The Chemring Centurion

Chemring is one of the British defence organisations that do great business all over the world with a range of innovative products that no one has ever heard of. In their product lineup is a system that I think has great potential, both for the Royal Navy and export, the Chemring Centurion.

Countermeasures are not often discussed but are advancing all the time and many consider them more effective at protecting against anti-ship missiles than CIWS.

In 1994 GEC Marconi were awarded an £80m contract to develop their Siren system to fulfil the Royal Navy ‘Outfit DLH’ requirement.

It was designed to seduce inbound anti-ship missiles using a launched RF countermeasure (Mk 251 Active Decoy Round) fired from standard 130mm SeaGnat launchers. The system was also to utilise the existing Seagnat launch control systems.

21 ship sets and 720 rounds were obtained with the final cost being in the order of £103m.

BAE Siren Naval Countermeasure (Outfit DLH)
BAE Siren Naval Countermeasure (Outfit DLH)

It did not enter service until 2004, 10 years after contract award.

The product description is;

Siren is an advanced decoy system designed to protect ships from missile threats by luring incoming anti-ship missiles away from their target. Launched from a 130mm decoy launcher it uses a two stage parachute system which slows the decoy round down at a pre-programmed time before deploying a second stage parawing, under which the advanced programmable electronic payload descends to detect and counter the missile threat.

The ability of Siren to generate sophisticated jamming waveforms is unique amongst the worlds limited types of naval decoys. The Siren payload contains some of the most up to date RF, digital and analogue electronic circuitry available, enabling the round to quickly detect, identify and track threats to ships. Siren is able to handle multiple threats simultaneously even in dense RF environments

Siren eventually passed to BAE and then to Selex, a Finmeccanica company

That’s the active decoy sorted, in addition, there are decoy rounds for infrared and chaff, a good story at Navy News on decoy trials on the Type 45, click here

In addition to the advanced Mk 251 Siren the RN Outfit launcher systems can also use RF distraction (chaff) and IR decoys such as the Chemring Mk 216 Mk 1 Mod 1 and Chemring Mk 245 IR

Chemring Naval Countermeasures
Chemring Naval Countermeasures

The Royal Navy replaced the Mk 245 IR round with the Chemring TALOS that uses variable timing and submunitions rather than a single round, called the A2, as in the image above.

To support increasingly larger decoy payloads they have also created an oversize round that still uses the 130mm form factor called the 170mm Large Payload Carrier that looks like an RPG-7 round. The Chimera is an interesting round, developed for the Royal Danish Navy, that combines both RF and IR payloads, said to be well suited to small low signature vessels and integrated with the Terma SKWS Decoy Launching System.

The Royal Navy and other naval forces have a wide range of decoy or soft kill protection systems (not just from Chemring) but whist the rounds themselves have advanced the launchers have not.

Replacing the older Corvus launch tubes in Royal Navy service the single type launch tube DLJ uses a fixed array of tubes set at a variety of angles.

BAE Siren Naval Countemeasure round being loaded aboard HMS Ocean
BAE Siren Naval Countemeasure round being loaded aboard HMS Ocean

It is a simple, cheap and reliable system.

But, it is not without problems, mainly the need to align the ship in order to deploy an optimal countermeasures pattern. A fixed system also limits the flexibility of the newer variable range countermeasures.

This is where the Chemring Centurion comes in.

I have read estimates of £3m per system pair; if true it would be a big step up from a handful of fixed steel tubes but on the other hand, it offers a great deal, the ability to launch countermeasures into the optimal position in time and space (did I actually just say that!)

The launcher takes up a minimal footprint, about 2m in diameter, and does not need any deck penetration, just 440v power and a data connection.

It only weighs 1.2 tonnes but lighter/smaller variants are on the drawing board and the cover is entirely optional which would reduce the weight of not fitted.

Chemring Centurion Components
Chemring Centurion Components

The launcher can use all standard 130mm countermeasures, the newer 150mm types and the 170mm flared rounds like the Large Payload Carrier in the image below.

