By Geoff Fein
During the recent acceptance trials for Lockheed Martin's [LMT] USS Freedom (LCS-1), the company was able to demonstrate the capability of its specially designed combat management system, COMBATTS 21, that officials said can be adapted for almost any ship.
The Navy and Lockheed Martin tested COMBATTS 21 during the May acceptance trials off the coast of Virginia against a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) concentrating on surface engagements. The second day of tests focused on self defense and detect-to-engage, using Lear jets, Sue Mancinelli, program manager for COMBATTS 21, told Defense Daily in a recent interview.
Day one tested out the gun fire control system built by Navantia. That system initiates the engagement, Mancinelli said. Once the gun fire control system acquires the target, COMBATTS 21 takes over.
"We tracked it, engaged it, and then the firing solution was found and the gun slewed over to find the target. That was all done through COMBATTS 21," she added.
The second day of testing was similar except for the use of the Lear jet targets, Mancinelli said. "We had to show when we could acquire the target."
"Once it was identified as hostile, COMBATTS 21 tracked it, engaged it, and at the proper time the RAM launcher was slewed and the target was acquired," she said.
All the tests were done using dummy rounds, she noted.
COMBATTS 21 is a derivative of Lockheed Martin's Aegis combat system.
Rich Calabrese, director, mission systems, told Defense Daily during the same interview that the company is managing COMBATTS 21 as a common product line.
"It allows us to deliver commonality where commonality makes sense," he said.
Because functions are the same between COMBATTS 21 and Aegis, Calabrese noted it enables reuse of software. And if a ship has platform-dependent applications that are necessary, those can be brought along as well, he added.
Because of the approach Lockheed Martin has taken with COMBATTS 21, Calabrese pointed out the company can adapt COMBATTS 21 to the larger surface fleet.
"What we are doing is painstakingly aligning to the PEO IWS objective architecture. And as we do that, we are building a product that could ultimately go on any type of ship in the U.S., or ultimately in the international navy," he said.
"The nice thing is when you start with a super set like Aegis, the ability to take capability out for lower class ships is pretty straight forward, based on the way they are architected," Calabrese said. "There is not a whole lot to add to it other than applications. We don't see limitation as to the type of ship, the kinds of missions, that we can apply COMBATTS 21 to."
Lockheed Martin has also looked at scaling down COMBATTS 21 even further, Mancinelli added.
She added it is really about the level of weapons and sensors a ship would need to work with today and the level of automation they have to have.
What the company is doing now, and looking ahead to the future, is adding support for an additional fleet of sensors and weapons, Mancinelli said.
"We are adding additional capability via components that are available in the library to the customer, should it be required to meet their mission. That allows us to adapt this product for a whole host of surface combatants," she said.
Going forward, Lockheed Martin has started to look at new concepts that would allow for multiple Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) to act as a coordinated unit, Calabrese said. "Something we call Squadron C2."
The capability would allow for collaboration of LCS units, he noted.
"If that concept takes wing, it could be extended to other ships as well," Calabrese said. "And we have demonstrated that. We have taken some of those concepts out to the field and validated them in some of our own IRAD (internal research and development) tests."