|Type Air-to-ground missile|
In service 2008–present
|Place of origin United States|
|Used by United States Air Force
United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Central Intelligence Agency|
Wars War in Afghanistan Iraq War
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. It has been used in combat by the United States military in Afghanistan.
Raytheon developed Griffin as a low-cost modular system, using components from earlier projects, including the FGM-148 Javelin and the AIM-9X Sidewinder. It was originally designed to be launched from the US Special Operations Command's MC-130W Dragon Spear gunship and can be guided either by a semi-active laser seeker or with GPS. Its precision combined with a relatively small 5.9 kg warhead reduces collateral damage.
The munition comes in two versions. Griffin A is an unpowered precision munition that can be dropped from a rear cargo door or a door-mounted launcher that can drop while the cabin is pressurized. Weighing 15 kg and measuring 1.1 meters in length, it is launched from a 10-tube "Gunslinger" launcher that fits on the rear ramp of a Marine KC-130 tanker/transport or the USAF AC-130W Stinger II.
Griffin Block II B is a short-range, rocket-powered air-to-surface or surface-to-surface missile that can be fired from UAVs as well as helicopters, attack aircraft, U.S. Air Force AC-130W gunships, and USMC KC-130J tankers.
The missile's folding fins allow it to be launched from a 140 mm tube. It can be set to engage the target with height of burst, point detonation or fuze delay. The U.S. Navy has tested the Griffin as a shipboard missile guided by laser at fast-moving small boats; they planned to use it on the Littoral Combat Ships. The missile version is less than half the weight of a Hellfire round and includes a 5.9 kg warhead. It has a range of 15 km when air-launched, or 5.5 km when launched from the surface. It has been fired from the U.S. Army Remote weapon station, multi-round Wedge Launcher, Smart Launcher and Kiowa Warrior manned helicopters.
The missile is smaller than the Hellfire typically used by armed UAVs, which reduces the potential for collateral damage. Three Griffins can be carried in place of one Hellfire. The Griffin missile and launch assembly is also lighter than the Hellfire, allowing more to be mounted on the Predator.
In 70 months of production from 2008 to early February 2014, Raytheon delivered 2,000 Griffin missiles. In late February 2014, Raytheon demonstrated the improved Griffin Block III missile, hitting static and moving targets. The Block III includes an improved semi-active laser seeker with better electronics and signal processing and a new Multi-Effects Warhead System to maximize lethality against different targets.
Raytheon developed an extended-range version of the Griffin for integration onto Littoral Combat Ships. The Sea Griffin has a new motor and guidance system to increase its firing range from an LCS. Raytheon faced competition in equipping the LCS with a missile, as the Navy looked for other vendors. Competition came from MBDA with the Sea Spear version of its Brimstone missile. Both missiles intended to give the LCS protection from small boat swarm attacks. The Navy instead selected the AGM-114L Hellfire to equip the LCS. The decision was made from the ship's use of the Saab’s Sea Giraffe radar. While each Griffin requires a semi-active laser to paint a target, so a volley of them can only engage one target at a time, the Longbow Hellfire missiles can use the ship's and their own millimeter wave radar to separately track and engage multiple targets at the same time.
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 was integrated on a Cyclone-class patrol ship, which used it to hit remote-controlled boats simulating a threat to the ship. The MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System achieved initial operational capability (IOC) with the U.S. Navy in March 2014, which is intended to provide protection for vessels in littoral areas against swarm boat attacks and other threats. The MK-60 includes the Griffin missile, a laser targeting system, a Navy-designed 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), and also provides 360-degree coverage; the missiles' thrust-vectoring engines can move the missile to its target even when launched vertically. Installation onto a PC involves adding the launcher and weapons control system, the BRITE Star II sensor/laser designator, and the Griffin B Block II missile in a process taking one month.
Raytheon is continuing to fund the development of the Sea Griffin to extend the missile's range. The Sea Griffin will use a dual-mode seeker with an imaging infrared seeker and semi-active laser guidance, and a data-link to track multiple threats simultaneously and give it a fire-and-forget capability. The new seeker and an extended-range rocket motor, which will add 9.1 kg, will increase the range of the Sea Griffin to 15 km. In tests, the Sea Griffin's new imaging infrared (IIR) seeker has streamed video back to operators through the data-link to provide verification before the missile strikes the target. Its In-Flight Target Update (IFTU) capability allows it to be redirected to a new target in mid-flight, a vital feature against swarming small boats moving between friendly forces and neutral shipping. The Sea Griffin has been renamed the Griffin C.