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The Pros And Cons Of The Harpoon Missile Essay

The UGM-84A, or the Harpoon missile is an anti-ship missiles capable of engaging a variety of targets. Through technological advancements, harpoons can now be incorporated into every naval platform in order to combat various enemies. With its built in radar, targets can now be detected at longer rangers and precisely eliminated. This radar system also allows for efficient guidance during flight path. Each missile has a different launch sequence, and varying bandwidths. This allows each to specialize in certain targets.

There are many advantages to using a harpoon, but like any other weapon, can be countered nd destroyed. Regardless of the disadvantages I believe Harpoons are an efficient means to combat enemies. I believe that they should not only continue to be used, but advanced and bettered. In my essay I shall briefly describe the developmental History, harpoon structure and architecture, launching system and sequence, system advantages and disadvantages, countermeasures, and finally conclude with its current use along with my reflection on the missile.

This Long ranged missile initially began as a requirement for the P-3C as an air-launched anti-surface vessel weapon. It was not seen as a ecessity for all platforms until the sinking of the Israeli ship Eilat by the Soviets in 1967. The following year, the US Navy began advanced research in anti-surface submarines missiles. An official proposal request was issued in January 1971, and within that year the McDonnell Douglas Corporation won the development contract. The name Harpoon was given to this project. The first harpoon, AGM-84A was only air-launched.

But with advancements in technology, ship launched (RGM-84A), and a submarine-launched (UGM-84A) missiles were developed. The first test missile flew on October 1972, and operational testing was completed by 1978. Pilot production began in 1975, and the missile entered the Navy with the USS Sterret (CG 31). The first UGM-84 became operational on Submarines in 1981, and since then, the harpoon has been used in several battles. The missile was utilized in Persian Gulf against Iraqi forces, as well as in engagement against Libyan Forces on March 24, 1986.

In September 1989 McDonnel Douglas received a contract to develop the Harpoon Block 1D. Along with the 1D, unarmed training versions were created. They were the ATM-84A, RTM-84A, and UTM-84A. In order to provide a more precision- attack air-launched weapon, Douglas created the SLAM (Stand- ff Land Attack Missile). This became functional in November 1988, and was test-fired by the USS Ticonderoga. Air Launched SLAM were later utilized in operation desert storm against Saddam’s Forces. The Harpoon is Slim and Cylindrical in form, with a cruciform wing-fin configuration.

In this configuration, the frontal wings are broad while the latter are narrower. Both wings and the fins are in cropped-delta formation. Near the lower wings is a flush air intake system . Internally, the harpoon is composed of a guidance system, a warhead, a propulsion and control section, and an integral booster. The guidance omponent consists of the Texas Instrument DSQ-28 , and a J- band Active radar seeker with a phased array radar. Following the guidance is the mid-course guidance unit including a Lear Sieger three dimensional platform, and an IBM digital computer.

This portion serves as the autopilot. The warhead compartment is composed of a transmitter, and receiver antenna. The Harpoon is powered by a Teledyne turbojet in aviation platforms, and solid-fueled rocket boosters for surface platforms. The armor piercing warhead weighs approximately 227 kg and contains a contact delay fuze . The propulsion compartment contains 45. kg of kerosene-based fuel . The Teledyne Turbojet gives a maximum thrust of 29. 2 kN. Behind it is an electrical Actuator, and a Thiokel booster. There are two surface launching systems, the Mark 140 Mod 0, and the Mark 141 Mod 1.

The Mark 140 is suitable for fast attack ships, while the Mark 141 is suitable for larger ships. The Mark 141 weighs 1. 81 Tonnes more than the Mark 140. Regardless of their weigh differences, both are capable of launching missiles at equal speeds. In order to prevent recoil, and damage the platforms are inclined at an launching system is faced forward. Each System is also equipped ith four containers to increase firing capability. The Mark 141 contains a shock resistant walls, with a support structure. Within the frontal tube are clamping frames, which hold the harpoon prior to launch.

The central, and rear ends are held by stacking frames which allow multiple missiles to be stacked together. These frames provide armor protection against corrosion, and the elements. The Mark 140 is similar to the Mark 141 except for its composition, and operational cycle. The Mark 140 has aluminum launchers designed for 15 refurbishment cycles. These containers are also held together by stacking frames, but re made with stronger metals. Submarine-launched harpoons are held in unpowered, buoyant capsules. These are structurally composed of a nose cap, the main body, and aft body.

The nose cap has pressure sensors, explosive bolts, and a nose removal rocket. The main body utilizes shock isolation rails to guide missile out during the exit phase. The missile is combined with a sabot assembly at the nose to provide support and protection. The sabot straps are discarded during the exit phase. The aft body is combined with the rear of the missiles by pyrotechnic bolts. Each submarine has up to four missiles. Within all latforms is a McDonnell Douglas weapon control system. The main components are the data system cabinet, weapon control, and an indicator panel.

