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Rb 08 anti-ship missile

Dilandu

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This rather obscure Sweden weapon system, actually, quite interesting:





It is the first Western shipborne anti-ship missile ever commissioned, and the only one Western SSM close to Soviet cotemporary analogues (like P-15 "Termit"). Interesting to note, that it seems to be essentially an off-the-shelf design - Rb-04 air-launched anti-ship missile radar head, mated with the (enlarged) body & autopilot of CT 20 turbojet-powered flying target, produced by Nord Aviation (if I understood the sources correctly).

It was used from both the ships ("Halland"-class destroyers), where it was launched from the rails fitted above the trainable torpedo launcher, and from coastal batteries, where it was launched from zero-lenght mobile ramp. The missile was firstly commissioned in 1966, and stayed in service up to 1995. About 80 missiles were build.

Missile Data (according to the http://www.robotmuseum.se )


It is mentioned, that follow-up Rb-08B missile was planned, but I was unable to find any more details.

P.S. What puzzled me a bit, that it seems to be no or little foreign interest in what essentially was the only shipborne anti-ship missile available for any Western nation from mid-1960s to early 1970s. After "Eilat" sinking in 1967, there were a lot of interest in anti-ship missiles - but Swedish ones seems to not be noticed.
 

Hood

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Swedish arms exports were limited by neutrality considerations so that put the major Western navies out of the potential buyers market, but its surprising the Rb-08 didn't influence more copycat designs in Europe.
 

Dilandu

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Swedish arms exports were limited by neutrality considerations so that put the major Western navies out of the potential buyers market,
Well, this still left other navies - like Pakistan Navy, for example (they tried to buy Soviet P-15 missiles to counter Indian purshase - the Sweden might be vuable alternative)


but its surprising the Rb-08 didn't influence more copycat designs in Europe.
Agreed. Frankly, I found it... puzzling that USN did not push for the AQM-34 based ASM in early 1960s.
 

Grey Havoc

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Agreed. Frankly, I found it... puzzling that USN did not push for the AQM-34 based ASM in early 1960s.
I believe the USAF may have been a factor there.
 

TomS

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but its surprising the Rb-08 didn't influence more copycat designs in Europe.
Agreed. Frankly, I found it... puzzling that USN did not push for the AQM-34 based ASM in early 1960s.
In the early 1960s, the USN had focussed on using its SAMs, either as a secondary capability or in dedicated developments.

Funnily enough, they did look at Firebee, just a few years later. Per Friedman, US Naval Weapons, Ryan offered Fireflash, a Firebee derivative SSM, as a private initiative around 1967. Also, the USN used Firebee as a Styx simulator and fired several from an adapted ground launcher mounted on the aft 5-inch turret ring of a decomissioned destroyer in 1968. In November 1968, NAVORD selected Firebee as the basis of an interim antiship missile. The plan was to deploy 80 missiles on 10 destroyers using helicopters to control the missiles, which would use TV guidance. By 1971, they were testing missiles aboard ship for blast tolerance, but the program was dropped in favor of Harpoon, which had its first flight in 1972.
 
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Dilandu

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Ryan offered Fireflash, a Firebee derivative SSM, as a private initiative around 1967.
Are there any data on them?

The plan was to deploy 80 missiles on 10 destroyers using helicopters to control the missiles, which would use TV guidance.
Quite interesting! Were they supposed to use simple TV command guidance, or contrast seeker with lock-on capability, like on "Walleye"?
 

Grey Havoc

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In the early 1960s, the USN had focussed on using its SAMs, either as a secondary capability or in dedicated developments.
A major reason for that was in the late 1950s, the Navy, along with the Army, had to give up a lot of their tactical and sub-strategic missile programs, air launched or otherwise, to the Air Force who promptly cancelled them.
 

