back to article Networked multipack cruise missiles in successful test

Development continues on the US Forces' network-controlled, crewless homing missile system. The Non Line of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS), aka "Netfires", has had a successful test firing, and is now being fitted aboard the US Navy's new inshore warships. The NLOS-LS comes in the form of a large box about 1.5m tall and light …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wonder how secure the 'network' is?

  2. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Deliver Live Projects ..not Death Programs.

    Err, Lewis, Isn't it about time that the Bozos in Charge tossed the War Program into the Trash, before IT does it for them. At least then they can retain some Dignity in Change Retirement .

    Any other Choice will be Problematical and Very Costly as in Most Probably Ruinous to them, but Fools abound everywhere freely. Quite a few must wear grey suits

  3. Justin

    You were worried about......

    Hackers getting your bank details....

    If the hackers hold of the command node, which bully gets it first

  4. Frank


    A long range munition commanded and controlled over a radio datalink -- the possibilities are amazing, as well as being frightening in some cases :)

  5. Anton Ivanov

    Russian Granit clone

    Russians have had networked missiles for a very very long time. OK, they are also a bit bigger:

  6. Dave Handley
    Thumb Up

    Tanks do 2 things

    Assuming a rocket in a box will get rid of tanks misses some important points. Tanks both project power and protect the occupants. In Iraq the smaller APCs as well as tanks have been crucial for dealing with roadside bombs, both of these require huge logistics support though. The logistics for rocket in a box is likely to be quite a lot as well. Other than that, it looks like a shiny piece of kit.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    As ex light infantry, this looks very interesting for situations where we are patrolling an area regularly, but the heavy metal boys can't get in (or its inappropriate). If they were assigned down to local level i would be very pleased. I wouldn't, however, want to lose our "organic" fire support. At least if you carry your own 81m shells, you know the mortar boys will normally deliver.

    At the rate of about 12 per tube per minute on a good day.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bit susceptible to network jamming

    "God's damn it where's that missile, the heathens tank is almost within firing range!"

    "Sorry sarge, it appears the foreign devils are downloading the latest Paris Hilton video, and there just isn't enough bandwidth to watch porn and kill people at the same time!"

  9. dodge
    Thumb Down

    Cool kit. Kills people.

    Just sayin' is all.

  10. Damn Yank
    Thumb Up

    screw the semi-auto assault rifle..

    I want one of these for Christmas.

  11. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Come on McKinnon

    Type 'WORDPASS' on a rocket box and control your own fleet Unfriendly Flying Objects. What have you got to lose?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One more nail in the coffin for oldschool symetric warfare

    It makes it that bit more attractive to take it to 'the enemy' in their complex, highly interlocking, every-so-soft cities. And effective biology is cheap.

    Address the roots of war and it might start to wane; this won't help.

  13. Mike Fortey
    Thumb Down


    "Tanks both project power and protect the occupants. In Iraq the smaller APCs as well as tanks have been crucial for dealing with roadside bombs."

    Tanks aren't APCs though. I don't doubt that this toy won't kill off the APC, but it's yet another nail in the coffin of the MBT. MBTs really have no place on today's battlefields. They are a liability in urban engagement, and fodder for missiles and airpower in more open terrain.

    However, I do feel that the article strikes wide of the mark in one aspect: These things really can't replace the heavy guns when it comes to churning up hundreds of square metres of ground and making life in the area very unpleasant for everyone, in preperation for or conjunction with assault. Sure: We can do that with airpower, but conventional 'dumb' artillary is still the cheapest way of dumping several tons of explosives on top of a vague target area, and it would take a lot of very expensive smart munitions to achieve the same results.

  14. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Tanks obsolete again? Unlikley.

    The 1973 Middle East War marked the first mass use of infantry-portable, guided, anti-tank missiles, and at first the Sagger used by the Egyptian infantry took a serious toll of what had previously been the rulers of the Middle Eatern battlefields, the IDF armour. Correspondents all over the world raced to their tripewriters and wrote long articles on how the tank was an anachronism and should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Then the Israelis rediscovered the correct mix of infantry and armour, trashed the Egyptians (and Jordanians, Syrians, and assorted "Arab" armies), and the tank was back at the heart of battlefield strategy.

