A small, guided missile that Raytheon developed for use on aircraft may take to the seas aboard the Navy's emerging fleet of fast coastal-defense vessels - replacing another Raytheon system canceled last year.
The Navy is considering the Griffin missile, developed by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems, as a guided missile system for its Littoral Combat Ship, a senior Navy official says.
Rear Adm. Frank Pandolfe, director of the Navy's Surface Warfare Division, said he is recommending the Griffin as a replacement for the Non Line of Sight (NLOS) missile system, which was under development by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin before the Army canceled it last year.
At a meeting of the Surface Navy Association in Arlington, Va., last week, Pandolfe said the 42-inch-long, 45-pound Griffin costs less and will be cheaper to install than the NLOS system.
The Army formally canceled the NLOS system in May amid concerns about poor test performance and the system's high cost. The Pentagon had spent more than $1 billion on the program, and a long-term production contract could have been worth more than $2 billion.
Under a joint acquisition strategy, the Navy was planning to integrate the NLOS aboard its Littoral Combat Ship (LSC), a class of relatively small, fast vessels with sea-skimming hulls.
Two of the roughly 400-foot LCS ships, one each of two different designs, have been built and commissioned. The Navy plans to buy 20 of the ships over the next five years.
After the Army canceled NLOS, the Navy said it would examine its options for the LCS, and no official announcement has been made.
The Navy was counting on the NLOS to add some punch to the Littoral Combat Ship, and without it, critics say the ships lack firepower. The LCS can be configured for different coastal combat missions, including anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, special operations and reconnaissance.
In his comments, which were verified by Navy officials, Pandolfe said the Navy is hoping to field a short-range version of the Griffin around 2015, followed by a longer-range version a couple of years later.
The Griffin's range has not been officially disclosed, though industry experts have reported a range of about 3.5 miles when surface-launched and about nine miles when launched from the air. The NLOS missile had a range of about 25 miles.
In a prepared statement, Raytheon said the Griffin has proved to be adaptable to a variety of platforms, but the company "has not received a contract from the U.S. Navy to integrate Griffin on the Littoral Combat Ship, so it would be inappropriate to comment at this time."
The NLOS system consists of 15 roughly 5-foot, 100-pound, precision-guided missiles in a common launcher - informally dubbed "missiles-in-a box" - that could be mounted on various surface vehicles.
The NLOS missiles were expected to cost about $200,000 to $300,000 each. The cost for the Griffin has not been disclosed.
The Griffin, which uses GPS satellite, inertial and laser-guidance systems borrowed from other Raytheon missiles, is in production and has been adapted for use on the C-130W Dragon Spear, a fixed-wing gunship developed for the Air Force Special Operations Command. The Army and Air Force also are working to integrate the Griffin on at least two models of unmanned combat aircraft, which can carry three Griffins in place of one Hellfire missile.
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