Cruisers and destroyers from Commander, Task Forces (CTF) 70 and a supply vessel from CTF 73, participating in exercise Valiant Shield 2014, conducted the missile exercise Sept. 16, to hone their ability to successfully engage airborne threats simulated by unmanned target drones.
“The MISSILEX has two functions – to test tactics, techniques and procedures for standard missile launches, and to allow ships to validate their operational fire chain while demonstrating the capability to successfully engage a remotely piloted drone,” said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Task Force 70. “We’re testing both the fire chain of that system and specific tactics, techniques and procedures that allow us to employ that system to its maximum efficiency.”
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Sterett (DDG 104), and USS Gridley (DDG 101), and Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) participated in the exercise. Dry cargo ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14) of Military Sealift Command launched the drones the ships targeted with the SM-2 missiles.
“It went really well,” said Lt. j. g. Nick Moskevich, Antietam’s fire control officer, from Peabody, Mass. “It was a great integration of assets from two separate strike groups, conducting live-fire exercises to help exercise our skills.”
Antietam coordinated the exercise, and despite the challenges of integrating so many different units, the crews of each ship worked together to ensure the exercise went off safely and smoothly.
Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only exercise integrating an estimated 18,000 U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps personnel, more than 200 aircraft and 19 surface ships, offering real-world joint operational experience to develop capabilities that provide a full range of options to defend U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners.