Military Embedded Systems

Royal Navy using trainable decoy launchers to counter hypersonic, ballistic missiles


June 11, 2024

Dan Taylor

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Image via Chess Dynamics

HORSHAM, England. Chess Dynamics and SEA, both part of the Cohort Group, are developing a trainable decoy launcher system -- known as Ancilia -- for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) under the Maritime Electronic Warfare Programme (MEWP) in an effort to enhance the Royal Navy’s defense against advanced threats like hypersonic and ballistic missiles, the company says.

A decoy launcher is a defense system used on military ships and aircraft to protect against incoming missiles or other threats. It works by releasing objects or signals that confuse or divert the threats away from their intended target, essentially "tricking" them to ensure the safety of the vessel or aircraft.

The Ancilia system is different from traditional fixed launcher systems in that it is motorized and can thus provide a "fast response to incoming threats by accurately positioning the decoy launchers in a fraction of the time it would take to maneuver the vessel," says Steve Holloway, engineer director at Chess Dynamics.

This ability to quickly adjust to threats significantly increases the effectiveness of countermeasures, especially in adverse sea conditions and against high-speed projectiles, Holloway adds.

Ancilia uses a motion system that can target specific threats, slew to target immediately, and then deploy countermeasures, he says.

"This significantly improves the accuracy of the decoy deployment and significantly improves the response time to high-speed threats and multi-threat attacks, and the survivability of the platform," Holloway says.

This technology is part of the MoD’s ongoing efforts to upgrade the electronic warfare and countermeasures capabilities of its surface fleet, including Type 31, Type 26 frigates, and Type 45 Destroyers.

Holloway says there are applications for this technology beyond electronic warfare countermeasures, such as multi-sensor surveillance, fire control, mobile ground-based air defense, vehicle-mounted targeting systems, and counter uncrewed aerial systems (C-UAS) applications.

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