Technology Today

2012 Issue 2

Guided Intercept Validates Raytheon Evolved Seasparrow Missile's Role in Medium-range, Ground-based Air Defense

NASAMS and Hawk Life Cycle Improvements

Figure 1

Raytheon and our Norwegian partner Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA), with the cooperation of the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), achieved an important milestone in the spring of 2012 with the successful intercept and destruction of an airborne target with a guided flight firing of the Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) by the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAM). The intercept (Figure 1) was part of an ongoing effort by Raytheon and KDA to increase the capability and flexibility of the NASAMS, Hawk and Hawk XXI systems.

The NASAMS system, jointly developed by Raytheon and KDA, provides a state-of-the-art medium range air defense system that can quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missile threats. Fielded in Norway for more than a decade, the RNoAF has operated NASAMS as the cornerstone of their airbase and their high value asset defense. The RNoAF continues to modernize the system through a robust system life cycle management program. Recently, the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organization contracted Raytheon and KDA for a modernization program that includes command and control upgrades as well as the addition of Raytheon's High Mobility Launchers to RNoAF's existing canister launcher fleet. NASAMS is also operationally deployed in the U.S. National Capital Region, Spain and the Netherlands; and an initial operational capability is planned in Finland in 2015.

Figure 2

The ESSM missile is produced by Raytheon and industry partners from member nations of the NATO SEASPARROW Consortium. The ESSM missile provides NASAMS with the proven capabilities of a ship-based air defense missile in a ground-based system. ESSM is the third Raytheon missile to be successfully fired from the NASAMS common rail launcher, following the AIM-9X Sidewinder firing in 2011 and the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), which has been deployed with the NASAMS system since its initial operational capability in 1994 (Figure 2).

The guided flight test demonstrated the potential for ESSM on both the NASAMS and Hawk XXI systems. Both the Hawk XXI and NASAMS systems share a common architecture today, including the Fire Distribution Center (FDC) for command and control and the Sentinel radar for surveillance and tracking. During the ESSM guided-flight demonstration, the FDC used the Hawk High Power Illuminator (HPI) radar (Figure 3) to illuminate the target for the ESSM semi-active guided intercept. For Hawk customers, the ESSM firing demonstrated the low risk of integrating the ESSM missile in the Hawk XXI system. For NASAMS customers, the ESSM missile offers additional capability, and the choice of interceptors allows more flexibility in their defense designs. The ESSM missile also offers logistic and maintenance savings for countries that already use the ESSM missile for Naval air defense.

The ESSM guided-flight demonstration consisted of the NASAMS FDC and launcher, the Sentinel radar (tracking and cueing), the Hawk HPI radar and the ESSM missile. The firing demonstrated NASAMS' capability to acquire and track a target, initialize and launch an ESSM, cue the HPI, illuminate the target and guide the semi-active ESSM missile to the intercept. The NASAMS FDC's capability to support the current Hawk launcher, Hawk HPI radar and Hawk surveillance radar provides an incremental upgrade path for current Hawk customers to keep existing assets while modernizing the overall system.

Figure 3

In less than 10 months from concept inception to the ESSM guided-flight firing, the NASAMS team assembled experts from across Raytheon and KDA to carry out the development effort. Raytheon provided missile analysis, ESSM Naval missile integration expertise, Hawk HPI radar support and the software modification to the NASAMS launcher's missile interface unit. KDA provided modifications to the FDC fire control to accommodate the ESSM performance. Due to the open architecture of the NASAMS system, no other changes were necessary to support the firing of the new missile.

The team was successful in meeting the aggressive development schedule. The firing resulted in a direct hit by ESSM, witnessed by government representatives from Australia, Chile, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

The ESSM firing is an example of the international cooperation and extensive customer support for the NASAMS system. The firing would not have been possible without the contributions of the Norwegian Air Force, which provided most of the assets and the test range for both the guided-flight test in May and the ballistic test firing in March; the United States Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD), which provided the Hawk HPI radar; and the SEASPARROW consortium, which provided the ESSM missiles. The ESSM guided-flight firing occurred during the Norwegian Air Force's annual live firing exercise of their NASAMS system at the Andoya Rocket Range in Northern Norway. In addition to the ESSM firing there were four NASAMS AMRAAM guided-flight firings against drones, all with challenging flight profiles.

The ESSM firing is just one example of the ongoing effort to provide greater flexibility and capability to our international air defense customers, in addition to providing a continually improving system ready to play a greater role in U.S. defense.

Guided Intercept Validates Raytheon Evolved Seasparrow Missile's (ESSM) Role in Medium-range, Ground-based Air Defense


John Heffernan

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