Innovative and game-changing naval craft, UAS, weapons and other hardware came of age in 2013 as several exciting new technologies were either launched or achieved significant milestones. Naval-technology.com lists some of the top naval milestones of 2013.
The biggest destroyer ever constructed for the US Navy, the USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), was launched in October 2013. The DDG 1000 is the lead vessel in Zumwalt Class next generation multi-mission destroyers. The Zumwalt is designed for littoral, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare missions.
Construction of the DDG 1000 began at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works’ shipyard in February 2009 and her keel was laid in November 2011. The ship will be delivered to the Navy in late 2014 and is expected to achieve initial operating capability in 2016. The highly-automated Zumwalt will be manned by a crew of 130 members and an aviation group of 28 sailors.
The DDG 1000 design incorporates advanced stealth and weapon systems technologies. It is the first US Navy warship to employ an integrated all-electric power system. The two Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) aboard the ship will fire Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles (LRLAP) for up to 63nmi.
Laser Weapon System (LaWS)
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Naval Sea Systems Command successfully tested a technology demonstrator version of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) in 2013. The weapon system, developed from commercial fibre solid state lasers (SSL), was tested aboard a stationary surface combatant, against unmanned aircraft and small boats.
This year INS Sindhurakshak (S63) has submerged off the naval dockyard in Mumbai, India, while Babcock has integrated the key Forward Island, Upper Block 07, for the UK Royal Navy.
The LaWS has been temporarily installed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105). The deployment of a solid-state laser aboard the Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce is scheduled for 2014.
LaWS can be aimed onto targets from the radar track obtained from an MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System or other pointing systems. The Solid State Laser is a revolutionary technology that provides the Navy a multi-mission weapon at an affordable cost ($1 a shot) allowing ships to easily engage small boats and aerial targets without using rounds and projectiles.
XFC UAS – eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System
The eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System (XFC UAS) was launched for the first time from a submerged submarine in May 2013. The XFC UAS is a submarine-launched unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
The development of the XFC UAS concluded in less than six years, and a successful submerged launch of the UAS paves a way to deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the submarine fleet of the US Navy.
The folding wing XFC UAS can be fired from the torpedo tube of a submarine employing a ‘Sea Robin’ launch vehicle system, which fits within an empty Tomahawk launch canister. The UAS is powered by non-hybridised power plant and has an endurance of more than six hours.
The Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) produced by Lockheed Martin successfully proved its capabilities during testing in 2013. The missile programme is funded by DARPA and the US Navy.
The LRASM was successfully test fired from a B-1B Lancer of the US Air Force in August 2013. The missile successfully hit its intended target during the second test in December 2013. The long range capability will enable the LRASM to strike targets from beyond the reach of enemy counter-fire systems.
The LRASM can carry a 1,000lb penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead. It uses a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and a modern anti-jam GPS system to find and destroy assigned targets among the fleet even protected by advanced integrated air defence systems.
Carrier Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo
The first ever launch of aircraft carrier-borne Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo (CAT) was successfully conducted from USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) in May 2013. The CAT Surface Ship Torpedo Defence (SSTD) System is being developed by the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory (PSU-ARL), for the US Navy.
The CAT is capable of finding and destroying hostile torpedoes. The CVN 77 engaged seven torpedo-like objects by firing seven Countermeasure Anti-Torpedoes during the series of tests conducted from 15 – 19 May.
The SSTD is the first comprehensive surface ship-based torpedo warning and countermeasure system with the capability to detect, classify, track and destroy incoming torpedoes. The US Navy currently plans to arm its aircraft carrier fleet and other warships with the CAT system by 2035.
ARTISAN 3D Radar
BAE Systems completed the installation of ARTISAN (Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation) radar on the Type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke in the first quarter of 2013. The ARTISAN 3D is a next generation, maritime medium-range radar (MRR) intended for the Type 23 frigates, amphibious vessels and the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers of the UK Royal Navy.
The sophisticated radar is five times more efficient than the existing counterpart on the Type 23 fleet. It offers medium-to-long range surveillance, target designation and air traffic management for the surface fleet. Designed to operate in highly signal-populated environments, the radar can transmit radio waves through an interference equivalent to 10,000 mobile phone signals.
The capability to simultaneously track more than 800 targets within the range of 200m to 2,000m and identify targets as small as a tennis ball travelling at a speed of Mach 3 makes the ARTISAN the best radar in its class.
Marine Austere Patrolling System (MAPS)
The Marine Austere Patrolling System (MAPS) successfully underwent a series of field tests in 2013. The MAPS is a personal, wearable power management and distribution system developed by the Naval Surface Warfare Centre Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), for the US Marine Corps (USMC).
The MAPS enables the Marine Corps to patrol for a longer duration without resupply. The system integrates a solar panel, flat-form batteries, and a water filtration system. The batteries can power the personal equipment including radios, night vision goggles, GPS, laptops and USB compatible devices through a universal interface known as vest power manager (VPM).
The advanced interface of the MAPS ensures it can power up from civilian and military vehicles as well as common batteries, while its battery fits within presently used tactical vests.
The Reliant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) of the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) set a high endurance record in October 2013 when it successfully completed a 109-hour mission from Boston to New York. It is an advanced variant of the Bluefin-21 AUV developed by Bluefin Robotics.
The AUV employed a fibre-optic gyro-based inertial navigation system (INS) incorporated with GPS and a Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) for precise navigation during the 507km journey. The long-endurance autonomy methods demonstrated in the mission will help the traditional AUVs extend their endurance capabilities to meet the requirements of new applications.
The Reliant weighs 1,350lb and is powered by Lithium-polymer battery packs. The UUV, with low frequency broadband (LFBB) sonar payload, serves as a prototype for the new Knifefish Mine Countermeasure (MCM) Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) for the US Navy.