Monday, September 30, 2013

Nairobi siege: How the attack happened

1. Attack

Attack begins at midday local time on Saturday. Attackers enter building from front entrance, via second floor car park and reportedly also via the basement. Begin shooting and throwing grenades at fleeing shoppers. Hostages taken and reportedly held in cinema and Millionaires Casino.

2. Stand off

Approximately an hour into the attack, security forces enter the building. Gun battles ensue between police and the attackers, some of whom barricade themselves into the Nakumatt supermarket. Armed forces and helicopters are deployed, with gunfire and explosions continuing overnight.

3. Renewed assault

By Sunday, around 10-15 attackers remain inside the mall according to Kenyan authorities. Gunfire and explosions continue throughout the day. At 1845 two helicopters land on the roof in an apparent operation to retake the mall, and a large explosion from the inside is heard.

4. Aftermath

Security forces launch a renewed assault. Fire sweeps through parts of the building. Some interior floors and part of the floor of car park collapse. Sporadic gunfire heard by journalists early on Tuesday. By evening President Uhuru Kenyatta declares the siege over, giving a death toll of 61 civilians and six security officers.
How attack happened
Saturday 21 September
The attack on the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi unfolded at around noon local time (0900 GMT).
The building was packed with shoppers and people having lunch.
The multi-storey, upmarket mall is owned by an Israeli businessman, has restaurants, cafes, banks, a large supermarket and a cinema.
The centre has six levels - with three devoted to shopping, eating and leisure, a third and fourth containing offices and a dental practice, with a basement underneath.
The BBC has established from senior security sources that in the weeks leading up the siege, the Islamists hired a shop in the mall.
This gave them access to service lifts, enabling them to stockpile weapons and ammunition.
When the attack began, the gunmen are thought to have entered the building from three points.
According to witnesses sitting outside ArtCaffe on the ground floor, one group armed with assault weapons drove up to the main entrance.
Remains of cars and other debris can be seen of the parking lot outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya - 26 September 2013
Add caption
The attackers, dressed in black and wearing turbans, began firing and throwing grenades, causing panic as shoppers fled in any direction away from the gunfire.
Attackers inside the Westgate mall
An image of the attackers inside the mall captured via CCTV

Simultaneously, a second group made its way into the second floor of the building via a rooftop car park.
A children's cooking competition was taking place in the car park and a number of children and adults are believed to have been killed here, including the host, popular radio DJ Ruhila Adatia-Sood.
A third group of attackers is thought to have entered the building down a ramp to a basement area.
The exact number of attackers was initially estimated from 6-16.
Some witnesses say they were masked, and there are unconfirmed reports of the presence of Americans and a British woman among their number.
From the ground floor, witnesses reported that the first group made its way upwards through the mall shooting and throwing grenades.
According to some reports, the attackers made attempts to separate Muslims and non-Muslims, with Muslims allowed to leave the mall unharmed.
The BBC has established that the attackers set up a base using a ventilation shaft on the first floor.
A number of people are thought to have been taken hostage and held in a cinema and a casino on the second floor, while other unconfirmed reports suggest a number of people were held hostage in the basement area.
Police and security forces' response was initially slow, with some reports that the first officers on scene did not arrive until around 1230.
Security forces efforts initially focused on rescuing scores of people trapped inside, as gunfire and explosions continued to echo around the mall.
Insider help
At around 15:00, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops were deployed, entering the mall to confront the militants.
Gun battles raged throughout Saturday afternoon, with one group of attackers apparently barricading themselves in the two-level Nakumatt supermarket.
Having pre-positioned weapons in the preceding days, the attackers were able to re-arm quickly and repel Kenyan security forces
Late on Saturday, there was a change of tack by the militants, according to security sources. They rolled out heavy calibre machine guns, exploiting the moment control of the rescue efforts switched from the police to the military.
By the end of Saturday, the death toll stood at 39 with more than more than 1,000 people evacuated.
The security operation continued into the night with sporadic gunfire and explosions.
Sunday 22 September
Gunfire and explosions continued to echo around the mall on Sunday morning.
By midday - 24 hours after the attack began - the death toll stood at 59, with about 1,000 people rescued.
Smoke rising from complex

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said that between 10 and 15 attackers remained barricaded inside the mall, but that security forces had control of the CCTV room.
There are reports via the Israeli military intelligence analysis websiteDebkafile that Israeli security men were assisting the Kenyan military in the operation against the attackers.
At 1845 two helicopters were seen landing on the roof in an apparent effort to retake the mall. Shortly afterwards a large explosion was heard from inside.
Monday 23 September
On Monday morning, a series of loud explosions and heavy gunfire was heard and thick black smoke began billowing from the complex as security forces launched another assault.
Mr Lenku told journalists that almost all the hostages had now been evacuated - indicating that some remain unaccounted for - two of the militants had been killed and several had been injured.
He said 62 people had died but the security forces were now in control of every floor of the shopping centre.

Graphic: Final phase

As night fell, a fire was seen burning at the shopping centre and security forces continued the operation to clear the building of militants.
Early on Tuesday, a senior police source declared the operation to clear the building was "over", however journalists outside reported that sporadic gunfire was continuing.

