Hawkeye 105mm Weapon System


We have discussed mortars across a number of posts but how about an alternative to the vehicle mounted 120mm mortars that seem to be in vogue.

Hawkeye 105mm Howitzer on a Mack Sherpa

A spot of sales blurb from the manufacturer, Mandus Group

The Hawkeye 105mm Weapon System is a lightweight, modular, high-performance howitzer designed to be integrated with many types of combat transportation. By utilizing emerging technologies, it will set the standard for light artillery in the areas of firepower, tactical mobility, strategic deployability and command and control. The Hawkeye will be a superior alternative to existing weapon systems such as the 106mm Recoilless Rifle, 120mm Mortar, and other 105mm artillery systems due to its low cost precision strike capability.

The Hawkeye has incorporated a groundbreaking modular design. Due to its lightweight and low recoil forces it can be mounted to many types of military vehicles including wheeled, tracked, rail, watercraft, aircraft and towed systems.  This means that a performance based 105mm artillery system can be deployed to the land, sea, and air in ways that were never before possible. Additionally, the Hawkeye has been designed to accommodate a full spectrum of barrel lengths if range is a primary requirement.

The Hawkeye’s modular, compact, and lightweight characteristics are attributed to the incorporation of soft recoil technology in its design. Soft recoil technology provides reduced carriage loads allowing carriage structures to be up to 50% lighter than conventional recoil systems. It provides an ergonomic advantage by keeping the breech rear of the carriage structure in all elevations and traversing conditions allowing for easy loading and firing of standard NATO 105mm Cartridges.

Automated digital fire control and semi-fixed 105mm cartridges allow rapid emplacement and minimal time to first round fire. Additionally, the Hawkeye Weapon System offers a 360 degree field of fire while mounted on very light weight tactical vehicles. The Hawkeye’s battle logistics requirements are much less demanding when compared to conventional 105mm artillery. This is due to the simplicity of the system’s design that reduces crew size and decreases maintenance times.

The Hawkeye is a game changing weapon system. Never before has a 105mm howitzer been able to offer the kind of firepower and mobility that the Hawkeye does while remaining lightweight and modular. Incorporate the Hawkeye into your order of battle and unlock your force’s…

Not quite as long ranged as the L118 Light Gun but just over half the weight. Longer ranged than a vehicle mounted 12omm mortar like the Patria NEMO and loads of ammunition natutres as well.

Does it provide any advantage over a conventional towed artillery system, beyond the manufacturers claims of game changingness is this actually anything revolutionary and would one fit on the back of a Foxhound, Pinzgauer or Warthog for example?

Of course, more importantly is would one fit inside an ISO container!

Read the brochure here

Any takers?



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Just fantastic. It resembles one of the earliest armoured fighting vehicles ever, a pre-WWI Plattformwagen with Ballonabwehrkanone (carrier car with anti-balloon cannon).
Krupp-Daimler-Plattformwagen model of 1909
There were more open models of 1910 and 191, the war production SPAAGs had no armour afaik.


TD, I’d say 50/50. There are advantages vs mortars and disadvantages too.

Off the cuff?

Longer range
More ammo types
More flexible firing angles

105mm is getting less common, less research into it.
Stronger recoil forces vs a mortar, adds wear and tear to suspension etc.
Mortar rounds tend to carry more high ex than similar calibre artillery rounds.

All in all, I’d say if I didn’t have a 120mm mortar already, I’d go for it, but if I already had one, I’d use that instead.

There might be others I missed that other people might have thought of. Love to hear their views.


Time to action seems to be very good. But how does this thing do direct fire out to 1 km, which would have to be part of this (for the claim to be true):
“a superior alternative to existing weapon systems such as the 106mm Recoilless Rifle, 120mm Mortar”
-maybe the fire control is good enough for the corrections?



Firstly, I want one!!!!!

Of course it will fit on the back of a Bronco.

I am now going off to think about using it at sea.

Gareth Jones

Use at sea? Nah, you want to strap two to the side of a helicopter!

@ Gareth J

Don’t harsh my mellow dude.

Gareth Jones

@ x – :)


Hi Gareth, helicopters for flying artillery?

