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September 23, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Sharpening the Surface Fleet – Progress on Many Fronts!

Navy Conducts First Live Fire NIFC-CA Test with F-35

A Standard Missile 6 launches to engage an over-the-horizon threat as part of the U.S. Navy’s first live fire demonstration to successfully test the integration of the F-35 with existing Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) architecture. During the test, an unmodified U.S. Marine Corps F-35B acted as an elevated sensor to send data through its Multi-Function Advanced Data Link to a ground station connected to USS Desert Ship (LLS 1), a land-based launch facility designed to simulate a ship at sea. (U.S. Army photo by Drew Hamilton/Released)

Blog By: Vice Admiral Tom Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces

Every week it’s great to be in the Surface Force, and some weeks it’s better than that!

Last week was one of those weeks and I am excited to share three big Surface Warfare “wins” that occurred during this very productive week.

First, we frocked a new group of Chief Petty Officers (CPOs), making the world’s greatest Navy just a little bit better. As an Honorary Chief, I took particular pride in being able to welcome new CPOs in a pinning ceremony while underway on USS Makin Island (LHD 8). While there are many milestones in an enlisted career, the pinning ceremony and transition to “Chief” – particularly while at sea on a Navy warship is certainly something special. Congratulations again to all of our new Chief Petty Officers!

Second, the week’s announcement of the Surface Warfare Officer Department Head Retention Bonus (SWO DHRB) makes sure we are rewarding superior performance at sea as we retain our very best division officers to serve as department heads at sea. Not only have the bonuses been increased overall, they are now tiered so that those who screen in their first look receive the highest incentive to stay, with second look screeners in turn receiving a greater bonus than the baseline bonus that all SWO department heads receive. Looking forward, we believe the fleet will be the biggest beneficiary here as more of our best become department heads.

Finally, we ended the week with a huge Navy-Marine Corps bang when a simulated Aegis-configured ship engaged a low flying cruise missile target with a Standard Missile 6 (SM-6). Most significantly, this engagement was based solely on targeting data provided to the ship by the sophisticated sensors carried by a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

As we look to the future, our F-35B configured LHAs or LHDs will not only be able to employ these aircraft in traditional ground support roles, but will also be able to use them to sense, target, and destroy low-flying cruise missiles or strike aircraft far beyond the horizon – a huge game-changer!

These three milestones highlight a few of our many efforts to build, shape and equip our next generation of leaders as they prepare to control the sea. Make no mistake, it’s a great time to be in the Surface Force!

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