Graphic: Satellite image of Westgate mall
The fire in the mall - which Kenyan officials said was started by the attackers burning mattresses - caused part of the building's roof to collapse.
Video footage showed that part of the car park on the second floor roof had completely collapsed, with a pile of rubble and smouldering vehicles visible below.
The confirmed death toll is 61 civilians, six security officers and five militants.
Investigators are working to establish the identity of the dead attackers, and whether one of them was female.
It is thought that the death toll could rise, with bodies possibly concealed under the rubble.
Kenya's Standard Newspaper reported that dozens of bodies were removed on Tuesday evening, while Kenya's Red Cross has said that 61 people remain unaccounted for.
However Interior Minister Joe Lenku has said that he does not expect the toll to rise significantly.
Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by al-Shabab - an Islamist group based in neighbouring Somalia, which is part of the al-Qaeda network.
Al-Shabab has said via Twitter that 137 hostages died after government troops used chemical agents to end the siege, but its statement cannot be verified and the government has denied its claims.
Remains of cars and other debris can be seen of the parking lot outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya - 26 September 2013
New photos revealing some of the damage at the Westgate shopping centre were released on Friday.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Corvettes and OPVs: Offshore Investments


In assessing the region’s capabilities in the Corvette/Offshore Patrol Vessel (C/OPV) market the most important question is what is the difference between these two platforms, and what makes these two diverse vessel types exceptional?
by Ted Hooten

The question can best be understood by looking at Malaysia. To meet its New Generation Patrol vessel (NGPV) requirement the Royal Malaysian Navy selected the Blohm & Voss MEKO 100 design as the ‘Kedah’ class. They seem to be OPVs at first sight for their armament consists of a 76mm (three-inch) gun and a 30mm (one inch) gun but they feature a sophisticated combat management system, an electro-optical director, a chaff launcher and are equipped to operate surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles and an electronic warfare suite. 

These are not installed but it was recently revealed that Kuala Lumpur now intends adding anti-ship missile systems to them. They are rated in the naval bible, Jane’s Fighting Ships as corvettes and will be joined by DCNS ‘Gowind’ class ships ordered last year from France’s DCNS with the first example to be delivered in 2017. The French Navy operates one as an OPV but the design can be used as a corvette and Malaysia intends operating them in this role.

OPV-type platforms can be used as corvettes for both are generally around the 1,000-2,000 tonne mark but the OPV is more a law-enforcement platform. It is designed to protect a nation’s resources within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) extending some 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from shore and also to assert national sovereignty and law while providing a search and rescue as well as an environmental protection capability with some having a hydrographic survey capability. 

Compared with a corvette it tends to be slower but with higher endurance often operating a helicopter while some have sophisticated command and communications systems to interact with foreign agencies, but they are generally armed with nothing larger than a 76mm gun. The corvette is a surface combatant usually optimised for Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and featuring surface-to-surface missiles and consequently it has more sophisticated sensors than the OPV with higher speeds for rapid transit or manoeuvres.

The largest OPV operators in Asia are China, India and Japan, which have to secure green or blue water interests, while a number of countries such as Indonesia rely on their surface combatants in the offshore role. This can sometimes ratchet up tension in times of crisis, such as the recent confrontation off Borneo between Malaysia and Indonesia, while the OPV acts as a less threatening platform.

Most of China’s OPVs are operated by China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) which continues to be expanded and is scheduled to receive another 36 hulls of various sizes. Both the Indian Navy and Coast Guard operate OPVs, the former operating a fleet of six vessels and the latter having about a score of hulls from 1,200 to 2,200 tons and due to receive half-a-dozen Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessels with a displacement of 2,230 tons. 

There has been a considerable degree of cross-pollination between the services in OPV design and the navy’s latest requirement for Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPV), the 2,215-ton ‘Saryu’ class, whose first-of-class was commissioned in December 2012, is based on the Coast Guard’s ‘Sankalp’ class.

Japan’s Coast Guard has some 50 OPVs, including the biggest in Asia in the two 5,204-ton ‘Mizuho’ class. Following clashes with the CMS off the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands last year Tokyo is expanding its Coast Guard and will purchase four 1,000-ton OPVs by the end of 2014. Neighbouring South Korea has a Coast Guard which operates four OPVs of some 1,200-tons and is receiving a small expansion of some five vessels from the Hyundai yard including a 3,000-tonne OPV.

South East Asia
Within South East Asia Brunei has three 80-metre (24-feet) ‘Darussalam’ class OPVs, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has two ‘Langkawi’ class OPVs, the Philippines Navy operates three ‘Jacinto’ class ‘corvettes’, which are actually OPVs, and has acquired two former US Coast Guard ‘Hamilton’ class High Endurance Cutters, and may acquire a third to meet a long-standing requirement for three OPVs. 

It is now considering installing anti-ship missiles in these vessels to make them full corvettes. Thailand has requirements for five OPVs of which four would be sophisticated craft, reportedly having the same design as OPVs built for Trinidad and Tobago but sold the Brazil, while one will be a more basic vessel. It operates two ‘Pattani’ class ‘corvettes’ which are also actually OPVs.

Indian Ocean
Around the Indian Ocean Burma operates three ‘sheep in wolves’ clothing, ‘Anawrahta’ class ‘corvettes’ which are actually OPVs, while Bangladesh acquired two former Royal Navy ‘Castle’ class OPVs and the ‘Hamilton’ class cutter USCG Dallas but there is a requirement for three more OPVs. The cutter will be upgraded to a  corvette with a combat system, anti-submarine torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. 

Sri Lanka operates a number of former Indian and US Coast Guard OPVs but might well expand the force. In the Pacific, New Zealand acquired two ‘Protector’ class OPVs which are unusual because they have ice-strengthened bows to operate in Antarctica. Australia has a plan, Project Sea 1180 for a 2,000-tonne Offshore Combat Vessel (OCV) which would meet a variety of roles including acting as an OPV. This $3.1 billion programme is unlikely to be implemented until the first half of the next decade.

The demand for true corvettes has grown steadily in the past couple of decades replacing requirements for Fast Attack Craft (FAC). FACs are small platforms especially vulnerable to air attack because their surveillance radar antenna is relatively low reducing the search area and counter-measures reaction times, they cannot mount a significant air defence system which makes them vulnerable even to helicopter stand-off attack and their lack of compartments means a bomb or missile strike can inflict catastrophic damage. 

The corvette overcomes most of these problems making them a useful surface combatant with superior radar search area, more compartments and the introduction of damage control while bringing the prospect of better air defence protection. It is also a more versatile platform for it can be used for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) through the installation of sonars and lightweight torpedo launchers.

