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RGM-59 Taurus Landing Force Support Weapon

The RGM-59 Taurus was a United States Navy project intended to develop a ground-to-surface missile for use as a fire-support weapon during amphibious landings, replacing large-caliber naval guns. Developed in the early 1960s, the project was discontinued before any hardware development was performed.

In August 1961, the United States Navy released a condition for a new type of surface-to-surface missile, the Landing Force Support Weapon, which was intended to replace the battleship and heavy cruiser force - being then retired - providing fire support to troops conducting amphibious landings.

One of the major problems facing naval planners involved in designing weapons for future support of amphibious operations is the lack of operational data on which to base such projections. The collective memory of the officer corps in the field of amphibious operations in general, particularly naval gunfire support, was eroded by time. After all, the last amphibious assault operation at Inchon, Korea, was executed in 1951, and few active officers remained who had the benefit of this experience.

Gunfire support data generated in amphibious operations during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam demonstrate requirements in terms of gun range, projectile lethality, and system accuracy in a variety of combat environments. During World War II, the principal requirement for long-range gunnery stemmed from engagement of counterattacking German armor, although naval guns were used to support Allied troops out to the limit of operational range in all amphibious assault operations. Korea, however, was a different story. The size of the land mass and the nature of operations continuously produced range requirements over 30,000 yards. In World War II and Korea, a large proportion of the targets engaged by naval guns were hard point targets. The 5"/38 was also ineffective against communist bunkers and underground personnel shelters, as well as bridges and tunnels.

The LFSW requirement specified a rocket armed with a conventional warhead, which would have an effective range of at least 34 miles. The LSFW rocket was required to be equally effective against soft targets as the naval guns and unguided missiles that it was intended to replace. Studies on the guidance system of the LFSW were conducted by the Applied Physics Laboratory, which determined that the ideal solution for the new rocket inertial guidance during the midcourse phase of their flight. Terminal guidance would be provided by a tracking beacon, operated by troops in the combat area. The missile, after locking onto the beacons, would be offset from the position of the beacon by an amount specified in the beacon signal.

The ZRGM-59A Taurus requirement in June 1963 specified the refined design for the LFSW missiles that it would be able to use the same launch vehicle as a Terrier surface-to-air missile. The acccuracy of the missile was projected, within a range of 30 to 210 meters, depending on the target beacon operation.

The Taurus' guidance system began testing using modified MGM-29 Sergeant missiles in 1965. The U.S. Army test flew for the U.S. Navy an experimental model of a simplified inertial guidance system (SIGS) "piggy-back" fashion aboard the Army's Sergeant missile. Conducted early in 1965 as part of a series of product improvement evaluation tests of the Sergeant missile, the test of the experimental model of the SIGS guidance system was conducted by the Army in conjunction with Sperry Utah Co., Sergeant prime contractor. SIGS was under consideration for the Navy's Landing Force Support Weapon.

Lockheed was selected to develop the Landing Force Support Weapon rocket airframe. Before any hardware for the project had been built, the project was discontinued during 1965. With the cancellation of the RGM-59 project, studies turned to a navalised variant of the MGM-52 Lance missile to provide shore landing support fire. In addition, an armed version of the Ryan Firebee drone was proposed to meet the LSFW requirement. However, through funding restrictions, nothing would come of these projects as well.

In March 1967, the Naval Weapons Center proposed another LFSW missile system, which was intended to have a minor role in the destruction of enemy air defense. Determined to launch from existing missile cruisers and destroyers, as well as carried out by ballistic missile submarines, the new missile is intended to use terrain guidance, and was expected to have the accuracy of 200 meters.

The Navy awarded the Missiles and Space Division of LTV Aerospace Corporation a $6,300,000 research and development contract on 05 April 1967 for work on the Sea Lance missile, an adaptation of the Army Lance Missile. Resrarch and development was conducted at the Missiles and Space Division at Dallas and at MSD's Michigan facility at the Army Missile Plant at Sterling tuwnship near Detroit. LTV Aerospace is the prime contractor for the entire Lance missile system, then in the preproduction stage. The Navy launched a search for a Landing Force Support Weapon in 1961. The Naval Ordnance Test Station in California studied the Lance for this purpose in 1965 and concluded that a feasibility demonstration program should be undertaken.

The Sea Lance missile weighs one and one-half tons, has a 22 inch diameter, and is 20 feet long. Its components include a warhead section, a simplified inertial guidance and control system, and a propulsion package consisting of a dual chamber engine which pre-packaged storable liquid fuel. The initial program called for development of a stabilization system to keep the missile launcher accurately aimed while mounted on the deck of a moving ship.

The test program schedule involved firings of the Sea Lance at the Naval Ordnance Test Stateion under simulated shipboard conditions. Later, the missile would be fired from the Navy's experimental test ship, the AVM-l Norton Sound, off the coast of California. However, this project came to nothing, leaving the role of a US Navy ship-to-shore missile unfilled until the arrival of the BGM-109 Tomahawk in the 1980s.

By 1989 an entirely different Sea Lance antisubmarine missile was being created in place of the SUBROC missile, which was becoming obsolete.

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