8 of them firing forward, and 2 more to finish the job, firing when the target has already been flown over (6th photo down) http://englishrussia.com/2009/01/25/russian-flying-fortresses/


H’mm. Depends whether or not you think soft recoil is a militarily good idea, while its difficult to judge whether there’s a significant weight reduction in the recoil system, and whether this is worth the added complexity of having to ‘cock’ the mechanism and the extent criticality of exact firing moment when the ordnance (UK not US English)is moving forwards – IIRC this is what screwed the last attempt at soft recoil (XM 204, design 1962, prototype 1970).

The fact that the detachment has to ‘clear the decks’ before the gun fires is not conducive to a high rate of fire (and long firing lanyards always make me laugh, so WW1). Presumably it’s designed to fire smart(ish) ammo only so a high rate of fire will never be needed (incoming of the porcine persuasion).

The thing that puzzles me is that I can’t see the gyro pack fitted to the elevating mass and aligned with the axis of the bore, this is what enables the gun to be layed at the remote laying device. There is a box in some clips but it looks more like an MV radar, and I can’t see the precision mountings for a gyro box. There doesn’t seem to be much by way of servos or hydraulics to remotely lay the gun either.


Hi Obsvr, after this one (carrying on with GJ’s airborne artillery)”screwed the last attempt at soft recoil (XM 204, design 1962, prototype 1970)” there were test firings and very good results from an AC-130 gunship in the 90’s
– they didn’t design a new gun/ howitzer, but rather modified the 105mm piece to take mortar rounds
– much less recoil because of the lesser velocity, and no problem with performance as firing from above the targets

The whole idea was to lessen the stresses to the airframe (and prolong their life). With the extensive use of those planes since, they must wish that the initiative would have gone ahead (it did not)


looks very good but it should be on a tracked system and crew should stay on the gun platform. In other words it has potential but its reloading times are to slow! 120 mm mortar is still useful as this should be RA like the Abbot SPG, useful for assault infantry thus it needs to be amphibious and airdrop-able.

16th aab & RM

Gareth Jones

Nice youtube video of the XM204. The idea of moving the barrel forward to reduce recoiul is an old one and is in weapons such as the Browning Automatic shotgun and the XM25(?). I believe it can reduce the recoil by up to 70%?


The XM204 had the same problem as other soft recoil (only one term of many for this principle) weapons: The timing of the ignition was too tricky and as a result the dispersion in range was horrible. There’s a XM204 prototype in the WTS Koblenz. http://preview.tinyurl.com/6tohsly

A gun that specialises on course-corrected or even guided munitions would of course not need be degraded by this.
It would rather be degraded by its specialisation.

I don’t get why they cared so much about the recoil to add the soft recoil principle, but don’t appear to make use of even a basic muzzle brake.


@ Gareth J

I have got photos in several books of USN Black Berets using small howitzers (should that be tiny?) in the Mekong Delta.

This Hawk System would take up very little deck space. Magazines may be problem. But I think there is some potential. Even with unguided rounds.

Gareth Jones

@ x – Sorry, didn’t mean to distract from your idea. Are you talking about mounting the Hawkeye on a boat? Direct fire, indirect or both?


@ Gareth J

On small ships. I don’t think direct fire from the system would be of much use. Not very enamoured with the idea of the land attack frigate per se. But if space for a couple of mounts with a cheap weapon system (without deck penetration) like this could be found it might make the idea workable just. I suppose indirect fire could be used to break up formations of swarming boats too. Not so much to sink them, more to allow direct fire systems more time. To a computer controlled gun would handle “disruption” better than the human coxswain.


Not to mention you need a stabilized mount to get any sort of accuracy in rough sea states. All you need is a platform moving up and down to move your gun all over the place too.

Lower recoil allows usage of the gun on lighter platforms with weaker suspension. The STK SRAM initial tests involved firing an old 120mm mortar from the back of a M-113, I helped set up the test. Results were… sad. Firing went ok, but when the M-113 had to move, it shed both its’ track, the shock of the firings caused the tracks to misalign. A few years down the road and a concerted effort to lower recoil on the mortar resulted in one that could be fired from a light strike vehicle without breaking the suspension. Ammo’s still a problem though, latest theory is to deploy them in packs of 3 (1 Chinook underslung load). One 120mm SRAM, 2 ammo carriers/MG sentries.


Fitting a stabilization system isn’t a problem.

