Analysis of How to Rapidly Bring Hypersonic Missile Capability to the Surface Fleet
Paulo, Eugene P.
Beery, Paul T.
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The development and deployment of hypersonic missiles is a major priority for the U.S. Armed Forces. While the Navy is conducting ongoing testing of its version of the hypersonic missile, there is a need to examine alternative launch methods for these missiles from existing surface ships in the near future. The ability to successfully deploy and launch hypersonic anti-ship missiles, as well as potentially anti-surface missiles in support of land forces, could provide significant advantage to joint forces, particularly in the Pacific region. Multiple navy surface ship platforms will be considered, as will the mix of operational missions being conducted, and the potential variety of ships that make up the operational task force. From these platforms, we will examine the development of alternate launching systems, as hypersonic missiles may not be compatible with existing launching systems like the MK-41 and MK-57 vertical launch systems (VLS). Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), Expeditionary Fast Transports (EPF), and amphibious ships have weight and space to dedicate to hypersonic missiles, but no system to launch them. Among other potential launching systems, we will consider the feasibility of crane-launching hypersonic missiles, as the missile exhausts over the water and not the ship and is easily adapted to accommodate missiles not compatible with existing launchers. Our study will analyze suitability of existing cranes on these ship classes, as well as associated magazines and handling gear. If missile size exceeds EPF and LCS crane capability, study should recommend required crane specifications.
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