02 Desember 2014
Rheinmetall's multi-ammunition softkill system (MASS) (photo : Rheinmetall)
New capabilities and a new MASS ship protection system customer
Rheinmetall continues to expand its range of ship protection products. The Düsseldorf-based system supplier has added to the capabilities of its tried-and-tested Multi Ammunition Softkill System, or MASS.
Since space and weight always present a limiting factor on any platform, Rheinmetall has integrated an anti-torpedo capability into MASS. The current concept offers the possibility of launching up to four anti-torpedo decoys from a single MASS launcher. Existing launchers can be easily equipped with the new anti-torpedo upgrade kit without modification.
At Euronaval 2014 Rheinmetall was displaying the MASS system equipped with anti-torpedo technology from French defence contractor DCNS. Basically speaking, though, any anti-torpedo system can be integrated into the upgrade kit.
Rheinmetall also continues to offer the Multi Ammunition Softkill System variant MASS_ISS (ISS stands for “Integrated Sensor Suite”). It features integrated radar ESM systems and laser warning systems. Threat analysis conducted by Rheinmetall and a number of its customers shows that the threat to seagoing vessels in littoral waters from small weapons such as guided missiles (i.e. asymmetric threats) is basically undetectable using current shipboard sensor systems. In order to bridge this capability gap, Rheinmetall is cooperating with the Israeli company Elta to integrate its NavGuard technology into MASS. NavGuard is a radar-based projectile warning system capable of detecting even small incoming threats. MASS has already undergone successful live-fire testing in combination with NavGuard.
In the meantime another nation has joined the growing list of MASS users. New Zealand has decided to equip two of its MEKO-class frigates (jointly procured with Australia) with MASS. The contract, issued by the New Zealand Ministry of Defence under an ANZAC modernization programme, is worth €4.2 million.
In this project, Rheinmetall is acting as subcontractor to Lockheed Martin Canada Ltd. (LMC). LMC has contracted with Rheinmetall Waffe Munition (RMW) to supply two MASS systems in twin-launcher configuration (MASS_2L), including a long-range capability, plus two naval laser warning systems (NLWS). The fact that MASS is being integrated together with NLWS technology is a reminder of the ever-growing asymmetric threats which navies around the world have to contend with today in modern combat operations. The MASS systems are being manufactured at Rheinmetall’s Buck Fronau plant in Bavaria. Rheinmetall is procuring the naval laser warning systems from SAAB Grintek Defence Pty. of South Africa. The subsystems produced in South Africa will be supplied to LMC together with the MASS systems for integration into the ships.
Moreover, New Zealand is not just another MASS user nation, but – following in Canada’s wake – also constitutes another “Five Eyes” customer.