The Navy is taking several steps to improve the hitting power of some of its warships and dis- tributing that lethality more broadly to give its
current and future fleet — including submarines — a
more respectable anti-ship capability.
The efforts to “up-gun” the fleet include giving land-attack missiles an anti-ship capability, adding precision
guidance to legacy anti-ship cruise missiles and adding
anti-ship missiles to previously lacking platforms.
The drive for increased and more distributed lethality
has come about as the Navy faces the increasing technological sophistication and expanding operational daring
in the open oceans of potential adversaries, including
China, Russia and Iran. The Navy also concluded that
the littoral combat ship (LCS), which lacked an anti-ship
cruise missile and experienced delays in deployment of a
short-range missile for its surface warfare mission package, needed more of a punch. The resulting new frigate
concept to complete the last 20 of the planned LCS production of 52 ships is intended to give them a powerful
The Boeing-built R/AGM-84 Harpoon cruise missile
has been the Navy’s primary anti-ship missile since 1977.
Deployable on surface ships, aircraft and submarines —
but withdrawn from U.S. submarines in 1997 — the
medium-range, over-the-horizon missile is programmed
to fly to a datum and use its radar to
provide terminal guidance to a tar-
get. Even after many precision-
guided weapons entered its invento-
ry, the Navy until recently declined
to field a precision-guided Harpoon.
Now the Navy is testing the
Harpoon Block II+, with a capability
enhancement “that includes a new
GPS [Global Positioning System]
guidance kit, a new data-link inter-
face that enables in-flight updates,
improved target selectivity and
weapon reliability enhancements,”
said CAPT Jaime Engdahl, the Navy’s Harpoon program
manager, who noted the new version, a network-enabled
weapon [NEW], will reach the fleet in 2017.
“The threat continues to grow, making it necessary to
develop and field an advanced weapon that has vastly improved range, targeting capability, survivability and lethality,” said LT Rob Myers, a spokesman for the director
of surface warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval
Operations. “We operate in a dynamic environment and,
with advances in technology, it is clear that we need to enhance our capabilities to outpace potential future threats.
“While I cannot discuss specifics, what I can tell you
is that we resource capabilities to address Combatant
Commander requirements, and these requirements are
based on detailed analytical processes that are constantly being refined to accurately account for and predict
The Navy continuously assesses requirements and
explores opportunities to improve offensive capabilities for the fleet, Myers said.
“As part of our distributed lethality concept, we are
researching ways to improve shipboard lethality. Once
we define the requirement, we will look for capabilities
that deliver the desired effects but are also affordable
and can integrate, with minimal effort, onto platforms
and into combat systems,” he said.
The Navy is ‘up-gunning’ its surface warships
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
Improving the Offensive Punch
The Navy is installing or developing surface-to-surface missiles to
give its ships more offensive capability.
; The Harpoon Block II+ will be a network-enabled weapon.
; The Over-the-Horizon Anti-Surface Warfare Increment 2 will follow
the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile as a multi-platform anti-ship missile.
; The Hellfire Longbow missile will deploy on the littoral combat
ship in fiscal 2018.