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.