Twin Launchers to be Upgraded to Triple
The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has awarded an important follow-on contract to Rheinmetall for the company’s Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS) automated decoy to protect its HALIFAX-class frigates from anti-ship missiles.
The order, valued at C$20 million (€12 million), will run from 2018-2022 and will be a collaborative venture between Rheinmetall’s Fronau plant in Bavaria (where MASS was developed) and Rheinmetall Canada, Inc., where the systems will be assembled and commissioned prior to installation. Essentially, the order covers an upgrade under which the existing twin launchers on the RCN’s 12 HALIFAX-class vessels will be replaced with triple launchers. The RCN contracted with Rheinmetall in 2009 for the original installations and at the same time procured the OMNITRAP and MASSDueras munitions.
The navies of thirteen nations now deploy a total of 224 MASS launchers to protect their ships, primarily from radar-guided anti-ship missiles but also from infrared threats and rocket-propelled grenades in asymmetric threat scenarios. Rheinmetall recently unveiled two technical advances, one of which, the MASS offboard corner reflector (OCR), uses a special radar signature to replicate the silhouette of the ship at a safe standoff, reliably luring the latest generation of anti-ship missiles away from their intended target. Equipped with its own special sensor unit, the MASS standalone version is ideal for modernising major surface combatants as well as smaller craft.
The system is capable of quickly detecting a missile threat, radar and laser target markers or a laser rangefinder measurement, and then taking the necessary action to thwart it – fully automatically. The countermeasures initiated by the system generate a decoy target, which the incoming missile then interprets to be a higher-value asset, ultimately causing the projectile to veer off course. MASS initiates these countermeasures autonomously, taking into account wind and the ship’s navigation data as well as information concerning the nature of the threat.