F-16 & Harpoon

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Phoenix

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Unread post28 Nov 2003, 12:57

I think that the idea of using a Harpoon for small craft is overkill isn't necesarilly true. These days, you can get small craft armed with all sorts of nasties from SSMs to SAMs and as a result you don't wanna get to close to them and/or dispatch them real quick, in which case the Harpoon would be a great solution.

Furthermore, when talking about which missile to use, one thing has been overlooked. A ship's defensive systems. And this consists of things ranging from SAMs, through to Phalanx and similar systems, all the way to small calibre deck guns which can just pump out steel at a pretty fast rate.

The Harpoon's sea-skimming ability gives it a far better chance of REACHING the target than, say, a Maverick (even the G or E versions), because it's flight profile makes it a very tough target.

The Maverick... well it was intended to attack land vehicles and to the best of my knowledge land vehicles don't often have any sort of anti-missile active defenses (jammers aside, but even those are quite rare), much less Phalanx systems or that kind of goodies. As a result, the Mav will fly on a largely easy to predict trajectory (and also a hig trajectory) which will make it a fairly easy target for anti-missile systems on ships. IMO the only way a Mav attack would be succesful on something the size of a cruiser is if you used the good old tchnique of saturation salvoes.

As for the RoCAF, maybe they just wantedto remind their neighbour next door that they stand a decent chance of sinking their fleet if they ever came visiting uninvited.

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Unread post29 Nov 2003, 02:08

On the other hand, small vessels of a non-blue water nature tend to operate in severly congested area's. Think of the last time our Navy had to contend with Gunboats and Patrol Craft in the Straits of Hormuz. Firing a Harpoon in an enviroment like that could be extreamly hazardous to the other vessels operating in the area, such as allied tankers. The Harpoon uses its own seaker to lock onto its intended target, all the command vessel/aircraft does is launch it with a general idea in the computer of when to start looking for a target, and since it has a tendency to lock on to the biggest thing it see's shooting one at a small craft in an area such as this, or major shipping lanes is foolish.

Also keep in mind the Maverick and Penguin were intended to only be used against small vessels, whos ordanance consists of mainly of weapons lacking in the Surface to Air Firecontrol area. Also vehicals such as the ZSU-23-4 and ZSU-57 are intended to be attacked with maverick or HARM missiles, so the idea of shooting down a missile as small as the Maverick is going to be more luck then anything. And also keep in mind that unlike the Excoset or Martial Missiles, the Harpoon uses a pop up attack so to better penetrate the hull of the ship due to its smaller mass. It too would strike at the high angle the Maverick would hit at. The Sea Skimming ability is designed so that the Harpoon can better penetrate defences similar to that of a Carrier Battle Group, not that of a single ship.

Against a Cruiser or Guided Missile Destroyer yes the Harpoon would be the weapon of choice, but outside of the Pakistani Air Force trying to Sink the Viraak (Amphib Carrier of India) or maybe Turkey going to war with Ukraine the Maverick and Penguin will do the Viper fine for its most probable threats of the future.
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Phoenix

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Unread post29 Nov 2003, 21:44

The reasons why a ZSU-23-4 or a ZSU-57 would have a hard time shooting a Mav down are twofold:
1. The way the guns are arranged. In the Shilka you get four guns in a square layout and on the ZSU-57 there are 2 guns in a horizontal line. Their fire is supposed to converge at a point in space. This may not be a very big problem with aircraft sicne they are pretty big targets (compared to missiles), but it would make shooting a Mav quite a problem. Hell, the Mav might just be able to slip past the stream of bullets based on its small size alone. This is not the case of the Phalanx system, which uses a 20 mm gattling-type gun pod.
2. The Shilka's radar would probably ignore the Mav since it would have too small a radar signature (the ZSU-57 doesn't even have one - a radar that is, not a radar signature :lol:), compared to the targets it was intended to take out, namely planes and helicopters. The Phalanx on the other hand was designed to take out things about as big as a Mav... okay that's an exagerration, anti-ship missiles are bigger than a Mav, but I very much doubt that the radar would ignore the Mav.

What is important about the Harpoons sea-skimming ability is that it gets the missile close enough so as to make last-ditch defensive systems almost irrelevant (let's face it, what are the odds of a Phalanx shooting a target down in the few seconds between popping up and hitting the ship?)