I sometimes wonder about these swarm attacks. Having RYA power quals I am familiar with how comfortable (not!) small boats at high speed can be even in benign conditions. Let say we give the attacking swarm a speed of 60kts, much faster than is realistic, that would mean a nm a minute. If the ship has systems that can reach out 10nm (57mm, 76mm, missile, etc.) it would be a turkey shoot. And I chose 60nm to make the maths easier. Even choke points don’t look too bad. Of course the threat there would be land based systems; anti-ship missiles would be countered with the ship’s AAW systems. But against land based artillery a ship’s main gun backed up by say two of these smaller howitzers and with perhaps several more ships similarly equipped the fight looks a bit fairer. It is that extra weight of fire these systems bring that is the real plus.

Pete Arundel

I can think of a good reason to go down the 120mm mortar route rather than the 105mm Howitzer.

It’s a lot easier to put a guidance module / course correcting fuse onto a 120mm mortar bomb than it is a 105mm howitzer round. Launch stresses are less and the round is fin rather than spin stabilised.


Mortars also have a higher angle of fire.
This is a great advantage in mountainous terrain, if firing from woods and if firing at relatively close targets (the shell descends more close to vertical, producing a better frag dispersion with HE and even a bit better with DPICM).
Mortars can also be much lighter and even be used in a crew-mobile (short distances for 120 mm) dismounted mode.

Mortars’ accuracy with dumb ammo drops sharply after a few kilometres, though. 105 mm may still be favourable if the mission requires somewhat accurate fires at greater ranges. This is a question of doctrine and formation design (TO&Es).

Pete Arundel

@S O – if you’re firing unguided rounds in a traditional artillery stonk, how would an MRL like, for example, the old German LARS compare with a battery of 105mm guns?

Gareth Jones

Somebody (sorry forgoten who…) put up a link about new guided art rounds, both 155mm and 105mm, normal rounds with an add-on guidence module.

Ace Rimmer

@RLC, you the words right out of my mouth. On the back of a small vehicle it sounds great, low weight, good mobility etc. But for the crew it would be a continous ‘mount vehicle, load, dis-mount vehicle, fire!’ Try doing that for a prolonged bombardment and the crew would be on its knees in tears! Plus the ammunition would need another vehicle. It definitely needs a bigger vehicle and crew platform, or at least drop sides which forms a larger platform.

Looking back to WWII, the combination would be similar to the T19 105 mm HMC (M3 Halftrack with a 105 mm Howitzer). Although it could be said that the T19 carried more rounds, had greater mobility and greater crew protection, and that was nearly 70 years ago!


@ Pete:
Not sure I remember correctly what the Commonwealth term “stonk” means. IIRC it was a specific type of firing mission?

LARS has more tubes than necessary for the employment of actual guided munitions. Its range is unsatisfactory as well.

Nevertheless, MRL have their typical advantage of many shots in short time (firing intervals can be as small as 0.5 sec), which is of great utility for surprise strikes (or if you want to lay a minefield real quick) while the typically slow reload and correspondingly poor sustained rate of fire make it unsuitable for certain fire missions (such as keeping a road blocked with harassing fires).

Smart munitions come in four different categories, and the consequences for their employment vary a lot:

– independent seeker munitions (see SmArt 155 or STRIX, for example)
– dependent seeker munitions (classic Copperhead)
– coordinate-attacking munitions (satellite navigation or really good inertial navigation system)
– trajectory-corrected munitions (timing the deployment of an aerodynamic brake to reduce the range dispersion, usually dependent on some uplink which in turn depends on radar tracking of the munition’s trajectory)

The last category should be the quantity replacement for dumb munitions, while the third one (with INS) may become cheap enough to take over in this decade. Guidance is easier with fin stabilisation, so MRLs are a more natural choice for two-dimensional steering than SPGs.
The most accurate munitions (IIR, SAL, mmW, GPS) are only important at long range and will probably stay in the minority for decades to come.


I am sure I posted a picture of Priest SPG further up……..oh yes so I did.


Gareth – SPOOK as my son would say, I just posted that exact same link to the Foxhound thread, and just came here, but you beat me to it !

Great minds think alike ????


Brian Black

Unlike the Hawkeye, a 120mm mortar regularly carried in an APC, and the towed 105mm light gun can both be easily deployed without a vehicle if necessary.
I’d be interested to see a mounted gun that combined the under-armour, 360 degree direct-fire, ready-to-fire features of an MGS, with the high forward-aspect howitzer elevation of an SPG. (Stryker MGS has only 18 degree elevation for direct fires only, CMI’s CT-CV 105mm system has 42 degree all round elevation – I had in mind all round direct fires with >60 degree elevation in a forward arc).

