Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), a leader in littoral warfare and coastal defense systems, provided two engineers to deploy on two different large-deck surface platforms in support of the U.S. Navy's at-sea live and synthetic exercise, Bold Alligator 2012, which concluded Feb. 12, 2012.
Luis Ramirez-Lugo embarked USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) from Feb. 3 to Feb. 11, 2012. Curt Duer embarked USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) from Jan. 30 to Feb. 10, 2012.
According to the NSWC PCD Amphibious Assault Direction System project manager John Pavlov, both Ramirez-Lugo and Duer provided direct support to the Sailors who use AADS.
"They provided subject matter expert support to the operation specialists and the information technology specialists who use AADS," Pavlov said. "Luis and Curt also provided on the job training for those who need it in the system's intended environment."
AADS, a system managed by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) PMS 377W, is presently deployed on all amphibious surface platforms in the fleet to include landing craft air cushion (LCAC) and landing craft units (LCUs).
NSWC PCD serves as the In-Service Engineering Agent, or ISEA, for the AADS system. Ramirez-Lugo and Duer are assigned to NSWC PCD's tactical systems branch (Code E24), within the expeditionary and maritime systems department.
BA12 was a live and synthetic scenario-driven simulation supported exercise designed to train Expeditionary Strike Group Two (ESG-2) and 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) staffs to plan and execute a MEB-sized amphibious assault from a sea base in a medium land and maritime threat, anti-access/area denial (A2AD) environment to improve naval amphibious core competency. BA12 was conducted off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
"It was really exciting to play a supporting role in an exercise of this magnitude. To be in the operations center and on [a] LCAC helping the Sailors to operate and manage the AADS in real time during ship-to-shore landing operations was extremely rewarding. I really felt like I was part of the team trying to get the job done," Duer said. "I learned how important our system (AADS) is to the amphibious fleet. Before this exercise, I never saw our system utilized to this extent and what a critical role it played in landing force operations. It also really helped me understand how the fleet utilizes our system, and how we as engineers can improve on the system in the future, making it more reliable and easier to operate."
AADS, an amphibious warfare program, integrates the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) with the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) to form a jam/intercept resistant, command and control system that supports the surface assault ship-to-shore movement in amphibious operations. The system provides real-time, precise Position Location Information (PLI) on landing craft and all other units participating in the EPLRS network including the Marine Corps platforms.
"I learned how complex the Navy's amphibious operations can be," Ramirez-Lugo said. "To deploy in a real-world environment in support of the AADS project, the Sailors and an exercise of this magnitude is a small sacrifice with potentially a big reward. It helps us appreciate more the service Sailors and Marines provide our country and allows us to design and develop better systems and improve the ones we already have in the fleet."
NSWC PCD further supports Sailors who use the AADS program by hosting quarterly training in Little Creek, Va. NAVSEA trained 50 Sailors in October 2011 in preparation for BA12.
"We do everything here for the AADS program. We provide systems engineering support, design and test the software, build the hardware and install the system in the fleet. We also provide fleet support services and train the East Coast Sailors, and a SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific) ISEA trains the West Coast Sailors," Pavlov said.
"AADS has the capability to monitor, track and control surface or combined surface and air amphibious assaults up to 100 nautical miles over-the-horizon (OTH)," Pavlov said. "When you go out to sea, you see how the system works in its intended environment. We learn what works, what doesn't work, how the Sailors use it and when we return, we can recommend adjustments or modifications to PMS 377. This is real-world support."
Real-time tracks of AADS equipped units can be displayed on the ship's Global Command and Control System-Maritime (GCCS-M) workstation and at the AADS rack located in the ship's command information center and on the LCAC navigational display.
AADS provides the ship's operators with significantly enhanced situational awareness of amphibious operations and greatly reduces the potential for fratricide.
"Additional significant features of the AADS system are the capability to send and receive text messages between ships and LCAC and the ability to update an LCAC mission plan over the network. The text messaging capability has been used extensively during the Bold Alligator exercise for communications between the ships and LCAC," Pavlov said.
Jacqui Barker is with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division office of public affairs. For more information send an email to NSWCPCPAOWebManager@navy.mil or phone (850) 230-7400.