Okay, I admit it was pretty stupid of me to suggest that Harpoons be used in the conditions mentioned above, but that would only apply to the first few weeks (days maybe) after hostilities broke out. After that, all the ships left would be on one side or the other of the conflict and you can be sure as hell that your own ships, of their own free will, won't be riding alongside with enemy gunboats and small attack craft.

And to be perfectly honest, whether they are in use or not, I think it's a good idea that the Falcon can carry the Harpoon. You never know, do you?

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Unread post29 Nov 2003, 23:49

I read the previous comments about Harpoon vs Maverick comparison. It all depends on what type of target you are dealing with.

Example, if you are going to attack a Aegis ship which is a part of a battle group, it is very doubtful that you can approach that ship with a Harpoon loaded F-16 in any altitute without detection. So firing Maverick G to Aegis ship means should come close to 20-30km at low-middium alttitutes, and fire it. You will get hit by a SM-2 before you fire Maverick.

Best change for attacking an Aegis ship is firing Harpoons from your susmarines or ships from a relative distance. But if your target is a lonely FAC with a limited air defence capability, you can easily approach an fire a Maverick G from asafe distance.

Still there are some big size frigates have limited air defences, you can still use F-16 with Maverick combination to attack these ships. One advantage of Maverik or Penguin is they are IR guided and they can be fired without accuring targets with radar, therefore, less alert for the target ship. On the other hand, Harpoon or Exocet must be fed with a target information before firing, in the last terminal attack, Harpoon or Exocet start looking for the target with their radar to lock on.

At this stage, almost any decent war ship( small or big) can accure Harpoon"s RF signals on their ESM screens. So, ship defences consist of ECM or CWIS or RAM or SM-2 will be ready for Harpoon or Exocet. So, best option for air forces use both Maverick or Penguin type anti-ship missiles for short range in confined spaces for better target discirimination, use Harpoons for long range attack for high risk missions.
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Phoenix

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Unread post30 Nov 2003, 14:39

To be perfectly honest, in the case of an Aegis crusier, not even a cruise missile like a Tomahawk is overkill. That thing represents the best anti-air defense element in any battle group. Not to mention that the only way to take them out is by saturation salvoes, you just need to make sure that some missiles get through and for that you need a lot of them.

And let's face it, none of the major powers is gonna send planes the size of F-16s against a battle group, with an Aegis cruiser. The Americans will be sending B1s or B-2s, the Russians will be sending Tu-22-Ms and Tu-160s, the British will probably send their Nimrods, etc. Maybe Pakistan or Taiwan may have to do that (let's hope not) but then, to the best of my knowledge, neither India nor the PRC have Aegis cruisers (or anything close for that matter), but the Harpoons longer range is still desirable to having to get within 20 kilometers of the target... exposing yourself to a lot of SAMs.

IMO, if it can be helped, then the Harpoon should be used, even if only because of its greater range.

As for ECMs, does the Harpoon have a home-on jam capability? Just asking because I remember some missiles do (not only ARMs) and that would make for a very, very interesting result if the target flipped on their jamming equipment.
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Unread post18 Dec 2003, 03:27

Read "Harpoon Interface Adapter Kit".

Yours truly did the pilot-vehicle-interface as well as the weapon control algorithms for fitting the Harpoon on Block 30G planes - USAF Korean ones, not ROK ones.

We were doing this in 1991, during the Storm. Dynamics Control in Conn was the prime and my company did the stuf I mentioned.

For more info, get with Dynamic Controls Corp, East Windsor, CN. They also did the SMS for the Aardvark and most likely the F-117 (a really good guess on my part).

As the Storm wound down, USAF lost interest and the initial effort was cancelled. Guess somebody picked up on the project later.

We used the Maverick interface due to lack of access to the 1553 data bus on the heavy store stations and some sfwe problems with the jet. My understanding is that this was later corrected. The Maverick interface did not require the F-16 SMS to do anything extra, as all control sfwe was in the adapter kit. Weapon modes, targeting, etc were all selected on the video provided in lieu of mormal Maverick video. Neat idea, and I did the initial work on this with the Millimeter Wave Maverick demo program a few years earlier for Hercules. You see, the MMW Mav didn't have targeting video, as it was autonomous after launch.

