good choice and stands a decent chance of finding a target. On the other hand, if you have no idea and are just searching, you're unlikely to find a target barring pure dumb luck.

      The type of sensor is not what makes a good match for the missile but, rather, a sensor that has the same range as the missile so that it can be used to its full capability, meaning range.

      Good comment.

  6. The USN says the NSM will be paired with the "MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter drone used for scouting over-the-horizon targets."
    The range of the NSM is given as around 100nm, which is the horizon you get just by going 10,000ft above the ship.
    The MQ8B was developed from the Sikorsky (Schweizer) S-333 light helicopter. The larger MQ8C was based on the Bell Jetranger type

    'The Navy requirement specified a vertical takeoff & landing (VTOL) aircraft, with a payload capacity of 90 kg (200 lb), a range of 125 miles (200 km), an endurance on station of three hours at an altitude of 20,000 feet (6,100 m)

    Seems to be capable - if you look at the requirements, but the testing have have found otherwise. I dont know what the Pentagon DOT&E found

    1. "The range of the NSM is given as around 100nm, which is the horizon you get just by going 10,000ft above the ship."
      Fire up a few flares as well,

      "Getting a Horizon" and "Searching 30,000 square miles" are quite different.

    2. "which is the horizon you get just by going 10,000ft above the ship."

      Um … You get that a small UAV (or whatever) isn't going to be able to 'see' 100 miles just because it's at a high altitude, right? A small EO/IR can't see a target at 100 miles. You'd still have to send the UAV out there to look. I assume you know this but the way you worded it I just want to be sure.

    3. "an endurance on station of three hours"

      You recognize that there's 24 hours in a day, of course. So, this gives you coverage for 3 hrs. What do you do for the other 21 hrs? That's the problem with using ship based helo/UAV for surveillance - their coverage time is quite limited.

      Also, this gives you coverage on the selected spot, say a 10 deg arc. What's in the other 350 degrees? In WWII, carriers used to send our dozens of scout planes every morning in 360 deg around the ship. An LCS with a single helo and single UAV, say, can only cover 10-20 deg of arc and only for a few hours a day. For most of the day and most of the arc, the LCS is blind. Despite this reality, the Navy thinks they'll have magical total situational awareness while the enemy has none. This is the basis of the Navy's delusional distributed lethality concept.

    4. I just mentioned that height because the horizon changes as you go higher. Im not trying to show that this drone makes the LCS some sort of wonderful capability. Just that the over the horizon targeting is in theory a possibility. Having more than one on board would be good as well,( because it can carry up to 2 SH60 type so theres room and even one of those provides a good targeting capability)
      The actual sensors Firescout carries would be interesting to look at in more detail

    5. Regarding targetting, doenst the NSM have its own terminal targetting. However open ocean is quite easy to search, its the basis of long range ASW from medium altitudes where they are looking for a small target like a periscope or snorkel, which might only seen for a short time.
      The caveat is of course that DOT&E could well have found they 'are not there yet'

    6. From what I can find the FireScout seems to have the following main sensors
      There are multiple modes from vision to SAR but the important in this context is
      'Maritime Wide Area Search – Lynx's MWAS mode detects ship and boat traffic in various sea state conditions'
      Another separate system is
      which seems to be mostly SAR type system
      The discussion shouldnt be that the LCS has no targeting but whether they systems deployed on the MQ8B are marginal, capable or highly effective at what they are designed for . Remembering that its not designed to protect a carrier group on its own in wartime or that a single LCS with only a single MQ8B would be the optimal configuration in high threat situations.

    7. "doenst the NSM have its own terminal targetting."

      It does but it's a very small field of view. If you can get the missile near the target, it can take over and finish the job but it's not a wide area search sensor.

      " effective at what they are designed for"

      I have no doubt that the radar is effective for what it was designed for. However, what it was designed for (mainly land targets) does not appear to be adequate for what the LCS needs to be an effective 100-300 mile anti-ship shooter (yes, the Naval Strike Missile claims up to 300 mile range depending on flight profile).

      From your cited reference we see the manuf claims a max range of 80km (50 miles) in SAR mode. You can bet this is an utterly unrealistic scenario under ideal conditions with a large, decidedly non-stealthy target. Throw in wave clutter, weather, a small/med size target, and a bit of stealth and the EFFECTIVE range is likely 10-20 miles.

      The other unstated specification is the field of view. Again, your reference cites two SAR modes: spotlight, which is a very narrow view to provide resolution and strip mode which is a long, narrow strip. Neither constitute what anyone would consider EFFECTIVE wide area search.

      As I've stated, if you already have a pretty good idea where an enemy is, a UAV can be effective at pinpointing the location. On the other hand, if you have no idea, a single UAV (or even two) is a very poor maritime search asset, offering both limited field of view and limited time.

    8. DOT&E assesment

    9. "DOT&E assessment"

      A few tidbits from the report:

      "The MQ-8B radar demonstrated low detection rates for intended targets."

      "The MQ-8B demonstrated an inconsistent capability to detect target boats."

      " capability to employ its communications relay payload to communicate with other platforms was not consistent."

