dissabte, 10 de novembre de 2012

SSDS: Quicker Naval Response to Cruise Missiles *

Right now, in many American ships beyond its Navy’s top-tier AEGIS destroyers and cruisers, the detect-to-engage sequence against anti-ship missiles requires a lot of manual steps, involving different ship systems that use different displays. When a Mach 3 missile gives you 45 seconds from appearance on ship’s radar to impact, seconds of delay can be fatal. Seconds of unnecessary delay are unacceptable.
Hence Raytheon’s Ship Self Defense System (SSDS).

SSDS: Current Versions

SSDS began Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) in 1997 on USS Ashland [LSD 48], a Whidbey Island Class amphibious assault ship. It will be added as a refit to other vessels, and qualification of the SSDS Mk 2 MOD 1 was completed on the USS Ronald Reagan [CVN 76] carrier in March 2003. Variants of the SSDS system are deployed on a number of CVN-68 Nimitz Class super-carriers, as well as some LSD-41 Whidbey Island Class amphibious assault ships, all LPD-17 San Antonio Class amphibious assault ships (SSDS Mk 2 MOD 2), and some LHD-1 Wasp Class amphibious ships. SSDS will be used across the carrier force, including the newLHA-R escort carriers with secondary amphibious assault roles, and the CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford Class of super-carriers. Finally, components of SSDS have migrated to the future combat systems of the USA’s new Littoral Combat Ships and the 14,500t DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers.SSDS uses software and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics to turn incoming data from several systems (radar, radar warning receivers, combat identification, electro-optics) into a single picture of prioritized threats. SSDS will then recommend an engagement sequence for the ship’s crew, or (in automatic mode) fire some combination of jamming transmissions, chaff or decoys, and/or weapons against the oncoming threat. The entire ship’s combat system concept, including the sensors and weapons, is known as Quick Reaction Combat Capability (QRCC) – and SSDS is the key element that ties it all together.

SSDS is currently delivered as the Mk 2 version, which includes Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and tactical data links (Links 4A, 11 and 16) that can gather and fuse data from other ships, aircraft, and helicopters when creating the overall combat picture. The Mk2 set also adds compatibility with the AN/SPQ-9B radar, and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile. Finally, it meets Category 3 of the U.S. Navy’s Open Architecture Computing Environment (OACE) standard, which uses commercial electronics rather than military-specific hardware in order allow simpler and cheaper upgrades, enhancements, and plug-ins over a ship’s lifetime.
Weapon systems integrated with SSDS currently include the AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Attack System, the NULKA missile decoy system, Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, Rolling Airframe Missile (Block 2 integration in progress), RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Missile System and theRIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.
The US Navy’s May 2009 budget justification looked at future areas for improvement. Mindful of key trends, it aims to cross-reference a wider array of different detection methods. That should improve the odds of finding incoming threats that don’t show up well on radar, and are either flying low, or riding on the surface. The Quick Reaction Combat Capability (QRCC) (2178) project includes SSDS, and Raytheon continues to work on integration of new and improved ship sensors within the system.
Another area for improvement was highlighted by a Pentagon testing report released in October 2010. It said that: “The LPD-17 exhibited difficulty defending itself against several widely proliferated threats, primarily due to… Persistent SSDS Mk 2-based system engineering deficiencies.”
Overall, the Navy wants better coordination of available defensive weapons and decoys. For those ships with an Advanced Combat Direction System (CDS), central system engineering management of SSD developments needs to include integration of SSDS with those capabilities.
Over the longer term, SSDS MK 2 Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) will add conversion kits that will replace electronics within SSDS as they become obsolete. The lifespan of electronics is always much shorter than the life-span of the ships. Managing that difference is where the benefits of open architecture/ commercial approaches really shine, by dramatically reducing the cost and difficulty of fielding compatible upgrades.

Article publicat a Defense Industry Daily. La cooperació en la defensa contra míssils de creuer no és cap tema menor. És cabdal davant la proliferació d'aquest tipus d'armes, especialment quan són adquirides per agents no estatals ( recordem el llançament de míssils anti-buc per part de Hiz-Bollah el 2006).

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