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Raytheon pushes swarm boat weapon

by Mike Hoffman on September 12, 2012

Raytheon is the latest defense company to get in line to trumpet a missile or radar system’s capabilities in defeating the swarm boats the U.S. Navy has listed as major threats to their ships, especially in an attack from Iran.

Officials from Raytheon say they succesfully tested its Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) against naval swarm boats in June.

Raytheon tested the JLENS’ ability to target swarm boats in the Great Salt Lake. It tested the radar’s ability to track multiple fast and high speed vessels to potentially give a ship commander situational awareness of all threats he might face.

A JLENS system is made up of two aerostats that float up to 10,000 feet off the ground providing radar and communication capabilities to see over-the-horizon threats and communicate with a range of weapons systems.The Army has worked with Raytheon to develop JLENS to track and defeat aircraft and cruise missiles. Swarm boats had not previously been promoted as targets within the program.

JLENS has faced a rocky development program as prices for the system spiraled. The program has already faced a Nunn-McCurdy review because of increasing costs. Mark Rose, Raytheon’s JLENS program director, said the program is back on track and costs have been brought under control.

Inside the Army is also reporting a JLENS aerostat collided with a separate airship in 2011 in North Carolina. Both the JLENS aerostat and the Skyship 600 airship were destroyed in the accident, according to the report.

Development continues as Raytheon officials said the JLENS is expected to complete an operational test with a major command this year, Rose said. He did not know when or what command, but said it’s an important step toward fielding the JLENS for the Army.

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