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Advanced Visualization Technology For The U.S. Navy's New Littoral Combat Ships

To maintain its naval warfighting superiority, the U.S. Navy is building a multi-vessel fleet of lighter, faster ships. The first of these new vessels to be deployed will be the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a new family of high speed, extremely maneuverable, networked surface combat ships. The LCS is a shallow draft vessel designed to operate in coastal waters to counter such 'asymmetric' threats as mines, diesel submarines, and small, armed boats used by terrorists. In 2004, the U.S. Navy contracted General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin to design and build the first two LCS ships.

To achieve their combat mission, the LCS is being equipped with the SeaRAM Anti-ship Missile Defense System, an advanced development of the Phalanx system, the most widely used naval defense system in the world. Raytheon, the manufacturer of Phalanx, has developed the new SeaRAM missile defense system that combines the field-proven technology of the original Phalanx system with the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) guided missile system.

David Ray, SeaRAM Program Manager for Raytheon, explained, "the SeaRAM system is an integral part in the LCS ships' layered surface and anti-air defense capability. It provides the highest level of ship self-protection with extended 'keep out' capability and the ability to engage multiple targets. SeaRAM is designed to extend the inner layer battle space and enable the ship to effectively engage multiple supersonic and subsonic threats."

"SeaRAM provides ships with a "last-chance" defense against anti-ship missiles and other close-in-air and surface threats, including helicopters, surface mines, and terrorist aircraft that have penetrated other fleet defenses. The SeaRAM system combines the threat detection and high maneuverability of the Phalanx's high resolution search-and-track sensor technology with the accuracy and extended range of the RAM missile. An 11-missile RAM launcher assembly replaces the original Phalanx 20 mm gun."

Ray remarked, "SeaRAM is an affordable capability upgrade. The above-deck system fits the exact footprint of the Phalanx, uses the same power, and requires minimal shipboard modification. The first U.S. Navy deployment of SeaRAM will be on the General Dynamics built LCS USS Independence. SeaRAM has been deployed for sea trials and operational suitability tests on the English Royal Navy's HMS York. All SeaRAM exercises and trials have been completely successful."

To ensure high efficiency threat detection and reliable quick-response capability, Raytheon developed sophisticated operator consoles utilizing RGB Spectrum's state-of-the-art RGB/View™ 7000 multi-image display processors. The SeaRAM system can be equipped with one or two operator consoles, a Local Control Station in the ship's main control center and a Remote Control Station in the ship's Command Information Center.

The compact RGB/View 7000 multiple window display processor is ideally suited for the console's limited space. It supports the SeaRAM system's thermal imager and combines high resolution computer and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) video inputs in real-time. The FLIR integrates multi-spectral thermal detecting and target tracking ability into the system. The SeaRAM system computer provides graphical information, including a range table, target-acquisition imagery, weapons control and ordnance data, and system status information displaying searching, tracking, and gun status. The RGB/View processor receives video from the FLIR thermal imager and combines the computer and infrared signals, displaying these in windows that can be scaled and placed as required on the screen.

The RGB/View 7000 offers a unique benefit to the SeaRAM system with its ability to produce progressive scan video from the FLIR video camera with superb image quality. Advanced de-interlacing technique provides excellent vertical resolution and motion characteristics. The processor gives console operators the ability to superimpose critical computer data over the thermal images.

Ray concluded, 'The RGB/View 7000 processor is a powerful visualization tool that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the SeaRAM system operation."

Raytheon Company is a global technology leader in defense, government and commercial electronics, and business and special mission aircraft. Raytheon Company is based in Lexington, MA and can be reached at 502-364-6760 and on the internet at www.raytheon.com.

RGB Spectrum® is a leading designer and manufacturer of videographic and multimedia hardware subsystems. Products include the View™ family of video windowing systems, the RGB/Videolink® line of scan converters, the DGy™ digital recording system, Quadra® universal scaler and synchronizer, SynchroMaster® keyers and overlayers and SuperWall™, ComputerWall® and MediaWall® multi-screen display controllers. RGB Spectrum is based in Alameda, California, and can be reached at 510-814-7000 and on the internet at http://www.rgb.com.