The Saab RBS15 family of long-range anti-ship missile systems is designed to meet future requirements in a variety of operational circumstances in open-sea engagements, anti-invasion defence and littoral warfare close to land or among islands. RBS15, which is in service in Sweden and with a number of export customers, can be easily installed on naval craft ranging in size from fast patrol boats upwards, on highly mobile and rapidly deployable trucks, and on aircraft. In all three cases, the missiles have the same intelligent, frequency-agile radar seeker, advanced navigation, guidance and altimetry electronics, and powerful defence penetration and hit capabilities.
RBS15 is a fire-and-forget anti-ship missile with all-weather, day and night operational capability. The new-generation RBS15 Mk3 offers extended range and increased tactical flexibility compared with earlier versions. The system's features operational and tactical versatility with a very flexible trajectory, including a flight range of more than 200 km a large number of waypoints and altitudes extremely low sea-skimming with sea-state adaptation. It provides sophisticated target discrimination and selection with high resistance to electronic countermeasures and easy engagement planning with extensive decision support.
In 1979 a development contract was placed with Saab Missiles (Saab Bofors Dynamics and now Saab Dynamics) the RBS-15M ship-launched version and in 1982 a further contract was placed for an air-to-surface version designated RBS-15F. The development contract for the RBS-15K coastal defence missile version for the Swedish Coastal Artillery Force, and RBS-15CD for export, was signed in 1986.
In 1995 a mid-life upgrade program began for the RBS-15M ship-launched version and RBS-15K coastal defence version. This entailed converting the missiles to the Mk 2 standard, with increased range and improvements to the mid-course guidance, which included the ability to turn 90° before the terminal phase. Upgrades included improved missile and fire-control system computers and software, to increase flexibility of target designation and acquisition as well as improving Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCM). An air-launched RBS-15F Mk 2 upgrade followed soon thereafter.
In August 2001 Saab Bofors Dynamics signed a contract with Thales Netherland B.V. for the RBS 15 missile AD system to be mounted on Polish naval vessels. The contract is valued at circa 10 million EUROs. Thales were appointed Prime Contractor, and during the summer they signed a contract with Naval Shipyard Gydinia for the upgrading of the three ORKAN class vessels in the Polish Navy. Among other things, the upgrading programme comprises the Thales' "TACTICOS" Combat Control System, Ericsson Microwave Systems' "Giraffe" 3D radar and RBS 15.
In 1995, design studies of a Mk 3 version were reported, with a more stealthy missile, highly manoeuvrable at high subsonic speed, and with a range in excess of 200 km. This version was planned to be improved with a land attack capability, provided by Global Positioning System (GPS) and a terrain reference system. In 2003, Saab Bofors Dynamics and Diehl BGT Defence signed an agreement for the development, production and marketing of the new RBS15 missiles. Two years later, the German Navy decided to procure RBS15 Mk3 for its new K130 corvettes. Subsequently, the Polish Navy ordered the missile for its ORKAN-class fast patrol boats.
The missile has cruciform wings and canards with elevons on the wings. In its ship- and trucklaunched version, it is launched by means of two booster motors. Sustainer power is provided by a variable-thrust turbo-jet engine. The state-of-the- art guidance and control system consists mainly of a high-performance inertial measurement unit and a GPS receiver, a radar altimeter and a sophisticated radar target seeker. The inherent characteristics of the target seeker (e.g. high resolution, frequency agility, jittered PRF and high processing power) make it highly resistant to ECM. The devastating effect is ensured by an optimized heavy HE blast and fragmentation warhead.
The RBS 15 Mk 3 is an all-weather, powerful and highly versatile anti-ship missile with land attack capability having a maximum flight range of more than 200 km. With its high-resolution radar-seeker combined with highly effective signal processing, it possesses not only the capability of striking littoral targets, but also exhibits outstanding resistance against active jammers, decoys etc. The missile is equipped with a radar altimeter enabling extremely low sea-skimming, which further adds to its high defence penetration capability. The missile system, which can be installed in ships, aircraft and trucks, is capable of tackling manifold threats in open-sea engagements as well as littoral warfare. RBS 15 Mk 3 is therefore foreseen as the standard surface-to-surface missile in the German Navy for its corvettes and frigates.
In a hostile environment, threats may suddenly appear. The RBS15 Mk3 is prepared for the situation through its advanced decision support, permitting a rapid response to the threat. The long flight range also makes it possible to strike from a stand-off distance. Pinpointing and selecting true targets in an invasion fleet and disregarding other vessels is also essential. Consequently, the RBS15 Mk3 has a highly evolved target discrimination and selection ability. The combination of an extremely versatile trajectory and seeker intelligence offers a unique capability for engaging targets very close to land or among islands or on land. The RBS15 Mk3 includes a state-of-the-art navigation system with GPS, which provides the system with a significant capability of engaging concealed littoral targets as well as certain land targets.