Brian Black

The plan for the now defunct MRBs envisaged ten L118 batteries -on top of 7 Para and 29 Commando regiments- after the re-role of a number of AS90 batteries. That seemed to me an awful lot of light gun batteries; a RA regiment with 120mm armoured mortar carriers would be a useful addition (new build ASCOD, or are there spare Warriors?). I don’t see the benefit of something like Hawkeye though – looks like you lose the flexible mobility of a light towed gun when you bolt a truck to it, and any gain in time-to-fire for Hawkeye seems offset by inconvenient sustained fire.


Brian, you are asking for this


I can understand the soft recoil attraction for son of Spooky, etc, where presumably a muzzle brake deflecting blast causes more problems for the a/c than it solves. I also suspect that in that role the guns only ever use the same one charge which greatly somplifies the problem of firing at the correct moment as the ordnance moves forward. However, for land service it is just more complexity for no obvious benefit, its something else to go wrong, and in a 24 x 365 system, which is what artillery is, simplicity and reliability are highly desirable characteristics.


Hi BB,

OK, Abbot is still in service in India, but this should be close
“The 120-mm 2S9 Nona-S (Anemone) self-propelled howitzer/mortar was first seen in public in May 1985 and it is an airborne artillery assault vehicle that has been developed to carry out two tactical functions: conventional artillery equipment to replace existing mortars and howitzers and as a direct fire anti-tank weapon system firing HEAT projectiles.”

And as it is relatively light (para-droppable), going back to James’s point, the suspension is raised when firing (to stiffen it up)


Obsvr, a specially developed illu round (for long-lasting effect) is also used on AC-130, RE
” I also suspect that in that role the guns only ever use the same one charge”


Two thoughts for naval use.
Firstly for a modern motor gun boat .
Secondly, get inspiration from the design of missile silos, to have a 105mm gun rise out of the deck of an SSN to support special ops.


@ John Hartley

Risk a billion pound SSN on the surface to throw a few shells? Um, no. It runs against everything modern submarine warfare.

Then what about stabilising it? That would take up precious volume. Submarines rooooooooollllll a bit in lump seas.


Well… to be fair, there is precedence in WWII subs for a gun on deck, though with VLS, most subs simply use missiles nowadays. Longer range, one round effectiveness, accuracy.

paul g

@gareth it was me! the ATK precision guided kit (PGK) screws onto the front of 105/155mm shells, only requires 1 component change between the 2 calibres. For the price of the kit this could be an important addition to the RA’s kit list as it enables mission success with fewer rounds and can be used at all levels, light guns of 16AAB to the heavy stuff in the new AI brigades.




there is another vid on you tube where at 20km the shells are smashing into targets as direct hits! that’s why they reckon 77 shells with PGK fitted can do as much damage as 300 without.


Hi paul g,

The Yanks have the same sort of thing for 120mm mortars, too
– looks like they started that development in earnest in 2004, no doubt with urban combat as a driver


… and it took a while, the first front line units got it in March 2011

“the APMI cartridge has a requirement of 10 meters CEP, or Circular Error Probable, but Burke said the program is exceeding this requirement. Ten meters CEP means that if you drew a circle around a target at 10 meters radius, the rounds have to fall inside the circle 50 percent of the time.

Current CEP for 120 mm mortars at their maximum range is 136 meters. Mortars with the most advanced features, such as precision position and pointing systems, can achieve a 76 meter CEP”


@ Observer said “Well… to be fair, there is precedence in WWII subs for a gun on deck,”

If I had said something similar you would be quickly pointing out the short comings wouldn’t you?

The deck gun was already becoming an anachronism in WW2. It was too risky to surface with aircraft and RADAR becoming prevalent. When the Kriegsmarine armed U-boats with AAA it was more out of desperation than anything else. And though some ships were sunk with a deck gun it was more often than not after the ship had surrendered. Submarines of the era weren’t a good gun platform; actually rigidly mounting a good chunk of metal to the deck probably helped to increase roll. As sonars improved deck guns became a source of noise. Comparing a Type VII to an Astute is like comparing a Handley-Page to a B2


SSNs are at their best deep under the open ocean. However it is harder & harder to justify their cost just doing that. So they get used on intelligence gathering & special ops duties which brings them closer to shore. You only want them on the surface for the minimum time, but I feel they need some protection while they are there. A gun that can rise out of the hull is one way of doing it. A torpedo tube launched missile would also do it.