There is also a data processer, an indicator panel, data conversion unit, launcher switching unit, ngle of 35 degrees, and the and launcher relay assemblies. Within the bridge is an engagement course indicator responsible for the ships heading, and weapon coverage. For Surface ships, data is received from the ship system, and processed by the fire-control system. This transmitted information provided target, and bearing range, and a flight plan is generated. For submarines, the Encapsulated Weapon System (EPWS), receives information through the ships fire control system.

The operator then selects the seeker search pattern mode, and the harpoon is launched at a high velocity. When the sensor recognizes the capsule is near the surface, the nose cap, and aft body are ejected, and the booster is ignited. The boosted burns for three seconds, and when it is in the air, the turbojet operates. Block 1A, and Block 1B missiles slightly differ in launch sequence (footnote this shit). Block 1A missiles suddenly climb to make a 30 degree dive on the target. The eeker optimizes the horizontal radar cross-section by making it adjustable.

Block 1B can either perform the terminal phase or utilize the sea-skimming method. Block 1B can fly to a relatively high altitude during its initial flight to avoid friendly masses, or intervening land masses. It can then approach the target by means of pre-selected waypoint . Block 1D missiles are designed for only air, and surface ship launch. It will be 65 cm longer than the previous forms due to its larger fuel tank. New wing slots, and batteries will be added. The missile will also be programmed to incorporate a faster central processing unit, and memory board of the Stand-off Land Attack Missile (SLAM).

The missile will engage the target by flying a clover leaf pattern. SLAM is a harpoon missile, but the seeker has been replaced by a Hughes imaging infra-red seeker, a data link, and Rockwell- Collins GPS. The missile is launched from a launcher-system supported by the aircraft. During the cruising phase, the autopilot receives information from the GPS receiver. This information confirms that the seeker is activated. Video image is sent through the data link to the crew who select a suitable trajectory for the missile. The missile is launched, and then nters an autonomous phase. Harpoon missiles offer many advantages.

It can be deployed by almost any surface, deters potential conflicts, and has a long range. The harpoon can be deployed from land, sea, and aviation platforms making it highly versatile. Its versatility allows it to be deployed in any environment, and target a wide range of enemies. Strategically, guided harpoons have a psychological effect on enemies. Their devastating fire power causes intimidation, and war deterrence, and increases the presence of the US navy. Its main attraction has always been its stand-off range. This range has kept missile out of reach of air defense, and made it difficult to detect.

They have long ranges, and can strike enemies from long ranges. Unfortunately, the main drawback has always been its financial burden. The fraction of warhead weight to the total weight has been statistically less than half, while the cost is 50 times or greater than regular guidance bombs. This is due to the complex guidance, and propulsion systems. Large scale bombardments in military campaigns have proved far too costly, and exceeded the military budget. In addition, the targets are usually heavily ortified, and thus more weapons are required.

The earlier Harpoons designs were easily detectable, but now due to their new radars are stealthier. Defense strategies for dealing with harpoons fall into two categories, the first is denial, or deterrence of launch and counterforce strategies, and the second, the interception of launched weapons. Denial strategies amount to threatening retaliation. The enemy will be less willing to attack if the retaliation attack will cripple them. Counterforce strategies amount to pre-emptive destruction of the opponent’s launching capability before the missile can be deployed.

This nvolves much more specific targeting, and depends on the type form used. Denial of launch strategy amounts to destroying the carrier of the harpoon, or destroying land bases holding them. This approach requires robust force structure, as well as good maritime and land strike capabilities, good air defense capabilities, and good anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. Interception of launched missiles has several challenges. These challenges include speed, missile capabilities, and radar performance. In order to utilize either deterrent or direct counterforce strategies, significant targeting, and strike capability is required.

An opposing force armed with weapons needs to be destroyed. This is accomplished by demolishing ground infrastructures, launching defense weapons on the ground, or by launching strikes against naval bases hosting warships or submarines. Although interiecting missile carriers presents difficult challenges. This strategy is riskier than counterforce strikes but achieves similar results by inflicting large damage on the opposing force. When this interjection fails, the strategy is to engage them before they reach their targets. Thus launch platforms must be detected, tracked, and engaged. Then the Harpoons must be destroyed.

There are two antiharpoon defenses mechanisms, submarine, and aviation. Submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) defense is necessary for defeating any sort of missile. Although, its range determines its effectiveness. A shorter range forces the submarine into small zones, and makes the target easier to shoot. SLCMS cannot be easily defended against. The enemies constantly require airborne, and ground patrols. A petrol aircraft has the ability to counter submarines if it is equipped with radar capability. The x-band active phase radar will be suitable for this task. Its bandwidth can detect a broader range, and sense the target.

Air-launched cruise missiles, once launched are similar to SLCMs. The only difference is that more is required of the pilot, and a higher intercept radar performance. A X-band surveillance radar is used to detect, track, and engage both launch craft, and launching missile. Harpoons are constantly used around the world to deter enemies, and combat hostilities. They are not only used by the United States, but by other nations. They are no longer constructed by McDonnell Douglas, but by Boeing. Under Boeing, the missile will be modified, and have a longer attack range. Also the warhead will have a different composition.

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