- Thomson Reuters
On Tuesday, the US Navy announced that the USS Coronado had completed initial operational tests and evaluations with Raytheon’s SeaRAM antiship missile-defense system and, in doing so, answered a big question.
Antiship cruise missiles have long been an area of concern for US military planners, as China and Russia develop increasingly mature and threatening missiles of that type.
Effectively, Russia‘s and China‘s antiship missiles and air power have the capability to deny US or NATO forces access to strategically important areas, like the South China Sea, the Black Sea, and the Baltics.
And that’s where the SeaRAM antiship missile defense system could potentially be a game changer. Building upon the already capable Phalanx close-in weapons system, a computer-controlled 20 mm gun system that automatically tracks and fires on incoming threats, the SeaRAM simply replaces the gun with a rolling airframe missile launcher.
The autonomous firing controls of the SeaRAM system, as well as it’s use of the existing Phalanx infrastructure, means that the system will have relatively low manning costs, and that its procurement was affordable.
The tests showed that the SeaRAM system performed in hostile, complicated conditions. Raytheon claims that the system shot down two simultaneously inbound supersonic missiles as they flew in “complex, evasive maneuvers.”
Here is the SeaRAM tracking and firing on a target:
“The successful testing on the Independence variant (USS Coronado) demonstrates the self-defense capabilities of the ship and systems and installs confidence in Coronado as the ship prepares for its maiden deployment this summer,” said LCS program manager Capt. Tom Anderson in the statement.
Currently, the Navy plans for the Coronado to take an extended deployment to Singapore.
- US Navy photo
Cmdr. Scott Larson, the Coronado’s commanding officer, said in a NAVSEA statement:
USS Coronado is designed to fight and win in contested waters, where high-end anti-ship cruise missiles pose a significant threat to naval forces.
Today’s test validates the Independence variant’s ability to effectively neutralize those threats and demonstrates the impressive capability SeaRAM brings to our arsenal.