Tag Archives: Griffin missile

Griffin it up

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 05, 2021) The Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Firebolt (PC 10) fires a Griffin missile during a test and proficiency fire in the Arabian Gulf, Nov. 5, 2021. Firebolt, assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 55, is supporting maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aleksander Fomin) 211105-A-PX137-0082

Technically the BGM-176B Griffin B, or the Sea Griffin, is the navalized ground-launched version of Raytheon’s low-cost (compared to more advanced missiles) 34-pound bunker/tank buster that was lighter than the Hellfire used by the Army was originally designed for use from helicopters, UAVs and Marine KC-130s/USAF MC-130s.

Originally pitched as an add-on for the LCS to enable it to zap especially rowdy pirates and asymmetric fast boat threats, the 13-pound warhead would only really be effective against a larger ship in the case of bridge shots and needs an operator with a semi-active laser to paint a target. With that, the Navy opted for a modified Longbow Hellfire– which can use the ship’s radar and be used against multiple targets at once– for the LCS, along with the Naval Strike Missile for heavy work.

However, adopted as the MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System (GMS), the chunky Griffin B has been getting it done on the 170-foot Cyclones, in twin four-cell topside mounts, since 2013. This gives each of these short boys eight decently powerful close-in (3-5nm) missiles, coupled with the ability to use the ship’s mast-mounted Bright Star EO/IR camera for targeting, which gives them a solid stand-off capability against Iranian Boghammars and similar threats. 

Personally, I’d like to see it installed on the Coast Guard’s very similar 158-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, at least for the six of the class intended to operate forward deployed with PATFORSWA in the Persian Gulf under CENTCOM. They could also likely be of use on the USCG’s increasingly WestPac units of the same class

Video of Firebolt’s recent test:

 

Getting some live-fire Griffin time in

Five TF55-based Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships —USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Squall (PC 7), USS Chinook (PC 9), USS Firebolt (PC 10) and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12)— recently had the chance to sling Griffin SSMs at moving target sleds to demonstrate their ability to hit surface targets, like small boats.

170718-N-VG873-0159 ARABIAN GULF (July 18, 2017) A griffin missile is launched from the coastal patrol ship USS Chinook (PC 9) during a test and proficiency fire. USS Chinook is one of 10 coastal patrol ships assigned to Coastal Patrol Squadron (PCRON) 1, which is forward deployed in Manama, Bahrain, in support of maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin L. Simmons/Released)

The tests came late last month, around the time of increased Iranian challenges in international waters from Revolutionary Guard small craft in the PG.

The MK 60 Griffin Missile System uses a four-cell box launcher about the size of a Barcalounger, with one each mounted port and starboard on the 179-foot PC, giving them 8 modified Hellfire missiles at hand to regulate small craft–and I would bet low/slow-flying aircraft as well.

The system began fielding in 2015 and uses a Battle Management System (BMS) based on a ruggedized “Toughbook” laptop is operated from the bridge drawing from target imagery from the ship’s mast-mounted Bright Star EO/IR camera. Range is listed at 3nm, but is likely a good bit longer.

While the 13-pound warhead isn’t likely to sink a frigate, it and the kinetic energy of the missile itself is probably good enough to scratch anything less than 100-footer while a salvo of four (as they can be ripple fired to the same illuminated target) could ruin the day of a corvette-sized warship if needed. Good news is they can’t be chaffed or EW’d away due to the IR nature of their warhead seeker. Bad news is the target has to be lit up the whole time by Bright Star which limits a shoot-and-scoot engagement.

PCS-1 and their Griffins

The Navy really didn’t like the Cyclone class patrol craft (PC), the 170-foot long coastal patrol boats built for the Naval Special Warfare community in the 1990s to replace the old Mekong Delta style 65-foot PB Mk III boats.

Originally the plan was to order 16 of these craft, then it was cut to 14, then when the Navy got them they quickly gave class leader Cyclone to the Philippines and decommissioned four others, turning them over to the Coast Guard for use as medium endurance cutters, leaving the Big Blue with just 9 ships which they were kinda OK with because they just used them to putter around Little Creek anyway.

150317-N-SF508-627 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (March 17, 2014) The Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) leads other coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1) in formation during a divisional tactics exercise. PCRON-1 is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki/Released)

150317-N-SF508-627 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (March 17, 2014) The Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) leads other coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1) in formation during a divisional tactics exercise. PCRON-1 is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki/Released) CLICK TO BIG UP

150317-N-SF508-274 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (March 17, 2014) The Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) and other coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1) transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise.PCRON 1 is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki/Released)

150317-N-SF508-274 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (March 17, 2014) The Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) and other coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1) transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise.PCRON 1 is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki/Released) CLICK TO BIG UP

Then came the heightened post-Saddam tensions with Iran in the Persian Gulf and, with the Navy suddenly looking for their small boats again, the Coast Guard was forced to give back their Cyclones and ten of the ships were sent to Manama, Bahrain where they serve as the force that keeps the Straits of Hormuz open as PCRON1 (the other craft are stationed at Mayport).

They are among the smallest ships in the fleet and get rode hard

They have been augmented with the MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System to help defend against Iranian swarm attacks if needed. The system uses the AGM-176 Griffin, a 35-pound four foot long Frankenstein cobbled together from the Javelin and Sidewinder– but it carries a 13 pound blast fragmentation warhead and has a range of 5 miles, which will scratch the paint job of a Boghammar speedboat pretty good while outraging the RPGs, Dhsk guns and unguided rockets typically carried by those asymmetric craft by a bit.

Five coastal patrol ships (PC) and their crews, assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 55, conducted a test and proficiency fire on the Griffin Missile System (GMS) June 26-28. CTF 55 supports maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the 5th fleet area of responsibility. Also available in high definition. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns/Released)

USN Tests Griffin For Littorial

To give the lightly armed LCS, the remaining 179-foot Cyclone class coastal patrol craft, and the new 85-foot MK VI boats, the US Navy is testing the lightweight Griffin missile. This economical ($45,000 a pop, which is cheap as far as this type of stuff goes) little bottle rocket is just the thing for splashing a small boat (such as a Iranian Boghammer) or a quiet sea-side hut full of pirates. Small in profile, it can be used in an 8-pack launcher that is all above deck, fitting in any area that can accept a Mk38 sized mount.

Cheap and effective, the Griffin is smaller even than the vaunted Hellfire missile. And they could be coming to a LCS near you.

Cheap and effective, the Griffin is smaller even than the vaunted Hellfire missile. And they could be coming to a LCS near you.

Designed for small UAVs to be used in precision strikes against buildings and vehicles, the AGM-176 Griffin has a proven track record in air-to-ground use. The 45-pound missile uses components of the FGM-148 Javelin and the AIM-9X Sidewinder. It can send a 13-pound warhead guided by laser, GPS, or INS out to 12-miles. The Navy is at least using a proven missile for once. In its surfaced launched version it can reach out to 5500-meters (3.5-miles), which is still well past the range of heavy machine guns and RPGs which are the probable weapons of any small boats that the Griffin would defend against.

One has been mounted on the USS Monsoon (PC-4) for trials and seems to work just fine so far.