“If I had said something similar you would be quickly pointing out the short comings wouldn’t you?”

Nah, I’m not you. Mr “WWII wants their tactics back.”


No you are more like Mr Which-way-does-the-bullet-come-out?


You know, you’re just proving my point.

Anyway, just because something is old, does not mean it’s ineffective. Running up to someone and sticking a bayonett in is even older than WWII, but if someone actually does it, guess what? The enemy dies! Isn’t that strange… And if you recall, James did mention some bayonett work. When? GW1.

You seem to equate “old” with “unusable”. I suggest T45 can do some ship to ship with it’s gun, you claim unworkable due to old tactics, John suggests some NGS+ with a sub gun, you claim unworkable due to old tactics. Guess what? Mines, artillery, tanks and dropping bombs date from WWI. Guess they all can’t be used now against our laser and force shield infantry can they?

Gareth Jones

A gun on a SSN is not a good idea but what about a modern version of the U-boat? Essentially a submersible sloop; long ranged, blockade runner/enforcer with VBSS teams and gun. Possibly UAV’s? Ability to (shallow) dive a safety/stealth feature?


I’m going to do a Gareth Jones and do this.


Something like this?


Gareth Jones

@ Observer – well, more sentry frigate/coast guard cutter but something similar…

Ace Rimmer

Gareth, I made a similar suggestion on another thread a few months ago, I think it was Observer who pointed me in the same direction with the SMX-25. My comment mentioned about the fact the Zumwalt class looked very much like a ‘U’ boat, albeit one which couldn’t submerge.

Given the advent of super-sonic anti-ship weapons, being able to submerge may be a life saver in this respect.

Brian Black

Hi, S O. (June 24 01:37)
Pah! If you think field-marshall Brian is going to have rusty old antique Abbots in his fantasy army…
The Abbot is very much just an SPG. Think more along the lines of – I’m a Centauro MGS, I have a fully stabilized 105mm gun, 45 degree elevation in a 360 degree traverse, I’m merrily pootling about the battlefield; but then forget about Centauro, because I’ve parked up, I’ve dropped my back door for crew and ammo access, and my gun now elevates to 70 degrees in a forward arc. So I’m a 105mm assault gun/MGS one moment, a self propelled howitzer the next.


Not me Ace, think the same post led me to the SMX in the first place, though I was toying with the old missile ship concept, which included “semi-sumbersible” capability.

And I do agree on the improved survivability it can give. Decoys, chaff, AAMs, all these can’t beat simply disappearing off radar totally. Unless someone gets smart and fires an AShM and an ASTROC in tandem…

On a more hmm… note, wonder if that 105mm comes with a box magazine and autoloader. And how tightly can it intergrate into a sub radar?

Gareth Jones

@ Brian Black – A friend of mine had a similar idea, only with a foward engined tracked vehicle – artank concept.

Gareth Jones

Found this old thread post:

RE: Intermediate round. The Russians have (had?) 122mm howitzers and 130mm guns; would a dual purpose 120-127mm gun for both tank and artillery be possible?Going even further, could you combine the two, the old artank concept? This article really goes too far with AAA but is interesting;http://www.g2mil.com/artank.htm. The turret needed for full 80+ elevation, 360 degree may be too big but if the engine were forward mounted, could the gun elevate further than the usual 20 degrees if pointing forward? 45 degrees would allow maximum range at least.


Actually, on more consideration, I don’t think the 105 will sell for subs, especially since you have a perfectly servicable 4.5 inch gun for the same job. Helps parts commonality too.

GJ, one flaw to the concept is the difference in guns. Tank guns are usually smoothbore to fire APFSDS, artillery and AA are rifled for ranged accuracy. Mutually contradictory.



Under what circumstances would we find ourselves considering risking a billion pound submarine (thanks BAE) as favourable to just sending a Type 23/26/45 to do the gun mission?

Unless you’re planning to build a completely new class of submarine. Let’s think of a name that would sell. Uhm. How about;

Submersible Littoral Assault Ship?



