By Geoff Fein
Norwegian defense firm Kongsberg will begin deliveries this year of its Naval Strike Missile (NSM), designed for multiple platform uses and potentially the U.S. Navy, according to a company official.
NSM is a predecessor to Kongsberg’s Joint Strike Missile (JSM) being developed for Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
“The F-35 variant is slightly longer than NSM…slimmer, in order to fit into the [F-35’s] weapons bay,” Bjorn Bjune, vice president of business development, told sister publication Defense Daily.
The additional length on JSM is for fuel, which gives the missile a longer range than NSM, he added. “Otherwise, the operational capabilities of the weapon are the same, or in other areas improved, based on new requirements.”
NSM was designed for the Norwegian navy’s new 5,000-ton frigates and the fast Corvette littoral combat craft, Bjune said.
On the frigates, NSM is interoperable with Lockheed Martin’s Aegis weapon system, which has the SPY-1F radar.
NSM is also being designed to fit on the MH-90 helicopter and can be fired from a self-contained four-pack box that can be mounted on the back of a truck. Bjune said that variant has been sold to a European country as a coastal defense asset.
But Kongsberg has its eyes on a bigger prize, the U.S. Navy and the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyer.
The company has a near-term solution that Bjune noted is a more capable missile system than is currently being used.
“We understand there is an urgent operational need stated in the U.S. Navy for a ship-to-ship weapon,” he said. “We have a weapon with the capabilities, in production, integrated into the same weapon system onboard DDG-51s.”
He added the missile could be ready for deployment into the U.S. fleet in 24 to 30 months after contract award.
“If you look on current DDG-51s, NSM would give Arleigh Burkes organic precision attack capabilities,” Bjune said. “You could engage targets beyond the horizon without additional infrastructure by means of additional ISR platforms. You can have ships sailing on their own without air cover.”
NSM can provide a near-term gap filler for the DDG-51 class ship-to-ship missile needs, he added. “It’s a unique capability for NSM.”
Kongsberg has briefed officials on NSM as one option that would be available in the 2015 time frame, Bjune said.
Because NSM can be launched from a container, it bears some similarity to the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS LS) being designed for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Last week, the Army proposed canceling the effort due to launch failures in a series of flight limited user tests.
NLOS is under development by NetFires LLC, a joint venture by Raytheon [RTN] and Lockheed Martin [LMT]. Raytheon builds the Precision Attack Missile (PAM), which will be fired from NLOS launch system.
If NLOS-LS were to be terminated, it’s unknown how the Navy would proceed, given that the system is a key component of the surface warfare mission package.
“We have been briefly considering LCS,” Bjune said.
He acknowledged not being very familiar with NLOS-LS, but noted Kongsberg’s NSM has a longer range than PAMS.
NSM’s range is 100-plus nautical miles, he added.
“Given the fact NSM will [provide] a land attack capability, [and] have a longer range than NLOS, this will be a capability to be considered in that perspective, an LCS perspective,” he said. “We have briefed Lockheed some time ago. It’s an interesting platform to look into.”