U.S. Navy patrol coastal ships conducted a live-fire exercise with the MK-60 Griffin guided-missile system in the Persian Gulf, Nov. 4-6, to test crew proficiency and system functionality. The MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System was integrated on a Cyclone-class patrol ship, which used it to hit remote-controlled boats simulating a threat to the ship. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) conducted a previous Griffin guided-missile system live fire exercise in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in December 2019. The system was installed on all forward-deployed patrol coastal ships in 2013.
The AGM-176 Griffin is a lightweight, precision-guided munition developed by Raytheon. It can be launched from the ground or air as a rocket-powered missile or dropped from the air as a guided bomb. It carries a relatively small warhead, and was designed to be a precision low-collateral damage weapon for irregular warfare. In September 2013, Raytheon and the U.S. Navy demonstrated the Griffin missile’s ability to engage fast-moving small boats from various platforms throughout a series of at-sea tests. The MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System achieved initial operational capability (IOC) with the U.S. Navy in March 2014.
The MK-60 includes the Griffin missile, a laser targeting system, a launcher, and a battle management system. Each Mk-60 can launch four missiles, and a patrol ship has two MK-60 launchers on board. The U.S. Navy began installing Griffin missiles on Patrol Craft in 2013; as of May 2014, four were outfitted with Griffin missile systems, with plans to equip ten PCs by 2016. When mounted on a ship, the missile is designated the BGM-176B. Arming PCs with Griffin missiles adds a layer of defense to the ships beyond the range of their 25 mm gun mounts, out to 4.5 km (2.8 mi); the missiles’ thrust-vectoring engines can move the missile to its target even when launched vertically.
Exercise participants included patrol coastal ships USS Firebolt (PC 10), USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Chinook (PC 9), USS Hurricane (PC 3), USS Whirlwind (PC 11), expeditionary mobile base platform ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) and guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 115). Some ships also conducted a live fire exercises with crew-served weapons to maintain operator proficiency and readiness for future missions. The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.