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Subsonic and Supersonic

Antiship Missiles:
An Effectiveness and
Utility Comparison
ABSTRACT The paper reviews the

advantages and disadvantages of supersonic speed for the antiship missile


application. Specifically, the supersonic
speed benefits of reduced defensive reaction time and relaxed navigation accuracy
are contrasted against limitations of
range, payload, cost, electronic counter
counter-measures performance, and
signature. The paper concludes that, for
the immediate future, subsonic advantages are likely to continue to outweigh
the two major supersonic benefits. This
view is reflected in the current lack of
development being applied to supersonic
antiship missiles.

Introduction
ver the last twenty years, maritime forces around the world have
deployed a wide variety of antiship missiles (ASMs). These missiles
have periodically incorporated new technologies in order to maintain an effectiveness advantage over evolving defensive systems.
Interest is growing in the application of new propulsion technologies for efficient
supersonic ASMs in the 1990s and beyond. It is therefore appropriate and
timely to evaluate the overall effectiveness and utility payoff for supersonic
ASM speed.
With the exception of several Soviet missiles and dual purpose surface-to-air
missiles (SAMs) such as Standard SM-1/2, current ASMs fly subsonic trajectories which enable maximum standoff range w i t h size and weight constraints
and give adequate time for guidance processing to maximize target acquisition.
Studies of advanced antiship missiles employing either subsonic or supersonic
flight profiles have been performed by missile manufacturers, to examine the
relative merit of these two flight regimes for the antiship mission. This paper
will compare the effectiveness of subsonic and supersonic antiship missiles and
present a rationale for selection between the two.

Requirements
Before designing a missile to perform a mission, requirements for that mission
are organized in a systems engineering flowdown matrix. An example of such a
flowdown is shown in Figure 1. Here, the requirements in each performance
area are related to some top-level effectiveness criterion:
Effectiveness Criterion-The overall performance goal for the ASM system.
For example, we might specify that the ASM must be able to achieve a 0.5
probability of disabling the surface-to-surface missile capability (SSM kill) on
a given target moving at 30 knots with a single shot from 60 nm range.
Loadout-This is a requirement for how many ASMs must be carried on
which launch platforms and be compatible with which launch equipment. The
loadout requirements set a number of constraints on missile design, such as
maximum length, diameter, and weight.
Availability-This defines the percentage of time that the ASM system will
be ready to launch when needed. It is another family of constraints that may
be driven by factors such as depot maintenance schedule, logistics, storage/
pre-launch reliability, ease of repair, and response time during combat.
Launch Platform Survivability-Survival of the launch platfonin is essential
and will set the ASM standoff range requirement.
In-Flight Reliability (Pr)-The probability that the ASM will function properly
after launch.
Target Acquisition (Pacq)-The probability that the ASM will acquire the
intended target.
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January 1997

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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and W i t y Comparison

Anti-Ship Missile
Effectiveness Criteria.

vivability, then we can relate the rest of the performance


factors to our top-level requirement by

j.lllllilllj..II.I)Yl

El
Survivabilit

+Example: Hit 30

F I G U R E 1.

System Engineering Performance Flowdown

rn Missile Survivability (Ps)-The

probability that the


ASM, given target acquisition, will survive the target
hard kill defenses and reach the target with its ordnance
section intact.
Probability of Hit (Ph)-This is the probability that the
ASM, having acquired the target and evaded defenses,
will actually impact the target structure. For the purposes of this discussion, survivability against electronic
countermeasures is treated as part of the probability of
hit.
rn Lethality (Pk)-This is the probability that the ASM,
having hit the target, will achieve the desired level of
damage.
If we treat the loadout and availability as constraints and
design our ASM to fly far enough to ensure platform sur-

Abbreviations and Acronyms Used in This Paper


AOA
AOU
AP
ASM

=
=
=
=

ClWS

=
=
=
=

EMCON

IR
LID
mr
OTH
Pacq
Ph

Pk

Pkss
Pr
Ps

sr
SSM

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

STOT
I*m

=
=

RCS
RF
SAM

SFC

58

=
=
=

Angle of attack
Area of uncertainty
Missile presented area
Antiship missiles (used to describe own-forces)
Close-in weapons system
Emission control
Infrared
Lift-to-drag ratio
milliradian
Over-the-horizon
Probability of target acquisition by ASM
Probability of an ASM impacting the target
Probability of kill (ASM killing ship or SAM killing
ASM)
Single shot probability of kill
Missile in-flight reliability
Probability of survival (vs hard kill defenses)
Radar cross section
Radio frequency
Surface-to-air missile (system)
Specific fuel consumption
Steradian (a measure of solid angle)
Surface-to-surface missile (used to denote a threat
ASM)
Simultaneous time on target
micron

Effectiveness

Pr x Pacq x Ps x Ph x Pk

where Pr is the in-flight reliability, Pacq is the probability


of acquisition, Ph is the probability of hit, Pk is the probability of kill, and effectiveness is the top-level requirement
(0.5 probability of SSM kill in the example above). The
important thing to note from this is the ASM must offer
balanced performance in order to be effective: reliability
and probability of hit are just as important as survivability
and lethality. Two additional program (as opposed to performance) requirements, cost and schedule, must also be
considered when designing an ASM.
In the following sections, generic subsonic and supersonic antiship missiles will be compared on the basis of
the following nine requirements areas:
Launch Platform Survivability
Loadout
CostlSchedule
Target Acquisition
Missile Survivability
Terminal Hit Probability
Lethality
Availability
Reliability

The Design Realities:


Weight, Size, and Cost
LAUNCH PLATFORM SURVIVABILITYTHE RANGE REQUIREMENT

A key driver in the subsonic vs. supersonic comparison is


the range requirement. Our generic ASM must, as a minimum, provide enough range to allow the launch platform
to remain outside the envelope of target ship defenses.
For a surface platform, the range requirement might be
set by the need to stand off from threat surface-to-surface
missiles (SSMs-we will use this nomenclature for the
threat antiship missiles to avoid confusion with the generic
ASM we are designing). For an airborne platform, the
range requirement might be set by the need to stand off
from SAMs or possibly carrier-based air defense interceptors. This paper will focus on the surface-launch mission.
SSMs which potentially could threaten surface platforms
have ranges of 10 km to more than 450 km. The SSMs
which have the longest ranges, such as Tomahawk Antiship
Missile (TASM), SS-N-12, and SS-N-19, are only carried
by the largest combatants of the U.S. and Russian navies.
There were over 6,000 SSMs deployed on surface combatants in 1994, not counting those in the U.S. Navy.
Figure 2 shows the cumulative number of SSMs as a
function of SSM range (Prezelin, 1993 and Freidman,
1991). If we design to standoff from all but the SS-N-18
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N A V A L ENGINEERS J O U R N A L

Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Hfectiveness and Utility Comparison

2.3(0.5)(1322/3)(LOG10(1.13))
=

26.8 nm (50 km)

Thus a Mach 2.0 supersonic missile is only twenty-five


percent as range efficient as a subsonic missile of the same
size, weight, and payload. Here then is the supersonic
designers dilemma. If the loadout constraints allow, the
size and weight could be increased and payload (warhead
weight) decreased, resulting in a greater wliw2. Supersonic ramjet designs in the 300-900 kg class can achieve,
after boost, a wl/w2 of about 1.3. Using this number, we
obtain:

R
F I G U R E 2.