    As the battles in Yugoslavia have shown us time and time again, a guided missile is only as smart as the man guiding it. If the guider can be fooled into shooting at a decoy then the missile will happilly waste itself. If the guider is distracted or killed, the in-air missile is equally voided. As with any guided weapon, the accuracy and effect depends on the guider. Laser-guided artillery rounds (like Copperhead) have been around since the mid-eighties, are relatively cheap and a whole battery's fire can be guided onto tank targets by a single laser operator in the front-line. It still hasn't stopped the tank, it just spurred the development of more and more counter-measures (such as smoke grenades for near instantaneous smokescreens with IR-absorbing particles), and more work on close co-operation with infantry mounted in faster, better-armed APCs such as the M2 Bradley and the Warrior. The operator of a PAM system will be just as vulnerable to the same counter-tactics as the Sagger operators were in 1973 - even more vulnerable as it sounds like the flight time will be even longer, giving more time for the targeted tank to find and eliminate the guider.

    So, the PAM system may be good for giving infantry a remote, precision tool for taking out poit targets (such as jihadis in a house), with a neat ability to replay the attack on primetime news to show how surgical and inncoent-friendly the whole affair was, but I don't see it making any nation drop tanks from their inventory just yet.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wish fufillment Lewis :-)

    I know you're not a fan of tanks and artillery Lewis, but we've been through all this before 30+ years ago with anti-tank missiles that would "make the tank obselete". Precision guiding artillery will certainly reduce the requirement for massive artillery units (something that has been in train in the US Army for 5+ years), but armoured vehicles of some sort will always be with us, and very often they will be tracked, unless they are going to be employed on roads only...

  16. Dave

    @Dave Handley

    Not quite sure what you are getting at with your statment:

    "The logistics for rocket in a box is likely to be quite a lot as well"

    Please re-read the article. The robo-rocket-box is an autonmous node in a network centric warfare (NCW) arrangement. Lob it out of the back of a transport plane on a parahute, in field logistics manpower footprint = 0.

  17. Steve May


    They will, of course, need heavy rounded bases to ensure they don't fall over when air-dropped.

    "Our missles wobble but they don't fall down"

  18. Trygve

    Tanks are primarily an anti-tank weapon.

    Crazy as it sounds, the design task of most tanks is to fight other tanks. Of course a 60-70 ton armoured box with a 120+mm gun is also useful for a few other things on the battlefield, but that's just a side effect. If you can instead rely on a (relatively) cheap box of rockets to deal with enemy MBTs, then you can instead spunk a ton more money on APCs, SPGs, mortars, light recce vehicles and all the other kit that armies tend to make a lot more use of than their tanks.

    Some people predicted the death of the battleship when Holland launched his first submarine. That time they were wrong. Then people like Mitchell predicted the death of the battleship due to air power. They turned out to be right a few years later. Similarly there were claims manned aircraft were obsolete in the fifties - now we are finally getting to the point where more and more of their work is being done by UAVs.

    It's too early to tell if this box of tricks will actually perform as advertised, but history suggests that all weapon systems eventually become obsolete and sooner or later the MBT will join the horse, war elephant, chariot and siege tower in the history books. It's just a question of recognising the moment, because abandoning them too early or too late would be very unpleasant.

  19. alzain

    i wonder

    i wonder what will happern when hackers get control of the crusie missiles opreating system.the military should have a party when that happerns.MASS CAOS TO THE RESCUE

  20. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    F*ck this shit and the fascist twats who deploy it.

    More precision-targeted blown up peon villages, blasted weddings, skinned sandniggers and flying, burning goats I would reckon. At the cost of just a few million dollars per killed kid. Great.

    And the standard-issue blowback of course.

    Still trying to win against WWII tank German Tank Divisions, right, America?

  21. Stewart Haywood

    Creap up on it

    and drop a tin foil hat over it's satellite antenna.

    Goodnight network node.

    That's what an alien would do.

  22. Mike Powers

    Can you launch all the rockets at once?

    I could seriously see some Itano Circus going down here.

  23. lglethal Silver badge

    Bandwidth considerations

    Funny how with all of the current fleet of network centric bots there trying to remove the high bandwidth requirements (because of a severe lack of available bandwidth) and here they add a new high bandwidth requirement item...

    Sounds very cool but i have to agree with a lot of replies here - i do not see this as an end to the MBT but a few of these mounted on ships in the waters off somali might accomplish some good... (try to outrun this pirates! )

  24. Miami Mike

    Just noticing . . .

