Flying at high subsonic speeds and following terrain or skimming the water, Sea Breaker has a multi-directional, synchronized, full-sphere attack capability for day/night all-weather use.
Its datalink supports real-time, man-in-the-loop decision-making, and, it packs a punishing sting — a 250 lb. penetration and fragmentation warhead. That’s enough to neutralize a frigate-sized ship with a single hit.
Autonomous, precision-guided and effective against a variety of high-value maritime and land targets, it is superior and cheaper than any similar weapon system used now by the US Navy.
And that’s why the Americans might want it.
According to a report by Breaking Defense, 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 Breaking Defense on condition of anonymity, said that the new missile will probably be offered as the main weapon system for both vessels.
Rafael says that the fifth-generation Sea Breaker missile system provides surgical, pinpoint precision strikes from stand-off ranges of up to 300 km (186 miles).
Sea Breaker features an aerodynamic airframe with an integrated aft air intake underneath the missile, a cruciform tail assembly, and a mid-body, backwards-stowed deployable wing assembly.
It also features an advanced IIR (Imaging Infra-Red) seeker, making it ideal for engagement of maritime and land targets, stationary or moving, the company said.
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 told Breaking Defense 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.
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, Breaking Defense reported.
“I’m sure will create great interest in many countries,” he added.
Though company sources said they would be offering the system to India in future with a possible Make in India initiative, the country already has a similar product, BrahMos, an Indo-Russia missile system.
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 and Automatic Target Recognition.
The system has full operational capability in Global Navigation Satellite System-denied arenas in all weather conditions.
The system is based on predefined attack plans — such as waypoints, azimuth, impact angle, and aim point selection — ensuring a high probability of mission success, the company said.
Eli K., Rafael’s head of naval missiles systems, told Breaking Defense that the Sea Breaker is resistant to electronic countermeasures and jamming.
“The missile cannot be affected by any [electronic warfare] system,” he said.
“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.
“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,” said Ran Gozali, head of Rafael’s land and naval division.
Sources: Breaking Defense, Jane’s, The Print, The Defense Post, The Algemeiner