Ship-Launched Range Requirement

Source: 1990-91 Combat Fleets of the World


World Wide SSM Deployment Excluding US.

and SS-N-19, then a range requirement of 185 km for our


surface-launched generic ASM appears reasonable.
THE RANGE TRADEOFF

Having arrived at a range requirement of 185 km for surface launch, we can proceed to compare the performance
ill use the classic Breguet equation
of several ASMs. We w
(Corning, 1970 and many others) to calculate the maximum range of our candidate ASMs:

~.~(L/D)(V/C)(LOG~O(W~/W~))

Here, L/D is the missile lift-to-drag ratio, V is the


velocity in knots, C is the specific fuel consumption (SFC)
in lbllbihr, and wlIw2 is the ratio of launch weight to
weight at fuel exhaustion. We can further define a typical
subsonic turbojet-powered ASM to meet the longest range
requirement:
LID

2.5
V
1.5 lbilblhr

2.3(0.5)(1322/3)(LOG10(1.3))

58 nm (107 km)

If we were completely unconstrained in size and weight,


we could potentially achieve our goal with an enormous
missile. This was the traditional Soviet approach. The SSN-22, for example, is reported to fly a low altitude, Mach
2.5 trajectory to a range of about 110 km. To obtain this
performance, the Soviets required a missile 9-10 m long
and weighing 3500-4000 kg! Similarly, the air-launched
ASM-MSS integral rocket-ramjet shown at MosAeroshow
92 achieves a low altitude range of 150 km at Mach 2.1,
but is 9.7 m long and weighs 4,500 kg at launch (Lenorovitz, 1992). It is therefore apparent that radical technological improvements are needed to meet the range requirement at low altitude with supersonic speed.
The alternative is to specify a hi-low profile i.e., high
altitude trajectory for the supersonic ASM employing
either a terminal dive on the target or a terminal low
altitude run-in as shown in Figure 3. The advantage here
is that LID might increase to 1.5 while keeping C constant.
This yields a factor of three increase in range (to 320 km)
for the design above in an all high trajectory
The loadout constraints will govern the feasibility of
meeting range requirements with a given trajectory If it
must be launchable from certain ships, the ASM might be
limited to five to six meters in length. We cannot cover all

530 knots (Mach 0.8)


w l h 2 = 1.13

Substituting in the above equation we obtain R = 108


nm (200 km). The weight ratio chosen, wlIw2 = 1.13, is
easily obtained in a small, lightweight airframe. Now, let
us increase ASM speed to Mach 2.0 (V = 1322 knots).
Various propulsion options can be used, but, for our illustration, we choose the nearest term candidate-a liquid
fueled ramjet (an advanced turbojet would give better results, a rocket motor would give considerably worse results). For reasons that w
ill be discussed later, it is desirable to fly the ASM mission at low altitude, if possible. At
low altitude, the supersonic ASM might have LID = 0.5
and C = 3 lbllb/hr. If we assume the same wliw2 as the
subsonic ASM (e.g. same structural weight, fuel weight,
warhead, etc.), then we obtain:
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January 1997

F I G U R E 3. Typical Supersonic and Subsonic ASM


Trajectories to Achieve Range Requirement
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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

possible loadout constraints here, but it should be clear


that loadout is a major design driver in any comparison
between subsonic and supersonic ASMs.
THE COST/SCHEDULE TRADEOFF

Two additional factors which should be considered are cost


and schedule. We have seen that a supersonic ASM is
likely to be substantially larger and heavier than a subsonic
ASM. For missile systems of similar technology and complexity, unit cost can be estimated as a function of weight.
Knowing the weight ratio (wllw2) above does not directly
give us the weight-both large and small missiles could
conceivably have the same wllw2. However, we can get
an idea of the weight differences by comparing typical
surface launched point designs:
Subsonic Design-680 kg
Supersonic Design #1-930 kg
Supersonic Design #2-1520 kg
These weights include the required rocket boosters.
Even though the supersonic designs are considerably
heavier, the subsonic design still offers superior low altitude range.
A valid cost comparison as a function of weight requires
the missiles to incorporate the same kind of functionality
(e.g. seeker and computer, but no data link) and to have
similar subsystem technology Comparing a subsonic turbojet-powered missile to a supersonic ramjet-powered
missile is not strictly appropriate (because of different
functionality), but can be done to a first order approximation. Based on extensive industry experience, the cost
of missiles with similar functionality and technology can
be scaled by the difference in weight raised to the 0.76
power. Using this relationship, we predict the following
difference in cost:

Design
Subsonic
Supersonic #1
Supersonic #2

Normalized Weight
1.0
1.37
2.2

Normalized Cost
1.0
1.27
1.82

These numbers are only approximate and apply to point


designs, but they suggest that a medium range supersonic
ASM is going to cost twenty-seven to eighty-two percent
more than a comparable subsonic ASM. This assumes the
two missile types are in the same stage of production
maturity
With the exception of several Soviet missiles, all of
which have high weight and large volume, no supersonic
ASMs are in production today If our comparison is between a relatively mature existing or modified subsonic
missile and a new supersonic design, then substantial additional differences in cost arise due to production maturity For example, let us assume, based on the data above,
that the supersonic design is fifty percent more costly than
the subsonic design for similar maturity At some future
production date, say 1998, the first supersonic missile is
60

rolled off the assembly line. At the same time, the 2,000th
subsonic missile is rolled off a competing assembly lie.
By using a learning curve methodology, we can estimate
the cost and schedule tradeoffs to expect.
In aerospace applications, manufacturing improvement
curves (Gibson, 1981 and many others) are often used to
determine expected recurring costs over a production run.
The average cost of a production run of X missiles is given
bY
cost

(Z)(X)-

where Z is the cost of the first production unit and n =


0.2 (equivalent to a typical eighty-seven percent learning
curve). The kind of unit cost we see today for a generic
2,000th subsonic turbojet-powered ASM is about $1 million for production rates of several hundred units per year
(production rates of fifty or less will add substantial fixed
overhead cost to the numbers shown here). We can therefore expect that the 2,000th supersonic ASM will cost
$1.5 million. Using the equation above, we estimate thz
first unit cost for the supersonic ASM to be $6.9 Million.
The first 100 missiles will have an average cost of $2.7
million, the second 100 missiles-$2.1 million, and so
forth. Thus, if we want an ASM in 1998, we will likely
have to pay twice as much for a new supersonic design as
an existinglmodified subsonic design. If we can slip our
schedule until 2000 supersonic ASMs had been produced,
then we might buy one for $1.5 million.
In comparing supersonic to subsonic ASMs, the basic
design realities may be summarized as follows:
1. For a given range, flight profile, and payload, a supersonic ASM will be significantly larger and heavier than
a subsonic ASM.
2. Supersonic ASMs of reasonable sizelweight must fly a
high altitude trajectory to meet the 185 km standoff
range requirement.
3. Supersonic ASMs will be significantly more expensive
than subsonic ASMs, especially if the subsonic ASMs
are further down the production learning curve.
With these design realities in mind, we should now ask
the question, Why would we want a supersonic ASM?
Two areas of system effectiveness are often evaluated to
answer this question: target acquisition and survivability.

