13 November 2008

U.S. Army Developed Missile System Aids in Protecting New Class of Navy Ship

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Future Combat Systems Non Line of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) is poised to play a critical role in protecting the U.S. Navy's newly commissioned Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom as well as enabling its mission to maintain dominance in strategic coastal areas around the world where enemies operate and hide.

The 378-foot Freedom, along with its sister ship, Independence, being built in Mobile Alabama, represents a new class of ship for the Navy and is central in that service's move toward establishing even better battlespace dominance in the littoral (coastline) areas. Freedom is designed to operate quickly in shallow water to counter threats in costal regions, specifically mines, submarines and the fast in-shore attack craft (FIAC) that present a large threat in the littorals. At the core of this counter-FIAC capability is USS Freedom's use of the Future Combat System NLOS-LS.

NLOS-LS is being developed as part of the Army's Future Combat Systems program and will provide Soldiers with a rapidly deployable precision fires delivery system. NLOS-LS capability is one of the first Future Combat Systems components scheduled to be fielded to Infantry Brigade Combat Teams in 2011. The NLOS-LS consists of a rapidly deployable networked container launch unit that houses 15 Precision Attack Missiles. Through the network, NLOS-LS can accept remote mission commands and conduct firing operations without the use of an attendant crew and attack a variety of targets. The unit is platform independent and can quickly be installed on ground, manned and unmanned vehicles.

In the Navy application, four 15-missile NLOS-LS Container Launch Units (CLUs) are integrated together into one 60-missile mission module. Littoral Combat Ships will have weapons zones for up to three mission modules per ship. Therefore, depending on the operation, as many as 180 NLOS-LS Precision Attack Missiles (PAMs) may be available to the ship Captain to counter the FIAC threat. Adapting the NLOS-LS for Navy use represents commitment among military services to ensure warfighting success by continuing to develop the joint warfighting force concept and building jointness in early - in the case of NLOS-LS, at the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of acquisition .

"The U.S. Navy is moving toward using a sea base approach -- being able to deploy and control enough resources from an offshore location that we will not need to rely on a foreign country to establish a base of operations," said NLOS-LS Project Office Navy Liaison Allan Ashley. "NLOS-LS is critical to protecting ownship - the LCS itself -- but is also crucial to a range of counter -FIAC missions in the littorals, including for instance, protecting a portion of the Sea Base, a Marine landing operation, maritime special operations missions, and counter - piracy activities In short, NLOS-LS not only protects our ship and sea base assets but our Marines and Navy SEALS as they go ashore and conduct other operations in the littoral battlespace."

USS Freedom was commissioned Nov. 8 during a ceremony in Wisconsin where she is sponsored by Birgit Smith, the widow of Medal of Honor Awardee Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith who was killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Testing to determine the system's ability to track against Fast In-Shore Attack Craft target sets was successfully completed in August in the waters off Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle. Those tests provided valuable performance and measurement data on the system's ability to perform in combat. The next test of the system is scheduled for early 2009 and will evaluate NLOS-LS capabilities in a different water environment.

Future Combat Systems is the cornerstone of the Army's modernization efforts, consisting of a family of new combat vehicles, unmanned aerial and ground systems and unattended ground sensors and munitions all connected by a state-of-the-art network.

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