BAE Systems to design next-gen missile launch system for US Navy
BAE Systems has won a US$37-million contract from the US Department of Defense to design the Next Generation Evolved SeaSparrow Missile Launch System (NGELS), which would give warships without a vertical launch missile system a similar capability.
Many Western warships these days look about as well armed as a yacht. Where they once bristled with big guns, rocket launchers, and other weaponry, the deck often shows little more than a single small gun turret on the bow with the deck behind it looking as flat and as smooth as that of a cargo ship.
The reason for this is that naval vessels today carry as much of their firepower as possible belowdecks. That flat expanse of deck space is really the business end of a vertical launch system consisting of an array of canisters pointing straight up. Instead of needing to aim a launcher in the general direction of a target, the vertical launch system sends a missile up like a skyrocket, after which it locks onto the hostile and veers towards it.
It's a system that provides a lot of advantages. It's modular, easy to load and maintain, provides a great deal of stealth, and no clues as to readiness that might be seen by someone with binoculars. However, it has the disadvantages of needing at least a hull deep enough to accommodate it and one that can be retrofitted for the system.
To overcome this, BAE Systems is helping the NATO SeaSparrow Program Office (NSPO) to develop NGELS, which will use the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System subsystems in a deck-mounted, fixed-angle launcher that looks a bit like a giant wedge of cheese. Based on the company's Adaptable Deck Launcher (ADL) concept, it will be designed to hold standard MK 25 missile canisters armed with the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) ship self-defense system, which is an interceptor tasked with destroying incoming supersonic missiles.
In the case of the NGELS, it will be armed with the Block 2 variant ESSM, which is a more advanced multi-role surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile for protecting aircraft carriers and other flat-decked ships and can be easily integrated into existing vessels and their weapon control and control systems, including the Mk 41 VLS electronics suite.
"We have a long history of providing missile integration, launching systems, and canister design to the U.S. Navy," said Brent Butcher, vice president of the weapon systems product line at BAE Systems. “NGELS leverages the expertise of our workforce to provide a ready-to-deploy system that enhances mission effectiveness and enables reliable ship defense for the U.S. Navy. We look forward to working with our customers to bring this enhanced capability to the fleet and introducing it to international users."
Source: BAE Systems