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Air Defense: AMRAAM And MLRS Breed
   Next Article → ARTILLERY: EQ-36 Goes To War
September 18, 2010: The U.S. Army has successfully tested its SLAMRAAM antiaircraft missiles being fired from a modified HIMARS rocket launcher vehicle. HIMARS is a five ton military (FMTV) truck with a six cell container for MLRS (multiple launch rocket system) rockets on the back. The container can be raised to fire the rockets. The SLAMRAAM missile (180mm in diameter 152 kg/335 pounds) is smaller than the MLRS rocket (227mm and 306 kg/675 pounds), so there's no problem with the six SLAMRAAM missiles fitting into the same space. Until now, the SLAMRAAM were launched from the back of a smaller hummer vehicle (that carried 4-6). The HIMARS launcher could carry at least eight missiles. The FMTV/HIMARS is also more rugged, armored and reliable than the hummer launcher. However, although the U.S. has developed SLAMRAAM, the U.S. Army has not yet agreed to use it, although several foreign countries (Norway, Egypt, UAE) have.

The problem is that, in the U.S. military, ground based air defense systems get no respect. It took two decades to develop the current Patriot system, and most of the money the system received since it entered service in 1984, has gone for developing an anti-missile capability. The "problem" is that American warplanes have controlled the skies for over sixty years, and U.S. ground forces have not felt compelled to spend a lot on anti-aircraft systems. There is a portable missile (Stinger) for the troops, mainly to be used against enemy helicopters. But there's never been much in between stuff what you can carry on your back, like Stinger, and high end systems like Patriot (which has never shot down an enemy aircraft, but has destroyed several friendlies so far.)

In the past, there have been improvised systems, that usually had vehicles equipped with larger heat seeking missile, like the Sidewinder. Such a system, called the Chaparral, was used by the U.S. Army from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. A replacement system, Avenger, now using Stinger missiles, was introduced in 1993. But what the army really wanted was SLAMRAAM, using a larger air-to-air missile (AMRAAM).

SLAMRAAM has been in development for a decade. The army has been criticized for taking so long, especially since the Norwegians put together such a system in the late 1990s. This is what inspired the U.S. Army and Marines to do the same. But it was not a high priority project. The main technical problem with these systems is integrating the missiles' control system into an air defense radar network. The Norwegians simply used the older HAWK missile system (which Patriot replaced). The U.S. Department of Defense was supposed to just adapt the Norwegian system for American use.

Four years ago, The U.S. Marine Corps cancelled their version of SLAMRAAM (called CLAWS, or Complementary Low Altitude Weapons System.) The marines didn't have the money, and didn't see an urgent enough need to go find the money. Air defense was not a big deal when American fighters rule the skies.

The U.S. Army had started work on SLAMRAAM two years after the marines began developing CLAWS. This system initially mounted four U.S. Air Force AMRAAM radar guided air-to-air missile on a hummer. A firing battery consists of one fire-control center, a radar (with a 75 kilometer range) and four to eight hummers carrying missiles. The missiles have an effective range of 25 kilometers, and can knock down cruise missiles, as well as helicopters. It was the need to knock down cruise missiles that has kept the army going.

The AMRAAM is the most modern air-to-air missile in American service, and has its own radar for making its final approach to its target. The Norwegian system (using AMRAAM) has been seen deployed around Washington DC, along with U.S. Army Avengers, for the last six years, as a defense against any terrorist aircraft attempting to attack. The SLAMRAAM concept, as first developed in Norway, has been adopted by several other countries (including Spain and Kuwait).

A box launcher is used by the Norwegian system (called NASAMS). The ground launched AMRAAM can hit targets as high as 4,200 meters (13,000 feet). NASAMS was developed so that it could easily work with different search radars. The AMRAAM SAM costs more (about $600,000 each) compared to the air-to-air version (about $380,000), but is basically the same missile. The four meter (twelve foot) long AMRAAM has a 22.7 kg (fifty pound) warhead, and can take down just about anything that flies, including wide-body commercial transports.

The army is starting to take some heat from Congress over the delays in getting SLAMRAAM into service. But with a war on, SLAMRAAM is a low priority project that is being given just enough money and attention to keep the lights on, not to push the system out the door and into the hands of the troops who don't really need it at the moment.

 

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YelliChink       9/18/2010 5:24:17 PM
If only MIM-120 can be fired from 155mm artillery....
 
If only......
 
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Photon       9/18/2010 5:46:07 PM
Have the Army outsource their air defense needs to the Air Force?  Make sure to have Air Force subcontractors to complete, sign, and date their Form 1099, since they are technically not under Army's payroll.
 
