The United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL in its acronym in English) had spent years looking for a quick, effective and, above all, economical solution to destroy enemy ships. Obviously, torpedoes and cruise missiles are still the best option, due to their accuracy and reliability, but they are not always the cheapest or the most suitable for certain environments, especially considering China.
In collaboration with the US Navy, they opted for a bomb, something that seems obsolete and has not been seen since the Falklands War, 40 years ago. This is the Quicksink project, whose main objective is to provide a cheap and adaptable way of sinking ships from the air, in such a way that can be incorporated into the ammunition carried by Air Force planes. being installed in existing weapons (such as the GBU-31). It’s about a JDM systema low-cost kit that mounts to the tail section and contains a global positioning system that replaces all free fall bombs. This guidance system gives the pumps a circular precision of +/- 13 m. and, in addition, they can be dropped from practically any military aircraft.
In this way, it offers the advantages of a heavy torpedo but without the need for the presence of submarines or to launch an expensive cruise missile and, furthermore, at a much higher speed and over a much larger area, since fighter jets can be deployed anywhere in the world where the United States or its allies have air bases or aircraft carriers.
In addition, it is not the same to put a submarine at risk, much more expensive and with a larger crew, than an aircraft. An F-15, for example, costs $87.7 million, while a US submersible can cost up to $2.8 billion.
On April 28, 2022, an F-15E Strike Eagle launched a modified Quicksink-equipped JDAM that successfully destroyed a large vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, splitting it in half and sinking it. The trial allowed the researchers to assess the challenges associated with the future operational use of this system.
“The mission was successful thanks to the hours of planning and preparation provided by the entire test team,” 780 Squadron air-to-surface test flight commander Capt. J. Tucker Tipton said in an AFRL statement. Quicksink’s research and development will continue as the project progresses toward creating a lethal, adaptable and cost-effective anti-ship weapon.
Above all, it will be useful when dealing with attacking a large number of vessels in a relatively short period of time, especially thinking of a large fleet of Chinese fishing boats, backed by lightly armed naval militias and coast guard vessels, invading Philippine territorial waters.
“Quicksink is a response to the urgent need to neutralize maritime threats to freedom around the world”said Col. Tony Meeks, director of the AFRL Munitions Directorate.