Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) and it’s White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) Detachment in New Mexico successfully participated in several missions during the multi-nation At Sea Demonstration/Formidable Shield 2021 (ASD/FS21) exercise, which took place from May 15 to June 3 at the Hebrides Range off Scotland’s coast and also AndÃ¸ya Space Defense in western Norway. ASD/FS21 is this year’s most complex live-fire integrated air and missile defense exercise in the European theater. The live training event consisted of 3,300 personnel from 10 NATO nations, 31 aircraft, and 16 Navy ships from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom (U.K.), and the United States.
James Connelly, project manager and test officer for ASD/FS21 at the Hebrides Range, said “The team successfully accomplished all five missions, including several firsts: launches of a GQM-163 Coyote from a 4.3K launcher that WSMR modified for the exercise, and a Pathfinder Zombie, a short-range ballistic missile target also from the U.S. I would say the overall coordination, buildup and launch of the three systemsâ€” the ARAV-B, GQM-163 Coyote, and Pathfinder Zombie with differing requirementsâ€”all within the concise and expedited schedule was a very successful part of the exercise. We integrated very successfully, and for the first time three different launch teams, two different flight safety/ground safety teams and two different meteorological teams into one.”
In addition, the NSWC PHD and WSMR team launched two missile targets, called Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicles Group B (ARAV-B), during the exercise. The ARAV-B, also known as the T4-B, according to the Missile Defense Agency, is a solid-fuel rocket-based target vehicle that WSMR designed, built and sent to the exercise that emulates ballistic missile threats, and Connelly said its launch alongside the two other targets is among the team’s many noteworthy accomplishments during the exercise. The team also handled schedule changes with the ARAV-B during the live event, quickly adapting and executing the planned missions, according to Troy Gammill, NSWC PHD system engineer.
The ARAV-B launches moved from four days apart on the original schedule to one day of separation due to operational, technical and other requirements. The NSWC White Sands Missile Range Detachment team was able to safely upload and prepare the second ARAV-B target in one day and successfully launch the second ARAV-B target and meet all requirements. In addition, due to the outstanding planning and execution of NSWC PHD Test Officer James Connelly, the team was able to complete the process of recovering from the first launch, install required cabling and testing. Exercises like ASD/FS21 open a door of opportunity for the military to actively engage in integrated air and missile defense with allies and ultimately supporting the Navy and the warfighter.