Navy Test-Fires Griffin Missiles from PC Boats

Navy patrol coastal ships recently test fired laser-guided precision missiles at moving targets during a recent exercise with the Griffin missiles in the Persian Gulf, service officials said.

So far, the Navy has outfitted four PCs with Raytheon-built Griffin B surface-launched, laser-guided missiles able to hit targets at ranges up to 4 kilometers. The USS Typhoon, USS Firebolt, USS Sirocco and USS Whirlwind are the four PCs configured with the Griffin, said ,” Lt. Joe Hontz, the Navy’s 5th Fleet spokesman.

The Navy plans to have ten PCs equipped with Griffins by 2016, he added.

“The strategy of upgrading the PC’s with the Griffin missile system was to give the ships a more robust capability to defend against multiple surface threats. The Griffin missile system enhances the PC’s self-defense capabilities overall,” said Hontz.

Raytheon developers say arming the PCs with Griffin missiles provides a new layer of defensive technology to the platform.

“The Navy has a layered defense. This is the first time they have been able to extend their defense beyond gun range, now you’ve pushed that defensive capability out to four and half kilometers. Once you’ve identified the threat you can start engaging them sooner,” said Steve Dickman, Griffin program director, Raytheon.

Dickman also said the Griffin employs a dual-mode navigational technology using semi-active laser technology and a GPS-aided Inertial Navigation System.

The idea is to give the 179-foot long, shallow-water PCs the ability to destroy targets at ranges farther than their on-board guns can reach, therefore strengthening their counter-terrorism and counter-piracy mission ability while also increasing their ability to protect commercial shipping.

The installation of Griffin missiles on-board PCs began in 2013, Hontz explained.

“The process begins with the installation of the launcher and weapons control system, Forward Looking Infra-Red Systems’ BRITE Star II sensor/laser designator, and Raytheon’s Griffin B (Block II) missile. The installation process takes about a month to install,” he added.

The 25-foot wide PCs have an eight-foot draft and can reach speeds up to 35 knots. With a crew of 28, the ships are equipped to stay at sea for periods up to 10 days. Many PCs stationed at 5th fleet headquarters in Bahrain are equipped with enhanced communication suites, improved navigation systems and an improved diesel engine control system. They also have two stabilized, electro-optic 25mm gun mounts, Hontz added.

“What’s unique about Griffin is it can provide 360-degree coverage for the ship,” Dickman added.

Raytheon is also developing its SeaGriffin variant which involves a Raytheon-funded effort to develop, demonstrate and ultimately deliver a missile with improved range and a dual-mode seeker, Dickman said.

The SeaGriffin uses an extended range rocket motor and a dual-mode seeker which uses an imaging infrared seeker as well as semi-active laser guidance, he added.  The SeaGriffin will make use of a data-link designed to track multiple threats simultaneously and be able to strike targets at ranges out to 15 kilometers, Dickman said.

Testing of the SeaGriffin is slated to continue this year, Raytheon officials said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • blight_

    The PC’s which the Navy stopped procuring?

    If LCS falls through they may want to look into that 8-cell tactical-length VLS for the Perrys, or put Griffin launch systems on the Perry.

    At this rate the PC will be an effective littoral combatant and small-boat destroyer.

    • Praetorian

      Why does the Navy still list the Perry class as FFG ? After it was defanged from it’s missile system it should be labeled as FF.

      • blight_


      • shipfixr

        Why does the Navy still use the term “SSN” or “CVN” when there are no non-nuclear submarines or aircraft carriers? Why does the Navy arbitrarily class ships outside the normal procedure such as “SSN-21”?

        • CPowell

          My understanding is that it is leaving open a non-nuclear future designation set. It remains possible for a non-nuc boat to be built, whatever its fuel may be — or some future incident makes nuclear power “unacceptable”

    • shipfixr

      The Navy procured all the PC’s it set out to; I’m hearing there is an improved version in the works.
      The Perry class FF’s are soon to be gone from the active fleet; they took the missile system off all of them over 10 years ago. This WOULD be a good system for the LCS.

