The Case for a Medium-Weight Anti-Ship Cruise Missile
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.
|Konsgberg NSM and JSM|
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.
Tomahawk - 450kg blast-frag
LRASM - 450kg penetrating blast-frag
NSM/JSM - 125kg blast-frag
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 or smaller.
|Type 056 Corvette|
|Type 022 Houbei|
Most worldwide navies consider frigates to be their "capital warships". So, other than possibly NSM/JSM, the remaining OASuW candidates are significant overkill for most ASuW targets we should expect to face.
The US Navy and Air Force have many air-delivered weapons at their disposal to deal with these types of ships (e.g. GBU-12, SDB II). However we don't have a credible helicopter-launched or surface-launched munition. In 1986, the Navy purchased a number of AGM-119 Penguin missiles for use by SH-60Bs for this purpose, but it has since been retired.
Looking at foreign navies, some missiles appear to fall in the right size range,
Sea Skua - 30kg warhead
AS 15 TT - 30kg warhead
Marte - 70kg warhead
FASGW(H) / ANL - 30kg warhead
Deliah - 30kg
Sea Skua, especially, has been very successful in operational use for the RN.
From this list, a 30-70kg warhead appears sufficient to heavily damage or disable a small combatant up to small frigate-sized.
|Ton-class Minesweeper, HMS Lewiston , damaged by Sea Skuas during SINKEX|
Develop an anti-ship/land attack cruise missile that can be quad-packed in a Mk41 VLS cell, or 4-6 per MLRS pod, or carried comfortably in pairs by an MH-60.
Consider starting with MALD but with a reduced fuel tank to accommodate a ~30kg warhead. Use the SDB II tri-mode seeker, which combines SAL, MMW and IR sensors.
MALD may be a bit too small, but it's in service and further development is funded.