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ABSTRACT

A Submarine Horizontal Launch TACTOM Capsule (SHLTC) provides the capability for launching a Tactical Tomahawk (TACTOM) cruise missile from a horizontal torpedo tube on a submarine. The SHLTC completely encapsulates the TACTOM missile in the torpedo tube and is ejected from the torpedo tube with the TACTOM missile during launch. The SHLTC contains the TACTOM missile in a closure assembly to protect the TACTOM missile from damage. Following safe exit from the submarine, thrust from the rocket motor allows the TACTOM missile to break through a forward tearing shell of the SHLTC. The TACTOM missile and SHLTC completely de-couple and the SHLTC safely sinks away from the submarine and missile. The TACTOM missile continues up to broach the surface and transition to cruise mode.

Inventor: Jeffrey C. Callahan
Original Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


(1) Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a means for launching a missile from an undersea craft. More particularly, this invention relates to a capsule that provides the capability for reliably launching a Tomahawk cruise missile from the torpedo tube of a submarine.

(2) Description of the Prior Art

Currently, an operational cruise missile (Tomahawk Block III) is capable of being launched from a torpedo tube of a submarine is retained in a slotted capsule. The slotted capsule for this missile, referred to as the submarine torpedo tube launched (TTL) cruise missile, provides protection for the missile during loading, handling, and shipping evolutions. The slotted capsule exposes the missile to the flow of water from the system that ejects the missile from the torpedo tube. The capsule remains in the torpedo tube during and after launch of the missile, and consequently, the missile is exposed to damaging environments during exit from the torpedo tube and as it transitions through ambient water to near vertical orientation and ignition of a rocket motor on the missile.

The cruise missile known as the Tactical Tomahawk (TACTOM) is the next generation of the Tomahawk Cruise missile. Currently, TACTOM is being developed for vertical launch systems (VLS) for surface ships and Capsule Launch Systems (CLS) for submarines, only. The submarine CLS launch system protects the TACTOM from operational environments by completely encapsulating the missile. CLS TACTOM is ejected from the submarine/capsule via a gas generator, and capsule seals protect the TACTOM from ejection pressures. Modifications of current requirements and design of TACTOM have been excluded by an operational requirements document that would allow compatibility with environments for launch of TACTOM in torpedo tubes of current and future submarines. The TACTOM program is currently ongoing, with a critical design review (CDR) having been completed. It has been estimated by the design agent for TACTOM that the costs associated with changing the design/requirements following the CDR stage of the TACTOM program would be unacceptable given today's budget constraints. These changes would also cause significant delays in meeting the date when TACTOM is introduced in the Fleet.

Thus, in accordance with this inventive concept, a need has been recognized in the state of the art for an ejectable encapsulating structure, or capsule to launch missiles from underwater tubes including horizontally orientated torpedo tubes within current design, development and production schedules for TACTOM.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


The first object of the invention is to provide the capability of launching Tactical Tomahawk (TACTOM) cruise missiles from horizontal torpedo tubes of submarines.

Another object is to provide launch environment protection to a TACTOM missile during pre-launch and launch stages in a horizontal torpedo tube and during ejection from the torpedo tube.

Another object is to provide a Submarine Horizontal Launch TACTOM Capsule (SHLTC) completely encapsulating a TACTOM missile during pre-launch and launch stages in a horizontal torpedo tube and during ejection from the torpedo tube to protect the TACTOM missile from damage.

Another object is to provide a SHLTC completely encapsulating a TACTOM missile to assure an intact and operational TACTOM missile as its rocket motor ignites at a safe separation distance from the submarine at depths of the torpedo tube.

Another object of the invention is to provide a SHLTC to launch missiles from horizontal torpedo tubes without affecting the current design, development and production schedules of the TACTOM.

Another object of the invention is to completely de-couple the TACTOM and SHLTC from each other as a rocket motor ignites to allow the SHLTC to sink away from the submarine and the TACTOM to continue towards the surface, broach the surface of the water and successfully transition to cruise.

These and other objects of the invention will become more readily apparent from the ensuing specification when taken in conjunction with the appended claims.

Accordingly, the present invention is a submarine horizontal launch TACTOM capsule including an aft closure assembly, capsule closure assembly, and forward closure assembly to encapsulate a TACTOM cruise missile during pre-launch and launch and provide the capability of launching a TACTOM cruise missile from torpedo tubes of submarines. The aft closure includes a back plate having components for pressurization vent control (PVC), the capsule barrel assembly includes longitudinal strips, and the forward closure assembly has a tearing shell to protect the TACTOM missile from harsh environmental abuses, such as torpedo tube flooding, hydraulic (water) impulses created during ejection of the TACTOM missile from a torpedo tube, damage caused by impact with surfaces and the mouth of the torpedo tube, damage causes by ambient shocks, equalization pressures inside the torpedo tube and the capsule, etc. Protection of the TACTOM missile from these abuses must be provided for by the SHLTC since the missile was not designed to be subjected to such abuses and survive.