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Simon m

I did think sea venom was supposed to be in service 2021, 2024 to get both of these missiles in is ridiculous. The time they may have been needed could’ve passed and sailors lives have or could have already been risked! The 30mm are going to be another fitted for but not with! Just as we get this capability sorted then we switch to 5 sets of ISSGW for the entire fleet.

I’m not sure how destroyers/frigates carrying more than 1 Wildcat will be that useful we don’t have many to spare!

Now we finally have the martlet it looks a good way of dealing with small FIACs. I am pretty sure that it can fly asymmetrically to accommodate m3m & 10 martlets.
It looks unlikely we will get anymore helicopters therefore we really need a vstol UAV the AWhero has the necessary radar etc. & has already been tested with Wildcat, I don’t see the problem? but NavyX seem to want to test (sorry i mean accelerate acquisition) until the cows come home. Its been in place for 4-5 years now and delivered what?

Ron

Simon, I suspect that when you speak about the M3M you mean the .50 cal machine gun. If so I was thinking the same. However when I did some checking those things are 50kg plus. So I came up with a slighly diffrent idea use either a Browning .303 belt fed machine gunchambered for 7.62mm (weight 14kg) in each winglet or a 7.62mm mini gun in each winglet (weight 18kg light model +20 kg for pod with power supply etc) or an above winglet pod such as the SUU-11 B/A.
I am concerned that the Wildcat can only engage one threat at a time, to cover the 8 km max engagement range will take 17 seconds, by then the other boats in a swarm would have closed another 300-500m a 20 boat swarm will mean four will get through. That is possibly a billion pound warship taken out by a swarm of small three man boats.
I do think that the RN should have the LMM mounted on the 30mm guns but I also ask myself the question could a twin pack be mounted on Phalanx. With the twin pack there could be the combination of LMM/StarStreak and 20 mm gun using the same radar/electronic package of the Phalanx. If I remember correctly Phalanx has an optical sight and a laser designator.
I agree that the RN does not have enough helicopters, should the T45s have two Wildcats, yes, as for the T26s I really would like to see the possibility of two Merlins or a Merlin/Wildcat and two UAVs, the T31s I am going to get into trouble here but I would like to see a Wildcat/Marinised Apache combination. It should be possible to convert the T31 hanger space to take two helicopters.
It is my personal opinion that the design for the T31 should have been based on the Absalon class rather than the Iver Huitfeldt class. The Absalon costs about £200 million, has a crew of a 100 space for a further 200 carries two helicopters and can lanch two SB90s as well as a couple of RIBS. Not only that but she is well armed and can carry either a contanerised hospital, ISO containers, 55 vehicles or seven battle tanks. The slightly legnthend version for four engines rather than the two that the Absalon has would give it a speed of 28knots. All in all it would have been a good concept for the T31 and the LSS and it would have been good in the humanitarian role. So it looks like we missed a good opertunity

Sam

Phalanx has an Electro Optical Camera and a Forward looking infrared camera ( added in the 1999 block 1b standard upgrade) to enhance target tracking in high ECM envoiroments and to add an anti surface tracking ability (which the Ku Band Search and Track radars could not perform – antisurface mode is very much a secondary ability for phalanx) there is no laser designator on Phalanx 🙂

Teves

Think the 30mm canons should be removed from t45 and qe2 replace with Bofors 40mm canon these exceed range of 30mm and martletts and will probably put more shrapnel around targets. The old 30mm canons can go on the batch 2 rivers to up gun them with martletts.

Sam

40mm Mk4s as standard 🙂 That gets my vote. They would add significant capabilities to both Air Defence and Surface defence. I would go further and replace the 30mm on the Batch 2 rivers with mk4s too so they can defend themselves from air/missile attack

Gavin Gordon

I’ve got no particular beef with the 30mms, but cetainly like the 40mm mk4 with it’s ‘guided missile’ potential.

Gavin Gordon

Err, 40mm has 3P, I should have said 57mm with guided ORKA ammo. Cheers

Humpty Dumpty

Well 30mm cannons on the Type 45s or the carriers don’t provide any meaningful capability when they’re out at sea, but they’re useful to have when sailing into a port and when moored up.

Bofors 40mm Mk4 with 3P ammo would be a vast improvement though when these ships are at sea to provide another layer of protection against anti-ship missiles, although imo OTO Melara 76mm guns with DART and PFF ammo would be better still.

I’d also replace the Phalanx on the Type 45s and the carriers with Oerlikon Millennium Guns with AHEAD ammo. In fact I’d replace the Phalanx on all RN and RFA ships with Oerlikon Millennium Guns as they’re far superior.

Simon m

Hi Ron,

I am unsure as to what the issue would be with the weight? Wildcat has been mocked up carrying one wing full of martlet and one of sea venoms I believe the later is a 100kg per weapon & with 2 wildcat would have significantly more weight than a single M3M .50 calibre machine gun? So I thought with my logic that shouldn’t be a problem? Is there a limit in the difference of the asymmetrical mounting? I didn’t think there would be as AH7 carried GPMGs one side and 4 tow the other? Not sure you’d get the stopping power/range with 7.62mm? Versus 1100 rounds per minute of .50?

In terms of the engagement I assume you’re taking in to account closure speeds i.e. the boat speed, helicopter speed, missile speed etc.? When talking about 8km this is the missile range? but when combining ships radar,esm, sea spray, wescam etc.

I would’ve thought the targets are going to be picked up at greater range than 8km from the ship meaning even if 4 or so get through the helicopter should be able to reengage before the boats get within striking distance of the ship which could still be another xkm away, so it may not possibly be a disaster? Wescam will automatically pick up the targets allowing targets to be engaged in quick succession.

However, saying that I certainly would not do away with LMM on the surface ships. If not only due to possible scenarios that could develop from ROE restrictions bringing boats closer as you say 8km leaves 4 and I believe due to mount restrictions LMM on 30mm only has 6km at least you have deck gunnery as well including 30mm.

Not sure of the practicalities of LMM on Phalanx it will involve another round of testing for whatever reason the RN have always backed away from starstreak?

But if do able it would certainly give a formidable CIWS! Also I maybe wrong but not all ships have the automatic 30mm MSI mount? So if these ships have phalanx it could give the opportunity for LMM to be mounted & controlled by CMS- not sure of the Sensor range on Phalanx for circa 6km+ engagement?

For Apache the army has not really got enough & I can’t see AAC crews enjoying being deployed to ship and the tail doesn’t fold. But certainly they have a massive role in the littoral & I look forward to combined littoral maneuver group on one of the aircraft carriers!

In terms of absalon I think there is a great case for these considering the role being asked of them. I am unsure how they compare range, manoeuvrability & speedwise to Iver Huiltfeldts. As you said maybe need modifications which probably didn’t fit in to the asap brief of T31! Batch 2 maybe? As I would certainly think if the Littoral strike group is still a concept, a group of an Ellida type plus 2 Absalon type would be very interesting ☺

DaveyB

There may be three possible reasons why Starstreak was never adopted by the Navy. One – you can only attack one target at a time. Two – the target must be continuously tracked throughout the engagement by the operator. Three – operating from sea level, the laser can be effected by the environment more, i.e. when it’s lashing down with rain.

Humpty Dumpty

OTO Melara 76mm guns with VULCANO rounds (40km range) would provide another useful layer of defence against fast attack craft.

ATH

Your concept for the T31 is interesting.
 
BUT
 
You would never have got 5 of them built for £1.25B. This price cap was the defining part of the competition to design and build the class.

Sunmack

That’s true although the cost is now up to nearly £2bn with government supplied equipment.

Actually the capabilities provided by the T31 could have been acquired far cheaper by converting the new River class. We know that the River class hull has been equipped with a gun, guided weapons and a helicopter for another customer in the form of the Khareef class.

We could put the 57mm gun and 40mm guns on the Rivers along with a hangar for Wildcat and either a dozen CAAM or the Sea RAM system on the Rivers along with a multi purpose radar for a lot less than £2bn.

If you convert 4 Rivers at £300m per ship you have enough left over for an additional T26.

I’d rather have 4 converted River’s with the same weapons fit as a T31 and an additional T26 for my £2bn quid.

Simon m

The budget for the ships has not risen to £2 billion it is 1.25 plus money for infrastructure and this is effectively on anything built at Rosyth in the future.
Plus what use is a small patrol vessel versus a ship that can almost host a mini amphibious assault group. For a T26 to do what chase some pirates? Ships are more than weapons alone

Sunmack

Posts on the previous thread on T31 propulsion said the £2 bn was for government supplied equipment not Rosyth infrastructure. I stand to be corrected if that’s proved to be wrong.

The Modified River would be what was used to chase pirates. Not the extra. I’m not sure what use an amphibious assault group is for chasing pirates either.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sunmack
Simon m

https://youtu.be/hJRgMOoKxiY about 13 mins in there are a couple of other interviews as well stating similar. My suspicion/maybe hope is the ships will be fitted all out at a baseline capability for £250 million, but this will be as per spec, however, some GFE maybe fitted using extra funds possibly within the £2 billion so therefore there maybe some truth they could cost more but certainly not all of the £2 billion will go on the vessels. It is also likely 1st of class will cost more.

Meirion X

Some of that extra £750m on top of the £1.25bn for T31 procurement, includes a logistic support contract, as well as GFE.

Humpty Dumpty

“Actually the capabilities provided by the T31 could have been acquired far cheaper by converting the new River class.”

Yep, couldn’t agree more. Remove the 12 CAMMs and what is a Type 31? A not very well equipped vessel at all: it has no sonars, no SSTD, no anti-sub missiles, no anti-ship missiles, no CIWS and no DS30Ms.

In places like the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Mandeb Strait and other chokepoints, what can a Type 31 do so much better than an upgraded Batch 2 River could do? Where else are Type 31s going to operate? Type 31s aren’t sufficiently armed or defended to operate as part of a carrier group.

Based on the corvette upgrade suggested at https://www.navylookout.com/enhancing-the-royal-navys-batch-ii-opvs/
and tweaking it a bit, I’d upgrade Batch 2 Rivers as follows:

  • Fit a dozen anti-air missiles, ideally missiles that don’t require a radar upgrade
  • Instead of the 57mm Bofors, fit an OTO Melara 76mm with DART, PFF and VULCANO rounds: DART and PFF would provide 2 extra layers of defence against anti-ship missiles and VULCANO could take out fast attack craft at considerable range (40km)
  • Fit 2 DS30Ms to take out fast attack craft
  • Fit an armed USV with a gyro-stabilised gun with armour-piercing rounds to take out armoured fast attack craft
  • Fit MASS decoys: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi_Ammunition_Softkill_System
  • Fit the Krait Defence System: https://www.sea.co.uk/media/1753/mardef-006-0817-kds-overview.pdf
  • Fit a telescopic hangar for the Wildcat. Since LMMs won’t be available for 4 years, look at fitting Hydra 70 rockets with APKWS to the Wildcat.

