USS Philippine Sea, At Sea -- The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) completed a missile exercise (MISSILX), Aug. 4. Philippine Sea, and USS Truxtun (DDG 103) simultaneously launched Navy Standard Missile-2's (SM-2) while USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) launched shortly afterwards. The MISSILEX required that all three ships fire SM-2's at a remote controlled, subsonic missile drone, or (BQM). The SM-2 is the U.S Navy's primary surface-to-air air defense weapon and a vital element of the Aegis Weapon System (AWS) aboard Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, launched from the MK 41 Vertical Launcher System (VLS).
During the exercise a BQM was flown out to sea by an aircraft and dropped into mid air. The drone is then reverted back towards the ships requiring them to shoot it out of the sky, said Senior Chief Fire Controlman Jeremy R. Rasnick, combat systems fire controlman leading chief petty officer.
"After it was dropped, shore command flew the BQM inbound," said Rasnick. "Once inbound our mission is to get good telemetry data back to shore command so they can evaluate how the missile and its systems preformed."
The missiles fired were not armed with warheads. Instead, each missile attempts to approach the BQM as close as possible simulating an actual intercept.
Each SM-2 has proximity sensors capable of recording the distance from the BQM as it flies by indicating a "hit", said Rasnick. "The missiles try to get as close as they can to the drone and instead of it exploding it just continues to fly by," said Rasnick. "Once recovered they can figure out whose missiles were within the blast radius. The MISSILX simulates a cruise missile attack scenario that could be encountered by the George H.W. Bush Strike Group (GHWB CSG) on deployment. "This missile is specifically designed to simulate a C-802 missile which is an anti-ship cruise missile", said Rasnick.
After two days of "mock" drills involving Learjet fly-by's simulating a BQM, the Philippine Sea was ready to conduct the MISSILX and learn from the experience of an actual launch.
"The rehearsals were very beneficial and went very well," said Master Chief Fire Controlman Craig M. Cotherman, combat systems maintenance manger. "But a couple things were a little bit different today, things we can't rehearse and simulate, things we can't prepare for."
Cotherman feels the MISSILX provided an invaluable experience. "We definitely have some lessons to take away from the experience," said Cotherman. "Aside from actually having to fire on a target, this is as real as it gets." The last missile launch aboard the Philippine Sea took place in 2010 making this not just a learning experience, but also a rare and exciting event for the crew. I was standing in the bridge when it happened," said Quartermaster 3rd Class Cameron A.Wheylan. "It was cool to see what we can actually do and feel the power of it all. It's definitely something I will never forget." Philippine Sea is participating in the George H.W. Bush Group Sail to improve strike group interoperability and prepare for an upcoming deployment.