Often wondered whatever happened, maybe we can find out more now.

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Gums
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"God in your guts, good men at your back, wings that stay on - and Tally Ho!"
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habu2

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Unread post18 Dec 2003, 15:11

Hey Gums I too worked on KFP when I was at the reservation, tested SMS & RIUs including IF w/HARM.
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Unread post18 Dec 2003, 17:28

Should be noted that currently the USAF F-16 and B-52 fleet is no longer flying the Harpoon.
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elp

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Unread post18 Dec 2003, 20:35

Also it doesn't take much to make a modern warship combat ineffective. The Exocet that hit the HMS Sheffield in the Falklands was a dud warhead. The Exocet has a high dud rate but it seems the impact and any unspent fuel cause enough damage so the ship can't fight.

So it wouldn't be beyond possibility that the little Maverick hitting a large front line destroyer could make it combat ineffective. They aren't WWII cruisers with at least some form of armor. My confidence in modern cruisers to carry the fight after one small hit is about 0. If the electrical power gets taken down its all over, its just a floating hulk.

A Laser version of the Maverick might have a better chance of getting through decoys like a barrage of chaff rockets and IR decoys kicked out by the target ship to defend against traditional ship killers like a Penquin (IR) and Harpoon (radar). Also, things like Rockeyes have been known to take the starch out of those that have pretend navies. If there is good visability, and the opponent only has small SAMs and AAA, LGBs from about 25,000 ft end the party right then and there.

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Unread post18 Dec 2003, 22:06

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Unread post18 Dec 2003, 22:42

The Laser Mav:

The Maverick E is being adopted in the AGM-65E version as the Marine corps laser Maverick weapon for use from Marine aircraft for use against fortified ground installations, armored vehicles and surface combatants. Used in conjunction with ground or airborne laser designators, the missile seeker, searches a sector 7 miles across and over 10 miles ahead. If the missile loses laser spot it goes ballistic and flies up and over target -- the warhead does not explode, but becomes a dud.

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/agm-65.htm
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Unread post19 Dec 2003, 08:06

elp wrote:Also it doesn't take much to make a modern warship combat ineffective. The Exocet that hit the HMS Sheffield in the Falklands was a dud warhead. The Exocet has a high dud rate but it seems the impact and any unspent fuel cause enough damage so the ship can't fight.

So it wouldn't be beyond possibility that the little Maverick hitting a large front line destroyer could make it combat ineffective. They aren't WWII cruisers with at least some form of armor. My confidence in modern cruisers to carry the fight after one small hit is about 0. If the electrical power gets taken down its all over, its just a floating hulk.

Image


Yeah that sounds like an Airforce opinion. :lol:

Ive gotta point out some holes in your theory before everybody starts assuming our boats are easy to sink.

1. The Sheffield was a light destroyer/large frigate class of vessel and was struck underway at condition 2, so none of its water tight or blast doors were sealed, most of its crew were not at battlestations, and they never saw the missile 'till it went threw the hull. It was a relect of the days of 5 inch and 12 inch guns blasting away, it had been modified as many of our first gen Missile Cruisers had been to fight in the modern battlefield, but the hull design and weapons were not capable of combating low level high speed ASM'sm, because the threat hadn't really been looked at during design.

2. To put to rest the idea that one shot is one kill, the USS Stark, a Perry Class Frigate and our lightest class of forward surface combatants, took a direct hit from an Exocet fired from an Iraqi P-3 Orion during the Iran-Iraq war, the missile detonated. It was also hit while not at condition 1 battlestations, the crew was able to stabilize the vessel, and brought it to port without the assistance or a tow ship. So not only would they have been able to keep fighting they actually maintained seaworthyness after the fact.

3. Look at some of the damage our large capital ships have taken and still survived. It was an opinion for a long time that a single missile penetrating a carriers defences and causing a fire in the Hanger deck would cause uncontrollable fires and lead to the ships sinking. The USS Forrestal during the Vietnam War suffered more then a dozen explosions from ordinance strapped to its aircraft during an on deck fire. All this at a time before the Navy trained every crew men to be effective in damage control. The ships fires were put out and the vessel made its way home under its own power. The Enterpise had a serious fire in an Ordanance locker when a battery of Decoy Flares combusted. And it didn't sink the vessel.

