AGM-176 Griffin

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AGM-176 Griffin
AGM-176 Griffin launch.jpg
Launch of a Griffin during testing
Type Air-to-ground missile
Place of origin  United States of America
Service history
In service 2008–
Used by United States Army
United States Air Force
Central Intelligence Agency
Wars War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Production history
Manufacturer Raytheon
Produced 2008–present
Specifications
Weight 45 pounds (20 kg) (w/ launch tube)
Length 42 inches (110 cm)
Diameter 5.5 inches (140 mm)

Warhead Blast-fragmentation
Warhead weight 13 lb (5.9 kg)

Propellant Solid fuel rocket
Operational
range
12.5 miles (20.1 km)
Guidance
system
Laser, GPS or INS
Launch
platform
MQ-1, MQ-9 and other UAVs

The AGM-176 Griffin is a lightweight, precision kinetic effects munition[1] developed by Raytheon. It has been designed to be launched from the ground or air as a rocket-powered missile or dropped from the air as a guided bomb. It is intended as a precision low-collateral damage weapon with a relatively small warhead for the kinds of "irregular warfare operations" encountered on battlefields such as Afghanistan where it has been successfully proven in combat.

Development[edit]

Raytheon developed Griffin as a low-cost modular system, using components from earlier projects, among others the FGM-148 Javelin and the AIM-9X Sidewinder. It was originally designed to be launched from the MC-130W 'Dragon Spear' gunship for the US Special Operations Command.

It has been adapted into a gravity-dropped precision munition dropped from a rear cargo-door and rocket-powered forward-firing missile configurations as a short-range air-to-surface missile and surface-to-surface missile which can be fired from UAVs as well as C-130 Hercules transport gunships and helicopters.[2]

Griffin has folding fins for tube-launching, with a 5.5 inch diameter. It can be guided either by a semi-active laser seeker or guided with GPS. Its precision combined with a relatively small 13-lb warhead reduces collateral damage.[3] Griffin A is unpowered and dropped by gravity. This air dropped munition weighs 33 lb and is 43 inches in length. It is launched from a 10-tube “Gunslinger” launcher that fits on the rear ramp of a Marine KC-130 tanker/transport that has been used in Afghanistan as an improvised alternative to expensive dedicated gunships. A paratroop door mounted launcher that can drop while the cabin is pressurized has also been developed.[4]

The Griffin Block II B is a forward-firing rocket powered missile for helicopter, aircraft and surface launching. It can be selected to engage the target with height of burst, point detonation or fuze delay. The US Navy has tested the Griffin as a shipboard missile guided by laser to score direct hits against fast-moving small boats; they planned to use it on the Littoral Combat Ships.[5] The missile version comprises less than half the weight of a Hellfire round and includes a 13 lb warhead. It has a range of 15 km when air-launched, or 5.5 km when launched from the surface. It has been fired from the US Army Remote weapon station, multi-round Wedge Launcher, Smart Launcher and Kiowa Warrior manned helicopters.

The missile is smaller than the Hellfire typically used by armed UAVs, which has the effect of reducing the potential for collateral damage and three Griffins can be carried in place of one Hellfire. The Griffin missile and launch assembly is also significantly lighter than the Hellfire, allowing more to be mounted on the payload-limited Predator.[6]

In 70 months of production from 2008 to early February 2014, Raytheon delivered 2,000 Griffin missiles.[7] In late February 2014, Raytheon demonstrated the improved Griffin Block III missile and achieved direct hits on static and moving targets. The Block III includes an improved semi-active laser seeker with enhanced electronics and signal processing and a new Multi-Effects Warhead System to maximize lethality against different targets.[8]

Naval use[edit]

Raytheon developed an extended range version of the Griffin for integration onto Littoral Combat Ships. The Sea Griffin has a new motor and guidance system to increase its firing range from an LCS. Raytheon faced competition in equipping the LCS with a missile, as the Navy looked for other vendors. Competition came from MBDA with the Sea Spear version of its Brimstone missile. Both missiles intended to give the LCS protection from small boat swarm attacks.[9] The Navy instead selected the AGM-114L Hellfire to equip the LCS. The decision was made from the ship's use of the Saab’s Sea Giraffe radar. While each Griffin requires a semi-active laser to paint a target, so a volley of them can only engage one target at a time, the Longbow Hellfire missiles can use the ship's and their own millimeter wave radar to separately track and engage multiple targets at the same time.[10]

In September 2013, Raytheon and the U.S. Navy demonstrated the Griffin missile's ability to engage fast-moving small boats from various platforms throughout a series of at-sea tests. The MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System was integrated on a Cyclone-class patrol ship, where the missile was successfully employed against remote-controlled boats simulating a threat to the ship.[11] The MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System achieved initial operational capability (IOC) with the U.S. Navy in March 2014, which is intended to provide protection for vessels in littoral areas against swarm boat attacks and other threats. The MK-60 includes the Griffin missile, a laser targeting system, a Navy-designed launcher, and a battle management system.[12] Each Mk-60 can launch four missiles, and a patrol ship has two MK-60 launchers on board.[13]

The U.S. Navy began installing Griffin missiles on Patrol Craft in 2013 and as of May 2014, four were outfitted with Griffin missile systems, with plans to equip ten PCs by 2016. When mounted on a ship, the missile is designated the BGM-176B. Arming PCs with Griffin missiles adds a layer of defense to the ships beyond the range of their 25 mm gun mounts, out to 4.5 km (2.8 mi), and also provides 360 degree coverage; the missiles have thrust-vectoring engines to quickly be directed to the target even when launched vertically. Installation onto a PC involves adding the launcher and weapons control system, the BRITE Star II sensor/laser designator, and the Griffin B Block II missile in a process taking one month. Raytheon is continuing to self-fund the development of the Sea Griffin to extend the missile's range. The Sea Griffin will use a dual-mode seeker with an imaging infrared seeker and semi-active laser guidance, as well as using a data-link to track multiple threats simultaneously and give it a fire-and-forget capability. The new seeker and an extended range rocket motor, which will add 20 lb (9.1 kg) of weight, will increase the range of the Sea Griffin to 15 km (9.3 mi).[13][14]

Specifications[edit]

Launch platforms[edit]

References[edit]