It should be noted that not all corvettes have surface-to-surface missiles, and Indonesia’s former East German ‘Parchim Is’, or ‘Kapitan Pattimura’ class, are unusual in being dedicated ASW platforms with hull-mounted sonar, augmented in some ships by variable depth sensors, armed with both anti-submarine torpedoes and mortars. Indonesia augments these 16 ships with seven Dutch-built vessels; three 30-year-old ‘Fatahillahs’, which also feature a strong ASW suite, and the most modern Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) ‘Diponegoro’ class which are one of Damen’s Sigma family (Sigma 9113), with their shaped hulls to reduce the radar cross section.

The Sigmas form the keel of a new family of corvettes (also designated ‘light frigates’) to meet the Guided Missile Escort (Perusak Kawal Rudal) 105 requirement which are being designed by DSNS and the domestic yard PT PAL under an August 2010 agreement. Based upon the Sigma 10514, these 2,400-tonne vessels will be optimised for ASW with the first of two scheduled to be laid down this year and to enter service in 2016 but it is unclear how many are required. Priority may have been given to a requirement for three submarines with work starting next year.

Neighbouring Malaysia’s requirements have been mentioned earlier and it should be noted that the Royal Malaysian Navy also operates six corvettes; four former Iraqi ‘Assads’ (as the ‘Laksamana’ class) and two German-built ‘Kasturis’, while Singapore has six ‘Victory’ class ships based upon the L├╝rssen MGB 62 design but with an exceptionally high mast for its search radar. 

Nearby Thailand operates seven corvettes of which the five ‘Khamronsin’ and ‘Tapi’ class are ASW vessels. There is no requirement for new vessels with Bangkok more interested in acquiring frigates and upgrading its vessels.

By contrast Vietnam is expanding its corvette fleet steadily from the original four ‘Tarantul’ (‘Project 1241E’) class, with an ASW capability, and two domestically-built ‘Improved Pauks’ (‘Project 12418’) and is acquiring up to ten ‘Improved Tarantuls’ (‘Project 1241.8’) all of  which are pure ASuW vessels. 

In 2011 DSNS revealed they were discussing the sale of four ‘Sigma 10514s’ to Vietnam, of which two would be built domestically Vietnam is also acquiring Russian-built frigates, two of which have been delivered, reflecting the preference of some Asian navies for larger, multi-role platforms capable of projecting power in ‘blue water’ environments. 

South Korea, for example, which operates 23 ‘Po Hang’ class ASuW/ASW corvettes will replace them with the ‘FF-X’ frigates and the ‘Gumdoksuri’ class fast attack craft for coastal operations in offshore islands, with the first FF-X ship having been delivered in 2012. By contrast Japan has never been interested in corvettes.

However, both China and Taiwan want large surface combatants and corvettes. Last year China’s first two ‘Jiangdao’ (‘Type 056’) class corvettes were launched and will join the fleet this year. They were revealed to be modern vessels similar to the ‘Diponegoro’ class with shaped hulls, but at 1,440-tonnes (compared with 1,692 tonnes) they are slightly smaller. 

They are reportedly to replace the 40-year-old ‘Jianghu I/I’ (‘Type 053H/H1’) class frigates and the ‘Houxin/Houjian’ (‘Type 037 1G/2’) fast attack craft/patrol craft.  These ships are being built by the Hudong-Zhonghua and Huangpu yards, who also built the ‘Jianghus’ and it is reported that ten are at various stages of construction with at least two more on order.

Taiwan, which has previously relied upon a combination of major surface combatants and fast attack craft, has its own corvette programme as ‘Hsun Hai’ (‘Swift Sea’). Revealed in April 2012 the programme envisages ‘stealthy’ corvettes of 900-1,000 tonnes with supersonic surface-to-surface missiles which are reportedly to be introduced to combat the China’s new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. 

It will be a domestically-designed and produced vessel with some ASW capability, possibly incorporating weapon and sensor systems from the Taiwanese Navy’s decommissioned ‘Gearing’ class destroyers, its current ‘Knox’ class frigates and ‘Jin Chiang’ class fast attack craft. The requirement is for a dozen vessels with deliveries beginning next year. It is expected that they will be constructed by Lung The Shipbuilding.

There is interest in corvettes around the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy itself has operated corvettes since the 1960s and originally relied upon Russian designs currently using four ‘Abhay’ (‘Modified Pauk II’) ASW ships, which may be re-engined, and twelve ‘Tarantul I’ or ‘Veer’ class ASuW ships. 

The first indigenous ships were the ‘Khukris’ (‘Project 25’) which were planned as ASW vessels but were built as ASuW platforms, their only ASW capability being in the helicopter for which there is a deck, and the same applies to the improved versions of the ‘Kora’ (‘Project 25A’) class, the most significant difference being the replacement of first generation SS-N-2 ‘Styx’ surface-to-surface missiles with SS-N-25 ‘Switchblade’.

The latest Indian corvettes are the ‘Project 28’ ships of the ‘Kamorta’ class. Like all Indian corvettes they are intended for deployment in offshore waters but these are multi-role vessels which incorporate ‘stealth’ technology. They also possess a considerable ASW capability with hull-mounted and towed array sonars, helicopter torpedo-launchers and mortars as well as a useful Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) capability through their local-area defence Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles. 

However, construction of these ships has been unusually protracted with the first-of-class laid down in 2006 but not scheduled for commissioning until the third quarter of 2013. Four ships are currently on order, with the last to be delivered in 2016, and the difficulties and delays encountered in producing this class must put at risk New Delhi’s plans for twelve ships but these may be overtaken by plans for ‘Project 28A’ class ships which might involve a trimaran hull.

Neighbouring Pakistan prefers its surface fleet to consist of a mixture of frigates and fast attack craft while Sri Lanka focuses upon OPVs. However, Bangladesh has incorporated requirements for corvettes in the ambitious defence procurement plan it published in February 2009. Two small, 600 tonne, corvettes or patrol craft are in the plan but China’s separate tender for two corvettes has been accepted and Dhaka is considering a long term plan to order four more corvettes from Turkey.

The choice of corvettes and/or OPVs by Asian navies will clearly be shaped by a raft of factors including cost, theatre of operations and the need to have dedicated craft for the small surface combatant role. It is clear, however, that these vessels will continue to be found in Asian naval inventories well into the decade. 