In fact I’d like us to build new Batch 3 Rivers, which would be larger than the Batch 2s and in addition to the upgrades suggested above would have:

  • Artisan radar
  • 24 CAMMs
  • 2 Oerlikon Millenniun Guns with AHEAD ammo
  • Short-range Griffin missiles to take out fast attack craft
  • Anti-ship missiles (e.g. RBS-15 Mk3/Mk4 or NSM)
  • Armed UAVs

New Batch 3 Rivers would be ideal for places like the Persian Gulf as well as home waters defence (e.g. the English Channel, the GI-UK gap, off Faslane) as well as off Gibraltar and to patrol the Falklands. Complementing them with new diesel-electric AIP subs would be ideal. This would provide a very respectable level of defence without breaking the bank and we could get a lot of Batch 3 Rivers and diesel-electric AIP subs for our money.

These Batch 3 Rivers should be built in a modular way, similar to Stanflex, so they can be easily and quickly fitted out for different missions. In fact building ALL our ships that way would make sense as it would make upgrading them much easier.

As for the Type 31s, I’d upgrade them so that they can operate as part of a carrier group:

  • Fit Mk41 VLS and fit anti-ship missiles and quad-packed CAMMs
  • Fit a towed array sonar
  • Fit the Scutter torpedo countermeasure: http://www.rafael.co.il/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Scutter.pdf (Scutter can be fitted to subs as well as surface ships)
  • Fit anti-torpedo torpedoes (e.g. SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill, SSTD CAT or TORBUSTER)
  • Ensure an ASW Merlin is always on board
  • Fit microwave weapons to burn out the electronics in anti-ship missiles: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/17796/bae-systems-wants-its-new-microwave-close-in-weapon-system-concept-on-us-navy-ships (such weapons only require electricity and like ECM would still protect ships even if they’ve used up all their anti-air missiles or CIWS rounds)
  • Fit Dragonfire to blind or burn out the sensors in anti-ship missiles (once Dragonfire exceeds 300 kilowatts it’ll be able to actually take out anti-ship missiles)
  • Replace the Bofors 57mm with an OTO Melara 76mm with DART and PFF rounds
  • Replace one of the two Bofors 40mm guns with an Oerlikon Millennium Gun CIWS (the Bofors has greater range but the Millennium Gun has a higher rate of fire)
  • Fit sub-hunting USVs like Arcims or Seagull, ideally fitted with torpedo launchers
  • Fit decoys: chaff, flares, Siren, IrvinGQ floating decoys, MASS, radar-thwarting obscurant
Dave G

What about the impact of lift (and drag) generated on only one side if only 1 Wing is fitted?. It will certainly effect handling at speed…

Simon m

A possibility but I’d be surprised as there would be a difference in drag with different missile loads anyway
an easy solution would to fit one side with a standard weapons wing or holder

Bloke no longer down the pub

It makes an interesting comparison to the BAe APKWS.

Rudeboy

In many ways they’re complementary. APKWS is cheaper, shorter ranged but with bigger warhead. Martlet is more expensive, longer ranged and smaller warhead.
On the surface the ability to change over the APKWS warhead gives more flexibility, but Martlet is better suited for engaging aerial targets (even though they’ve tested APKWS against cruise missiles). But then APKWS can fired from fast jets..(but not Typhoon or F-35 so for the UK its moot).
 
The real advantage for the RN is the lack of a huge launch signature. The soft launch means it can be fired from a shoulder or from a gun mount without lots of issues with the rocket efflux.
 
There were some rumours that Apache E in the AAC were looking at APKWS. Which would make sense. Its a whole lot cheaper than firing a Hellfire/Brimstone at every target and you can carry more. Pity that APKWS isn’t built for the CRV-7 though as that is a far more impressive rocket than the Hydra 70.

Duker

The first stage rocket efflux is dramatic but is only 0.2 seccomment image

Rudeboy

Exactly, its just a blip as the kick motor fires. The first picture has captured the efflux incredibly well as its over in miliseconds. Mitigation for this hazard around the mount is comparatively straightforward. But dealing with the efflux from a APKWS would be a whole different ball game.

Rob N

Now this I do like! This 30mm/missile combo should be standard on all RN ships. It would be very good bit of kit in the Gulf. Could it be made to take out air targets too?

Rudeboy

Martlet has a speed of m1.5 and a proximity fuse. It can take out aerial targets, in fact one of its target sets is UAV’s. Helicopters and slow aircraft would be fairly easy for it, but fast jets would be a tougher proposition. But if they can get Martlet to work onboard using beam riding from an off mount laser then it means that Starstreak will also fit and work. That will take fast jets out to 8km.

Rob N

An extra air/surface capability for not much money would be a big plus. Sea Ceptor has a surface capability but you would not wish to use such a valuable missile on a small boat if you have a cheap alternative.

DaveyB

The Bristol Aerospace CVR-7 also has a precision guidance package, i.e. the CVR-7PG. This adds a new nose section that includes a laser seeker sensor, steerable fins and an inertial navigation package. The CVR-7 still has the highest speed of all the air-launched ground attack unguided rockets and is faster than the Martlet. It has successfully engaged designated moving targets including a small drone.

Rudeboy

No-one has bought the 7PG though, and its unlikely that they wil, Its been around for 10 years without a buyer.
 
