Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Mk16 ASROC and Harpoon Launcher

Before the advent of VLS, missiles were launched from some type of arm or box launcher.  One such launcher was the Mk16 ASROC/Harpoon box launcher.  Let’s take a closer look at the launcher.

 

The Mk16 was an 8-cell box launcher that could rotate and elevate to provide complete hemispherical coverage (minus superstructure cut outs, of course).  The launcher was sized for ASROC (RUR-5) and Harpoon missiles.  Early systems had no reloads while latter versions mounted on Spruance, Knox, California, and other classes had up to 16 automated reloads.(1)


Mk16 Launcher

 

We’ve previously discussed the relative merits of single arm launchers and VLS systems (see, “VLS Versus Arm Launchers”) and the Mk16 ASROC launcher benefits fall into the single arm category.  Trainable launchers offer some advantages over vertical launchers, as we’ve noted. 

   

In addition, one of the major benefits of a box launcher is that it has no significant deck penetration into the hull as opposed to VLS and arm launcher systems which consume large volumes of internal hull space.  Of course, the reloadable versions of the box launcher require internal volume for storage of the reloads.

 

Another benefit of the box launcher was the ability to mix loads of ASROC and Harpoon.  The reloadable version of the box launcher offered a maximum of 24 Harpoon missiles which far outguns any Navy ship today.  Even a reasonable mix would offer, say, 8 ASROC and 16 Harpoon.

 

It is worth noting that today’s VLS still does not support Harpoon anti-ship missiles although the Navy is looking at adapting the LRASM anti-ship missile to vertical launch.  Given anticipated budget constraints, that may or may not come to fruition and Navy interest appears to have greatly abated.

 

Before one scoffs at the outdated technology of a box launcher, it should be noted that the Navy, today, employs box launchers for Sea Sparrow missiles (Mk29 launcher) on carriers and RAM launchers, which are just a smaller version of a box launcher, on a variety of ships.  Similarly, the Army uses box launchers extensively.

 

Mk29 Launcher and RAM Launcher in Background


Just as we’ve previously noted that the arm launchers have certain advantages over VLS systems, box launchers share some of the same advantages such as being able to train directly at the threat and launching horizontally which eliminates the vertical tip-over and gets missiles on the threat faster.  With that in mind, it is worth considering a wider application of box launchers, possibly with the earlier combination of Harpoon and ASROC missiles.

 

ASROC Launch

 

 

Launcher with Reload Hatches in the Superstructure to the Left


 

Launcher Behind 5" Gun

 

 

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(1)http://www.seaforces.org/wpnsys/SURFACE/RUR-5-ASROC.htm


40 comments:

  1. Another option are soft launch missiles some navies have used, do have disadvantages but big advantage is the rocket motor ignites outside of the launch tube as the missile is ejected non-explosively. The Mk16 would be able to launch soft launch missiles head on with no blast container required to protect the bridge, the Mk41 VLS cell would not require complicated and expensive system to contain and direct the super hot rocket exhaust.

    As always a trade off and now Navy committed to the MK41, would note one advantage of Mk41 is that as below deck level aids the ship stability, which would suggest deck launched canister missiles reserved for lighter missiles, said to be the reason the Navy selected the NSM.

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  2. Does it really matter anymore. Seems like Navy cares more about DEI, which is a sham, vice maintaining, training and equipping combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the sea.

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  3. The launcher was a reliable piece of gear. The loader crane, on the other hand, was a Rube Goldberg nightmare.

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    1. Hey! Rube's my neighbor. Nice guy. Always building stuff in his garage.

      Delete
  4. Not sure what the 2 little guy turrets are for, but Falaj III seems to have a slant towards turreted. All for $238.3 million a piece. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2021/05/uae-navy-orders-falaj-3-class-offshore-patrol-vessels-from-adsb/

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    1. It would appear to be 2x Oto Melara Hitrole-G 12.7 mm remote operated machine guns. If so, those are just tiny machine guns. Useful for patrol duties but no help in combat.

