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FF 1052 KNOX class Weapons

The weapons of the escort ship are intended to counter hostile air, surface, and submarine threats. When the KNOX--class escort ships were designed in the early 1960s, they were planned primarily for anti-submarine war-fare. However, even at that time guns and guided missiles for anti-surface and anti-aircraft actions were planned.

The 5-inch/54-caliber gun on the KNOX-class ships is a dual-purpose weapon, capable of firing at surface and air targets. The gun has automatic control, meaning that no men are required within the gun mount and that one man at a remote con-sole can aim and fire the gun at a moment's notice. For sustained firing additional men are required for loading ammunition. The gun can be aimed by radar or by optical sights.

At the time the KNOX and her sister ships were being designed consideration was given to arming them with an anti-aircraft missile system. However, development of the weapon was halted. Subsequently, the highly successful Sparrow III air--to-air missile was adopted for shipboard use. An eight-tube launcher for the missile, redesignated Sea Sparrow, is being installed on the stern of some KNOX-class ships. This missile can be used for de-fense against low-flying aircraft attacking the ship.

For anti-submarine warfare the KNOX-class ships have three complementary weapons: For close-in attack against submarines each ship has four torpedo tubes built into the after superstructure. These fire the Mark 46 torpedo, a small, 8'/Z-foot weapon that seeks out submarine noises or searches for the submarine with sound waves.

Behind the gun mount in the KNOX-class ships is the eight-tube launcher for ASROC (an abbrevia-tion for Anti-Submarine ROCket). Sometimes called a "pepper box" because of its round missile open-ings, the launcher can fire rocket-boosted Mark 46 torpedoes or nuclear depth charges.. Various mixes of torpedoes and nuclear depth charges can be car-ried in the launcher and in the reloading magazine located behind the ASROC launcher in the bridge structure.

The increase in Soviet surface warship capabilities during the past few years has led to U.S. Navy development of anti-ship missiles. The Navy's Standard anti-aircraft missile has been modified for anti-ship attack and experiments are being conducted to adapt the ASROC launcher to fire the Standard as well as ASW weapons.

For long-range attacks against submarines, the KNOX-class ships are being fitted to operate the SH-2D Sealite helicopter. This concept is known as the LAMPS, for Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System. Eventually the helicopter embarked in these ships could be configured for other missions, such as anti-ship attack and to provide radar warning of approaching enemy missiles.

The SH-2D helicopter has twin turbine engines and is equipped with various sensors for detecting submarines and with torpedoes for attacking them. The sensors include radar to detect periscopes and antennas, magnetic detector to ascertain changes in the earth's magnetic field caused by a submarine, infrared devices to help find diesel-propelled sub-marines, and acoustic sonobuoys. The last are smaller listening devices dropped into the water from the helicopter. They can detect submarine noises and transmit the information automatically to the helicopter by radio. These sonobuoys, some dropped singly and some in patterns, are expendable and sink after their batteries give out. The, helicopter, manned by a skilled crew, works in conjunction with the escort ship to provide a highly effective ASW team.

During the service life of these ships additional weapons could be installed as they become available and are required, and more-advanced helicopters could be provided.

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Page last modified: 22-07-2011 17:39:31 ZULU