By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Shayla D. Hamilton, USS George Washington Public Affairs
WATERS NEAR GUAM (NNS) -- Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), completed an at-sea missile exercise (MISSILEX), June 7.
A MISSILEX is conducted annually to meet training and readiness requirements for strike fighter squadrons (VFA).
"The ultimate goal of the exercise was to gain valuable air-to-air training for the air wing," said Lt. Andy Moore, a pilot from the "Royal Maces" of VFA-27. "Readiness requirements dictate that each VFA squadron employs an air-to-air missile every year."
Participating squadrons were the "Eagles" of VFA-115, the "Dambusters" of VFA-195, the "Diamondbacks" of VFA-102, the "Royal Maces" of VFA-27, the "Shadowhawks" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 and the "Liberty Bells" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115.
"GW's ordnance department was responsible for supplying the missiles to the air wing," said Moore. "Squadron AO's [Aviation Ordnancemen] prepared and loaded the ordnance onto the aircraft two days prior to ensure the systems and aircraft were operating correctly."
Moore said this was a great opportunity for the ship's-air wing team to work together for the employment of live air-to-air ordnance. He also said the biggest challenge was coordinating a plan that was simple and easy for all participants to execute. Another challenge was ensuring all safety considerations to employ live ordnance were followed.
"We do simulated training all the time," said Moore. "But there are many significant advantages and safety concerns that come with deploying live weapons. We had to build some hazard patterns to ensure clearness of the water and the air for the exercise and employed drones launched from [the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship] USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11)."
During the exercise, the pilots employed advanced, medium-range, air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) and "Sidewinder" air-intercept missiles (AIM-9M). The AMRAAM's active radar makes the missile less dependent on the aircraft fire-control system enabling the pilot to aim and fire several missiles at multiple targets. The Sidewinder is an infrared, short-visual range, air-to-air missile used by the United States, NATO and other allied nations.
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.