Home » Air » DARPA Works On New Anti-Ship Missile

DARPA Works On New Anti-Ship Missile

by Richard Sisk on November 14, 2013

anti-ship missileThe Defense Department’s top research agency has focused on developing a program to make sure that the Navy is not “outsticked” by China as U.S. forces re-balance to the Pacific.

“We’re looking at a long-range anti-ship missile” to counter China’s development of its own long-range strike assets, said Dr. Arati Prabhakar, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. “We’re concerned about being ‘out-sticked’” in what has been dubbed the “Pacific pivot” of troops and ships following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Prabhakar said.

Prabhakar spoke at the opening of an all-day forum on military issues sponsored by the Defense One website.

China’s development of the DF-21D ASBM (Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile), technically a cruise missile dubbed the “carrier killer,” has raised alarms on Capitol Hill. “We are technically ‘out-sticked’ by Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) right now,” Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., head of the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

Forbes told the RealClearDefense website last week that that the Navy’s main anti-ship missile, the Harpoon, “does not have the range or survivability” to match the threat from the Chinese Navy.

However, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service last spring reported that the threat from the Chinese anti-ship missiles was not quite the “game changer” that some defense analysts had feared.

The Navy and the Air Force could counter by “employing a combination of active and passive measures” against the Chinese missiles, the CRS said in a report. One of the methods suggested by the CRS to defeat the Chinese system would be to equip Navy ships with electronic warfare systems that could generate radar “smoke clouds” to confuse the terminal guidance systems of the Chinese missiles.

In August, DARPA and the Office of Naval Research conducted the first flight of a prototype in the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program, which is meant to develop a weapon that can hit enemy ships out of the range of a counter-strike.

A B-1 bomber from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron conducted the mission from Dyess Air Force Base, Tex., to the Point Mugu Sea Test Range off the coast of southern California and successfully hit a moving target, DARPA said. Halfway to the target, the missile switched to its autonomous guidance system, which completed the mission, DARPA said.

“This fully functional test is a significant step in providing the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force with a next-generation anti-ship missile capability,” Artie Mabbett, the DARPA program manager for the LRASM, said after the test.

At the Defense One forum, Prabhakar said the autonomous guidance system for the LRASM was vital vital to counter an enemy’s potential ability to jam Global Positioning Satellite guidance.

Prabhakar also noted DARPA’s difficulty in doing work on space systems in an era of cost-cutting and declining budgets.

Space “is a place where cost is just an overwhelming issue,” Prabhakar said. “It’s so hard, it takes so long to do anything in space. Even the smallest satellite costs tens of millions of dollars,” she said.

The budget cuts also put the future of defense research at risk, Prahhakar said. Unless Congress lifts the sequester cuts that will take about $500 billion out of defense spending over the next 10 years, “we’re going to have a future of power point (presentations) and not real systems,” she said. “We want to do things that really get built.”

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{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

Preston VT November 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Anyone know the context of the stock photo included in the posting? There appears to be a civilian tanker in the background, behind which is another ship also firing a missile. Would the two Navy vessels really be test firing missiles with a civilian tanker so close and between them? It's possible the tanker is actually a Navy support vessel (oiler, etc.), but as best as I can tell it appears to be white, not grey. Just wondering…


Big-Dean November 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

that could be a USNS ship, but I can't tell what type or class


RRGED November 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

There is a naval ship just behind what appears to be a tanker firing as we'll.


Chuck November 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Valiant Shield was a big war game off Guam. Easy to imagine that if they needed some extra bunkering just for those few weeks, they would just contract with a civilian tanker, rather than put an additional Navy tanker into use for just a few weeks.

We've got enough backup tankers to maintain that kind of tempo if there is a real war, but no need to change the peacetime stationing of tankers just for a short exercise.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm


The following units are among those participating.
U.S. Navy:
* Task Force 70 (CTF 70)
* USS George Washington (CVN 73)
* Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW 5)
* Destroyer Squadron 15 (CDS 15)
* USS Cowpens (CG 63)
* USS Mustin (DDG 89)
* USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)
* USS McCampbell (DDG 85)
* USS Chafee (DDG-90)
* USS Chung Hoon (DDG 93)
* USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE-6)
* USNS John Ericcson (T-AO-194)
* Patrol Squadrons (VP) 5, 8, 40 and 69
* Air and test Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1
* Special Project Patrol Squadron (VPU) 2
* Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1
* Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132
U.S. Air Force
* 613 Air Operations Center (AOC) Det.
* 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS)
* 18th Aggressor Squadron (AS)
* 506th and 909th Air Refueling Squadrons (ARS)
* 551st Airborne Air Control Squadron (AACS)
* 12th Reconnaissance Squadron (RS)
* 527th Space Aggressor Squadron (SAS)
* 25th Space Range Squadron (SRS)
* 69th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron (EBS)
U.S. Marine Corps
* Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)) 225
* Marine Aerial Refueling Squadron (VMGR) 152
* Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 4

Guess the ship in the background firing might be one of the following:

* USS Mustin (DDG 89)
* USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)
* USS McCampbell (DDG 85)
* USS Chafee (DDG-90)
* USS Chung Hoon (DDG 93)

And the ship in between the Cowpens and mystery destroyer might be the John Ericsson? Bridge has those wing structures to the port and starboard, the Earhart's superstructure is boxier and more compact.


Curt November 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Eric Ericsson would be grey. Given it has a white superstructure and black hull, obviously a US Controlled ship, and clearly some type of tanker, my guess would be one of MSC's T5 tankers. There are at least a couple in the Pacific that carry refined products to US bases.


Chuck November 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

That would make sense. USNS Richard Matthiesen is painted similarly to the one in the pic. Some of the MSC tankers seem to carry that paint scheme.

Steve B. November 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm

That's a Harpoon in the photo.

As well, the DF-21D is emphatically not a "cruise" missile, but is a derivative of the DF21 ballistic missile, used by China.


blight_ November 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Wonder if those SM missiles will do the job against a BM coming in from above at terminal velocity? Fire a ripple and hope for the best?


Big-Dean November 14, 2013 at 7:12 pm

it worked in Tom Clancy's book ;-D


Rest Pal November 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm

And only in books by Tom Clancy or lousy fiction writers like him.


joe November 15, 2013 at 4:16 am

The Standard-based ABM is one of the few bits of the missile defence programme which seems to have worked fairly well, so theoretically it should work okay.


Curt November 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

All the SM2 Blk 4s have been modified for inter-atmosphere ballistic missile intercepts and have done pretty well in tests.
A version of SM-6 is supposed to replace the SM2 in that role.


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm

The SM-3 missiles are designed to knock down missiles like the DF-21D. Each sucessive block is getting more capable, and should be useful in knocking down most enemy ballistic missiles (ICBMs with very long ranges may be to fast). SM-6 missiles are mainly designed against air breathing threats. The navy needs to get a handle on attacking over the horizon threats using tracks developed from E-2Ds or other sources. Actually, the APG-79 AESA radar would likely provide the best track data for the SM-6 over the horizon, but it would have to be data linked to the ship or missile some how.


STemplar November 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Anyone read the Rand study on land based anti ship missiles? If the Army an the Marines were smart they would ditch some of their silly procurement notions an develop a land based mobile ant ship missile that is MLRS compatible.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 9:10 am

An ATACMS that could track targets might be fun…


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 9:11 am

The INF treaty gives us a lower bound of 500km, so we should still be able to procure missiles up to that range for the army.


STemplar November 15, 2013 at 11:07 am
blight_ November 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

Probably also the limit for tracking infrastructure as well. And of course, any anti-ship missile system needs self-defense capability, either by land or by sea.


STemplar November 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Being mobile is a big plus because it doesn't need to even be maintained in the region. An MLRS/HIMARS option would be air transportable. It complicates China's options considerably. The air launched version from the B1 alone is I'm sure a real headache for them. Half a dozen B1s could carry enough to put 100+ vessels under.

tchump November 18, 2013 at 1:25 am

Why would the US Army or Marines need an anti-ship missile? Every possible scenario, the only ships on their coastline are their own.


blight_ November 18, 2013 at 7:49 am

Because by denying the ability of the enemy to operate near the first island chain, it shifts operational freedom /back/ to the US Navy. Probably why Taiwan has tons of anti-ship missiles and defenses while maintaining a Navy: gives them the option to attack elsewhere and defend with anti-ship missiles (and maybe SRBMs if they have them somewhere…)


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 8:06 pm

A GMLRS with an inexpensive uncooled IR seeker like that being developed for the SDB-II would be very capable in an anti-ship role. They can only decoy a ship so long against infrared seekers. The biggest challenge would be to place the ship inside a basket that the IR seeker can view. But, in an anti-invasion mode, with a large enemy invasion force, that should be fairly easy. Ensuring you have enough missiles would be the real problem.


