The Case For A SUBSAM.


Several readers have sent me info on an existing system deployed by the Russians on their newest subs called SUBSAM. This is an IR missile, supposedly a modified-for-sea SA-14 Gremlin, held within a vertical launch tube inside the sail, intended to be launched against an ASW aircraft which is in attack against the submarine.

The advantage of the IR seeker is that no external targeting is required. Used alone at sea, the ASW aircraft would be the only target available for the missile to lock on to.

The disadvantage of the sail launched IR missile is that the sub must come shallow to execute the launch, and the launch itself reveals the sub's exact position. The latter is a small loss in a one-on-one scenario assuming the missile hits the target.

Obviously, the canister launch system greatly reduces the risk to the sub by allowing the sub to stay deeper and to be somewhere else when the missile itself breaks the surface.

Several readers have emailed me that a new U.S. SUBSAM is in development, and is currently under testing, but obviously, this remains unconfirmed at this time.

Meanwhile, its worth noting that the enhanced type 688 submarine includes 12 vertical launch tubes forward of the sail which are admitted to handle Tomahawk and Harpoon. The Mark 41 surface launcher handles Tomahawk and Harpoon and Sea Sparrow and Standards with the same sized tube.

A 688 Los Angeles Class submarine launching using VLS (Vertical Launch System).

The following web page, from `HTTP:// reveals that the Navy agenda is for increased use of missiles deployed from submarines.

