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Kongsberg NSM - which way is up?

AeroFranz

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I apologize if the explanation turns out to be silly, but i'm looking at videos of the Kongsberg NSM. Test shots are seen launched and cruising with the engine intake on top, and then there's models at defense shows with the intake on the bottom. What is going on here?

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bring_it_on

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I assume they just built one model design that they use t showcase both surface launch and air launch application. The latter would involve carriage with the intake at the bottom.
 

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TomS

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So, the missile is likely built with a reinforced structure (a strongback) on the side opposite of the intake to take the loads when it is attached to a launcher. In air-launched applications, it hangs off that strongback, which has lugs to connect to a pylon. In a surface-launched canister application, the strongback is attached to a rail at the bottom of the canister (see p14 of the presentation linked below). This is a more robust connection so the missile isn't hanging off the strongback for months on end. In this application, the missile presumably rolls over some time after launch to put the inlet down.

That said, I'm having a little annoyance. Most images of NSM show the seeker window on the same side of the missile as the inlet. However, there are one or two pictures (see p5, for example) that clearly show the seeker window on the opposite side (as if the inlet is meant to be up and the seeker window down). Either there was an early test configuration that changed before final production, or something sneaky is happening. I have a theory, but it seems really unlikely and I fear I'll look stupid if I post it.

 

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I didn't realize there was an operational air launched version? I thought that was to be JSM.
 

TomS

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I didn't realize there was an operational air launched version? I thought that was to be JSM.

No, you're right...now. But once upon a time, there was supposed to be just a simple air-launched NSM. Repackaging to fit the F-35 gave us the JSM version.
 

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Jimmo952

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Kongsburg has stated JSM, unlike NSM, will fit inside a Mk41. They've also alluded to the JSM having potential for submarine launch.
 

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Jimmo952

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Kongsburg has stated JSM, unlike NSM, will fit inside a Mk41. They've also alluded to the JSM having potential for submarine launch.

More than alluded, they've shown actual models of how it would work. It's a tweaked fuselage derived from JSM.


Yep. Alluded was not the correct word to use.
 

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What else is in the pipeline for the NSM? I could see a longer-range variant being useful in some scenarios.
 

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So is it the case that NSM flips over when in a surface launched role? The more I looked into live photos of the missile, the more that seems to be the case. I had always assumed the intake was dorsal from the launch pictures, but the seeker window is usually obscured from those angles.
 

TomS

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What else is in the pipeline for the NSM? I could see a longer-range variant being useful in some scenarios.

Raytheon would clearly like to use it as the basis of an offering for the OASuW Increment 2 (or whatever they're calling it now), and that would require more range than the current versions. Given that JSM will fit in a Mk 41 cell, but is too short to take full advantage of a strike-length canister, a stretch would seem likely.
 
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TomS

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So is it the case that NSM flips over when in a surface launched role? The more I looked into live photos of the missile, the more that seems to be the case. I had always assumed the intake was dorsal from the launch pictures, but the seeker window is usually obscured from those angles.

I believe so.

I'm leaning toward the theory that this configuration changed at some point during development, and that they had initially planned for NSM to fly inlet-up. The other option to explain the few pictures that show the seeker and inlet opposite is that the seeker actually rotates around the long axis of the missile at some point in flight, and that seems absurd.
 

Josh_TN

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What else is in the pipeline for the NSM? I could see a longer-range variant being useful in some scenarios.

Raytheon would clearly like to use it as the basis of an offering for the OASuW Increment 2 (or whatever they're calling it now), and that would require more range than the current versions. Given that JSM will fit in a Mk 41 cell, but is too short to take full advantage of a strike-length canister, a stretch would seem likely.
I think OASuW Inc 2 got scrapped. I think there is a new requirement for a long range strike weapon to replace Tomahawk that also encompasses the AShM role - basically MST/BGM-109 block Va replacement. I think the USN is sticking with the combo of NSM, MST, and SM-6 until it has a full length strike replacement. Also though no one has mentioned it, presumably SM-2 Block 3C would have a surface to surface role since it uses the same guidance of SM-6 AFAIK.
 

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I don't think that's quite true, though I think OASuW Increment 2 is really in flux and badly defined.

