Home Americas SM-6 missile destroys target during large US Navy unmanned systems drill UxS...

SM-6 missile destroys target during large US Navy unmanned systems drill UxS IBP

USS John Finn SM-6 launch
USS John Finn (DDG 113) launches a missile during Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21, April 25. Photo: US Navy

Guided by unmanned systems taking part in the landmark Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21 exercise, a US Navy missile successfully hit a long-range target well beyond the line of sight.

The destroyer USS John Finn (DDG 113) launched the Extended Range Active Missile (SM-6) during one of the battle scenarios off the coast of San Diego, April 25.

Integrated manned and unmanned systems established a track for the launch.

“The missile shoot was definitely challenging but ultimately incredibly rewarding. We were able to see our team’s planning efforts culminate in yesterday’s successful shoot,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Doyle, UxS IBP 21 lead live-fire planner.

“This entire exercise was a great opportunity to get staff exercise planners, program designers and most importantly Sailors to work together and integrate multiple unmanned capabilities that are tactically relevant in many areas of the world today.”

The missile launch also marked the conclusion of UxS IBP 21.

“The integrated capabilities demonstrated this week are tactically crucial to improve our warfighting advantage,” said Capt. T.J. Zerr, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 21. “Unmanned technologies are being rapidly integrated into the Fleet for use, and our gained advantage is in the integration and collaboration between manned and unmanned capabilities tailored to the particular situation and phase of conflict.”

The week-long exercise tested the integration of multi-domain manned and unmanned capabilities into the most challenging operational scenarios.

UxS IBP21 featured operational, unmanned systems such as the MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned aerial vehicle, and the medium displacement unmanned surface vessels (MUSV) Sea Hunter and Sea Hawk, and small and medium unmanned undersea vehicles with modular payloads.

It also tested some of the systems that were yet in development/evaluation, including the ADARO, a small drone boat built by SeaLandAire and fitted wit Get SAT’s micronized Ultra-Blade L-Band ESA (electronically steerable array antenna) for beyond line of sight (BLOS) C2 and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) under a September 2020 contract from the US Navy. While the navy did not specify, this small unmanned system could have played a role in leading the SM-6 to its target at the wrap of UxS IBP 21.

US Navy photo of the ADARO USV during UxS IBP 21

Executed by US 3rd Fleet, UxS IBP 21 involved surface, subsurface, and aerial unmanned assets, operating with littoral combat ships, guided-missile destroyers, guided-missile cruisers, submarines and helicopter squadrons.