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U.S. Navy Upgrading MK 132 Launchers to Accommodate ESSM Block 2 Missiles

By J.W. Marcum, NSWC PHD Public Affairs
Work has commenced on the refurbishment and modification of the NATO Seasparrow Missile System (NSSMS) platform and MK 132 Guided Missile Launching System located at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD). The surface-to-air ship defense system is being upgraded to support deployment of the Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2, which employs an active- and semi-active guidance system to meet current and anticipated future threats.

ESSM The Evolved SeaSparrow Missile is Raytheon's intermediate layer of defense and creates the foundation of several allied navies and their anti-ship missile defense efforts.

“The effort is in support of ESSM Block 2 integration efforts for the CVN, LHD, and LHA ship classes,” said Electronics Engineer, Son Nguyen. “NSWC PHD is the In-Service Engineering Agent (ISEA) leading testing of a new servo motor, launcher cell extensions, and qualification of ESSM Block 2 loading and operations.”

The project is one of many current and future endeavors launched by NSWC PHD in support of the ISEA of the Future, which builds upon key innovation milestones and actions to support the next-generation Navy.

“The modification, known as MIN MOD, will include an overhauled launcher that will bring together all of the program elements to prove and verify required changes as well as demonstrate that the change is fleet ready,” said Robert Barrett, NSSMS customer advocate and program manager. “This also provides the ISEA with the latest launcher that is in the fleet, allowing us to better execute our jobs in both fleet support as well as obsolescence management.”

Barrett has served as the NAVSEA customer advocate and program manager for NSSMS and the NSSMS Depot since 2005. Both are in support of Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare System (PEO IWS) 12, the NATO Seasparrow Program Office (NSPO). Prior to this position he supported the program as a contractor for 19 years. The NATO Seasparrow Project is now in its 50th year and is the longest running, most successful cooperative weapons program in NATO.

U.S. Navy Upgrading MK 132 Launchers to Accommodate ESSM Block 2 MissilesReplacement work is being conducted on the NATO SeaSparrow Missile System launcher platform in preparation for installation of the MK 132 Guided Missile Launcher located at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division, Oct. 23. (Photo by Marco Hinahon)

“Over the years I worked various details through the NSSMS program, learning all aspects of what it takes to be an ISEA and supporting the fleet both technically and logistically,” said Barrett.

“The MIN-MOD program came about when the program office and NAVSEA could not come to a contractual agreement with the design agent for a replacement launcher for the NSSMS MK 57 system,” he continued. “The replacement launcher had to have the ability to be able to fire the ESSM Block 2. This situation also drove a new requirement to make the contractual process competitive, which meant a minimum of at least two to three years were needed before a first article replacement would be seen by the fleet.”

According to Barret, details of the program were quickly developed through High Velocity Learning and collaborative efforts, LEAN, Six-Sigma principles and by involving Junior Professionals (JP) in the development and execution process.

“I saw this as an opportunity for the NSSMS NSWC PHD team to step in and provide a plausible solution to the PEO to still deliver the ESSM Block 2 capability to the fleet during an interim period while the process for the launcher's replacement was taking place,” said Barrett. “When we developed the MIN-MOD program for the NSPO, we incorporated the [NSWC PHD] Strategic Objectives, Improve Integrated Combat System Readiness; Accelerate Deployment of New Capabilities to the Fleet; and Improve Affordability of Integrated Combat Systems.”

“The program takes into account the known high-failure rate of logistical supported Lowest Repairable Units (LRUs), which are also the more expensive LRUs, and either improves them to be more effective and reliable or they are designed out of the system,” he said. “This effort also delivers ESSM Block 2 capabilities to large flat decks three years in advance of their original fleet issuance. The added bonus with this program is that it is reverse compatible, so current ESSM shooters will get the advantages of improved readiness and affordability of the LRUs long before they get the mechanical modifications to shoot the ESSM Block 2.”

The MIN-MOD program partnerships include subject matter experts from NSWC PHD; NAVSEA Technical Warrant Holders; the Naval Packaging, Handling, Storage and Transportation Division, NSWC Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division’s Picattiny Detachment; and NSWC Dahlgren Division’s principle for safety, design agent and Allowance Parts Lists.

“This not only keeps all of these agencies immersed in the devolvement process, allowing for quick course corrections, but it also gives our JPs actual involvement with these agencies to learn the ‘trials and tribulations’ that can occur when working within the federal system for the Navy,” said Barrett.

The NATO Seasparrow Project is an international consortium of 12 nations consisting of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United States. The 12 member nations are partners in engineering, development, production and sustainment of the missiles and supporting equipment. NSWC PHD provides advanced technical training to partner allies in support of NSSMS.