caption=A UUM-44 Subroc after leaving the water.
type=Standoff Anti-Submarine Weapon
United States Navy
service=1965, Withdrawn 1989
engine=Solid Rocket Booster
W55 Nuclear Depth Bomb
guidance=Inertial guidance Ballistic Trajectory
SUBROC (SUBmarine ROCket) was a type of
submarinelaunched rocketintended for use as an anti-submarine weapon.
SUBROC could be launched from a 21 inch submarine torpedo tube. After launch, the solid fuel rocket motor fires and SUBROC rises to the surface. The launch angle then changes and SUBROC flies to its destination following a predetermined ballistic trajectory. At a predetermined time in the trajectory, the reentry vehicle (containing the warhead) separates from the solid fuel motor. The warhead (a
W555 kiloton nuclear weapon) a Nuclear Depth Bombdrops into the water, sinking rapidly before exploding in proximity to its target. A direct hit is not necessary.
Technically, its tactical use, or "raison d'être" was as an urgent-attack long-range weapon that could attack time-urgent submarine targets that could not be attacked with any other weapon without betraying the position of the launching submarine by calling for an air-strike, or where the target was too distant to be attacked quickly with a torpedo launched from the submarine. The tactical rationale for SUBROC was similar to that for
ASROCor Ikara (see the fuller description on the Ikara page). An added advantage was that SUBROC's approach to the target was not detectable by the target in time to take evasive action, although the warhead yield would appear to make evasive maneuvers unrealistic. However, SUBROC was less flexible in its use than Ikara or ASROC: since its only payload was a nuclear warhead, it could not be used to provide stand-off fire in a conventional (e.g., non-nuclear) engagement.
The SUBROC used by the
US Navywas the Goodyear UUM-44 SUBROC. Developed in 1965. SUBROC was never used in combat and all were decommissioned following the end of the Cold Warin 1989. Because the nuclear warhead was an integral part of the weapon, SUBROC could not be exported to other navies, and there is no evidence that any were supplied to other NATO allies under the well-established arrangements for supplying other dual-key nuclear weapons. Towards the end of the 1970s, a planned successor, the UUM-125 Sea Lance, was frequently delayed due to funding problems and eventually canceled.
Subroc was not strictly an anti-submarine weapon: it was thought that the noisy "Alfa"-class submarine of the
Soviet Unionwould serve as a beacon as to the location of a Soviet battle group, and a sufficiently large nuclear warhead would destroy not only the submarine, but all accompanying warships as well.Fact|date=February 2007
Subroc was featured in the February 1965 issue of
List of nuclear weapons
* [http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/subroc.htm astronautix] article on the UUM-44A
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