    The rockets-in-a-box container is exactly the same color of beige as just about every IBM/IBM clone windoze box . . . are these the roots of Skynet? Be afraid, be very afraid, as you salute your new rocket-armed computer overlords. Muhahahha!!!!

  25. Rick Brasche

    You can't take or hold territory with air power

    it takes boots on the ground. And machines to deliver them. And support hardware.

    Whizbang VLOS missiles may have a slight issue dealing with forest cover. Or tunnels. or bridge overpasses. Armored cavalry is a hell of a lot faster than foot soldiers, and cheaper per round than any missile. It goes where you point it and there's f*ck-all you can do to stop it. There's anti-missile defense systems (that can't be used if infantry is around,) but no anti-tank shell defense.

    there will always be a need for ground armor. And always a need for a simple tube and shell weapon that can be aimed and fired by mechanical means if necessary. The side that forgets that lesson will be educated most harshly by the side that doesn't.

    Expecting a single missile system to make most everything obsolete is like people who thought tanks were obsolete with the arrival of the AH-64. Or the same idiots who thought the 5.56mm would be the end-all, be-all combat rifle round.

    But, like McNamara, when bean counters and budget whiners are the big decision making forces in your military, you get what you deserve-a more "cost' effective force, but less "combat" effective. hence the clusterf*ck that was Vietnam and the lack of resolution in Afghanistan.

    (Civilian interference in military matters should come in only two forms-"GO" and "STOP". Go to send them to war, Stop to bring them home. The rest, is why there's corruption, wars for political self gratification, needless death, and inefficiency.)

  26. Daniel B.

    anti-piracy countermeasures

    As soon as I read "attack enemy fast ships", somehow the Somali buccaneers came to mind. Now you only need one box per merchant boat; as soon as the pirate fast ship approaches, the remote operator only needs to press the "0wn pir8s" button and boom go the pirates!!!

    Hm... maybe this is what DARPA was thinking after all??

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    That's just an old refrigerator container with some holes cut in it and a toilet roll on the top!

    It's empty and does nothing.

  28. Peter Ford

    Stick 'em on oil tankers

    That would sort out the Somali pirates...

  29. Danny
    Paris Hilton

    unitl someone builds a decent EMP weapon

    And I dont mean a low yield nuke, a proper EMP weapon. Then its back to M16s and AKs.

    Paris, cause all my comments have had paris so why shoudl this one be any different?

  30. druck Silver badge

    @Matt Bryant

    "The operator of a PAM system will be just as vulnerable to the same counter-tactics as the Sagger operators were in 1973 - even more vulnerable as it sounds like the flight time will be even longer, giving more time for the targeted tank to find and eliminate the guider."

    But as it's GPS guided in flight, you only have to paint the dot at the last possible moment, rather than the entire flight time of a slower moving in field PAM.

    My main concern would be the network, the Israeli's managed to punch a hole in Syria's networked air defence system on their recent excursion.

  31. Paul Murphy

    New bluetooth device found ...


    Interesting article, but I must agree that MBTs will have some life in them yet, as will the artillery.

    Armies aren't fought by just one type of weapon, but a mixture. the mixture dictates the forces ability to take on certain foes. Just as using tanks in cities isn't ideal, so using lasers to guide networked rockets isn't the final answer (jungles, rain and fog come to mind as potential show stoppers). The basic idea is interesting but it's still trying to fight conventional armies, when so much of todays warfare is anything but conventional.

    I can see a role in Afghanistan, since an ambushed convoy could defend itself very effectively, but for the traditional blowing up a wedding role an aircraft would be the thing.

    Artillery is cheap (per round) and flexible in terms of the type of round delivered, though not the most accurate.

    Tanks are expensive to run, but for the close support of troops in open country they are the best solution.

    What would be even better though would be if america would stop trying to be the worlds police and just concentrated on their own problems. If every nation just concentrated on defensive forces and their only external troops were given to the UN then maybe this sort of expensive toy would not be needed.


  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Russian Granit clone

    Granit is cruise.

    This is a load of rockets in a box, if we must proceed under the delusion that the Russians invented anything useful then it's more like the Katyushas of WW2 with some electronics bolted on.

  33. Andus McCoatover

    Now we know....

    ..where that bloody 'fridge from the ISS landed!!

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