(19)
(11)EP 3 564 615 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
06.11.2019 Bulletin 2019/45

(21)Application number: 19161819.8

(22)Date of filing:  11.03.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
F41A 23/42  (2006.01)
F41F 3/042  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 02.05.2018 IT 201800004993

(71)Applicant: MBDA ITALIA S.p.A.
00131 Roma (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • DRAGANI, Teodoro
    00131 Roma (IT)
  • CIANCHETTINI, Massimo
    00131 Roma (IT)
  • ASTE, Giovanni
    00131 Roma (IT)
  • PIERGIOVANNI, Alessio
    00131 Roma (IT)

(74)Representative: Carangelo, Pierluigi et al
Jacobacci & Partners S.p.A. Via Tomacelli 146
00186 Roma
00186 Roma (IT)

  


(54)MISSILE LAUNCH ASSEMBLY AND MISSILE LAUNCHER COMPRISING SAID LAUNCH ASSEMBLY


(57) A missile launch assembly (10) comprising:
- a support base (11) orientable between a transport angular position and a launch angular position;
- at least one launch frame (20) fixed to the support base (11) to be integral in rotation therewith, the launch frame (20) comprising at least one pair of struts (21, 22);
- a first launch container (100) containing a respective first missile;
- coupling elements (S1, S2) through which the first launch container (100) is removably fixed to the launch frame (11) between the pair of struts (21, 22), in which the coupling elements (S1, S2, 101, 102) comprise a first guide system (S1) adapted and configured to allow guided sliding of the first launch container (100) between said struts (21, 22) along a first stroke delimited between a first initial insertion position and a first final fixing position.




Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The present invention relates to the technical field of launch systems for missiles or projectiles, and in particular relates to a missile launch assembly and a missile launcher comprising said launch assembly.

BACKGROUND ART



[0002] Missile launch assemblies comprising a plurality of launch containers, or canisters, are already known, in which each launch container is adapted and configured to contain a respective missile for the purposes of housing, transport and launch.

[0003] A multiple launch assembly, that is having a plurality of canisters, is for example known from patent US 7,207,254 and in particular, is depicted in figure 2 of such a patent and is indicated with the expression "vertical launch pack". Such a vertical launch pack comprises a plurality of canisters fixed to one another and each housing a respective missile.

[0004] A further multiple launch assembly is disclosed in European Patent Application EP1710530 A2. In such a multiple launch assembly, a plurality of canisters are stacked on one another and mechanically fixed to form launch batteries. The launch batteries are in turn fixed to a support base having an end portion hinged to a rear portion of a frame of a self-propelling transport vehicle to rotate along an axis orthogonal to a longitudinal axis of the vehicle between a lowered transport position and a raised launch position under the thrust and control of a linear actuator.

[0005] Although the multiple launch assembly described in patent application EP1710530 A2 is advantageous, the need is now felt to make a different missile launch assembly which may be reloaded in particularly flexible and easy manner.

[0006] It is the object of the present description to provide a missile launch assembly which meets the aforesaid need.

[0007] Such an object is achieved by means of a missile launch assembly as defined in general in claim 1. Preferred and advantageous embodiments of the aforesaid missile launch assembly are defined in the appended dependent claims.

[0008] The invention will be better comprehended from the following detailed description of a particular embodiment thereof, given by way of example and therefore non-limiting in relation to the accompanying drawings briefly described in the paragraph below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0009] 

Figure 1 shows an axonometric view of a non-limiting embodiment of a missile launcher, comprising a missile launch assembly depicted in the transport configuration.

Figure 2 shows a further axonometric view of the missile launcher in figure 1, in which the launch assembly is depicted in the transport configuration.

Figure 3 shows an axonometric view of the missile launcher in figures 1 and 2, in which the launch assembly is depicted in the launch configuration.

Figure 4 shows a further axonometric view of the missile launcher in figures 1 to 3, in which the launch assembly is depicted in the launch configuration.

Figure 5 shows an axonometric view of the launch assembly in which there are shown a plurality of launch frames of such an assembly.

Figure 6 shows a further axonometric view of the launch assembly in figure 5.

