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Newest Guided Missile Destroyer Successfully Completes Combat Trials
By Lt. j.g. Kurt Munz, USS Sterett fire control officer
San Diego - USS Sterett (DDG 104) returned from sea Dec. 16 after successfully completing a Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trial (CSSQT) with the newly implemented Aegis baseline 7.1R combat suite.   CSSQT is designed to test the operability of combat systems across all warfare areas while providing an opportunity for Sterett’s crew to test the functionality of systems in live-fire tactical scenarios.

Sterett’s newly upgraded SQQ-89A (V)15 SONAR system was the first tested with the prosecution of live expendable anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training targets. Further tests incorporated a Light-Airborne Multi-Purpose System equipped SH-60 helicopter, which dropped sonobuoys and coordinated live torpedo firings.  Additional demonstrations included six test firings of the ship’s torpedoes while executing high-speed evasive maneuvers and testing of the Gun Weapon System (GWS). 

During GWS tests, the 5-inch gun repeatedly hit a live, aircraft-towed drone, in addition to proving extremely effective as a “layered defense” against highly-maneuverable surface threats. The MK38 25MM remotely controlled, gyro-stabilized gun systems, which was used in “layered defense” exercises, was also tested with a beach bombardment integrating Marine Corps spotters that proved highly effective and accurate.

“I am extremely satisfied with the gun’s performance,” said Sterett’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Brian Eckerle.  “It has really performed exceptionally under the taxing demand of firing 582 rounds.”   In addition to direct engagement systems, Sterett’s Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities were tried, as were chaff countermeasures and the SPY-1D(V) air search RADAR. However, the centerpiece of the CSSQT was the live firing of 7 SM-2 missiles against air and ground launched drone targets.

Test objectives for the events, in addition to certifying Baseline 7.1R for tactical use in the fleet, included operability tests of the SM-2 BLK IIIB Missile, which contains an infrared (IR) seeker head assembly in the guidance section. The missile has the ability for dual mode terminal homing and can start homing on RF energy, switching to IR homing if necessary for a successful intercept.

In a true testament to the warfighting ability of Aegis Baseline 7.1R, Sterett simultaneously directed four SM-2 engagements to prosecution, and the test was an enormous success. CSSQT was highly anticipated as a critical milestone toward the development and testing of future weapons capability for the next generation of surface combatants. “Overall, CSSQT was a resounding success, said CSSQT Project Officer Joe Lara. “This is one of the most talented crews I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

Sterett is the newest of the Navy’s guided-missile destroyers, commissioned August 9, 2008 in Baltimore. The ship is currently homeported San Diego where she arrived in September of 2008. She is the first to operate with Aegis baseline 7.1R: the latest and most capable Aegis operating system. The advanced system orchestrates functionality across the entire combat system suite to include the dual-beam capable SPY-1D(V) RADAR, an upgraded MK41 Vertical Launch System, integrated Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) capability, an upgraded SONAR suite and the MK99 Fire Control System
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