The Navy is finding new uses for old defensive systems in an effort to both add offensive lethality to its ships and to better protect ships against evolving global threats, several admirals said Tuesday.
The surface navy in January unveiled a “distributed lethality” concept that would guide its operational thinking going forward: if every ship on the ocean has lethal offensive capabilities, no ship can be overlooked by the enemy, changing the enemy’s behavior. Many ships have strictly defensive missions – such as a cruiser protecting the aircraft carrier – but the Navy is now looking at how to put offensive systems onto those ships.
Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander of naval surface forces, said during a panel presentation at the America Society of Naval Engineers’ Combat Systems Symposium on Dec. 1 that he hopes engineers in Navy and industry will feel a greater urgency to explore “what the art of the possible is with respect to the weapons systems and weapons we have and how we might be able to use them in new and innovative ways to change the rules in the middle of the game.”
One recent example of this is taking a proven defensive system – the Standard Missile 6 air defense missile – and giving it offensive capabilities as well.