Target Acquisition
An autonomous ASM must be able to fly out to the expected target location and find the target w i t h an area
of uncertainty (AOU) around the aimpoint. The size of the
AOU is determined by three primary factors: (1) random
motion of the target during ASM flyout; (2)ASM navigational errors incurred during flyout; (3) targeting errors,
including target motion between time of measurement and
time of launch (time late).
The target motion contribution to AOU can be modeled
by assuming a target moving away from the aimpoint in a
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NAVAL E N G I N E E R S J O U R N A L

Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

random direction. This gives a circular AOU with radius


equal to the flight time of the ASM multiplied by the speed
of the target. It is easy to see that supersonic speed will
decrease this contribution to the AOU sigmficantly when
compared to subsonic vehicles. For example, if a 30 knot
target is attacked from a range of 110 km, a Mach 0.8
vehicle will have a flight time of 408 seconds, while a Mach
2.0 vehicle will have a flight time of 163 seconds. This
results in a maximum cross range error of 6.3 km and 2.5
km for subsonic and supersonic, respectively. Errors in
downrange will also occur, but the potential for the ASM
to search in a bearing only mode makes downrange errors
less important for the purposes of the illustration here.
In the absence of GPS or other position update, the
navigational errors for an autonomous ASM are also a
function of time of flight, and, for a given type of midcourse
guidance system, supersonic speed will reduce this contribution to AOU as well. This is a statistically quantified
error considered to be random and normally distributed.
A low grade midcourse guidanceinavigation system might
have a one sigma error buildup of 35 km per hour in cross
range. For the flight times above, the subsonic vehicle
would have a navigational cross range error of 4 km. The
supersonic vehicle would have an error of only 1.6 km.
The targeting error is the difference between the target's true location and the ASM aimpoint at launch. This
error is also statistically quantified with both a bias and a
normally distributed random component. It is the most
difficult part of AOU to quantify. For engagements within
the horizon, sensors on the launch platform can typically
locate the target with minimal errors. In over-the-horizon
(OTH) engagements, the errors can be many kilometers
in both bias and standard deviation: a one sigma standard
deviation of 3.7 km is not unrealistic. Supersonic speed
does nothing to compensate for targeting error.
How sigmficant are these errors relative to the comparison of subsonic and supersonic ASMs? The answer is
that it depends upon seeker detection range and scan
characteristics. This can be best illustrated by postulating
the characteristics of two ASM radio frequency (RF) missile seekers which differ only in their power output. We
will use the radar range equation (Frieden, 1985 and many
others) to show the resulting difference in detection range
and the significance of that range for accommodating realistic AOUs (we will ignore low altitude and sea surface
effects for this illustration). The seeker range versus a
one square meter target is given by:

to-noise ratio required for detection, Br is the receiver


noise bandwidth (MHz), and NF is the noise factor. The
characteristics shown below may be assumed for a generic
Ku band pulse radar seeker:

Pt

5,000 watts (seeker A)


or 40,000 watts (seeker B)
Gt = Gr = 31 dB, Lt = - 2 dB, Lr = - 7 dB,
A = 0.02 m (15 Ghz)
Br = 2 MHZ (lipulse width,
where pulse width = 0.5 microsec)
SIN = 15 dB, and NF = 10 dB
=

Substituting into the range equation above, we obtain


R
R

=
=

3.0 km (seeker A) and


5.2 km (seeker B) vs 1 square meter.

A typical corvette-sized target might have a radar cross


section of 1,000 square meters. Against this target, R(A)
= 11.9 km and R(B) = 20.6 km.
If we assume a 30 knot target, a one sigma midcourse
guidance error of 35 Whr, and a one sigma targeting
error of 3.7 km, we can calculate the growth in AOU size
as a function of range and speed. Since the AOU size has
a statistical nature, we choose two sigma errors such that
ninety-five percent of the potential cases are enclosed in
our AOU. Figure 4 shows the result. The cross-range
extent at ASM launch is Z 4 km due to targeting and grows
to over 19 km at 185 km range for the subsonic missile.
The supersonic missile's corresponding errors only grow
to 13.5 km at the same range.
Our generic seekers can detect a 1,000 square meter
target at crossranges of 0.71 of R(A) and R(B) given
above. Figure 5 shows the seeker detection capability
overlaid on the AOU size graph. Seeker A can cover the

18

16

14-

R = (A/B)**0.25
where A = (Pt)(Gt)(Gr)(Lt)(Lr)(A**2)
0

and
B

(7.94E - 8)(S/N)(Br)(NF

1)

Pt is the peak power (watts), Gt is the transmitter gain,


Gr is the receiver gain, Lt is the transmitter losses, Lr is
the receiver losses, X is the wavelength, SIN is the signalNAVAL ENGINEERS JOURNAL

January 1997

20

40

MI

MI
100
120
Target Range - Km

140

160

180

200

F I G U R E 4. ASM Single Pass Target Acquisition


Requirements
2 Sigma NavigationlTargetingErrors
30 Knot Random Target Motion

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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

24

cross Ran-

Coverage Seeker B

CmssRange

Search Allnude

*-185

Km Range
Requirement

4 2 -

20

40

60

80

100 120 140

Range

F I G U R E 5.

160 180 200 220 240 260

- Km

ASM Seeker Search Capabilities

SAM is launched and is guided to the target by command


from the radar or by a semi-active seeker in the SAM
homing on an illumination signal from the radar. The SAM
fuze senses the proximity of or hits the target and detonates the SAM warhead. Significant reaction time delays
are incurred between acquisition-track, and track-and
launch. In addition, all SAMs have a minimum range inside
of which they cannot reliably intercept a target. Obviously,
the detection range of the SAM radars, reaction times,
dead zone distance, SAM flyout velocity, accuracy, fuzing
capability, and warhead size all affect the ultimate effectiveness of the SAM. Supersonic speed compresses the
defense timeline, potentially resulting in fewer SAM intercept opportunities.
A detailed discussion of the capabilities of present and
projected ASM threat defense systems is beyond the
scope of this paper, but some important tradeoffs can be
illustrated using a hypothetical RF-guided SAM system.
We may define the system to be as follows:

1,000 mz Target

Acquisition radar range


subsonic missiles AOU out to 72 km and the supersonic
missiles AOU to 135 km. If our technology cannot provide
a seeker better than A, then we clearly need supersonic
speed to provide one-pass target acquisition at long
ranges. Seeker B, however, can cover the subsonic missiles AOU out to 190 km, beyond the standoff range requirements computed in previous sections of this paper.
If we can build seeker B, then supersonic speed is
unnecessary strictly for the purposes of aiding target
acquisition.