Whether a new calibre is needed to replace both 105 and 155 (and of course 114) is an intersting question. Personally I think 25 – 30 kg shell for dumb or relatively dumb (ie CC fuzed) ammo and a serious size payload in a smart GMLRS warhead is the way to go.

However, since post WW1 designs, in UK (and US) service all field artillery has been multi-charge whereas tanks, ships and AA guns all use a single fixed charge. This, of course has significant barrel wear consequences, which is OK because ships, tanks and AA fire relatively few rounds. For field arty the top charge is only needed for the longest range. Firing only the necessary size charge has two important benefits, first it means the guns aren’t easily crested (not a problem for ships, etc, so I’m led to believe), second it means that far more rounds can be fired before barrel wear renders the barrel unusable. Not forgetting important points like minimising the range spread at shorter ranges and being vastly more convenient on the small arty ranges that are the norm in W Europe.

Gareth Jones

@ Chris b – nice one :) Just a thought exercise really…

@ Obsvr – Very good points. This would be a gun rather than a howitzer-gun. The intermediate rounds idea came from another thread, however, I believe the current British rifled 120mm tank gun fires split rounds and due to its rifling and FCS is considered very accurate. Perhaps less powerful charges could be used? If smart rounds are used then the single type/strength of charge becomes less of an issue as the flight of the round can be altered.

Like most (all?) procument/development decisions it comes down to a cost benefit question; are the reduced capability, in reased barrel ware, and extra development costs off put by reduced support and logistic costs of a single vehicle type and extra flexibility in the field?


@ Chris B

Brown in a lot of his writings debates whether a medium calibre gun is of any value at all. Unless the (small) gun is radar controlled he says it is of little value beyond junk busting and moral. Even many in the navy see the Mk8 as a makee work scheme for WEMs. Of course a lot of those writings were made before the advent of PGM like Vulcano. And I say that as somebody who loves big guns who perhaps sees a need a for 2in on each beam on one at Z to deal with swarm attacks.

As you say there is just no need to fit a gun to Astute. And as I said earlier on the deck gun was falling out of favour even in WW2.

OK – no gun for a modern SSN.

But how about a light anti-air missile to engage lightly protected enemy air like ASW Helos or MPAs. In restricted coastal waters it seems strange that a power projection platform like an SSN can only hide and evade when being hunted by relatively slow, lightly protected aircraft.

We’re not talking about SeaViper here, just a couple of Ceptor cells or even something lighter like a ManPAD but perhaps Remote Controlled to enable the sub to pop-up, lock-on fire and dive without openning any hatches.

Someone said on a different thread the Germans subs have something like this. I suppose it depends on what we give to Barrow after designing the Trident Successor. If its an export optimised design, a coastal SSK with AIP, then it probably needs something like this.


Hi PE, yes, I noticed that one too
“Someone said on a different thread the Germans subs have something like this”
– never seen a mention/ article, but then again I don’t read all defence-related publications

Here’s the Wiki page for the German light missile system. Not actually expected to be ready before 2014. Interestingly firing through the toropedo tues while submerged rather than a VLS in the tower.


Makes me wonder how the initial guidance will work if the sub stays underwater.


@Peter Elliot: there was such a design postulated in the 80’s called a “SIAM”, which floated to the surface in a capsule, scanned the horizon with a radar, then launched autonomously, but it never progressed. However, the US has successfully experimented with using AIM9X in the same way, and it could prove very useful for an SSN being hunted via dipping sonars


The German export sub Gal-class to Israel had a SAM system inbuilt on a telescopic mast I think, but it was scrapped later.

Helos was what I was thinking of using the 105 against with NGS as a secondary role, but as I said, a radar guided 4.5inch has more advantages and about 3x the range. If the FCS was intergrated tightly enough, I’m sure it would be sufficient to give any Anti-sub helo a scare.

As for what advantages a sub has over a frigate in use of a gun system, well.. it can be hard to sneak a frigate close to a radar covered coastline. And subs are supposed to be used for SF extractions, so some support from the boat (smoke + HE + PWP) might be very welcome for the blooddrinker guys when they are.. “advancing in the opposite direction”. It just all boils down to tactics and doctrine.


Thanks PE,

The Indians (brings in the Russians then) are also working on a tube-launched SAM, but much heavier, so would be against AWACS/MPA rather than helos working the dipping sonars/ dropped devices.
– i.e clearing an area of the ocean, several hundred km squared


@ Peter

There is an awful lot of ocean to hide in. The further away from land a platform operates the more single purpose it becomes. An SSN operates in an environment than an a FJ. Consider only 10% of the cost of an SSN is weapons and sensors, all the rest is hull.

