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Military


 DOT&E

Director, Operational Test & Evaluation
  
FY97 Annual Report

FY97 Annual Report

AIM/RIM-7R SPARROW MISSILE

Navy ACAT II Program
Intended: 1,800 upgrade kits.
Total program cost (TY$): $289.6M
Average unit cost (TY$) $0.111M
Full-rate production Did not
occur

Prime Contractor
Raytheon Co.
Hughes Missile Systems Co.

SYSTEM DESCRIPTION & CONTRIBUTION TO JOINT VISION 2010

AIM/RIM-7R missiles are semiactive, radar guided- and passive, infrared (IR) guided-, medium range, anti-air missiles that can be launched by aircraft (AIM) or ships (RIM). RIM-7R missiles are derived from the rail-launched RIM-7P missile (radar guided only) and provide anti-air protection for non-Aegis ships, including destroyers, aircraft carriers, and amphibious and auxiliary ships. Aircraft can fire essentially the same missile (AIM-7R). RIM-7R missiles result from an upgrade that adds an IR guidance channel to RIM-7P for terminal homing. Propulsion is provided by a dual thrust (booster/sustainer), solid propellant rocket motor. The missile is 12 feet long and eight inches in diameter. The missile has fixed tail fins and steerable wings. Surface-launched RIM-7Rs have clipped tail fins and folding wings to enable fitting inside the launcher cells. A blast-fragmentation warhead is detonated in the vicinity of the target by a proximity fuze or by a contact fuze. The guidance section uses digital signal processing of the radar echo from a target or the target's IR radiation. The radar receiving antenna is covered by an RF-transparent radome and the IR seeker dome is mounted in the radome nose tip. Although the initial guidance mode is semiactive radar homing, the missile can transition from radar semiactive guidance to IR passive guidance.

RIM-7R, were it to continue to production (see Background Information), could contribute to the JV 2010 operational concept of full dimensional protection in that it enhances ship self protection against anti-ship cruise missiles that have "leaked" past outer air defenses. As indicated under Test &Evaluation Assessment, there are deficiencies with the employment of RIM-7R and, Navy has chosen not to go to production. Given that some of the ships that would have used RIM-7R are also platforms from which strike operations are executed, RIM-7R could indirectly contribute to the concept of precision engagement via provision of ship self protection against anti-ship cruise missiles.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

This program was initiated in 1989 for ships that were equipped with the NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System. (Such ships include aircraft carriers, as well as some amphibious ships, auxiliaries, and Spruance-class destroyers.) An OA of the AIM/RIM-7R was completed in FY95 and was based on DT missile firing results (one AIM-7R, two RIM-7Rs), supplemented by results of hardware-in-the-loop simulation. The OA was conducted in accordance with a TEMP and an OA plan approved by DOT&E and was observed by a DOT&E representative. AIM/RIM-7R was assessed as being potentially operationally effective, with no assessment regarding its operational suitability, due to test limitations. As a result of funding shortfalls, the Navy decided not to pursue operational testing of the air-launched version. An operational evaluation was conducted to determine whether or not RIM-7R was operationally effective and suitable. Notwithstanding results of the operational evaluation, Navy's announced intention is not to go into production with the kits for upgrading RIM-7P missiles to RIM-7Rs, due to funding shortfalls.


TEST & EVALUATION ACTIVITY

OPEVAL, which began in August 1996 with missile firings by a destroyer, USS ELLIOTT (DD 967), had to be conducted in two phases due to slow missile deliveries. OPEVAL was continued in November 1996 with a different destroyer, USS MERRILL (DD 976), with five RIM-7R missiles (two were refurbished missiles that had experienced misfires during the first phase). Both supersonic and subsonic targets were used, including an actual ASCM, as insisted upon by DOT&E. Testing was conducted in accordance with a DOT&E-approved TEMP and test plan. Testing was observed by DOT&E staff and representatives. Analysis of FY96 OT results was not complete when the FY97 Annual Report went to press. Accordingly, the following assessment also addresses those results.


TEST & EVALUATION ASSESSMENT

Significant limitations included the following: (1) Targets did not fully represent the threat in terms of size and shape, speed, altitude, radar cross section, IR signature, and ECM characteristics; (2) Crew alertment more closely resembled that of a ship with warning of imminent missile attack than that for normal wartime steaming; (3) Testing the short range Sea Sparrow against supersonic targets with a manned ship required balancing realism of the simulated threat presentation with ship safety, resulting in target flight paths that differed from that of an expected threat, as well as command destruction of supersonic targets when they reached a specified range from the ship; (4) The limited number of RIM-7R missiles precluded reengagement of surviving targets and the use of multiple missile salvoes in most scenarios and, missile capability (retention) was not examined against diving targets and in a complex ECM environment; (5) Missile storage time onboard ships was limited to less than a month; (6) Testing was confined to the environmental conditions characteristic of the southern California operating area in August and November.

During the August 1996 phase, launches of six RIM-7Rs were attempted, resulting in two valid tests. Invalid tests included two failures experienced during separate firings due to incorrect rear receiver software having been loaded into the missiles (this was a procedural error unrelated to the RIM-7R configuration). Also considered invalid were two duds caused by the absence of a telemeter modification; these missiles were refurbished and fired during the November 1996 phase. During the November 1996 phase, all five RIM-7R launch attempts resulted in valid tests.

Based on the overall results and within constraints of the limitations, RIM-7R is considered operationally effective, except in specific environmental conditions. While RIM-7R is considered operationally suitable, there are serious tactical deficiencies stemming from its supporting weapon system. For example, as employed by the supporting weapon system which can accommodate earlier versions of the RIM-7, the operator is without capability to control the tactically appropriate mix and launching sequence of missile versions in the launcher. While the Navy's operational test agency concluded that RIM-7R is operationally effective and operationally suitable, it was recommended that approval for fleet introduction be after correction of the tactical deficiencies and verification of correction by an additional phase of OT&E.


LESSONS LEARNED

Two of the significant limitations stemmed from safety concerns while using a fleet ship during this OT: target profiles that were not fully threat representative (not directly toward the ship as would be the case with a threat target homing on the ship) and the requirement to command destruct the supersonic targets at a specified range from the ship. The former introduced additional stress on the RIM-7R missiles; the latter was a major factor in elevating crew alertment above that for normal wartime steaming. (Had the Self Defense Test Ship been available, it could have been used for operational effectiveness testing, greatly mitigating the effect of these limitations.)



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