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WarNerd       9/18/2010 6:40:43 PM
How much extra hardware did the Army have to attach to the HIMARS to make this work?
 
It would be great if they did it with an unmodified unit, but I suspect that is not the case.
 
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esmoore5       9/18/2010 10:57:54 PM
After Chaparral, there was also the Army's brief fielding of the Roland SAM system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_missile#Operators http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv9idx9FDVQ Not to mention the ADATS missile: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Defense_Anti-Tank_System Which was fielded by Canada, but not the U.S. I'm surprised your article didn't mention these.
 
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Colonel Korg       9/20/2010 11:48:27 AM
What ever happened to the M6 Linebacker?
 
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HeavyD       9/20/2010 6:15:50 PM
It's sad that in the many years since I served in the 8th ID's 1/59 ADA Battalion that the SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense) has dwindled to just the Stinger.
 
Yes, the Vulcan was out-dated even in the mid '80's and the Sergeant York twin 40mm's on a M-60 was a huge failure, and the Chapparal system was also long in the tooth.
 
The same argument that has made ground-based Anti-Aircraft systems un-necessary, namely complete air superiority can also be used to substantiate why we need Infantry-support tanks (like the Merkava 4, with heavy armor APC/Evac capabilities and improved self-defense against 'infantry' attack) rather than tank-busting MBT's. 
 
THe truth is that most of our conflicts will be of the 'irregular' variety, no columns of armor or fleets of CAS aircraft for the grunts to contend with.
 
What they WILL contend with is UAV's, and more likely of the smaller variety.  the SLAMRAAM is clearly overkill for these.
 
The Upgraded Gepard and the Chinese near-clones could have SLAMRAAMs strapped onto the rails when necessary, but would also provide a great UAV-hunting platform as well as baaaaaad mojo for enemy ground forces.
 
The M163 Vulcan was a piece of crap against fast-movers (jets) but 6000 20mm rounds/minute is an impressive and terrifying weapon for hosing down a building or wall that is concealing some bad guys.
 
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esmoore5       9/20/2010 6:56:27 PM

What ever happened to the M6 Linebacker?


According to:
 
 
"M6 Bradley Linebacker air defense vehicle. Armed with a quad Stinger surface to air missile launcher in place of the TOW anti-tank missiles and maintaining the 25 mm autocannon, the M6 Bradley Linebacker Air Defense Vehicle (no longer in service) possessed a unique role in the U.S. Army, providing highly mobile air defense at the front line."
 
So Linebacker is gone. I don't know why.  Also, according to:
 
 
The Marine's LAV-AD Blazer system is gone too.  I don't know why.
 
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Tucci78    Courtesy of Obamacare....   9/21/2010 6:47:11 AM

Have the Army outsource their air defense needs to the Air Force?  Make sure to have Air Force subcontractors to complete, sign, and date their Form 1099, since they are technically not under Army's payroll.

It's best that they do. Under a provision of that ghodawful economy-destroying horror shoved up the nation's tochus by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and our Mombasa Messiah, there's a section (9006) that requires even the smallest business to file a Form 1099 for every purchase of goods or services amounting to $600 or more, with "civil money penalties" for errors of any kind. 
 
Prior to this hammering imposition (in a healthcare bill?), a business only had to issue a Form 1099 for payments made to individuals.  No such requirements to track remittances accorded corporate entities, like telephone or Internet service providers, utilities companies, that sort of thing.  Starting in 2012, however - unless the incoming Republicans repeal this provision or expunge Obamacare utterly - all such expenditures, no matter how trivial, have to be tracked (with the recipient's corporate taxpayer identification number) from day one of the fiscal year in case the $600 threshold should be reached at some later date.
 
Gawd, an Army officer will have to get the TIN for his station's Post Exchange, on the supposition that his unit might use discretionary funds to purchase from the PX goods or services amounting to $600 or more in the year.
 
Every time you think that nobody could be more idiotic than the Republicans, the Democrat Party ups the ante.

 
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doggtag       9/21/2010 9:19:09 AM

Yes, the Vulcan was out-dated even in the mid '80's and the Sergeant York twin 40mm's on a M-60 was a huge failure, and the Chapparal system was also long in the tooth.

 

The same argument that has made ground-based Anti-Aircraft systems un-necessary, namely complete air superiority can also be used to substantiate why we need Infantry-support tanks (like the Merkava 4, with heavy armor APC/Evac capabilities and improved self-defense against 'infantry' attack) rather than tank-busting MBT's. 