Figure 7 shows an axonometric view of one of the launch frames of the launch assembly in figures 5 and 6.

Figure 8 shows a side diagrammatic view of the launch frame in figure 7, in an approaching step of a launch container in the launch frame.

Figure 9 shows a side diagrammatic view of the launch frame in figure 7, in which two launch containers are inserted in the launch frame.

Figure 10 shows an axonometric view of a guide system comprised in the launch frame, in which the guide system is in a first operating configuration.

Figure 11 shows an axonometric view of the guide system in figure 10, in which the guide system is in a second operating configuration.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0010] The accompanying figures 1 to 4 show a non-limiting embodiment of a missile launcher 1. In the example depicted in figures 1 to 4, the missile launcher 1 comprises, or is installed on, a ground transport vehicle 5, which in the example is a military truck adapted to transport and launch missiles.

[0011] The missile launcher 1 comprises a missile launch assembly 10, which is depicted in the transport configuration in figures 1 and 2 and is shown in the launch configuration in figures 3 and 4.

[0012] The missile launcher 1 comprises a mounting frame 2 to which the missile launch assembly 10 is rotatably coupled. For example, however without any limitation, the missile launch assembly 10 is rotatably coupled to an end portion of the mounting frame 2 distal from the driving cab of the transport vehicle 5.

[0013] The missile launch assembly 10 comprises a support base 11 orientable, in particular rotatable, between a transport angular position, shown in figures 1 and 2, and a launch angular position, shown in figures 3 and 4. For this purpose, there may be provided, in the missile launcher 1, at least one actuator 3 which can be controlled to orient the support base 11. For example, the aforesaid actuator 3 comprises a linear actuator, for example a hydraulic or hydropneumatic actuator, having an end portion rotatably connected, e.g. hinged, to the mounting frame 2, and having an opposite end portion rotatably connected, e.g. hinged, to the missile launch assembly 10, and to the support base 11 in particular.

[0014] The support base 11 is in the transport angular position when the missile launch assembly 10 is in the transport configuration and assumes the launch angular position when the missile launch assembly 10 assumes the launch configuration.

[0015] According to an advantageous embodiment, the mounting frame 2 of the missile launcher 1 comprises a plurality of supporting feet 4. Such supporting feet 4 preferably are adapted and configured to assume a retracted position in the transport configuration and an advanced configuration in the launch configuration, to serve in the latter configuration as supporting elements for the mounting frame 2 in order to stabilize the mounting frame 2 in position prior to the launch of one or more missiles. Each of the supporting feet 4 preferably is actuated by a linear actuation system, for example a hydraulically-operated system.

[0016] Moreover, the supporting feet 4 advantageously allow the mounting frame 2 and the launch assembly 10 to be independent from the joint use with the transport vehicle 5. In other words, embodiments of the missile launcher 1 are possible in which the transport vehicle 5 is not provided in the missile launcher 1 and/or in which the transport vehicle 5 may be detached from the remaining part of the missile launcher 1, so that once the missile launcher 1 is transported on-site, it may rest by means of the supporting feet 4 directly on a resting surface of a launch field, for example on the ground, without interposing the transport vehicle 5, which may therefore be used for loading, transporting and unloading other launch assemblies on the field, each comprising a launch frame 2 and a launch assembly 10. Also in this configuration, the supporting feet 4 advantageously are adjustable to level the mounting frame 2 with respect to the resting surface.

[0017] The missile launcher 1 preferably is a multiple missile launcher, that is suitable for transporting and launching several missiles before being reloaded. In the particular example depicted in the drawings, however without any limitation, the missile launcher 1 allows eight missiles to be transported and launched before being reloaded.

[0018] The support base 11 is for example, a flatrack platform.

[0019] According to an advantageous embodiment, the support base 11 comprises at least one gripping element 12, such as e.g. a gripping arm, adapted to allow the lifting of the support base 11 by means of a lifting arm in order to unload the support base 11 from, or load the support base 11 onto, the mounting frame 2. This advantageously allows a support base 11 to be loaded onto the mounting frame 2 or to be unloaded therefrom, for example in order for it to be quickly replaced with a further preloaded support base 11, to allow a reloading as a whole of the missile launcher 1. The aforesaid lifting arm may advantageously be provided on board the missile launcher 1, in other words it may be a component integrated in the missile launcher itself. For example, the aforesaid lifting arm may be installed on the mounting frame 2.

