Fast Attack Craft


Fast Attack Craft

A Fast Attack Craft (FAC) ( _de. Schnellboot) is a small (100 to 400 tonnes), fast (up to ca. 40 knots) ship for offensive tasks, mainly equipped with surface-to-surface missiles and/or anti-ship torpedoes.

Because of their relatively small size, FACs are generally limited to coastal areas and relatively calm sea states. For example, navies operating in the Mediterranean and South East Asia use them, but in the North Sea and the oceans they are seen far less often.

History

With small gasoline motors coming up in late 19th century it was possible to build small, fast boats for warfare. Invention started in the beginning of the 20th century in Italy and Great Britain. The first such boats were armed with small guns, and were later made more effective with self-propelled torpedoes. The first famous success of the Fast Attack Crafts was the sinking of the Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István by the Italian MAS 15 in 1918.

After World War II, the use of this kind of craft steadily declined in the USA and Britain, although the Soviet Union still had large numbers of Motor Gun Boats and Motor Torpedo Boats in service. With the rise in the use of surface-to-surface missiles in the 1960s, interest in the use of FACs was renewed - first in the Soviet Union then in the west, especially in France and Germany. France also built large numbers of this type of craft for export.

The First Gulf War in 1991 brought to light an important fault in the FAC design philosophy after a group of Iraqi FACs were destroyed by British Lynx helicopters armed with Sea Skua missiles - FACs had almost no air defence systems and, even if they were equipped with an air defence radar, the small size of the ship meant that it could not be mounted high enough to be of much use. However, the German Gepard class fast attack craft are equipped with countermeasures, such as decoy and chaff launchers, and the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missilesystem which gives them good air defence capability.

In recent years FACs have been increasingly equipped with surface-to-air missiles and they have become bigger - up to ca. 800 tonnes. The biggest FACs are even capable of carrying a helicopter.

ee also

*Missile boat
*Torpedo boat
*E-Boat allied Name for German Schnellboote
*Motor Torpedo Boat British FAC
*PT Boat US-FAC of WW II
*Patrol boat


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