The Navy has done a couple of shuffles in terms of program organization and strategy, culminating in an "Offensive Missile Strategy" in late 2019 that covers all the offensive roles (NGLAW and OASuW, at minimum). But within that, there may still be some separate weapons.

The big illuminating slip is that "Screaming Arrow" solicitation from earlier this year that was yanked back very quickly:


“Within both the Navy and OSD there is a desire to field a near-term hypersonic weapon system,” the solicitation explained. “For the Navy specifically, it is envisioned that Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment Two (Incr 2) weapon be either a hypersonic or near-hypersonic weapon. For OSD, there is the broader desire and a Congressional mandate to develop and bring a hypersonic weapon into the U.S. inventory.”
 
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leaded50

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differences if are JSM or NSM?
 

Jimmo952

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I don't think that's quite true, though I think OASuW Increment 2 is really in flux and badly defined.

The Navy has done a couple of shuffles in terms of program organization and strategy, culminating in an "Offensive Missile Strategy" in late 2019 that covers all the offensive roles (NGLAW and OASuW, at minimum). But within that, there may still be some separate weapons.

The big illuminating slip is that "Screaming Arrow" solicitation from earlier this year that was yanked back very quickly:


“Within both the Navy and OSD there is a desire to field a near-term hypersonic weapon system,” the solicitation explained. “For the Navy specifically, it is envisioned that Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment Two (Incr 2) weapon be either a hypersonic or near-hypersonic weapon. For OSD, there is the broader desire and a Congressional mandate to develop and bring a hypersonic weapon into the U.S. inventory.”

That Screaming Arrow solicitation screams as a program that went black. It probably was already black but became very briefly, as if by accident, public.

While it is clear the Navy would like a hypersonic strike weapon, it is not clear if this is practical. Will hypersonics be mature enough, compact enough and affordable enough to displace the fairly cost-effective strike weapons of today??

It's very possible, hypersonics are initially a niche weapon due to their size and cost.

Congress is already voicing displeasure at the expected costs of these first generation hypersonics.

I hope the Navy is proceeding with the parallel development of something more survivable than the Tommahawk but less costly and technically risky than hypersonics.
 

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The USAF's HACM program aims to have a scramjet that is small/light enough to be carried by tactical fighters, but it remains to be seen if that is achievable. Supposedly the both the engines built for the HAWC demostrator are 3D printed and this saves half the weight of material. If so that would be a big step to miniaturizing something like the waverider demonstrator.
 

TomS

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So is it the case that NSM flips over when in a surface launched role? The more I looked into live photos of the missile, the more that seems to be the case. I had always assumed the intake was dorsal from the launch pictures, but the seeker window is usually obscured from those angles.

I believe so.

I'm leaning toward the theory that this configuration changed at some point during development, and that they had initially planned for NSM to fly inlet-up. The other option to explain the few pictures that show the seeker and inlet opposite is that the seeker actually rotates around the long axis of the missile at some point in flight, and that seems absurd.

And now I'm even more baffled. I was tidying up some old papers and by sheer happenstance came across an NSM brochure from Raytheon dated 2015. One of the pictures is a last-frame before impact image that seems to show the missile with the inlet up and the seeker down (it's a bit blurry, but seen in person, it definitely shows a curved surface on top of the nose and that flat plane window on the bottom).

So, two conjectures: 1) the missile can fly with the inlet either up or down, depending on whatever aspect best hides the inlet from sensors; and 2) the seeker head can rotate as needed to keep the sensor window on the lower side of the missile. I really can't think of another reasonable solution, as ridiculous as this theory sounds.

And this appears to be confirmed by some reporting I am now finding. https://www.wearethemighty.com/migh...ip-surface-missile-on-a-littoral-combat-ship/ and https://nationalinterest.org/blog/t...finally-take-other-ships-maybe-even-win-16174 (Both have the same quote.)

“It was designed against advanced CIWS systems. It is a subsonic weapon designed to bank to turn. It snaps over when it turns and the seeker stays horizontally stabilized — so the airframe turns around the seeker so it can zero-in on the seam it is looking at and hit the target,” he said.
 

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Josh_TN

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Wow...well as unlikely as it sounds, that would explain all the confusion with the orientation.
 