      Delete
  5. "Box launchers share some of the same advantages such as being able to train directly at the threat and launching horizontally which eliminates the vertical tip-over and gets missiles on the threat faster."

    That only matters at short range. For long-range attack and defense, i.e., 100+ miles, there should be plenty of time for the missile to properly orient itself.

    Anyways, according to Wikipedia, the Harpoon can be launched from VLS cells. Do USN ships deploy with Harpoons in their VLS cells, but the service chose not to publicize what it considered a detail as "extraneous" as what brand of hair shears are used in the ships' onboard barber shops? Or are those ships actually without antiship weapons, excluding the 5" gun and "innovative" (Ha!) use of Standard Missiles?

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    1. Either Wiki is incorrect (shocking!) or you misunderstood something. Harpoon is not VLS capable. It can be launched from submarine tubes (maybe that's what you read?). On surface ships it is launched from the Mk141 rack launcher.

      Currently, due to inventory and shelf life limitations, Harpoon is only loaded on a ship that is headed for what the Navy considers to be a potential danger area.

      Delete
  6. ASROC might benefit from a trainable box launcher. But, what's the difference in range if launched vertically as opppsed to at an angle?

    One advantage with VLS is weapons density, one could probably fit 16 VLS cells in the same deck space as a Mk16 launcher.

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    1. One could probably not fit 16 VLS in the deck space of a Mk16. Rather than speculate, why don't you look up the dimensions and then tell us for sure, one way or the other?

      One would also consume a great deal of below deck space for a VLS as opposed to a Mk16.

      Finally, I would point out that no one has suggested replacing VLS with Mk16 - only that consideration be given to using them to launch ASROC and Harpoon, thereby freeing up VLS cells for Tomahawk, Standard, and ESSM.

      Delete
    2. Well, a 64 cell VLS is 249 inches wide and 343 inches long. A 16 cell VLS would be roughly be 125 inches by 172 inches long.

      A ship-launched Harpoon missile is 180 inches long (per Wiki). Let’s assume that is the length of the Mk16 box launcher itself. Since a box launcher rotates, the deck space a Mk16 box launcher is a square 180 inches on a side. So, roughly speaking, a 16 cell VLS (2 x 8-cell sections) would fit within the deck space of a Mk 16 box launcher.

      Granted, a VLS would take up space below the deck, but so would reloads and reloading equipment for a box launcher. And, as the Australians have demonstrated with their upgrades to their Adelaide-class frigates, a VLS doesn’t have to be mounted flush to the deck.

      I understand your premise about freeing up space for more Tomahawks and SAMs, but where would you put a box launcher on a Burke? I don’t see the deck space for one. However, I can see the Navy making more use of deck mounted canister launchers like the Mk 141 launcher for the Harpoon missile.

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    3. "where would you put a box launcher on a Burke?"

      I have no idea which is probably why I never suggested it. It is very difficult to add equipment to an existing ship. We should be considering inclusion of box launchers for future ships.

      That said, looking at an overhead drawing of a Burke (see, Burke Overhead) I can see 6-10 possible locations such as aft the rear VLS on top of the hangar, forward of the boat area p/s, aft the bridge area p/s, in the CIWS locations for those ships that lack one or both, port side of stack structure, and so on.

      Delete
    4. When you mentioned "freeing up VLS cells for Tomahawk, Standard, and ESSM" that limited to application to the Burkes and Ticos as they are the only surace ships equipped with all three. For the Burke, one could fit a box launcher aft the rear VLS on top of the hangar, but that would block the field of view of the aft CWIS against anything coming up right behind you. The other locations might work, but they could also be locations for deck mounted Harpoons and NSMs as well. Maybe LRASMs and even ASROCs, if that were possible.

