Sunday, February 21, 2016

SeaRAM Test Fraud

Here’s an item from the previous post (see, “LCS Update”) that I just have to highlight.  It’s about the SeaRAM testing on the LCS.

“The Navy completed the first at-sea demonstration of the SeaRAM system in LCS 4 in 2015 during an engagement against a non-maneuvering, subsonic aerial target (BQM-74) with radio frequency and infrared augmentation that were not consistent with the characteristics of realistic threats.” [emphasis added]


I recall when this test was first announced.  I read it and figured that it was one of the Navy’s typical unrealistic live fire exercises that prove little more than mechanical operation of the missile system.  Little did I realize until reading DOT&E’s report that the exercise set new lows in realism and usefulness.

Note the underlined portion which states that the target was not only non-maneuvering but had an artificially enhanced tracking signature.  This was the test that the Navy was so proud of?  The only way they could have made the test easier and less realistic was to hang the target directly in front of the missile cell on the launcher so that the missile had to bump into it on its way out.

I know the Navy is afraid of conducting realistic tests but this is absurd.  Do we really not want to know what our missiles and systems can do before we find out the hard way – in combat – and people get killed?


This is yet another indictment of Navy leadership – a common theme of mine and you can see why.  

15 comments:

  1. I've read (can't remember where) that the SeaRAM on the LCS odd class is reliant on its own sensor suite.

    This suggests that that sensor suite is completely inadequate.

    The argument I'd read for RAM missiles as CIWS back in the 90's was that gun based systems just didn't have the energy to stop high speed, large, AScM's; whereas the missiles could hit harder and farther away.

    If they can't hit the damned thing in the first place.... we have a defenseless ship.

    Other worries; what other classes of ships to we have relying on this stuff?

    I'd feel a hell of alot better if the Navy took Aegis, SeaRAM, and Phalanx, set them on automatic, and shot a bunch of coyote's at them to see how the system handles a raid.

    Its still not perfect because Coyote != Brahmos, but its much better.

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    1. Jim, are you confusing RAM and SeaRAM? RAM is on the Freedom class and SeaRAM is on the Independence class although, supposedly, SeaRAM is going to eventually be backfitted to the Freedom class.

      RAM relies on the ship's sensors for initial targeting while SeaRAM has its own radar (Phalanx, essentially).

      To be fair, the SeaRAM test was not a failure. We don't know that the missile won't hit a real target. We just know, now, that the test was so unrealistic that we have no idea whether the system would work in combat or not.

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    2. Yup, I believe I am. And I mis-read the article. I thought it did fail.

      Nonetheless....

      We have 0 idea if it will work based on this test.

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  2. Why did the navy choose a missile which rolls in flight?. Doesn't the rolling effect its capabilities against fast maneuverable targets?

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    1. Good question. I have no idea.

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    2. I always assumed the roll was a weight equilibrium measure, the same reason bullets spin.

      But that's a guess on my part

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    3. The RAM rolls as a method to simplify the guidance system mechanical system. As you know the RAM is based on the Sidewinder air-air missiles. Sidewinder require four fins that are
      controlled by a sensor with two axis of freedom to direct it to its target. RAM on the other hand only has two fins and a sensor with one axis of freedom, which is far more simple to build than Sidewinder.

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    4. What?. A rolling missile stabilizes the flight but does nothing on the gimble. If the gimble isn't able to actuate the missile is only good for straight line shots with no room to maneuver in a high g demand environment

      Sidewinder missiles are able to actuate on a2 axis environment but able to see week you know

      What's the field of view on a high g maneuvering target. Probably not good in a spin

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  3. Going back to my memory when they first started talking about it on usenet.... I think 'Navies' is more accurate. I think that the Germans started it first, then the RN did it.

    I believe that the RAM was desireable because it was small enough and accurate enough given the short-ish ranges involved, RAM was considered sufficient.

    Whether it is or not, I don't know.

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  4. At least the drone wasn't given a seeker and told to hit the missile...

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    1. Outstanding!! That's exactly what I'd expect from a Navy test. You made my day! LOL

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  5. Look, the key word in this story is "first." You never try to do a full up test. You start with the simplest test to verify that the it can do the simplest function and that the basic parts of the missile works. Then you proceeds to test the more complicated function or parts one step at a time. so when sometime does break, you know which part it was. Trying to do it the way you want, it would be extremely difficult to trouble shoot any problems that shows up during testing.

    What troubles me is the DOT&E must know all this, yet it still imply that the Navy is cheating when it follows the correct testing methods. That is why the Navy believes that DOT&E is out to sabotage it's programs.

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    1. The first LCS-2 version with SeaRAM was delivered to the Navy in 2009. Six years later the FIRST test of the SeaRAM is performed???? That, alone, is unforgivable. We've had these ships in commission for six years and no one ever bothered to test the only AAW defense they have? All right, let's set that aside.

      This level of test is something that should have been performed on land, by the manufacturer, before the first unit was ever installed on a ship. You know what? I believe it was. I believe there have been the type of initial testing done that you describe. That means that this test by the Navy was not only redundant but pointless - it's already been done. Would you have me believe that six years after the first LCS and a year after the LCS-4 was commissioned, it fired its first missile? How did they get through acceptance trials?????

      The Navy is simply doing what the Navy does which is try to take the easy way out of testing so as not to risk finding problems that might hurt their funding.

      I know you desperately want the LCS to be a mighty warship but you risk losing credibility trying to defend this kind of thing.

      Did you read the post? Did I say the Navy is somehow cheating? No. I said the Navy was conducting unrealistic tests and needs to stop doing that. Neither I nor DOT&E said anything about cheating. DOT&E simply pointed out the reality of the test conditions and I pointed out the unrealistic nature of the tests.

      So when do you think the Navy will get around to conducting more realistic tests? Do you think it will be before or after the last LCS is retired? Given that it took six years of commissioned warships sailing and, theoretically, prepared for full scale combat, before they even bothered to perform the first missile test, according to you, I don't see realistic tests happening any time soon.

      You need to read what's written - nothing more and nothing less - and give the DOT&E the credit it deserves. DOT&E is the only thing preventing the Navy from committing out and out fraud regarding weapon systems.

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  6. The big fraud used in all Navy tests is to require the incoming target missile to fly at least 30ft or even 100 feet off the deck so the radar is not confused by the sea clutter in the background; white caps make it useless, so calm seas are best.

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  7. If they are determined to get rid of some of the older cruisers, what about using them for REAL testing? Set them up to run the defensive systems remotely and start shooting missiles at them.

    My suspicion is that it will never happen because it would show both how defenseless our cruisers/destroyers are, and how badly they are going to get torn apart when AShMs make it through.

    This test provides more support for my feeling that the USN has tunnel vision on low-intensity warfare in places like the Middle East and is not even considering fighting against someone that is a technological peer.

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