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7th Fleet tests innovative missile defense system

News International-French

1 Jul 2014

U.S. 7th Fleet and the Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC) tested how radar-absorbing, carbon-fiber clouds can prevent a missile from detecting and striking its target.

The Navy tested these manmade clouds, called maritime obscurant generator prototypes, to assess their tactical effectiveness for anti-ship missile defense.

The systems and tactics were tested under a variety of at-sea conditions using assets from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force to evaluate how the radar-absorbing, carbon-fiber clouds can protect naval assets as part of a layered defense.

Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr., commander U.S. 7th Fleet, kicked off the multi-ship experiment in Guam.

A shipboard device generated the carbon-fiber particles which were suspended in a cloud of smoke. These clouds can absorb or diffuse radar waves emanating from the seekers of incoming missiles and potentially obscure friendly ships from those missiles.

The experiment demonstrated how maritime obscurant generation can be a key enabler of offensive maneuver of the Fleet despite the global proliferation of anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles.

"We are developing a layered approach using a full spectrum of active and passive capabilities to give us the advantage," said Capt. David Adams, who leads the 7th Fleet Warfighting Initiatives Group. "It is not just about the technology, but also practicing how the Fleet will employ these emerging capabilities."

"A defense in depth approach has a lot of advantages. Not only do we know the smoke is effective, it adds a level of uncertainty and unpredictability to the equation," said Adams.

In addition to having a significant level of effectiveness, the systems are relatively inexpensive when compared to other countermeasures and can be tactically employed through typical Fleet maneuvers. The materials are environmentally friendly and sized to maximize operational effectiveness.

"Our initial assessment is the testing was very successful in terms of tactical employment, usability and cost-effectiveness." said Adams.