Track radar range

Survivability

Accuracy

Survivability is one performance area which is considered


a key advantage for a supersonic ASM when compared to
a subsonic ASM. Increased speed reduces the reaction
time available to a defender and allows greater terminal
maneuverability In the following paragraphs, we will address the survivability tradeoffs between subsonic and
supersonic flight for the antiship mission against defenses
consisting of radar guided SAMs, infrared guided SAMs,
and point defense guns.

Radar antenna height

RADAR GUIDED SAMs

Radar guided SAMs provide the longest range protection


of surface ships and are typically associated with sophisticated fire control systems mounted on larger combatants. A notional engagement sequence is shown in Figure
6. The ASM is first detected and identified as a potential
target by an acquisition radar. This radar transfers or
hands-off the ASM position to a fire-control radar which
often performs the missile guidance or illumination function. Once the fire-control radar has the ASM in track, a
62

Time Delays

Dead Zone =
SAM velocity =

=
=

100 nm vs 1 square meter


target
50 nm vs 1 square meter
target
10 or 20 seconds acquisition
to track
10 or 20 seconds track to
SAM launch
2 nm
Sufficient to reach edge of
dead zone in 6 seconds,
Mach 3 average over longer
ranges
5 meters miss distance (one
sigma)
18 meters

Figure 7 illustrates some observations which can immediately be made. The radar horizon against an ASM
flying at an altitude of 5 meters is 26.7 km. This is the
ships first detection opportunity even if the ASM was
launched at the example standoff range requirement of 185
km. If the ASM flies a high altitude trajectory, as our
ramjet-powered supersonic missile must do to achieve the
standoff range, then first detection could take place soon
after launch at ranges exceeding 160 km. Our hypothetical
SAM could achieve four shoot-look-shoot opportunities
against a Mach 2 ASM on this trajectory prior to the ASM
reaching the SAM dead zone.
While the probability of kill (Pk) of each SAM intercept
is complicated to estimate, even a small Pk, when compounded by multiple intercepts, lowers the overall ASM
probability of survival significantly Figure 8 shows the
compounding effect of multiple intercepts. Flying faster,
say Mach 3, will reduce but not eliminate intercept opportunitie s.
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Subsonic and Supersonic Anliship Missiles: An Effecliveness and Ulilily Comparison

I
SAM Min. Range

Subsonic

:
I

Track
Delay

(Limited by
EW Handover
Delay or ASM
RCS)

Target Ship

Handover
Delay

(Limited by :
Horizon or ASM
RCS)

I !

Downrange
EW
Detect

Track
Track
Delay

Early
Warning
Radar

ASM

Handover
Delay

(Limited by
Horizon or ASM

EW Handover
Delay or ASM
RCS)

Target Ship
F I G U R E 6.

RCS)
I

Downrange

SubsonidSupersonic Engagement Scenario

RF Guided SAMs

One solution to this problem is to reduce the radar


cross-section (RCS) of the ASM enough to completely
avoid intercepts. The tradeoff between speed and signature required to completely deny intercept is shown in
Figure 9. The requirements for defeating either the acquisition radar or the track radar are given for the twenty
second reaction time and improved ten second reaction
times. Defeating the acquisition radar is not a reliable
means of defeating the SAM because even if the missile
were totally invisible at acquisition frequencies, the seeker
emissions would likely be detected by electronic support
measures (ESM) soon after turn-on. The tracking radar
function, in contrast, is required to prosecute the intercept.
To defeat the trackmg radar of our hypothetical SAM,
the Mach 2 ASM would have to have an RCS of -27
dBsm (decibels relative to 1square meter). If the reaction
time was 10 seconds, the requirement drops to -34
dBsm (for comparison, the median I-band RCS of a typical
missile-like shape is about 0 dBsm, a pigeon is*- 20 dBsm
and a locust is between - 30 and - 40 dBsm [Nathanson,
19911). The requirements for a subsonic ASM are less
than - 40 dBsm. Thus, high altitude defense penetration
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January 1997

requires extreme stealth, extreme speed, or some combination of the two.


The speed and RCS requirements to deny intercept at
low altitude, shown in Figure 10, are somewhat less severe. Since detection is limited to the horizon, no matter
how high the RCS, there is an ASM speed above which
SAM intercepts are completely denied, regardless of signature. For our hypothetical SAM with baseline twenty
second time delays, an ASM flying from over the horizon
directly to the defending ship at greater than Mach 1.5
would never be intercepted. Here, supersonic speed
shows a clear advantage. Unfortunately, the requirement
is very sensitive to the assumed reaction times. An improved SAM system with ten second reaction time would
force the ASM speed requirement above Mach 2.6. Again,
we see that to achieve high confidence of survival based
on intercept denial, extremely high speed, low RCS, or a
combination is needed.
Having discussed this tradeoff, it is important to recognize that intercept denial is not the only criterion for
setting survivability requirements. Another criterion
which could be used is low SAM single-shot probability of
kill (Pkss) given intercept. The Pkss of semi-active RF
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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An EIIectiveness and Utility Comparison

SAMs against low altitude targets is inherently limited by


the capability of the SAM seekers to detect and track in
clutter. The Pkss may also be degraded by maneuverinduced large miss distance or by low altitude-inducedfuze
pre-function on the sea-surface. Quantifying the first two
effects is beyond the scope of this paper, but we will
examine the fuze pre-function effect in more detail.
Most radar guided SAMs use radio frequency (RF)
fuzes which operate like a tiny radar. These fuzes do not
work well at very low altitudes because they have difficulty
in discriminating between the real ASM target and the sea
surface. The fuze pre-function geometry is shown in Figure 11. The ASM flies a fixed altitude above the sea surface and is intercepted by a SAM with a normal miss
distance distribution. The SAM RF fuze beam extends
outward at an angle. The fuze is triggered when a "target"
is detected inside the absolute cutoff range. If this target
is really the sea-surface, then the SAM warhead is detonated before reachmg the ASM.
Using this geometry and a hypothetical fuze, the probability of fuzing on the ASM can be determined. We select
the following representative parameters for our example:

1.o

of ASM Kill (Pkss)

0.6

1
0.6

.E

a'

0.4

.-a3

0.2

I
0.0 0

4
6
Number of SAM Intercepts

I
10

F I G U R E 8. Multiple SAM Intercepts Substantially


Reduce Survivability
Any Significant Pkss Will Make It Impossible To Meet The
Effectiveness Requirement

0 - First Potential Detection


100,000

10,000

2
Q
5 1,000
E
1
Q

=?

