Are small missile boats useful in naval warfare? | World Defense

Are small missile boats useful in naval warfare?

vash

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I know these days the ships are getting bigger again. A lot of frigates are built in the range of 6,000~7,000 tons. While destroyers are approaching the size of cruisers of over 10,000 tons. The reason is simple, the bigger the platform, the more capability it can have due to the space available on board for equipment. The larger the ship, it can also hold more fuel and ammunition for a longer mission / battle.


At the same time, for some reason a lot of countries are also building small missile boats of a only a few hundred tons where it can operated by only a dozen people.

For example:
China's Type 022 missile boat.
It is small, fast, stealthy. It carries anti-ship missiles, and it even got a CIWS.



I wonder how such small warships will perform in a naval battle against much larger warships such as frigates and destroyers.
Any opinion?
 

Susimi

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Personally I cannot see them going up against a destroyer for instance. A good captain would be able to counter lets say 5 of them attacking simultaneously, but then again I can't see their main purpose being anti-ship warfare, unless I am completely wrong.

I can see them being used for small hit and run raids against surface targets. Getting in within missile range, launching their fire and then running off into the night again.
 

vash

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Well, I agree they stand no chance against larger warships with more sophistic radar senors (if) they are on their own. Obviously the bigger the warship, the better sensor packages it can carry, and thus making it easier to detect and target enemy vessels at longer range (if they can see through the stealth or not misidentify the small missile boats as some fishing boats).

Yet, what if both sides have outside support? Early warning aircraft, anyone? As well as what if there are other larger warships in the vicinity to provide shared sensor data?

In such case, these small missile boats do not even need to turn on their own radar. They can just use the shared radar data from friendly force to do the targeting.

As the matter of fact, I have read that the missiles carried on these missile boats can even be directly guided by other warships or warplanes all the way to the enemy (way beyond the targeting capability of their own boats).

So basically I think the tactics of using these missile boats are to stay stealthy, sneak up to enemy high valued targets and fire all anti-ship missiles then run like hell. Or just stay from a relative safe distance and fire the missiles and let them to be guided to the enemies by other larger warships or aircraft.

Well, that is just my opinion. I am still not sure if their small size and stealth features can allow them to sneak up to the enemy undetected or misidentified by the enemy.
After all, according to wikipedia,
Displacement: 220 long tons (224 t) full load
Length: 42.6 m (139 ft 9 in)
Beam: 12.2 m (40 ft 0 in)
Draught: 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in)
Crew: 12
Max speed: 36 knots
8 anti-ship missiles (C801/802/803)
MANPAD surface-to-air missiles
6-barrel 30mm Gatling gun as CIWS

Also according to wiki, China has already built 83 of these missile boats.
 

Scorpion

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Yes there are very useful for escort and quick/rapid intervention because of their mobility and armament.
 

Gasoline

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The small missile boats still can be a nightmare for frigates and destroyers. The tech is growing fast and now these small boats can carry advanced equipment such as radars,fire control systems and guided missiles with long ranges which can bring the damage to a well armed frigate/destroyer.

The frigates and destroyers deals with the threats from safe distance (detect and destroy) and the best working environment for them is the open seas, but due to the limitations in maneuverability and speed, they can't work properly in shallow/coastal waters. For that reason, we can see the leading countries in defense industry such as the U.S keep developing a special type of combat ships known as LCS [Littoral combat ship] with great capabilities in defense, attack and maneuverability. LCS is less capable than destroyers, but it's very useful in the missions that requires flexibility and high speed.


If we would take the USS Freedom class LCS-1 , as an example :





  • Displacement: 3,500 t (3,900 short tons) (full load)
  • Length: 378 ft (115 m)
  • Installed power: Electrical: 4 Isotta Fraschini V1708 diesel engines, Hitzinger generator units, 800 kW (1,100 hp) each
  • Propulsion: 2 Rolls-Royce MT30 36 MW(48,000 hp) gas turbines, 2 Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, 4 Rolls-Royce waterjets
  • Speed: 47 knots (87 km/h; 54 mph) 0O\
  • Range: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
  • Endurance: 21 days (336 hours)
  • Boats & landing craft carried: 11 m (36 ft) Rigid-hulled inflatable boat, 40 ft (12 m) high-speed boats
  • Complement: 50 core crew, 98 or more with mission package and air detachment crew (Blue and Gold crews)
  • Sensors and processing systems:
  1. EADS TRS-3D 3D air and surface search radar
  2. Lockheed Martin COMBATSS-21 combat management system
  3. AN/SQR-20 Multi-Function Towed Array (As part of ASW mission module)
  • Electronic warfare & decoys:
  1. Argon ST WBR-2000 ESM system
  2. Terma A/S SKWS decoy system
  • Armament:
  1. 1 x BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun, 400 rounds in turret and two ready service magazines with 240 rounds each.
  2. 4 x .50-cal machine guns
  3. 2 x Mk44 Bushmaster II 30mm guns
  4. 21 x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe MissileSurface-to-Air Missiles
  5. Other weapons as part of mission modules
  • Aircraft carried:
1 x MH-60R/S Seahawk
MQ-8 Fire Scout










Flexible, fast and it has good capabilities in surface warfare. The TRS-3D radar can cover up to 200 km and it can detect small targets with up to 400 targets covering 360 degree !

