Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver became the first Canadian Navy vessel to tactically launch a surface off-board passive decoy (SOPD) as part of electronic warfare (EW) tactics training at the 2022 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
The SOPD is one component of the Halifax-class anti-ship missile (ASM) defence suite. It is a spherical inflatable decoy launched from the ship to attract radio frequency missiles.
Over eight days, experts from the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre (CFMWC) led the ship’s crew through various tactics trials as part of the Technical Cooperation Program Anti-Ship Threat Project Arrangement (TAPA).
“Electronic Warfare is, by far, the most effective defensive method against Anti-Ship Missiles,” said Lieutenant Adelaide Hawco, a member of the trial staff on board HMCS Vancouver from CFMWC.
“There were some significant milestones during the week: an effective hard-kill/soft-kill combination solution was identified and confirmed for specific current threat Anti-Ship Missiles, and sophisticated jamming techniques were refined.”
EW differs from traditional kinetic warfare and hard-kill tactics as it does not employ munitions to destroy a target. Soft-kill tactics are used to disable an enemy without destructive force; this is done through distraction and seduction to divert an attack.
Over the week, the ship tested and fine-tuned its multi-ammunition soft-kill system (MASS) capabilities. MASS is an automated decoy system that fires a wall of chaff to confuse sensor-guided missiles and disguise a vessel.
Vancouver also fired its Dueras rocket system, which is built onto the ship’s MASS launcher. The rockets fire a decoy rocket to protect the ship from Anti-Ship Missiles and infrared threats in an asymmetrical threat environment.
TAPA is a Five Eyes cooperative series of EW exercises that test current and future non-kinetic defensive tactics and procedures. Canadian Navy ships test theoretical tactics in real time using real missiles and ammunition to prove their viability. TAPA trials have been a regular RIMPAC component since 2006.
Twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 30 unmanned systems, approximately 170 aircraft, and more than 25,000 personnel trained and operated in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California during this year’s RIMPAC.