.
I
-

100

Subsonic Low
,--""Altitude
Trajectory

10

~.
-,-**

20

40

60

80

100

Range From Target

FIGURE

Z Detection Scenario-RF

120

- Km

140

160

180

200

Guided SAMs

0- First Potential Detection


64

January 1997

NAVAL ENGINEERS JOURNAL

Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

Fuze cone half-angle =


SAM miss distance =
SAM dive angle =
Fuze range cutoff =

60 degrees
5 meters (1 sigma)
10 degrees
20 meters

Figure 12 shows the resulting probability of fuzing on


the ASM. In our example, ASMs flying at altitudes less
than 5 meters nearly always defeat the SAM fuze. The
fuze operates reliably against ASMs flying substantially
higher than true sea-skimming. Translating this fuzing example into Pkss is a complex process, but for our purposes
here we may assume that fuze function means a kill and
pre-function means no kill. If we are generous in assuming
that supersonic ASMs can fly as low as subsonic ASMs,
then flight altitudes less than 5 meters result in high survivability against radar mided (and fuzed) SAMs regardless of speed.

INFRARED GUIDED SAMs

Infrared (IR) guided SAMs are deployed on small combatants and are much shorter range than radar guided
SAMs. They typically employ electro optical fuzes which
function at low altitude. The small detection range of an
optical fuze is acceptable on an IR guided SAM because
of inherently higher terminal accuracy than RF guided
SAMs. An IR SAM system is cued by a long range sensor
on the defending ship, and is physically pointed toward the
incoming ASM to attempt seeker lock-on. The SAM is
launched when the received signal from the target becomes large enough. The IR guided SAM has a dead zone,
but it is much smaller than for RF guided SAMs.
The survivability of subsonic and supersonic ASMs
against IR guided SAMs is driven by Merences in ASM
signature. Figure 13 shows the variation of IR radiant

Time
Delays
-10

-20

E
rn

u)

;E? -30

cn

-40

-50

F I G U R E 9.

2
3
4
ASM Speed (Mach Number)

ASM SpeedlRCS Requirements for High Altitude Attack

Intercept Denial Criterion

NAVAL ENGINEERS JOURNAL

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65

Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

-10

+ Horizon

Limits

Mach 2.6
-20

Mach 1.5

U
J

'E1l

-30

cn

0
U

-40

-50

F I G U R E 10. ASM SpeedlRCS Requirement for Low Altitude Attack


Intercept Denial Criterion
Horizon Defined by 60 m Radar Antenna and 5m ASM Attitude

Miss Distance
Distribution

Range Cufofl

Sea Surface

F I G U R E 11. Low Altitude SAM Fuzing Geometry


RF Fuze Causes Predetonation on Sea Surface

66

intensity in the 3-5 micron band as a function of speed for


a generic 38 cm diameter missile-shaped metal body at
low altitude. The 3-5 micron operating band is representative of common IR seeker designs. A subsonic missile
at a nominal 4-5 degrees angle of attack (AOA) has an IR
signature of 0.5-0.7 wattskteradian (this number is most
applicable to a turbojet powered missile-a subsonic
rocket powered missile has a much higher signature due
to the rocket plume). By comparison, a Mach 2 missile at
a nominal 1 degree AOA has a signature of 20 wattsisr.
If the supersonic missile were to employ high-g maneuvers
to aid survivability, then AOA would increase, leading to
increased IR signature. For example, in order to pull a
10 g sustained maneuver requires 8 degrees AOA, and/or
the required lift, thus increasing the missile presented
area and the corresponding IR signature to 50 wattsisr.

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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utirity Comparison

1.o

2z

10,000

0.8

.-U5

.-F

u.

o!

0.6

9?

BB

6
C
.-

1,000

0.4

100

10

m
.U

0.2

LL

0.0
0

10
15
ASM Cruise Altitude

20

- meters

25

30
0.1

I
30

120
150
60
90
Vehicle Aspect Angle deg

180

F I G U R E 12. SAM Fuzing Limits SAM P, In Low Altitude


ASM Intercepts
Fuze Range Cut Off = 20 rn
SAM Dive Angle = lo"
SAM Miss Distance (1 Sigma)
Fuze Cone Half Angle = 60"

F I G U R E 13.
=

Generic Missile Shape in Low Altitude Flight


Body Aero Heating and Hot Nozzle
3-5 krn Band

5 rn

We can relate these signatures to survivability by computing the seeker lock-on range. This is given by solving
for R in
J = (H)(S/N)(R2)/(T)and T = e-aR
where J is the contrast signature in wattsisr, H is the
seeker sensitivity in wattsicm', SAV is the signal-to-noise
ratio required for lock-on, R is the range in meters, T is
the atmospheric transmission (a non-dimensional fraction), and a is the extinction coefficient. The contrast signature is obtained by subtracting the background radiance
from the target signal received at the seeker. Calculating
this background can be very complex as it involves time of
dax sun position relative to target and sensor, sensor liieof-sight (e.g. target against sky or sea background), sea
state, cloud cover, and a host of other factors. For our
example here, we will use data from Wolf and Zissis (1985)
for daylight and ocean background (sea-skimmer ASMs
will be seen against ocean background). By multiplying
the background radiance area by the presented area of the
ASM (say 26 cm in diameter and 457 cm long at 5 degrees
AOA), we obtain a background radiance of about 0.5
wattslsr.
We can now define the other parameters in the lock-on
equation above:

1E-12 watts/cm2 S/N

10 a = -0.000345 m-l

The seeker sensitivity shown is representative of an


advanced design. The extinction coefficient-a-corresponds to an attenuation of 1.5 dBkm (the weather in the
North Atlantic allows 1.5 dB/km or less 90% of the time
on a yearly average basis). We also define the kinematic
limitations of a generic IR guided SAM:
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Estimated ASM IR Signatures

January 1997

Minimum range (dead zone) =


Time to flyout to edge of dead zone =
Time from lock-on to missile away =

500 meters
2 seconds
4 seconds

Substituting into the equation above, we obtain the IR


seeker lock-on range as a function of contrast signature.
The contrast signature for the subsonic turbojet-powered
missile is near zero, since the background radiance is
about the same as the target radiance. Even if the background is ignored, the lock-on range would only be 1.9
km. The Mach 2 missile, with its 19.5 wlsr contrast signature (20 wlsr from Figure 13 less 0.5 wlsr background
radiance), gives the IR seeker a lock-on range of 5.5 km.
If the supersonic missile is maneuvering (contrast signature = 49.5 wisr), lock-on range would be 6.8 km.
As with RF guided SAMs, there is a relationship between the ASM IR signature and speed required to deny
an intercept opportunity to the IR SAM. This relationship,
shown in Figure 14, can be derived from the IR seeker
lock-on equation and the SAM kinematic characteristics
given above. Under these assumptions, a Mach 2 ASM
must have an IR signature less than 10 wisr to avoid
intercept. Since the Mach 2 ASM's signature is likely to
be 20-50 w/sr, it could be intercepted by the SAM. A
Mach 0.8 ASM must have a signature less than 1 wlsr to
avoid intercept and typically has a lower nose-on signature
than that even if background effects are ignored. Thus, a
subsonic ASM is more survivable against an IR SAM
threat than a supersonic ASM.
A side issue related to infrared detection is long range
cueing. We assumed in the analysis above that the IR SAM
was cued to the target bearing by a scanning RF or IR
sensor. The IR sensor, because it is passive, can operate
67

Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

0.01

F I G U R E 14. ASM SpeedllR Signature Requirements


Intercept Denial
Hypothetical IR Guided SAM

under EMCON (EMission CONtrol) doctrine when radars


are not available. A supersonic missile flying a high altitude
trajectory (necessary to achieve the range requirement),
with its inherently high IR signature, will be detected at
long range. The turbojet-powered subsonic missile will not
be detected until seconds before impact. The high IR
signature of supersonic missiles is a significant liability in
the antiship mission which requires additional technology
development to remedy
POINT DEFENSE GUN SYSTEMS
The point defense gun system consists of a trackmg device
or combination of devices (e.g. radar, IR, TV), a firecontrol computer, and a high rate-of-fire cannon. The
tracking device provides accurate target position (and
sometimes velocity) to the fire-control computer, which
points the gun. The projectiles may range in size from 20
mm to 40 mm and destroy the target antiship missile by
direct hit, or, in the case of larger projectiles, by proximity
detonation. Some gun systems have an autonomous acquisition capability while others rely on external ship sensors to provide the initial cueing of the trackmg sensor.
68

The survivability of ASMs against point defense guns


is primarily affected by three factors: (a) the tracking accuracy of the gun pointing sensor, (b) the ballistic dispersion of the projectiles, and (c) the vulnerability of the ASM
to a projectile given a hit. It is beyond the scope of this
paper to address proximity fuzed projectiles and medium
caliber guns (57 mm, 76 mm and larger may have some
anti-ASM capability) in any detail-proximity fuzed projectiles have some of the limitations of proximity fuzed
SAMs and medium caliber hit-to-kill guns generally do not
have high enough rates-of-fire to obtain high confidence of
a hit. If we h i t our discussion to small caliber (20-40
mm) guns with hit-to-kill projectiles, we can capture the
driving factors in the well-known Carlton damage equation. This equation expresses the probability of any one
projectile hitting a target as a function of the mean tracking
system error at the target, the ballistic dispersion, and
the presented area of the target.
We can define a generic gun system as follows:
6000 rounds/min
Rate-of-fire =
Mean tracking system error = 2 milliradians (one
sigma)
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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Hfecfiveness and Utility Comparison

Ballistic dispersion
Open-fire range
Minimum range

2 milliradians (one
sigma)
2500 meters
140 meters

=
=

We also define a generic ASM which is 36 cm in diameter and 457 cm long. The subsonic ASM cruises at 5
degrees AOA while a Mach 2 ASM cruises at 1 degree
AOA. Assuming the ASM is flying directly at the gun
system, the subsonic variant will have a presented area
(Ap) of 0.23 square meters while the supersonic variant
will have Ap of 0.13 square meters. Thus, if the two
variants are identical in size as we have assumed here,
then the supersonic missile has an immediate advantage
of having only sixty percent of the subsonic Ap simply due
to AOA (however, as we saw in our earlier discussion, for
the same standoff range, the supersonic variant is inevitably larger).
Figure 15 shows the result of a simplistic gun analysis
using the Carlton function. The Mach 0.8 missile would
be expected to receive one hit by 800 meters range-to-go
and eight hits into minimum range. The Mach 2 missile
would receive one hit by 250 meters and two hits into
minimum range. The supersonic missile has better performance because its speed limits the number of projectiles encountered.
Maneuvers might be used to attempt to further decrease the number of hits. A maneuver potentially decreases the pointing accuracy of the gun by changing the
ASM position too rapidly for the gun fire-control computer
to predict ahead. An aerodynamic maneuver, however, will
increase the AOA and Ap and actually decrease survivability in cases where the maneuver is not heavily degrading
the gun pointing error. The figure shows, for example, the

effect of a Mach 2, 10 g maneuver on expected hits assuming the mean pointing error is unaffected. The result
is more than double the number of expected hits. The
maneuver must degrade the pointing error to above 3
milliradians just to recover the loss in survivability due to
increased Ap. Whether this is possible or not depends on
the sophistication of the gun fire-control algorithms and
the timing of the maneuver.
The number of hits does not necessarily translate directly into survivability. Figure 16 shows the probability of
gun kill (Pk) against our Mach 0.8 and Mach 2 generic
ASMs assuming that one hit is a kill. The Pk against the
subsonic missile reaches a high level at longer range than
for the supersonic missile, but both are stiU killed. The
one shot kill criterion may be more applicable to the supersonic missile than the subsonic for several reasons. First,
the higher speed results in a higher projectile impact velocity, which ensures penetration of even armored warhead cases and coupling of more energy into the target. A
1000 meter/sec projectile, for example, impacts the Mach
2 vehicle with 78% more energy than the Mach 0.8 vehicle. Also, the Mach 2 air loads are six times as high as at
Mach 0.8, resulting in greater vulnerability to projectileinduced aerodynamic damage.
The figure shows that a Mach 0.8 vehicle which could
survive four hits would be equal in survivability with a
Mach 2 vehicle which is vulnerable to a single hit. It should
be remembered that ASM mission success is achieved by
delivering an intact ordnance section to the target, regardless of what damage might have been taken by the
rest of the missile in the process.
No matter how capable a defensive gun system may be,
existing and projected types can only engage one target
at a time. A Mach 0.8 ASM traverses the engagement
zone postulated here in 9 seconds, the Mach 2 ASM in
3.6 seconds. The gun will need a substantial fraction of

7 -

Mach 0.8 No Maneuver

1.0,

IneffectiveMach 2 109 Maneuver


but No Increase in Gun System
Error

z 4

I3

-\

Mach 2.0 No Maneuver

1
0
0

1000

2 m

Range-to-Go meters

3000

Range-lo-Go -meters

of Gun Hits

F I G U R E 16. ASM Vulnerability Differences Affect


Speed vs. Survivability Comparison

2 mr Gun System Error


2 mr Ballistic Dispersion
6000 R d h i n Generic Gun System

2 mr Gun System Error


2 mr Ballastic Dispersion
6000 Rd/Min Generic Gun System

F I G U R E 15.