  7. IMPORTANT: something is up in the SCS "USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and some unidentified warships were seen sailing in the area north-east of Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on September 28."

    1. Its founding of the republic week in china

      Probably just dicketry trying to disrupt the parade

  8. A few things.
    -I think the real enabler here would be to get the NSM mounted on the MH-60 like India is doing.
    - The MQ-8C now has the Osprey Radar w/ 240 degree coverage. Yes, time on station is a problem, but I think built in high quality radar with link 16 is the real enabler for UAVs. Both TExtron Aerosonde and RQ-21 are going to field small SAR radars increasing their range and field of view also. It still won't compare with MQ-8C or manned platforms, but it helps.

  9. My guess on the the green discharge is latex green paint or simple green out a grey water discharge pipe . It doesn't seem there are any Indy class LCS sailors here . Does anyone have any interior schematics/deck layouts? Seems to be in line with the floor of habitation area deck

  10. If they could inly shoehorn ESSM capability in these oversized missile boats now they may have a halfway decent light frigate

    1. Well, not really. There's no getting around that fact that the LCS is, inherently, and by design, intended to be abandoned at the first hit - that's not exactly frigate criteria, light or otherwise.

      Also, 8 missiles is not exactly a frigate weapon load, even a 'light' frigate. That's not even corvette weapon load. It's barely a missile patrol boat!

    2. An oversized and overpriced missile boat at that much rather of a whole bunch of Pegasus ttpe hydrofoils than LCS

    3. The Chinese have a very nice missile boat, the Type 22. If you're not familiar with it, you should check it out.

    4. Let's be honest, 8 missiles was a standard Harpoon load for many USN ships during the Cold War - the Spruances used to tool about with 8 Harpoons, the Ticos had 8 Harpoons, these are just the first examples that come to mind. I recall being told of USN Operational Research that suggested that 8 missiles was about the sweet spot, because it was expected that a warship would not live long enough in combat to fire off more than 8 missiles.

      Ofc, things today change, but if one really needed to have as many missiles as possible on an LCS, there's always the option of using the flight deck. The extra wide flight deck on the Independence-class LCSes theoretically suggests that you could have space to put NSM canisters and still have a bit of space for UAV flight ops - well, assuming you didn't decide to just abandon flight ops and use the helo pad to put as many NSM canisters as possible, like all the OPVs have have flight decks but not helo hangars.

    5. "Let's be honest"

      Now, let's be accurate. Standard, Sea Sparrow, and, later, ESSM missiles all have dual mode AAW/anti-surface modes. Thus, the Spruance and Ticos, to use your examples, carried many dozens of anti-ship missiles. As you recall, Simpson and Wainwright both fired Standard missiles in anti-surface mode during the 1988 Operation Praying Mantis incident.

      The Navy's last frigate, the Perrys, had a 40-round missile magazine of Standards, Harpoons, and ASROC. Thus, they had 30+ anti-ship capable missiles.

      Most modern frigates have 20-30 VLS with missiles that are, generally, dual mode and thus have far more anti-ship capability than an 8-missile LCS.

      So, now that we're accurate about anti-ship capability, let's take a look at the notion of loading missiles on the flight deck of an LCS. As documented in numerous reports, the LCSes are overweight and have little to negative weight growth margins. The Freedom class also has severe stability issues. Further, the flight decks of both classes are structurally quite weak and are the reason why the aviation aircraft capacity is so limited despite the large area of the flight decks and hangars. The concept of loading banks of missiles on the flight deck is not even remotely feasible.

    6. "my justification for comparing Harpoon and NSM loadouts."

      No, you didn't compare Harpoon and NSM. Your deleted post was the first mention of NSM. You misspoke in your original post and I corrected it. Own it and move on.

      The rest of your deleted post was a simple recitation of common facts and offered no new value to the discussion.

    7. You know, when I mention Harpoon in response to your comment about 8 missiles, which is more reasonable to infer:

      - That I am counting every single possible missile that can be used in an ASuW scenario?
      - Or that I am comparing like to like?

    8. "You know, when I mention Harpoon ... infer:"

      I infer nothing. I read what you actually write.

  11. A simple question while all ASM'S claim over the horizon ranges in reality the only time they have been used in actual combat situations they were used in close proximity am I not right ie. Israel Gabriel had a 12 mile range Styx missile's weren't much longer range or the Harpoon when used in the Persian gulf was it not relative close ranged engagement in that light would it not be assumed these extended ranges are a moot point?

    1. "would it not be assumed these extended ranges are a moot point?"

      As I've harped on repeatedly, a missile is only as good as the targeting sensor. A thousand mile missile is useless if all you have is a 15 mile sensor.

      Closely related, the US insists on positive, visual identification of targets to avoid neutral or friendly fire incidents. That also negates weapon range. Of course, in an all out peer war that would presumably change but your point about extended ranges is completely valid.

  12. Maybe the vest sensor we have is the old mk2 eyeballs with a very good set of binoculars

    1. This was the problem we had with PT boats in WWII - they couldn't find the targets. The PT boat torpedoes far outranged their sensors, especially at night which was when the boats operated.

      The technology may change but the problems remain the same.


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