Why do most ships only carry 8 Anti Ship missiles?

76mmGuns

Member
I did a search and didn't see a this topic, so I thought I'd ask.

How did 8 become the defacto number of anti ship missiles to put on warships.

eg The Arleigh Burke has 96 mk 41 VLS, but only 8 harpoons. Every European frigate/destroyer I've seen also has 8.

I understand that the VLS are used for many defensive and land attack missiles, but still, why 8 ASM's?

Why not 4? Or even better, why not 24/40/80 ASM's?

I suspect someone is going to say that it's not necessary during peacetime to carry more, but even then, how did 8 become the standard for peacetime military ships?

I do know that ESSM and SM family missiles can be used as anti ship missiles in a secondary role, but that's a recent conversion, and they're too expensive to use to do that regularly. So let's stick to dedicated anti ship missiles :)
 

Ranger25

Active Member
Staff member
I did a search and didn't see a this topic, so I thought I'd ask.

How did 8 become the defacto number of anti ship missiles to put on warships.

eg The Arleigh Burke has 96 mk 41 VLS, but only 8 harpoons. Every European frigate/destroyer I've seen also has 8.

I understand that the VLS are used for many defensive and land attack missiles, but still, why 8 ASM's?

Why not 4? Or even better, why not 24/40/80 ASM's?

I suspect someone is going to say that it's not necessary during peacetime to carry more, but even then, how did 8 become the standard for peacetime military ships?

I do know that ESSM and SM family missiles can be used as anti ship missiles in a secondary role, but that's a recent conversion, and they're too expensive to use to do that regularly. So let's stick to dedicated anti ship missiles :)

Most VLS, like the MK41, can be loaded with a wide variety of missiles to include ASHM. That’s one of the points of having the versatility of the cells. The exact load out of USN cells is a classified matter. The SM-6 family also has the ability to strike surface as well as Air targets as well
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
I did a search and didn't see a this topic, so I thought I'd ask.

How did 8 become the defacto number of anti ship missiles to put on warships.

eg The Arleigh Burke has 96 mk 41 VLS, but only 8 harpoons. Every European frigate/destroyer I've seen also has 8.

I understand that the VLS are used for many defensive and land attack missiles, but still, why 8 ASM's?

Why not 4? Or even better, why not 24/40/80 ASM's?

I suspect someone is going to say that it's not necessary during peacetime to carry more, but even then, how did 8 become the standard for peacetime military ships?

I do know that ESSM and SM family missiles can be used as anti ship missiles in a secondary role, but that's a recent conversion, and they're too expensive to use to do that regularly. So let's stick to dedicated anti ship missiles :)
Plenty of ships carry more, it depends on the ship. For example the Russian 22350 has 16 cells to combine LACM and AShM. Israel's Saar 6 carries 16 AShMs, as does Russia's upgraded small missile boat (iirc the Smerch) in the Pacific Fleet. 8 is just a convenient amount, it's what two Harpoon launchers get you, a minimal set up if you will, to maintain the capability. The LCS' in the USN are getting 4 NSM for example.
 

76mmGuns

Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
Most VLS, like the MK41, can be loaded with a wide variety of missiles to include ASHM. That’s one of the points of having the versatility of the cells. The exact load out of USN cells is a classified matter. The SM-6 family also has the ability to strike surface as well as Air targets as well
VLS launched missiles do not have AS as their primary mission, so that's why I said to exclude them from discussion. The LRASM is barely into production.
 

76mmGuns

Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6
Plenty of ships carry more, it depends on the ship. For example the Russian 22350 has 16 cells to combine LACM and AShM. Israel's Saar 6 carries 16 AShMs, as does Russia's upgraded small missile boat (iirc the Smerch) in the Pacific Fleet. 8 is just a convenient amount, it's what two Harpoon launchers get you, a minimal set up if you will, to maintain the capability. The LCS' in the USN are getting 4 NSM for example.
Yes, I know the Russians and Israeli's seem to be the few who carry different numbers.

Still, doesn't give a documented reason for 8 on Western navies, vs 12/16/20 etc.

As an aside, the LCS carries 8, not 4. The USS Gabrielle Gifford has 8

Redirect Notice
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
Yes, I know the Russians and Israeli's seem to be the few who carry different numbers.

Still, doesn't give a documented reason for 8 on Western navies, vs 12/16/20 etc.

As an aside, the LCS carries 8, not 4. The USS Gabrielle Gifford has 8

Redirect Notice
I suspect it has to do with the overall role of the vessels in question, as well as where and how the forces operate. Take the USN for instance. How many USN escort warships have anti-shipping as a primary role for them? I honestly cannot recall any current surface combatants apart from perhaps the LCS that would primarily operate in an anti-shipping or ASuW role. Most of what comes immediately to my mind would be to provide area air defence or an ASW capability, or land attack. It would make sense to have a few AShM in case an ASuW task came up, but every cell taken up by an AShM is one that cannot carry a SAM, LACM, or ASW weapon. IMO it would normally be better to use air-launched AShM due to the greater range (radar horizon) as well as the potential to tailor an appropriate strike package. For nations that do not operate carriers, it would likely make more sense to anticipate MPA launched AShM, or air force strike/fighter aircraft launching based off targeting data feed from MPA.
 
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