– difference between air to surface and air to sea capabilities in military


– difference between air to surface and air to sea capabilities in military

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Air-to-surface: an aircraft can attack any surface target with this. This is also often called air-to-ground.

Air-to-sea: an aircraft can attack any sea target with this. The more common term for this is anti-ship or anti-submarine.

Air-to-ground would include missiles, bombs, and any gun the aircraft is equipped with. Anything that can be used to target something on the ground would fall into this category.

Air-to-sea or anti-ship weapons would include missiles as well as torpedoes. Since most ships are assumed to be well defended by anti-aircraft systems, bombs are less common; the ideal is for the aircraft to launch the weapon up to a hundred miles away to stay as far as it can from any anti-aircraft weapons. Anti-ship missiles tend to use the sea to its advantage; the seas are quite flat compared to land, so the missiles will tend to fly low and fast, to it make it harder for the target to detect them among the waves.

Torpedoes, of course, aren’t going to be very effective against land targets, so those are exclusively air-to-sea weapons; specifically, since most submarines operate submerged for long periods of time, torpedoes are often the most effective weapon in the anti-submarine role. They tend to have much shorter range than missiles, so they aren’t as common in anti-ship attacks unless the ship in question doesn’t have effective anti-air defenses.

Sea targets are bigger, actively defended, moving relatively quickly, and difficult to mark. Militaries want to expend the least amount of resources necessary to achieve an objective so small cheap weapons for small ground targets are preferable to using bigger missiles for the same kills.

Most air to sea weapons can also be used against ground targets but they tend to be bigger than a lot of targets require.

A small air to surface weapon like an AGM-114 Hellfire weighs in at 100 pounds, costs $150k, and can kill a tank but isn’t going to do much against a ship. It only needs to punch a relative short distance into the tank(small warhead), isn’t dodging a half dozen miniguns and interceptor missiles, and is chasing a target someone is pointing a laser at so it’ll hit the target

Ships are much harder targets to kill. They’re physically larger so you need a bigger warhead. They tend to have radar watching for incoming threats and have missiles that can go intercept your missiles and miniguns to catch it if it gets close so your missile needs to remain undetected for as long as possible. They’re also launched from a fair ways out and need to be able to locate the ship that will be miles from where it was when the missile launched

A common one like an AGM-84 Harpoon (can you tell its meant for poking ships?) weighs 1500 pounds, costs $1.4M each, carries a much bigger 490 lb warhead, and flies to the target skimming the surface of the sea with its radar off to keep it from being detected on radar until its seconds from impact when it kicks on its own radar to get a good lock and closes in for the kill.

The Harpoon as also been adapted into other variants that are meant for air to surface work when something big needs to get popped, but they’re all pretty expensive