Turning Corners

A MASS-OCR decoy is sent aloft by rocket from a MASS launcher during a test. The launch tube containing the rocket is clearly visible in this picture.

Qualification has been completed for IrvinGQ’s and Rheinmetall’s new MASS-OCR radar corner reflector decoy.

The MASS-OCR has been jointly developed by both companies for use with Rheinmetall’s Multi-Ammunition Soft-Kill System (MASS) decoy launcher. Martin Fegg, Rheinmetall’s head of product group protection/soft kill, told Armada Analysis that his company provided the rocket which will launch the decoy with IrvinGQ providing its payload and inflation system. When an incoming radar-guided Anti-Ship Missile (AShM) has been detected by a vessel the MASS-OCR is launched and will then inflate above the ship.

Mr. Fegg says that, depending on weather conditions, the decoy can remain aloft for up to one minute. Usefully, it remains inflated once on the surface and thus continues to provide a large Radar Cross Section (RCS) to distract and seduce incoming AShMs.

The MASS-OCR is effective against AShM radars transmitting on a waveband of 8.5 gigahertz/GHz up to 40GHz. This will allow the decoy to be used against AShMs equipped with X-band (8.5 gigahertz/GHz to 10.68GHz), Ku-band (13.4-14/15.7-17.7GHz), K-band (24.05GHz to 24.25GHz) and Ka-band (33.4GHz to 36GHz) radar seekers. As a result, Mr. Fegg says that the MASS-OCR is “sufficient to deal with all ant-ship missile threats.”

The MASS-OCR launcher easily outfits the MASS apparatus. Mr. Fegg added that one of the magazines in a standard MASS launcher can be removed and substituted with the MASS-OCR magazine. This has an adaptor on top of the magazine which carries the launch tube for the decoy. The installation can be performed by the ship’s crew. Trials of the MASS-OCR have recently been concluded in Germany and the United Kingdom, and the decoy has been qualified: “We expect to get orders from almost all MASS users in the future,” Mr. Fegg stated.

The MASS-OCR, he continues, represents a good compliment to vessel-launched chaff. Recent years have seen moves by navies to embrace a layered approach to AShM defence where a cocktail of responses are used to defeat such weapons. These can include combinations of RF (Radio Frequency) jamming, soft kill measures such as radar corner reflectors and chaff, and hard kill weaponry in the guise of close-in weapons systems. This is to improve the chances of defeating the incoming missile and to address the fact that it may not always be possible for the vessel to determine exactly what AShM type is closing on the ship, therefore requiring a multitude of responses to ensure that the weapon is electromagnetically and kinetically defeated: “What is important for us is that you make a coordinated response with the corner reflectors and the chaff rounds. It is important to combine both; to have the best advantages from each, and to compensate for disadvantages.”

by Dr. Thomas Withington