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DSEi 2011: Raytheon highlights dual-band data link for European BMD capability

13th September 2011 - 15:14 by the Shephard News Team

Raytheon has described how an initial flight test date for the SM-3's dual-band data link will be dependent on interest from European nations.

Speaking at DSEi in London on 13 September, Raytheon VP air and missile defence systems Wes Kramer, said the company was 'in discussions' with a number of European nations, although he could not provide more details.

'We do not have a date for test for the dual-band flight test. This is dependent on some concepts about engagement from allied nations and their desire to have that demonstrated,' Kramer acknowledged.

An internally-funded development, Raytheon's 'drop-in replacement' dual-band data link comprises both S- and X-band capabilities, enabling communications in either band, Kramer described. 'It allows communications with missiles in current S-band [as used aboard US Aegis ships] and also receives the same targeting from X-band compatible with APAR systems. In future, we could put this in all standard missiles, making it compatible with US, Japanese and NATO fleets.'

Citing an example of how the data link would work, Kramer explained how a SMART-L radar would track the threat before a NATO SMART-L/APAR equipped ship would launch an SM-3 munition. 'The APAR radar communicates with SM-3 on the X-band to provide target update while the SM-3 engages the threat using organic track data from SMART-L\APAR,' he said.

'We have demonstrated transmission of waveforms associated with the data link. Remaining work comprises qualification testing but, all in all, it is fairly mature at this point,' Kramer continued.

Interested navies are understood to include the Netherlands, Italy, France, UK, Germany, Denmark and Spain. These countries have all expressed an interest in the European Interceptor Pool concept, designed to allow similarly BMD-equipped vessels to share patrolling duties with US counterparts.

Kramer added that Raytheon's solution would be compliant with the European Ballistic Missile Defence initiative which is promoting a Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) leading up to a full operational capability by 2020 to provide early intercept of MRBMs, IRBMs and ICBMs.

Having recently returned from the Ballistic Missile Defence conference in Copenhagen, Kramer said: 'The threat is real and growing every day. On the flip side, technology solutions exist to counter that threat.

'The concept of the dual-band data link is to make BMD for many of European nations more affordable and cheaper in the long term timeline. We continue to see evidence in the press everyday of growth in missiles with ranges greater than 1,000km,' he added.

'The introduction of the dual-band data link creates an opportunity allowing European partners and allies to leverage on world class investments already made in ships. This will lower cost and provide a more straightforward approach for upper tier BMD approach sooner rather than later,' Kramer explained.

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