PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE, Hawaii --The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Aviation & Missile Center facilitated the first land-based launch at the world's largest international maritime exercise July 12.
As part of the month-long Rim of the Pacific exercise, the Army fired a Naval Strike Missile from a Palletized Load System truck, hitting a decommissioned ship at sea, 63 miles north of Kauai. The demonstration aligns with the Army's strategy to enhance operations across land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace domains.
Discussions of multi-domain battle began in 2015 after Department of Defense leaders were interested in advancing operations across multiple domains to exploit opportunities on a rapidly changing battlefield. By employing land-based anti-ship missiles, the Army could potentially target enemy ships and restrict movement in the maritime domain.
"In 2015, AMRDEC began to investigate and identify options that could be pursued to provide such a capability in the near-term; one of the options identified was the Naval Strike Missile," said Hunter Blackwell, project lead for the Mobile Land Based Anti-Ship Fires Foreign Comparative Test Project.
The NSM, manufactured by the Norwegian-based Kongsberg Defence Systems in partnership with U.S.-based Raytheon Missile Systems, is a technically mature, fielded anti-ship cruise missile that has the ability to engage land-based targets.
In 2016, the Aviation & Missile Center selected the NSM for future testing and initiated a Foreign Comparative Testing effort. The U.S. Army FCT program office, also positioned within U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, receives oversight from the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Comparative Technology Office. The FCT program provides an avenue for Army engineers, scientists, and program managers to test and evaluate items and technologies from allies and other friendly nations that may fill an Army capability gap.
The program supports international cooperation and helps reduce the DOD's overall acquisition costs by providing funds to formally test and evaluate foreign non-developmental items, commercial-off-the-shelf items, or technologies which are in the late state of development that may satisfy U.S. military requirements.
Through the FCT, the center partnered with the U.S. Pacific Command and the Multi-Domain Task Force Pilot Program to demonstrate the engagement of an over-the-horizon maritime target with the NSM launched from a PLS truck with a flat rack based launcher.
The Aviation & Missile Center was involved throughout the RIMPAC planning cycle to ensure the NSM flight demonstration was well integrated into the exercise. The testing was conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Barking Sands, Hawaii.
"AMRDEC initiated, managed, and participated in the integration of the NSM onto the M1075 PLS, as well as coordinated, planned, and executed the live fire demonstration at RIMPAC," Blackwell said. "This was the first flight of the NSM launched from the PLS so all preliminary ground testing and analysis was executed by AMRDEC or under its technical leadership."
According to Blackwell, the NSM team executed the flight demonstration along with multiple simulated firings under the command and control of the MDTF in a relatively tactical environment.
"We went two years from concept to actually firing a missile and…we actually hit the target!" said Dr. Juanita Harris, director, adding that this was quite an accomplishment.
"This successful live fire demonstration was made possible through strong partnerships between AMRDEC, OSD, U.S. PACOM, U.S. Army Pacific, the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Royal Norwegian Navy and industry," said Blackwell.
Deputy Director of the Weapons Development and Integration Dr. James Kirsch agreed that collaboration made for a successful testing.
"The NSM demonstration at RIMPAC was a resounding success due to the exceptional teamwork and dedication demonstrated by the entire team," Kirsch said. "In keeping with the Army's modernization priorities, this demonstration showcases how the Army Research and Development community, in cooperation with our Warfighters, industry, and international partners, can effectively and quickly demonstrate options to consider when looking for rapid capability enhancements."
RIMPAC is the world's largest international maritime exercise providing a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
The U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.