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Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division engineers delivered 16 early operational capability, or EOC, LAU-61G/A Digital Rocket Launchers for Naval Air Systems Command’s Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Weapons (PMA 242) program office, March 28.

Digital Rocket Launcher (DRL) development, testing, and limited fleet fielding for shipboard use is being conducted under a Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Deployment Capability project to provide MH-60S helicopters an enhanced capability to defend carrier strike groups against fast-attack crafts. PMA-242 is responsible for DRL acquisition and development.

“DRL uses standard military interfaces to the helicopter, and incorporates a launcher electronic assembly to control launcher functions,” said Cmdr. Alex Dutko, PMA 242 Deputy Program Manager. “The new launcher will enhance existing 2.75-Inch Rocket System capabilities on the MH-60S by allowing mixed rocket load-outs, permitting the conduct of on-command inventory, providing a tube-usage count feature, and performing a built-in system check test.”

According to Dutko, the long-term goal for DRL is to fire all guided and unguided rockets, but the Early Operational Capability includes only one rocket configuration, which will be utilized while on deployment with USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) strike group.

More than eighty NSWC IHEODTD engineers, technicians, contractors and procurement specialists supported the project by providing ordnance engineering and electronics expertise, logistics support for the launcher, limited production, and systems integration. IHEODTD’s DRL team also developed a compact DRL emulator for software and integration tests.

“IHEODTD was responsible for providing drawings, designs, prototypes, in-service engineering, launcher-level qualification tests, overseeing manufacturing, and delivery of low-rate production units for EOC,” said NSWC IHEODTD Project Manager Michelle Goedert. “The DRL concept was based on previous PMA 242/IHEODTD design collaborations, and supports the family of all 2.75-inch rockets. Part of our DRL design is the Launcher Electronic Assembly and wiring harness which helps integrate advanced communication electronics with data storage into the launcher so it can accept load-out from the aircraft, update the available inventory after each firing, and display built-in test results in the cockpit.”

“This has been a really exciting project to support, and to watch grow from a conceptual need to its early operational capability,” Goedert concluded. “It’s good to know we’re part of a team helping deliver solutions to protect our men and women at sea. After EOC delivery, we’ll continuing working with the program office to transition DRL to a program of record for fielding and sustainment.”

NSWC IHEODTD - a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Enterprise - is the leader in energetics and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) solutions. As a Department of Defense Center of Excellence and EOD Detection Equipment Program lead, NSWC IHEODTD focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit, and dispose of explosive ordnance threats.