When I was a kid, Nerf sold a multi-barrel rotary cannon that fired foam missiles at unsuspecting schoolyard bullies. The launcher was pretty cool. So why do I suspect that a brilliant engineer of comparable age has applied Nerf tech to the latest Navy weapons project?
U.S. Navy ships carry a lot of firepower. Their missiles can turn faraway bunkers into ash and kick enemy planes out of their airspace. Most of that arsenal is found in a cellular arrangement in the hull of a warship, also known as the vertical launched system (VLS). I once stood beside some of those inconspicuous VLS hatches on the forward deck of a destroyer, wondering how many Sea Sparrows and Tomahawks were tucked inside. The Navy has come a long way since the man-loaded rail and tube launchers of the early Cold War. But hey, why not free up some of that hull space on newer ships? A project from Raytheon and Chemring Group has a trainable launcher to help with that.
Imagine a carousel of tubes bolted to the deck. Imagine that each tube holds a certain type of missile. Imagine this contraption moving (trained) in any direction to meet a threat. When the platform bears to target, a selected tube drops and the missile is launched. I keep thinking about the barrels of a revolver, except that this gun can be loaded with different munitions.
These may be exciting new toys, but they’re also critical for naval capability. No matter how the fleet is developed over the years, some engineer is always out in the field testing, testing, and testing. That’s the way of it, and the best way to protect our ships and crews.