Attack Helicopter Weapons


At the bottom end of the weapons scale, machine guns are not normally used by attack helicopters, although the Bell AH-1G Cobra began life with an Emerson Electric TAT-102A chin turret housing a General Electric GAU-2B/A six-barrel 7.62 mm Minigun. Likewise, the Mil Mi-24 assault helicopter was initially equipped with the four-barrel 12.7 mm Yakushev-Borsov (Yak-B) 9A624 in a chin turret.
Cannon have almost universally taken over from machine guns as turreted armament, but the German Army Eurocopter Tiger UHTs at present can carry automatic weapons only in the form of fixed gunpods.
The Tiger UHTs deployed with KHR36 (Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36) to Afghanistan in December 2012 were cleared to use FN Herstal HMP400 pods, each with a 12.7 mm M3P machine gun and 400 rounds. The pod weighs 138 kg and the gun fires at 1025 rd/min.
Modified by Eurocopter to Asgard-F (Afghanistan Stabilisation German Army Rapid Deployment – Full) standard, these Tigers were also to use 19 round, 70 mm rocket pods and MBDA Hot guided missiles.
One attack helicopter that still uses a turreted machine gun is Iran’s Hesa Shahed (Witness) 285, a very light (1450 kg) single-seat aircraft derived from the Bell 206 JetRanger. Designated AH-85A, it has a single-barrel 12.7 mm PKM in a chin turret, and is reportedly in limited service with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force.
I Cannon
However, America discovered in Vietnam, as the Soviet Union found later in Afghanistan, that helicopter-mounted machine guns are easily outgunned by heavy automatic weapons on the ground.
In air-ground operations a 7.62 mm machine gun is effective only to around 500 metres, and only against soft targets such as troops in the open. A 12.7 mm gun extends firing range to 1000 metres and can deal with a broader target spectrum. Cannon (able to fire explosive ammunition) start at 20 mm, are effective to perhaps 1700 metres, and can destroy lightly armoured vehicles.
One example of 20 mm armament for an attack helicopter is the Nexter Systems THL20 turret with the single-barrel 20M621. This is used on Romania’s IAR-330L Puma and has been selected for India’s HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Another is the Denel Land Systems GI-2 chin turret introduced by South Africa’s ATE in upgrading the Mil Mi-24s of the Algerian Air Force. The GI-2 is also used on the Denel Rooivalk (Red Kestrel). Such guns typically fire at 700-750 rd/min.
If a high firing rate is required (which is generally not the case in engaging ground targets, but may be preferable in firing at aircraft and fast attack craft), a multiple-barrel cannon may be preferred.
One leading example is the General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products M197 three-barrel 20 mm Gatling gun, which can fire at up to 1500 rd/min and is used in turreted form on the Bell AH-1J/W and the new AH-1Z, and the AgustaWestland A129. One factor in the selection of the A129 as the basis for Turkey’s Atak programme was the outstanding accuracy provided by its Oto Melara TM197B turret, mounting an M197.
In developing the Mi-24 to meet operational demands in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Mil first replaced the original four-barrel 12.7 mm Yak-B with a flexibly-mounted twin-barrel 23 mm GSh-23L. Only 25 of these Mi-24VPs were built, but the GSh-23L is used as a wing-mounted pod with 250 rounds (UPK-23-250) on various Russian helicopters.
For the production of Mi-24P, the chin turret was abandoned in favour of a twin-barrel 30-mm GSh-30 cannon, fixed to the starboard fuselage side. However, the GSh-23 chin turret (NPPU-23) returned with the Mi-35M export version, as used by Brazil and Venezuela.
With the notable exceptions of the AH-1 and A129 series, the majority of attack helicopters have adopted 30 mm cannon. The leader was the Boeing AH-64 Apache series, with an Alliant Techsystems (ATK) M230 Chain Gun in a turret under the front cockpit.
Another example is the Eurocopter Tiger ARH/HAD/HAP, with a Nexter Systems 30M781 cannon in a THL30 chin turret. As indicated earlier, the German Army Tiger UHT has no turret, but consideration is being given to a flexibly-mounted 30 mm Rheimetall/Mauser RMK30 (Rueckstossfreie Maschinenkanone 30) recoilless revolver cannon, which fires caseless ammunition
at 300 rd/min.
In developing replacements for the Soviet Union’s Mi-24, the well-proven single-barrel dual-feed 30-mm Shipunov 2A42 cannon was taken from the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle. Rate of fire is selectable between 200 and 550 rd/min.
In the case of the Mi-28N the 2A42 cannon is mounted in an NPPU-28N turret under the front cockpit, but for the Kamov Ka-50/52 it is trunnion-mounted on the starboard fuselage side, and can be moved through 40.5 degrees in elevation.
I Rocket Projectiles
The cannon discussed above provide a cost-effective means to deal with a wide range of targets detected up to large angles off-axis. However, aircraft cannon are easily outranged by modern air defence systems. For example, the widely used, radar-directed four-barrel 23 mm ZSU-23 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system, firing at up to
4000 rd/min, has an effective slant range of 2000 metres. Man-portable Sams have a maximum range of 4000-6500 metres.
Ground-based automatic weapons can in turn be outranged by air-launched rocket projectiles. The most widely used Western rockets are the Thales/TDA Armements
68 mm SNEB, and the 2.75 inch/70 mm General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products Hydra-70, Forges de Zeebrugge FZ90 and Magellan Aerospace CRV7.
The Hydra-70 is a derivative of the FFAR (Folding-Fin Aircraft Rocket) that was developed in the late 1940s as an unguided air-air missile, basically to achieve a quick
kill against a Soviet bomber carrying an atomic bomb. It served as a stopgap measure
until guided missiles such as the AIM-7 became available.
The modern Hydra-70 is produced with nine different warheads, including the M151 (4.5 kg HE), M229 (7.7 kg HE) and M255A1 (flechettes), plus smoke, illuminating flare and practice versions. Over four million Hydra-70s have been manufactured by GDATP since 1994. It is carried in seven- and 19-tube pods.
Canada’s CRV7 is claimed to have superior performance, with an effective range of up to 8000 metres. Over 800,000 have been produced for 13 nations.
Russia’s 57 mm S-5 rocket is now being superseded by the 80 mm S-8, which weighs 11.1-15.2 kg, and is used on helicopters in 20 round B8V20-A pods. It has a peak velocity of Mach 1.8 and a maximum range of 4500 metres. The S-8KOM has a shaped-charge anti-armour warhead, and the S-8BM is designed to attack personnel in fortifications.
The Mi-28 is also seen with two B-13L1 pods, each with five 122 mm S-13s, some of the most powerful rockets fired from helicopters. The 75 kg S-13T has a tandem warhead, capable of penetrating one metre of reinforced concrete or six metres of soil. The 68 kg S-13OF has a fragmentation warhead, producing 450 diamond-shaped fragments of 25-30 grams.
The Mi-28N is capable of carrying two 240 mm S-24B rockets, each weighing 232 kg. It may be noted that Russian attack helicopters use bombs in the 50-500 kg range, and the KMGU-2 submunitions dispenser pod.
China produces 57 and 80 mm rockets that are probably copies of the Russian originals, plus the home-grown 90 mm Norinco Type 1 and 130-mm Type 82.
It is to be noted that because of their specific nature laser-guided rocket projectiles, which effectively turn “ordinary” rockets into missiles, will be discussed separately in a forthcoming issue of Armada International. They also are a relatively recent development and are particularly intended to provide new effective punch to lighter utility helicopters that are a considerably cheaper to operate than dedicated attack helicopters.
I Air-to-Air
The heaviest air-to-air guided weapons used by helicopters are the 105 kg Vympel R-73 or AA-11 (on the Mi-28 and Ka-50/52) and the 87 kg Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder (on the AH-1W/Z). Both provide exceptional range by short-range missile standards, the claimed figure for the basic R-73 (fired from fast jets in head-on engagements) being 30 km. The choice of the AIM-9 by the US Marine Corps for the Cobra series may have been encouraged by the need to minimise the number of different missile types on a ship.
