Got Your Back

Lockheed Martin’s advanced countermeasure decoy launch system plays integral role in LCS layered ship self-defense


file Lockheed Martin’s ALEX system, like this one on the USS Champlain, uses radar and infrared off-board countermeasure decoys to protect ships from anti-ship missile attacks.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus recently called the Littoral Combat Ship the fleet’s “backbone” for the next few decades.

To help make sure it has the Littoral Combat Ship’s (LCS) back, the Navy is turning to ALEX. An advanced off-board expendable countermeasure decoy launch system officially called the Automatic Launch of Expendables, ALEX plays a significant role in the layered self-defense system of the LCS. The Lockheed Martin system will protect each ship and its sailors from anti-ship missile (ASM) attacks by using radar and infrared off-board countermeasure decoys to lure threats away.

The Navy plans to build 55 LCS and install ALEX onboard both the Lockheed Martin and Austal USA variants. Designed and built in Marion, Mass., ALEX is also on 52 surface combatants of eight international navies.

“The ALEX system is a low-risk and cost-effective way for navies around the world to protect their ships,” said Tony Almeida, ALEX program manager. “This system is an integral part of both LCS designs because of its ability to protect against current and future ASM threats.”

ALEX launches decoys that seduce, distract and confuse enemy forces via a computer-controlled countermeasure system that operates in fully automatic or semi-automatic modes. A manual override capability exists at all times.

The system can be integrated with a ship’s combat management system or function as an independent system. ALEX can be tailored to meet specific customer installation and control requirements and can be upgraded easily to keep pace with evolving threats by using more advanced decoy cartridges. Using commercial-off-the-shelf technology, the system is scalable, allowing the number of launchers to vary based on ship size and mission requirements.