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“Speed-to-Fleet” Answered the Call: Missiles On-Target “Skin to Skin”
The United States Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Force-Europe (FDNF-E) just completed a remarkable tactical milestone marked by two live missile intercepts fired from USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) and USS Ross (DDG 71) in the Gulf of Cadiz on Spain’s southwestern coast. On the afternoon of March 30, 2017, Donald Cook and Ross each successfully intercepted anti-ship cruise missile target drones with live missiles fired from the ships’ new SeaRAM close-in weapons systems.
As part of the Navy’s “Speed to Fleet” program, the SeaRAM self-defense missile system was rapidly fielded to the four Arleigh Burke Class Multi-Mission Destroyers that are forward deployed to Rota, Spain. In combination with the ship’s Aegis Weapons System, the SeaRAM system provides enhanced point defense for these ships by combining components of the proven Phalanx close-in weapon system with the robust capabilities of the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM).
In less than two years, the US Navy was able to provide all four ships deployed to Rota with this pivotal modernization, enhancing their existing capability to counter modern anti-ship cruise missiles. Through the hard work of the Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Integrated Warfare Systems, each of these ships were able to receive the system on time, on budget, and ready to operate. This rapidly fielded program started in 2015 with the initiative of the Navy Staff, Surface Warfare Directorate (OPNAV N96), the Department of Navy Budget Office (FMB), and the support of a Congressional reprogramming of funds from within the Navy’s existing budget. Through this “Speed to Fleet” program, the Navy has rapidly modernized and improved warships to meet the ever-changing anti-ship cruise missile threats throughout the European theatre of operations.
“This game-changing technology continues to ensure our ability for these multi-mission ships to steam into harm’s way as required—anywhere in this theater—in support of U.S. national interests, and in support of our allies and partners. These ships patrol throughout this theater with an array of the most-capable weapons in the world; we put the concept of ‘distributed lethality’ to work in this pivotal region every day,” said Capt. Tate Westbrook, Commander, Task Force 65, Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 60, following the successful results of this latest missile test.
On March 30, 2017, USS Donald Cook and USS Ross completed the final live fire tests of the newly installed SeaRAM systems, successfully intercepting U.S. Navy targets launched from Spain’s test range in the Gulf of Cadiz. Today’s missile test completed this modernization cycle for the four forward-deployed Destroyers. These two ships join USS Porter and USS Carney as the SeaRAM-capable ships ready to counter any threat thanks to this upgrade in self-defense technology. Porter and Carney previously conducted successful live-fire SeaRAM missile exercises on March 2016, and July 2016, respectively.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.