                            (Page 2, Continued)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
     This article, by O. Kelly Blosser, appeared on pages 46-50 of the
                 September-October 1996 issue of FA Journal
   The Navy must remain the dominant naval force in the maritime or "blue
     water" regions of the world where the US has special interests or
       allies. In addition, strategic employment of the sea services,
         including the Marine Corps, is now being focused on naval
   expeditionary force operations over a continuum from peacetime forward
           presence through crisis response to regional conflict.
    In concert with the strategic concept for naval force employment, an
    over-arching concept of naval fires is being developed by the Naval
     Doctrine Command to guide the future development and use of naval
       weapons to project power near and over land in the littorals.
     Components of naval fires include carrier- and land-based tactical
   aviation and their air-to-ground weaponry and naval surface combatants
    and submarines launching tactical land attack weapons. Mobile Marine
        Corps artillery batteries employed as elements in a rapidly
   maneuvering expeditionary force also could be considered a naval fires
   Naval surface combatants, including cruisers and destroyers, the focus
   of this article, are key components of this new drive to increase the
        Navy's ability to project power from the sea in the littoral
     environment. The Tomahawk land attack missile (TLAM) launched from
      surface combatants and submarines is a proven weapon for strike
      missions. Naval gunfire from surface combatants is one of three
       traditional supporting arms for amphibious assault operations.
   For the future, new surface ship launched land attack weapons are being
       developed or adapted for land attack, and mission planning and
     coordination capabilities will be improved to provide a true joint
      capability. The scope of operations for this system will include
     independent surface strikes from the sea, fire support for Marine
   Corps or joint amphibious operations and fires supporting the air-land
     battle. Naval surface-launched weapons will contribute to the land
      battle as well as to expeditionary operations in the littorals.
                     Traditional Naval Gunfire Support
   In our history, naval firepower from surface combatants contributed to
     the success of military actions in nearly all littoral operations.
   Naval guns from destroyers, cruisers and battleships were employed to
     destroy and disrupt enemy shore defenses in support of amphibious
    assault operations, conduct shore bombardment missions against enemy
   coastal installations and transportation and, occasionally, to support
                    a maritime flank of a land campaign.
    Traditional naval gunfire fire support (NGFS) encompassed all naval
      guns from 3-inch to 16-inch to support amphibious operations and
    contribute to the land battle (as long as the objectives were on or
       near the coast). Navy surface combatants today have one or two
   5-inch/54-caliber gun Mark 45 guns with ballistic ammunition that can
     fire to a maximum range of about 14 nautical miles (NM) but with a
              much shorter effective range for precision fire.
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                            (Page 3, Continued)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
    The newest Arleigh Burke (DDG-51 Class) destroyers have a modern fire
    control system. Using global positioning systems (GPS), these ships
      can obtain a precise fix on their own positions instead control
   system. Using global positioning systems (GPS), these ships can obtain
    a precise fix on their own positions instead of using dead reckoning
               or navigational references in in-shore waters.
     However, fire support planning and coordination on the most modern
     cruiser and destroyer are still accomplished with a plot team and
      charts. Voice or naval text-formatted teletype messages provide
       communications between separate elements of the organization.
     Coordination conducted by the supporting arms coordination center
     (SACC) on amphibious command ships is done much as it was done in
     World War 11; its a manual, man-intensive operation using charts,
                  maps, overlays and 3x5-inch file cards.
     [INLINE] Courtesy of United Defense Artist's conception of the new
    5-inch/54 Mark 45 gun shield configuration; modifications to the gun
                   will allow it to fire the ERGM 63 NM.
   The Marine Corps is attempting to bring automated support aboard some
      amphibious command ships by installing its initial fire support
    automation system (IFSAS). However, while IFSAS can communicate with
   other fire support elements (FSEs) via several commo systems, current
   Marine and Navy architectures aboard amphibious ships only support an
    IFSAS interface through the VHF single-channel ground and air radio
                             system (SINCGARS).
                         Naval Surface Fire Support
   In 21st century concepts of war fighting, our current naval weapons and
   the planning and coordination process, communications and organization
       will be inadequate in range, firepower and response to support
        operations from a seabase. The Marine Corps' new doctrine of
    Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS) stresses the use of rapid,
    decisive action with firepower and maneuver from the sanctuary of a
    seabase. US Army combat in the 21st century will be characterized by
     "full-dimensional operations" over an expanded battlefield; depth,
      simultaneous attack and the use of decisive firepower to support
     dominant maneuver are the underpinnings of the Force XXI concept.
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                            (Page 4, Continued)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
    In response to these new requirements, NGFS has been replaced in the
      naval lexicon by naval surface fire support (NSFS) to denote the
   expanded role asked of surface combatants. NSFS is the "fire provided
   by navy surface gun, missile and electronic warfare systems in support
    of a unit or units tasked with achieving the commander's objectives"
         (Joint Pub 3-02 Joint Doctrine for Amphibious Operations).
     Weapon systems are being developed to provide surface combatants a
   greatly expanded capability to place ordnance rapidly and precisely on
    and around the expanded battlefield of the future. The concept of a
    system of systems is very applicable to the problem of evolving NGFS
    systems to the NSFS system of the future. Advances in the technology
   will give us effective weapons, and the judicious adaptation of other
      joint systems could provide automated mission planning and fire
       coordination. Adapting joint systems would allow us to operate
    "seamlessly" with Marine and joint land forces to provide firepower
                           when and where needed.
    The development of these new weapons is being paced by a program of
     critical experiments and demonstrations aimed at modernizing Navy
      tools for planning and coordination. Weapon development has the
      momentum provided by funding while development of the supporting
