DD(X) Tests Peripheral Vertical Launching System

Tuesday, November 12, 2002
The DD(X) system design team led by Northrop Grumman Corporation has executed a major risk reduction test on its peripheral vertical launching system (PVLS) magazine within three months after work began on the contract. DD(X) is the U.S. Navy's Future Surface Combatant program for research, development and testing of transformational technologies for a "family" of surface warships, including the next-generation destroyer, DD(X). Specific technologies or engineering development models being developed for DD(X) include an advanced gun system, radar suite, integrated power system, vertical launch system and signature management/reduction, as well as optimal manning with emphasis on reduced crew size, high quality of life and minimal total ownership costs. The PVLS test article is a full-scale assembly that was fabricated at Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems' facility in Pascagoula, Miss. Once built, the article was transported to a facility in Aberdeen, Md., to be staged, instrumented and loaded with representative ordnance. Ship Systems proposed a PVLS alternative to the traditional VLS configuration of centralized missile magazines. The DD(X) team's launcher concept consists of a PVLS that distributes the missile launchers in separate four-cell launcher compartments along the ship's hull starting at the forward gun and ending just aft of midships. The PVLS launcher configuration was chosen due to the significant enhancement in ship survivability. The four-cell missile launcher housed in the PVLS launcher compartment is called the advanced vertical launching system (AVLS). The AVLS is the actual mechanical and electrical subsystem associated with storing and launching missiles, while the PVLS is the shipboard launcher compartment in which the AVLS is installed. This successful test marks the first major milestone in the DD(X) PVLS development path. Preparations for the Aberdeen test included design and construction of a fixture that simulated the ship's external structure. The PVLS test helped validate Northrop Grumman's proposed magazine protection system concept and provided valuable data that will be used to optimize the magazine and overall ship design. The successful completion of this PVLS test represents a significant milestone in confirming the transformational DD(X) design. The magazine protection system is configured to relieve pressure from exploding ordnance, while forcing blast damage away from the ship and maximizing crew protection. Northrop Grumman's major teammates for the DD(X) program consist of Raytheon Company, General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works, United Defense and four other Northrop Grumman sectors: Newport News, Information Technology, Electronic Systems and Integrated Systems. Northrop Grumman's Ship Systems sector includes primary operations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss.; New Orleans and Tallulah, La.; and in a network of fleet support offices in the U.S. and Japan. The sector, which currently employs more than 18,000 shipbuilding professionals, primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana, is one of the nation's leading full service systems companies for the design, engineering, construction, and life cycle support of major surface ships for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies, and for commercial vessels of all types.
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