JED - October 2016 - 24


Bait in

the Trap

W

Trainable Soft-Kill Systems Proliferate for ASMD
By Richard Scott

The Journal of Electronic Defense | October 2016

24

While the successful decoying of multiple
Syrian P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 'Styx') antiship missiles by Israeli Saar strike craft
off Latakia in October 1973 marked the
first use of radio frequency (RF) chaff in
anti-ship missile defense (ASMD), it was
the UK Royal Navy's (RN's) extensive use
of offboard countermeasures in the 1982
Falklands conflict that marked a coming
of age for soft-kill at sea.
The MM 38 and AM 39 versions of Exocet deployed by Argentine naval forces
represented a new breed of sea-skimming anti-surface guided weapon for
which the Royal Navy was, in the main,
poorly prepared and ill-equipped. Contemporaneous threat assessments, now
declassified, reveal that fleet planners
and warfare staffs were quickly aware
of the acute limitations of the hard-kill
weapon systems deployed in the RN task
force, and promulgated tactical advice
that soft-kill - in the form of chaff represented "the single most important
countermeasure against Exocet and has
a far higher success rate than any hard
kill weapon."
Ships were advised to use Chaff CHARLIE (fired at range from 4.5-inch guns)
and Chaff HOTEL (manually deployed
from helicopters) to effect confusion
during targeting. As raids developed,
Chaff DELTA patterns would be deployed
from ships' 3-inch Corvus launchers in
an attempt to distract the Exocet radar
seeker in its acquisition phase.
No chaff seduction capability was
available to the task force (US Navy

Super Rapid Bloom Offboard Countermeasures (SRBOC) systems were later
supplied to address this gap). In a hurried improvisation, a handful of Lynx
helicopters were jury-rigged with a
noise jammer designed to trick the
Exocet seeker to "home-on-jam": these
became, so far as is known, the world's
first active offboard decoys for ASMD.
(See "Born of Necessity - The Untold
Story of HAMPTON MAYFAIR, JED, January 2015, p. 39.)
Post-conflict analysis suggested that
timely Chaff DELTA deployment was successful in decoying at least two AM39
Exocet attacks. Indeed, chaff is believed
to have successfully decoyed an AM39
Exocet away from the frigate HMS Ambuscade, only for the missile seeker to
then acquire the container ship Atlantic
Conveyor.
In light of this success, one tangible
effect of the Falklands campaign was to
spur the development of a new generation of soft-kill decoy systems for both
large warships and minor war vessels.
Operational practitioners, the defense
scientific community and industry
alike, recognized the value of fast-reacting, microprocessor-controlled systems that could calculate the optimum
launch angle and decoy setting based
on available threat information, deploy
decoys in either seduction and distraction modes, and provide optimum
course to steer recommendations to the
command so as to maximize the chance
of evasion. Investment was also forth-

coming in improved RF chaff payloads,
infrared (IR) rounds to counter the
threat from IR-guided missiles, and a
new generation of advanced active offboard decoys designed to effect angular seduction against the most complex
RF threats.

NEW THREATS
Fast forward to 2016, and an observer reviewing the development of
shipborne soft-kill technology and
techniques over the past three decades
might conclude that the state-of-theart has changed relatively little. Indeed, many navies still rely on systems
and payloads that entered development
in the 1980s; examples include the Mk
36 Decoy Launch System (DLS) and
similar 130-mm fixed-barrel launchers,
which fire variants of the Mk 214 RF seduction and MK 216 RF distraction 130mm chaff rounds originally developed
under the NATO Sea Gnat program.
There is no doubt that the demise of
the erstwhile Soviet fleet, as well as the
increased emphasis placed on force protection against irregular or asymmetric surface threats in the littoral, have
seen many navies focus less attention
on defeating ASMDs in the post-Cold
War era. Furthermore, most of what has
been invested to counter the anti-ship
cruise missile (ASCM) threat has been
channeled towards the upgrade of hardkill defenses.
Yet given the global proliferation
of advanced ASCMs, including systems



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - October 2016

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
World Report
Bait in the Trap: Trainable Soft-Kill Systems Proliferate for ASMD
2017 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
SIGINT History
EW 101
AOC News
Index to Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - October 2016 - cover1
JED - October 2016 - cover2
JED - October 2016 - 3
JED - October 2016 - 4
JED - October 2016 - 5
JED - October 2016 - The View From Here
JED - October 2016 - 7
JED - October 2016 - Conferences Calendar
JED - October 2016 - 9
JED - October 2016 - Courses Calendar
JED - October 2016 - 11
JED - October 2016 - From the President
JED - October 2016 - 13
JED - October 2016 - 14
JED - October 2016 - The Monitor
JED - October 2016 - insert1
JED - October 2016 - insert2
JED - October 2016 - 16
JED - October 2016 - 17
JED - October 2016 - 18
JED - October 2016 - 19
JED - October 2016 - 20
JED - October 2016 - 21
JED - October 2016 - World Report
JED - October 2016 - 23
JED - October 2016 - Bait in the Trap: Trainable Soft-Kill Systems Proliferate for ASMD
JED - October 2016 - 25
JED - October 2016 - 26
JED - October 2016 - 27
JED - October 2016 - 28
JED - October 2016 - 29
JED - October 2016 - 30
JED - October 2016 - 31
JED - October 2016 - 32
JED - October 2016 - 33
JED - October 2016 - 34
JED - October 2016 - 35
JED - October 2016 - 36
JED - October 2016 - 37
JED - October 2016 - 38
JED - October 2016 - 39
JED - October 2016 - 2017 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
JED - October 2016 - 41
JED - October 2016 - 42
JED - October 2016 - 43
JED - October 2016 - 44
JED - October 2016 - 45
JED - October 2016 - 46
JED - October 2016 - 47
JED - October 2016 - 48
JED - October 2016 - 49
JED - October 2016 - 50
JED - October 2016 - 51
JED - October 2016 - 52
JED - October 2016 - 53
JED - October 2016 - 54
JED - October 2016 - 55
JED - October 2016 - 56
JED - October 2016 - 57
JED - October 2016 - 58
JED - October 2016 - 59
JED - October 2016 - 60
JED - October 2016 - 61
JED - October 2016 - 62
JED - October 2016 - 63
JED - October 2016 - 64
JED - October 2016 - SIGINT History
JED - October 2016 - 66
JED - October 2016 - 67
JED - October 2016 - EW 101
JED - October 2016 - 69
JED - October 2016 - AOC News
JED - October 2016 - 71
JED - October 2016 - Index to Advertisers
JED - October 2016 - 73
JED - October 2016 - JED Quick Look
JED - October 2016 - cover3
JED - October 2016 - cover4
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