The US Navy has delivered a new system, the Digital Rocket Launcher (DRL), to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 15 for pre-deployment training, as part of an early operational capability (EOC).
Designed to meet the urgent operational needs statement (UONS) from the US Navy, DRL will enable MH-60 Seahawk helicopters to carry and deploy a variety of weapons for the first time.
It has been delivered to the fleet in less than 24 months by the Direct Time and Sensitive Strike Weapons program (PMA-242) Airborne Rockets and Pyrotechnics team, in collaboration with the H-60 Multi-Missions Helicopter Program (PMA-299).
Initially, the launcher will be integrated onto the MH-60S as part of a rapid deployment capability (RDC), before deployment on the MH-60R and potentially other platforms.
PMA-299 Common Weapons lead John Male said that the launcher will make an armed helicopter even more lethal than it already is.
"The H-60 Sierra is already a significant threat, but the new launcher, and all that it brings, will allow the aircraft to engage a larger set of threats," Male said.
The modernised smart launcher will allow the use of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), offering greater precision than the unguided rockets currently used.
Furthermore, the DRL provides sequential and selective single fire, selective and all ripple fire, and rocket-inventory tracking.
Cmdr Alex Dutko, the Airborne Rockets and Pyrotechnics team lead for the PMA-242, said: "EOC is just the first step to equipping the fleet with the capability and lethality that we need to be effective and successful in countering the fast inshore attack craft threat."
Image: An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter fires APKWS. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.