There have been suggestions that Brazil’s Mi-35Ms may be cleared to use the Mectron MAA-1B Piranha II or Denel/Mectron Darter-A air-air missiles.
Weight considerations favour the adaptation of portable Sams for self-defence air-air weapons. The leaders are the 18.7 kg MBDA Air-To-Air Mistral (Atam, used on the Tiger), and the even lighter 10.6 kg Kolomna 9K38 Igla (Needle) or SA-18 (on the Mi-28 and Ka-50/52) and the 10.4 kg Raytheon AIM-92 Stinger (on the AH-64). The Atam is based on the Mistral 2, and has both contact and proximity fuzes. It has a maximum range of 6500 metres, and is carried in twin-round launchers.
I Air-to-Surface Missiles
Attack helicopters were developed primarily to destroy armoured fighting vehicles, hence the most important armament category is traditionally the anti-tank guided weapon. Germany pioneered wire-guidance in the early 1940s, but in the early postwar period Britain ran some tests and concluded that the concept was too prone to breakages. Britain consequently missed out on a whole generation of anti-tank missiles.
Early missiles using manual command guidance gave poor accuracy. It was generally decided instead to adopt Saclos (semi-automatic command to line-of-sight) guidance. In this the operator holds the sight on the target, and the system automatically tracks the missile’s flares and generates corrective signals to bring it back to the line-of-sight.
The world’s first helicopter-mounted air-to-ground missile was France’s Nord AS.11 (adapted from the ground-launched SS. 11), which had manual command wire guidance and was adopted by the US Army as the AGM-22. It was employed on two UH-1Bs, and was first operationally used by the Army in October 1965. The AGM-22 was later superseded by the (Hughes) BGM-71 Tow, which was also wire-guided but used Saclos. It was first used operationally in May 1972, destroying T54 and PT-76 armoured vehicles.
The most widely used wire-guided missiles are the 12.5 kg KBM 9M14M Malyutka-2 (Baby-2) or AT-3, the 22.5 kg Raytheon BGM-71 Tow and the 24.5 kg Euromissile Hot. Wire guidance is limited to a range of around 4000 metres, but this was acceptable in the 20th century context of a Warsaw Pact armoured thrust across the north German plain. Target sightings at greater ranges were deemed unlikely due to generally poor visibility and the smoke of battle.
Radio guidance eliminates this range limitation, but may be vulnerable to jamming. As with wire guidance, line-of-sight to the target has to be maintained throughout missile flight.
One early example of a radio-guided anti-tank missile was the widely-used Kolomna (KBM) 31.4-kg 9M114 Kokum (Cocoon) or AT-6, the missile used in the 9K114 Shturm (Assault) system. The baseline weapon, which entered service in 1976, had a range of 5,000 metres.
In the 1990s the 9K114 began to be replaced by the 49.5 kg Kolomna 9K120 Ataka-V (Attack-V) or AT-9. This retains the launch tubes and sighting system of the 9K114, but has the supersonic (Mach 1.6) 9M120 missile, which in baseline form had a range of 5,800 metres. The Mi-28N can carry 16 of these missiles in two eight-tube launch racks.
The 9M120 has a tandem warhead for armoured targets, while the 9M120F has a thermobaric warhead for lightly armoured vehicles, buildings, caves and bunkers. The 9A2200 variant has an expanding-rod warhead for use against aircraft.
Laser spot-homing gives precision irrespective of firing range. A coded laser allows the target to be designated by another source, airborne or groundborne. This facilitates engagements from behind cover or beyond the operator’s visual range, and minimises the time of exposure of the launch helicopter.
The leading example of laser spot-homing is the 43 kg Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire, which has a range of 7,000 metres in direct fire mode, and 8,000 metres in indirect firings. It is supersonic, reducing the time of exposure in a self-designating firing. The AH-1Z and AH-64 can each carry 16 Hellfires. The lighter A129 and Tiger can each carry eight.
The Hellfire was first used operationally in Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989. It has traditionally been employed with three types of warhead: the AGM-114K with tandem warhead for armoured targets, the AGM-114M blast-fragmentation warhead for soft targets, and the AGM-114N metal augmented charge for urban structures, bunkers, radar sites, communications installations and bridges.
Beginning in 2012, Hellfire has been available with the AGM-114R multipurpose warhead that allows its effects to be selected (blast-fragmentation or anti-armour) to suit the target, just prior to firing. The AGM-114R also offers a choice of impact angles, from near-horizontal to near-vertical, to suit the target.
Other examples of laser-homing anti-armour missiles include the 13 kg Israel Aerospace Industries Lahat and the 49.8 kg Denel Dynamics Mokopa, which have maximum ranges of 8,000 and 10,000 metres respectively.
The AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire used by the AH-64D/E Longbow Apache employs active millimetre-wave radar guidance, providing day/night all-weather fire-and-forget capability.
The Soviets evidently decided that laser-spot-homing was too susceptible to decoys, and instead developed laser beam-riding, although in this case miss distance increases with firing range. The leading example is the 45 kg KBP 9K121 Vikhr (Whirlwind) or AT-16, which peaks at over Mach 1.75 and has a range of 8,000 metres from a helicopter. Vikhr is carried in the two six-tube UPP-800 launchers on the Ka-50/52. It has a proximity fuze for air-air firings.
The next Russian missile in this category will be the KBP Hermes-A, a two-stage weapon that peaks at around Mach 3.0 and has a maximum range of 20,000 metres.
I Imaging Infrared
Laser spot-homing allows a specific target to be hit, but in some circumstances (for example, in urban warfare) designation may not be possible, despite the target’s general location being known. In such situations a precision attack is still possible through a combination of inertial and imaging infrared guidance. In combination with sophisticated target-recognition algorithms, IIR provides fire-and-forget capability, and allows salvo firings against multiple targets.
The leader in the IIR guidance category is the 49 kg MBDA Pars-3 LR, which has a high subsonic cruise speed (Mach 0.85) and a maximum range of 7,000 metres. It is carried on Germany’s Tiger UHT in four-round launch units in a ready-to-fire state, the sensor being permanently cooled while the aircraft is in flight. Four fully autonomous missiles can be fired in less than ten seconds. It is normally used in a lock-on before launch (Lobl) mode, but also has a predictive mode for temporarily hidden targets.
The Pars-3 LR can be fired in a direct attack profile against (for example) bunkers, but it is normally operated in an elevated (dive attack) mode against armoured vehicles. Its warhead can penetrate 1,000 mm of RHA (rolled homogeneous armour) protected by ERA (explosive reactive armour).
Full-rate production of the Pars-3 LR was launched in late 2012 by Parsys, a joint venture by MBDA Germany and Diehl BGT Defence, under a contract with Germany’s BWB procurement agency that will provide 680 rounds for the German Army.
Another relatively new development is the Spike-ER produced by Rafael in Israel. The first major anti-armour missile to use fibre-optic guidance, the Spike-ER has a range
of 8,000 metres and allows target lock-on before or after launch. It weighs 33 kg in
its transport/launch container, and has an EO/IIR dual-mode sensor, allowing day/night operation.
The Spike-ER is believed to be in service on Israeli AH-1s and Romanian IAR-330s, and has been selected for Italian Army AH-109s and Spanish Army Tiger Had. It is one
of a family of Spike missiles, providing significant commonality with ground-launched versions. Spike is also produced in Germany by EuroSpike, a joint venture by Diehl BGT Defense and Rheinmetall Defense Electronics.
In a departure from normal helicopter practice, the Ka-52 has been pictured carrying the 300 kg Tactical Missiles Kh-25 or AS-10 missile in two forms: the laser-homing Kh-25ML and the anti-radiation Kh-25MP.

