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Optical Communications at Sea

We successfully demonstrated a high-bandwidth free-space optical (FSO) communications system between two moving ships, proving operational utility of FSO technology in the maritime environment. APL is the first organization to successfully operate such high-capacity FSO capability—up to 10 gigabits per second—on the move, on ships at sea, and in challenging near-shore environments. Lab engineers demonstrated this APL innovation—which is smaller and lighter and uses far less energy than similar FSO systems—at the 2017 Trident Warrior Exercise.

Standard Missile-3: The Next Generation

APL, in cooperation with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Japan Ministry of Defense, and U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones, completed the first live-fire intercept using the new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA guided missile during a February 2017 flight test in Hawaii. APL led key “end-to-end” system-level performance analysis in collaboration with the government–industry team for the SM-3 Block IIA missile, cooperatively developed by the United States and Japan. APL’s high-fidelity modeling and simulation of the weapon and missile system provided key performance predictions to plan and safely execute this complex test on the flight test range. The missile, designed to be fired from Aegis ships and Aegis Ashore sites, is capable of countering more advanced and longer-range threats than the deployed SM-3 Block IB.

Test Target Prototyping

A cross-APL team of engineers, working with the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA’s) Target and Countermeasures Directorate and other government and industry partners, develops cost-effective solutions for MDA to support live-fire testing of interceptors, sensors, and fire control systems. The team is currently developing two surrogate target vehicles. The first has successfully flown on three MDA tests (the latest being SFTM-02) and is part of a technology transfer activity to an industry partner; the second, being developed for a first flight in fiscal year 2019, is undergoing signature characterization.

Testing Air and Missile Defense Radar

APL teamed with industry and the Above Water Sensors Directorate of Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems on two successful tests of the AN/SPY-6(V), a wideband digital beam-forming sensor known as the Air and Missile Defense Radar. The tests, held at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in April and July, put the system up against Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicle (ARAV) targets, acting as an adversary ballistic missile surrogate. APL engineers led development of ARAV target and scenario requirements; developed, built, and tested key hardware on the targets, including infrared and visible cameras; and were part of the government–industry team evaluating the data from each flight test. The AN/SPY-6(V) will be integrated on DDG 51 Flight III combatants to enable next-generation integrated air and missile defense capabilities.