Published Resources Details Journal Article

Walker, P. F.
Smart weapons in naval warfare
Scientific American
vol. 248, no. 5, 5 May 1983, pp. 31-39

Accession No.1225


"The war between Britain and Argentina over control of the Falkland Islands in 1982 was viewed with particular interest by military planners and others concerned with evaluating the effect of modern precision-guided weapons on the future of naval warfare. Of the 114 aircraft and 10 ships lost by both sides more than half were put out of action by such "smart" weapons. Included in the losses were 61 Argentine aircraft shot down by surface-to-air missiles, three British ships destroyed by air-to-ship or surface-to-ship missiles and on Argentine ship (the superannuated heavy cruiser General Belgrano) sunk by submarine launched acoustic-homing torpedoes. In addition nine British aircraft, three British ships and three Argentine ships were destroyed by more conventional means, such as gunfire, aerial bombing and accidents.

The advent of smart missiles with or without nuclear warheads is bound to place a premium in naval warfare on stealth, deception, mobility and dispersion rather than size, armour plate or coordinated defensive firepower.

Capital ships are increasingly at risk, regardless of their armament, to comparatively inexpensive smart missiles and torpedoes."