MK 137 SRBOC
The six tube MK 137 launcher (Super RBOC) is used to protect surface combatants by launching any of a variety of decoy rounds. Having more than one possible round to fire from a given launcher, the fire control computer must have accurate knowledge of the location of ill possible rounds. Thus it is mandatory that a round identify itself to the computer once it is deployed, and the most accurate way to do this is electronically. The uncertainty and extra time delay associated with "a man in the loop" implementation is unacceptable in any realistic scenario.
Decoy systems now comprise an essential part of each ship's anti-ship missile defense (ASMD). The Rapid-bloom Off-board Chaff (RBOC) and Super Rapid-bloom Off-board Chaff (SRBOC) systems are presently installed on board many ships and current developments will likely provide the Torch, Sea Gnat, and Active Electronics Decoy (AED) rounds in the near future. These decoys provide an effective defense against anti-ship missile threats presently identified and it may be expected that, as new threats are identified, new decoy rounds will be developed.
While the decoy round itself may be considered the essential component of the system, the effectiveness of the decoy system is critically dependent upon the capability to deliver the round quickly to a specified area with respect to the ship. This is the function of the launching system.
It has been the general practice to equip ships with various chaff dispensing systems. All systems through SRBOC had their own particularly designed launchers, and none of the systems could utilize the launchers of the other systems. With the advent of the SRBOC system, it was decided to make the MK 137 SRBOC launcher the ship's dedicated decoy launcher, and constrain all future decoy rounds so that they would be deliverable by that launcher. Torch, an infra-red decoy, has been designed such that it will be launchable by the MK 137 launcher.
Sea Gnat a NATO hybrid decoy, will likely also be launchable from the MK 137 launcher, but with significant contraints on ship attitude at launch or the acceptance of significantly degraded placement accuracy and lengthened deployment time. None of the present AED designs are launchable from the MK 137 launcher nor, given the size required for that particular decoy, is it likely that a design will be developed which will be compatible with the launcher. It is therefore apparent that the prior art MK 137 launcher is not a "universal" decoy launcher and that to attempt to contrain future decoy design to that launcher would be unduly restrictive.
NRL's FLYing Radar Target (FLYRT) is a MK-137-launched, RF-distraction decoy. It is a complementary system to the NULKA RF decoy. FLYRT was designed to fly at ship-like speeds following a rocket-boosted launch from the MK137 chaff launcher. It uses electric-propulsion and contains an NRL-developed fiber optic gyroscope that provides highly accurate angle rate data. The decoy was first modeled in a Full-Engagement Decoy Simulator, which provided a detailed model of specific missiles, allowing for close examination of particular defense strategies. On September 9, 1993, the decoy's performance was fully demonstrated at NRL's Chesapeake Bay Detachment.
Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) successfully conducted the first-in-class test firing of Automatic Launch of Expendable System for Ship Self Defense (ALEX) off the coast of the Virginia Capes, 07 May 2017. The installation of ALEX marked a design change from the first two Freedom LCS's, USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), which was fitted with TERMA Soft Kill Weapons System (SKWS) launchers. USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) and follow on ships were all to be fitted with ALEX.
ALEX fires Mk 214 Sea Gnat (Chaff) rounds which produce clouds of radar reflecting aluminum coated fiberglass confetti to create large decoy radar signatures intended to seduce missiles away from the ship. ALEX's operating system is also wired into the ship's navigation equipment which enables it to recommend optimal courses that will keep the decoy cloud downwind of the ship. Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren took the opportunity to make structural observations of the Mk 137 launchers, their mounts, and the launch deck in conjunction with NSWC Crane's functionality test.
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