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Sub launched surface to air missiles - how useful?

This is a discussion on Sub launched surface to air missiles - how useful? within the Navy & Maritime forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Although sub launched MANPADS have been around for a while, they were not widely adopted. The Israeli's reportedly had Blowpipes ...


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Old November 26th, 2012   #1
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Sub launched surface to air missiles - how useful?

Although sub launched MANPADS have been around for a while, they were not widely adopted. The Israeli's reportedly had Blowpipes on their subs and the Soviets had Strelas that could only be fired on the surface.

More recently DCNS is offering a sub launched version of Mistral and Diehl the IDAS that can be launched underwater. Assuming these and other future systems work as advertised and are widely deployed over the next decade, will it change the way ASW is conducted? Will helicopters with dipping sonars and torps be willing to conduct ASW duties in the knowledge that the hunted sub may be able to hit back? Or will this eventually lead to navies drawing up a requirement again for stand off ASW platforms like MILAS, Silex the retired Ikara?

Last edited by STURM; November 26th, 2012 at 02:36 AM.
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Old November 26th, 2012   #2
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There have also been a couple of successful underwater firings of the AIM-9X, with the target set apparently intended to include small surface vessels in addition to air targets.

I brought this up a while ago on another forum and the response I got seemed to indicate that while such developments were interesting and may give a submarine some additional flexibility in certain situations, it would be more of a last resort when it comes to responding to ASW helos, as the launch of the missile would give away sonar data to any other ASW platforms in the area. From my understanding a dedicated ASW package is going to include multiple helos/surface vessels running search patterns, and for a submarine to fire off a weapon in the midst of that would be highly hazardous.

One of the others on here with more knowledge might be able to tell you more.

Underwater AIM-9X
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Old December 10th, 2012   #3
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Agreed, a hunted sub is going to be deep and coming up that close to the surface is pretty much a final act. Plunking one of these out inside a bubble is interesting but I have no idea how it "Orients" itself to the target after reaching the surface, unless it just rotates around until it "See's" something.
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Old December 10th, 2012   #4
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its about tactical context if you want to argue utility

otherwise you're doing an Alexander Graham Bell

Lots of concepts have been tried and tested, eg Iris-T

again, its about tactical context to establish relevance
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Old December 11th, 2012   #5
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I suppose it would be good for a vindictive blaze of glory when you know you are not getting out of the situation you are in. Fire everything at anything and see what happens.
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Old August 13th, 2014   #6
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Resurrecting:

According to Europäische Sicherheit und Technik 08/14 the German Navy will finalize an outline for a "functional capability requirement" for a sub-launched surface-to-air missile until the end of this year, with this requirement to be tendered in 2015.

So, basically, IDAS is back on the table.

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Plunking one of these out inside a bubble is interesting but I have no idea how it "Orients" itself to the target after reaching the surface, unless it just rotates around until it "See's" something.
IDAS requires target bearing and distance to be provided by the launching submarine for initial orientation; IIR seeker after breaking surface then evaluates all targets in FOV for confirmation/selection by operator.
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Old August 14th, 2014   #7
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This got kicked around on another forum for a fair while and the general conclusion of the assembled sub community was that the things you needed to be doing to generate an attack on an aircraft would be pretty much contrary to the things you'd need to be doing if you were trying to avoid being prosecuted by an aircraft.

So, bit of a conflict of interests there - certainly, a niche capability.
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Old August 14th, 2014   #8
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This got kicked around on another forum for a fair while and the general conclusion of the assembled sub community was that the things you needed to be doing to generate an attack on an aircraft would be pretty much contrary to the things you'd need to be doing if you were trying to avoid being prosecuted by an aircraft.

So, bit of a conflict of interests there - certainly, a niche capability.
I think at some minimum threshold of effectiveness, it becomes something worthwhile.

If you can pop up and engage an aircraft before it can engage you (not entirely out of the realm of possibility...an ASW torpedo engagement is far from instantaneous), you've got something.

Reason is, aircraft also like to congregate where subs ability to go deep and hide or sprint off in random directions is limited (ie chokepoints, which also tend to be shallower). Still far fetched, but I really wouldn't be surprised to see it become a real capability at the end of the next few decades.
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Old August 14th, 2014   #9
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I wonder if there'd be any potential for a dual-purpose munition for light coastal strike or (relatively) low cost missile boat plinking. What do you think CB? I don't know if the idea has any legs, as the risk of exposing an expensive and highly effective sub for the sake of hitting much lighter targets doesn't sound like it's very efficient from a risk-reward perspective.
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Old August 14th, 2014   #10
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Originally Posted by Bonza View Post
I wonder if there'd be any potential for a dual-purpose munition for light coastal strike or (relatively) low cost missile boat plinking. What do you think CB? I don't know if the idea has any legs, as the risk of exposing an expensive and highly effective sub for the sake of hitting much lighter targets doesn't sound like it's very efficient from a risk-reward perspective.
Might make much more sense if its fired from a UUV. Then why not. If you can fire and forget, and have some way of getting it far away (30 - 50 km) from where you are (torpedo?). By the time or if they can get another into the air you could hauling away into a much bigger box. In some cases they may only have one bird, so knocking it out may dramatically increase the odds.
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Old August 14th, 2014   #11
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I wonder if there'd be any potential for a dual-purpose munition for light coastal strike or (relatively) low cost missile boat plinking. What do you think CB? I don't know if the idea has any legs, as the risk of exposing an expensive and highly effective sub for the sake of hitting much lighter targets doesn't sound like it's very efficient from a risk-reward perspective.
Check this out:

Navy Launches UAV from Submerged Submarine - U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

If you can launch a UAV, you can launch a small missile.

I've also seen the idea of a laser/DEW get kicked around as well. Far off stuff, but there's definitely interest in broadening the SSN's toolbox.
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Old August 15th, 2014   #12
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Check this out:

Navy Launches UAV from Submerged Submarine - U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

If you can launch a UAV, you can launch a small missile.

I've also seen the idea of a laser/DEW get kicked around as well. Far off stuff, but there's definitely interest in broadening the SSN's toolbox.
Very interesting, thanks for the link. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with sub-launched unmanned vehicles (whether flying or swimming) in the next five years. A fully networked drone fleet supported by a large nuclear boat could be a very frightening thing indeed...
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Old August 15th, 2014   #13
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Very interesting, thanks for the link. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with sub-launched unmanned vehicles (whether flying or swimming) in the next five years. A fully networked drone fleet supported by a large nuclear boat could be a very frightening thing indeed...
Already been trialled by USS Florida a few years back..... no public info since then
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Old August 15th, 2014   #14
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I wonder if there'd be any potential for a dual-purpose munition for light coastal strike or (relatively) low cost missile boat plinking. What do you think CB?
The closest I can think of was the now canceled Polyhem which was intended to deal with air and surface targets. Not sure if it was canceled to a lack of interest or for other reasons.
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Old August 15th, 2014   #15
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The closest I can think of was the now canceled Polyhem which was intended to deal with air and surface targets. Not sure if it was canceled to a lack of interest or for other reasons.
Lack of interest and other tech developments came along

USS Florida conducted both VLS and tube launched UAV's in trials
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