Laser Guided Rockets


Laser-Guided Rockets, at Long Last!

Recent operations have highlighted the fact that anti-armour guided weapons that were developed to meet the demands of a major European war are an unnecessarily expensive means to attack today’s counterinsurgency targets, typified by small groups of personnel or light vehicles. 
The high cost of weapons used (or misused) in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq from 2003 has caused serious concern, and so has the bad publicity associated with collateral damage and casualties. Weapons with undesirable side-effects have to be carefully restricted in use, consequently leaving many targets unscathed.
A lighter missile would reduce cost and collateral effects, and allow a helicopter to carry more guided weapons, achieving more soft target kills per sortie.
A further consideration has been the growing use of armed drones.  Weighing 45 kg, the Hellfire is sufficiently light to be carried by the US Air Force’s General Atomics’ 1157 kg MQ-1 Predator and 4763 kg MQ-9 Reaper, and the US Army’s 1633 kg MQ-1C Grey Eagle. However, an even lighter missile would allow the arming of small drones, operated in much larger numbers. 
In principle, arming lightweight drones would reduce response times, saving lives and engaging fleeting targets, and put close air support back in the warrior’s own hands.
There has thus for many years been a clear need for a missile to fill the wide gap between cheap unguided rocket projectiles such as the $ 2,000 70 mm General Dynamics Hydra-70 and costly antitank guided weapons like the $ 90,000 laser-homing Hellfire.
This gap-filler needs only a small warhead, but it must be delivered with metric precision.  It also needs sufficient range to minimise the risk of the launch aircraft receiving return fire from the target area.
One way to reduce the cost of the new system is to develop a bolt-on guidance and control kit for stockpiled rockets.  However, there may also be a substantial market for
a brand-new 70 mm LGR (laser-guided rocket), using a more powerful motor to offset the weight penalty of the guidance and control module, in combination with a modern warhead family.
The Texas Instruments Paveway LGB (laser-guided bomb) was first used operationally by the US Air Force McDonnell F-4E in Vietnam in April 1972.  The BAE Systems APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System) LGR, a converted Hydra-70 rocket projectile, was first employed operationally in Afghanistan almost exactly 40 years later, in March 2012, from the US Marine Corps Bell AH-1W and UH-1Y.

