AWD combat system RFIs

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The AWD Alliance is asking manufacturers and suppliers to provide information on the capabilities, availability and price of the subsystems they may be proposing to meet AWD combat system requirements.
The window of opportunity has begun to open for companies seeking to supply sub-systems and components for the Air Warfare Destroyer combat system.

Under Sea 4000 Phase 2 (Design), concepts identified in the initial design will be developed into a detailed and fully costed design necessary to enter into contractual arrangements for the build phase. The Capability Requirements Review comes early this year, with the Systems Design Review expected by mid-2006, followed by the Preliminary Design Review in mid-2007 with second pass approval being sought immediately.

And while we are privy to neither pricing nor availability, and nor do we have exhaustive access to suitable subsystems on the market, we thought it might be instructive to look at the first three RFI batches and speculate as to what subsystems their suppliers may include in their responses.

Batch 1 - Undersea Warfare Control System and Underwater Systems: This RFI, already released, is for an Undersea Warfare Control System and Underwater Systems. Examples provided include: towed arrays, hull-mounted sonar or bow mounted sonar, mine and obstacle avoidance systems, and acoustic countermeasures.

As we see it, only two USW control systems have been integrated with the Aegis combat system. The main and obvious one is the Lockheed Martin SQQ-89(V)15 which, integrated with the AEGIS combat system provides a full range of USW functions including active and passive sensors, underwater fire control, onboard trainer and highly-evolved display subsystem. The system is deployed on over 100 Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and Spruance (DD 963) class destroyers and Ticonderoga (CG) class cruisers.

On the Norwegian F310 (Nansen-class) frigate program, Kongsberg is supplying and integrating their multi-sensor integration and fire control (MSI-2005F) system with the Aegis combat system under subcontract to Lockheed Martin, which is responsible for the F310's integrated weapons system. Kongsberg's MSI-2005F system provides a fully integrated anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare combat system, as well as handling the interface to the EW system. On board the F310, the MSI-2005F system is linked to the Aegis system via a dual-redundant gateway using interface cards. The MSI-2005F runs on an asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) - based network whereas the Aegis system relies more on traditional serial interfaces.

Kongsberg's MSI-2005F system can function as a stand-alone entity and as such is the basis for what Kongsberg plans to offer for other naval combat system programs. Kongsberg has also supplied Lockheed Martin with the MSI-2005F ASW system funtionality and services for integration with the Korean KDX-III Aegis destroyers.

Since Thales Underwater Systems is supplying the underwater sensor suite for the F310 program through Kongsberg, it is possible that TUS may defer to Kongsberg for the USW control system and simply offer its range of sensors many of which are in service with the RAN on Collins, Anzac and upgraded FFG.

TUS' offerings which have the distinct advantage of incumbency in the RAN and thus their local support and maintainability, are likely to include the Spherion MRS 2000 hull-mounted sonar and the Petrel Mine & Obstacle Avoidance Sonar. Towed array offerings include the Mk 2 V1 Combined Active/Passive Towed Array Sonar, or the CAPTAS Nano, a new light-weight & compact Low Frequency Active Towed Array Sonar optimised for ASW in the littorals. This last benefits from fully automatic deployment and recovery.

Batch 2 - Very Short-Range Defence: This RFI is for Very Short Range Defence including a Gun Fire Control System with optical sights. Obvious missile-based candidates are the MBDA Mistral 2 missile mounted on a Tetral launcher and the Raytheon Rolling Airframe Missile and its latest derivation SeaRAM.

Other possible contenders include the gun systems such as the Thales/GD Goalkeeper CIWS which consists of a search radar, a tracking radar and a 30mm Gatling gun with a firing rate of 4200 rounds per minute. The Raytheon Phalanx 1B upgrade includes a Thales Optronics HDTI5-2F thermal imager, improved Ku-band radar and longer gun barrel providing an increased rate of fire of 4500 rounds/minute.

Batch 3 - Navigation and Horizon Search Radars: This RFI for release in March, is for information on Navigation/Surface Search Radars and Horizon Search Radars, the latter to complement the volume search capabilities of the SPY-1D(V) Aegis radar.

Due to weaknesses against low-altitude threats, the volume search SPY-1 radar on Aegis equipped ships had been augmented with the SPQ-9B, a narrow-beam X-band search radar that sweeps the horizon for surface and air target threats including very low altitude, small radar cross section, high speed targets. Aegis weapon system engagements are then initiated from SPQ-9B cues.

