Surface Forces: Hellfire Demolishes Griffin

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April 25, 2014:   Back in 2011 The U.S. Navy decided to equip its 3,000 ton LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) with a surface launched version of the Griffin air-to-surface missile. Now that has been changed and instead the navy is going with a surface launched version of the Hellfire II air-to-surface missile. The reason for the switch was the greater capability of the existing Hellfire fire control systems, which can put more missiles into the air at once with each of them homing in on a different target. Griffin required someone to manually keep a laser designator on each target until the Griffin hit. The Hellfire reaches its target more quickly as well. Thus Hellfire seems to be much superior for defending against large numbers of small armed boats.

The Griffin was designed as an alternative to the Hellfire II, which weighs 48.2 kg (106 pounds) and carries a 9 kg (20 pound) warhead and has a range of 8,000 meters. In contrast, the Griffin weighs only 16 kg (35 pounds), with a 5.9 kg (13 pound) warhead which is larger, in proportion to its size, than the one carried by the larger Hellfire missile. Griffin has a pop-out wings, allowing it to glide, and thus has a longer range (15 kilometers) than Hellfire. UAVs can carry more of the smaller missiles, typically two of them in place of one Hellfire. The surface-launched Griffin weighs about twice as much as the air launched version, because of the addition of a rocket to get it into the air, after which it can glide to the target.

 LCS is currently armed with a 57mm gun, four 12.7mm machine-guns, and an eleven cell SeaRam system for aircraft and missile defense. The RAM (RIM-116 "Rolling Air Frame") missiles replace Phalanx autocannon. SeaRAM has a longer range (7.5 kilometers) than the Phalanx (two kilometers). But the navy has been seeking some compact anti-ship missiles to add to this arsenal.

 

 


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