PolicyWonk November 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm

China’s development of the DF-21D ASBM (Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile), technically a cruise missile dubbed the “carrier killer,” has raised alarms on Capitol Hill.
This is dumb. If the ChiComs built a true ASBM, we can resolve that problem easily, by simply informing them, that if a ballistic missile is launched, we have no way to determine if the warhead is nuclear or otherwise.

Therefore, we will respond (i.e. launch) accordingly, assuming the worst case.

Thats what the Russians told the US when GWB was POTUS, and the idea of "Global Strike" (conventional ICBM) was floated. That put the kibosh on that idea PDQ.


JCross November 15, 2013 at 12:12 am

DF-21D is great on paper. It's only as good as it's targeting information, and it still has to get through ABM defense.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 11:50 am

If they could tow Minsk World to sea and then put a DF-21 into it while it was being towed, I'd consider that an achievement.

Or an old tanker, teleoperated to execute evasive maneuvers…but as we all know, CVN's are far faster than a silly supertanker. However, being able to track a target, coupled with Mach 10 or Mach 20…does it matter if you're going at 20, 50 or 60 knots? You're still moving too slowly.


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Actually, the Chinese likely still need to work on a radar that will function at terminal velocity. Radiating while plasma is flowing over the nose cone is rather difficult. If the warhead is slowed to allow the radar to function, then it becomes much more easy to target. Finally, the radar can be jammed or decoyed also, but we would need to start developing jammers to jam at a near vertical, instead of the more normal horizontal. Finally, you need to consider the home on jam mode that would likely be used as a back-up mode.


Anon November 15, 2013 at 2:59 am

Uhmm, I don't quite get what you are saying.

Will the United States initiate nuclear war? Based on an attack on a ship?


Concerned November 15, 2013 at 3:06 am

Not to mention that CONVENTIONAL ballistic missiles, with high accuracy, will certainly be used by the "ChiComs" en masse to attack such legitimate target sets as bridges, transport nodes, naval bases, airfields and command and control nodes.

Are we gonna go nuclear as soon as those conventional ballistic missiles are used? Do we fire first, knowing the enemy also has nukes?

IMHO, after thinking about it . . . we won't.


PolicyWonk November 15, 2013 at 7:36 am

I was simply pointing out, that the mere threat of doing so, coming from the Russians, stopped the US dead in its tracks. If we detect multiple ballistic missile launches, do you seriously believe we can tell the difference between a conventional vs. nuclear warhead, and how are we supposed to know they aren't firing nukes?

If things got that bad with the ChiComs so that we'd be in a shooting war, I wouldn't doubt for a second a lot of folks are our side would launch on warning.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 11:40 am

Remember the original reason we had conventional BM's planned: Prompt Global Strike, anywhere in the world.

We also made the mistake of wanting to fire PGS missiles from CONUS, where the initial launch sites could not be distinguished from ICBMs and we would use Minuteman or Peacekeeper ICBM's If the Russians failed to spot the initial launches from whatever PGS site was chosen (or god forbid, they simply used recycled NoDak missile siloes with PGS) all they would know is a BM was in the air and heading somewhere. And if it was heading towards Russia, Putin would be woken up and given the football for sure. Or Putin's successor, should he be a crazy psycho or a moderate.
Edit: Kind of a red herring. The NoDak missile fields are optimized for an over-the-north-pole strike. A missile launch not over-the-north-pole is unlikely to be aimed at Russia, but it could be a FOBS, so Putin would need the football anyways. No way to really know where the missiles hit except consulting a seismometer…anything big will be picked up and triangulated.

In MAD, so long as you survive the first strike, the other guy is toast.
OTOH, Putin might not rule out SRBM's sited in facilities /other than North Dakota and Vandenberg/, or other traditional ICBM missile fields. Putting SRBMs into Guam, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the like would be hard to call nukes aimed at the Russians; but they are not what PGS had in mind. We can trade our PGS plan for an SRBM plan. Prompt Regional Strike?

Of course, the PRC only has our word that the missiles we use aren't nuclear. We only have their word that their ship-killers are conventional.

Rest Pal November 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

China's anti-ship ballistic missiles do not always follow a ballistic trajectory. They are programmable and maneuverable.