Chemring Centurion Loaded Munitions
Chemring Centurion Loaded Munitions
Chemring Centurion loaded
Chemring Centurion loaded
Chemring Centurion Firing
Chemring Centurion Firing

The obligatory flashy sales video

And another with a bit more detail on the thinking behind the design

Trials at sea are set to complete this year and Chemring are forecasting a number of sales by year end.

Chemring have recently partnered with Raytheon to market the system to the US Navy, which has reportedly not been that keen of soft kill systems, and others. The Raytheon partnership has also offered a glimpse into a future of Centurion.

Using the Centurion launcher and Raytheon missiles such as the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) and Griffin.

Options for use with Javelin or the Lightweight Multirole Missile perhaps?

You could even put one on a 10ft ISO container flatrack with integral generator which would allow countermeasures to be fitted to a range of vessels.

 

READ MORE ABOUT UK COMPLEX WEAPONS

UK Complex (Guided) Weapons – Reference

 

 

 

17 Comments
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Jed
Jed
April 3, 2013 3:32 pm

Actually I think you will find the USN has more soft kill assets than we do, it equips all vessels with the SLQ32 ECM system (shipboard ESM / jammer combo) and it has active offboard decoys too, plus chaff and flares of course. I dont think it ever went for the big floating radar reflectors that we have though………

It may be considered to take point defence / hard kill more seriously, and layered air defence overall more seriously, because it has the money for super carriers (AEW and CAP), AEGIS and it’s various marks of Standard SAM, NATO SeaSparrow, and vertical launch ESSM, RAM and Phalanx. Hey, lets face it, we are talking about the worlds only Navy to shoot down a satellite ! Even the much vaunted T45 can’t do that with it’s Aster 30……. :-)

Wstr
Wstr
April 3, 2013 5:39 pm

Innovative; outside the box solution; step change in performance over what everyone else has; ideally placed for forthcoming (low-signature vessels) procurement; chance to support a British exporter success story; – yeah, that means there’s no chance the MoD/RN will buy it ! :(

Simon
April 3, 2013 7:30 pm

Funny really. Only the other day I though “what about a radar-bouy?”.

Then I thought, no that’s silly. Turns out it wasn’t ;-)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 3, 2013 8:28 pm

A better solution is an unmanned RHIB keeping station 2-5 miles away, and dragging along the counter measure on a 200 foot high aerostat. You can run adequate power up 200 feet or even 50 foot up a fibreglass mast, if the CM is light enough, and a genny**** on board sorts out the juice for at least 24 hours.

***Why does my software spell check say “Benny”? Is this a new use for Falklanders?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 3, 2013 10:17 pm

@TD – why not go the whole hog with a mixture of airborne, surface and underwater options? I’d guess controlling the third is technically more difficult, but we remain on balance pretty good at underwater stuff…and very good at geeks (we remain one of the world leaders in cutting-edge software writing, often for the games industry)…pretty sure that given some investment in R&D we could make some serious progress in these areas.

Mark
Mark
April 3, 2013 10:43 pm

One thing about swarms and such ideas does it not sort of advertise were mother is. I mean if you stick boats and things up in the air all around for miles someone’s gonna pick that up way before they pick up were the ship is. Unless you get into very expensive swarms.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 3, 2013 10:45 pm

TD,

I think the smart money should be on developing a fast “mothership” for USVs, and getting good at launch and recovery of USVs in mid ocean. The ability to L&R USVs from your own shore is not very exciting – we need USVs to become mainstream and expeditionary. Something with a dock / well deck? The swarming business is now pretty much COTS, even for countries like Iran. Even our favoured Latinos could get it, if they don’t bounce the cheque.

wf
wf
April 4, 2013 6:46 am

@Red Trousers: I think L&R operations from shore are the most useful short term use of USV’s, and will provide a springboard to everything else. Imagine not having to escort V boats out of Faslane with an SSN, but instead having 3-4 cheap USV’s, some active and some passive, with a couple of torpedo’s each. Ditto minesweeping. Just like UAV’s, the majority of the fleet could be stored until needed, with minimal maintenance and manpower costs.