      • blight_

        I thought they were going to put this on the LCS. It’d make a good system for UAVs or UboatV’s to engage speedboats and missile boats, or to attack maritime targets such as oil rigs, civilian shipping and port facilities.

        • moose

          They were going to put Griffin on LCS, but recently changed that plan. They will now put surface-launch Longbow Hellfire missiles on LCS, with an eye toward JAGM later on.

      • PolicyWonk

        Agreed. But the addition of the Griffin makes the PC’s (for their size) better armed than the LCS (hmmm… now that I think abut it, the PC’s are better armed for their size anyway).

    • Jim EW1

      What Perrys? They will ALL be out of service by end of next year

      • blight_

        With less than a dozen left, that’s highly likely.

  • andy

    What about the Rail gun?

    • Guest

      No way on a ship this small.

    • NakedWeasel

      That’s a land-strike weapons concept, probably a decade away from initial operation capability.

  • oblatt22


  • Lance Brown

    So its a Navalised Hellfire missile to be used against. small attack boats

    • Guest

      Similar, but Griffin is about half the weight and has about half the range of a Hellfire.

  • hibeam

    Archie Griffin is considered among the greatest ever to play college football - after all, he’s the only player ever to win two Heisman trophies, back-to-back. But he wasn’t a quarterback so this makes no sense.

    • tiger

      You know, Your comedy is improving.

      • PukinPutin

        Re: tigress…We’re just clowns in the clouds

  • Rob C.

    I’m glad their making progress on the getting the Griffins into service on these smaller boats. However, it doesn’t make up for the lack that Fast Attack Craft which is roughtly same tonnage as this ship, has heavier weaponry.

    For sure its meant to deliever seals and do basic patrols, but its still undergun for its size and missions the Navy throws it into.

  • Big-Dean

    good thing they didn’t try this on the LCS, they would first have to design and build the small moving target boat attack missile module (or SMTBAMM)

    but the SMTBAMM module will cost $6 billions dollars and require 7 years of test and development AND of course Lockhead Martin will be the contractor

  • PukinPutin

    We have rockeets in our pockeets, time to AMRAAM their JDAMS !

  • Matthew Jacobs

    Just curious, does the laser have to be on target all the way to target which means you have to take each target one at a time, or does it have the ability to split, where you have the ability to track and paint multiple targets’ at the same time, assigning each target with it’s own missile?

    • ronaldo

      Excellent question !

      • Juramentado

        Yes, the laser is required to remain on target for the entirety of the weapon’s flight. This is why the PC crews don’t consider the Griffin to be much of an improvement to their kinematic abilities. Ask any crew member, they’ll take Hellfire or the Navalized Version of Brimstone called Sea Spear. You can designate then hand off to the wep’s on-board sensors, switch to next target.

  • Chuang Shyue Chou

    This does sound like a worthy programme.

  • Beno


    fire and forget, ripple fire, 20km

    Cant buy it thought because its UK apparently

    • d. kellogg

      Yet we can buy an Australian designed hull for one of the LCS types?

      Give it time: if the UK does finalize and purchase CAMM, it would be an ideal “tactical length” VLS missile for the SAM role the current LCS seriously lacks. All that’s then needed is a suitable SSM: in the CAMM’s volume, we can do better than SeaGriffin.
      Considering all the other “euro-systems” the LCS contains, a missile design isn’t hard to fathom.

    • Rhys F

      They ought to.. the Brimstone is just a Hellfire chassis and warhead with an improved onboard radar (as opposed to Laser seeker) fire-and-forget seeker.
      Do what the Brits did and swap the seeker on the Hellfire out for something else, maybe an off-the-shelf Javelin seeker.
      F-n-F is the key to task management now,

  • Wallygator

    That is the size and class of boat I would expect that sort of weapon system to be fitted on - not something like the LCS

  • David B Xanten

    Seems like a very small warhead. Didn’t do that much damage to the boat itself, can only assume that any people would have been killed. I agree that if it can only engage one target at a time it is worthless against a swarm of small attack boats.
    It seems that the Navy needs a fire and forget system with a larger warhead.

