Home > Missiles > Penguin

Penguin

Anti-ship missile

Penguin missile

The Penguin is unusual among anti-ship missiles, being lightweight, short-ranged, helicopter-launched, and infrared guided

 
 
  Penguin Mk.1 Penguin Mk.2 Penguin Mk.3
Country of origin Norway
Entered service 1972 1980 1987
Missile
Missile length ? 3 m 3.2 m
Missile diameter ? 0.28 m 0.28 m
Wing span ? 1.4 m 1 m
Missile weight ? 345 kg 370 kg
Warhead weight 113 kg 113 kg 120 kg
Warhead type HE-FRAG HE-FRAG HEDP
Range of fire 20.3 km 26.9 km 51.8 km
Launch platforms helicopters and watercraft helicopters and water craft fixed-wing aircraft

 

   A product of Kongsberg (now part of General Dynamics European Systems), the Penguin is a compact and lightweight Anti-Ship Missile (AShM). It is an unusual weapon for this class, in that the Penguin is designed primarily for launch from helicopters and small missile boats. Some models may also be launched from fixed-wing aircraft. It was also the first NATO AShM with an infrared guidance system.

   While most AShMs are designed to attack distant enemies in the open ocean from as far away as possible, such as the Harpoon or Exocet, this was found to pose several problems when used in the closed terrain typical of littoral waters. Large missiles with aerodynamics optimized for stable, straight-line flight handle poorly in these regions, the terrain further interferes with radar returns, and there are seldom opportunities to attack ships from a great distance under any conditions. These circumstances dictated the development of a very different type of missile.

   Work on what would become the Penguin missile began in 1962, as a joint program between the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (NDRE) and Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk, with additional funding from the West German government. The concept drew considerable interest not only from the Norwegian Navy, but the US Navy as well. Consequently, the project received additional funding from both Oslo and Washington DC. The development effort was nonetheless a lengthy affair, and the original production model --- the Penguin Mk.1 --- entered service with the Royal Norwegian Navy in 1972, followed by the Turkish Navy in the same year. Further development work resulted in the improved Penguin Mk.2, which entered service with the Norwegian armed forces in 1980, and a later effort to produce a model better-suited for launch from fixed-wing aircraft resulted in the Penguin Mk.3, which entered service with the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 1987.

   Despite the considerable contributions of the US government to the Penguin program, the US armed forces were slow to accept it. The US Air Force (USAF) trialed the Penguin Mk.3 in the 1980s as the AGM-119A Penguin, but while its performance was considered satisfactory, the USAF decided against procuring them. The other US armed services followed suit, and the AGM-119A never went into production. While the USAF abandoned the program entirely, the US Navy by the 1990s had taken an interest in the Penguin Mk.2 Mod 7 for use on its helicopters (while the US Navy already had the AGM-84 Harpoon, that missile was considered too large for use on a helicopter). The Mk.2 Mod 7 was formally accepted into service with the US Navy in 1994 (some sources state 1993), as the AGM-119B Penguin. A total of 106 AGM-119Bs were procured by the US armed forces.

   The Penguin can be launched from aircraft, helicopters, or watercraft, depending on the variant. Fixed-wing aircraft certified to launch the Penguin include the F-104G Starfighter and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, while certified rotorcraft include the Bell 412 SP, Kaman SH-2 Seasprite, Sikorsky S-70 series (including the SH-60 Seahawk), and the Westland Super Lynx. It was also planned for use on the AH-64N Sea Apache, though this variant of the AH-64 Apache was ultimately never produced. Watercraft armed with the Penguin include Norway's Hauk and Storm class missile boats, and Turkey's kartal class missile boats. Kongsberg has also advertised the Penguin as suitable for larger warships as well, though it lacks the range or firepower needed to compete on even terms with missiles such as the Exocet or Harpoon.

   The Penguin has a peculiar appearance that distinguishes it from all other anti-ship missiles. The fuselage is cylindrical and fairly conventional in shape, with a narrow protruding strip on either side (containing some of the wiring), but the fins are all steeply-swept. The forward fins are small, and located almost on the nose of the missile, while the substantially larger aft fins are located just behind the midsection of the fuselage, rather than far aft. The aft fins can be folded (to allow the missile to fit into a launch tube), and spring into position as the missile is launched. Two lifting eyes atop the missile allow it to be carried by a pylon under the wing of an aircraft, or the wing-stub of a helicopter. The glassy seeker window on the nose is dome-shaped, and dark green in color. The Penguin is usually painted white, off-white, or light gray, but may have different color schemes in some militaries.

   Information on the composition of the Penguin does not appear to have been published. It most likely has an aluminum fuselage and fins, with a silicium seeker window, but the internal composition is probably classified.

