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RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Missile

The Navy's RIM-7M Sea Sparrow and the Air Force's AIM-7 Sparrow are radar-guided, air-to-air missiles with high explosive warheads. They have a cylindrical body with four wings at mid-body and four tail fins. The Navy uses the Sea Sparrow version aboard ships as a surface-to-air anti-missile defense. The versatile Sparrow has all-weather, all-altitude operational capability and can attack high-performance aircraft and missiles from any direction. It is widely deployed by U.S. and NATO forces. The Sea Sparrow is found aboard many U.S. and NATO surface warships.

NATO SEASPARROW Surface Missile System (NSSMS)

The NATO SEASPARROW Surface Missile System (NSSMS) Mk 57 is a medium-range, rapid-reaction, missile weapon system that provides the capability of destroying hostile aircraft, anti-ship missiles, and airborne and surface missile platforms with surface-to-air missiles. The NSSMS can also be used to detect missile launchings by a surface vessel utilizing the NSSMS surveillance radar capability. The NSSMS consists of a Guided Missile Fire Control System (GMFCS) Mk 91 and a Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) Mk 29. The GMFCS is a computer-operated fire control system that provides automatic acquisition and tracking of a designated target, generates launcher and missile orders, and in the automatic mode initiates the firing command when the target becomes engageable. Although most of the NSSMS operations are carried out under automatic or semi-automatic conditions, the GMFCS permits operator intervention and override at any time. The GMLS is a rapid-reaction, lightweight launching system that provides on-mount stowage and launch capability of up to eight missiles. The GMLS responds to launcher position commands, missile orders, and control commands issued by GMFCS. The NSSMS employs AIM/RIM-7 Sparrow III series, surface-to-air/surface-to-surface semi-active homing missiles. The RIM-7 version is commonly referred to as SEASPARROW. The missile utilizes the energy reflected from the target and from rear reference RF (transmitted from the director system) for developing missile wing movement orders enabling target intercept.

The NATO SEASPARROW Surface Missile System Mk 57 Mod 6 is a medium-range, rapid-reaction system using a semi-active homing missile. This version of the NSSMS is a restructured design utilizing the Reflected Memory Local Area Network fiber optic cable. The NSSMS Mod 6 consists of a Tracking Illuminator System (TIS) Mk 9 Mod 0 and a Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) Mk 29 Mod 2. The TIS is a computer-operated fire control system that provides automatic acquisition and tracking of a designated target, generates launcher and missile orders, and in the automatic mode initiates the firing command when the target becomes engageable. Although most of the NSSMS operations are carried out under automatic or semi-automatic conditions, the TIS permits operator intervention and override at any time. The GMLS is a rapid-reaction, lightweight launching system that provides on-mount stowage and launch capability of up to eight missiles. The GMLS responds to launcher position commands, missile orders, and control commands issued by TIS. The NSSMS employs Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) or RIM-7M/P/R, which is a high velocity and extremely agile missile with semi-active radar homing.

According to the Navy's Material Readiness Database for fiscal years 1997 through 1999, the SLQ-32 electronic warfare system, NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System (NSSMS), Phalanx Close-in Weapon System, and the SPS-48E radar system were among the ship self-defense systems with the lowest availability rates. The Navy's measure of effectiveness for Equipment Operational Capability (availability) is classified in the following manner: Operable = Greater than 0.8; Minor problems = 0.7 - 0.8; Limited capability = 0.5 - 0.6; Major problems = 0.3 - 0.4; Inoperative = 0 - 0.2.

    Equipment type and
          version       Availability ratea      Impediments to availability
                       FY 97  FY 98 FY 99
     NSSMS
                                             Failure and high cost of
     Mark 57 Bl                              components, excessive parts usage,
     1R/mods2/3        0.79   0.84  0.78     nonavailability of parts onboard,
                                             excessive operational tempo, and
                                             maintenance requirements.
    

Originally developed by Sperry and the U.S. Navy, Sparrow's later versions were developed and produced by Raytheon Co. and General Dynamics.

Rearchitectured NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System (RNSSMS)

In July 1995, the Navy awarded a contract to develop the necessary software and hardware for a Rearchitectured NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System (RNSSMS). When fully developed and tested, the RNSSMS will replace the legacy NSSMS closed architecture design and unique display consoles with an open, distributed processing architecture and Navy standard display consoles. Specific features of the new design include, but are not limited to, cross utilization of launchers and directors, reduced manning requirements, and interoperability with SSDS MK II. Collectively, these features will improve system operational availability, reliability, and mission effectiveness. They will also improve a ship's ability to meet its capstone requirements. As of late April 2000, initial RNSSMS production systems were delivered for installation aboard LHD 7 and CVN 68. In May 2000, the system's software began LHD class configuration combat system level testing at the Navy's Integrated Combat System Test Facility in Point Loma, California, to be completed by October 2000. The current RNSSMS program schedule, which includes integration testing with SSDS MK II, provides the first fully operational systems on LHD 7 in April 2001 and on CVN 68 in December 2001. RNSSMS hardware installations in CVN 76 and 69 are planned during fiscal years 2000 through 2002. The Navy also plans to install the system on the entire LHD ship class, all remaining CVN ships, and one conventional carrier (CV 67) between 2003 and 2006. The RNSSMS is intended to help pave the way for the next generation of self-defense systems.



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