10 March 2016
The mainstay of the American surface fleet today is its cruiser/destroyer (CRUDES) force, comprising 22Ticonderoga-class cruisers and 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Equipped with the state-of-the-art Aegis combat system, these ships are among some of the most formidable naval platforms in the world. However, their anti-surface warfare (ASuW) repertoire leaves much to be desired because of the neglect of this form of combat since the end of the Cold War. As of late, however, Washington has been taking concrete steps to get its CRUDES complement back into the maritime-strike business again.
Earlier this week, American defense firm Raytheon announced that the destroyer USS John P. Jones had successfully tested in January the new ASuW capability of the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) on a decommissioned frigate, sinking it. This came after the revelation by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last month that the surface-to-air missile, which is manufactured by Raytheon, was being modified to attack ships. He said, “We are going to create a brand-new capability. We’re modifying the SM-6 so that in addition to missile defense, it can also target enemy ships at sea at very long ranges. This is a new anti-ship mode. It makes the SM-6 basically a twofer.”
To a certain extent, the advent of the dual-purpose SM-6, which could be stored aboard every Ticonderoga- and Arleigh Burke-class vessel, would alleviate the ASuW deficiency endemic in the U.S. surface fleet. This is because the modified SM-6 will extend the striking reach of each American cruiser/destroyer and equip every single one of them with a credible anti-ship capacity.
… Ben Ho Wan Beng is a Senior Analyst with the Military Studies Programme at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and he holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the same institution. Ben has a profound interest in naval affairs, and his work in this area has been published in the likes of Breaking Defense, RealClearDefense, The Diplomat, as well as The Center for International Maritime Security’s NextWar blog.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 11/03/2016