I briefly mentioned in a column a few weeks back that the US Navy was seriously looking to convert cruise missiles into anti-ship missiles after increasing their capability to go supersonic. Well, apparently those are not the only missiles that the Navy wants to experiment with to act as an anti-ship missile. The Raytheon SM-6 Surface to Air missile is said to be a leading candidate to eventually fill the anti-ship role.
Apparently this plan first came to light in 2014 as the result of a successful long range intercept of an aircraft by the SM-6 missile. A guided missile destroyer, the USS John Paul Jones, was the ship that the missile was fired from. The Navy was not inclined to say for obvious reasons what the exact range of the missile strike was, but they used the term “impressive.” The target was thought to be over 200 nautical miles away. That is when Navy planners got to thinking that the SM-6 might be useful for other purposes too.
Defense secretary Ashton Carter went on to state that to say the surface to air missile strike was performed at a range of over 200 nautical miles was to the ‘conservative’ side. An anti-ship missile that could strike at such a range would be extremely good news for a navy whose current anti-ship missile capability is roughly 60 nautical miles.
At the present time, there is no known surface to surface missile that is accurate over 200 nautical miles. The development of such a weapon would obviously be a game changer for the US Navy’s surface combatants against both enemy aerial and surface combatants.
Just as the thought was to make the modified cruise missiles supersonic, so to would be the plan to upgrade the SM-6 missile’s current speed capability. A subsonic missile has a much higher probability that an enemy can shoot it down than one that is supersonic.
What is driving the recent keen interest in more sophisticated anti-ship missile technology? You have to look no further than the modernization of the Chinese Navy and that country’s aggressive posture in both the East and South China seas. It obviously has US Naval commanders rightfully concerned. The Chinese navy grows more sophisticated by the day and they are no longer a stay at home navy with limited capabilities. They look to use that navy to get their way in the China seas and they are not opposed to bullying to get their way.
The United States can actually learn a lesson from the Chinese and build cheaper warships that are able to use more sophisticated weapons. This can be a real force multiplier and it’s the same way that China looks to counter America’s huge dominance in aircraft carrier power.
Let’s hope that the new modified missile comes to fruition in the very near future. If US warships do indeed get a naval surface vessel standoff capability of over 200 nautical miles, it will really give our potential adversaries something to seriously consider before engaging our own warships in the open sea.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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