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Submarine Launched SAMs Question

Arcane

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In light of Raytheon testing the AIM-9X from a submarine, and similar European efforts, I was wondering what the possibilities were with sub-launched SAMs. Would it be possible for an AEGIS platform to send targeting info to a submarine & use that sub as a submerged launch platform for SAMs? Would an active missile like SM-6 make a difference?
Thanks for any help!
 

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Arcane said:
In light of Raytheon testing the AIM-9X from a submarine, and similar European efforts, I was wondering what the possibilities were with sub-launched SAMs. Would it be possible for an AEGIS platform to send targeting info to a submarine & use that sub as a submerged launch platform for SAMs? Would an active missile like SM-6 make a difference?
Thanks for any help!

Technically this is doable

The problem with using SAMs from a sub is that the sub's biggest strength and survival feature is stealth. When launching SLBMs or cruise missiles it gets to choose where and when, within a window, it launches. It will do this where it is sure there are no ASW forces (air, sea or subsurface). When using a SAM cued from another ship, it has to remain in proximity. It gives up its stealth, because as soon as it launches, the noise is going to give it away. Given how few a sub could carry,the modifications necessary to accomplish it (and what weapons do you offload to accommodate the big SAMs?) and the limited situations where it might be of benefit, the money would be better spent on putting more missiles on more surface platforms

There has been some talk of this in the littorals and as a self-defense weapon, which would require lock on after launch (you'd be very vulnerable designating the target), which the AIM-9X can achieve. Problem again is giving yourself away. In the littorals, all subs want to be as quiet as possible, because a lot of their maneuvering room is gone. As a self defense weapon against ASW aircraft and helos, there is some potential, but to use it you're going to have to be fairly near the surface and traveling fairly slowly, plus you're going to really radiate acoustically when you launch. This puts the sub in quite a vulnerable position. It might be considered as a "last ditch" defense, but that won't help you that much if there's a second aircraft or the torpedo goes into the water before your missile arrives.

Given how drastically the sub fleet is being cut back, one has to wonder if this would really be worth the mega-bucks it would take to develop and deploy it.
 

robunos

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Polypheme sub-launched SAM, from Flightglobal :-

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1989/1989%20-%202529.html


cheers,
Robin.
 

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robunos said:
Polypheme sub-launched SAM, from Flightglobal :-

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1989/1989%20-%202529.html


cheers,
Robin.

This appears to be a last ditch defense targeted against helicopters, not fixed wings. and has the unfortunate side effect of giving away the sub's position within 1 KM in the worst case (from the ASW team's point of view), and exactly if its launch from the sub is detected. Plus, what if there are two helos? The second will drop while you're engaged with the first, and then you're going to be too busy evading that torpedo to worry about your short range SAM. Although why would one want to shoot at a helo if you're one of the few subs that can get to 300 meters? That column of water is your best defense.

Again, unquestionably doable, but not worth the effort, in my mostly unqualified opinion.
 

robunos

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In my also unqualified opinion, the logic of this system seems to be;

"given the state of ASW technology, submerged submarines _will_ be detected. therefore it's worth fitting a sub-launched SAM,
even though using it gives away the submarine's position, if it also gives the sub a chance to escape."
Bear in mind, in the littorals, a 300m diving capability isn't any use.

Just my two bob's worth.......

cheers,
Robin.
 

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robunos said:
In my also unqualified opinion, the logic of this system seems to be;

"given the state of ASW technology, submerged submarines _will_ be detected. therefore it's worth fitting a sub-launched SAM,
even though using it gives away the submarine's position, if it also gives the sub a chance to escape."
Bear in mind, in the littorals, a 300m diving capability isn't any use.

Just my two bob's worth.......

cheers,
Robin.

Given the state of ASW technology, I'd put my money on the sub. I'd say the same in the littorals, although during daylight in the littorals the best method of detection may be looking down from the helo/ASW aircraft flying above and saying "Hey look! There's a submarine down there"!. I just used the 300 meter figure because it was in the polypheme article.

Again, it's a question of how much it costs to get the capability and how much you have to give up on a space limited sub to determine if it's worth it. And again, what if there're two helos?
 

robunos

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And again, what if there're two helos?

from the article :-

...allowing the missile to search for other targets
in scanning mode and, if necessary, firing a
second missile at the first target;..."

So it appears they had a provision for multiple launches.

I posted about the Polypheme, because I actually remember reading about it in 'Flight', so I looked it up and posted it.
Having now searched Flightglobal, Polypheme disappears after 2002, so I think you're right, it's not such a good idea after all.

cheers,
Robin.
 

Grey Havoc

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Not necessarily.

First of all, a sub launched SAM has more potential roles than self defence, especially if it is a pod or bouy based design.

Remember that the supply of ASW aircraft, both shipborne and shore based is finite, so deploying a few 'mines' in areas where you know that enemy ASW aircraft will have to transverse/ operate in might prove to be very cost effective indeed.

Also such devices might prove to be very handy distractions or decoys. Say for example you're a sub commander who wants to attack a particular convoy. Drop a few SAM bouys in a particular area (or more than one area) where you know that ASW aircraft protecting the convoy will have to be in a particular time period. Program the weapons to 'wake up' during that period in order to avoid revealing themselves too early. While the convoy ASW assets are concentrating on the area/s that friendly aircraft are coming under attack in, attack the convoy itself from another direction.

And let us not forget that ASW aircraft are not the only potential targets of a deployable sub-surface SAM system, not to mention subs aren't the things it may protect. Take minefields as another example.

Minehunting helicopters are still a major part of large scale mine clearance operations, although this trick would also be effective against airborne drones. Just simply scatter SAM systems in among the more conventional mines when setting up your minefields. Result: Carnage. ;D

It would make your own oceanic minefields even more of a pain in the neck to your enemy. On the other hand it could backfire if the enemy has the technology to repeat the trick with his own minefields.

Now the SAMs, real and notational, that we have been discussing in this thread have all been of the low altitude variety. What about larger, heavier SAMs that can tackle targets at higher altitudes?

Leaving aside the problem of Fire Control for the moment, here we find ourselves back at the issue of cost effectiveness, especially given, as already has being mentioned, the fact that most subs have very limited space (not to mention displacement issues).

From a practical viewpoint, it might be possible, both technically and financially, to equip a couple of your subs with such heavy duty systems, and provide them with offboard targeting info from other friendly platforms such as radar sats and AWACS. The same viewpoint might hold that disrupting enemy transoceanic air lanes might be well worth the time and effort expended. However, what ever operational problems such a concept might present (e.g. would the chosen SAM system require the sub using it to surface?), it could be argued that the real problem comes when, either deliberately or accidentally, you start targeting purely commercial traffic, especially airliners. You could wind up making an enemy mad enough to start reaching for things like nuclear depth charges. Not a good idea.

Come to think of it, the concept of using SAMs to target Transatlantic traffic was used in a novel a few years back. By Patrick Robbinson IIRC.
 

simmie

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I am sure that I have seem sometyhing about a Javelin variant that was to be mounted as a 6 round pedistal mount in the top of a submarines conning tower. It was deployed while running on the surface.
 

Grey Havoc

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The Royal Navy and the Israelis jointly tested a mast mounted Blowpipe system in the 1970s. Apparently it was intended in part as a replacement for a deck mounted gun, being intended for use against small craft as well as helicopters and fixed wing (subsonic) ASW aircraft. IIRC, the system could be used at periscope depth as well as on the surface. When not in use, the system retracted in to a compartment built into the conning tower.
 

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