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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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