Extensible Launcher Could Transform Weaponization Flexibility of Surface Combatants

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Lockheed Martin Successfully Demonstrates New Launching System for Active Missile Decoys

Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] has conducted the first vertical launch test of a new Nulka offboard countermeasure, fired form an Extensible Launching System (ExLS) for the first time. The test took place at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The launcher used for the test was a fully tactical configuration. ExLS has been under development and integration for the past three years.

Lockheed Martin Successfully Demonstrates New Launching System for Active Missile Decoys
ExLS modular system

ExLS was specifically designed to rapidly integrate qualified missiles or other weapons that were developed and certified in an All Up Round (AUR) configuration, such as the Nulka, the RAM Block 2 missile and the Precision Attack Missile.

ExLS enables smaller weapons to be stored and deployed from existing Vertical Launching System (VLS) cells. The sub-launcher provides a common solution for integrating missiles with the MK 41 and MK 57 VLS.

“ExLS is the latest example of our innovation and commitment to providing more affordable solutions for our customers,” said Dan Schultz, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Ship and Aviation Systems. “ExLS’ snap-in design enables our customers to maximize the investment in their Vertical Launching Systems and realize significant integration savings.” ExLS employs a single solution for both Mk 41 and MK 57 VLS, slashing integration costs by more than 50 percent.

ExLS from Lockheed Martin

The ExLS launcher is built of lightweight composite structure attached with drop-in/snap-in connectors and mechanical interfaces as the existing canisters. The launcher features Open System Architecture and Open Software and Cell Based Electronics. For rapid interface with the ship’s combat management system. This design enables the rapid deployment of completely assembled weapons and munitions, such as the Nulka, developed BAE Systems Australia, RAM Block II short range air defense missiles or Precision Attack Missiles (PAM), to augment traditional weapons designed for the VLS missions – such as the Standard SM-2 and 3 and Tomahawk, Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESS) and Anti-Submarine VL-ASROC weapon.

This new capability enable naval planners to flexibly tailor the surface combatant weaponry with a wider choice of weapons sofar unavailable for the larger ships, eliminate the need for separate topside launchers. Maintaining the AUR integrity is critical from both a fleet commonality perspective and the need for eliminating costly VLS canister development. ExLS offers the unique ability to snap-in AURs into a reconfigurable system that will provide unprecedented flexibility for the U.S. Navy.