APKWS is one of the most elegant engineering solutions out there. By being a standalone module and screwing into the rocket behind and warhead in front, using the existing threads, you get to re-use any motors or warheads already in stock. And that can be done on the flightline. The fin mounted laser receivers are protected inside the rocket pod and only deploy when fired. Consequently all the issues surrounding rocket efflux on delicate seeker heads from neighbouring rockets in the pod are completely negated. It’s also protected from any environmental damage (being sand blasted for example). Nothing else really comes close.
 
The best idea would be to get BAE to build an APKWS guidance section that fitted on CRV-7. Shouldn’t be too hard as the rockets are the same diameter. And you get to piggy back on US buys which get the price down enormously.

DaveyB

Yes, APKWS is a neat solution, I just find it strange that nobody with CVR7 has taken up the PG kit. The PG for CVR7 is also a bolt on kit, though Magellan (Bristol Aerospace) don’t give specifics on fitment. Bristol also trialed a 6 round launcher with the PG rockets on a vehicle, not sure if that got anywhere thouhgh?
 
The Reaper for example, could easily carry a pair of 19 round pods. The APKWS or the PG version of CVR7 would be the ideal weapon for low threat asymmetric conflicts. Especially as a 19 round pod is about the same weight as two Hellfires, but significantly cheaper.

Rudeboy

The guidance kit for CRV7 is bolt on…but you need to get new warheads with it. All you can reuse is the motor segment. Thats the real genius of APKWS, no waste from the current stockpile.And the rocket efflux issue is very real.
 
The problem with the rockets on vehicles is tha we’ve spent decades developing soft launch in order to mask firing points, only to lose it straightaway. If you fire an unguided rocket like that in a real combat zone everyone knows where you are straightaway. Re-purposed rockets also don’t have the useful features like top attack etc. And that efflux is again a huge issue. Whenever you see the trials of them there is no-one within 30 yards of them…
 
They’re not much use of things like Reaper because of their relative lack of sophistication. Although they are laser guided in general they lack the GPS/INS that more expensive missiles have. So you need to be pointing the launcher, and therefore the aircraft in the general direction. For a fixed wing this will mean diving at the target. And thats not how UCAV’s operate. This is why sophisticated missiles or free fall munitions are preferred. Typically they’re operating at 30,000ft plus as well.

DaveyB

No, for a Reaper they are ideal. the Raytheon AN/DAS-4 EO turret fitted Reaper has a laser designation range of just over 20km. Both the APKWS and CVR7 have a maximum horizontal range of about 5km depending on firing height and any forward momentum from the firing platform. With either APKWS or CVR7-PG the target just needs to be in the forward arc of the line of travel that the Reaper is going, it doesn’t need to dive onto the target unlike when using unguided rockets. If the Reaper is flying in places like Iraq or Mali, they usually fly at 10,000m. Therefore this height and the cruise speed will add additional kinetic energy to the rocket, increasing its range.
 
The guidance package on either of these weapons will take care of steering it towards the target. Both APKWS and CVR7-PG can be equipped with a combined INS/GPS nav package. The CVR7 can also be equipped with a passive RF sensor turning it into a basic anti-radar guided rocket. If the laser is designating the top of tank’s turret, both of these weapons shouldn’t have a problem penetrating the armour. The CVR7 is famed for using its tungsten flechettes against to take out tanks.
 
It does seem bonkers firing these from a ground vehicle, but if we are talking about using the guided version, it does make some sense as they are cheap and pretty effective when married to a 3rd party designator. I agree that these not being soft launched will immediately pin point your location. However, fitting unguided air to ground rockets to vehicles is not new. They can be found in a lot of “third world” countries. where militias fit aircraft rocket pods (usually Russian SU5s) to 4×4 pickups, they aren’t very accurate.

Cam

Shame the Bristol company doesn’t exist anymore, well it’s subsidiary in Canada does Bristol Aerospace.

Rudeboy

Semi Active Laser (SAL) guidance isn’t ‘Fire and Forget’. You still need to track the target and illuminate it with a laser. Examples of Fire and Forget weapons would be Sidewinder or the Javelin AT missile. Neither requires any operator input after firing.
 
The proposed variant of Martlet that is Fire and Forget is one with an Imaging Infrared Seeker (IIR). As yet this isn’t funded.
 
An issue with the current guidance method (and it can be a strength as well) is that someone else can’t mark the target for you. It has to be lased by the launch platform as otherwise the rear facing laser receivers won’t pick up the guidance beam.
 
If the Wescam turret has been modified to provide this beam guiding method it does mean that fitting Starstreak to Wildcat would be comparatively straight forward…

Rudeboy

Very good article as ever. Keep up the excellent work.

Chris Werb

Martlet is not SALH (spot homing) but beam-riding as used in laser SAMs like ADATs and RBS-70. You can’t rely on keeping a spot on a fast moving target, hence the use of slightly less accurate beam-riding instead.

Bob

I must admit, I am nervous about the use of a SACLOS system to deal with a swarm.

borg

Wherever these Wildcats go, there will probably be Apache too. At least they will have a decent gun option onboard our QE class Carriers unlike the F35’s.

Rudeboy

With an engagement range of 8km and speed of m1.5 there’s not much to worry about.
 
That’s 16 seconds from missile launch to max range of 8km (5 miles).
 
Those Iranian speedboats might hit 40 mph. In the time it would take 10 of them to cover 2 mile (3 minutes) a Wildcat would have time to kill them all and start thinking about painting the kill markings on…

Humpty Dumpty

Never be complacent. What if an enemy uses far more than 20 fast attack craft?

