IDEX 2015

Launcher team aims to boost surface firepower [IDX15D3]

25 February 2015

Turkish systems house Aselsan and Thales UK have signed an agreement to jointly develop and co-market shipborne launcher systems for Thales’s Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) low-collateral precision weapon. The two companies cemented their relationship in a signing ceremony at IDEX on 22 February. The agreement covers a lightweight four-round LMM Missile Launching System and a larger eight-cell variant.

Building on the pedigree of the existing Starburst and Starstreak surface-to-air missiles, LMM has been designed by Thales as a low-cost, laser-guided missile able to engage a wide range of air, land and sea targets out to ranges of about 8km. The initial variant uses laser beam-riding guidance.

In the maritime role, Thales (Stand 08-A08) believes that LMM is well matched to counter small fast inshore attack craft (FIAC) threats. The missile’s laser proximity fuze, using low-cost gate technology set at the point of launch, is designed to ensure that the missile can successfully engage very-low metal, semi-solid targets, such as rigid inflatables, which many rockets pass through before detonating, while the 3kg blast fragmentation/shaped charge warhead has been designed to combine localised effect with good penetration.

LMM development testing has already demonstrated the accuracy of laser beam-riding guidance against FIAC-type targets at ranges out to 4km and in conditions up to Sea State 6. Warhead arena trials have demonstrated a 5m radius kill zone. A successful static warhead trial has also been completed against a representative FIAC deckhouse structure.

LMM is now in qualification and entering production to meet the UK’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Light) requirement. In this application, the missile will be air-launched from the Royal Navy’s new AgustaWestland Wildcat HMA.2 helicopter.

To address surface-to-surface applications for LMM in the maritime market, Aselsan and Thales have been working on the joint development of two LMM Missile Launching System variants. The smaller four-round system, designed to give fast interceptor craft increased punch, combines a two-axis gyro-stabilised turret accommodating four ready-to- launch LMM missiles, an off-mount stabilised electro-optical director (incorporating a laser transmitter unit to support LMM laser beam-riding guidance) and a bridge-mounted control and display unit.

This configuration has been engineered to have minimum impact on speed and manoeuvrability of the host platform.

Aselsan (Stand 10-D05) has also developed a larger eight-round launching system that incorporates two four-cell LMM panniers and an on-mount electro-optical package.

This is intended for larger craft where space and weight constraints are less onerous.

The company has completed engineering development models of both launcher variants, with a first-stage LMM launch proving trial performed during 2014. In addition, Aselsan and Thales last year performed tracking trials in the Istanbul area to prove the stabilisation and tracking performance of the electrooptical sensor suite.

(446 words)