TEL AVIV: Israeli company Rafael hopes to manufacture a new long-range, sea-based missile, the Sea Breaker, in the US with its American partners for use on two US Navy vessels – the operational littoral combat ships (LCS) and the planned Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV).
Israeli defense experts, who talked with BD on condition of anonymity, said that the new missile will probably be offered as the main weapon system for both vessels. The LCS are currently equipped with the Norwegian made Naval Strike Missile. The acquisition of USVs are planned as part of the effort to shift the Navy to a more distributed fleet architecture.
The Rafael Sea Breaker is a fifth-generation long-range, autonomous, precision-guided missile system, enabling significant attack performance against a variety of high-value maritime and land targets.
Rafael says that the Sea Breaker provides surgical, pinpoint precision strikes from stand-off ranges of up to 300 km. It features an advanced IIR (Imaging Infra-Red) seeker and is ideal for engagement of maritime and land targets, stationary or moving.
Israel defense sources said that, in almost all aspects, the Sea Breaker is superior to any similar weapon system used now by the US Navy. One of the sources said that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the new missile, combined with other technologies, “makes the difference.” The source was reluctant to elaborate, but said that the AI enables the missile to achieve outstanding results against a variety of targets, “stationary and evasive.”
Israeli defense experts also said the missile’s price will be “much less” than the price of any similar, yet less capable, missile as the result of using existing combat-proven technologies that are incorporated into other weapon systems made by the company.
Neither Rafael nor its potential US partners have submitted formal proposals, but the sources mentioned two major American companies that seem likely to get such an offer – Raytheon, Rafael’s partner on the Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems, and Lockheed Martin, the Israeli company’s partner on its Spice air-dropped gliding bombs.
Rafael would not comment on any negotiations related to the potential partners for the production of the new advanced missile.
Yoav Har-Even, president and CEO of Rafael, said that the company used existing mature technologies in the development of the missile, which lowered the unit price. Har-Even added that these technologies were combined to develop a unique system that “I’m sure will create great interest in many countries.” Har-Even also noted that the missile is now being presented to some foreign countries in order to sign a contract with a launching customer.
The Israeli company says that by using AI, Sea Breaker performs deep-learning and big data-based scene-matching, a unique combat-proven Rafael technology, enabling Automatic Target Acquisition (ATA) and Automatic Target Recognition (ATR). The system has full operational capability in Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-denied arenas in all weather conditions. Rafael says that the missile is also electronic countermeasure (ECM)-immune and jam-resilient.
Flying at high subsonic speeds, Sea Breaker has a multi-directional, synchronized, full-sphere attack capability, based on predefined attack plans — such as waypoints, azimuth, impact angle, and aim point selection — ensuring a high probability of mission success. The missile has a 250 lbs. penetration, blast, and fragmentation warhead, making a single hit effective enough to neutralize a frigate-sized ship.
The missile’s datalink supports real-time, man-in-the-loop decision-making and tactical updates. It also features a mid-flight abort capability and Battle Damage Assessment (BDA).
Eli K., Rafael’s head of naval missiles systems, told BD that the Sea Breaker gives ground and naval forces capabilities they don’t have yet. “When a naval target is attacked by the missile, it can hit with great accuracy the section of the ship that the operator has preselected.”
The Rafael senior official added that all the company’s assessments have been used in the development of this unique missile. “The missile cannot be affected by any [electronic warfare] system. And, in addition, it assumes a nap-of-earth on the ground and sea-skimming trajectories that add to its surprise attack capability.”
Eli K. added that, while the missile is autonomous, there is a “man in the loop” that enables the operator to change target and to abort.
Sea Breaker can be launched from naval platforms, varying in size, from fast attack missile boats to corvettes and frigates. The land version is a central part of the shore defense, based on Rafael’s highly mobile air defense SPYDER launchers. The battery architecture supports standalone launchers or operation as an integrated solution, with a command and control unit (CCU) and various sensors, based on customer requirements.
“It can be used from a ship to hit an enemy’s ship, or from a ship to hit targets on the shore or from the ground to hit a ship,” Ran Gozali, head of Rafael’s land and naval division, told BD.
Although named the Sea Breaker, one of the Israeli experts said it would not be a surprise if the new missile becomes an air-launched weapon in the future. For now, the missile is intended for use on ships and on land.
Israelis To Offer US Long-Range Naval Strike Missile: Sea Breaker – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Arie Egozi for breakingdefense.com