Not only that, the radar also can detect the fast and low flying missiles and take the countermeasures automatically in a short time. I don't think small missile boats would think to mess with these ships, if so it would be just like self-destruction.|0|


BTW, the LCS ships comes in different sizes and capapilites based on the size. The one I've just mentioned is the smallest one (LCS-1), still there are LCS-2 and LCS-3 as shown in the pic:


 

vash

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@ Gasline,
I think the ships you have mentioned are in a completely different class since it is in the range of over 3,000 tons, and it can even carry its own chopper. It is more like a very large corvette, or a small frigate in my opinion. :)

The missile boat I was talking about was only 224 tons fully loaded. It still got its own radars, anti-air and anti-ship missiles, as well as CIWS for defense. But it has only 12 crews onboard, without extra room for even a bicycle. :p Ok, maybe there is, but I doubt a bicycle will be useful there.

There is a more than 15x difference in size. Even if your ship is misidentified by the enemy, they'd see it as a merchant ship. The 224-ton small boat would totally be seen as fishing boat if it is not moving at 36 knots.
 

remnant

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These small missile boats operate at close proximity to land as they lack seakeeping all round defense capabilities in the blue waters. Size also limits the fuel stores and water supplies. The main advantage over other ships is its affordability allowing a disadvantaged country to defend itself against a larger adversary. When armed with the same weapons as its larger counterparts, they can pose a serious threat but are vulnerable to aerial threats.
 

vash

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These small missile boats operate at close proximity to land as they lack seakeeping all round defense capabilities in the blue waters. Size also limits the fuel stores and water supplies. The main advantage over other ships is its affordability allowing a disadvantaged country to defend itself against a larger adversary. When armed with the same weapons as its larger counterparts, they can pose a serious threat but are vulnerable to aerial threats.

Come on, even a lot of fishing boats can go hundreds miles from the shore without a problem. These 224-ton little boats are military grade, which means they are far superior to civilian boats. And they are zipping fast at 36 knots. I agree that due to the small size they can't hold a lot of fuel, ammunition, food, water, and other supplies, but then again they do not need a lot of supplies to be fully stocked. They can be resupplied at the sea easily if there is the need to. I wouldn't be surprised if these ships operate in small groups with one supply ship following behind them in relative safe distance.

I am not so sure they are that vulnerable to aerial threats. They have their radars, anti-aircraft missiles, as well as a 6-barrel 30mm Gatling gun as CIWS. So they are armed to teeth with air defense weapons, although it is not meant for area defense.

The only thing they do not have is anti-submarine equipment. But they are so small and stealthy, maybe submarine will have a hard time to find them too lol.
 
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explorerx7

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There is definitely a need for this type of equipment. Many persons equate that it may only be large awesome vessels with that may be warfare nowadays. These smaller vessels possess the capability of taking down those giant vessels. I can remember the U-Boats in the last world war. Those small submarines were able to create havoc amongst the large fleet of vessels. The large vessels do not possess the speed and maneuverability of the smaller vessels. Therefore, the smaller vessels would be more suitable for supporting and protecting the larger vessels and to be engaged in lightning commando raids and coastal defence.
 

vash

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These ships are great in theory, but since there is no real naval combat involved these ships, so I can't be sure if the theory can be proven right. One of the major theory is that, since these ships are cheap to mass produce, and you only need 12 crews for every one of them. In a battle, you can have dozens of them swarm an enemy fleet. Each of these little boats carries 8 anti-ship missiles, so just 30 of them can fire 30 x 8 = 240 anti-ship missiles. Possibility from multiple directions if timed the coordinated attack perfectly. I do not think any area defense or point defense can take on more than a few dozens incoming missiles at once, and I am talking about an entire fleet of carrier group. So in theory, swam tactics of these ships might even pose a great threat to an aircraft carrier.
 

vash

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No one else got an opinion? :)

I thought we were having fun here discussing the possible scenarios involving these small, fast, stealthy missile boats. Come on, we need more input and discussions.

If anyone else know of similar missile boats, please post their information here too!
If anyone knows of actual combat history of small missile boats, I am all ear. :)
 

Murica

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These ships are great in theory, but since there is no real naval combat involved these ships, so I can't be sure if the theory can be proven right. One of the major theory is that, since these ships are cheap to mass produce, and you only need 12 crews for every one of them. In a battle, you can have dozens of them swarm an enemy fleet. Each of these little boats carries 8 anti-ship missiles, so just 30 of them can fire 30 x 8 = 240 anti-ship missiles. Possibility from multiple directions if timed the coordinated attack perfectly. I do not think any area defense or point defense can take on more than a few dozens incoming missiles at once, and I am talking about an entire fleet of carrier group. So in theory, swam tactics of these ships might even pose a great threat to an aircraft carrier.
I agree with this for sure. The weapons-to-size ratio of smaller vessels is fairly high and probably a good bit more than on your larger ships. Smaller boats can move faster and create sheer volume problems for enemies. Paired with larger ships like destroyers and battleships, you have a formidable little fleet.
 

vash

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I agree with this for sure. The weapons-to-size ratio of smaller vessels is fairly high and probably a good bit more than on your larger ships. Smaller boats can move faster and create sheer volume problems for enemies. Paired with larger ships like destroyers and battleships, you have a formidable little fleet.
There is actually no more battleship in service. None was built after WWII, and the last one to decommission was in the 1990s. They had proven to be ineffective in everything else but shore bombardment with their big guns. These days the best navies are centered around the aircraft carriers, with escorting cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and maybe a few submarines. There is no battleship, they are either museums now, or they are collecting algae somewhere in a dump.
 
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