Don't look now, but some of the U.S. Navy's smallest warships could soon be packing considerably more heat.
On Tuesday, Raytheon announced that its new MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System "has achieved initial operational capability ," moving one step closer to deployment aboard Navy ships dealing with the threat of being "swarmed" by small, low-tech fast-attack boats.
Originally designed as an air-to-surface missile to be fired from Lockheed Martin AC-130 gunships, Raytheon has for some years been working to tweak the design of its 33-lb., 43-inch-long AGM-176 "Griffin" mini-missile so that it can be launched from Navy gunboats.
Specifically, the missile is being designed to launch from at least two naval platforms -- the Littoral Combat Ships now being built by General Dynamics and Lockheed, and also the Navy's existing fleet of 13 Cyclone-class Coastal Patrol boats.
As recently as November, the Navy had plans to install the MK-60 Griffin Missile System aboard 10 Cyclone-class PC vessels that would be deployed out of the U.S. naval base in Manama, Bahrain. As the Navy described it, installing the Griffin would add an extra layer of defense to the boats' existing MK 38 cannon, capable of hitting fast-moving boats as far as three nautical miles out. (That's about twice the range of the MK 38 "chain gun" manufactured by Israel's Rafael and Britain's BAE Systems ).
What it means to investors
At least eight of the Cyclone-class PCs are currently based in the Gulf, forming part of the U.S. 5th Fleet. However, because the Cyclones were only built with an anticipated lifespan of 15 years, most of these boats are due (or even past due) for decommissioning. Such an eventuality won't mark the end of Griffin's usefulness, though, because Raytheon is also proposing installation of the missiles aboard the new, larger Littoral Combat Ships that will eventually replace the Cyclones, and take over their coastal (littoral) patrol duties.
Moreover, because most world navies are heavy on smaller, coastal defense craft closer in size to America's Coastal Patrol craft, than to, say, its guided missile destroyers, the Griffin may find new markets as well -- slotting in nicely with Raytheon's strategy of diversifying revenues around the globe.
Over the six years since Raytheon began producing the Griffin, it has sold more than 2,000 units of the missile. As the Griffin takes on new duties as a naval munition, Raytheon could sell thousands more in the years to come.
OPEC is absolutely terrified of this game-changer
Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000... per hour (that's almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company's can't-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report reveals the company we're calling OPEC's Worst Nightmare. Just click HERE to uncover the name of this industry-leading stock... and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable LANDSLIDE of profits!
The article Raytheon Company Ready to Send New Missile on a Persian Gulf Tour originally appeared on Fool.com.Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.