US empty bluffs have never worked, not against China anyway. That's why China is still working on such missiles, gaining in both quality and quantity.

BMs fired at carriers in open oceans have vastly different trajectories than those fired on US proper. The US will make a bigger ass of itself than it already is with a threat on such basis.

I'd posit that even if China nuked US carrier battle groups in the Pacific (or elsewhere), the US won't have the guts to start a nuclear shoot out. The Establishment wants world domination at small costs, not mutual annihilation. China's laser and missile technologies are rumored to be well ahead of the US already. If China had the guts to go head to head against the US in 1951 when it had no economy, no industry, no navy, no air force, and no nuclear weapons, I find it hard to believe that a nuclear-armed China would somehow be intimidated by a now heavily indebted, technologically receding, economically and financially handicapped US.

blight_ November 15, 2013 at 9:10 am

From the perspective of the United States…

At the outset, DSP satellites would detect a number of launches, immediately suggesting a ballistic missile attack. You don't know if they are nuclear or not, but it will likely wake up the POTUS and someone will bring him the nuclear football while NORAD tracks trajectory.

The BM's reach their maximum flight ceiling, and based on their trajectory, you can vaguely guess their targets. If the targets are in Japan, South Korea or the Philippines, or on trajectories pointing vaguely towards city centers, ports of call and the like, you cannot rule out a nuclear strike.

The interesting question is if the ships are in a port. A BM strike on a city probably runs the risk of being deemed a war crime. In today's day and age, we are jaded to war crimes, so maybe killing civilians isn't a big deal.

That said, any missile usage by the PRC will probably bring out the football. If it's an IRBM meant to strike ships as far out as Hawaii, it gets ambiguous. Do you call an IRBM aimed at a carrier group at Pearl Harbor a nuke aimed at an American city or a carrier-killer aimed at a single target? And if not Pearl, what if San Diego, or Bremerton? What if all three? Can you distinguish a carrier-killer strike aimed at Pearl, San Diego and Bremerton from an nuclear attack on Pearl, San Diego and SEATAC?

Depending on which POTUS is in the hot-seat, they may either wait-and-see, or pre-emptively launch when they see a missile going for a carrier group at port in an American city.

If the missiles are aimed at targets in the ocean, it should be pretty obvious they are aiming for military targets, nuclear weapon or otherwise. It's many times easier to find and hit targets in port, but it also raises the risk of getting a stepped up response, especially if the port is a major population center.


Steve B. November 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

The scenario you describe assumes that BM's will be the first element of a strike, THAT would certainly set off alarm bells but is in general, unlikely.

The most likely scenarios are an attempt by PRC to "take" Taiwan. That would likely start off with clear intel of the impending invasion, The US would attempt to warn off the PRC while moving assets to the region. The PRC would invade anyway, starting with air, cruise and BM strikes against Taiwan targets. So right off, the indicators of BM launches show Taiwan as the intended target and would not necessarily be seen by the US intel and military as nuclear, thus no threats to the US. As well, the BM launches would likely not be from regions where we know the PRC stages their ICBM's, thus a bit less concern.

The as we get carriers into the region, any BM launches against a carrier are not going to be assumed to be nuclear, as we know they have BM ant-carrier assets that do not require a nuke warhead to do damage.

So we are not going to assume nuclear at any stage just because BM's are used.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Also, depending on the true range of the DF-21 it may not even have the range to hit Hawaii. In which case, the only targets of interest will be the Pacific islands, and ports in allied nations. I think we will wait-and-see in those cases; so discussions about BM's and nuclear response are actually moot.

Would Japan want us to pre-emptively fire nukes in response to a BM that is aimed from the PRC, possibly at the carrier at port or at the city the port is in? Or are their instructions to the United States to only respond-in-kind?


majr0d November 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm

PW – Not necessarily. We believed the Russians would go nuke if they thought a US ICBM was inbound. The Chinese aren't necessarily convinced we'd act like the Russians even if it was our stated policy. Look at the "red line" in Syria.

In a situation where we had carriers in range of DF-21's, domestic opinion, the Pres at the time, the level of crisis and miscalculations all would all play into the equation.

Responding with nukes to conventional threats isn't always viable, even losing thousands on a carrier. That's why "massive response" fell out of vogue.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm

We believed because we were probably going to use Minuteman for PGS, and probably fire it from Vandenberg or North Dakota. If from North Dakota, determining if missile was ICBM would be from indirect means: is it a single missile? Is it aimed at Russia over-the-pole? Did POTUS go to Andrews and enter the air? Is the US in DEFCON 1?