AeroFranz

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@TomS , thanks for the investigative report! Having watched a few videos and checked pictures online, i think the ground and naval NSM is launched with the inlet on top, and the rotating nose with the window up as well. My understanding is that it flies in this orientation all the way till impact, however i think the sensor window might rotate to the bottom side at some point...why it's launched pointing up is anyone's guess....:confused:
 
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TomS

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@TomS , thanks for the investigative report! Having watched a few videos and checked pictures online, i think the ground and naval NSM is launched with the inlet on top, and the rotating nose with the window up as well. My understanding is that it flies in this orientation all the way till impact, however i think the sensor window might rotate to the bottom side at some point...why it's launched pointing up is anyone's guess....:confused:

As I look for more images, it's amazing how few images (much less videos) of NSM in flight are out there. I think you're right that it generally flies inlet up. But I'm pretty sure it flies with the window down, based on some marketing images (again, see p 5 of the above brief). That orientation would give it a better FoV toward surface targets. I can think of a couple of reasons why they would launch it with the seeker up: to protect it from impacts with any debris from the tube during ejection and to test the seeker stabilization/rotation early in flight. If that seeker head does roll, you want to make sure it isn't stuck immediately after launch so you can dump the missile and launch a replacement if needed.
 

TomS

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What else is in the pipeline for the NSM? I could see a longer-range variant being useful in some scenarios.

Raytheon would clearly like to use it as the basis of an offering for the OASuW Increment 2 (or whatever they're calling it now), and that would require more range than the current versions. Given that JSM will fit in a Mk 41 cell, but is too short to take full advantage of a strike-length canister, a stretch would seem likely.

Thought I'd follow up on this a bit more. Reading through the brochures I have on NSM, a few other capability improvements are mentioned:
  1. "more than double the range" (presumably with a fuselage stretch)
  2. a data-link capability (already in JSM)
  3. passive RF seeker (possibly something akin to the RF sensor in LRASM?)
  4. land target detection algorithms
 

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So, two conjectures: 1) the missile can fly with the inlet either up or down, depending on whatever aspect best hides the inlet from sensors; and 2) the seeker head can rotate as needed to keep the sensor window on the lower side of the missile. I really can't think of another reasonable solution, as ridiculous as this theory sounds.

And this appears to be confirmed by some reporting I am now finding. https://www.wearethemighty.com/migh...ip-surface-missile-on-a-littoral-combat-ship/ and https://nationalinterest.org/blog/t...finally-take-other-ships-maybe-even-win-16174 (Both have the same quote.)

“It was designed against advanced CIWS systems. It is a subsonic weapon designed to bank to turn. It snaps over when it turns and the seeker stays horizontally stabilized — so the airframe turns around the seeker so it can zero-in on the seam it is looking at and hit the target,” he said.

Yup, NSM flies with the inlet in the dorsal orientation, so the air-launched version is essentially carried "belly-up" (unlike JSM, which also has new, bifurcated intakes). The seeker rotates to remain aligned with the horizon throughout the flight, this is because it has a panoramic field of view in combination with the bank-to-turn missile airframe:


"Seeker stablized on horizon" (slide 10, refers to JSM but as seeker is common the same applies to NSM)


"... the scanning, dual-band, wide field-of-view IIR seeker, stabilized to the horizon..." (page 4, article is primarily about JSM but this part discusses NSM for historical context)
 

TomS

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Yup, NSM flies with the inlet in the dorsal orientation, so the air-launched version is essentially carried "belly-up" (unlike JSM, which also has new, bifurcated intakes). The seeker rotates to remain aligned with the horizon throughout the flight, this is because it has a panoramic field of view in combination with the bank-to-turn missile airframe:


"Seeker stablized on horizon" (slide 10, refers to JSM but as seeker is common the same applies to NSM)


"... the scanning, dual-band, wide field-of-view IIR seeker, stabilized to the horizon..." (page 4, article is primarily about JSM but this part discusses NSM for historical context)

Thanks for confirming. It's interesting then that the usual trade show display model of NSM is shown "upside down" with the inlet in the ventral position.
 

Trident

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Yes, that is certainly curious - there are even CGIs depicting the missile in mid-flight in that attitude! Slide 5 of the Kongsberg presentation has a fairly good photo of a real one banking in-flight, with the seeker remaining horizontal, BTW.
 

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