How Anti Ship Missiles Are Different Than Other Missiles

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Brahmos salvo in Sea-Skimming mode. Art by - Saurav Chordia
Brahmos salvo in Sea-Skimming mode. Art by - Saurav Chordia

Battleships are the biggest nightmare for the enemy navy. The battlefield has changed a lot since the very existence of battleships. The weapon on board battleships are evolved from guns to missiles and now lasers are being tested on some ships. When the ships were on the evolution the weapons to destroy them were also getting deadly.

In the previous wars, ships were targeted by torpedoes and guns. In modern warfare, guns and torpedoes have very limited appearance in the anti-ship roles. The role is taken over by a more sophisticated, faster and more lethal weapon systems, it is simply called Anti-Ship Missiles. The name is simple but the working concept of the anti-ship is very rigid and it gives no chance to the enemy to defend itself.

British Destroyer launching Torpedoes from their Battleship
British Destroyer launching Torpedoes from their Battleship

Anti-Ship Missiles are very fast movers with heavy load of warhead. The aim to penetrate the ship and inflict heavy damage to the enemy vessels, which ultimately leads to its sinking most of the time. The Anti-Ship Missile possess various other capabilities but one of them make them almost invincible. The anti-ship missile can sea-skimming to very long distance.

What is sea skimming?

Sea Skimming is that phase of the path of the missile, where it travels very close to the surface of the sea. The sea-skimming is very effective because it is very hard to track and intercept any incoming missile for a ship. The roundness of the earth adds an advantage in the late detection of the missile. Even when the missile is exposed, still the target have very small target which is coming fast towards them at very fast speed.

Brahmos salvo in Sea-Skimming mode. Art by - Saurav Chordia
Brahmos salvo in Sea-Skimming mode. Art by – Saurav Chordia

How an anti-ship missile does sea-skimming?

Sea-Skimming is very tough thing to do, sometime it become easy if the ocean is the with the missile but sometimes the missile have to manoeuvre a lot to stay on it’s path. It is not just telling the missile to fly at low altitude. The sea-skimmers actually have a radio-altimeter that constantly measure the position of the missile with respect to the sea surface and controls this position through a guidance & control loop.

Counter measures against sea-skimmers

Sea-skimming is very effective way to take out any target. There are few navies in the world who have capability and equipment to counter any incoming sea-skimmer.

Interestingly, many modern navies around the world still use the old way to counter a modern weapon system. CIWS or Close in Weapon System is particularly the mainstay to counter any incoming anti-ship sea skimmers. The weapon under CIWS category automatically searches, detect and track sea-skimmers. After detection the weapon system fire about 4,500 rounds per minute.

CIWS - AK630
CIWS – AK630

 

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