The U.S purchased the Kh-31
The missile they actually bought was an early model Kh-31 that was basically the early model anti radiation version that was intended to fly at high altitude most of the way to the target.
It was not intended to fly low all the way to the target, so the MA-31 missiles as the Americans designated their missiles had much shorter flight range at low altitude than the Kh-31 weapon could actually achieve in combat.
They didn't care of course... it was their first access to a combined rocket ramjet powered missile so they had a lot to learn... but the missiles they received were obsolete.
Are Small anti-ship missiles effective? I get it that a number of them need to be fired but generally speaking anti-ship missiles tend to be Large. Look at Russian anti-ship missiles...they are large.
As long as you respect the fact that these are light missiles they actually make a lot of sense.
The alternative to these missiles effectively would be using anti tank missiles like Hellfire or Ataka, which are missiles with at best 8-10km range and 6-10kgs HE warhead. In comparison these light missiles have a range of about 20-30km with 30-50kg warheads which makes the launch platform safer because 20-30km is outside manpads range and 30-50kg HE frag warheads will be rather more effective.... while the 100-200kg missile weight is still in the range of most helicopters can operate with.
I remember an exercice during which US helicopters fired around 25 hellfire atgm against a frigate to sink it. There was no crew to fight the fire but it gives you idea of how fire can destroy a ship. The heat makes the metal to lose strenght and the ship just collapse.
25 Hellfires is pretty much the equivalent of a 250kg cluster bomb with 25 x 10kg bomblets all starting fires. Submarines during WWII often came to the surface and used deck mounted guns to sink ships that could not defend themselves and were not fast enough to get away... I have read about a Soviet sub using 47mm AA rounds to sink ships... it takes a while but can certainly be done easily enough.
Yeah. Sure. Lets imagine a real world setting where helos with short range ATGMs attack a minor combatant armed with a competent CIWS like navalised Tor or Pantsir. This encounter ends with the Pentagram tearing a few pages out of its tactical doctrine and issuing a purchase order for replacement helos.
US spy ships are equipped with 50 cal HMGs... that US spy ship the Israelis attacked repeatedly because they claimed they thought it was an Egyptian freighter had two 50 cal HMGs for protection... a helicopter hovering 5km away could hammer it with Hellfires and there is no way it could shoot back or escape...
And why waste an expensive missile when lots of smaller lighter cheaper missiles will do.
The Sea Skua had a 50kg HE payload so five would be the equivalent of 25 Hellfires... which means three helicopters with Sea Skuas (2 each) could achieve what would normally take two Apaches with 16 missiles each, but that is not too bad... you could save the Hellfires for shore targets or smaller speed boat type targets.