By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Hawkins
PHILIPPINE SEA (Sept. 19, 2016) – The U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), conducted a live-fire test of a rolling airframe missile (RAM) weapon system, Sept. 19.
The test involved firing at a BQM-74 Chukar aerial-target drone and was conducted as part of Exercise Valiant Shield (VS) 2016, a biennial, U.S.-only field-training exercise with a focus on integration of joint training among U.S. forces.
“Valiant Shield is a large-scale, multi-service exercise that allows U.S. forces opportunities to practice combat tactics, techniques and procedures,” said Cmdr. Jason Butler, Ronald Reagan’s combat direction center officer. “The RAM live-fire exercise was an opportunity for the crew to test the ship’s self-defense system against a low-altitude, high-speed target. The crew and system performed admirably and reaffirms our readiness to answer our nation’s call.”
The RAM weapon system provides surface ships with self-defense against anti-ship missiles and asymmetric air and surface threats.
Fire Controlman 1st Class Veronica Romo, Ronald Reagan’s RAM work center supervisor, from Midland, Texas, said the test was a valuable training scenario for Sailors in the ship’s Combat Systems Department.
“Firing RAM gives us the opportunity to test out several of our systems…,” Romo said. “Overall, conducting this exercise gives watch standers in [the] Combat Direction Center the chance to engage a real target and to get a better feel for a real-world scenario.”
According to Romo, the test effectively demonstrated the ship’s ability to track, engage and destroy an aerial threat.
“RAM fired as designed, and all the watch standers performed exactly as they were supposed to,” she said. “Conducting this exercise, we further proved that we are capable of performing real-life scenarios and are mission ready if the time ever came to engage in actual warfare.”
The RAM weapon system differs from some other shipboard systems because it uses infrared and radio frequency to track targets, Romo said.
“The RAM is unique, because it’s a fire-and-forget missile launcher,” she said. “… the need for a shipboard illuminator is eliminated.”
For Romo, participating in a live-fire test brings a sense of pride to her job.
“Getting the privilege to be a part of a firing exercise for a system with such great magnitude is what being a fire controlman is all about,” she said. “To actually see RAM in action reminds us what a vital role we play in the ship’s combat readiness.”
Exercise VS 2016 enables real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.