By Kathy Stewart, NSWC Port Hueneme Command Communications
Personnel from the Air Dominance Department at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Port Hueneme led an Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Waterfront Integration Test (WIT) aboard the TCG Gediz (F-495), a Turkish G-class frigate, from March 5 – 18, 2012, in preparation for live-fire testing to be conducted in April. The ESSM program is managed by the NATO SeaSparrow Project Office (NSPO) and is comprised of an international consortium of 12 nations, including the U.S. and Turkey.
A WIT is a series of system and subsystem tests performed to verify the shipboard interfaces of, in this case, an ESSM with the on-board combat system. The Turkish vessel is a former U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, on which the Turks integrated the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) and MK 92 Fire Control System (FCS) with their own GENESIS Combat Management System. Because NSWC Port Hueneme is a NATO SeaSparrow agent for conducting WITs, it was called into action for the ESSM WIT event.
According to ESSM WIT Test Director Jonathan Mendiola of NSWC Port Hueneme, several groups from the command’s Air Dominance Department teamed with Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) China Lake, NSWC Corona and prime contractors to conduct the WIT, both pier-side in Gölcük, Turkey, and at sea. “We also worked with personnel from the Turkish Navy representing the Gediz, the Turkish Naval Research Center Command and the Gölcük Naval Shipyard,” he said.
The team, led by NSWC Port Hueneme, verified the proper integration of ESSM into the ship’s combat system, using an Inert Operational Missile (IOM) to ensure the shipboard weapon system will support ESSM pre-launch and post-launch.
“This is the Turkish Navy’s first ship class to add ESSM’s enhanced capabilities to their layered defense strategy,” noted ESSM WIT Coordinator FCCS Ralph Malpica,
NSWC Port Hueneme. “This WIT will assure the Turkish Navy that their combat system is capable of supporting the ESSM, both pre-launch and while in flight.” That is important, Malpica said, because “the ESSM gives more capability to Turkey’s G-class frigates against today’s anti-ship missile threat.”