Tag Archives: missiles

War and the Innocent Bystanders

During a visit to Tokyo in 2017, Donald Trump called on Japan to buy “massive” amounts of American weaponry. At the time, North Korea was testing new rockets regularly. For the Japanese government, buying Aegis Ashore, a pricey American missile shield, allayed both concerns. Not all Japanese, however, were happy with the purchase, especially in Araya, a quiet residential neighbourhood of low-slung homes next to the sea in Akita city—and the site of a proposed Aegis base.

Akita City, Japan

Jittery locals fretted about electromagnetic waves from the system’s radar and debris from its rockets. They worried about becoming a target in a conflict, as the city’s oil refineries were during the second world war. “Why, why here?” asks Sasaki Masashi, a retired railway worker and head of a neighbourhood council. “It says: ‘Please attack us’,” complains Sakurada Yuko, another anti-Aegis campaigner. They have collected signatures, harangued officials and voted against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party  which unexpectedly lost a seat in Akita in elections to the upper house of parliament last year.

In June 2020  Akita received unexpected but welcome news: the government declared it was scrapping the $4.2bn purchase of Aegis Ashore. Kono Taro, the defence minister, cited the ballooning cost of ensuring that boosters did not fall on civilian property….

Excerpts from Anti-anti-missile systems, Economist, Aug. 15, 2020

The B-3 Nuclear Capable Bomber

The US Air Force wants to to build a new long-range strike bomber. The B-3, as it is likely to be named, will be a nuclear-capable aircraft designed to penetrate the most sophisticated air defences. The contract [that would be signed by the  US Air Force and  a weapons company] itself will be worth $50 billion-plus in revenues to the successful bidder, and there will be many billions of dollars more for work on design, support and upgrades. The plan is to build at least 80-100 of the planes at a cost of more than $550m each.

The stakes could not be higher for at least two of the three industrial heavyweights… On one side is a team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin; on the other, Northrop Grumman. The result could lead to a shake-out in the defence industry, with one of the competitors having to give up making combat aircraft for good.  After the B-3 contract is awarded, the next big deal for combat planes—for a sixth-generation “air-dominance fighter” to replace the F-22 and F-18 Super Hornet—will be more than a decade away. So Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group, an aviation-consulting firm, believes it will be hard for the loser to stay in the combat-aircraft business. ..

Usually in a contest of this kind, particularly this close to its end, a clear favourite emerges. Industry-watchers rate this one as still too close to call. That is partly because the degree of secrecy surrounding what is still classified as a “black programme” has remained high. Only the rough outlines of the aircraft’s specification have been revealed. It will be stealthy, subsonic, have a range of around 6,000 miles (9,650km) and be able to carry a big enough payload to destroy many targets during a single sortie. …

The target for the plane to come into operation is the mid-2020s—if possible, even earlier. In part this is because of fast-emerging new threats and in part because the average age of America’s current bomber fleet, consisting of 76 geriatric B-52s, 63 B-1s and 20 B-2s, is 38 years. Keeping such ancient aircraft flying in the face of metal fatigue and corrosion is a constant struggle: just 120 are deemed mission-ready. None of these, except the B-2s, can penetrate first-rate air defences without carrying cruise missiles—and the missiles are of little use against mobile targets.

In the kind of one-sided wars that America and its allies fought in the years after the September 11th 2001 attacks, such deficiencies were not a problem. But during that period China, in particular, has invested heavily in “anti-access/area-denial” (A2/AD) capabilities. These include thousands of precision-guided missiles of increasing range that could threaten America’s bases in the Western Pacific, and any carriers sailing close enough to shore to launch their short-range tactical aircraft….A new long-range bomber that can penetrate the most advanced air defences is thus seen as vital in preserving America’s unique ability to project power anywhere in the world.

Excerpts from Military aircraft: Battle joined, Economist, May 2, 2015, at 55.

New Long Range Anti-Ship Missile

From the DARPA website: Current surface-launched, anti-ship missiles face a challenge penetrating sophisticated enemy air defense systems from long range. As a result, warfighters may require multiple missile launches and overhead targeting assets to engage specific enemy warships from beyond the reach of counter-fire systems.  To overcome these challenges, the joint DARPA – Navy Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program is investing in advanced technologies to provide a leap ahead in U.S. surface warfare capability. The LRASM program aims to reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, network links, and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. Autonomous guidance algorithms should allow the LRASM to use less-precise target cueing data to pinpoint specific targets in the contested domain. The program also focuses on innovative terminal survivability approaches and precision lethality in the face of advanced counter measures…

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (LMMFC) Strike Weapons, Orlando, Fla., is the performer for the demonstration of the LRASM weapon, and BAE Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Nashua, NH, is the performer for the design and delivery of onboard sensor systems. In July 2, 2014 Lockheed Martin Corporation, Orlando, Florida, was awarded a contract for an amount not to exceed $200,000,000 for the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile Accelerated Acquisition program. he Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (HR0011-14-C-0079).

Killing with Missiles: the market

Late last year (2013) Forecast International predicted that manufacturers will produce 200 000 anti-armour missiles worth $9.7 billion through 2022. The company said that combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have spurred anti-armour purchases by the U.S. and other militaries. Ironically, these missiles are not engaging tanks, but rather a host of other target types – from terrorist hideouts to unarmoured pickup trucks. Established market players have benefitted from this evolving trend, according to Forecast International.  “U.S. and Israeli firms still have the largest share of the anti-armour missile market,” said Larry Dickerson, Forecast International’s senior missile analyst. During this period, “Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Rafael will earn $2.8 billion selling anti-armour missiles to customers worldwide,” Dickerson said.

The market positions of these manufacturers have become increasingly intertwined. For example, Lockheed Martin has cooperated with Raytheon in the development and production – and marketing – of the FGM-148 Javelin man-portable anti armour missile system. The Javelin is the U.S. Department of Defence’s standard man-portable anti-tank guided weapon, and nearly a dozen nations employ it.

Meanwhile, new systems are emerging overseas. “Europe is working on next-generation systems to win back the market share it once had,” Dickerson said. These include the Missile Moyenne Portee (MMP) and the Missile Longue Portee (MLP), which will replace MILAN and HOT, respectively.

For its part, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems is Israel’s leading anti-armour missile manufacturer. Against most expectations, Israel has slowly secured export production contracts for its anti-armour missiles and from an area once thought to present few opportunities – Europe. Rafael can count seven European countries as customers of its family of SPIKE anti-armour missiles, providing a stable production base for the company, according to Forecast International.

Companies are also working on new lightweight missiles that can perform various missions and demonstrate the blurring between different markets. “Missiles are slowly evolving, becoming more than just a weapon for use against tanks or aircraft or bunkers,” Dickerson said. “Eventually, the anti-tank missile market will cease to be an independent entity, becoming submerged in a larger strike weapons market.”

Excerpt from Shoulder launched anti-tank missile market worth $3.2 billion, defenceWeb, Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2014