[0020] According to an advantageous embodiment, the support base 11 comprises a supporting foot 14 adapted and configured to serve as supporting element of the support base 11 on the ground during the loading or unloading as a whole of the support base 11 to/from a mounting frame 2. According to a particularly preferred embodiment, the supporting foot 14 comprises at least one wheel 13, preferably a pair of wheels 13, rotatably hinged to the supporting foot 14.

[0021] According to an advantageous embodiment, the supporting foot 14 is rotatably hinged to the support base 11 to be moved between a retracted angular position, depicted in figure 3, and an advanced angular position, depicted in figure 4. For example, the supporting foot 14 is transverse, e.g. perpendicular, to the support base 11 in the retracted angular position, while the supporting foot 14 is parallel to the support base 11 in the advanced angular position.

[0022] The missile launch assembly 10 comprises at least one launch frame 20 fixed to the support base 11 to be integral in rotation therewith. According to an advantageous embodiment, the launch frame 20 is removably fixed to the support base 11. Thereby, the launch frame 20 may advantageously be changed by replacing it with another one in order to modify the launch assembly 10 in a simple manner so that it may be suitable for supporting and launching different types of ammunitions. According to an advantageous embodiment, the missile launch assembly 10 comprises a plurality of launch frames 20 fixed to the support base 11. In the example depicted in the drawings, the missile launch assembly 10 comprises four launch frames 20 fixed to the support base 11.

[0023] The launch frame 20 comprises at least one pair of struts 21, 22. In the example depicted in the drawings, the launch frame 20 comprises a first pair of struts 21 and a second pair of struts 22. The pairs of struts 21, 22 are spaced apart from each other.

[0024] The launch assembly 10 comprises a first launch container 100, or canister, containing a respective first missile. In an advantageous embodiment, the aforesaid launch container 100 is adapted and configured to allow an SVL (soft vertical launch) of the missile therein contained and is for example made according to the teachings of patent US 7,207,254 B2. In the particular example depicted in the accompanying drawings, the missile launch assembly 10 comprises eight launch containers 100, therefore eight missiles. This number is non-limiting, rather is provided only by way of example.

[0025] The missile launch assembly 10 further comprises coupling elements S1, S2 through which the first launch container 100 is removably fixed to the launch frame 20 between the pair of struts 21, 22. In the particular example depicted in the drawings, each launch container 100 is removably fixed to the launch frame 20 between a first pair of struts 21 and a second pair of struts 22. The pairs of struts 21, 22 are spaced apart from each other along an axis of prevailing longitudinal extension of the launch container 100.

[0026] The coupling elements S1, S2 comprise a first guide system S1 adapted and configured to allow guided sliding of the first launch container 100 between the struts 21, 22 along a first stroke delimited between a first initial insertion position and a first final fixing position. Thereby, a single launch container 100 may advantageously also be loaded in the launch frame 20 when the support base 11 is in the transport angular position, that is when the missile launch assembly 10 is in the transport configuration.

[0027] According to a particularly advantageous embodiment:
  • the first guide system S1 comprises a first pair of opposite rails, each one fixed or integrated in a respective strut of said pair of struts 21, 22;
  • the first launch container 100 comprises a pair of sliders 101, 102 protruding from opposite outer side walls of the first launch container 100 to be slidingly received in the first pair of opposite rails.


[0028] Conveniently, the aforesaid opposite rails are parallel to each other.

[0029] The aforesaid sliders 101, 102 for example, comprise pins, e.g. cylindrical pins, protruding from two opposite side walls of the launch container 100.

[0030] According to a preferred embodiment in accordance with the example depicted in the drawings, the launch container 100 comprises a plurality of sliders, for example a first pair of opposite sliders 101 and two further opposite pairs of sliders 102. The first pair of sliders 101 is spaced apart from the two further pairs of sliders 102 along the axis of prevailing longitudinal extension of the launch container 100.