An OTO Melara 76mm firing VULCANO rounds with a range of up to 40km would provide another very sensible layer of defence to complement LMMs fired by Wildcats. Plus since LMMs aren’t going to be in service until 2024, it would make sense to fit the Wildcats with Hydra 70 & APKWS now (or something comparable).

Another sensibe layer of defence would be USVs with gryo-stabilised guns and armour-piercing ammo.

If fast attack craft manage to get in range to fire anti-ship missiles then the more layers of defence a ship has against the missiles the better:
Oerlikon Millennium Guns with AHEAD ammo
OTO Melara 76mm with DART and PFF rounds
Microwave weapons
Dragonfire
Laser dazzlers
A ship-based version of DIRCM
ECM
Decoys

Plus if the fast attack craft manage to get in range to fire torpedoes then a Type 31 wouldn’t stand a chance (and I wouldn’t put my money on a Type 23 either which depends on SSTD and evasive manoeuvres). I’d fit the Type 31s with a towed array sonar and I’d fit the Type 23s and Type 31s with the Scutter torpedo countermeasure and look at the feasibility of fitting an anti-torpedo torpedo system (e.g. SeaSpider, MU90 Hard Kill, SSTD CAT).

Last edited 1 year ago by Humpty Dumpty
Dave Wolfy

At least a target can be engaged in a mixed environment should an attacker try to infiltrate amidst normal traffic.

Simon m

You do have to remember than wescam has a very good automatic track and scan as well as a reasonable field of view so it will setup the targets almost automatically allowing quick sequential firing the range of lmm is 8km and possibly a little more. I believe the wescam also has significant range prob around 15km. At Mach 1.5 the missiles aren’t that slow. The helicopter can engage from different angles & sea spray will likely give further assistance & will have longer range than wescam. So really it literally should engage destroy, no need to reacquire immediately fire again.
It will ultimately depend upon tactics & skill which is one thing the RN is good at. I’m not sure what I am missing regarding asymmetrical i.e. the ability to fly with different weights each side but unless I am the Browning M3M should be able to be carried as well I can’t see it breaking the MTOW. For the very small boats it should be a great package still obviously not going to match brimstone/sea spear, which could in theory depending on what weight wildcat could take destroy 16 targets simultaneously -perhaps more with programmable warhead but the cost difference is immense. I’d argue for better capability at the ship end of we are considering spending more money as cost becomes more irrelevant compare to warship cost, personnel killed etc.

Rudeboy

The M3M mounts firing arcs would be that restricted by the wing that to all intents and purposes it would be useless. With the wing adding significant lift its probably not a good idea to only use one at the time as balance and CoG would be very adversely affected.
 
It’s a pity that the tips of the wings weren’t made to accommodate a fixed forward firing GPMG on each side. It wouldn’t add much weight or stress, particularly if you had the ammo fed from near the fuselage. 50 cal on the wingtips would be too much in terms of weight and recoil though. Would have been interesting to see if one of the new .338 MG’s would have fitted. Very useful for force escalation or warning shots.
 
But there is the potential for guns, either in pods hung from the wings or as in the Lynx 3 a .50 cal or 20mm cannon mounted next to the fuselage. Not sure how they would have handled muzzle blast though…but a Wildcat with 20 Martlet and a 20mm cannon…very nice.
 
You can see it in the picture in the below link, mounted close to the port side door.
And as a bonus there is a mockup of the Naval Lynx 3 in the background….looks remarkably like a Wildcat…in 1984, larger tale, E/O turret and radar, plus 4 Sea Skua…
 
https://abpic.co.uk/pictures/view/1201243

Cam

Put a cannon on the lynx also, that would be badass, even a mini gun.

Simon m

I couldn’t see why they couldn’t pod the M3M 1100 rpm or potentially even mounted on the end of the wing (2200 if you’re greedy & mount 2!) Of 0.5 cal is pretty much going to ruin any small boats day!

When I was young I was always disappointed with the lynx I had a colour see inside type book which showed all the weapons it in theory it could carry ( 2 page spread & 30mm cannon was one!) & then you looked a British army one – no mini guns, no rockets just TOW & GPMG!😐 Nothings changed!

Chris Werb

Try hitting a fast moving boat from a fast moving helicopter with a pintle mounted gun, especially when 19 of the other twenty boats are trying to paste you with everything from AKs to DShKs. The M3M is great for coercing pirates into surrendering, but not what you want in a face off with swarms of FIACs.

Simon m

If Royal marine snipers can hit an engine block with a large calibre rifle with one or 2 shots in the same scenario I’m pretty sure engaging a boat with a well trained crewman & a weapon with high rate of fire is doable.
Please don’t put words in my statements either as I never stated it would be a weapon fit to ideally deal with a twenty boat swarm scenario and I’m not arguing for replacement of LMM in that case
But where possibly you may need PID first in a semi permissible and also have the strong possibility of multiple boats it would give you some flexibility rather than full LMM fit

Cam

And when you need warning shots instead of a deadly missile.

Cam

If it’s good enough for apache it’s good enough for wildcat, and with today’s Gun tech And stabilise systems would work ok.

Cam

Yeah I loved the lynx but it could Have been better. The wildcat has potential, but why not make a cheaper one without Athe huge radar and put skis on it instead of wheels the put a cannon on front with wings. Forget lots of the mar8ne expensive gear, the army should get a cheaper up armed version.

