Surface Forces: NSM The Diplomatic Ship Killer


March 12, 2017: Germany has ordered $1.2 billion worth of Norwegian NSM (Naval strike missile) anti-ship missiles as part of the deal involving the Norwegian purchase of four German Type 212 submarines. The NSM deal includes the missiles themselves (their number is unknown) plus all related things like logistical support and training for maintenance and technical personnel together with spare parts. Moreover the missiles will be produced in Germany under license. Both countries also have agreed to jointly develop improved versions of NSM.

This use of “offsets” (in effect barter) is more important to smaller nations like Norway because the NSM/ submarine deal will benefit about a hundred Norwegian firms. Since the German economy (GDP) is 90 times larger than Norway’s a deal like this means a lot more. With both the German and Norwegian warships using so many NSMs there is likely to be much closer cooperation on joint maintenance and logistics between the two navies.

Germany has been seeking a replacement for their Cold War era anti-ship missiles and NSM is currently the only fifth generation long range precision strike missile in service. The NSM is a successor to the Penguin anti-ship missile that entered service in 1972 and was due for a major upgrade. Development of NSW began in 1996 with the decision to create a stealthy anti-ship missile. The first test firing took place in 2006 and mass production began in mid- 2007. NSW has also been purchased by the Polish Navy for its new coastal defense batteries. NSM is available in a two variants so far: naval and land-based launchers.

NSM will be installed in the new German multi mission MKS 180 class frigate and all future new ships as well as replace older missiles on existing ships when those vessels undergo upgrades. The NSM is 3.96 meters (13 feet) long and weighs about 407 kilograms (900 pounds). The NSM has a range above 200 kilometers and a guidance system using GPS/INS to get to the general area of the target as well as infrared (IIR) sensor for finding the target and homing in on it. Thanks to stealth design and use of passive homing NSM is extremely difficult for the target ship to detect and defeat.. Other missiles which use radar for terminal guidance always emit radar signals which can be detected by enemy radar warning receivers. In case of NSM there aren’t any emissions. Moreover the target selection technology provides NSM with a capacity for independent detection, recognition, and discrimination of targets and even their weak spots if there are any stored in missile database. This connected with missile capability to perform a series of evasive maneuvers including re-attack if necessary gives the missile excellent hit probability and lethality). The destructive power is provided by 125 kilogram (275 pound) warhead. Although it is a small warhead compared to competition but with usage of weak spot hit capability it can cause even more damage.

The NSM/Type 212 submarine deal creates a lot more strategic cooperation between Germany and Norway. Moreover this cooperation will further strengthen the position as Norwegian defense industry has built up in this area through decades of high-tech development. Export potential will increase as a consequence of the extensive cooperation that Norway and Germany are now entering. It should be noted that Germany was Norway largest trading partner and one of its closest allies. Now Norwegians have entered into even closer cooperation on defense since, and it will have a major impact on the Navy and Army in general. -- Przemysław Juraszek


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