April 26 (UPI) — The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford completed Combat Systems Ship’s Qualifications Trials, a milestone in validating its defenses, the U.S. Navy said.
The five-phase trials began in February in the Atlantic Ocean, and followed an assortment of post-delivery tests and trials performed since the vessel’s 2017 commissioning.
The CQSST, which wrapped up earlier this month, is a test of safe and effective use of the ship’s firepower and defenses, according to the Navy.
The final phases, known as 2C and CSSQT overall, involved defense against rocket-propelled drones capable of speeds in excess of 600 miles per hour, towed drone units simulating rockets and remote-controlled, high-speed maneuvering surface targets [HSMSTs], the Navy said in a statement on Saturday.
The ship is equipped with rolling airframe missile launchers, which fire RIM-116 missiles; NATO missile launchers used to fire Sea Sparrow missiles; and the Mk-15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System [CIWS], capable of firing armor-piercing bullets.
“The crew crushed it, firing off four missiles [two RIM-116 and two ESSM], and all of them were conducted with precision control by combat direction center watch teams, they executed perfectly,” said CSSQT project officer Larry Daugherty in the statement. “Those sailors not only took out the first two HSMSTs, they punched holes in them, set them on fire, and they both sank.”
“On the third one, the CIWS operator was so good that he actually hit the target further out than the weapon system’s maximum effective range and put it DIW [dead in the water].”
The trials were the first for the ship which involved missile-firing.
They followed a readiness project in May 2020 to equip the ship to handle over 1,000 personnel and a second round of qualifications trials after commissioning, an ordnance operations trials in June 2020 and an aerial drone exercise in February 2021