New technology could help navy tackle attacks by small boats

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Washington, July 17 (ANI): US Navy and coalition military ships may soon get an upper hand in swiftly defeating multiaxis attacks by small swarming boats, thanks to the Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker (LCITS)- a technology sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Managed by ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department as a Future Naval Capability (FNC), LCITS equips the unguided Hydra-70 rocket with a low-cost imaging infrared guidance solution to more accurately strike an intended target.

Steve Smolinski, Office of Transition FNC director, explained the importance of the FNC program to fulfilling naval missions such as LCITS.

"The FNC program represents the requirements-driven, delivery-oriented portion of the Navy's science and technology investment. FNC enabling capabilities draw upon technologies that can be developed, matured and delivered to acquisition programs within a three- to five-year period," said Smolinski.

The seeker is composed of three main subsystems: a targeting integration system aboard the helicopter, a digital smart launcher and the guided imaging rocket.

The helicopter uses its targeting system to lock onto and track the target's position and velocity, and transfers the information to the rocket launcher prior to weapon release.

Once locked onto the target, the weapon follows the LCITS commands to the target.

From a pilot's perspective, the entire process can be handled in a matter of seconds, increasing the number of targets that can be engaged in a short amount of time.

LCITS can also engage targets in a 120-degree cone centred off the nose of the helicopter at ranges up to 7 kilometers.

Howard McCauley, LCITS principal investigator in the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center's Emergent Weapons Division, touts the speed by which the system operates.

"The key to survivability while effectively engaging and defeating the fast inshore attack craft threat is the target engagement timeline. You must be able to very rapidly engage and defeat each target. The technology we've developed will provide this increased capability," said McCauley.

In a demonstration earlier this year, an LCITS-equipped AH-1 Cobra helicopter targeted and fired a rocket against a maneuvering unmanned small boat at a test range off the coast of California.

The pivotal test firing highlighted not only LCITS' ability to strike high-speed mobile surface targets, but marked the successful conclusion of the program, opening the door for its transition to the fleet. (ANI)

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