I  Not Rocket Science
Why this advance should have taken four whole decades may partly be explained by the fact that only recently (post-September 2001) have we witnessed a return to colonial-style wars, in which the troublemaker lives next door to innocent civilians.  Another factor may have been that the two senior US services each hoped that the other would provide the funding for LGR development.
Industry may have felt deterred from private-venturing laser-guided rocket develop?ment, due to the high cost of clearing a new weapon for a specific helicopter, when the Pentagon was incapable of deciding which service and which helicopters would use it.
The APKWS programme was launched in 1996, when the Department of Army approved a Mission Need Statement (MNS), essentially for an affordable weapon for the Boeing AH-64 to use against soft and lightly armoured targets outside cannon range.  However, the Operational Requirement Document (ORD) was formally approved only in 2000.
In 1999 the service’s Aviation and Missile Command (Amcom) had requested industry proposals for an Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) programme designated LCPK GR (Low-Cost Precision Kill, Guided Rocket).  This was to provide the basis for the Directorate of Combat Development (DCD) APKWS, associated with a unit cost goal of only $ 8,000.
Following ATD flight trials, in 2003 the prime contractor for the APKWS-I was announced as General Dynamics, the manufacturer of the Hydra-70, with BAE Systems (selected over Raytheon) as subcontractor for the guidance and control system.
However, initial tests gave poor results, with three out of four flight tests failing.  The contract was cancelled in January
2005, the Army stating that the APKWS-I was running late and not meeting requirements.  In addition, the prices tendered for the first production lots were said to be unacceptably high.
In the following 15 months, using its own funds, BAE Systems attacked the problems that plagued the original programme, and successfully carried out three guided flights.  The principal challenges appear to have been to package the system in a small space, to develop a system that would survive the extreme temperature range encountered (from subsonic carriage at altitude to over Mach 2.0 after launch), and to design reliable wing-slot seals.

In September 2005 the US Army reopened the competition, requesting proposals under the designation APKWS-II for a system planned for service in 2008.
In April 2006 BAE Systems (teamed with General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman) was selected as the new prime contractor and was awarded a $ 41.9 million SDD (system development and demonstration) contract.  The company had won over teams led by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Systems.
In February 2007 the US Army zero-funded the APKWS in the FY2008 budget request, but in August 2007 the US Marine Corps issued a formal statement of need for the system. In November 2008 the programme was formally transferred to the US Navy, and funding was resumed.  The hiatus is estimated to have set the programme back by at least five months, formal flight testing being delayed from August 2006 to January 2007.
Despite having dropped the APKWS, in August 2009 the US Army issued a request for information on lightweight (less than 22.7 kg) precision strike weapons under the Ampm (Aviation Multi-Platform Munition) programme to arm the Bell OH-58D.  Three types were tested in 2009, but the US Army appears to be waiting to see how the Marine Corps APKWS performs in service.
A January 2007 Government Accountability Office report (GAO-07-406SP) assessing APKWS II refers to R&D costs of $ 208.4 million, and the production of 71,637 rounds costing $1,296.6 million.  The resulting total programme cost of $1,505 million gave a unit cost of $21,000, all in FY2007 values.
The APKWS is claimed to be one-third the weight and cost of laser-guided weapons generally in use by US forces. A figure of
$28,500 has been published for the guidance and control module, and the Hydra-70 reportedly costs between $1,500 and $2,000.
In 2010 APKWS development was completed, and the first of two LRIP (low-rate initial production) contracts was awarded by the US Navy to BAE Systems.  Service acceptance trials were performed by the Navy’s VX-9 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California, the 35th and final round being fired in January 2012.
The 925th and final LRIP round was delivered in September 2012, two months after the award of the first full-rate contract for 1000 units.  The initial user of APKWS is the US Marine Corps, with an urgent need for more suitable attack weapons for Afghanistan.

I  Enduring Freedom
The APKWS was cleared initially on the Bell AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter and then on the UH-1Y Venom utility  (Bell has recently qualified it on the 407GT).  In March 2012 the first APKWS rounds were sent to Afghanistan, and operational use began later in the month.
The APKWS WGU-59/B guidance and control module is retrofitted in the body of the Hydra-70, leaving the nose-mounted fuze and warhead sections unaffected.  Four sensors are located on the leading edges of wings that unfold from slots in the body within 0.5 seconds, as the projectile leaves the launch tube. Each of the sensors is a ten-element fibre-optic seeker, giving a 40-degree instantaneous field of regard.
The sensors are required to detect a laser-designated target at 8,000 metres, and in acquisition tests have achieved much greater distances.  Control is effected by means of flaperons mounted on the wing trailing edges.
This Dasals (Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker) arrangement rules out lock-on before launch (Lobl), but it protects the seekers throughout the aircraft sortie, and especially while adjacent rounds are being fired.  (The only other known application for the Dasals is the ATK XM395 Precision Guided Mortar Munition).
The APKWS appears to have been conceived around the Hydra-70 with the M151 “ten-pound” high explosive warhead.  The guidance and control module adds 47 cm to its 1.472 metre length, and 4.4 kg to its 10.4 kg weight.  The guided round is normally fired from a lengthened seven-tube LAU-68F/A launcher, developed to accommodate the 1.799 metre Hydra-70 with M257/278 illuminating flare warhead.
The M152 and M282 warheads have also been approved for the APKWS, and PMA242 (the Navair project office for Direct and Time-Sensitive Weapons) has developed for this application the M149 Mod 0 flechette warhead.
The APKWS already has an effective range of 1,100 to 5,000 metres, and it is hoped later to clear it to a minimum firing range (from helicopters) of 500 metres.  By 2010 it had already met the system reliability requirement of 86%, this figure being the product of a 95% guidance reliability, 91% warhead reliability and 99% motor reliability.