Supersonic ASM Speed Decreases Number

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69

Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

this time to affect a single kill. In addition to the time


required to engage each ASM in a multi-missile attack,
the gun system takes time to switch targets-slew to the
new bearing, track, lock-on, and fire-control solution. Two
or more ASMs arriving at nearly the same time will virtually guarantee that at least one will penetrate the defense. The supersonic missile offers better performance
in this regard, but both subsonic and supersonic will be
effective.
SUMMARY
We may summarize the survivability discussion with the
following
- observations:
1. High altitude defense penetration requires either extreme stealth, extreme speed or a combination of the
two.
2. Very low altitude flight results in high survivability
against RF guided SAMs regardless of ASM speed.
3. A subsonic ASM will likely have higher survivability
than the supersonic ASM against IR guided SAMs.
4. The high IR signature of supersonic ASMs allows targets to be cued at long ranges during EMCON.
5. Accurately directed point defense guns can defeat both
subsonic and supersonic ASMs.
6. Salvoes of subsonic and supersonic ASMs can both
defeat point defense guns using simultaneous time-ontarget.

The "Other" Factors


Four additional system engineering performance areas
should be considered in any comparison of subsonic and
supersonic ASMs: (1) availability, (2) in-flight reliability,
(3) terminal hit probability, and (4)lethality Differences
between hypothetical ASMs in these areas are more difficult to quantify than survivability, but some observations
can be made.
Availability as discussed here is the fraction of time an
ASM would be ready to launch when needed. For two
missiles of equal technological sophistication, the supersonic variant will be larger, heavier, have more partslexotic
materials, and incorporate systems more resistant to high
temperatures and g loads than a subsonic variant. If the
supersonic variant is ramjet powered, as we have postulated in this paper, then a very large booster or multiple
staged boosters are required to accelerate the missile to
ramjet takeover speed. Careful design is required to produce a supersonic ASM which has comparable availability
to a subsonic ASM. Reduced availability translates into
reduced war-fighting capability or increased inventory requirements and depot costs.
In-flight reliability can also be related to the complexity
of the missile system. A supersonic ASM will probably be
more complex and thus inherently less reliable than a subsonic ASM. Acceleration, temperature, and vibration en70

vironments will also be more severe for the supersonic


ASM. Reduced reliability must be weighed against potential advantages in other performance areas to determine if
this liability for a supersonic missile can be tolerated.
The probability of hit (Ph) is driven by the ability of the
ASM guidance system to find the true target in a countermeasures environment and to deliver the missile warhead
to the target. Missile characteristics such as turning radius, seeker response to target signature transients, trajectory, and countermeasures processing capability all
contribute to Ph. The turning radius of an air vehicle can
be approximated by
R

VIA

where R is the turning radius in meters, V is the ASM


speed in meters per second, and A is the acceleration in
meterslsec'. A Mach 0.8 ASM which could pull 3 gs (29.4
m/sec2) would have a turning radius of 2500 meters.
Supersonic ASMs generally can produce lateral high accelerations of 10-15 gs. However, for a Mach 2 ASM to
have the same turning radius as a subsonic ASM, it must
be able to pull almost 19 gs. This does not include any
additional control margin that may be desirable to allow
terminal evasive maneuvers. If substantially less maneuver capability is provided, Ph may be degraded because
the missile will not be able to compensate for last-second
seeker inputs due to either target signature transients or
late target acquisition in countermeasures.
The general nature of this paper does not allow a detailed comparison of supersonic and subsonic ASM Ph in
countermeasures, nor is such a comparison easy to make.
We can, however, speak broadly about two classes of effects: (1)those effects which are driven by the speed of
the ASM guidance computer, and (2) those effects which
are driven by the time required for observable phenomena
or critical engagement geometries to develop. The first
class of effects should not be an issue in the comparison
of supersonic and subsonic ASMs. An increase in speed
from Mach 0.8 to Mach 2 is only a factor of 2.5. At the
time of the writing of this paper, available processor
speeds are doubling every eighteen months. Any new
ASM (or ASM guidance set) could easily incorporate a
processor which performs computations orders of magnitude faster than anything currently deployed.
The second class of effects, discussed by Schleher
(1986) and others, can potentially limit the capability of a
supersonic ASM. A seduction chaff scenario is an example
of such an effect. Figure 17 illustrates one possible engagement. Here, the target ship launches a single chaff
cloud a short distance in a random direction. Depending
on wind directiodspeed, target speed, and ASM rangeto-go at chaff launch, the engagement may involve three
possible cases from the ASM seeker's point of view: (1)
The chaff cloud may be near the target-but resolvable
by the seeker; (2) near the target-but unresolvable; or
(3) completely out of the seeker field of view. The scenario
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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An //ectiveness and Utility Comparison

Generic Anti-Ship
Missile (ASM)

Time

Time

Time

TO

T1

T2

\,

Chaff Cloud

Random Wind Direction


Random Chaff Launch Direction

YSM

Chaff Outside Seeker


Field Of View

Chaff Obscures Target Ship

F I G U R E 17. Seduction Chaff Scenario

may evolve from one of these cases to another over time.


If the ASM can find the true target in one geometrx but
not another, then supersonic speed may force the ASM to
commit in an unfavorable situation where subsonic speed
would allow time to wait.
This scenario can be modeled with a time-step computer program if a few simplifying assumptions can be
made. We can describe the chaff as a circular cloud (ignore
the vertical dimension) of radar scatterers with density
varying from center to edge. The cloud is allowed to move
and distort with the wind. A target ship can be described
as a series of scatterers distributed along a h e . For this
example, the ASM is represented by a range-gated centroid seeker moving toward the target at subsonic or
supersonic speed. The approach direction, target speedi
orientation, wind speedldirection, chaff launch timeidirection, and the RCS of the ship target and chaff cloud are
all variables which affect the outcome of the engagement.
We assume the chaff i s dispersed close to the target ship.
The seeker receives a radar return from both target
and chaff (actually only from the part of the cloud and
target inside the rangeiangle resolution of the seeker).
NAVAL ENGINEERS JOURNAL

January 1997

1 .o

0.8

0.6

.
-g
a

0.4

0.2

0.0

5000

10000

I5000

20000

25000

ASM Range-to-Go at Chaff Launch (Meters)

F I G U R E 18. Effect of ASM Speed in Seduction Chaff


Scenario
ASMs With Generic Centroid Seekers
RCS Ration (Chaff/Ship) = 10
Random Wind and Chaff Launch Direction

71

Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Effectiveness and Utility Comparison

The seeker guides toward the centroid of the two signals.


At some point in the ASM trajectory, the chaff and target
will likely be more than one seeker beamwidth apart. The
seeker will then settle on either the target or the chaff
alone, depending on the engagement conditions.
Using this modeling approach, we can demonstrate a
difference in probability of hit due to ASM speed. Figure
18 shows the probability of hit for a subsonic and a supersonic ASM with generic centroid type seekers as a function of chaff launch range. We use a chaff RCS ten times
larger than the ship RCS. Although neither missile is particularly effective under these assumptions, the extent of
chaff launch ranges over which the ASM can be defeated
is larger for the Mach 2 missile. If we assume that seeker
turn-on occurs at 20 km and that chaff launch occurs
within twenty seconds of reception of the ASM seeker
transmission, then the ASM range to go would be about
14.5 km for the Mach 0.8 missile and 6.4 km for the Mach
2 missile. The Mach 0.8 missile allows enough time for
the chaff to clear the target-resulting in Ph of over 0.9.

