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back to article US Navy produces smart, cheap 6kg fire+forget missile

US military boffins have added cheap "fire and forget" autonomous seeker heads to basic, lightweight dumb rockets of a type which can be fired in large numbers. By seriously reducing the size and cost of smart weapons, this development is yet another big step towards changing the way wars are fought. The project in question is …

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Ref Iain M Banks

Knife missile, anyone?

Awesome.

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What is it with Culture references lately?

See title.

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I approve of this post.

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oBOFH Reg Readers

I approve of this post.

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Anonymous Coward

Bla bla bla...

"A pilot would have to get his laser dot on the spot, launch a rocket and then hold the laser on while the rocket flew to it."

Not really.

If the same guidance system, but with mutliple target capability is mounted on the heli it can keep laser dots on 6-8 or as many targets as you like. It is cheaper than FnF too because it does not need to withstand the Gs associated with a rocket launch and maneuvering. You also need one system per helicopter.

All the bla bla bla in the article has nothing to do with why you need FnF on a helicopter It cannot hang around to keep the pointer on unless it is to become Stinger/Strela bait. It has to FnF or use non-guided weapons to stay alive.

Her comes the interesting bit. A FnF on a ground attack heli makes a LOT of sense. It has somewhere to hide and "go to ground". A navy helicopter has no such place. If the target has the means to defend itself it is dead meat. So this is all a big waste of money. As usual. Shiny new toys. Budget. Dosh. Pork.

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You don't need to hide

When your missile goes further than theirs.

Essentially the kind of vessel this would be used against (i.e. that it could destroy/immobilise) won't be equipped with anything much better than Stinger/Strela effective range ~8km, assuming you can aim it while your boat is bouncing off the waves at 30-40kts.

This has a range of ~10km, more if it adopts a loft profile.

Think of it like having a nut kicking contest with a dwarf, you just hold him at arms length and kick away while he flails uselessly.

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How about..

The fact that they'll only need to fire one missile now to guarantee a kill, as oppose to a shed load, so that will be cheaper. Or only send one heli out to handle a whole swarm of boats/tanks.

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@SkippyBing

In EVE (yes, the computer game) it's referred to as kiting (you stay outside their range as they try to get within theirs, like you're dragging along a kite). If you have the higher speed and the better engagement range you basically win by default. Unless you manage to fuck up and let them get within their range of course.

Oh real war? *sad face*

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Troll

Everquest predates this by years...

Kiting was (is?) a tactic developed by Everquest players many years before EVE existed. see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiting_%28video_gaming%29 - it is also part of what became known as (and famously fun in certain instances) - the multiple kite or "train". Choo Choo!

Cause trolls kite too!

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Grenade

You seem to forget...

That naval helos spend a fair bit of time supporting...Marines. Whom do most of their business on land, no matter that they came in by the wet route. And what dose land have..? Terrain! things behind which to hide... IOW, you fail.

Also note - that with pods of FnF missiles, it's a fairly easy step to develop bolt-on fire-control interfaces for traditionally unarmed helos - now any mundane UH-60 or CH-47* can become a one-aircraft wave of destruction. This multiplies the number of potential shooters by a HUGE number with relative ease.

* One wonders, with a bit of awe, just how many 76-rocket pods one could deploy on a CH-47.

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@Everquest predates this by years..

To be fair I think actual warfare pre-dates Everquest by centuries, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise having the longer ranged stick = win

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MMmm computer games.

I like the X3: Terran Conflict approach. Fit a Boron Kraken (that's, err, a rather large missile frigate) up with as many auto-targetting, re-targetting FoF heavy torps and swarming missiles as you can cram in. Jump it into a sector heavily populated with enemy fighters and capital ships and issue the command "missile barrage". When it asks you how many you give it the number "-1" which means "oh fuck it, just dump the entire freight bay into the launchers." Well over 1000 screaming streaks of death emptied in, oh, about 10 seconds?

Watch as the entire sector explodes and your graphics card hates you forever. Missile Frigates: For when you absolutely, positively got to kill every other motherfucker within a 100km radius no matter how many countermeasures they can deploy, accept no substitute.

(you may want two or three large-ish production complexes going to keep one of them fed, though.)

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Grenade

hmm..

Anyone else reminded of the 'pepperpot' missile systems they always have in anime shows like Appleseed?

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@Jonathan White

I think that Macross (especially Macross Plus) is a better example in anime, but it is quite a common theme.

I sometimes wonder where all these missiles are stored, especially in the transforming robot/planes that must have so much more gubbins under the skins, but if it were realistic, it would not be so visual.

