Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) White Sands Detachment supported a successful tracking exercise at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Jan. 22, 2011. The test was part of exercise Atlantic Trident 2011.
The Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicle (ARAV), a short-range ballistic missile target, was used in the exercise. All three Navy ships involved in the test event, USS Monterey (CG 61), USS Ramage (DDG 61) and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), successfully tracked the ARAV-B, also known as Terrier-Oriole. The three ships were able to provide simulated target solutions that would have resulted in a successful intercept.
The ARAV, a product of the NSWC PHD White Sands Detachment, is a solid-fuel rocket-based target vehicle that emulates ballistic missile threats. It is a target system that saves money — approximately 85 percent in cost savings compared to other ballistic missile targets. NSWC PHD's efforts, as well as the efforts of the entire Aegis BMD team, were recognized by Rear Adm. Joseph A. Horn, Jr., program executive for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, and Rear Adm. John Clark Orzalli, vice commander of Naval Sea Systems Command.
Monterey, an Aegis cruiser, and Ramage, an Aegis destroyer, took turns tracking and simulating engagement of the target while Gonzalez, a guided-missile destroyer, tracked the target. No live missiles were fired from the ships, and the target ARAV fell harmlessly into the Atlantic Ocean.
Ballistic missile defense is a Navy core mission. The Missile Defense Agency and the Navy modified 21 Aegis BMD combatants (five cruisers and 16 destroyers). Of the 21 ships, 16 are assigned to the Pacific Fleet and five to the Atlantic Fleet. The Secretary of Defense announced in 2010 that six more destroyers would be upgraded to the Aegis BMD capability. Atlantic Trident 2011 is the first live fleet BMD exercise to take place in the Atlantic.