Ships are just as redundently planed as any other weapon in the US arsenal if not more so because of the cost to replace them. Its insane to think something as simple as knocking out the power wouldn't be looked at and designed out as a weakness. They carry multiple battery banks and backup generators. An Arleigh Burke Class destroyer is so resilient that they have actually been designed so that the vessel could be buttoned up, capasized and right itself without any significant damage to the vessel other then the loss of external antenna arrays. It would take alot more then a single Maverick to knock out one of our Cruisers.
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elp

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Unread post19 Dec 2003, 15:25

Yeah, except I said NOTHING of aircraft carriers did I?

The sheffield, stark, are exactly the point. These ships don't fight after they are hit. They stop. In the case of those two ships, it is pretty hard too do anything when your CIC is out of action because of the location of the blast. Also the number of SAMs these ships have to put up in volley are limited. Once SSMs exceed that volley the ship is at severe risk. As for AEGIS systems, In our case I don't think we will be fighting them.More so the "smart ship" program with AEGIS keeps triming manpower because computers can do a lot. Once the computer system is trashed, good luck. Even then I wouldn't label anything afloat as being able to stand up to determined quality airpower. There will be conditions when that just is not the case.

Ships with out supporting air domination are nothing but targets. End of story. Expecting anything else is dangerous and unwise.
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Unread post20 Dec 2003, 02:40

All our warships, from Frigates to Carriers have the same emphasis set on the ability to maintain seaworthyness and keep up the fight. Indeed its easier to knock a Carrier out of the battle then to take out one of our cruisers or destroyers. Its just a common opinion, especially right around budget time, by Airforce thinkers that a single hit would neutralize one of our warships.

You stated that our vessels no longer have any "Armor" after a collision between the Cruiser USS Belknap and the Carrier USS Kennedy in 1975 all classes of warships after that went back from Alluminum superstructures to All Steel Constuction. All the Alumminum hulled Adams and Farragut class destoyers have been retired. Also I made a small error, the Stark was struck by 2 exocet missiles, the Frigate USS Samual B. Roberts sturck a mine, both vessels maintained ability to menuver, put in for repairs, and returned to service.

Also with the Computer systems smashed the ship will continue to fight. With weapons set to automatic you could blow up the CIC and the missiles will still fire at targets as they appear. Our CIWS works the same way, infact there was an incedent when the weapon mounted on a carrier fired on a Perry Cruiser that was launching Chaff, the line of fire cut across the ship and scared the hell out of everybody. When a Battle Group goes into fighting mode, our own aircraft stay out of the Second Ring of defences, the missile intercept zone, because theres to much risk in an IFF signal not being processed in time to prevent the launch of a Missile. All that is required is the turn of a Key by the TAO in the CIC and control of the weapons is taken and handed to the weapons themselves.

The reason the Stark was hit was because its weapons wernt set in Automatic, and none of our ships cruise in automatic due to the risk of accidental engagement, example would be the Vincennes incedent when an Iranian Airliner was downed buy one of our brand new Aegis Cruisers.
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Unread post21 Dec 2003, 02:49

I believe that Harpoon is a good missile but I also disagree with some members of this forum that use of such a missile would be deemed an overkill.

First of all, during exercise in Adriatic I had a chance to see the test firing of RBS-15 anti-ship missile. The targets were the size of patrol boat or a small frigate and after the hit you could see the damage was great but not an overkil. Now, if we know that HArpoon and RBS-15 are approximately the same size and with the same explosive power we can compare it and make a conclusion that anything smaller then Harpoon to be used on the F-16 for anti-ship combat would be complete waste of time.

The Maverick is only good to destroy small land vehicles and if used against a boat of any size the chance are that it would just damage it, unless half a dozen of Mavs if fired onto the target. With todays combat being closer to Shoot to kill in one go approach the arming of vipers with Harpoon makes complete sense.

As one member mentioned small countries dont have an option to use B-1 or F-15E type airplanes so they might as well pack the biggest punch to what they got, and what they got is usually a Viper
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