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The Case for a Medium-Weight Anti-Ship Cruise Missile

The DARPA, the Navy, and Air Force are currently funding the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Weapon Development program.  This intends to replace the decades-old Harpoon Anti-Ship Missle (AShM) on Navy warships with a new weapon, and develop an air-launched variant for Air Force bombers, as well as Navy and Air Force tactical aircraft.

The candidate weapons include an anti-ship variant of the time-tested Tomahawk.  An anti-ship version of the USAF JASSM missile (LRASM). And the Konsgberg JSM/NSM.

All have pros and cons, and ultimately a mix may be the most appropriate.

All of these share one thing in common, they are meant to kill relatively large warships.

Warhead weight:

Tomahawk - 450kg blast-frag
LRASM - 450kg penetrating blast-frag
NSM/JSM - 125kg blast-frag

For comparison:

Exocet - 165kg blast-frag
Harpoon - 221kg blast-frag

However, most warships we will face are not very large.  The Chinese Navy (PLAN) and Chinese Coast Guard alone have nearly 500 frigate-sized ships o…

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