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Go

YES

Macross/Robotech

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Not only in anime though

Ever watched the trailers for Ghost Recon Future Soldiers?

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There's a youtube for it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpRXBNQgO7E&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgL_Q2aRlKw&feature=related

Ok, it's not Macross, but of the same vein and era. I'd like a bike like that :P

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LPF
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Good idea , they used it for smart bombs...

But the thing about war is then someone will think of a counter measure, be it better armour or , fast reacting lightweight, AI controlled AA that willl snuff out any helicopter that comes walzting in.

At the moment everyone in thew western military, is saying drones are the future and that all attacks will now be carried out either at medium level or by cruise misslies.

You can better your bottom dollar, right at this moment, people are working on systems to bring down drones, interfere with satelite control, or working on AA systems capable of tracking and taking down cruise missiles over a designated area.

Of course its easy to launch cruise missles against eniemies without a significant navy, but I will bet people are also working on long range , ship hunting misslies and costal diesal subs to again make people think carefully before coming in close to launch,

and then the other side will start work on how to counter that and so on.

Death tech , making a boring afternoon at work fun :D

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don't worry!

some navies are developing long range railguns that can't be stopped without a force shield (true story)!

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I can just imagine why the navy is interested...

A stealthy and/or high speed surface hugging cruise missile / drone big enough to carry lots of these of which it would deploy before it itself becomes too vulnerable to the chance of interception.

Ships don't tend to have armour these days and they have all those delicate bits (radar antennae) etc... I mean, your typical air defence destroyer/frigate sprayed by small munitions like this. While not likely to sink it... they're bound to mess up 'something important', I would suspect.

And after that...

The real heavy hitters can come in, less impeded by concerns of PDS, anti-missles which may possibly now be effectively suppressed, and clean everything else up.

How does this work out in the sims compared to just saturating the target battlefleet with anti-ship missiles?

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Badgers

Doesn't handle rejection well.

"...anti-ship missiles..."

I read that as "anti-sheep missiles" and wondered what they'd done to offend you...

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Joke

Your old mother

A very risky acronym.... Guarantee it gets called the CLIT by the lads in the field.

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Coat

(sorry)

In United States, CLITS find you!

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says:

Another risk - that they'll put the missile down somewhere and never be able to find it again.

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Grenade

Sounds like the perfect weapon...

...to take out helicopters and drone aircraft while staying hidden or running in cover.

I'm sure certain foreign clients will buy them by the truckload once these start appearing at arms fairs.

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Grenade

strapped a beagleboard running OpenCV onto a dumb rocket

kewl

granade, because sometimes things must go boom

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FAIL

They obviously need a low cost solution BAD

As they clearly don't have enough cash to even deinterlace their promo.

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JDX
Gold badge

Knife Missile?

Isn't this the thing from Iron Man?

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Pint

A Pod Of...

...these on a few merchant ships would pretty much end the pirate menace.

A much smaller version was carried by Harrison Ford in BLADE RUNNER, but you need to read the book (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) for details.

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Not solving the right part of the problem.

Weaponry capable of destroying a small cluster of motorboats has never been the real problem in stopping piracy. The problem is that pirates are difficult to tell apart from innocent fishing boats. You can't just spray missiles at every other vessel that comes close, and assume that non-pirates will all stay away from your ship.

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"make a (very large) hole in the victim's body."

Wasn't the hole in the boat comment primarily because it was just a test firing? In those cases I imagine an explosive warhead is a no-no (heavier, more expensive, more dangerous to handle, and will probably destroy your target, when you'd really prefer to be able to examine it afterwards!).

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title

"This, as the ONR vid above hints, might not require any explosive warhead at all:"

Where's the fun in that?

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errr...

less collateral damage?

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Heatseeker vs low thermal emissivity target

Unlike the cartoons, uncooled thermal heatseekers don't wait behind doors for somebody to walk past - they can pretty much only target something significantly hotter than the background, and even then it has to be black (at least in the IR)

An expensive cooled thermal imaging camera can pick out a person in a desert at night under good conditions. But this is going to have real problems if your enemy is walking around in a body temperature desert during the day and insists on using donkeys instead of Humvees.

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Flame

I may be wrong

But IR imaging <> (necessarily) heat seeking.

There are a huge range of IR wavelengths.

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Boats as examples

O wondered if that was why boat swarms were used as an example; hot engines + group of warm humans against a uniformly cold sea.

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Who says it's not cooled?

Most* IR missiles have some form of coolant, either supplied from the launch aircraft or a little bottle of compressed gas in the missile itself that is activated during the lock on phase of the launch cycle.

*Early Sidewinders weren't cooled but it was one of the first things they did to improve the performance. Invented at the same place incidentally.

