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USS Bunker Hill trials experimental hardkill/softkill integration tool

The US Navy guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), operating as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is testing an experimental Hardkill/Softkill Performance Assessment Tool (HaSPAT) during its current Indo-Pacific deployment.

Developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), the HaSPAT prototype is designed to help operations staff understand the planned defensive posture and evaluate combat system performance in advance of an enemy attack. The system also serves to manage weapon resources by advising what effectors are available, and conserving sufficient effectors for individual defence measures.

Modern warships employ both hardkill (guns and missiles) and softkill (decoys and countermeasures) effectors for anti-ship missile defence. However, integrating hardkill and softkill responses in the most efficient and effective way is extremely complex and, if not properly co-ordinated and deconflicted, the interactions can lead to a response that renders the ship more vulnerable.

An example of a HaSPAT prototype screen format.

An example of a HaSPAT prototype screen format.

Disclosing details of the rapid prototyping effort in a 4 May release, APL said that the build of the HaSPAT testbed was completed in just six months using independent research and development funding. This followed a visit by APL engineers to Bunker Hill in June 2019.

The scope and scale of the development effort was constrained by Bunker Hill's early 2020 deployment date. This forced the APL team to balance prototype functionality against the taut delivery schedule, and drove certain design choices on the basis that the prototype would serve as the basis for establishing force-level hard-kill/soft-kill coordination.

One of the main aims of the HaSPAT trial on Bunker Hill

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