SEALs want loitering munitions aboard insert/extract patrol boats

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TAMPA, Fla. — Special operators are testing ways to add loitering munitions and other payloads to the medium-size, 60-foot watercraft used to insert and extract SEAL teams on special missions.

Over the past four years, Special Operations Command troops have been working through ways to add a launcher kit to the Combatant Craft Medium, or CCM, a 60-foot-long boat with a top speed of 52 knots that carries a crew of four and has space for 19 more passengers and a total load of 10,000 pounds.

The project aims to give boat operators an onboard “standoff, loitering, man-in-the-loop weapons system” that can target “individuals, groups, vehicles and small, oceangoing craft,” according to program materials.

But, the launcher can also carry other “effects” such as surveillance drones, electromagnetic warfare pods or sensor packages for a variety of missions, according to Navy Cmdr. Marty Burns, program manager for maritime surface systems.

An illustration of the launcher at SOF Week showed a multi-pod system with eight or more pods available to house munitions or other payloads.

Final testing and a live fire of the launcher kit are planned for late fiscal 2024 or early fiscal 2025, officials said during the Special Operations Forces Week conference, an annual gathering of the special operations community here.

When it comes to CCM payloads, a key concern is reducing the heat signature of any launcher added to the platform, to help it avoid adversary detection, Wyrick said.

The command has 31 combatant craft medium boats in its inventory.

Once testing concludes and the government-owned design for the kit is approved for installation, the command’s 31 CCMs will take turns going offline to install the kits as the rest of the fleet continues operations, Burns said.

The CCM patrol boat, made by shipbuilder Vigor Industrial, was first commissioned in 2015 to replace the rigid hull inflatable boat.

Navy Capt. Jared Wyrick, SOCOM program executive officer for maritime, said Tuesday that the command is also working on building a boat replacement, called the CCM Mk2.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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