The Canadian Forces has awarded Rheinmetall a follow-on contract to expand the MASS naval countermeasure systems installed on the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Halifax-class frigates.
MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System) is an automated decoy system that protects surface combatants from advanced sensor-guided anti-ship missiles. It is connected to the ship’s sensors and protects ships from attacks by launching decoys that operate in all relevant wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum: ultraviolet (UV), electro-optical (EO), laser, infrared (IR), and radar. MASS can be either plugged into the command and control module of a naval vessel, or operate autonomously.
Scheduled to run for four years (2018-2022), the contract, worth about CAD20 million (€12 million), will be carried out in close cooperation between Rheinmetall’s Fronau plant in Bavaria and Rheinmetall Canada Inc. in Québec. The Canadian procurement authorities have given a green light to the project, with €6 million each to go to Fronau and Rheinmetall Canada.
During the course of the upgrade, the twin-launcher systems already installed on Canada’s Halifax-class frigates will be transformed into triple launcher systems. The necessary subassemblies and individual parts for the MASS systems will first be shipped to Rheinmetall Canada, where they will be assembled and commissioned prior to being installed onboard.
Back in 2009, Canada contracted with Rheinmetall to equip its twelve Halifax-class frigates with MASS. The Canadian forces also ordered the accompanying Omnitrap and MASS-Dueras decoy ammunition from Rheinmetall.
MASS – and the accompanying special ammunition – is a decoy-launching system developed at Rheinmetall’s Fronau plant, specifically designed to counter the threat from anti-ship missiles (AShM). It can be installed in surface combatants of all types, integrated into existing command and weapon engagement systems or operated as a standalone system. The navies of thirteen nations now deploy a total of 224 MASS launchers to protect their ships primarily from radar-guided anti-ship missiles but also from infrared threats and rocket-propelled grenades in asymmetric threat scenarios.
Rheinmetall recently unveiled two technical advances that confirm once again the product’s operational versatility. MASS OCR (standing for “offboard corner reflector”) uses a special radar signature to replicate the silhouette of the ship at a safe standoff, reliably luring the latest generation of anti-ship missiles away from their intended target. Equipped with its own special sensor unit, the MASS standalone version is ideal for modernizing major surface combatants and smaller craft.
The system is capable of quickly detecting a missile threat, radar and laser target markers or a laser rangefinder measurement, and then taking the necessary action to thwart it – fully automatically. The countermeasures initiated by the system generate a decoy target, which the incoming missile then interprets to be a higher-value asset, ultimately causing the projectile to veer off course. MASS initiates these countermeasures autonomously, taking into account wind and the ship’s navigation data as well as information concerning the nature of the threat.
This important order underscores once again Rheinmetall’s preeminent role in the field of force protection, while simultaneously expanding MASS’s global market lead.