By CDR Oral John and LT William Hutson
In September 2022, members of the Navy Reserve Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, China Lake (NR NAWCAD CHL) conducted a live fire event at Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake to develop Joint Combat Assessment Team (JCAT) Phase II training articles. The articles will be used to demonstrate weapons effects of near-peer threats on tactical air (TACAIR) maritime aircraft. Working with civilian members of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) Weapons Survivability Laboratory, the team coordinated the $120,000 live fire event in just 4 months, taking advantage of an opportunity to increase the readiness of the unit.
Two different warheads from representative peer surface-to-air missile threats were provided by the Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC) and were statically detonated next to two F/A-18 Hornets. The Hornets will be used in the JCAT Phase II boneyard at NAWS China Lake for practical exercises in which combat assessor students must analyze threat damage using forensic principles to inform operational commanders and the aircraft survivability community about threats affecting the survivability of Navy and Marine Corps combat aircraft. The event also provided JCAT members who will serve as instructors in Phase II and other JCAT training with an opportunity to glean valuable hands-on information from post-detonation effects for future training and/or mission events. Special recognition goes to LT Jesse Hilton and Mr. Martin Krammer for doing the heavy lifting in setting up and coordinating the event.
Additionally, in October 2022 NR NAWCAD officers (CDRs Joseph Walker and Oral John and LTs William Hutson, Luis Rosario, Bryan Otis, and Daniel Rolfe) supported the combined Navy JCAT/Forward Deployed Combat Repair (FDCR)/Aircraft Battle Damage Repair (ABDR) exercise at Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West with the selection, live fire, and movement of battle damage training assets. Unit members coordinated the selection of primary control surfaces from F/A-18 E/F, P-8, and F-35 aircraft that were recently shot and shipped to NAS Key West. There, Navy JCAT and ABDR teams performed assessments exercising concept of operations and procedures to identify possible challenges with carrying out this type of support in contested and austere environments while providing assessment data to inform battle space commanders and the survivability community about threats affecting Navy and Marine Corps combat aircraft survivability.
Finally, in January 2023 NR NAWCAD bid farewell and following seas to CDR Joey Walker as he completed his term as Officer-in-Charge (OIC). Fortunately, with the loss of one comes the gain of another, as CDR Zachary Kennan, who served as Navy JCAT Operations Lead under NAWCAD HQ, has now assumed the OIC duties.