By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael R. Gendron
ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) ran a successful test of its Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system during an at-sea missile exercise (MISSLEX), June 14.
The exercise simulated a possible real-life event, where the ship shot down a rapidly approaching drone.
"This is as close to an actual engagement that the ship will probably ever see," said the work center supervisor in charge of the fired missile, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Tyler J. Brozenick. "There's an actual drone coming toward the ship, and we're able to track it by radar and physically shoot the missile from the launcher. Nothing's fake, it's all live."
Brozenick said that although the exercise is over quickly, there's at least a full month's preparation prior to it.
"It takes a lot of prep work to get organized with the Aviation Ordnancemen to bring the missile on board, and then the Fire Controlmen coordinate to load the missile into the launcher," said Brozenick. "Everybody puts in a lot of hard hours."
According to Brozenick, live RAM tests are rarely done. This was, however, the second conducted in the last five years onboard the Kearsarge.
"It's exhilarating," said Brozenick. "You can see the launcher moving around to get a lock on the drone, and then those two end-caps pop off. All of the sudden, you see this giant flash of smoke, this giant rocket leaves the rail, and you hear the boom."
Brozenick went on to state that extra excitement was added when the RAM made direct contact with the drone, also known as skin-to-skin.
"As long as we get near it and it explodes, that's good. But if we can actually get skin-to-skin, that's perfect and what we need," said Brozenick. "It adds the little extra that just boosts morale."
The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are underway participating in ARG/MEUEX, a scenario-based amphibious integration exercise, in preparation for a future deployment. Kearsarge is scheduled to deploy fall 2015.