The US Navy has conducted the first live-fire test of the latest generation of the Ship Self Defense System integrated combat system for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) aircraft carrier.

During the test, which was conducted in collaboration with the combat system’s manufacturer Raytheon, the Ship Self Defense System successfully engaged an unmanned aerial vehicle target off the coast of California.

Raytheon noted that the new integrated combat system (ICS) will undergo additional live-fire events during subsequent developmental and operational testing planned for this year.

Key components of the CVN 78 Ship Self Defense System ICS include dual band radar (DBR), cooperative engagement capability (CEC), Ship Self Defense System, Evolved SeaSparrow missile (ESSM), and rolling airframe missile.

DBR searched for, located and tracked the target and subsequently provided radar illumination to the ESSM to support missile guidance.

The CEC, which provides a single, integrated air picture, fusing data from multiple sensors to improve track accuracy, processed the data for the Ship Self Defense System, which then passed launch commands to the missile and scheduled DBR support for the engagement.

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In the final stage, the ESSM successfully engaged and defeated the target.

“This integrated combat system success brings Ford one step closer to operational testing and deployment."

Raytheon Ship Self Defense System programme manager Mike Fabel said: “The design of our Ship Self Defense System enabled seamless integration of the sensors and missiles with the CVN 78 combat system during this first-of-its-kind test, proving the ability of the system to defend our sailors.

“This integrated combat system success brings Ford one step closer to operational testing and deployment.”

The Ship Self Defense System is an open, distributed combat management system deployed on several US carriers and amphibious ships, including CVN, LSD, LPD, LHA and LHD classes.

Last month, the US Navy awarded a $15.2bn contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding division for the construction of two more Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 80 and CVN 81, in a block-purchase deal.

CVN 78 accepted its first advanced weapons elevator (AWE) last month, which will allow it to move up to 24,000lb of ordnance at 150ft per minute.