  • Wordell

    The missile did not do much damage. Seeing this, if I were the “HMFIC”, I’d say I want to see a few more tests against more fortified sea going targets, and if what I think will happen…happens……this useless “missile defense system” is cancelled.

    • d. kellogg

      Query “Battleaxe” warhead and reactive materials.
      We still are far from fitting optimized warheads on a number of these small form missiles.
      We have the impressive 3P warheads and pre-fragmented shells the 57mm gun fires: if we scale that capability into a missile warhead of 5-7inches in diameter, there aren’t a lot of even LCS-sized corvettes that could withstand a couple of those bursting in their upperworks and destroying every radar system and electro optic fire control component, shower the bridge crew with frags, etc…
      This generation of ships does not have armored superstructures like WW2 vessels had.

      • d. kellogg


        Pages 21-22 of the pdf: the 57mm round generates >8000 fragments and pellets: scale that up to a larger missile body, and the potential devastation (lethality zone) is apparent: ship’s electrical systems, waveguides, radar arrays, optical systems cannot function after such an airburst in close proximity: the effective destruction would reduce the ship to visual target engagement only, if enough of the crew are even still intact enough to fight.

        Its potential is even more realized if we “porcupine” it: make its casing composed of layers of flechettes instead of pellets, a claymore effect but with thousands of 1-to-2-inch long darts.
        This is in the form of a 2.75inch rocket.
        Now imagine it 5, 6, or 7 inches in diameter (Griffin/Hellfire)…

  • Allen

    Griffin is a joke, and it’s a flat out lie that Griffin is good for the Navy. It’s a boondoggle for the contractor.

    Griffin is a terrible missile TOTALLY unsuited to the role it’s being touted for, because it has low range, an indequate warhead, very slow speed, difficulty targeting hi-speed targets, and the abilty to target only one enemy at a time. In fact, Griffin has severe targeting problems in rainy or foggy weather.

    The Navy RIGHT NOW could go out and buy navalised Hellfire missile launchers from friendly countries like Sweden or Turkey, who would love to sell their hardware the USA. In fact, lots of nations have manufactured navalised Hellfire launchers (stablised, complete with targeting systems, low purchase cost, etc.) for years.

    Or the Navy could buy dirt cheap 40 mk. 4 naval guns. Those things weight 2 1/2 tons all-in with 100 40 mm rounds, require zero deck penetration, fire 3-p multi-function sensor-fused ammunition, reach out to 12 kilometres, and devastate small boats. And I’ll say it again: they’re cheap.

    But Raytheon wouldn’t get paid so much for a low cost, off-the-shelf solution, would it?

    So Raytheon reinvents the wheel, and makes the wheel late, expensive, and cr*ppy.

    • d. kellogg

      The same BAE who absorbed UDLP, who made the USN’s 5inch and 76mm guns, and is license-producing the 57mm guns in the US for the LCS, is the same BAE who, if customer wants, could just as well start up a production line in the US for the 40mm L70 series gun systems as well.
      Granted though, I am more a fan of Italy’s “Fast Forty” variant that they redesigned and optimized with a burst fire rate of 450rpm (burst, not sustained).
      Raytheon doesn’t do naval guns, only missiles.

      For the money, the USN could just as well adopt the whole family of Israel’s Spike missiles, covering all bases from close-in work (1000m) to beyond visual (20+km), but it would never be PC if we were ever fighting islamic adversaries with “jew-supplied” weapons.

      Pardon me while I lube up my Chain Gun with bacon grease.

  • Lobot

    You are correct!
    The range and “hitting power” did seem rather small..and it’s 2014, for goodness sakes, not 1980. The Mk4 guns and off the shelf missile systems can already do what Griffin might do operationally. How did anyone think this was a good idea?