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Just Hatched
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KILLER FISH: Lockheed-Martin's CHARC

On October 12, 2000 an explosive-laden craft approached the destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67), while the Cole was docked in Yemen and taking on fuel, and detonated. The resulting explosion tore a hole in the destroyer's hull, killing 17 crewmembers and injuring 39 more, and laid up the Cole until April 19, 2002. It was a tragedy that the Navy understandably wants to avoid in the future -- and Lockheed-Martin is doing its part to insure it.

Lockheed-Martin's proposal for a deterrent to the threat of small-boat, shallow-water threats is an innovative cross between an attack helicopter and a stealth boat. The proposal has been dubbed the Covert High-speed Attack and Reconnaissance Craft (CHARC).

L-M's proposal would pair the lethality of an attack helicopter with the endurance, stealth, and lower operational costs of a small boat. With a crew of two, the CHARC is capable of patrolling or loitering for hours at a time, far longer than could a conventional attack helicopter. Note: While the initial CHARCs will be manned, L-M is building remote/autonomous capabilities into the units so that they may be operated remotely should the Navy choose to do so (in high threat environments, poor weather, etc.)

Because the CHARC is relatively small, and rides very low in the water while on patrol, it is less "intrusive" when compared with a covering attack helicopter, and is less likely to draw attention to itself while operating in and around foreign ports and facilities.

Once a threat is identified, however, the CHARC reveals it's hard side. Armed with a turret mounting either a 20mm rapid fire cannon or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher and four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, the CHARC is more than a match for any small craft likely to threaten nearby naval vessels. In addition to being heavily armed, the CHARC is also very fast once a threat is detected. The CHARC rises up out of the water on high performance hydroplanes, giving it the ability to run down just about anything else on the water.

Another advantage the CHARC will have over helicopters is portability. Not a stand-alone sea-going platform, CHARCs will need to be transported, just as helicopters would, to their operational areas. However, whereas a Helicopter would require a large, hanger-like enclosure for storage and maintenance, the 12-meter long CHARC can be collapsed to fit into a 3.6x3.6x12 meter box and transported on deck or in a cargo hold. While the Navy remains undecided about the CHARC (none have been purchased, nor is the Navy contributing to its development), L-M is so confident in its capabilities that it is currently funding the entire program out of its own pocket.
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