                      system is in a conceptual phase.
                                NSFS Weapons
    The current Navy weapons program managed by the NSFS Program Office
    (PMS-429) of the Naval Sea Systems Command will develop and field an
    enhanced extended-range, guided munition Ex-171 (ERGM) fired from a
   modified 5-inch/62-caliber Mark 45 gun mount. Required but unfunded is
   the need to adapt and modify an existing missile airframe to provide a
                 tactically responsive land attack missile.
           [INLINE] Courtesy of Texas Instruments Conceptual ERGM
     The Ex-171 ERGM is being developed to meet near-term Marine Corps
     requirements for a weapon to support expeditionary operations, to
     initially take the place of and later supplement artillery in the
      close battle and to engage in counterfire against enemy indirect
   artillery. ERGM will incorporate a rocket motor to reach an objective
   range of 63 NM and an inertial guidance system (INS)/GPS to accurately
   place the weapon and a submunition warhead to attack a broad range of
    battlefield targets. It is scheduled to complete initial operational
                capability (IOC) testing in September 2000.
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                            (Page 5, Continued)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
   TLAM, the only conventional surface and submarine-launched land attack
   weapon, has been used in strike, interdiction and suppression of enemy
    air defense (SEAD) missions in Desert Storm and Bosnia. The missile
    employs GPS mid-course guidance and digital scene matching and area
    correlation (DSMAC) for pre planned strikes and to attack high-value
   targets. This missile and its supporting planning and targeting system
    requires a lengthy planning time due to the need to develop detailed
      mission plans. However, TLAM is being improved to provide a more
       tactically responsive weapon for certain types of high-value,
                           time-critical targets.
   Several candidates also are being evaluated to produce a fire support
     missile in the first decade of the next century to supplement both
   TLAM and the gun system. This weapon will provide surface combatants a
        quick response, deep attack capability against high-priority
                   battlefield and interdiction targets.
       The Army tactical missile system (ATACMS) was tested at sea in
      February 1995, and a variant, the Naval tactical missile system
   (TACMS) has been proposed. The production version of Navy TACMS would
       be a modified Army TACMS Block IA with a range of about 150 NM
     carrying a payload of 300 M74 submunitions. This missile would be
     fired from the vertical launching system (VLS) Mark 41. A test of
     TACMS from a vertical launcher is scheduled at White Sands Missile
                      Range, New Mexico, in late 1996.
      [INLINE] Courtesy of Lockheed Martin Vaught Systems An artist's
                 rendition of a submarine-launched ATACMS.
   A land-attack version of the Navy's standard missile 2 (SM-2) also has
     been proposed for standard missile strikes. It would use the SM-2
       rocket motor and control set with a new INS/GPS navigation and
                  guidance set and a submunition payload.
   The sea-launched standoff land attack missile (Sea SLAM) is a proposed
     surface ship-launched variant of the air launched SLAM missile. Sea
    SLAM capabilities were successfully demonstrated in early 1996. Sea
     SLAM has a range of about 75 NM; a control aircraft or a specially
   modified helicopter uses the missile's electro-optical seeker to lock
                        on to the preplanned target.
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                            (Page 6, Continued)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
     Other more advanced weapons have been proposed for land attack. An
      advanced gun system concept, the revolutionary vertical gun for
      advanced ships (VGAS), features a vertically positioned pair of
     155-mm/52-caliber barrels with automatic loaders. VGAS would fire
    rocket-boosted guided projectiles to ranges well beyond the current
    gunrange requirement. Projectiles fabricated from advanced composite
    materials or powered by a supersonic ram jet (Scramshell) also could
     attain ranges well beyond the 63 NM specified for the ERGM round.
     Tomahawk stops the attacking regiments (TSTAR) is a concept by the
     cruise missile program for a TLAM variant to attack massed, mobile
     armored forces. The missile would be a variant of the TLAM missile
      with brilliant anti-tank (BAT) munitions or wide area mine (WAM)
    Also, a notional fast-response missile has been included in concepts
    to support the 21st Century Surface Combatant (SC-2 1). The notional
    ballistic missile would attack time-critical targets beyond 150 NM.
                         Fire Coordination Systems
       Outstanding weapons won't be effective without the ability to
   accurately designate targets and ensure fires are coordinated over an
      extended and fast-paced battlefield. These capabilities call for
   systems that can plan and coordinate fires and communicate digitally.
    It's clear that NSFS must be a component of a fully integrated fires
    system within the Marine Corps' OMFTS and Army's Force XXI. It must
        communicate with all FSEs using joint message standards over
   high-speed digital data paths and have interoperable mission planning
    and fires coordination capabilities. Such a system must meet several
                       basic requirements. It must--
     * Support NSFS weapons and other naval weaponry against assigned
       targets: prearranged, general support (GS) and direct support
       (DS). This requires precise target information to place ordnance
       within lethal weapon radius for a variety of targets.
     * Operate with both digital and voice communications used by joint
       forces on the battlefield. Voice will be less important; but for
       the near future, voice communications must be retained as a
       parallel and backup capability.
     * Ensure that surface combatants with NSFS capabilities are
       interoperable with the force fire support coordination system.
       Surface ships must have a relevant battlefield tactical picture
       shared with all echelons of tactical command afloat and ashore and
       must receive fire support coordinating measures (FSCM) to develop
       tactical fire control solutions for all weapons. The problems of
       the future battlefield include not only assigning resources, but
       also deconflicting the fires of aircraft, helicopters, missiles
       and gun-fired ordnance. Coordination must encompass joint fires
       and air coordination elements.
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                            (Page 7, Continued)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
       New NSFS operational concepts and requirements are determining
       candidate systems for a notional system of systems. Today, the
   requirements to develop a new system must be tempered with concern for
   development costs and retention of flexibility in the combat system of
   the cruisers and destroyers. Reuse of joint systems, especially where
     they enhance capabilities and interoperability, is a system design