Petrus

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Here you've got what http://www.designation-systems.net says on the Firebee's naval version (http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-34.html#_BGM)

In the late 1960s, the Navy studied the possibility to convert the BQM-34A Firebee target drone to a remote-controlled anti-ship missile. In several test flights, BQM-34As equipped with a TV system in the nose, were successfully flown by remote "pilots" watching the TV image. Precision low-level flight above the sea was made possible by the Ryan-developed RALACS (Radar Altimeter Low Altitude Control System). In September 1971, successful tests of Model 248 missiles (called "BQM/SSM") against ship targets showed the validity of the basic concept, but the project was terminated due to lack of funding.

In the same year, the USAF showed interest in a development of the Firebee I to be used for enemy air-defense suppression, because of the high loss rate in these missions. In March 1971, Teledyne Ryan received a contract to convert four Model 147S drones to BGM-34A (Model 234) configuration. Like the Navy's BQM/SSM, the BGM-34A was piloted by an operator watching a TV image transmitted from the drone's nose. In tests during 1971/72, the BGM-34As successfully launched AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles and electro-optically guided glide bombs against simulated SAM sites. Interestingly, almost 30 years later a firing of an AGM-114 Hellfire missile by an MQ-1L Predator UAV was much hyped as a breakthrough in armed UAV technology.
Piotr
 

Dilandu

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Here you've got what http://www.designation-systems.net says on the Firebee's naval version (http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-34.html#_BGM)

In the late 1960s, the Navy studied the possibility to convert the BQM-34A Firebee target drone to a remote-controlled anti-ship missile. In several test flights, BQM-34As equipped with a TV system in the nose, were successfully flown by remote "pilots" watching the TV image. Precision low-level flight above the sea was made possible by the Ryan-developed RALACS (Radar Altimeter Low Altitude Control System). In September 1971, successful tests of Model 248 missiles (called "BQM/SSM") against ship targets showed the validity of the basic concept, but the project was terminated due to lack of funding.

In the same year, the USAF showed interest in a development of the Firebee I to be used for enemy air-defense suppression, because of the high loss rate in these missions. In March 1971, Teledyne Ryan received a contract to convert four Model 147S drones to BGM-34A (Model 234) configuration. Like the Navy's BQM/SSM, the BGM-34A was piloted by an operator watching a TV image transmitted from the drone's nose. In tests during 1971/72, the BGM-34As successfully launched AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles and electro-optically guided glide bombs against simulated SAM sites. Interestingly, almost 30 years later a firing of an AGM-114 Hellfire missile by an MQ-1L Predator UAV was much hyped as a breakthrough in armed UAV technology.
Piotr
Thank you!

Hm... seems to be a quite primitive TV-command system. Frankly, I think "Walleye" seeker camera would be a better solution; at least it have lock-on capability.
 

Petrus

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At http://www.scisland.org/aboutsci/history/1970s.html you may info for 1971:

On September 2, Teledyne-Ryan of San Diego, in concert with the Pacific Missile Test Center (PMTC) and VC-3, successfully launched a BQM/SSM "Firebee" (Model 248) missile from a C-130 aircraft, to impact a surface ship target, the decommissioned destroyer USS Butler, stationed off of the island. The launch was made from about 5000 feet. Then the drone missile was brought down to 220 feet, then to 75 feet, and then to 35 feet for the final run at the target. At the last instant, it was guided down to 20 feet for a perfect hit on the bridge of the "Butler"
As far as I understand the info comes from the book "Fireflies and other UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)" by William Wagner with William P. Sloan.

Piotr
 

Petrus

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From "UNINHABITED COMBAT AERIAL VEHICLES: AIRPOWER BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, BUT NOT WITH THE PEOPLE" BY RICHARD M. CLARK:

The BQM/SSM “FLASH”

Ryan became involved in using UAV technology to deliver weapons in 1967 as a result of the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, when a Russian-made Styx missile sank the Israeli destroyer “Elath” with the loss of 49 lives. Under the direction of Dr. Robert A.Frosch, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Development, the development of a ship-to-ship missile, later named the “Harpoon,” began. The “Harpoon” would have a range two to three times that of the Styx, but it was still five years before the system would realize an operational capability. Something had to be done in the interim.

