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Missile Exercise - Live Fire With A Purpose
by Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center
November 4, 2018

In early 2016, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) was designated as the executive agent for Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Fleet Force’s revamped Missile Exercise (MSLEX) program – Live Fire With A Purpose (LFWAP). Since that time, the SMWDC LFWAP team supported 85 combatants in firing more than 100 Standard Missile 2 (SM2), Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), and NATO Sea Sparrow Missiles (NSSM). On May 28, 2018, the USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) launched an SM2 to mark the centennial missile firing.

May 28, 2018 - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) launches a Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) in the Virginia Capes operating area as part of an exercise to test the ship's ability to defend against a close-in aerial attack. The Sullivans deployed with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group in support of NATO Allies, European, and Africa partner nations, coalition partners, and U.S. national security interest in Europe and Africa. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Navy courtesy photos)

Over the course of each of the twenty-nine LFWAP events, an Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) lead the team through the Plan, Brief, Execute, and Debrief (PBED) process including the planning, training and execution of safe live firing. This also serves as a template for real-world operational preparation.

Unit level training consists of IAMD WTIs working closely with the ships to ensure watch standers become comfortable with the objectives and scenarios to ensure safe execution of each event. Typically ships run five nominal and five off-nominal scenarios to prepare them for system casualties that may occur during execution. This also serves as a final check to ensure watch teams are capable of reacting appropriately to casualties during deployment, when no trainers are present.

For execution, every ship is assigned an IAMD WTI to assist with final training and coordination, doctrine verification, and system set-up questions. Final rehearsals are conducted with live aircraft to ensure the systems and watch standers are ready for execution. An important part of preparation is verifying the data collection set-up and operation as weapon and radar system data is collected with the assistance of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) – Corona Division. This allows for a same day replay to support key event objectives during the on-site debrief. The data is then collected and provided to NSWC-Corona for further analysis.

In the months following a LFWAP event, the SMWDC team and engineers from NSWC-Corona conduct a Data Analysis Work Group (DAWG) to discuss the tactical and technical nuances of each live fire event. The data analysis is used to provide an in depth debrief to the firing units prior to their deployment, confirm current tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP's), assist in development of future TTP's, and provide feedback to the Navy acquisitions communities in support of developing future capabilities.

“LFWAP is treated as the graduation event by U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Third Fleet prior to ships deploying, because it provides a tactically challenging scenario for each ship requiring watchteams to utilize ship TTPs, pre-planned responses (PPRs) and the commanding officer’s battle orders to defend themselves,” said IAMD Division Director Capt. Jim Jones. “This is not a checklist event. This is an event that stresses a watch teams understanding of their own self-defense processes while building confidence within the watch teams and with the systems that will defend our Nation down-range.”

The LFWAP program is taking the Navy's warfighting to a new level. Over the last three years Live Fire events have become more complex with each event enhancing our fleet's weapon systems competency and efficacy. Across the naval enterprise, warfighting capability has benefited from the lessons captured and studied from each firing event. These lessons assist with updating and revising TTPs, PPRs, Commanding Officer's Battle Orders, and lead to validated training curriculums for formal courses of instructions.

The Live Fire With A Purpose program is an excellent example of high velocity learning to counter today’s threat, and more importantly, prepares our ships and sailors for the real-world threat environments they will face.

SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. SMWDC headquarters is at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on Sea Combat, IAMD, Amphibious Warfare and Mine Warfare.

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