ALL Politicians are the Same
ALL Politicians are the Same
April 4, 2013 9:33 am

wf

WE do not escort SSBNs out of Faslane with an SSN. We use some ORCs and now the 2 new RM boats as well as the P2000 from the protection squadron and MOD Police Rhibs. The threat is an asymmetric one.

ASW aspects can be taken care of by Merlin. Without going into too much detail the level of corporate knowledge reference the movement and locations of any potential hostile submarines is pretty high and would allow an SSN to be used if required.

Remember that the offgoing SSBN will not return until the oncoming one has sailed and is clean.

a
a
April 4, 2013 9:33 am

A better solution is an unmanned RHIB keeping station 2-5 miles away, and dragging along the counter measure on a 200 foot high aerostat. You can run adequate power up 200 feet or even 50 foot up a fibreglass mast, if the CM is light enough, and a genny**** on board sorts out the juice for at least 24 hours.

At least 24 hours? Can you get enough fuel on board a RHIB to keep it going, plus the genny, at 25 kts for 24 hours? In North Atlantic sea states? And that aerostat is essentially going to be a great big airbrake that you’re dragging along behind you. Driving into a 30kt headwind (that’s a mild day in the Atlantic) at 20 kts towing something the size of a house in mid-air? Think of the sail area.
And then you have to winch down the aerostat every day so you can bring it alongside to replen (otherwise you’re essentially bringing a barrage balloon into the middle of your carrier task force, which is bad). So you’ll need a big winch as well. More weight.
Not to mention how that’s going to perform in a 10-foot swell. Think about that – your RHIB’s sitting there with the cable taut between it and the aerostat, then the sea drops 10 feet out from under it. That cable and anchor system is going to take a battering.

The mast’s as bad. What happens if you stick a 50-foot mast on a RHIB and put a big heavy ECM pod at the top of the mast?

wf
wf
April 4, 2013 11:36 am

@APATS: I wasn’t talking about out of the estuary, I was thinking about on the way to the Atlantic proper.

Any opinions on the minesweeping/hunting role?

a
a
April 4, 2013 1:00 pm

wf: I thought ROVs were already used for minehunting.

Yes, here we are:
http://www.rovworld.com/article4191.html

wf
wf
April 4, 2013 1:07 pm

@a: we’ve been using the PAP104 for decades, yes. I’m talking about a true autonomous system, similar in size to the US mk105 sled, that could be despatched as a swarm to clear lanes

ALL Politicians are the Same
ALL Politicians are the Same
April 4, 2013 3:13 pm

Without going into Classified stuff, ask yourself why once an SSBN has dived and has open water it would want either.

1. A friendly SSN around, creating noise and complicating ID of any unknown. or
2. A fleet of USV type vehicles on the surface broadcasting its position?

Its defence is space and quietness, combined with the ability to detect anything approaching it.

Truly autonomous USV type systems for MCM work may well be the future but a few things worry me.

1. Bandwidth and decision making capability may still require a link to a human operator.
2. Inability to conduct a lead through.
3. Defence against a non mine attack.
4. Some bugger designing mines to be set by the frequency of the comms being used to control them.

Nothing insurmountable but would the money spent on developing the answers give us a capability worth the price?

SomewhatInvolved
April 5, 2013 10:46 am

It’s an overengineered solution but does offer an improvement over the existing setup by being able to concentrate the entire load down a single bearing, thus countering the stream attack. However, just because our current launchers are fixed doesn’t mean they are markedly less effective – you still have to manoeuvre the ship to achieve weapon arcs and reduce radar cross section, and the fixed launchers are optimised for those decoy orientations. Just being able to fling decoys down any bearing is not necessarily an advantage if the ship RCS is still bigger than the decoy.

Nice to see the Army is coming up with useful solutions as always. I suggest RT should pilot the RHIB with a 200ft high aerostat out the back as a trial – pack it full of rat packs and we might be able to go back and get him after a few weeks. I can offer some experience training as a Larne Target Coxswain if you like?