Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division engineers, working with their counterparts from other Navy commands and industry, recently completed work to make aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) ready for the ship’s first deployment. Dahlgren engineers are also providing combat systems distance support while the carrier is deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“This is far-reaching collaboration that makes a difference in our military’s ability to fight, win and come home safely,” said NSWC Dahlgren Commander Capt. Joseph McGettigan. “The partnership of our engineers with sailors, industry and systems experts throughout the Navy Enterprise was essential to provide the highly advanced combat systems and technologies to the USS Ronald Reagan.”
The Reagan Combat Direction Center (CDC) team operates an Ships Self Defense System (SSDS) MK 2-based combat system designed to respond with a rapid reaction, anti-air defense capability against high-speed, low-flying anti-ship missiles now in the inventories of many potentially hostile nations. The system identifies and classifies targets, prioritizes and conducts engagement, vectors interceptor aircraft to targets, and exchanges targeting information and engagement orders among ships in the Reagan Strike Group and various service components in the joint theater.
In addition to SSDS, Reagan’s combat readiness is enhanced with Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), Common Data Link Management System (CDLMS) and Shipboard Gridlock System (SGS) that are being used by the Reagan.
Reagan Sailors are now using new combat systems to conduct their current mission. F/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 115 became the first aircraft launched from the flight deck of Reagan to drop ordnance on enemy targets in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on Feb. 22.
“The CVN 76 Strike Group Support Team from NSWC Dahlgren provided invaluable assistance throughout our workup cycle,” said USS Ronald Reagan Commanding Officer Capt. Terry B. Kraft before the carrier’s arrival in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. “The inherent complexities of the (SSDS) system, and the new technology involved, made their job particularly challenging. I appreciated how the team worked side-by-side with our Sailors to make us combat ready for our maiden deployment.”
The combined Reagan Strike Group Team (RSGT) effort comprised about 250 engineers from NSWC Dahlgren, NSWC Port Hueneme, NSWC Corona, the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and a Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA) Command Directorate that supports modeling, simulation, stimulation, and analysis. Reagan “ship riders” consisted of 75 RSGT civilians although no more than 30 team members would conduct developmental testing aboard Reagan during each at sea period.
“The combat system capabilities onboard USS Ronald Reagan represent
the most advanced, state of the art combat system the Navy has ever delivered to a carrier and is the first non-Aegis combat system to ever be certified,” said NSWC Dahlgren Force Warfare Systems Department Head John Burrow. “It is a credit to the tremendous cooperative efforts of PEO Carriers and PEO IWS, our industry partners, and NAVSEA headquarters and field personnel. It clearly demonstrates the best spirit of government-industry collaboration and reaffirms the significance of the technical contributions of our field activities.”
Collaboration among Sailors and civilian engineers ensured the best technical, training and operations support was provided to Reagan combat system operators and joint interface control officers.
"Because our combat systems suite is the newest and one of the most advanced in the fleet, having the systems experts on board from Naval Surface Warfare Center ensured
our Combat Direction Center (CDC) team deployed combat ready,” said Cmdr. Rick Mountain, Reagan CDC Officer. “The engineers from NSWC quickly integrated with the crew and provided them the training and the assistance to operate the systems to their maximum potential."
engineers are now busy making similar upgrades to combat systems on other ships and aircraft carriers, including USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
By John Joyce, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren