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Griffin missile

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A small U.S. precision-guided munition, the Griffin missile was developed by Raytheon using corporate funds, but is now in use by the U.S. Air Force as an air-to-surface missile on unmanned aerial vehicles, and by the Air Force and United States Marine Corps on modified transport aircraft. It is under active consideration, and likely selection, as the long-range surface-to-surface missile for the Littoral Combat Ship, as a cheaper replacement for the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) using Precision Attack Missiles. The U.S. Army is considering it for several land applications.

It has been speculated that this may be a new model for weapons procurement, with vendors offering working prototypes, assuming risk, but also going for sole-source procurement. Obviously, this cannot work for large-scale systems.


Its first application was on unmanned aerial vehicles including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, which previously used the AGM-114 Hellfire as an air-to-ground missile that has not yet received an AGM- series designation. The Joint Air-Ground Missile program is intended to replace the larger Hellfire.

There are both sea- and land-based proposed surface-to-surface missile applications. Naval use is most likely, with selection strongly likely but not confirmed. [1] While the Griffin appears to be preferred over the previously favored Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, concerns remain over its shorter range and lighter warhead. The small warhead that is advantageous for air- and ground-launched application is less desirable for naval use.

Army applications emphasize base protection, but Griffins have been fired from the Protector Remote Weapons Station, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter, and Multi-round Wedge launcher [2]


Griffins weigh 15kg (33lb). Not only could more Griffins than Hellfires be carried (e.g., 4 of the former versus 10 of the latter), the Griffin has a smaller 14lb warhead, desirable for minimizing collateral damage.[3] In contrast, the latest Hellfire II model II weighs 48.2 kg (106 lb) and has a 9 kg (20lb) warhead. While the Hellfire has a longer powered range, reported as 8 km, the Griffin has pop-out wings that supplement its engine with glide capabilities to increase its range. A range of 5.5 km has been mentioned for ground-based systems. [2] The weapon reuses components from the FGM-148 Javelin and AIM-9X Sidewinder [1]

There are two mechanical variants of the missile, intended for different types of launching platforms. "A" rounds come out of the rear of the launcher, which is best for relatively fast platforms. "B" rounds are forward-firing for UAVs, helicopters and surface launchers.[4]

The weapon has dual-mode semi-active laser guidance and inertial navigation supplemented with GPS satellite information. Its fuzing is selectable among(a height-of–(air) burst, immediate impact detonation, or delay detonation. Its software allows fire-and-forget operation, including Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI).[5]


Also developed by Raytheon with corporate funds, and then offered to the government, is the even smaller 0.6m-long (2ft) and 5.9kg (13 lb), Small Tactical Munition, which will go on Marine MQ-7 Shadow UAVs. MQ-7s are smaller than the MQ-1 and MQ-9. [6] This weapon also has dual mode guidance.

Related developments

Intended for its Lynx Wildcat helicopter, which will become operational in 2015, the Royal Navy is developing the Lightweight Multimode Missile (LMM), to be available in 2013. At 13 kg (28.6 lb), the LMM has considerable similarity to the Griffin, although it may have a larger warhead. Since it is intended for naval applications with the target under direct observation, it uses beam-riding laser guidance, under the control of the launch platform. [7] Griffin, in contrast, has fire-and-forget capability either using inertial/GPS coordinates, or when an observer provides laser illumination of the target.


  1. 1.0 1.1 John Reed (11 January 2011), "Navy Close to Choosing Griffin Missile for LCS", Defense Industry Buzz
  2. 2.0 2.1 "AUSA 10: US Army considers Griffin for base protection", Land Warfare International, 25 October 2010
  3. Stephen Trimble (9 August 2010), Raytheon's Griffin missile makes quiet gains with US military, Flight International
  4. "Griffin Small Tactical Munition", Defense Update
  5. Griffin Real-Time Attack System: Lightweight, Precision Kinetic Effect, Raytheon
  6. Gayle Putrich (18 December 2010), USMC seeks to arm Shadow, fast and without US Army help, Flight International
  7. Small, Nasty, British And On The Way, Strategypage, 6 April 2011