BAE Systems Australia Completes Installation of Nulka Active Missile Decoy System on HMAS Adelaide


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HMAS Adelaide (L01)

BAE Systems Australia Completes Installation of Nulka Active Missile Decoy System

BAE Systems Australia has completed the installation of Nulka active missile decoy system on the Royal Australian Navy Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) HMAS Adelaide (L01).

Nulka is a rocket-propelled active missile decoy system that lures incoming anti-ship missiles away from ships, to protect them and their crews. The world leading, Australian designed anti-missile technology was installed in a ‘COVID-collaboration’ with the Royal Australian Navy.

HMAS Adelaide was due to have Nulka installed in a major capability upgrade in August that would normally have BAE Systems’ Melbourne based experts travelling to Sydney’s Garden Island naval base to support and undertake the installation. Instead, BAE Systems Australia and critical suppliers used remote technology with the RAN’s Fleet Support Unit (FSU) to ensure critical technical and system characteristics were executed successfully for the project. The company also provided virtual training and guidance which greatly increased the capability within the FSU.

This completes the installation of Nulka on the nation’s biggest warships following the successful installation on Adelaide’s sister ship HMAS Canberra (L02) earlier this year.

“The safety and security of the nation is incredibly important at this time and the pandemic has challenged us to look for new ways to continue to support Australian Defence Force,” said Defence Delivery Director Andrew Gresham.

“The strong partnership we have with the RAN and our suppliers has ensured that together we were able to meet this critical milestone that will help protect the ship and her crew.”

“It is a collaborative effort that has delivered the best outcome – the HMAS Adelaide is now ready for redeployment as scheduled giving the ship new capability and added protection. Given the challenges that we are facing due to COVID-19, this is an incredible achievement,” said Royal Australian Navy Captain Arran Melville, Executive Director, FSU.

“Working together like this will further improve the partnership between FSU and Maritime Sustainment industry in the future and that means better capability delivered even more efficiently for our Royal Australian Navy as they work to protect Australia’s interests at sea.”

Nulka Active Missile Decoy
Nulka is a rocket propelled, disposable, offboard, active decoy designed to ″seduce″ anti-ship missiles away from their targets.

The Nulka system is the result of a collaborative development between Australia and the US, and brings together advanced flight vehicle guidance and control techniques, and sophisticated RF electronic technologies. The word “Nulka” is of Australian Aboriginal origin and means “be quick”.

Nulka active missile decoy
Nulka active missile decoy. (U.S. Navy Photo)

The system has a unique design in that it hovers in mid air while seducing the incoming anti-ship missile. The hovering rocket concept was initiated in Australia by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), and the system was designed, developed and then manufactured by AWA Defence Industries (AWADI) (now BAE Systems Australia).

The Nulka consists of the missile itself enclosed in a hermetically sealed canister. This canister is then contained in a Launcher module (as fitted to Royal Australian Navy and U.S. Coast Guard vessels), or a Mark 36 launcher (as fitted to U.S. Navy vessels).

Fully autonomous after launch, the unique flight vehicle design allows the decoy’s flight-path to be maintained with a high degree of precision over a wide range of environmental conditions, resulting in extremely high levels of mission effectiveness against modern anti-ship missiles.

The thrust vector controlled solid fuel rocket motor provides rapid response against detected threats, while the extended decoy flight duration supports the engagement of multiple threats. Accurate control of the flight vehicle allows for optimal positioning of the decoy, independent of ship manoeuvre, and minimises the likelihood of collateral damage to friendly forces.

Nulka is an integral element of a comprehensive, integrated layered defence system, and its unique capabilities complement conventional hard-kill missile and gun systems.

BAE Systems Australia is the Nulka prime contractor and System Design Agent. Lockheed Martin Inc (USA) is the Design Agent for the electronic warfare payload. Aerojet Inc (USA) manufacture the rocket motor. BAE Systems manufactures the flight control hardware at their manufacturing facility in Edinburgh Parks (SA), and assembles and tests the completed Nulka Round at their Nulka Round Assembly Facility in Mulwala (NSW).

Nulka had been fitted to more than 150 Australian, Canadian and United States warships and over 1,000 decoys had been produced. In case of Royal Australian Navy, the system is fitted on the Canberra Class amphibious assault ships, Adelaide Class and Anzac Class frigates, and the new Hobart Class guided missile destroyers (DDG). All U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers equipped with AEGIS Combat System have Nulka included in their layered defense system.

Nulka has earned more than $1 billion for Australia in exports and is Australia’s most successful defence export.

Nulka active missile decoy firing from HMAS Melbourne
Nulka active missile decoy firing from Royal Australian Navy Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05). RAN Photo.

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