   The most unique aspect of the Penguin missile is its guidance. Rather than being radar-guided like nearly all other AShMs, the Penguin has an infrared-homing seeker head. As this method of guidance is completely passive, there is no warning of the attack prior to launch, and no radar illumination to "tip-off" the enemy that an attack is underway, because a warship's radar warning receiver is useless. A targeted ship can only detect an approaching IR-homing missile by its own radar, which is not an easy feat against a sea-skimming missile as tiny as the Penguin. They may not realize they're under attack until the missile actually hits them. Moreover, even if the enemy *does* detect the attack, the Penguin is not easily hit by any weapon, and as the usual assortment of ECMs on modern warships (chaff, jamming, decoys, and so on) are made to defeat radar-guided missiles, they would have no effect on this one.

   An infrared guidance system is not foolproof, however. Some warships equipped with chaff mortars also launch flares, which can potentially mislead a Penguin, and infrared sensors are also known to have problems seeing through fog, mist, and rain, which could potentially camouflage the target from the seeker head. Nevertheless, vulnerability to decoys was anticipated by the designers, and interference from these is partially mitigated by electronic counter-countermeasures.

   While most modern AShMs are powered by jet engines, in order to exploit the advantages of endurance and cruise performance these offer, the Penguin is instead powered by a solid-fuel rocket motor. No external booster is fitted (the motor is a two-stage design, with both stages being inside the fuselage), and the missile accelerates to its full speed in seconds, requiring only about one minute to reach its maximum range. The sustainer motor has a longer burn time than the booster, but as is usually the case with solid-fuel rockets, it still isn't very long. Of course, this also means that the launch entails some rather spectacular pyrotechnics, which could potentially give-away the position of the launch platform.

   The Penguin Mk.1 and Mk.2 series' are armed with the Mk.19 warhead, a 113 kg High Explosive Fragmentation (FRAG) munition based on the warhead used in the AGM-12 Bullpup tactical missile (which in turn was a derivative of the warhead from the Mk.82 bomb). The Penguin Mk.3 is instead armed with the heavier 120 kg WDU-39/B High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) warhead. These are often referred-to as "semi-armor-piercing" warheads, as they have hardened casings that allow them to punch through thick hull plates on larger ships before detonating, but lack the structural integrity needed to penetrate reinforced or armored targets (hence, the "semi" part). This warhead is sufficient to defeat small watercraft, and ocean-going warships up to the size of small frigates, though a destroyer would require several successive direct hits to disable. Something in the size range of an aircraft carrier would suffer very little damage from the Penguin, though large warships also seldom operate in littoral waters.

   Despite its considerable operational history, by 2018 the Penguin does not appear to have been used in combat. The missile's current operators have been involved in very little naval combat since the early 1990s, and most of the combat their air and naval arms have seen did not require helicopters to attack hostile watercraft. For example, NATO had an abundance of weapons launched by warships, fixed-wing aircraft, and submarines during Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011, and as the Mediterranean Sea was a considerably more wide-open space than the fjords of the Kola Peninsula, it made little sense to send helicopters perilously close to hostile warships (some of which were armed with surface-to-air missiles that potentially outranged the Penguin, like the Libyan Navy's Kola III class frigates). Thus, it remains to be seen when (or perhaps *if*) the Penguin will be used in combat.

   By 2018, the Penguin has been adopted by the armed forces of Brazil, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Turkey, and the United States, and it remains in service with some of these nations. Several Storm class Missile Boats were later exported to Lithuania, but it's unclear if they retained their Penguin launchers.

   Production of the Penguin is complete, with over 1 200 built. It is unclear if the Penguin is still offered by Kongsberg, as the most recent sale was to Turkey in 2008, though it is still a featured product on their website. Based on the US government's FY1997 expenditure on 106 AGM-119B Penguins, its price at that time was about $800 000.

 

Variants

 

   Mk.1: Original production model. It has a range of 20.3 km. It entered service in 1972.

   Mk.2: Improved range model. It has a range of 29.6 km. Entered service in 1980.

   Mk.3: Enhanced Penguin Mk.2 for use on fixed-wing aircraft. It entered service in 1987.

   Mk.2 Mod 7: Evolved Mk.2, primarily for use on helicopters. Despite its designation, the Mk.2 Mod 7 is actually a later and more advanced missile than the Mk.3.

   AGM-119A: Penguin Mk.3 variant for the USAF. Did not enter service.

   AGM-119B: Designation of Penguin Mk.2 Mod 7 missile in service with the US Navy. It was adopted in 1994. A total of 106 AGM-119Bs were procured by the US armed forces.

   CATM-119B: Captive air training version of the AGM-119B; has a standard seeker head, but the engine and warhead are inert.

 

Blacktail

   Article by BLACKTAIL

   Want to publish your own articles? Visit our guidelines for more information.

 

Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin missile

Expand image
 
Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin missile

Expand image

Penguin Mk.3 missile

Expand image

Penguin Mk.3 missile

Expand image

Penguin Mk.3 missile

Expand image

Penguin  missile

Expand image

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Home  Home     Aircraft     Helicopters     Tanks     Armored Vehicles     Artillery     Trucks     Engineering Vehicles     Missiles     Naval Forces     Firearms     |     Contact Us
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

© ARG 2006 - 2021
www.Military-Today.com Penguin

Visitor counter