Sea Phoenix

Brickmuppet

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The only mention I have seen of the surface launched version of AIM-54 was a brief mention in Gunston's Rockets and Missiles where he says that "In 1976 a virtually unmodified Phoenix was successfully fired at NWC China Lake traveling 13.5 miles downrange in 90 seconds..." He also mentions that the Tomcat radar could be mounted "almost bodily to a ship, 27 of the 29 boxes being compatible".

Can someone explain 'box compatibility'? I take it to mean the radar as mounted on the fighter consists of 29 modules 27 of which were compatible with a shipboard installation.

Would this have been a good replacement for SM1? Obviously Aegis and SM2 is a more capable system, but Sea Phoenix seems at first blush to give short to midrange multi-target capability for far less cost than Aegis. It might have been a good fit for frigates giving a large increase in capability over the Brooke and Perry classes. The cost per shot would have been high, but even that probably would have come down with an increased production run.

ISTR reading somewhere that Phoenix had a surprisingly short minimum range. Is this true? If so this weapon would seem to be a good point defence weapon too.

Any thoughts or information on this weapon?

UPDATE: This image, allegedly of the Sea Phoenix system, comes via the Shipbucket forum.
http://s11.invisionfree.com/shipbucket/ar/t802.htm
 

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F-14D

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Brickmuppet said:
The only mention I have seen of the surface launched version of AIM-54 was a brief mention in Gunston's Rockets and Missiles where he says that "In 1976 a virtually unmodified Phoenix was successfully fired at NWC China Lake traveling 13.5 miles downrange in 90 seconds..." He also mentions that the Tomcat radar could be mounted "almost bodily to a ship, 27 of the 29 boxes being compatible".

Can someone explain 'box compatibility'? I take it to mean the radar as mounted on the fighter consists of 29 modules 27 of which were compatible with a shipboard installation.

Would this have been a good replacement for SM1? Obviously Aegis and SM2 is a more capable system, but Sea Phoenix seems at first blush to give short to midrange multi-target capability for far less cost than Aegis. It might have been a good fit for frigates giving a large increase in capability over the Brooke and Perry classes. The cost per shot would have been high, but even that probably would have come down with an increased production run.

ISTR reading somewhere that Phoenix had a surprisingly short minimum range. Is this true? If so this weapon would seem to be a good point defence weapon too.

Any thoughts or information on this weapon?

UPDATE: This image, allegedly of the Sea Phoenix system, comes via the Shipbucket forum.
http://s11.invisionfree.com/shipbucket/ar/t802.htm

Sea Phoenix was proposed system to give medium range SAM capabilities to smaller and/or non-Aegis ships. There was a fairly detailed description of it in a Naval Institute Proceedings article in the '70s and both it and Aviation week had drawings of the launcher, which if I remember resembled the drawing you posted. The beauty of the concept was that, being essentially an aircraft system taken out of an aircraft and mounted on ship, it would be light, compact and self-contained, which would facilitate its deployment relatively quickly and inexpensively on a variety of platforms, both new-builds and retrofits. It would not just be on frigates/destroyers but also on aircraft carriers as well. In fact, the illustration is of a CV installation. Think of it as a system like Sea Sparrow, but much more powerful. Since it was self contained and compact, it was also proposed in a mobile landbased configuration for the Marines. One issue that would require work was that AIM-54A required liquid cooling, which was provided by the F-14. Had it come to fruition, this application would have had to do away with that. Possibly the stillborn AIM-54B variant would have been a candidate.

In any case, the concept never went that far. Part of this was due to all the sturm und drang going on in the F-14 program at the time, but also because at the time Aegis was under development and there was concern that this would be looked at as a competitor to Aegis. It was not meant to be, and was nowhere near as capable, but it also was nowhere near as expensive. The combination of these factors meant there was insufficient support to proceed.
 

sferrin

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NICE! It was also mentioned in the series of books called "The Encyclopedia of Weapons and Warfare". It was suppose to arm CVNs but was too expensive (least that's what the book said).
 

Pioneer

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Interesting!!
Never heard of a SAM variant of the Phoenix before :eek:

F-14D There was a fairly detailed description of it in a Naval Institute Proceedings article in the '70s and both it and Aviation week had drawings of the launcher, which if I remember resembled the drawing you posted.

Since it was self contained and compact, it was also proposed in a mobile landbased configuration for the Marines.
Now I would love to see these articles!!!! ;)




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Pioneer
 

Eagle2009

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Oddly enough the idea of a SAM version of the AIM-54 has been brought up on Iranian military forums..

Does anyone have any information as to what kind of range a ground or naval launched AIM-54 would have?
 

Grey Havoc

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The 14th AWG-9 off the production line was sucessfully tested on USNS Wheeling in 1974 (the same container van setup that was tested at Pt. Mugu).

http://z11.invisionfree.com/shipbucket/ar/t2612.htm
 

hark40

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Some info from Janes Weapon Systems 1977 edition:

Sea Phoenix is a proposed alternative or replacement system for Sea Sparrow, in which the sophisticated AIM-54A Phoenix air-to-air missile and AN/AWG-9 fire control radar system is adapted for shipboard air defence roles. According to the proponents of the scheme, Phoenix and AWG-9 manufacturers, Hughes Aircraft, all but two of the 29 main elements of the latter system could be used virtually unmodified in the naval application, and a standard Phoenix missile has been launched successfully from the ground in a test at the Naval Weapons Centre, China Lake.

The distance traveled in this test (which was principally concerned with the separation and launch safety aspects, rather than performance) was over 20km.

One application suggested for Sea Phoenix is the protection of USN aircraft carriers, and typically three Sea Phoenix systems would be fitted to give overlapping coverage throughout the full 360o. Each system would comprise one AWG-9 radar and associated controls and displays, and a fixed 12-cell launcher for the Phoenix missiles.

The multiple target capability of the Phoenix system is one of the major attractions of the Sea Phoenix proposal, others being high performance in range and speed. At a later stage, the system could be further enhanced by applying missile modifications to optimise it for the naval role.
This seems to confirm a lot of the info provided elsewhere. No mention of Sea Phoenix was in the 1976 edition of Weapon Systems, nor was there any mention about a land version in the 1977 edition.
 
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