By Maj. Brent L. Davis, Air Defense Artillery Test Division, Fires Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, New Mexico – Fort Bliss, Texas Air Defense Artillery Soldiers engaged one tactical ballistic missile here, with a PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptor and a PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) interceptor.
The operational test of the Patriot Guided Missile System Oct. 30 to Nov. 20 assessed a new design build to engage and intercept threat aircraft or tactical ballistic missiles under all weather conditions.
Handled by the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Air Defense Artillery Test Directorate at Fort Bliss, Texas, the test involved Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery (ADA), 11th ADA Brigade for a little over 15 months.
“Participating in this operational test provides us a unique training experience,” said 1st Lt. John Maksimik, a tactical director with 3-43 ADA. “Most ADA units do not get the opportunity to experience live engagements; not to mention we get to play with the Army’s brand new toys.”
One communication specialist in 3-43 ADA said he appreciated getting to know the system better. Spec. Tyler Morrison said he “got to know more in-depth how the system functioned from a communications perspective.”
According to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Anson Seebeck, a Patriot military test evaluator for the U.S. Army Evaluation Center, the Patriot operational test provides many training benefits for Soldiers of the test unit.
“These guys get to improve on their mission essential tasks, such as detecting and defeating more advanced electronic attacks,” he said. “They also get to work better as a team on a real missile system, rather than a simulator; things like march orders and missile battery emplacement missions.”
Another advantage the Soldiers experience is performing the test against a realistic scenario.
“They are able to engage a realistic enemy threat with multiple live-fire engagements,” said Seebeck. “For the first time, many of these Soldiers are facing a large number of aircraft, while at the same time conducting joint tactical operations with Marine Corps air and ground assets.”
A Patriot System maintainer with 3-43 ADA, Spec. Endy Lorenzo, said he enjoyed getting the opportunity to work on the Radar, Engagement Control Station, and Information and Coordination Central portion of the Patriot.
Before testing, Lorenzo only had the opportunity to work on Patriot launchers.
Training opportunities for the Soldiers using an actual Patriot system provided advantages that are impossible while using a training simulator.
“We got to perform all steps that would normally be followed during war,” said Sgt. James Jantti, a launcher enhanced operator/maintainer with 3-43 ADA.
“Training does not allow us to perform certain steps, but the test environment allows us to perform maintenance and safety checks on live missiles.”
About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:
The U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s mission is to make sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier’s hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Operational tests also provide an added benefit to Soldiers by offering unique training opportunities not always received in standard training environments.