Using the ship’s own sensors (radar, ESM etc.) in combination with external sensors (e.g. other ships or airborne early warning) allows maximum exploitation of the RBS15 Mk3’s firing range, from extremely short to very long. Not only can attacks be mounted beyond the range of the opponent’s offensive systems, but they can also be carried out beyond the target’s radar horizon. The long flight range, combined with the use of multiple waypoints, permits advanced tactics such as attacking from any selected direction and making use of terrain, such as islands, to mask the missile’s approach. It also gives a reattack capability.
In littoral warfare and multi-target scenarios, a target discrimination and selection capability is vital, as is the need to avoid collateral damage. With the RBS15 Mk3, specific target selection is achieved by a high-resolution radar seeker, intelligent signal processing and a number of programmable parameters such as target priority, search area size, target size, masking and attack direction.
The RBS15 Mk3 is designed to be highly resistant to all kinds of ECM. Chaff, active jammers, decoys and other types of electronic countermeasures are effectively countered by the unique combination of the inherent characteristics of the target seeker itself and the sophisticated signal processing. The success of a mission also depends on the ability to penetrate a target’s missile and gun defences. The RBS15 Mk3 combines sea-state adapted extremely low seaskimming with unpredictable evasive manoeuvres and increased thrust in the terminal phase. To further improve the hit probabilityagainst heavily defended targets, RBS15 Mk3 can be salvo-launched. Missiles in the salvo are individually programmed to arrive simultaneously at the target from different directions,thereby saturating the ship’s defences.
Its growth potential provides an additional substantial advantage for the RBS 15 Mk 3. Saab Dynamics’ and Diehl BGT Defence’s policy is one of continuous improvement, offering the customer the latest development. In addition, flight altitudes, waypoints, target seeker programming, terminal manoeuvres etc. can be adapted to give a customer-unique set of characteristics. Continous Product Improvement will allow the RBS15 Mk3 to be upgraded during its lifetime in order to adapt to the evolving threat and to meet new tactical requirements. Saab Dynamics and Diehl BGT Defence will further enhance operational potential with a precision land strike capability based for example on incorporation of a dual-mode radar/imaging IR seeker, enhanced warhead and data link capability for target updates and missile redirection. Studies on sensor upgrades (dual-mode seeker) and net-centric capability (data link) are being conducted. These studies constitute a promising basis for the intensification of industrial and inter-agency defence cooperation between Germany and Sweden.
The co-operation between Saab Bofors Dynamics and Diehl BGT Defence includes marketing, production, deliveries, maintenance and future upgrades for both the Swedish and German navies, as well as for the export market. Saab Bofors Dynamics is the system design authority, and Diehl BGT Defence is responsible for the final assembly and testing of the missile, both for the German and other export customers. The heavy-weight missile RBS 15 Mk 3 is a genuine European product. Apart from Diehl BGT Defence and Saab Bofors Dynamics, numerous other firms from Germany, Sweden, France and Great Britain are engaged as subcontractors in the program.
On September 22, 2005, the procurement contract for the heavy-weight anti-ship missile RBS 15 Mk 3 was signed by the German Federal Procurement Agency and prime contractor Diehl BGT Defence in Koblenz. The German Navy is the first NATO nation to order RBS 15 Mk3 Missiles. Ship integration and installation is already under contract by the German Navy for its K130 Corvettes as well as the Polish Navy for its ORKAN class fast attack crafts. The RBS 15 Mk3 operational characteristics, in combination with the low life-cycle cost, has shown to be the best operational as well as economical solution for the German Navy.
In a test campaign on March 15, 2008, the RBS15 Mk3 heavy anti-ship missile, jointly developed by Diehl and Saab, demonstrated its ability to also engage land targets successfully. The test was conducted at the Vidsel test range of the Swedish procurement agency FMV in northern Sweden in the presence of numerous government delegations from Germany, Poland, Sweden and other countries. The missile launched from a vehicle on the ground automatically followed a pre-programmed trajectory across various terrain profiles. The missile was guided by its on-board navigation system along the trajectory with pinpoint accuracy via numerous waypoints to the target. Having already impressively demonstrated the RBS15 missile's anti-ship capability in the past, this test's primary purpose was to verify the new GPS-aided land attack capability implemented in the Mk3 version.
Development and evaluation of the Mk 3 version was completed in December 2008. The first two RBS 15 Mk 3 surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) for the German Navy passed factory acceptance tests in September and October 2009, and were ready for delivery to the service a few weeks later. At that time total of 15 missiles were in production at Diehl BGT Defence's production facilities in Überlingen and Maasberg, Germany. All ship equipment had been delivered, with systems for the German Navy's K130 corvettes commissioned and operational.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list