I always thought that so long as we fired them from platforms separate and distinguishable from our strategic weapons systems we'd be fine, even if we used BM's. Putting SRBM's in pacific islands is clearly not the same as the nukes in North Dakota…but we wanted it from CONUS or bust. So we walked away. We've redefined what we want, so it gives us more options now.


majr0d November 15, 2013 at 11:36 pm

blight – don't disagree with anything you said just tossing in the credibility factor.


Big-B November 15, 2013 at 4:40 am

Just to tell China the USA will go nuclear when fired upon by any ballistc missile is a thin protective shield. I think it is wise to to prepare for that China does not believe it.

Back to topic it might be cheaper to buy off the shelf in Norway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Strike_Missile
But i guess thats not the american way ;-)


Thomas L. Nielsen November 15, 2013 at 5:35 am

"…it might be cheaper to buy off the shelf in Norway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Strike_Missile

Well, if you want to start going that way (off-the-shelf buy), maybe Denmark still has some of these sitting around in mothballs, as an alternative to the LCS:


Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg (expat Dane)


Big-B November 15, 2013 at 5:48 am

Heavily armed for such a small vessel. Not bad :-)
I read somewhere that Denmark has also bigger ships on sale now.
But again thats not the american way: A vessel that cheap cannot be good (for u.s. shipyards)


Thomas L. Nielsen November 18, 2013 at 2:10 am

"I read somewhere that Denmark has also bigger ships on sale now".

That would probably be the frigate-size Absalon class Flexible Support Ship (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absalon-class_support_ship).

These are the "big brothers" of the Flyvefisken class, since the latter were considered too small for blue water operations.

I don't know whether the Absalon class design is offered for sale, though (but I would presume so).

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


SJE November 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Maybe thats because they sell the missiles disassembled and you have to assemble them at home with an allen key. There is always something missing! Or is that only for the Swedish missiles?


Vpanoptes November 16, 2013 at 8:39 pm
WulfTheSaxon November 17, 2013 at 2:28 am

I think you’ll find the KEPD 350 can do a good bit of damage to military targets. :P


blight_ November 17, 2013 at 8:57 am

At least it's low RCS….

superraptor November 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

What a foll you are.The USNavy does not have any tactical nuclear missiles. However China has deployed hundreds, maybe even thousands of tactical nuclear cruise missiles on their ships. It is much more likely, that China will attack our ships with tactical nukes knowing that our ships will not be able to retaliate in kind. You can thank our great leader for his commitment to make us a global Zero and our forces in the pacific will be toast and roast. Stupidity never dies, only the people subjected to it.


blight_ November 18, 2013 at 7:48 am

Interesting thought. If someone nuked military forces, does that open the can of worms for nuking civilian targets? (e.g, the strategic triad designed to rain ICBM's on cities?)


Rest Pal November 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm

When did the US ever hesitated in bombing civilians? NEVER. Afghanistan never had any nuclear weapons. That didn't prevent the US from killing civilians by the tens of thousands. Iraq never had nuclear weapons. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children perished US sanctions alone.

I can't think of a more evil regime than the US regime.

I'd hope that Russia and China would drop the no-first-use policy and nuke all US bases and carrier battle groups in Asia with tactical nuclear bombs in the event of the slightest US intervention, and if the US dare fire a single ICBM from anywhere, then incinerate America, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The US regime is like a rabid dog. Until a master emerges and beat it with a big sticks, it will continue to bark and sh-t everywhere.


Dzus November 19, 2013 at 9:15 am

The Norwegian missile is a medium range weapon, totally different capability than the DARPA project. And the US is looking at buying it, as the joint Strike Missile, for air launched ground attack.
That's the American way.


josh November 15, 2013 at 10:05 am

Ok .. why havent we developed a anti ship missile more advanced than the harpoon ages ago?? It seems like we never look far ahead until a country like china gets a weapon that can outclass one of ours then it becomes a issue.


guest November 15, 2013 at 10:21 am
blight_ November 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

Complacency. We focused on anti-missile missiles and anti-air missiles, but not anti-ship.


d. kellogg November 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Well, the actual Harpoon was refined into the SLAM series, and the latest iterations of it do include anti-ship modes.
But I don't know to what extent the USN and USAF utilize them.
South Korea especially does, which is no small part of why some of their F-15 variants are sometimes referred to as "SLAM Eagles", because it was specificed to be capable of deploying that stand-off munition.

