Could a new Quicksink weapon stop 5,500 armed merchant ships?

By John Konrad (gCaptain) Last week, gCaptain reported that the US Air Force had demonstrated a deadly new weapon that could provide an inexpensive and more widely available alternative to sinking ships with traditional torpedoes and anti-missile missiles. expensive ships. Forbes is today reports this new weapon, code name QUICKSINKcould sink a “large amount” of merchant ships and Coast Guard ships.

The new weapon, officially known as the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition, was tested during a demonstration last month in the Gulf of Mexico. This was the second experiment in a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration, funded by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

This deadly weapon solves a problem that the US Navy has faced for years. How do you disable a large number of commercial ships in a relatively short time? This issue came to the fore of military planning when China’s large fleet of fishing vessels, backed by lightly armed naval militias and coast guard vessels, began encroaching on Philippine territorial waters.

Arm commercial ships with javelins

The problem escalated dramatically with the success of the Javelin and other small missile system weapons in the Ukraine War.

“The United States has less than 80 commercial ships in international service, while China has more than 5,500 merchant ships sailing today,” a senior US Navy officer told gCaptain. “What if China sends Javelin-type missiles to every commercial ship? What would happen if China distributed a portable missile to all 122,034 Chinese sailors serving on all types of ships? Or the potentially hundreds of thousands could displace Filipino sailors.”

Some think it would be difficult for China to arm its commercial fleet, but recent tests by the United States Marine Corps suggest it is possible. Last year teams of Marines armed with Javelin anti-tank guided missiles aboard small inflatable boats trained to engage enemy naval forces for the first time in a major exercise on and around the Japanese island of Okinawa.

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The test was successful against some targets, but it’s unclear how much damage Javelin would do to a large commercial ship. The US Marine Corp isn’t the only one interested in finding out the answer. Finland, has taken a further step in the tests by arming coastal defense units armed with Spike-ER missiles of the German firm Eurospikewhich produces several variants of a Israeli-designed portable missile.

“If they’re just transport ships, they’re more vulnerable when they’re loading,” said Navy Captain Jonathan Kohler, who participated in the USMC Javelin experiment. “This is a time when Javelins can be used against the actual ship.”

Quickship against commercial threats

The F-35C Lightning II carrier variant dives 45 degrees during an external GBU-12 weapons separation test. (US Navy photo courtesy of Michael D. Jackson.)

According to naval expert and senior Forbes contributor Craig HooperTo confront China’s massive maritime fleet, the US Navy and its allies in the Pacific had few options to stop even a single determined and potentially hostile civilian surface ship beyond a heavy torpedo or of a bulky and expensive laser-guided bomb.

“This weapon is a game-changer for distant and ill-mannered Chinese fleets”, said Hooper. “QUICKSINK is a simple kinetic capability where a low-cost Air Force Research Laboratory guidance kit is attached to a 2,000 pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). With many, many JDAMs in the global arsenal, and given that JDAMs can be dropped from virtually any military aircraft, “QUICKSINK” is a deadly threat to China’s Gray Area Fleet. Now the United States has an inexpensive weapon to quickly take down large craft anywhere and in any weather.

Hooper’s full analysis of this new weapon’s capabilities against commercial ships can be found here: New US QUICKSINK bomb targets China’s vast low-tech navy