Gareth

If a 20-boat swarm is approaching and the Wildcat has to lase each one and engage one at a time, assuming maximum engagement range of ~ 8 km, and missiles travelling near sea level at Mach 1.5 (~495 m/s), each missile would have a Wildcat-to-target flight time of about 16 seconds. Assuming, say, 5 seconds for the weapon operator to shift target and designate a new one after impact, and then fire, total engagement time would be 16*20 + 5*20 ~ 420 seconds, or about 7-minutes.
 
Impressive, but it would mean the helicopter having to remain exposed and, I guess, relatively stationary in the air to make the laser designation easier, for 7-minutes. If anyone on the swarm boats has shoulder launched SAMs like the Igla (which the Iranians certainly have), the Lynx would be quite badly exposed to these wouldn’t it? They would have to be all but assured of not being engaged by longer range SAMs too during the engagement.
 
Also although the laser can’t be jammed the target can be obscured by smoke or fog (unless it’s an IR laser which I may have missed?).
 
Definitely want these fitted to the 30mm as standard as well, and, ideally, have a few Firescout drones on board ship to supplement the Wildcats. Relatively minor modification really, but would require government funding of course……….
 
 

Gavin Gordon

Understand, and it’s all theory* at present, of course, but I’d still put my money on the Wildcat & EO/IR versus a crew member with a manpad on a relatively unstable platform (and in their own shoes, I think so would the crew member with that load headed your way). Your single ‘copter has still taken out about 10 craft in the scenario and has the additional ability to maintain maximum range – and then along comes the second Wildcat or maybe other asset.
* though Lynx had no real issue during the Gulf War.
The most critical issue, at least initially, appears to be RoE as mentioned.
Regards

Glass Half Full

Unlikely to be used like that though. Consider operation from a T31 with 2x 40mm and 1x 57mm plus the Wildcat. With all that and with the movement of the speedboats at 40 knots plus, the challenge for the SAM operators would probably be acquiring targeting against a moving Wildcat. Not that I’d be complacent about the SAM threat.

Trevor Holcroft

And at what point would the crews of this swarm start to think “…maybe this is not a good idea…” ?

Simon m

It depends on their ideology if they’re of the suicide bomber mindset then probably at no point.
But designation will not be much of an issue as wescam has GMTI and automatic target tracking. If its a 20 boat swarm I would think it would be identified reasonably far out. The Wildcat does not necessarily therefore have to engage/destroy all targets in one engagement. It has the option to breakaway & return as well as changing the angle it would attack. It doesn’t just have to engage head on.

Sam

Swarm boats with MANPADS are going to be a nightmare for Helicopters. The latest J and K models of FIM 92 Stinger could even shoot Martlets down as these now have proximity fuzing. Martlets mounted on ships with have fewer issues and will easily improve on the 30mm bushmasters range.

Gunbuster

Wildcat in use in the Gulf comes with all the optional extras that the old Gulf Mod Lynx had but updated.
IR Jammers
Flare and Chaff launcher
ESM
Engaging a Wildcat from a small FIAC doing 30+ knots and bouncing around is not going to be easy or to be honest practical, especially when a Wildcat is shooting at you.
Even in a 30 boat swarm what are the other boat drivers going to do when they see their comrades disappearing in a puff of smoke one after another until 50% have disappeared. Even fanatics will be having second thoughts by then and they would still need to close the vessel so that they come into range of its guns say 4.5, 57mm, 40mm, 30mm, 50 Cal, 7.62 Mini Guns , GPMGs, every man and his dog who is on the upperdeck armed with an SA80 and probably Royal stood on the flight deck with a Javelin/ Law/ Starstreak.

Rudeboy

To be honest if I was in a speedboat and I saw a 4.5 shell airburst within a couple of miles of me I’d be turning for home.
One system you’ve missed is Sea Ceptor/CAMM. Apparently it has a surface to surface capability….out to at least 20 miles..
Now if MBDA actually make the CAMM/Brimstone hybrid that they’ve shown off that would basically end the FIAC threat entirely. Dual Mode Brimstone seeker or E/O seeker head out to 60 miles, soft vertical launch from the Sea Ceptor racks….

Gavin Gordon

You know, I’m still not sure Ceptor has been funded for amti-surface at this time, in fact I think not – though it has been ‘mocked’ in that role during exercises. That said, it’s not too big a deal as a software update should the situation demand. Then again, with only half a dozen on a T31 they’d been fully occupied in the anti-air role on that platform.
Cheers

Sam

The latest MANPADS are not susceptible to flares and IR jammers as they now also use UV seekers in addition to IR in a sensor fusion system. These countermeasures are completey hopeless against SACLOS SAMs like SeaCat and also against the Laser guided Starstreak. As I said Surface ship mounted Martlets have fewer issues as Martlets range is short compared to a surface ships other weapons and so will be another layer of defence to break through. Irans Pekyan class FAC (which Iran is mass producing) has a 76mm Oto Melara compact which is very capable of killing helicopters at range

Simon m

How many countries that use an asymmetric attack by speedboats have the latest SAMs with the capabilities you are talking about? If there’s a FAC around Martlet will not be the weapon of choice Sea Venom will.

Trevor Holcroft

Personally if some so called “asymetric” attacker were to attack us then my unasymetric response would and should be considerable.

The trouble is, these “asymetric” attackers expect our Foreign Office with its woke civil service to go running bleeding heart to the UN first… instead of dropping some serious munitions on them first before signing a resolution later.

Rudeboy

Irans Pekyan class FAC (which Iran is mass producing) has a 76mm Oto Melara compact which is very capable of killing helicopters at range”
 
Any FAC equipped with a 76mm gun is going to be killed by Wildcat with Sea Venom rather than Martlet.