      I'm still curious about the difference in range between a box launched ASROC and VLS launched ASROC. The VLS ASROC has a range of 24,000 yards per Wiki. Based on publicly available information, a larger booster looks to be possible and still fit within the confines of a tactical length cell.

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    5. If the Navy could replace the 16 deck mounted antiship missiles on the Constellation class with 24 to 32 strike-length VLS cells, that would help (albietly mildly) offset the looming reduction in the number of VLS cells in the fleet, as well as, add new capabilities to these ships.

      Delete
    6. "that limited to application to the Burkes and Ticos"

      Not at all! This applies to future ships and we're currently beginning programs for multiple unmanned ship classes, advanced Burkes, a new large surface combatant, etc. In addition, the Marine Commandant wants various amphibs to be armed. There's also the currently non-functional Zumwalts that need to be turned into something. So, lots of future possibilities.

      It's always preferred to design in a weapon system from the start rather than to try to fit something on an existing ship.

      Delete
    7. "It's always preferred to design in a weapon system from the start rather than to try to fit something on an existing ship."

      I wholeheartedly agree. But, in the case of the Zumwalts, anything that replaces the AGS should be as stealthly as the gun mounts themselves.

      And, I agree with your premise of using a box launcher to fire ESSMs at close range threats. Though at some range the difference between a vertical and horizonta launch ESSM is negligible to none at all. Something like BAE's Adaptable Deck Launcher might be an option providing you have enough for full coverage.

      As for Harpoons, ASROCs, and the like, VLS and fixed-angle canister launchers should suffice.

      The key, I think, is increasing the number of VLS cells a ship can carry. The Constellation class is a pretty big ship to carry only 32 VLS cells.

      Delete
    8. "The Constellation class is a pretty big ship to carry only 32 VLS cells." I wonder the same thing as well until I saw the scale model. If you think about it, the frontal? space is extremely underutilized, I envision we could fit at least 2 additional Mk16 launcher. Or we could fit one in the front and one in the back between the NSM. That would bring the total cells to 48.

      However, I believe that the Navy is procuring the frigate for ASW and ASuW mission so one would assume the VLS is only there for limited AAW self-defense. Maybe less is better?

      Link of Constellation class for reference: https://g7a6v6x7.rocketcdn.me/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Fincantieri-Marine-Group-FFGX-Frigate-FREMM.jpg

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    9. In the case of the Zumwalts there is plenty of space for box launchers and reloads if you replace the 155mm kludges wasting deck/underdeck space.
      They could be larger than the Mk16 mentioned are with say a 12-16 round box. The existing gun shell elevator space and ammunition would be utilized for reloads and the reloading elevator for the box launcher. The box launchers could of course be made with stealthy coatings/faceting. The current VLS cell would used strictly for AA self.
      defense. So you could have 12-16 ASROC and and equal number of Harpoon/LARSM on tap with dozens of reloads below decks.
      In fact instead of loading missiles into the boxes you could load the boxes themselves using preloaded cannisters derived from VLS cells. Then you could have have a trainable launcher capable of using anything a vls does.

      Delete
  7. A big advantage is the explosive missiles are outside the hull, which is a huge advantage if they explode due to battle damage. You can also place cheap, simple rockets in the launchers that are very valuable for basic shore attack, close engagements, and anti-missile screens. Our ships in the Persian Gulf would love to have these right now to deal with pesky boats and possible surprise missile barrages.

    https://www.g2mil.com/NAVROC.htm


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  8. Realistically, Harpoon is an outdated anti ship missiles can be easily intercepted by nations with high tech systems.

    Navy even considers LRASM as an intermediate stop gap weapons after AGM-158b development failed. Current LRASM is AGM-158a. The AGM-158b calls for subsonic cruise followed by high supersonic attack. Worse, China's YJ-18 has achieved this function. What a shame defense industry brought us.

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    1. A knife is also a "obsolete weapon", yet most infantry and other tactical team members carry them as a last ditch weapon.