     Currently, fire support communications are via HF voice radio nets
       with force coordination centers afloat and ashore and forward
      observers (FOs). In expeditionary operations or in a land battle
   involving Marine Corps or Army combat elements, digital communications
    for fire support control and coordination is accomplished primarily
   using the VHF radio combat net and SINCGARS. This has some significant
   limitations where the fire units are over the visual horizon from the
     combat radio net. Navy surface combatants must participate in the
    digitization of the future battlefield. New communications solutions
    may be required to provide a reliable communications interface with
      cruisers and destroyers providing fires to support expeditionary
                       operations or the land battle.
        Joint systems are now being developed in a common operating
    environment (COE) with open system architecture standards, standard
     hardware and modular software. Future surface combatants will have
    fully integrated combat systems with a computing system backbone and
   common display terminals to run mission-specific applications. Cruiser
    and destroyer combat systems will include the functions required to
    plan, coordinate and execute missions for tactically responsive land
   attack missiles. Weapons coordination and a relevant, shared tactical
                   picture are key requirements in NSFS.
       Several demonstrations have been conducted recently to explore
           integrating naval fires with forces operating ashore.
       Demonstrations completed in Combined Joint Task Force Exercise
    (CJTFEX) 96 in April and May of 1996 off the coast of North Carolina
       were ambitious attempts to showcase planning and coordination
      capabilities at the force and NSFS ship level. The Navy received
     generous support from the Marine Corps and the Army in conducting
                           these demonstrations.
   These demonstrations included mission planning, airspace coordination,
   GS and DS fire missions with the gun system and a notional engagement
      with a simulated shipboard ATACMS. Army advanced Field Artillery
     tactical data system (AFATDS) terminals were installed in the USS
   Mount Whitney (LCC-21), USS Saipan (LHA-2), USS Nassau (LHA-4) and USS
                             Mitscher (DDG-57).
    [INLINE] Courtesy of Naval Surface Warfare USS Saipan and USS Mount
   Whitney used AFATDS to simulate airspace deconfliction for a notional
                     TACMS firing from the USS Mitscher
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                            (Page 8, Continued)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
       DS missions were conducted with an FO on shore using a digital
   communications terminal (DCT) to pass fire support messages to the USS
    Mitscher. A remote digital data link converted certain tactical fire
   direction messages sent from AFATDS and the digital devices carried by
   the FOs for display on the gunfire control console. This replaced the
    current procedure where targeting data is passed by voice from an FO
      and entered manually by the gun fire control system operator to
     designate targets for the 5-inch gun. SINCGARS and a SHF satellite
   communications link were used to exchange tactical data and coordinate
   fire missions among the amphibious command ships and shore terminals.
     Connectivity ashore included the fire support coordination center
      (FSCC) for II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) and the XVIII
             Airborne Corps FSE at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
     Courtesy of Naval Surface Warfare The USS Mitscher provided direct
                 support to Marines ashore during JTFEX 96.
   The demonstrations showed conclusively that VHF SINCGARS is inadequate
   to provide a reliable ship-to-shore digital net over the ranges and at
       the digital data rates that will be common in future littoral
   operations. A reliable and secure SHF satellite communications net for
    NSFS was established among command ships and ground component forces
     for the at-sea demonstration. However, this is not an operational
    capability: we are not assured of having SHF channels available and,
    in any case, cruisers and destroyers won't have a SHF communications
      In another effort, the Cruise Missile Program (PMA-282) and the
     Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Information
      Systems Office conducted interoperability demonstrations of the
    advanced Tomahawk weapons control system (ATWCS), the Department of
      Defense (DoD) global command and control system (GCCS) and other
   systems. The objective was to share situational awareness data to plan
       and execute timely fire support for ground forces via digital
     calls-for-fire from Army FSEs as well as small units in the field.
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                            (Page 8, Concluded)
                  Naval Surface Fires and the Land Battle
      In this demonstration, disparate systems from different services
       interoperated seamlessly and shared common tactical data. This
     demonstration and the CJTFEX exercise illustrated the need for DoD
     systems to migrate to the COE as soon as possible to ensure joint
                     interoperability and integration.
   Army and Marine Corps systems will continue to be evaluated for use as
    building blocks with Navy-specific systems to develop a NSFS digital
   mission planning and coordination system that is interoperable through
     the COE. For example, AFATDS is being examined to determine if its
     functions support naval surface fire support solutions. If AFATDS
      meets the requirements, the software probably will be used in a
   computer already on the surface combatant to avoid adding a console to
                 a crowded combat information center(CIC).
     Naval fires in future operations will employ a variety of advanced
    weapons and a unit-level mission planning and targeting system that
   will be integrated with a modem force-level fire support coordination
     system. The goal is for surface-launched weapons to provide close
    support, interdiction, counterfire and deep fires for the joint land
      battle. All ships will be closely integrated into the joint fire
   support planning and coordination system. These NSFS developments will
       ensure we're fully capable of supporting Marine Corps and Army
                      operations in the 21st century.
  Kelly Blosser is in the Warfare Analysis Department of the Naval Surface
 Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Virginia, and has 35 years of
  experience in naval surface warfare. He is a Mechanical Engineer and the
  Lead Analyst for a team evaluating naval surface fire support (NSFS) and
      tactical land attack systems. The team studied mission planning,
 coordination and targeting requirements for a variant of the Army tactical
  missile system (ATACMS) and is determining requirements for the NSFS for
 future ships. Mr. Blosser also is co-chairman of a team evaluating strike
  and fire support options for the 21st Century Surface Combatant. He's a
         graduate of the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.
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