 

THe truth is that most of our conflicts will be of the 'irregular' variety, no columns of armor or fleets of CAS aircraft for the grunts to contend with.

 

What they WILL contend with is UAV's, and more likely of the smaller variety.  the SLAMRAAM is clearly overkill for these.

 

The Upgraded Gepard and the Chinese near-clones could have SLAMRAAMs strapped onto the rails when necessary, but would also provide a great UAV-hunting platform as well as baaaaaad mojo for enemy ground forces.

 

The M163 Vulcan was a piece of crap against fast-movers (jets) but 6000 20mm rounds/minute is an impressive and terrifying weapon for hosing down a building or wall that is concealing some bad guys.

WRT the ill-fated Sgt York DIVADS (M247), that was actually on an M48 (A5-ish?) chassis, not an M60.
Many active Army units were still in transition from the m60 to the M1, so there still were not a lot of spare M60 hulls to draw from to fill the expected number of Yorks the Army originally had high hopes for.
Unfort, it was later revealed that the aged M48 hulls, with the few upgrades they would've gotten as an ADA chassis, just weren't going to have sufficient mobility (cross country speed, mostly) to keep pace with the generational leap  in mobility that the M1s and Bradleys demonstrated they could give us over the M60s and M113s (those were more suited to what the M48-based York could've provided as an ADA system).
 
Still, those 40mm guns would be highly useful in the ground role (query M42 Dusters used in Viet Nam) and against the occasional small UAV (a 3P-type 40mm airburst would probably make short work of most any UAV the shells could get near enough, unlike smaller calibers (12.7-25mm) which would require direct hits...

And clearly yes, AMRAAMs would be overkill against many battlefield tactical UAVs...
Here's where the Sidewinder makes a comeback, as a modern Chaparral type: the AIM-9X has already been shown mounted to the SL-AMRAAM launcher used from the Humvee chassis, so speculating a stand-alone modern "Super Chap" armed with "RIM-9X's" isn't too inconceivable...
 
As to the German Gepard (Flakpanzer Leopard), they have been seen with Stinger pods mounted outboard of the guns....
(AIUI, this was a mostly developmental program that, due to costs, never became a widespread operational standard.)
 
WRT the M163 Vulcan ADA system (M113-mounted or towed on a trailer, AIUI they never fired at the full 6000rpm of the aircraft-mounted guns, but were limited to a maximum of 3000rpm (supposedly, there were issues with barrel cooling at ground level if firing at the full 6000rpm rate).
Later models of the Phalanx CIWS have "optimized" barrel assemblies, featuring slightly longer barrels, and a bit thicker at the breech end, along with a more powerful drive motor and improvements to the feed system which allow the guns to fire at upwards of 4000rpm...I do believe these variants have also found their way into the Centurion systems, the land-based Phalanx used in the C-RAM role...
These fire fuzed (impact and self destruct, but not proximity types) High Explosive Incendiary rounds (HEI) instead of the DU or tungsten APDS types used in the naval mounts.
And yes, they would still prove ideal at engaging land targets (personnel and armed civilian vehicles).
Against UAVs though, there would still be the need for these guns to actually impact the target, rather than using a larger warhea with an effective proximity fuze lie the 40mm can (had the York DIVADS' problems been fixed, it's highly likely the system would've eventually adopted a highly effective fuze such as the Bofors 3P,...but then again, US defense contractors have a knack fo
 
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HeavyD       9/21/2010 3:20:43 PM
Dogtag,
 
I stand corrected the technical points - M48 chassis for the Sgt York, 6000 RPM on the vulcan.  Even at 3000 RPM they sounded AWESOME on the range, but yes 20mm is far too small for 3P fusing.
 
I'm there with you for a 50mm, maybe even a Bofors 57mm on a Bradley/Stryker.  An airburst round of that caliber is one shot one kill for small, slow-flying UAV's, and any BMP-3 or even the new German Puma with max armor upgrade would have no chance against a APFSDS.
 
 
Of course now we're even closer to what the Army should have done long ago, and that is replace the M551 Sheridan with the 75mm M8.  With the ability to receive fire control from a ADA-equipped unit (or even a mini AWACS UAV?!?), a guided 75mm would be deadly on UAV's and helicopters at a very respectable range, and the airburst modes would be highly effective in supporting ground troops in MOUT environments.  It would even have indirect fire capabilities in a pinch.  And the APFSDS/DU round would shred any current or future non-MBT armored target (and most if not all MBT flanks).  Develop a turret that can be fitted to a Bradley or Stryker chassis, and a ADA radar-equipped version and bring some much-needed teeth to the phrase 'if it flies, it dies'.
 
 
 
 
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