Improving ship self-defence

Article published on, on September 17th, 2015. By Richard Scott.

UK-based research and technology group QinetiQ has revealed the development of a modular integrated Compact Combat System (C2S) designed to improve situational awareness and force protection for ‘disadvantaged’ naval units such as afloat support ships and minor war vessels.

A prototype integrated test facility − housed on standard ISO container structures − has already completed at-sea trials in UK waters.

QinetiQ has for several years been exploring technologies and techniques to provide warships with improved capabilities to overcome the emerging surface threat posed by small fast inshore attack craft (FIACs).

In particular, it has sought to combine the capabilities of its ESAFES sensor fusion engine − designed to improve the picture available to vessels lacking a dedicated military surveillance radar − with that of the company’s POINTER Maritime networked weapon cueing system. POINTER takes feeds from ship sensors to provide improved situational awareness, and also provides target cues to crew-served weapons on the upper deck.

Earlier this year, QinetiQ performed at-sea trials of a prototype container-based installation to demonstrate the performance of a complete mini combat system optimised for close-in defence against the FIAC threat. Based on a single ISO cabin, with a sensor payload platform mounted on a frame above, this engineering development suite integrated a Kelvin Hughes SharpEye radar, an HGH Spynel-S 3500 infrared search and track device and a Chess Dynamics Sea Eagle electro-optical surveillance system, plus ADS‑B, AIS, navigation sensors and platform references. Trials were successfully performed against representative FIAC targets.

Fused tracks were displayed on the POINTER situational awareness display, and cues provided to individual weapon stations via an Ethernet link. Target information was displayed in the gunner’s optical sight, using symbology to indicate target bearing, range and identity.

This same technology − under the C2S banner − is now being offered in a ‘productised’ form by QinetiQ. ‘‘We see C2S providing an extremely flexible but low-cost solution for navies wishing to provide support ships, minehunters or other ‘disadvantaged’ units with improved situational awareness and selfprotection,’’ said Dirk Van Beek, QinetiQ’s campaign lead for International Mission Systems. ‘‘Furthermore, it is based on open architecture principles that make it straightforward to adapt to individual customer requirements, readily transportable, and easy to cross-deck between ships.’’