Saturday, September 20, 2008

USS Boxer Scores "Direct Hit" with New Missile Guidance System

In this 2008 file photo, the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) prepares to dock into her homeport of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michelle Rhonehouse.)

Focus on Defense:

USS BOXER (LHD 4), At Sea, Sept. 20, 2008 -- USS Boxer (LHD 4) returned from an underway period Sept. 19, during which the crew conducted training and tested a new shipboard missile guidance system.

The four-day underway allowed Boxer's crew to test the ship's upgrades since completing a short in-port maintenance period last month.

Among other modifications, Boxer was fitted with a prototype electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera integrated into the missile director system to acquire and engage targets. The system is the first of its kind in the Navy and was used during the underway to successfully fire three RIM-7 NATO Sea Sparrow missiles.

"With this system we will be able to further expand our lethality around the ship and monitor what is going on at a longer range and prevent those threats from approaching Boxer," said Chief Fire Control Technician (SW/AW) Daniel Casebolt.

The EO/IR system is not only a unique enhanced capability for Boxer, but the Sea Sparrow firing evolution was the first for the ship since 1998.

"The evolution went smooth," said Capt. Mark Cedrun, commanding officer. "I couldn't be more pleased with everyone's performance. Our fire controlmen spearheaded this operation, and their hard work really yielded solid, on-target results."

The target was a remotely controlled rigid-hull inflatable boat used to simulate a hostile boat approaching Boxer.

"The EO/IR camera is an upgrade to the low-level light TV that we currently have on board, and its ability to see farther out has given us upgraded capability," said Casebolt. "We're able to see up to 11 nautical miles out at surface contacts to visually identify them and determine intent to prepare us for going to the gulf and prevent any hostile attacks against small-boat attacks."

The camera system can be manually controlled from inside the ship's combat information center with the option of simultaneously viewing standard, infrared and low-level video feeds. All three missiles hit directly on target and the detonations were cheered by crewmembers gathered to watch the evolution.

"The shoot went excellent," added Casebolt. "We fired three missiles, all skin-to-skin shots, against a seven-foot-long RHIB with a very small cross section so it shows the capability of the system against a small threat. We engaged and were able to destroy the target at 4 nautical miles away."

The training and evolutions conducted on this underway are another step in maintaining Boxer's combat readiness in preparation for future operations. Boxer is next scheduled to begin a pre-deployment training series for deployment early next year.

(Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jon Rasmussen.)

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