Sam

76mm Oto guns can shoot down missiles…the Israelis did so in 1973. The issue is more with the FACs radar and early warning capabilities.

Rudeboy

The 76mm Strales can, but that uses a guided round. Using a normal 76mm Oto Melara to hit a sea skimmer would be putting your faith in the lord…possible, but very unlikely.
 
I’ve never heard of the Israeli’s having a hard kill with a 76mm on a missile, they used ECM and Chaff in 73. But a Styx was a fundamentally easier target as well.

Sam

76mm Compact and SR both can use PFHE ammunition and now 3P. Dart is used for engaging missiles at maximum range (by meeting the enemy missile) and for manouvering missiles. Martlet is not a sea skimmer. 2nd battle of Latakia…styx nailed by a Saar 3 using an RTN 10x fire control radar. The Iranian ship class I mentioned uses a WM28 fire control radar….way more powerful than 10x (We are at RTN 30x these days)

Simon m

Martlet would not be used for that target set sea venom would be

donald_of_tokyo

Not sure, but Martlet is also a MANPAD based, and fired from an altitude. Enemy MANPADS fired from ground level need to climb up, using most of their thrust. For example, Stinger’s ceiling is 3-4 km, as I understand, not so high.
 
So, if the Wildcat keeps high altitude, it can out-range speed boat’s MANPADS easily?

Sam

Helicopters can’t hover stationary at altitudes above 10,000 feet, bit of a problem for semi-active laser targeting as it requires relatively stationary launch platforms. While Wildcat can fly much higher….it cant sit there making targetting far more challenging. In Irans case…they could call upon their SM-1 missiles too

Last edited 1 year ago by Sam
Simon m

I wouldn’t have thought high would be the attack profile but low and fast if confirmed as hostile. The person on the boat travelling at 40knts with a manpad would have difficulty responding to an attack already setup remember the wildcat has radar and long range EO/IR so as soon as within 8km it can press the trigger. It also has the option of bugging out if it receives IR/laser warnings etc. & then to reengage with hit & run tactics. 1 SM-1 would not fit on the target set martlet is designed for. You’re then talking Sea Venom + above

Duker

Isnt the reason for the 5km or so range to stay out of way of manpads, the helicopter being lower heat signature as well ( ducted upwards for the Wildcat)

Rudeboy

Realistically if you’re bobbing up and down in a FIAC at 40 knots in the Gulf you’re not going to see a grey painted helo at 5km+ range with heat haze etc. if its low down. First thing you’ll know is when the missile hits.

Challenger

I may be wrong but i seem to think i read a while back that QE will have a couple of Wildcat’s on-board purely for anti-surface surveillance when she anchors off coast or heads into port when on deployment, in which case they’d presumably carry a 50.cal.
 
The Wildcat’s on the T45’s will hopefully then field weapons wings to provide an anti-swarm screen much further out.
 
20x Marlet’s would present a pretty formidable capability, but you always need to prepare for the unexpected and take a layered approach so getting Martlet canisters added to the 30mm’s on-board all vessels seems like a pretty cheap no-brainer!

Rob N

Looks nice but no ‘fire and forget’ makes it more of a liability for the attacking helo! You have to shoot one target at a time while folk cold be shooting back.

Just Buy more Sea Venom and mount these on the 30mm ship mounts. Also enable Sea Ceptors anti-ship mode. If it is not already enables.

Rudeboy

Don’t forget the E/O turret can turn, you could fire the missile and maintain guidance as you fly parallel to their course or head away at a 90 degree angle.

Rob N

The IR round might be of some use but this setup is unimpressive. Also I am not sure how much punch it has, apoears very light to me.

Basil Barnes

More likely than not it will be fired from a uav in the future where we don’t need to worry about the life of the pilot. If we wanted fire and forget and bigger punch we already have brimstone. Its meant to be light and cheap so that is doesnt cost 250k everytime we launch one at someone in a rib, Honda 125, or Toyota pick up truck

Rob N

Yes that makes more sense, from a UAV it would be useful. Could you ripple fire the missiles against the same target. For example a bigger ship? A stream of 20 of these could give you a bad day…

DaveyB

A pair of Martlets have been mocked up on the Schiebel S100 helicopter UAV. I believe The RN trialled the S100s quite a few years ago, but clearly we didn’t get any. Which I find bemusing, as it’s used by a number of Navies, including Russia’s coastguard. For a cheap UAV it would be ideal as a reconnaissance or surveillance platform. As a platform for dealing with a swarm attack, probably not. The Fire Scout would be an obvious choice, but there’s also the Bell V247 Vigilant at the top end of the market.

Basil Barnes

I know it’s so frustrating. They probably won’t fit in a T23 hanger alongside a Merlin but plenty of room on a T45 when it can hold to wildcats. We could really do with a few of them in the gulf but then again the Iranians would see them as target practise.

Rudeboy

The V-247 is probably not going to happen. The USMC have massively changed the MUX requirement.
 
The Schiebel Camcopter is pretty small, I’d imagine the range would be severely restricted carrying 2 Martlet. On such a small platform the change in balance from firing one would be hard to mitigate as well.
 
The larger RUAV’s like Airbus VSR-700, Saab Skeldar or Leonardo Hero appear to offer a lot more promise

DaveyB

I agree, the Navy probably didn’t pick the S100 because it is quite small and has a mediocre payload. It is really only suited as a surveillance platform.
 
