ExLS Allows Navies to Have It Their Way

Successful test shows launching system’s ability to reduce missile, munition integration costs on ships


When it comes to special orders, popular fast food chains aren’t the only ones that don’t get upset. Lockheed Martin lets navies have it their way with a new low-cost launching system that significantly reduces the cost of integrating new missiles and munitions aboard ships.

During a recent demonstration at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera Test Range, the newest variant of Lockheed Martin’s Extensible Launching System (ExLS) successfully fired two Nulka Offboard Countermeasure test rounds. The flight test in South Australia showed ExLS’s ability to launch missiles or munitions regardless of whether or not a ship is equipped with a vertical launching system (VLS).

“As initially envisioned, Lockheed Martin’s original ExLS worked with ships equipped with either MK 41 or MK 57 Vertical Launch Systems, and we saw an opportunity expand the capability,” said Colleen Arthur, director of Integrated Defense Systems for Lockheed Martin. “With new standalone ExLS configuration, ships do not have to be equipped with a larger vertical launching system and can quickly and affordably adapt to different types of munitions.”

Also during the demonstration, Lockheed Martin successfully tested its Nulka munition adapter, in which the already qualified munitions were snapped into place and then plugged into the launcher. This capability reduces the need to spend resources on missile launcher integrations.

Developed in just 10 months and ideally suited for smaller vessel classes, ExLS’s standalone configuration maximizes a navy’s investment by being integrated into a ship’s existing launcher technology.

Like the original ExLS, the new variant reuses existing canistered munitions with qualified launch electronics to cut integration costs by  more than 50 percent by  providing a more common solution for integrating all-up round missiles (AUR) and munitions.  Maintaining the AUR integrity and system interfaces is critical from a fleet commonality perspective, and it eliminates the need for new vertical launching system canister development.

Posted May 14, 2012


During a recent test in Australia, Lockheed Martin’s Extensible Launching System (ExLS) successfully demonstrated its ability to launch missiles or munitions regardless of whether or not a ship is equipped with a vertical launching system.

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Dana Casey
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Trevor Thomas
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