The only way a submarine launched SSN could work is if the missile is launched from a buoy/housing detached from the vessel. Launching the ordnance from the vessel would just advertise its position. SSNs can hear the engines of dipping helicopters. But it would be some lucky shot.


I’m assuming you mean sub launched SAM, not sub launching another sub.

“is if the missile is launched from a buoy/housing detached from the vessel.”

The Americans had their “stinger mast” and their “AIM-9 bays” which worked fairly well, it was rarity of chance of usage that finally did them in.


“Gareth Jones says:
June 25, 2012 at 00:38

@ Brian Black – A friend of mine had a similar idea, only with a foward engined tracked vehicle – artank concept.”

Carlton Meyer?

Anyway, I may have been influenced one way or the other:


@ Gareth J re submarine SAM

I just think it is a bad idea. Lots of things get built and tested doesn’t mean they are a good idea.


Do you want the SSN to abandon a SF team in a dinghy, because a warlord turns up with HMGs on the back of his pick ups?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

John Hartley, well you would not normally take an SSN in that close simply because of water depth if nothing else. It is only in the movies that the SSN surfaces under the dinghy 800 yards off shore. Would rather use a man portable ATGW to engage them than fit something to the hull which will disrupt the form and make noise.


False dichotomy. The SSN is there to transport the SF. It is the SF job to fight the warlord. A rubber dinghy of men versus a multi billion pound SSN? It’s a no brainer for any serious military thinker. The SF would be left to themselves.

Gareth Jones

@ SO – ha! No it was a friend at Uni, although IIRC it was a discussion on how to make Meyer’s idea workable…

Also a big fan of the 75mm Ares… a tank chassis so armed could do the BMP-T roles in Western forces? And would be a good cavalry armmament?

@ X – Just providing useful links…


All pol
Not talking about a fixed gun on the hull WW2 style. Also more than one way to do this. Whether its gun or missile makes no odds. LMM/Starstreak would be viable.


@ gj

I know. :)


@ JH,

“Do you want the SSN to abandon a SF team in a dinghy, because a warlord turns up with HMGs on the back of his pick ups?”

In a word; Yes.

The Winged Excalibur offers many advantages to those who wear it, but it also comes with a selection of caveats, one of which can more or less be described as ‘thou shalt understand that that Her Majesty’s Government reserves the right to not risk millions of pounds worth of high end hardware along with the lives of many, many other service personnel in an effort to extract you from the shit,’

Assuming the SF team has no air support and elects not to exchange fire with the warlord, then frankly they are on their own. They cannot expect a sane Submarine commander to risk his entire vessel and all of its crew just to pick them up. Their best bet would be to either surrender immediately, or hope that while some of them paddled for all they’re worth the others can cause a sufficient distraction to prevent accurate return fire. This of course assuming they don’t have an engine which they can just throttle up and run with.

That’s just part of the deal that they sign up to I’m afraid. It’s cold, it’s quite harsh, but as long as everybody knows what they’re getting into then it’s acceptable. War sucks.

As for defending the sub with AA missiles? Dunno, we’d need a sub commander/officer in here to tell us what he’d prefer to do if caught at periscope depth by an approaching/dipping ASW helicopter. Shoot some short ranged IR missile, and give away your approximate position, forcing you to make a run for it loudly at top speed? Or dive and run quiet?

As for carrying something larger with more range, how do you aim it? Radar? Quite expensive for a limited use. Cued by AWACS while close to the surface? How many times will that happen and why can’t the AWACS cue something else onto it? Is it worth risking an SSN to shoot down a Maritime Patrol Aircraft?

I can’t see the benefits being worth all the risks.


It would be a PR disaster if an SSN abandoned a SF team to be beheaded on the internet. People would ask why are we paying £900 million a sub, if it just runs away.
If it just sits deep in mid ocean, people will still ask why are we paying £900m for it to hide instead of being useful.
In short, all expensive kit needs to be multi role & get stuck in, when our armed forces are as small as they are now.
We can debate about an ideal world, but we are not in an ideal world.
What if a sub develops a fault & is forced to the surface? Should it be defenceless? Or have something to give it a fighting chance?