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@A Pod Of

Trouble is the same pod on a merchant ship parked in Long Beach or New Jersey would also pretty much end civil aviation in the USA

Must remember put a check box on the website that they aren't to be sold to naughty people.

You would think that page one on the DARPA procurement powerpoint would be something like "could this weapon be best used by an untrained hidden enemy against very expensive modern armies?" if so don't make it.

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Coat

Weird

"Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker (LCITS)"

Wonder why they didn't call it the Cost-Lowered Imaging Terminal Seeker?

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"& forget"

does this mean MOD staff will be leaving these on trains instead of laptops?

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Anonymous Coward

"even though a Javelin is expensive"...

Hey - who cares, its not your money. Its not like the country or the MOD is bankrupt or anything.

/sarcasm off.

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If someone's shooting at me

and all I have is a Javelin, I'm firing the Javelin and the deficit can f**k off.

Similarly if the choice between winning and losing is firing a few Javelins before getting close enough to use guns, I'm firing Javelins. Sure I might get told off for firing the 'expensive' missile but I'm alive to be told off so win = me.

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Anonymous Coward

There are many differant missile systems coming along like this.

The Future Lynx has a laser guided 13Kg missile based on the Star Streak, for instance and there are 6kg missiles being developed for UAV's.

However, they will not be very cheap as the cost of guidance is far more than the size of the warhead.

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Grenade

Image seeker?

I think the new generation of weapons don't lock onto a heat source or anything like that. You effectively give them a picture of what you're after and they just follow the target about until its time to hit it. This sounds a bit sci-fi but its consistent with the trend to add intelligence to weapons -- the weapons themselves are pretty effective, adding intelligence allows you to be more effective with smaller devices.

The "Switchblade" is one of these new generation weapons. Its a tiny drone intended as a personal attack aircraft ("sniper replacement"). It lurks until it sees the target and......

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Grenade

I need a few of these

to thin out our marketing department. They seem to Proliferate faster than maggots on rotting meat

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not 6.2 kg...

The mass figure is wrong. 6.2 kg could be the seeker + warhead, but the rocket motor accounts for at least 6kg by itself. 15kg is more like it. But that's worlds lighter than a Hellfire, innit?

@AC: "...A FnF on a ground attack heli makes a LOT of sense. It has somewhere to hide and "go to ground". A navy helicopter has no such place. If the target has the means to defend itself it is dead meat. So this is all a big waste of money. As usual. Shiny new toys. Budget. Dosh. Pork."

You forgot the thing called LAND, over which naval (especially Marine Corps) helicopters often fly. Also, Stingers and Strelas are not naval weapons on boats or ships (not "navalized"), though they sometimes can be found there. The new weapons in this guided 70mm class would also have the range advantage that launch altitude brings.

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Anonymous Coward

erm

"Also, Stingers and Strelas are not naval weapons on boats or ships (not "navalized"),"

How do you "navalise" a hand held missile system?

If the person firing it is standing on a ship, then surely it becomes a naval weapon...? Someone with an SA-7 is a threat if they are standing on grass, tarmac or a ship's hull.

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Navalised in this context

Basically means made out of slightly different materials to make it less vulnerable to salt corrosion, and means it still works when it gets wet from spray or is accidentally dropped in the surf. There also tends to be a bit of extra circuitry to handle launching from unstable platforms.

He's saying most handheld weapons systems aren't designed for long term deployment in a marine environment, but that they can be bunged on the back of a boat by Unfriendly Powers for short term deployment although they probably won't be in very good shape unless well cleaned afterwards.

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Anonymous Coward

Fighting the wrong war

The main threat is still terrorist / insurgent / guerillas against which these things will have limited use. Sure they will be shit-hot at killing people and more cost effective than teh current solutions available - but the problem we have now is in identifying the enemy and isolating them from sub-optimal targets (civilians / hostages / News cameramen / Wedding parties etc.).

At the moment the US may have a fairly lax attitude towards "collateral damage" but they are being more and more isolated in this and attitudes in the US seem to be changing, albeit slowly.

But, point still stands - all this would do is make it a bit cheaper to kill innocents, civilians and the wrong targets along with the intended bad guys.

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Coat

I thougt news cameramen were optimal targets.

And anyone who has seen Bond KNOWS Wedding parties consist entirely of hostiles.

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Grenade

I think this makes swarms infinitely more dangerous

It's interesting that you read this as swarms of RHIBs as doomed. I imagine something like a coordinated swarm of Combat Boat 90Hs equipped with these little beasties would punch well above their weight and truly terrify a conventional navy.

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