The Navy's RIM-7M Sea Sparrow and the Air Force's AIM-7 Sparrow are radar-guided, air-to-air missiles with high explosive warheads. They have a cylindrical body with four wings at mid-body and four tail fins. The Navy uses the Sea Sparrow version aboard ships as a surface-to-air anti-missile defense. The versatile Sparrow has all-weather, all-altitude operational capability and can attack high-performance aircraft and missiles from any direction. It is widely deployed by U.S. and NATO forces. The Sea Sparrow is found aboard many U.S. and NATO surface warships.
The NATO SEASPARROW Surface Missile System (NSSMS) Mk 57 is a medium-range, rapid-reaction, missile weapon system that provides the capability of destroying hostile aircraft, anti-ship missiles, and airborne and surface missile platforms with surface-to-air missiles. The NSSMS can also be used to detect missile launchings by a surface vessel utilizing the NSSMS surveillance radar capability. The NSSMS consists of a Guided Missile Fire Control System (GMFCS) Mk 91 and a Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) Mk 29. The GMFCS is a computer-operated fire control system that provides automatic acquisition and tracking of a designated target, generates launcher and missile orders, and in the automatic mode initiates the firing command when the target becomes engageable. Although most of the NSSMS operations are carried out under automatic or semi-automatic conditions, the GMFCS permits operator intervention and override at any time. The GMLS is a rapid-reaction, lightweight launching system that provides on-mount stowage and launch capability of up to eight missiles. The GMLS responds to launcher position commands, missile orders, and control commands issued by GMFCS. The NSSMS employs AIM/RIM-7 Sparrow III series, surface-to-air/surface-to-surface semi-active homing missiles. The RIM-7 version is commonly referred to as SEASPARROW. The missile utilizes the energy reflected from the target and from rear reference RF (transmitted from the director system) for developing missile wing movement orders enabling target intercept.
The NATO SEASPARROW Surface Missile System (NSSMS) Mk 57 Mod 6 is a medium-range, rapid-reaction system uses a semi-active homing missile. This version of the NSSMS is a restructured design utilizing the Reflected Memory Local Area Network fiber optic cable. The NSSMS Mod 6 consists of a Tracking Illuminator System (TIS) Mk 9 Mod 0 and a Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) Mk 29 Mod 2. The TIS is a computer-operated fire control system that provides automatic acquisition and tracking of a designated target, generates launcher and missile orders, and in the automatic mode initiates the firing command when the target becomes engageable. Although most of the NSSMS operations are carried out under automatic or semi-automatic conditions, the TIS permits operator intervention and override at any time. The GMLS is a rapid-reaction, lightweight launching system that provides on-mount stowage and launch capability of up to eight missiles. The GMLS responds to launcher position commands, missile orders, and control commands issued by TIS. The NSSMS employs Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) or RIM-7M/P/R, which is a high velocity and extremely agile missile with semi-active radar homing.
Originally developed by Sperry and the U.S. Navy, Sparrow's later versions were developed and produced by Raytheon Co. and General Dynamics.The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is a short range missile intended to provide self-protection for surface ships. It is expected to be available to the fleet around 2002. It will provide each ship with the capability to engage a variety of antiship cruise missiles (ASCMs) and aircraft to support self defense. It will be more capable against low observable highly maneuverable missiles, have longer range, and can make flight corrections via radar and midcourse uplinks. ESSM is a coordinated effort with numerous nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This coordinated effort allows all NATO countries to have the same self defense capability and at the same time, reduce the cost to each country associated with developing and testing new systems.
On Aegis ships, ESSM will be launched from the MK 41 Vertical Launch System, requiring a thrust vector control system on the ESSM rocket. On non-Aegis ships (aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, other surface combatants), it will be fired from other launch systems. ESSM uses an 8 inch diameter forebody that includes a modified guidance section from the in-service RIM-7P Sea Sparrow. The guidance section, which includes a radome-protected antenna for semiactive homing, attaches to a new warhead section. The forebody is attached to a new 10 inch diameter rocket motor which provides higher thrust for longer duration than predecessor Sea Sparrow missiles. ESSM will use skid-to-turn steering (tail control) whereas earlier Sea Sparrows were wing-controlled. ESSM will retain capability of the RIM-7P missile but will also have capability against maneuvering anti-ship missiles. ESSM is being developed as a multinational cooperative effort with several allied nations.
The new RIM-7P software features advanced guidance algorithims that enable Seasparrow to counter the most formidable threats. The missile’s Improved Low Altitude Guidance (LAG) mode makes the RIM-7P exceptionally effective against very low altitude threats, such as sea skimming cruise missiles. In addition, the missile has proven to be highly effective in stressing Electronic Attack (EA) environments.A Jet Vane Control (JVC) unit allows the RIM-7P to be vertically launched. The JVC unit rotates the missile immediately after it has cleared a ship’s superstructure, cancels the missile’s initial upward velocity, and controls transition to the initial intercept path. Once the seeker is pointing toward a target, the JVC is jettisoned. Vertical launch capability provides quick-reaction, 360-degree defense and eliminates trainable firing restrictions and time consuming slew requirements.
|Primary Function||Air-to-air and surface-to-air radar-guided missile|
|Contractors||Raytheon Co. and General Dynamics|
|Power Plant||Hercules MK-58 solid-propellant rocket motor|
|Speed||More than 2,660 mph (4,256 kph)|
|Range|| More than 30 nautical miles (approximately 55 km)|
[Maximum Range = 6 nm according to other sources]
Minimum Range - 1600 yards
Director Lock-on Range - 50 nautical miles
|Length||12 feet (3.64 meters)|
|Diameter||8 inches (20.3 cm)|
|Wingspan||3 feet 4 inches (one meter)|
|Warhead|| Annular blast fragmentation warhead, 90 pounds (40.5 kg)|
Proximity fuzed, continuous expanding rod, with a 27 ft. kill radius
|fire control systems||MK 91|
|Launch Platform (Launcher)||MK 29 Mod 1.|
|Launch Weight||Approximately 500 pounds (225 kg)|
|Guidance System||Raytheon semi-active on continuous wave or pulsed Doppler radar energy|