Well, if the sub so obviously overpowers the pursuers, it would be silly to run away, but OTOH, the rest of them are right in that risks need to be balanced. I think, in the end, it’s probably up to the Captain’s call. As it has always been.

Why I don’t think the 105mm is feasible though is that there are many other, better options. If you wanted support, there’s always the TLAM option. Expensive, but it is a preexisting capability and it’s pretty final in the results. Or if you’re really die hard on NGS, there is already the Mk 8, with commonality too. So in short, NGS from subs? Maybe. 105mm? Bloody unlikely.


@ John H

Our SF are active all the time in a high risk business how often do you hear of deaths? Rarely and then only in known theatres. No I haven’t read too much Tom Clancey. :)


@ JH

More of a PR disaster than a £900 million pound sub being compromised by RPG’s and armour piercing .50 cal, thus unable to dive safely, at which point it gets chased down on the surface by speedboats? Like that kind of PR disaster?

Anyway, what SAS? Those boys were private security contractors hired to protect a private companies assets. Government can’t help it if a bunch of private contractors dig themselves in too deep…

Anyway, movies aside, I doubt the SF team would use a submarine rendevous for their extraction, not unless they planned to barely push inshore and just do something like a beach head recce. If they did go for the sub, I suspect it would be done at night and probably not while under hot pursuit, in which case I suspect they would divert to an emergency extraction plan.

You simply don’t put an asset like a submarine and its entire crew at risk to save four men the embarrassment and danger of being captured.



I won’t say it’s impossible, SF insertion and extaction is part of submarine mandate, regardless of how you might feel on risking an extremely expensive sub. That being said, I also do agree that it would be very very bad for it to be severely damaged in any way. In the end, it really is down to the Captain’s call as the “man on site”.

Besides, it’s more likely the men would Zodiac out to the sub, not have the sub go to them.

paul g

On the SF slant, didn’t the americans spend millions on a midget style sub that sat on the top deck for SF insertion which promptly failed big time. At the same time a UK company had spent about 2 and 6 and buttons on the same idea which worked perfectly, i must dig round the web and find that story

paul g

ASDS, advanced SEAL delivery system binned in 2008, can’t find the article about the Uk version

Brian Black

A submarine remaining parked on the surface after disgorging it’s swimming ninjas would be far easier to find than the team of silent shadowy spectres itself; as such, it would be more of a liability than anything else. If you’re less concerned about vessel stealthiness, deploy the team from a frigate that is able to defend itself on the surface, as well as providing gunfire or helicopter support to the commandos.
Submarine deployed ninjas could also potentially have invisible stealth jets on call, in the air 50nm away, flying from one of Caligula’s yachts – perhaps a more effective support than towing a light gun with an Astute.


“perhaps a more effective support than towing a light gun with an Astute.”

You have a way with words. :)

If you need jet air support though, I’d call the insertion a bust and GTFO. Who knows what else is coming your way.


“Besides, it’s more likely the men would Zodiac out to the sub, not have the sub go to them.”

Thats the thrust of what I’m getting at. Deployment would be done without surfacing and recovery would have to be done out at sea as well, probably at night or at least in the dawn/dusk period. If the SF team can’t make the rendevous then it’s unlikely and certainly not desirable that you would send the submarine into shallow waters to go looking for them.


How would you communicate with the submarine?
Would you being popping up to periscope depth every so often? No. All these things are done by timetable.


SF is just one possibility.
A fault on the sub, be it reactor leak, damaged diving planes, ballast tanks, etc. means it has to stay on the surface , what then? Bad language, or give it some means to defend itself? This can be done by gun or missile, though TLAM is for distant targets, not within five miles.

Brian Black

Can’t a sub crewman just stand on deck with a MANPADS? If you’re serious about defending against attacks on the surface, what about CIWS and decoys?


yes thats one way, but not much fun in bad weather.


BB said “Can’t a sub crewman just stand on deck with a MANPADS? If you’re serious about defending against attacks on the surface, what about CIWS and decoys?”

They would have take along an Above Water Warfare bod to do that. RN is a closed a shop with rigid demarcation. :) ;)

They hum and haw about fitting CIWS to surface vessels……..

Come on now I think this has been explored enough. How about discussing whether we should build a canal through Pakistan so we can deploy CVF into A-stan? You know something a bit realistic.


nobody ever needs anything, until they do……