SPQ-9B radars are fitted as standard equipment on a wide range of USN ship types, including aircraft carriers, cruisers, amphibious ships and the Coast Guard maritime security cutters. While there has been ongoing development to improve its capabilities, reliability and reduce the weight and size of its antenna, we understand the SPQ-9B is a big system requiring considerable space below-decks.

That an integrated SPQ-9B was not included in the RAN's $1 billion purchase of the Aegis combat system is instructive and suggests that cost and size may have been factors in seeking an alternative system.

Perhaps because the SPQ-9B is a highly discriminatory X-band radar, during the AWD Roadshow briefings, one speaker made the point that the Alliance was also seeking an X-band radar to supplement the Aegis SPY-1D(V) for horizon search and anti-ship missile defence. We understand this was subsequently amended with frequency diversity (ie other than S-band) as the basis of the requirement. However we wonder whether there will be a strong preference for X-band over other frequencies.

Aside from the Lockheed Martin SPQ-9B, already integrated into the Aegis combat system, there do not appear to be many suppliers of X-band Horizon Search Radars but there are a number of possible candidates offering non-S band horizon search and ASMD radars.

CEA Technologies is considering its position with regard to radar technology options for the AWD program. While CEA has accepted the Commonwealth's position on the SPY 1D(V) radar, the company says it has products that may be applicable to the horizon search and surface surveillance requirements. These include CEAFAR active phased array, the X-Band Coherent Radar (XBCR), and Submarine Mast Detection and Ship Classification Radar Systems. As previously reported CEAMOUNT may also be under consideration as it provides an option to increase the number of channels of fire the AWD can engage simultaneously.

Ericssons claim its Sea GIRAFFE AMB (Agile Multiple Beam), a multi-role naval 3D C-band radar, to be one generation ahead of other 3D radars in the same class. Capabilities include air surveillance and surface (horizon) surveillance and tracking, target classification covering the classification of hovering and moving helicopters, and target indication to weapon systems for anti-air and anti-surface engagement. Gunfire support capabilities include splash spotting. As well as being in RAN service, Sea GIRAFFE radars are in operational use in ten countries, including NATO member countries and the system is in production for the Littoral Combat Ship.

The TRS-3D, developed and produced by EADS Defence Electronics, is a C-band, naval 3D multimode radar for air and sea surveillance and weapon assignment. The TRS-3D is used for the automatic detection and tracking of all types of air and sea targets. With the latest signal processing technologies, it is suited for the early detection of low and fast moving objects, such as missiles, fast boats or unmanned aerial vehicles under severe environmental conditions.

The system is deployed on the German F122 frigates and is being delivered for the K130 corvettes, as well as in operation on ships of several other navies, including Denmark, Finland, Malaysia and Spain. It has been selected for the LCS under an arrangement with Lockheed Martin.

At this stage, as the functional requirements and platform design for the AWD are still being determined, ADI says it would premature for them to speculate on what radars, if any, ADI and/or Thales may propose. In the meantime ADI says it will be participating in all the relevant trade studies.

Irrespective of what ADI says, Thales has a number of radars that may be proposed for surface search and target indication. SMART-S Mk2 is a 3D multi-beam F-band radar for medium-to-long range surveillance and target indication, optimised for accurate operation in littoral environments. The radar matches the full performance of surface-to-air missiles such as ESSM. Another system, the SCOUT Mk2 is an I-band FMCW Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) surface surveillance and navigation radar, may be offered for the navigation radar requirement.

Northrop Grumman's Sperry Marine business unit specialises in navigation radars and recently won a $US4.3 million contract to retrofit new-generation BridgeMaster E 340 radar systems, including commercial, navalised and tactical variants, in X-band, S-band and dual-band configurations, on more than 100 German Navy warships.

Originally designed as a commercial radar, the BridgeMaster E incorporates an unequalled combination of standard features to provide enhanced situation awareness and effective, efficient navigation. Sperry Marine's tactical display is the first marine radar system in the world to be able to display inputs from two totally asynchronous radar heads simultaneously in the same video circle. The radar operator is able to track targets from either radar in the usual way and the systems software ensures that the same target can only be tracked once.

Since its introduction in 1999, BridgeMaster E has been supplied to all the major navies and coast guards around the world including the UK Royal Navy, US Navy and French Navy.

By Tom Muir, Canberra
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