      Harpoon can still be effective if incorporated into an attack with other high end weapons, and of course it can be used against enemy ships that have suffered significant damage to their radars and weapons.

      GAB

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    2. Knives are also useful when a gunshot can alert the enemy to your presence.

      And, the Navy is currently upgrading their Harppons to the Block II+ configuration which has improved electronics, a longer range due to a lighter warhead (~300 lbs), and the ability to recieve midcourse updates.

      Delete
    3. If you have money, why continue servicing a clunker than buy a new car? Once current stock of Harpoon are used out or reach their lives, then, no more replenish is the correct way.

      Delete
    4. @Anonymous: prudence dictates that Harpoon remain in service until a replacement is available and at least in LRIP.

      No replacement is in site, and even if it was, it will take years to build up a useful inventory.

      This is yet another reason not to squander national resources on unnecessary wars of choice...

      Delete
  9. Greetings, All! Skipper, how's vindication feel? The Navy wants to mothball LCS. Shocking. They have resistence from a Congress-Critter or two, however:
    https://www.rt.com/usa/524185-freedom-independence-navy-retiring-lcs/

    Cheers to all and thanks for your good work and research, Skipper!

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    1. Actually, the article only says that the first four LCS's are to be retired, not the whole fleet. What happened was that the first four were in sort of a research and development mode, and lack some things that are in the remainder of the ships. The Navy says that it would take more money to upgrade them to the standard of the rest of the fleet than it is worth. Hence, the retirement. This isn't new news. It's been known for awhile.

      I'd also like to mention that rt.com would not be my first choice of a source for reliable information, since I believe it is a Russian propaganda organ.

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    2. "the first four were in sort of a research and development mode"

      After the fact, and due to attempts to correct many design failings, that may be true. However, at the time, Navy leaders went to great lengths to emphasize that the vessels were NOT prototypes; that they were full up, fully functional warships. The R&D prototype claim is an after the fact spin to justify the early retirement.

      Now, that doesn't mean that the rationale for early retirement isn't valid. Those ships are out of sync with the subsequent vessels but that is a result of design failings to the point of professional malpractice.

      Finally, we should keep firmly in mind that if the Navy really believed that the first ships were R&D prototypes then the Navy committed near-criminal failing by ordering and building dozens more ships BEFORE THE LESSONS OF THE PROTOTYPES HAD BEEN LEARNED. By definition, a prototype is a SINGLE ship that is built BEFORE committing to subsequent ships. The Navy can't have it both ways. If they were prototypes then the Navy is grossly negligent for building subsequent ships before completing the prototypes and learning the lessons. If they weren't prototypes - and the Navy plainly stated that they weren't - then their early retirement can't be justified on that basis.

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    3. Mot defending the way the LCS program went, but they really neeed multiple "proto-types" since the LCS is really two different ships and to work out the whole mess of the three different configurations/modules for those two ship designs. If the modules had been ready to go , it is argueable they needed 6 prototypes (3 of each design/ship). But its all water under the bridge , these LCS ship's are useless and way-way too operationally expensive and mechanically fragile to even to do drug interdiction, Which is not a job for a "war-ship" anyway.

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    4. Correction^ "Mot" -should be "Not" .

      Delete
    5. " it is argueable they needed 6 prototypes"

      Not at all! As the Navy has repeatedly stated, the modules, as designed and intended, were swappable. Thus, there would be no need for a prototype ship for each module because, by definition, the ships would be identical regardless of the type of embarked module. The modules would have no connection to the host ship other than a set of standardized utility connectors.

      Even the argument that two prototype ships were needed, one each for the two different variants, is misguided since no sane acquisition program should ever consist of two variants whose specs and job description are identical and yet have little or nothing in common. That's just design idiocy and acquisition malpractice.

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    6. "since no sane acquisition program" -TY for agreeing with me. CNO

      "That's just design idiocy and acquisition malpractice."-yep

      Be happy they only got away with 4. ComNavOPs, + the other 31 LOL. Hell, they are still building the 31.
      Of course I was being funny, but I was also putting it in real world terms, from what should have been expected of the USN today. 6 proto-types, would have logical for how they do things now.

      Delete
  10. "I'd also like to mention that rt.com would not be my first choice of a source for reliable information, since I believe it is a Russian propaganda organ." Sure thing, Bob.

    The article was by an American writer, Bob. I'm not about to get into political considerations here, but since you mentioned it, what on earth are WashPost and NYTimes but propaganda organs? Who saw all this and wrote nothing of the truth? You should broaden your horizons a little. Martyanov and Karlin are others who have written of this along with Phillip Girardi and of course, our Commander here. Without them, we'd know nothing of this.

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    1. Let's keep it impersonal. I don't know anything about the site so I can't comment directly but on the subject of propaganda, I would note that most official Navy spokesmen and sites are propaganda. One only has to listen to or read the glowing reports about LCS, Zumwalt, Ford, etc. and then compare them to reality to realize that. There's nothing wrong with propaganda as long as one filters the information accordingly - as we should do with everything we hear or read!

      Even this blog is propaganda, in a sense. Although I try to keep posts as scrupulously factual and objective as I can, the overall blog has an agenda and I have - and offer - subjective opinions all the time. To be fair to myself, I try hard to clearly delineate the facts from opinions.

      So, propaganda is everywhere, to varying degrees. Note it, filter it, and extract the useful information from it. I deal with known propaganda by cross-checking information. I try very hard to never take any single source as fact. If I can verify a piece of information from an second, independent source then I'm comfortable with it. If not, I'm suspicious.

      'Nuff said!

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    2. Let's not play at false equivalencies.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RT_America

      RT America is a U.S.-based pay television and internet-based[1] news channel which is part of the RT network, a global multilingual television news network based in Moscow, Russia, funded and controlled by the Russian government.[2][3][4]

      The channel is registered as a "foreign agent" with the United States Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). A 2017 report by the United States Intelligence Community characterized RT as "The Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet" and said that RT America had been set up as an autonomous nonprofit organization to avoid FARA's registration requirement.[5][6] RT America claims that it reaches 85 million people in the United States, but this figure is disputed.[7]

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    3. That will wrap up any further news network discussion. Thanks.

      Delete
    4. To those who commented further despite my end-of-thread notice, I deleted the comments. Let's get back to naval matters.

      I'll repeat, the network news propaganda discussion is terminated.

      Delete
  11. This is not related to today's post, but it seemed interesting and apropos of the blog's areas of interest

    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40054/adversary-drones-are-spying-on-the-u-s-and-the-pentagon-acts-like-theyre-ufos

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  12. The ability to point a missile at the target also makes optical/IR and laser guided seekers heads feasible.

    The French Crotale R440 and its progeny are excellent examples of short-range air defense missile systems based on a trainable launcher.

    I believe that the Mark 16 ASROC launcher had a sea sparrow missile capability.

    GAB

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  13. Perhaps a simplified version of box launcher: A turntable with fixed angle cannisters like the Harpoon quadpack. True you lose the vertical dimension but gain simplicity and lower mechanical complexity.
    Besides the Harpoon being an obvious candidate, just about any canister mounted weapon could be used, maybe even adapting the ASROC to a simple canister.. The BAE above deck launcher which holds 4 VLS cells at an angle could be mounted that way. If expanded to 8 cells you would be replicating the capacity of a MK16 but with greater versatility.
    If the new Frigate replaced the space taken by a nearly useless 57mm with a small canister launching turntable, you could use it to launch ESSM while reserving the VLS for VLA-ASROCK and LARSM.

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  14. My thought was to install a mk46 type launcher on LCS seems to a way of getting ESSM type system aboard

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