US funding (for US procurement) was partially being sunk into JASSM and JSOW.
But it should come as no small surprise that Norway's NSM is designed within the limitations of an F-35's internal bay. That was a key in getting Norway onboard the JSF program to begin with.


tmb2 November 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

We spent decades expecting the US Navy and the Soviet Navy to replay the Battle of Midway. Our fleet had plenty of firepower to sink theirs. China has only recently started seriously building a competitive navy, so their focus has been on missile technology to balance the scales.


Jacob November 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Is it really accurate to say that China is building a "competitive" navy? At the moment I would think the most they can do is wage an asymmetrical campaign, while remaining close to land-based airpower and missiles for protection. That's pretty much how the Soviets played it too, right?


tmb2 November 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Their navy is being built to control the waters from Russia down to India and possibly as far west as New Guinea. As the jargon goes, their forces are focused on denying us and other maritime nations access to these areas which means they will need at least some kind of blue-water presence. I say competitive not that they could slug it out carrier to carrier, but rather pose a realistic threat to our fleets as opposed to being a glorified coast guard like many other nations.


Curt November 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

You got sea control and sea denial all mixed up. Currently, China is structured to conduct sea denial but have limited ability for sea control or power projection. They are especially deficient in ASW. But clearly, they are attempting to build capability for sea control.

SJE November 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm

We are looking at the more advanced Norwegian ASM to be launched from the F35.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm

We are always looking to the next most advanced thing, until that project cost-overruns and we're still using what we had before.

Debating if we will procure that missile…one can hope.


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Well, the Harpoon has gone through many iterations and has been refined greatly over the years. But, the LRASM is the replacement of choice so far. It's very long range and stealth are primary attributes. Not sure if it will have a radar, but LRASM should be dual mode radar and focal plane array imaging IR seeker design.


TDMarine November 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

Good thing Clinton and Gore sold them the missile tech for campaign funds so the Chicoms could develop their weapons.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

Are you going to tell us that Obama (not Pratt & Whitney Canada) sent helicopter engines to China, too? Or GE's new commercial aircraft engine line?

What's distressing is that we are exporting helicopter engines on the civilian side, knowing full well that one cannot prevent a civilian engine from being used in a military helicopter.


d. kellogg November 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Yeah, and Boeing gave them more than sufficient industrial knowledge in composite manufacturing.
Dig deeper: probably a considerable number of predominant suppliers in the US defense industry at some point have willfully and profitably ~assisted~ china in acquiring many newer-generation aerospace technologies perfectly useful for their own defense industry.

Does it really come as any surprise why so many of their projects mimic so many other not-invented-in-china foreign designs?


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

The only thing American…is the dollars you pay us.
We are a multinational corporation.


Brad Davis November 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I don't know why you got three downs for? I understood your sarcasm. The US is too dependant on forigen manufacturing and we are giving our enemies the low down on our tech, not just military look at all the fake ipads, contaminated food and toys and such. Crap Russia got mad at the chicoms for making russian arms unliscensed, and we the US still don't get the lesson.


Lance November 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Ye ah the author put the wrong pic in place thought they were going to scrap the Harpoon which would be a mistake for air assists like F-18s. Overall think people are too panicked over China and want to use China to get unlimited spending back which is a real waste of money. Id prefer Dg-1000 New fleet defender fighter and new subs way over this, for sea warfare.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

DDG-1000 is still going to use the same old missiles of yesteryear in those PVLS.


Stan November 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I would be more impressed if they started working on a support ship-mounted long range directed energy weapon which could reach out far enough to get those missiles in boost phase. That would do a pretty good job of neutralizing this particular threat. I doubt the Chinese would dare to put a conventional warhead on a longer range missile.
Also, that laser could be used to take out sats guiding the missile and would make the idea of attacking a battlegroup from the air a bit obsolete.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Lasers aren't powerful enough yet. Until they are ready, it will be missiles versus missiles.


