Saturday, May 23, 2009

Joint Warrior Task Force Exercises Air Defense

By Lt. Cmdr. Julie Ann Ripley, Commander Destroyer Squadron 24 Public Affairs

SCOTLAND (NNS) -- A coalition-forces task unit including USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) continued their participation in exercise Joint Warrior (JW) with an anti-air warfare (AAW) exercise May 18.

"The AAW training received during Joint Warrior is far more realistic than anything encountered during our usual workup cycle," stated Arleigh Burke Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Brian Moum. "The ability to use real aircraft to stimulate radar, generate threat emissions or jamming, and actually respond to radio queries was outstanding training for my watch teams. Since it is all real, my inside-the-lifeline training teams can focus on watch team response instead of having to run our various simulators, allowing much more focused attention and learning."

In a scenario lasting throughout the day, both vessels were attacked by multiple opposing MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft and missiles. Arleigh Burke had been conducting counterpiracy operations and Porter was in transit. The ships fought in self-defense with Arleigh Burke destroying eight aircraft. Porter, who continued to fall under attack into the afternoon, defeated multiple missiles and one MiG-29. There was no "damage" to any coalition vessel.

"The myriad of live threats and targets executed in a robust and complex scenario provided a degree of realism far exceeding our expectations," said Moum.
"For example, we have conducted defense against small boat attacks numerous times, but never with the fidelity provided by JTEPS and the boat crews we met here. This event allowed my watchteams to execute real responses against real threats, all in a training environment. As a result, we are more than prepared to execute tasking in the real world throughout our deployment."

Lt. John Cycyk was on watch in the Combat Information Center (CIC) when the aircraft came into Arleigh Burke's radar picture.

"We immediately contacted them and repeatedly queried before taking any defensive action," said Cycyk. "The last course of action we wanted to take was the use of deadly force. It was only after they fired on us that we were forced to defend ourselves."

The realistic training provided during JW exercises changes the usual playing field.

"The air defense training helped us refine our responses and work on our battle rhythm and our cadence," said Lt. Cmdr. Ty Biggs, operations officer aboard Porter. "Orders were issued and the right people followed them. There was excellent teamwork training between the bridge and combat, and we matched real world electronic pictures in combat with visuals from the bridge. Air defense tactics have to be developed and mastered, so we can be ready for national tasking when we deploy.

"Working with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) gives us a different mindset. NATO operates differently from what we're used to. Rules and regulations are different, but the basic safety is the same. We are training in [geographic] areas that most of the crew is unfamiliar with. This training helps us improve our process," Biggs added.

Exercise Joint Warrior is a two-week evolution incorporating four U.S. Navy ships and a host of allied nations. While all aspects of warfare training were utilized during JW, the evolution focused more heavily on Fleet Irregular Warfare Training (FIWT) in non-traditional warfare areas, such as counter piracy and theater security.