[0031] According to an advantageous embodiment, the launch frame 20 comprises two pairs of struts 21, 22 spaced apart from each other along a direction of prevailing longitudinal extension of the first launch container 100 and the first guide system S1 is provided on both pairs of struts 21, 22.

[0032] For example with reference to figure 7, two pairs of opposite rails are provided on the two struts 21, or front struts 21, in a launch frame 20, and two pairs of opposite rails are provided on the two struts 22, or rear struts 22, of the launch frame 20. The terms front and rear here are defined with respect to the launch direction of the missile or of the missiles. The aforesaid rails may be channels or openings defined in the thickness of plate-like elements applied to the struts 21, 22 or recesses made integrally in the thickness of the struts 21, 22.

[0033] According to a particularly advantageous embodiment, each rail of the aforesaid pair of rails comprises, from the initial insertion position towards said final fixing position, a first straight stretch and a second stretch connected to the first straight stretch, the second stretch being a tilted stretch with respect to the first straight stretch or being a curvilinear stretch. This expedient has various advantages. Indeed, on the one hand it allows the fixing position of a launch container 100 to be stabilized in the simplest and most effective manner during the rotation of the support base 11. Moreover, the aforesaid expedient allows loading and fixing two separate launch containers 100 in a same launch frame 20 to be facilitated, preferably in an arrangement in which said launch containers 100 are arranged spaced apart from each other along a direction perpendicular to the directions of prevailing longitudinal extension of the launch containers 100.

[0034] According to an advantageous embodiment, the missile launch assembly 10 comprises a locking system 50 operable to be moved with respect to said pair of struts 21, 22 between a locking position and a release position. In the locking position, the locking system 50 prevents the launch container 100 from sliding, with respect to the launch frame 20, from the fixing position. In the release position, the aforesaid locking system 50 allows a sliding of the launch container 100 with respect to the launch frame 20, both for inserting the launch container 100 into the launch frame 20 and for extracting the launch container 100 from the launch frame 20, for example performed in order to reload the launch frame 20 with a new launch container 100.

[0035] According to an advantageous embodiment, the locking system 50 comprises a movable arm 51 to which at least one locking element 52 is restrained, which in the fixing position, is such as to interfere abutting against a slider 101, 102 of the launch container 100 to prevent the sliding of slider 101, 102 inside the guide system S1, S2. In the particular example depicted in the drawings, the aforesaid locking system 50 comprises, for each strut 21, 22, a respective movable arm 51 to which two movable locking elements 52 are rotatably hinged in order to lock two launch containers 100 to the struts 21, 22 at the same time.

[0036] According to an advantageous embodiment, the movable arm 51 can be moved by means of a manually-operated lever 53, preferably rotatably hinged to strut 21, 22 to be rotated between a release position (figure 10) and a locking position (figure 11). Also this expedient contributes to a quick loading and unloading of the launch containers 100 to/from the launch frames 20.

[0037] According to a particularly advantageous embodiment, the missile launch assembly 10 comprises a second launch container 100 containing a respective second missile and the aforesaid coupling elements are such that they removably fix the second launch container 100 to the launch frame 20 between the pair of struts 21, 22. The coupling elements comprise a second guide system S2 adapted and configured to allow guided sliding of the second launch container 100 between said struts 21, 22 along a second stroke delimited between a first initial insertion position and a second final fixing position.

[0038] According to a particularly advantageous embodiment, in the second final fixing position the second launch container 100 stands above the first launch container 100 when the latter is in the first final fixing position.

[0039] Advantageously as may be noted in the drawings, the aforesaid second stroke has a shorter length than the first stroke.

[0040] Advantageously, the second guide system S2 comprises a second pair of opposite rails, each one fixed or integrated in a respective strut of said pair of struts 21, 22. The second launch container 100 comprises a pair of sliders 101, 102 protruding from opposite side walls of the second launch container 100 to be slidingly received in the second pair of opposite rails.