Stan November 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm

The problem is not that they are not powerful enough yet. It's that there is no research going on to get them there. If there is no development then they will never be powerful enough. The only game in town is the 100 kw laser if that project is still going on.


jaf November 18, 2013 at 4:24 am


High speed strike weapon. Keep wondering when we are going to hear about rail launched scramjet missles


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm

That wouldn't work as they launch over the horizon.


superraptor November 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm

DARPA should team up with India and adopt a long range version of their Brahmos missile. would save billions compared to reinventing the wheel


blight_ November 18, 2013 at 7:50 am

The Russians probably have a long range version that doesn't need to be export-control compliant.

Brahmos is probably based on the shorter-ranged P-800, and perhaps other short-range missiles such as the P-270 (NATO name Sunburn); instead of the longer-legged P-500 and P-700.

India does have the P-270, it would presumably serve as their gold standard to compare Brahmos against.


Rest Pal November 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

India can't do that. The Brahmos has been a joint program with Russia. India is a junior partner. Russia will never allow any cooperation between India and the US on Brahmos.


blight_ November 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm

The Indian version of Brahmos is probably not nearly as interesting as the one the Russians will keep for themselves.


Charles James Haas November 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm

LOL, easy to work around. Simply buy one and a copy of the designs. Capitalism allows us to buy most anything we like. I am sure it is easy enough to reverse engineer, but fankly, I am sure we could build one without even reverse engineering. We have been doing ram jets since the SR-71, so it is not really hard to accomplish. We have even licenseproduced the AS-17 Krypton missile for anti-ship missile testing for years. That missile is a smaller variant of the SS-N-22 Sunburn.


TonyC. November 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm

The idea of a ballistic missile hitiing a moving target is still far fetched. Ballistics are moving at hypersonic speeds on reentry, so they really aren't maneuverable. Their long range anti-ship missile is most likely to strike the land sites before they can launch. The objective with the Chinese ABM's is to hit stationary targets , like landing dock ships and land based depots.


blight_ November 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

If the carrier-killer dispenses warheads with winglets or control surfaces that allow it to change course onto target, it might not be totally unguided after separation.


Jeff November 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm

As far fetched as the Pershing, which went into service in the 60s'.


Brad Davis November 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm

We must not be that worried.about the threat, if we were we would have developed supersonic cruise missiles during the Cold War when the Russians held the monopoly on them.


d. kellogg November 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm

An MLRS-capable cruise missile isn't really all that hard to bring to fruition from our imaginations.
The 9inch (227mm) diameter MLRS rocket family is suitably sized to be powered by a microturbine engine (MALD has one, and it's barely 6inches), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADM-160_MALD

Generally, past eexpirements with turbines vs rocket propellant has always indicated turbine and liquid fuel gives greater range than solid rocket, but generally at a reduced speed though.
Case in point: post Desert Storm, a variant of the Maverick missile, called Longhorn, was re-engineered with a slightly longer body to accomodate a liquid fueled microturbine, and its range was reportedly almost tripled.
An MLRS-base turbine weapon could reach considerably farther than the rocket-powered ones, but would the longer flight time be worth it?
Ideally, we keep the current G-MLRS' unitary 90kg explosive warhead, should do quite nicely versus LCS-sized corvettes and frigates.
Would be an ideal VLS ASM for the LCS.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Once the HIMARS exhausts its payload, it's essentially expendable. Expensive missiles+cheap launcher=shoot off weapons, evacuate the operators?


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm

In rocket-propelled-bomb-land, there's the AGM-130. A multi-stage system that could use turbine and switch to rocket for terminal attack is an option, but adds engineering cost

The PLAN has CIWS' too, so unless slower turbine-missiles are low RCS and presumably tuned for low IR emissions, the alternative is to be faster than the CIWS. Presumably long-range, slow-moving missile systems should be stealthy in terms of radar and IR, and would form an "outer ring" system, reserving faster weapons for close-up work.

Do we presume that we will always detect our enemies at sea from long range? Not sure if this is a safe assumption to make.


MCQknight November 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Keep in mind that the DF-21D is not an ICBM, and does not have anywhere close the requesit range to target the United States. So even if it did have a nuclear warhead as a payload, we would likely not retaliate until after detonation, and even then we might not go nuclear since the U.S homeland wasn't hit.


blight_ November 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Which is my point. Everyone states China's carrier-killer is a BM, but forgets that we wanted PGS, and wanted it from CONUS, requiring an ICBM, which opened a can of worms with the Russians. China doesn't need intercontinental range, nor does it want to remind everyone that they allegedly do have ICBM's.

Of course, people in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea might not sleep well at night…


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