The AWhero as suggested by others is slightly bigger and has a payload of 85Kg compared to the S100’s 50Kg. The Saab Skelder is bigger still but has a really poor payload of only 40Kgs whilst the Airbus VSR-700 is bigger still and in the Fire Scout league, with a payload of 250Kgs.
 
It comes down to the requirement, but also the ship’s available space when it’s hosting a Wildcat or Merlin. Therefore, it would probably have to be quite small on something like a T23. But on a T23, 31 or 45 it could be bigger as the ship has the extra space.
 

I am not giving up on the Vigilant just yet! Although the USMC have changed the MUX requirement. They are still desperate for an AEW and communications relay platform for their LHAs. Either they modify their V22s to do this role or find something else that can. The Vigilant is meeting this requirement.
 
In the short term, I think of the smaller “camcopters” the Leonardo AWHero has the best payload, range and duration. It could be armed, but more importantly it can carry both an EO turret as well as a search radar, to extend the ship’s view.
 
In the long term, we will need to look at getting a heavier platform that complements the manned helo and can do more types of missions. Perhaps in the Fire Scout/Airbus VRS700 range. Though ultimately, I would prefer us getting Vigilant. If we could have it teamed up with a T45 providing the over-horizon search and targeting for Sea Viper. The hypersonic or any sea skimmer threat would be significantly reduced.

Simon m

Not forgetting the AWhero that has already been tested in manned unmanned teaming with Wildcat. But you’re unlikely to get 20 martlets on a UAV (except maybe v247) or want to engage a large vessel with martlet hanging around a ship with a serious AD system is not going to be productive manned

Ron5

Excellent article. Thanks.

Chris Werb

This is the South Korean solution to massed fast boat attacks:
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-Cost_Guided_Imaging_Rocket

Mike D

The ability to launch multiple Martlets will be academic if Rules of Engagement prevent us making the most of their range.

Ryan

So here’s what I’m struggling to understand. Spear 3 is being worked on for the RAF to provide a light air to ground/air to ship missile capability. Why then is the RN bothering with Sea Venom? From what I’ve read Sea Spear is very much possible, it can be stored in deck launchers or in cells, add it to Wildcat then a single warship plus helicopter could unleash quite a volley on attacking small craft. If Martlet could be added onto the 40mm then all in all our ships would have one hell of a fearsome close in punch.

Simon m

I think unfortunately the Sea Venom project was initiated by the rn prior to the Spear 3 project for the RAF. It should have been in service with Wildcat! But has been heavily delayed. I think if the timings were different Spear 3 would have/could have gone on Wildcat, however Sea Venom should still make it into service first and possibly has advantages.

It is specifically designed for its mission, helicopter launch and I am unsure of the price point, but I guess it hopefully is cheaper. I think it is also quicker and tailored for sea skimming. I am hoping & reasonably sure its range is greatly understated. I am also unsure as to whether Spear 3 can maneuver at speed at low level to give CIWS a run for its money.

Spear 3 is being dressed up as a solution to maritime attack to be honest I think if you offered the RN a proper anti-ship missile that could fit in F35b, use multiple waypoint attack at low level with reattack mod, and a massive warhead etc. They would bite your hand off! Spear 3 will be useful in the littorals & land attack but JSM/LRASM/RBS mk15 it is not.

The capability of Sea Spear (Brimstone) and Venom would be different Venom being heavier & longer ranged.

Ideally if money was no object martlets would target small boats, Sea Spear smaller FAC & patrol boats, Venom large attack craft/corvettes, marte ER/JSM or equivalent for frigates and destroyers.
The 40mm Bofors possibly doesn’t really need martlets it has a long range and good rate of fire with 3p ammo. They would add some capability especially if a vessel had a limited SAM payload & possibly mounted separately from the 40mm giving a better capability to deal with multiple attacks

However the 30mm is shorter ranged & doesn’t have smart 3p ammo so does benefit hugely from martlet, unfortunately the sensors on e mount limit the missiles to 6km

Humpty Dumpty

I can see how Wildcats with LMMs would be useful against fast attack craft (and the further away from the ship they can be dealt with the better), but does anyone know what LMMs are likely to cost? And wouldn’t Hydra 70 rockets fitted with APKWS be a lot cheaper, but just as effective? Also we could have them now, not in 4 years’ time.

Also short-range Griffin missiles fitted to surface ships, Wildcats and UAVs would provide another layer of defence against fast attack craft. I know the Schiebel Camcopter S-100 can carry 2 LMMs. Could they carry Griffin missiles? Plus does anyone know what Griffin missiles cost? Again we could have them now, not in 2024.

Last edited 1 year ago by Humpty Dumpty
Rob Collinson

A great article!!

Ruski The Bear

Hi all. Hope you’re good. Reading these threads with interest and in need of some steer if poss please. We’re ( https://www.mavin.global/mavin-defence/ ) UK design & built. developing some conceptual containerised weapons systems for RN deployment. Single role and multi-role. FYI. We custom build our containers from scratch, so although they may look, feel and play like a standard 20ft ISO in transportation, they are and with custom mods, can be very different. i.e. we can design in and out features to suit. Anyway, keen to receive steer on what will work best when its needed. If we were to deploy two types of defensive / offensive weapons in one container, what would be your choice? Including both recent traditional and even more recent Millennium Falcon style systems… Open to all suggestions and happy to post links back re design on here if you’re interested and wish to be part of the assist…

Junaid

The T31 notion you’ve proposed is intriguing.

BUT

You could never have built five of those for £1.25 billion. The competition to design and build the class was defined by this price cap.https://thegadgetmasters.com/