I  Future Developments
In February 2011 the US Navy and Air Force awarded BAE Systems a $ 19.7 million, 27-month JCTD (Joint Concept Technology Demonstration) contract to develop a Fixed-Wing APKWS with explosively-deployed wings, to allow firings from fast jets, specifically the Republic A-10 and Boeing AV-8B.  (APKWS has already been fired from the Beechcraft AT-6 turboprop trainer.)
To minimise dispersion of the unguided Hydra-70, it has to be boosted quickly through the helicopter downwash, the rocket motor taking it to over Mach 2.0 in less than two seconds.  However, if the APKWS is launched from a fixed-wing platform, it peaks even faster, generating higher drag on the control wings as they deploy from the body.  In extreme, the wings will fail to deploy in time for their sensors to acquire the target, and the round will be unguided.
Central Command has issued a need statement for the APKWS to be integrated with the Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk, which would use the 19-tube LAU-61G/A launcher in place of the seven-tube LAU-68F/A.  The MH-60S would primarily use
the APKWS in defending surface vessels against fast attack craft.  A decision on this application is expected in FY2014.
Looking to the future, in September 2012 the US Navy awarded BAE Systems a contract to integrate APKWS on the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout drone.

I  Talon
Although the APKWS has the backing of the US Navy, and may be adopted by the US Air Force for its fast jets, it is possible that the US Army (requiring greater rocket numbers) will select a different system.  It is also conceivable that some market elements (especially in the context of ground-ground firings) may require lock-on before launch, ruling out APKWS.
The companies with most experience of producing seekers for laser-guided bombs are Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, both of which feel that the LGR battle is far from over.
Raytheon is developing its Talon under a co-operative agreement with the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Advanced Investment Group.  The guidance module with Raytheon’s Common Digital Seeker is attached to the front end of a Hydra-70 and control is effected by three fold-out canards.
Talon test firings have taken place from hovering and moving AH-64Ds, from a minimum range of 1,200 metres to a maximum of 6,000 metres.
If the United Arab Emirates places a launch order for the Talon to arm the AH-64D, the first conversion kits will be manufactured by Raytheon at Tucson, Arizona.  Manufacture of the guidance and control section will later be transferred to EAI, but the laser seeker will remain a Raytheon product.

I  Dagr
Lockheed Martin completed development of its Dagr (Direct Attack Guided Rocket) in December 2012, having made over 40 guided flights.  These included hits on both fixed and moving targets in both lock-on before and after launch modes at ranges from 1,500 to 6,000 metres, in daylight and total darkness, and in high winds.  The company has developed two- and four-tube launchers, and has also ground-launched the Dagr from a newly developed Hellfire/Dagr pedestal launcher.
Lockheed Martin has a contract with the US Army Joint Attack Munitions Systems programme office to manufacture Dagr missiles and rail-mounted canisters for unspecified use.  This may relate to press reports that Dagr is in limited production under US funding to arm Iraqi Air Force Mi-171s and ATK AC-208Bs, and Iraqi Army Air Corps Mi-17s.
System qualification of the Dagr is scheduled for early 2013, to be followed by airworthiness release testing on several rotary-wing platforms.  A further development is the Dagr/Hellfire Strike Kit (DHSK), a bolt-on fire control system for air and surface platforms.  The latter is evidently a reference to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle being developed to replace the Humvee.
This DHSK may be based on the four-Hellfire M299 rack that is carried below the port wing of some Hercules, and could be modified to take up to 16 Dagrs.  Such an installation is (at least) under consideration for the US Marine Corps KC-130J Harvest Hawk Capability II programme, and the Precision Strike Package for the Afsoc AC-130W Stinger and AC-130J.

I  Gatr
The basic design of the Hydra-70 dates from the early post-WW2 period, hence there may well be a market for a completely new design using modern materials.  One such missile is the 1.8-metre Gatr (Guided Advanced Tactical Rocket) being developed by Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Elbit Systems.
The Gatr retains the MK66 propellant grain used in Hydra-70, but has an advanced nozzle, and a new tail and warhead (by ATK), combined with a mature laser seeker by Elbit, as used on its Lizard LGB and Star (Smart Tactical Airborne Rocket).  The new warhead is available in two versions: penetrator and enhanced blast/fragmentation.
The Gatr can be used in either lock-on before and after launch modes and has a range of 8,000 metres.  It has been tested on the Bell OH-58D and Sikorsky/Elbit Armed Black Hawk (ABH), and is seen as a likely candidate for Israel’s  AH-64s and AH-1s.

I  Cirit
Another laser-guided 70 mm rocket, but developed from scratch, is the Roketsan
Cirit, named after a Turkish wooden sporting javelin traditionally used by cavalry
units.  Designed to fulfil a Turkish Army requirement associated with the new TAI T129 Atak helicopter (and the AH-1W), the Cirit has a maximum range of 8,000 metres.
The Cirit has a launch weight of 15 kg and a length of 1.90 metres.  Roketsan has developed two new warheads: one high explosive and the other a multi-purpose device combining armour penetration, anti-personnel and incendiary effects.  The company has also developed twin- and four-tube launchers for the new missile.
The Cirit can be fired in a Lobl mode, or cruise on inertial guidance (using a lightweight Goodrich IMU) with laser homing only in the terminal phase.  It can also be fired in an unguided mode with wings locked retracted, to deal with pop-up short-range targets.
In mid-2012 it was reported that 100 Cirits had been delivered to the Turkish military for R&D and qualification firings, and that 2,000 production units would
be manufactured for the Turkish Army.
The Cirit is also to be tested on the Eurocopter EC635.
At IDEX in Abu Dhabi in February 2013, it was announced that the United Arab Emirates had ordered Cirits to the value of approximately $196 million.
Although most LGR developments emphasise light weight and low collateral effects, some heavy guided rockets are being developed.  Notably, Russia has developed the laser-guided 122-mm S-13L and 340-mm S-25L.
In 2009-2010 MBDA tested the 127-mm Laser-Guided Zuni Rocket, developed under a CRDA (Cooperative R&D Agreement) with the Weapons Division of the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake, California. This missile has a nose-mounted WGU-58/B guidance and control module, weighs 68 kg and carries an 18 kg warhead for a distance of up to 16 km.  It featured in the US Marine Corps aviation weapons roadmap of 2007, but currently appears to be on the backburner.