[0041] According to a particularly advantageous embodiment, the missile launch assembly 10 comprises a vibrations damper system operatively interposed between the launch frame 20 and the support base 11 of the missile launch assembly 10. According to a preferred embodiment, the launch frame 20 comprises a plurality of connecting plates 25 mechanically coupled to the support base 11, and a plurality of dampers operatively interposed between the connecting plates 25 and the support base 11. The dampers are or comprise for example, plate-like elements made of a material, e.g. a rubbery material, adapted to damp the vibrations. Such elements are interposed and tightened between the connecting plates 25 and the support base 11 and are for example mounted on the connecting plates 25. The vibrations damper system advantageously allows the ammunitions to be protected from vibrations and shocks induced during the logistic transport and during the loading and/or unloading steps of the launch assembly 10.

[0042] According to a particularly advantageous embodiment, the missile launch assembly 10 further comprises a mechanical locking system that can be controlled to assume an activation state and a deactivation state, in which in the activation state, the mechanical locking system allows the launch frame 20 to be mechanically coupled to the support base 11 to cancel the effects of the vibrations damper system. For example, the aforesaid mechanical locking system allows the aforesaid plurality of dampers to be bypassed, thus creating a rigid mechanical connection between the launch frame 20 and the support base 11. In other words, in the activation state, the aforesaid mechanical locking system is such as to bring the launch frame 20 and the support base 11 in a mutual hard mounting coupling configuration.

[0043] For example, the aforesaid mechanical locking system comprises a pin sliding between an advanced position and a retracted position, in which the pin is for example provided on board the support base 11 and in which when the mechanical locking system is in the activation state, the pin is in the advanced position and is operatively interposed between the support base 11 and the launch frame 20, for example to be at least partially received in a joint seat 26 provided in the launch frame 20, for example provided on the connecting plates 25.

[0044] According to one embodiment, the aforesaid mechanical locking system may be manually activated and deactivated.

[0045] As is apparent from the description above, the missile launch assembly 10 provided allows the preset objects to be completely achieved in terms of overcoming the drawbacks of the known art.

[0046] Although the above-described missile launcher 1 is shown operatively coupled to a transport vehicle 1, in particular a ground vehicle, such a missile launcher in an alternative configuration may be made as a system in itself provided with a mounting frame 2, which can be directly installed on a support surface which allows the fixing thereof to a resting surface or is fixable to any ground or naval transport vehicle.

[0047] According to an advantageous embodiment, the missile launcher 1 comprises an electric power supply system 30 installed on board the mounting frame 2, comprising a power generator adapted and configured to make the missile launcher 1 independent from external power supply sources. The aforesaid electric power supply system 30 allows the missile launcher 1 to be supplied with all the electric energy required for carrying out its functions (unfolding from the transport configuration to the launch configuration and vice versa, firing, monitoring, etc.). According to one embodiment, the aforesaid power supply system further comprises an interface which allows the power supply system to be connected to an external power supply line, for example to a 400V, 50Hz three-phase line.

[0048] The electric power supply system 30 preferably comprises an uninterruptible power supply - UPS - adapted and configured to supply the missile launcher 1 in case of power generator breakdown.

[0049] According to an advantageous embodiment, the missile launcher further comprises a radio communication system 40 installed on board the mounting frame 2 and adapted and configured to allow a distance bidirectional data communication between the missile launcher 1 and a remote unit such as for example, a remote command and control station. According to a particularly advantageous embodiment, the radio communication system comprises at least one telescopically extendible support shaft 41 installed on the mounting frame 2. Such a support shaft 41 supports for example, at least one antenna of the aforesaid radio communication system.

[0050] The principle of the invention being understood, the embodiments and manufacturing details may largely vary with respect to what has been described and illustrated by mere way of non-limiting example, without thereby departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.


Claims

1. A missile launch assembly (10) comprising;

- a support base (11) orientable between a transport angular position and a launch angular position;

- at least a launch frame (20) fixed to the support base (11) to be integral in rotation therewith, the launch frame (20) comprising at least one pair of struts (21, 22);

- a first launch container (100) containing one respective first missile;

- coupling elements (S1, S2) through which the first launch container (100) is removably fixed to the launch frame (20) between the pair of struts (21,22), wherein the coupling elements (S1, S2, 101, 102) comprise a first guide system (S1) adapted and configured to allow guided sliding of the first launch container (100) between said struts (21, 22) along a first stroke delimited between a first initial insertion position and a first final fixing position.