Effectiveness Factor

The Mach 2 missile in the same situation has a Ph of less


than 0.5. A supersonic ASM must have countermeasure
signal collection and processing which does not have to
wait for interpretable geometries or phenomena.
Missile lethality, the probability that a certain level of
damage w
i
l
l result from a hit, is the final factor in the ASM
effectiveness equation. It is not significantly affected by
the speed of the ASM. The Mach 2 ASM would offer
potentially greater capability to penetrate armored structures, but structures sufficiently robust to degrade subsonic ASMs are not commonly deployed on modern combatants. However, as pointed out above, for a given loadout
and range requirement, the subsonic ASM will almost
always carry a larger warhead than the supersonic ASM.

Summary and Conclusions


In the discussion of requirements at the beginning of this
paper, we presented an effectiveness equation consisting
of the terms in-flight reliability, probability of acquisition,

ASM Tvpe
-.
Subsonic Supersonic

Availability
In-Flight Reliability
Probability of Acquisition
30 Knot Targets
High Speed Targets (>40kn)
Probability of Survival
RF SAMs
RF SAMs W/Advanced Fuze
IR SAMs
Point Defense Guns

1++1
1++1
+
-

1+1

1+1
+

Probability of Hit
Clear Environment
ECM Environment

&

+
++

Warhead Lethality
(Probability of Damage Given a Hit)

1++1

cost

El

Overall

&I

Acceptable
Good
Preferred System

* Must Fly High to Meet


Range Requirements

F I G U R E 19. Comparison of ASM Effectiveness Factors


Basis: Equal Loadout and Meet Range Requirement

72

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Subsonic and Supersonic Antiship Missiles: An Elfectiveness and Ulility Comparison

probability of survival, probability of hit, and probability of


damage given a hit. The equation relates each of these
terms to a top-level performance requirement with the
condition that platform survivability, availability, and loadout constraints have been met. The constraints address
the standoff range required and how large (and complex)
the ASM can be.
If we assume the constraints have been met, we could
evaluate the effectiveness equation for subsonic and
supersonic ASMs. Figure 19 presents a qualitative comparison of effectiveness factors. The subsonic ASM has
higher availability and in-flight reliability, but the supersonic ASM is still acceptable. The probability of acquisition
is really a tradeoff between ASM range, speed, and seeker
range. In our example above, seeker B could cover the
Mach 0.8 AOU (30 knot target) out to 190 km range. A
seeker with Bs capability would give equal Pacq for subsonic and supersonic ASMs. Beyond 190 km, supersonic
speed would be needed for one-pass acquisition. Thus,
supersonic speed impacts Pacq for very long range ASMs
and for very fast targets (although a subsonic missile could
still acquire a very fast target at some reduced range).
The probability of survival is obviously dependent on
what threats are present, but if the defendmg ship has RF
guided SAMs and IR guided SAMs, then the subsonic
ASM has an advantage: The subsonic and supersonic
probability of survival is equal for low flying ASMs against
RF SAMs-but the supersonic ASM must fly at least part
of its trajectory at a higher, more vulnerable altitude in
order to meet the range requirement. The supersonic
ASM can clearly be shot down by an IR SAM. Survivability
against point defense guns favors the supersonic ASM:
The supersonic design has more potential to defeat a
CIWS without STOT
The supersonic ASM has performance advantages
which can greatly increase effectiveness over the subsonic
ASM if balanced technologies are applied to overcome
existing problems. To realize these advantages, a number
of technologies must be carefully applied. First, a supersonic turbojet engine would make up much of the range
deficiencies of the ramjet. Second, low signature technology in both RF and IR bands would be needed. The IR
signature deficiency is of particular concern. The supersonic ASM must be engineered for higher seeker data
rates and for tracking the target while maneuvering at very
high lateral accelerations. It must have countermeasure
processing with response time commensurate with supersonic speed. Subsystems must offer availability and reliability comparable to those in subsonic ASMs. Finally, the

NAVAL E N G I N E E R S JOURNAL

January 1997

cost must be managed such that sufficient numbers of


missiles can be bought to address all the threats.
The subsonic ASM has a potential advantage in probability of hit due to complications arising in countermeasures environments. Warhead lethality (probabilityof damage given a hit) is generally going to be greater for
subsonic ASMs simply because a larger warhead can be
carried for a given loadout and range capability. Lastly, the
subsonic ASM will always offer a considerable cost advantage. We have not precisely quantified each of these factors, but qualitatively the subsonic ASM offers higher
overall utility for the next ten to fifteen years. This is
especially true when cost and schedule considerations are
taken into account.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The author is indebted to Mr. Tom Reidy for his assistance
in modeling the fuze and countermeasure examples covered.

REFERENCES
[l.] Prezelin, Bernard and A.D. Baker 111 (ed. 1, Combat

Fleets of the World 1993, Naval Institute Press, 1993.


[2.] Corning, Gerald, Supersonic and SubsonicAirplaneDesign,
3rd Edition, Braun-Brumfield, Inc., 1970, (p. 2:40).
[3.] Freidman, Norman, Naval Institute Guide to World Naval
Weapon Systems 1991-92, Naval Institute Press, 1991.
[4.] Lenorovitz, Jeffrey M., Large Antiship Missile Powered
by RocketlRamjet Has 155 Mile Range, Aviation Week and
Sgace Technology, August 24, 1992.
[5.] Gibson, D. C. Jr., Manufacturing Improvement Curves:
Concept and Application, McDonnell Douglas Internal
White Paper, 1981.
[6.] Frieden, David R. (ed.), Principles of Naval Weapons Systems, Naval Institute Press, 1985, (pp. 71-75).
[7.] Nathanson, E E., Radar Design Principles, 2nd Edition,
McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1991, (pp. 171-184).
[8.] Wolfe, WL. and G.J. Zissis (ed.), The Infrared Handbook,
Revised Edition, Office of Naval Research, 1985, (p. 3-108).
[9.] Schleher, D. Curtis, Zntroduction to Electronic Warfare,Artech House, 1986, (pp. 193-195).
James F. McEachron is currently the McDonnell Douglas
Aerospace (MDA) test and evaluation process team leader for the
Joint Air-to-Su&ce Standoff Missile Program. During his 16
years of experience an missile systems product definition, he has
served as the operations analysis manager for the Harpoon
Program, conducted force structure analysislstrategic planning
for MDAs Washington Studies and Analysis Group, and
pedormed survivability and effectivenessanalyses for the SRAM
II Program. Mx McEachron holds a B.S. degree in aerospace
engineeringfrom Georgia Institute of Ethnology.

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