For several years, Ryan had been studying and proposing the Firebee Low Altitude Ship-to-Ship Homing Missile (FLASH). Unlike solid propellant missiles with a range limited to approximately 35 miles, FLASH would use liquid fuel and have wings, giving it a range of greater than 100 miles. Four capabilities were necessary to convert a standard “Firebee” (Q-2C) target system into a FLASH weapons delivery vehicle: 1) a demonstrated ability to carry weapons; 2) terminal low altitude control to the point of contact with the target; 3) the ability to launch the weapon from a ship; and 4) real time guidance to seek and destroy the target. Ryan was able to demonstrate all four capabilities.

The requirement for the “Firebee” to carry weapons was not a new idea for Ryan. In the early 1950s, when the “Firebee” target system first became operational, the Air Force wanted to know what additional uses were practical for the system. Ryan came up with two: reconnaissance and weapons delivery. The reconnaissance mission was inaugurated in 1960, but it was not until late 1964 that Ryan demonstrated the increased payload capability that would make weapons delivery practical. Under US Army Missile Command contract, Ryan conducted a series of ground launches using a large rocket booster. Starting out with two 250-pound bombs, they finally worked up to carrying a one thousand-pound load of bombs. Using an anti-submarine rocket (ASROC) booster and extended wingtips, the capability to carry weapons was proven.

In response to the second and third requirements, Ryan also relied on previous demonstrations. To prove the “Firebee’s” low-altitude capability, Ryan used the Radar Altimeter Low Altitude Control System (RALACS). It had been under development at Ryan as early as 1965 and became operational on a “Firebee” in 1966. RALACS provided real-time altitude readouts on the remote control operators console, making it possible to control the aircraft precisely and instantaneously. Ryan demonstrated that the Firebee could be flown under control as low as 50 feet above the surface and at 500 miles an hour. The third requirement, launching a “Firebee” from a ship at sea, had been previously demonstrated during tests on destroyers and on aviation rescue boats. All test launches had been successful.

The last requirement, that real-time guidance to seek and destroy the target be incorporated into the system, required additional research and flight-testing. The Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) at China Lake, CA, was tasked with developing a target seeker and chose to mount a TV camera on a “Firebee.” Several test flights over desert terrain in 1968 successfully demonstrated the concept. The “Firebee” responded to a proportional control system where the movement of the miniature control stick at the remote control station gave the drones aeronautical system the same proportional control inputs. “The controller became a ground-based pilot. Watching TV, he could accurately fly the ‘Firebee’ at low altitudes, just as though he was buzzing the desert in a fighter aircraft.” Thus, with this successful test, all of the necessary capabilities had been demonstrated.

On September 2, 1971, with several government experts on hand, the BQM/SSM flew a perfect demonstration flight. The “Firebee missile” was launched from a DC-130 at 5,000 feet, and the remote controller descended the vehicle to 220 feet, then to 75 feet. On final approach it was brought down to 30 feet, and at the last second, the controller dove it to 20 feet. FLASH slammed into the side of the USS Butler for a perfect hit. Photo coverage of the impact revealed the ability of the BQM/SSM to demolish any ship of corresponding size.

Although the BQM/SSM proved its worth technologically, it ran into problems with funding because it had to compete with the “Harpoon” and other missile systems. The “Harpoon” would be compatible with airborne, surface, and submarine launch platforms, and it would be extremely accurate without having to be monitored by the launch platform after it was fired. The “Harpoon” also provided an all-weather, anti-ship capability that the BQM/SSM could not provide. These attributes made “Harpoon” more attractive than FLASH and led the Navy to aggressively pursue the more capable weapon. During the “Harpoon’s” developmental period, the Navy opted to use existing weapons as interim anti-ship cruise missiles. This would be less costly than procuring a new system, allowing more funds to be devoted to the “Harpoon.” The Navy ended the FLASH program without the system ever achieving operational capability, but the program was not a total waste of resources. The BQM/SSM had demonstrated many capabilities that would lead to the use of UAVs as weapons delivery platforms in the future.
P.
 

Dilandu

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In other words, the idea came too late. It would fit perfectly for early 1960s, but decades after it was already far behind the technology curve.
 
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