 
2. The missile launch assembly (10) according to claim 1, wherein:

- the first guide system (S1) comprises a first pair of opposite rails each one fixed or integrated in a respective strut of said pair of struts (21,22);

- the first launch container (100) comprises a pair of sliders (101,102) protruding from outer side walls opposite each other of the first launch container (100) to be slidingly received into the first pair of opposite rails.


 
3. The missile launch assembly (10) according to claims 1 or 2, wherein the launch frame (20) comprises two pairs of struts (21,22) each other spaced along a direction of prevailing longitudinal extension of the first launch container (100) and wherein the first guide system (S1) is provided on both pairs of struts (21,22).
 
4. The missile launch assembly (10) according to claim 2, wherein each rail of said pair of rails comprises from the initial coupling position towards said final fixing position one first straight stretch and one second stretch connected to the first straight stretch, the second stretch being a tilted stretch with respect to the first straight stretch or being a curvilinear stretch.
 
5. The missile launch assembly 10) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a locking system (50) operable to be moved with respect to said pair of struts (21,22) between a locking position and a release position and wherein in the locking position the locking system (50) prevents the launch container (100) from sliding from the fixing position.
 
6. The missile launch assembly (10) according to claim 1, further comprising a second launch container (100) containing one respective second missile and wherein, said coupling elements are such as to removably fix the second launch container (100) to the launch frame (20) between the pair of struts, wherein said coupling elements comprise a second guide system (S2) adapted and configured to allow guided sliding of the second launch container between said struts (21,22) along a second stroke delimited between a first initial insertion position and a second final fixing position.
 
7. The missile launch assembly (10) according to claim 6, wherein in the second final fixing position the second launch container (100) stands above the first launch container (100) when the latter is in the first final fixing position.
 
8. The missile launch assembly (10) according to claims 6 or 7, wherein the second stroke has a lower length than the first stroke.
 
9. The missile launch assembly (10) according to any one of claims 6 to 8, wherein the second guide system (S2) comprises a second pair of opposite rails each one fixed or integrated into a respective strut of said pair of struts (21,22), and wherein the second launch container (100) comprises a pair of sliders (101,102) protruding from side walls opposite each other of the second launch container (100) to be slidingly received into the second pair of opposite rails.
 
10. The missile launch assembly (10) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a vibrations damper system operatively interposed between the launch frame (20) and the support base (11).
 
11. The missile launch assembly (10) according to claim 10, further comprising a mechanic locking system adapted to assume an activation state and a deactivation state, wherein in the activation state the mechanical locking system allows to mechanically couple the launch frame (20) to the support base (11) for cancelling the effects produced by the vibrations damper system.
 
12. The missile launch assembly (10) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a plurality of launch frames (20) fixed to the support base (11) and each other parallely-oriented.
 
13. A missile launcher (1) comprising:

- a missile launch assembly (10) according to any one of the preceding claims;

- assembly mounting frame (2) to which the support base (11) of the missile launcher is rotatably connected;

- at least one actuator (3) adapted and configured to rotate the support base (11) with respect to the mounting frame (2) for rotating it between the transport angular position and the launch angular position and vice versa.


 
14. The missile launcher (1) according to claim 13, comprising an electric power supply system (30) installed on-board the mounting frame (2) comprising a power generator adapted and configured to make the missile launcher (1) independent from external power supply sources.
 
15. The missile launcher (1) according to claim 14, wherein the power supply system (30) comprises an uninterruptible power supply - UPS - adapted and configured to supply the missile launcher (1) in case of power generator breakdown.
 
16. The missile launcher (1) according to any one of claims 13 to 15, further comprising a radio communication system (40) installed on-board the support base (11) adapted and configured to allow a bidirectional data telecommunication.
 




Drawing


























REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description