October 25, 2005 The effectiveness of armed forces has improved dramatically thanks to the availability of advanced, information-processing sensors, but as these capabilities have spread, the threat to man and material from hostile reconnaissance systems and missiles has also grown and the development of effective protection systems is becoming increasingly important. The recent demonstration of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System) by BAE Systems for U.S. military forces was a site to behold. The system works in exactly the same way that a bullfighter draws the alignment of the charging bull away from his body – MASS lures the hostile missile system away from its naval target with a optimized key stimuli. Insiders refer to this as the Pamela Anderson principle.

MASS has been designed to give protection against missiles that are equipped with cameras (visual), infrared seekers, radar seekers or laser seekers and can thus locate and approach targets autonomously. The idea is to place the right decoy in the right place at the right time. In the case of MASS, this is possible because the launcher system can be swivelled in elevation and azimuth and 32 decoys can be launched at intervals such that the hostile missile is deflected from the actual target (the ships) stepwise and will ultimately miss its target.


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The MASS system is the only protection system in the world permitting decoy deployment in all five degrees of freedom – azimuth, elevation, range, number and interval – and additionally warrants spontaneous protection in all relevant wavelengths for the military (optical, infrared, laser, radar and UV).

One decisive asset in terms of safety is the extremely short reaction time. MASS requires only two seconds from the time of missile detection (approach speed: Mach 2 corresponding to approx. 2,400 km/h) up to its successful deflection.

What does the decoy actually consist of? To influence both possible sensor systems (infrared and radar) each decoy has two types of charge:

1 – “chaff” payloads are used to disturb the hostile radar. These are aluminized fibre-glass strips which are cut to length in such a way that the radar dipoles (optimized key stimuli) stand in the air and the radar bearing is thus deflected from the ship to the decoy.

2 - To deflect the infrared bearing between the ship and the attacking missile, a smoke wall of red phosphorous flares is produced on which the IR bearing then remains locked while the ship can move out of the danger zone.

Laste week, BAE Systems, demonstrated Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s MASS shipboard decoy launcher system aboard the U.S. Army Theater Support Vessel Spearhead (TSV-1X).

The demonstration, managed by Army Watercraft Systems, took place at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The Army's TSV is a 319-foot wave-piercing catamaran. The vessel is part of an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) to provide high-speed transport for troops and equipment across inter-theater seaways. MASS is part of the TSV Electronic Warfare Self-Protection Demonstration, an effort to demonstrate self-protection capabilities for the TSV. In the Hawaiian tests, the MASS launcher was demonstrated in conjunction with electronic warfare sensors, including BAE Systems' Common Missile Warning System. "MASS, operating in conjunction with the electronic warfare sensor suite, is well-suited for applications where high-speed vessels operate close to shore and are subjected to a wide range of close-proximity threats," said Gary Morris, BAE Systems' director of Business Development Sensor Integration. When fully integrated with the ship's electronic warfare sensors, MASS automatically responds to threats such as radar, laser, infrared, and electro-optical guided bombs or missiles deploying various types of decoys. MASS is designed and manufactured by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, Germany. BAE Systems has a licensing agreement to market and produce the launcher system for U.S. military forces. MASS is in current use on vessels of several Western European navies.

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